On Sunday, September 24th, 2023, the Board issued a letter regarding our Senior Pastor, Albert Tate, and his leave of absence. In response to this statement, we created this page to serve as a hub for all future updates regarding this situation and any other all-church related news.
This page was last updated November 22, 2023 to include an FAQ section. You can read the latest updates below.
This page was last updated November 22, 2023 to include an FAQ section. You can read the latest updates below.
Dear Fellowship Family,
We have previously shared with you our decision that Albert Tate will be returning to us as our pastor after his time of leave. The full restoration process has been going on for some time, and will continue. We have established a restoration plan and a Restoration Team to work with Pastor Albert over the months to come. On November 5, Albert and LaRosa shared in worship, and Albert confessed and apologized in some specific ways for both inappropriate texting, and for his ultimate responsibility for leadership mistakes and inadequacies that have created a problematic and divided staff culture. Forgiveness takes time, and repentance actually has to be lived out in real time. We will be in different places in this season, and that is to be expected. As we have already told you, Albert and LaRosa will be present with us again in worship starting on November 26. In hope, prayer, and accountability, we proceed from here to rebuild Fellowship Monrovia.
Albert and Staff
We want you to know that based on Albert’s confession and repentance, on the restoration work that has been going on for a number of months, including and extending beyond these weeks of leave, the Board has now asked Pastor Albert to begin to re-engage the staff over the weeks to come. Since this has been one of the most problematic areas, we know this work will need to be careful and wise, and reflective of the values and purposes of the restoration efforts underway. This is slow and personal work between Pastor Albert and remaining staff, and it is worthy of our prayers as we move ahead.
Further Staff Reductions
Meanwhile, we need a staff that is re-sized and aligned with the future we now envision under Albert’s pastoral leadership. This means that, painfully and regretfully, this week we are laying off an additional number of staff in order to bring our expenses into alignment with our current capacity and giving. Knowing that we have already lost a number of beloved staff, we know this news of further layoffs is so difficult to hear. Of course, we intend to rebuild over time, but we must have a sustainable budget that can enable us to accomplish the most essential roles.
Town Hall Meeting November 19th
Please join us for a Town Hall this Sunday, November 19th.
Sunday, November 19 | 5p
401 E Huntington Dr. Monrovia CA 91016
Revised Bylaws and Governance
The Board has undertaken the revision of the Bylaws in order to strengthen the governance so as to properly engage and reflect the role of the Board, the Senior Pastor, the Staff, and the Congregation in the ministry of Fellowship. Our current Bylaws are inadequate for the kind of church Fellowship seeks to be, and to assure healthy communication, accountability, and partnership in our common life and work in the name of Christ.
Beginning the week of November 19th, the Board will be posting an Frequently Asked Questions to address many of the common questions that are being asked. It will be a living document, and as time proceeds, we will keep adding questions and responses there for your information and update.
The Fellowship Board
Frequently Asked Questions
About Developments at Fellowship Church in 2023
Fellowship Church is in God’s hands even while navigating a storm. Many frequently asked questions have been raised and this FAQ format will allow the space to respond to many of those questions to date. The questions are divided into categories for clarity, but we are aware these questions and issues are intertwined in various ways and cannot be separated.
Pastor Albert Tate
What lead to Pastor Tate being on leave?
In late 2022, Albert confessed to the Board of Fellowship that he had been involved in brief, limited, and inappropriate texting with a woman (who was not, and has never been, a part of Fellowship). The Board took this seriously and, with professional assistance, evaluated what had gone on and what should be done. The decision was that this instance was a private matter between Albert & LaRosa best to be held confidentially between the board and the Tate’s for theirhealing and welfare. A plan of restoration was put in place and has been unfolding since that time. This fall, Pastor Tate was put on leave by the Board when rumors and allegations began to grow and various issues and complaints were raised about Pastor Albert, the board, and the culture of the staff.
What leadership issues regarding Pastor Tate have been raised?
As our Founding Pastor, Albert had been given primary leadership responsibility for the life and ministry of Fellowship. The governance structure of the church had been set up that way in the bylaws. Albert’s responsibilities have primarily been the proclamation of the Gospel and leading the founding vision for a “Gospel-centered, multi-ethnic, inter-generational church that exists to make disciples.”
The leadership issues raised that Albert has been working on have to do with:
– How to build a strong and healthy team
– How to listen and communicate as a leader and pastor in ways that allow everyone to be heard and honored
How to make decisions that are appropriately inclusive of other leaders, voices, and opinions
– How to create healthy checks and balances so Fellowship can thrive.
What has been the Board’s response to these issues?
After conducting careful reviews, the Board had concluded its assessment of relevant facts and concerns, including the original texting. Any line of concern or questioning regarding that or other matters were pursued with diligence and honesty by the Board.While concerns have been raised about Pastor Albert’s leadership , we did not find actions or reasons that disqualified him from continuing to serve as Fellowship’s senior pastor with
Our commitment has been to get to the root of unfolding issues for the sake of the Fellowship staff, congregants, and Pastor Albert. The Board carefully and prayerfully decided that a path of restoration was the most appropriate and God-led direction for both Pastor Tate and our Fellowship family. The specifics of the restoration plan have been discussed with and agreed to by Pastor Tate and are in various stages of roll-out over the next year. The restoration plan, which originally began with the Tate’s last January, is comprehensive, and focuses on spiritual, psychological, interpersonal, and leadership areas. The plan includes clear support for him and his family, as well as appropriate accountability measures and benchmarks for Pastor Albert. Albert’s compensation and benefits have been reduced in accord with his actions.
Pastor Albert continues to work through his initial restoration process and has recently begun work with a restoration team composed of local pastors, board members and Fellowship staff. We are very thankful that Pastor Obed Martinez, a very experienced pastor and national church planting leader on our board, helps to facilitate this team, and will assist with Pastor Albert’s re-entry in leading the staff and congregation again. Since we seek long-term health and restoration for Albert and his family, the staff, and the congregation, we know this will take time and will unfold over 2024.
Has the discipline for Pastor Albert been consistent with that of other staff?
Each personnel case is distinct and private, however, there has been no inequity.
Has Albert completed the Sexual Harassment Training that all staff members are required to do?
Why are so many resigning from our church staff?
Some senior leaders and other staff at Fellowship have been resigning from their roles for personal and professional reasons. We know that frustrations have extended to Pastor Albert, the Board, and the Fellowship staff culture. Knowing how much our congregation loves our Fellowship staff, and the pain that many have felt, these departures are not easy for anyone.
Why are so many being laid off?
In 2019 and early 2020, Fellowship consisted of a staff built to serve our growing three church locations, Huntington Drive, Monrovia High School and Pasadena. From 2020-2022 thanks to the consistent and gracious giving of our church we were able to sustain our staff with limited reductions even while we downsized to one campus. The layoffs are a result of financial constraints with declining attendance and giving during this time.
Why are severances being paid to some senior staff who have resigned?
Over the years, in recognition of long term service and significant contributions to the growth of Fellowship, some senior staff members have been offered (and received) severance at the time of their voluntary departure. While severance is not mandated by our by laws (in fact it’s not supposed to be offered) our tradition has been to provide it as an act of support and gratitude of a staff members service when we are financially able to do so. The more recent departures in question signed a typical severance agreement which included language of non-disparagement. Again, we acknowledge that our bylaws prohibit such expenditures, and this violation and inconsistency will not occur going forward.
How has staff been led in this interim time?
In the absence of senior leadership at this time, the Board appointed the Interim Leadership Team to carry various responsibilities. They carried significant responsibilities and burdens, and sought to serve Fellowship faithfully.
What is the plan for staff going forward?
The Board has overseen the necessary staff reductions to bring our expenses into alignment with our current financial situation. This means our program needs to adjust and gradually redevelop. We have the same vision for the ministry of Fellowship and its values, and the Board, Pastor Albert, and the staff will be realigning our programming and staffing going forward.
What is the current state of Fellowship’s finances?
Our financial picture has been challenged as a result of declining attendance and offerings in this uncertain season. However, the Fellowship staff has been working with the Board to make the expense adjustments that are necessary.
Are our finances reviewed and audited?
Our finances are reviewed and audited by Capin Crouse, a national and highly reputable accounting company. We have no outstanding issues with our audit.
Has there been any financial impropriety?
What designated funds have been spent for other purposes and why? Is this legal?
Some designated funds have been temporarily transferred to our general accounts to cover our operating expenses. Though irregular, this is a legal practice, and these funds will be repaid to their designated accounts as Fellowship regains its financial footing.
What is the relationship between Fellowship and The Greatest Story?
There is no legal relationship between these two entities.
How will Fellowship get out of our current financial crisis?
God is still faithful to Fellowship and we believe that as we adjust to our means and discern the next steps, God will provide. Fellowship needs the financial support of those who believe in its present and future ministry, and the staff and Board will be careful stewards.
Who is on the Board and how is the Board formed?
Historically, members of the Board have been identified by the Lead Pastor and Executive Team. The Board of five people is constituted by people who are regular participants in the life of Fellowship and by some who are outside the life of Fellowship. The current Board is composed of George Saleh (Chair), Mark Labberton (Vice-Chair and Secretary), Dorothy Hammond, Obed Martinez, and Christian Washington.
What responsibilities do the Bylaws assign to the Board?
Here is a link to the bylaws of Fellowship Church.
How has the Board’s responsibility in this time become in this season?
Although the bylaws give the Board no direct responsibility to direct the staff or mission of Fellowship, the Board has necessarily stepped up to try and fill the gaps left by the departures of three leaders. This has been necessary as a stop-gap, but is clearly not the appropriate role going forward. The Board is working hard to collaboratively devise the right leadership plans for Fellowship and will then step back into its more typical activities.
Why has the Board been so slow in communicating?
The Board are volunteers with substantial professional and personal responsibilities that have continued while the great needs of Fellowship in this season have increased. We sincerely apologize for the delay in our communications and regret that we have not done a quicker and more thorough job as a Board in responding to questions raised. In addition, there have been significant differences with the staff at times over what and when communication should happen and that has further delayed some messages.
Why did two Board members resign in this past year?
Greg Nettle, who had been serving as Board chair was scheduled to roll-off after reaching his term limit and Judi Shupper, after serving four years, expressed her desire to step down.
What is the current authority structure of Fellowship?
As an independent church, Fellowship maintains its own form of governance as outlined in our bylaws. The Board has responsibility for hiring and overseeing the lead pastor, and approving the annual budget. The lead pastor has authority over the vision and leadership of the staff and congregation. The staff has authority as assigned by the Lead Pastor. The congregation has representation on the Board, but individual congregants do not have a vote in church matters.
This period (2023) has exposed the need for a reconsideration and reset of our church’s governance. How independent churches define board, lead pastor, staff, and congregational roles, power and accountability can vary widely. We have had an approach in place that helped Fellowship get planted, launched, grow and develop, but now those original structures are the subject of reconsideration and revision.
What does the Board believe will be the future of Fellowship?
God has faithfully tended Fellowship for our first 11 years and provided a vision and community that so many of us have deeply cherished. We are in our most vulnerable moment and we need to seek God’s guidance and provision together as we do the healing and restoration needed.
We cannot see the future of Fellowship with all the clarity we would wish, but we do trust our lives together to God and believe his Spirit is and will do far more than we can ask or imagine.
To be attuned to that movement of God as a congregation, we need to be:
– For God to move afresh among us with healing, kindness, and power to guide and provide;
– For the Tate’s and Albert’s restoration and health;
– For the past, present, and future staff;
– For the movement of God in and through our Board, for stabilizing our community, and for wise decisions about the past and future;
– For the restoration of trust from our congregation;
– Pray the movement of the Holy Spirit to renew and restore us.
GRIEVING and LAMENTING
– Individually and together, entering into a season of grief and lament over the pain and losses of recent months;
– Laying our own words and deeds before the Lord in confession, repentance, and hope as may be relevant to us;
– Offering ourselves anew for whatever role God may be calling you to play in Fellowship;
– Reaching out in friendship and support to one another, especially those you know who may be in particularly rough places in this season;
– Particularly reaching out to children, youth, and young people in our church to listen and to care
– Knowing that God is ever our Good Shepherd and the One who never leaves or forsakes us;
– Act as tangibly as you can to show the love of God in Christ to one another and to lay down unnecessary division and disagreement.