Last week’s national conference of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) was entitled “Rooted,” but it left some attendees feeling the opposite—confused, torn, and disconnected—amid allegations of hostile conduct surrounding the urban ministry’s top leadership.
The concerns, which centered on CCDA president Noel Castellanos, were referenced by speakers on stage, on unsanctioned flyers distributed during the sessions, and in a statement of repentance posted on the CCDA website.
Then, on Tuesday morning, CCDA announced that Castellanos had resigned prior to the 30th annual gathering, but the ministry’s board decided to wait until afterwards to announce his departure in a “sincere effort to keep the focus on this tremendous milestone as well as honor the life and commitment of our founder, Dr. John Perkins.”
Castellanos, who led the Christian justice ministry for more than a decade, spent the past two years engaged in a reconciliation process with former coworkers, according to CCDA.
“While my resignation was offered in part due to our inability to resolve the conflict with former staff, it was also a decision that I have been contemplating for the last year to allow me to pursue other passions and opportunities,” he wrote in his resignation letter.
“My heart is full of gratitude for the immeasurable number of friends I have made along this journey and hope to continue in the future.”
The CCDA board privately accepted Castellanos’s resignation at a regularly scheduled meeting on October 31. The next day, the beginning of the three-day annual conference in Chicago, corresponded with the launch of a public campaign from six former staff members calling for him to be removed from leadership.
Several women described an “abusive” work environment at CCDA’s national office on a website called 3 Rs Revisited, #RememberRepentReconcile. The name and tagline are a play on the three Rs at the center of CCDA’s justice work: reconciliation, relocation, and redistribution.
The “CCDA community has not always been aware of the toxic environment staff endure,” the former CCDA employees wrote, going on to list alleged issues including “unpredictable emotional explosions, mismanagement of finances, manipulation and intimidation of staff, urging staff to do unethical things, and Noel being found unfit for large portions of his role, and continued support from CCDA’s board of directors.”
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Source: Christianity Today