CHICAGO — The president and COO of Moody Bible Institute have submitted their resignations amid controversy over the direction of the historic institution, and in light of the board’s “unanimous decision” for “new leadership.”
The Moody Board of Trustees accepted the resignations of President Paul Nyquist and COO Steve Mogck on Wednesday, according to an email sent to students by Chairman Randy Fairfax. Nyquist, a former pastor and president of the church planting organization Avant Ministries, had served at Moody since 2009.
“As you know, the Board of Trustees has been discussing issues related to widespread concerns over the direction of Moody. Today, we accepted the resignations of President Dr. Paul Nyquist; Chief Operating Officer Steve Mogck; and the retirement of Provost Dr. Junias Venugopal,” he wrote.
“Let there be no mistake that the Board of Trustees holds these three men in high regard for their ethical, moral, and spiritual leadership. They are godly, honorable men to whom we entrust to the Lord and offer our deep gratitude for their years of faithful service to Christ and to Moody. However, we are unanimous in our decision that it is time for a new season of leadership. I ask that you be in prayer for them and their families,” Fairfax said.
According to reports, some students and staff expressed disappointment following an announcement in November that Moody would be closing its Spokane, Washington campus, discontinuing certain offerings and cutting faculty. While some said that the changes were due to decreasing enrollment, Moody outlined on its website that it was “repositioning the ministry for kingdom impact.”
“As we continue to face challenging ministry trends and financial demands over the next decade, Moody’s Executive Team along with the Board of Trustees and leadership have been prayerfully discerning how to strategically reposition our key ministries to build on our more than 130-year legacy of equipping people with the truth of God’s Word,” Nyquist said in a statement at the time.
“We are proactively making these strategic changes now to ensure our long-term viability and sustained growth,” he explained.
While it is unknown as to all of the concerns that were discussed by the board that resulted in the decision for new leadership, an open letter to Nyquist that was published by the Moody Standard expressed worriment over the announced changes, stating that they were creating a “culture of fear” at the Bible institute.
“If the rumors and distrust persist on this campus, it may very well be because these decisions, by being postured on some vague spiritual ‘high ground,’ have actually engendered a culture of fear in the very organization tasked with bringing ‘the Word to life,'” read the letter, written by faculty who wished to retain their anonymity.
“From this point forward, Moody’s financial issues may not be because of the secular culture or disinterested Christian youth, if these are indeed the true culprits, but because our staff, students, alumni, and donors have too many questions about our current directions and little to no trust in our current leadership,” it stated.
Moody Radio host Julie Roys also recently published an article asserting, among other allegations, that the school was not being vigilant to root out liberal professors, that it had allowed an official to violate Moody’s bylaws and that it was “fostering an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.” She was fired this past weekend, and her statements were refuted as being “misleading.”
Prior to the most recent controversy, some had questioned Moody’s decision in 2013 to nix a longstanding rule that prohibited faculty from smoking and drinking. Students still may not do so while enrolled at the institution. Moody Publishers released three books earlier this year from 1997 graduate Joe Thorn of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, who is known for his love of cigars, and has also unabashedly acknowledged his affinity for heavy metal, horror movies and bourbon.
Moody Bible Institute was founded in 1886 by Dwight Lyman “D.L.” Moody, a respected evangelist whose heart was for the purity of the Church.
“God will not accept a divided heart. He must be absolute monarch. There is not room in your heart for two thrones,” he once stated. “… There is not room for any other throne in the heart if Christ is there. If worldliness should come in, godliness would go out. The road to Heaven and the road to Hell lead in different directions. Which master will you choose to follow? Be an out-and-out Christian. Him only shall you serve. Only thus can you be well pleasing to God.”
“Understandably, there are many questions at this time,” Chairman Fairfax wrote in his email Wednesday. “Please know that we are working diligently through everything, and will stay in regular contact with you first, our Moody family, and with our many partners and friends as well.”
“I ask for your prayers for the Board, our interim leadership team, and the entire Moody community during this next season.” he requested. “God has been faithful to Moody since 1886, and we continue to seek His favor as we move forward.”