SNEC Treasurer Fired: Ignites Questions About Skinny-Dipping Controversy

Jason Bergmann came to the Southern New England Conference in September of 2017.  He started working on September 1 as the new Conference Treasurer.  Prior to this position, Jason managed a $400 million money market mutual fund for the General Conference Treasury/Investment department as a Portfolio Manager.  Jason was elected by a unanimous vote from the Executive Committee.  And he was fired seven days ago.

Shortly after Jason arrived in South Lancaster, there was a nude swimming incident between two  female chaperones  and students on a wilderness camping trip.  That incident triggered an investigation by the state Department of Children and Families (DCF).

In January, the SNEC ADCOM voted to terminate one of the camping trip chaperones, pastor Heather Cook.  ADCOM members are:

  • President/chair David Dennis
  • Secretariat Jose Alacron
  • Treasurer Jason Bergmann
  • ABC Director Sean Bellman
  • Education Superintendent Beverly Buckner
  • Ministerial Director John Amoah
  • Association Secretary Thomas Murray (gets two votes)
  • Youth Ministry Director Milton Marquez

A majority of this ADCOM  Committee voted to terminate the skinny-dipping pastor on January 22, 2018.

Summary of Details

These are the elements that we have been able to piece together in this saga, after speaking with numerous people in Massachusetts, and a few from other areas of the country.  More information will be added as the story develops.

ADCOM overwhelmingly voted to terminate the skinny-dipping pastor on January 22, 2018.

We are told that several of the ADCOM members visited the NAD headquarters between January and March.  Two accounts indicate that these members were summoned there, in honesty, we don't know.  The NAD hasn't responded to our request for information on this meeting(s).

Following the NAD visit, a majority of ADCOM members voted on February 26 to rescind the January 22 termination vote.  This allowed Heather Cook supporters (including David Dennis) to overturn the January 22 vote to terminate.

On the week of April 30th, the Conference Treasurer (an ADCOM member) is asked to resign by the president, David Dennis.  Sources indicate that the treasurer was in favor of terminating of the skinny-dipping pastor.  He declines to resign.  The SNEC bylaws state three possible causes for removal of a Conference officer:

  1. failure to maintain membership in a Church of the Conference; or
  2. failure to carry out the duties the individual was elected or appointed to complete; or
  3. failure to attend three (3) consecutive meetings of the organization to which the individual was elected or appointed without sufficient prior notice to the chairman or secretary of that organization, or more than four (4) meetings of the organization in a calendar year. 

Our sources say that Jason Bergmann has not violated any of the above causes, but was on the wrong side of an issue that the Conference President is supporting.  

On May 3, SNEC President David Dennis calls an emergency Executive Committee meeting to decide the fate of Treasurer, Jason Bergmann.  A union representative (Elias Zabala) attends the meeting.  Bergmann is told to leave the room.  The Secretariat (who was away for the day) finds out about the meeting and returns home to attend.  He is asked to leave the meeting too.  He is placed on administrative leave, thus eliminating his vote for the evening.  The vote is taken by secret ballot.  A 2/3 majority is needed to terminate a Conference Office (in this case the Treasurer).

There are 25 members on the Executive Committee, 24 after they put the Conference Secretary on leave.  At 24-Committee members, at least 16 votes are needed to terminate an officer.  They received 15 yes votes.  One abstention.  And one blank.  The votes were counted three times.

We invite our readers to interpret the SNEC bylaws, an excerpt which is provided here.  The bylaws indicate that a 2/3 majority vote is required of the Executive Committee, with no mention of a quorum.  Lines 737-739 of the bylaws define a quorum for delegates or members of an organization.  What is the required vote total to remove an officer?  2/3 Of the entire committee, or 2/3 of a partial quorum Committee?

In Summary.  The Treasurer is terminated but appealing his termination.  The Secretary was placed on leave (that may be getting worked out, according to information we received today). 

Character references that we have received from around the Nation indicate that the Treasurer (Jason Bergmann) is an ethical and competent individual.  The unanimous vote by the Executive Committee in 2017 to hire him, speaks well of their evaluation of him.  What changed since September 1, 2017?

Two adult (female) chaperones (one a pastor) went skinny-dipping with numerous female students.  That's what changed.  And the powers that run that Conference are determined that the female pastor not be held accountable for it.

Here is an email that we received 5-days ago from a pastor in the Northeast.

“Just an update on the skinny dipping incident.  I got a call from SNEC worker requesting prayer regarding a called emergency executive committee meeting to deal with committee members (employees) who opposed the decision to retain the female skinny dipping Pastor.  Not sure what the outcome was. The meeting was called on Wednesday May 2.  
Sad to hear this.  Another individual was also opposed, and was concerned about his future employment.  He is a solid Christian and has preached for me in -----  several times.  During the remaining 25 days of our 40-day fast & prayer period we will put the SNEC leadership on our prayer list.”

Sounds like a good idea to us.  

Pray for the SNEC.  When we  turn to God He turns to us (Zechariah 1:3).  He forgives the repentant, He exposes the unethical, and condemns the rebellious.  Also pray for Jason Bergmann and his family, and Jose Alacron, that their faith will lift them above this trial.

"This kind cometh out only by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21).