Letter of Termination

Excerpt from a recorded phone call with Ann Shackelton, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Young Life.

Me: Yeah, I’m just wondering what the process was, what was communicated to you regarding any actions that I took that may or may not have contributed to my termination on August 31st 2015.

Ann Shackleton: Yeah. [Long pause] Ummm. Yeah, I don’t know, I know that we have our internal process, and we have our kind of documentation of all of that. We don’t really talk about the process. Did you have questions about your situation in particular?

Me: Yeah, I was just wondering when and how you, I think was it your- ultimately, it was your decision- to terminate me, is that correct?

Ann Shackleton: Umm, I was definitely a part of that decision, and we don’t use that language, terminate, umm, probably, as it comes, as it comes to volunteers, but that doesn’t matter.

Me: Ok, well I did receive a letter of termination, so that language was used.

Ann Shackleton: Oh. Well we don’t send letters of termination, so I don’t know where that came from.

Me: You don’t know where the letter of termination came from?

Ann Shackleton: No, but, but [M], is there anything that you wanted to to talk with me about other than asking about our processes and asking about your- you know- as it relates to you, was there anything else?

Me: Yeah I just wanted to know on, well ok, so are you, you say that you’re not aware that I received a letter of termination, is that correct?

Ann Shackleton: Oh, I don’t know whether you did or not. I know that we don’t send letters of termination to volunteers.

Me: Interesting, so how did I receive one then from a Young Life staff member?

Ann Shackleton: I don’t know, I don’t know.

Me: You’re not aware that Mason Rutledge sent me a letter of termination?

Ann Shackleton: I’m not.

Me: Interesting. Is that something that you would be interested in looking into and finding out more about?

Anne Shackleton: You know, umm I think I, think I probably have enough information about that and any communications that Mason has sent, but if there’s something else I can help you with I’d be happy to help, but I don’t, I’m probably not re-looking into, uh this situation, uh probably not, but umm, yeah. I’m not aware of a, I’m not aware, we don’t send termination letters, so, um I think that probably didn’t come from anyone, um involved or working for Young Life.

[According to Mason Rutledge’s blog he was “dismissed” from his employment with Young Life in January 2016. He writes about his “termination (great word)” on his blog after “25 years with Young Life, many of them in senior leadership.”   They’re denying now that Mason Rutledge even sent the letter of termination, saying that it if it was sent, it was sent by someone who is not working for Young Life. He sent it with a Young Life header in his email, and he CC’d Scott Didrickson, the Bellevue Young Life Area Director.  The document is titled “[My Name] Letter of Termination.”

Later in the phone conversation:

Me: Ok. Let’s see, in the letter of termination I received from Mason Rutledge, who is- was the Regional Director in Washington, he referenced a situation in which I told students that I was gay, and in that letter of termination that was sent by him as a Young Life staff member, umm he used that as the reasoning for my termination, so I’m just wondering what you can tell me about that?

Ann Shackleton: Umm what part?  You know, I don’t think I know of that communication from Mason. So I don’t know what was in there. What would you like to tell me about that?

Me: Ok, so he referenced a situation, like I said, in which I told students I was gay, and that was used as the reason for terminating me from my volunteer position in Young Life, and I was just wondering if you had been aware of that situation, and when and how, if you did become aware of that situation, when and how you became aware of that.

Ann Shackelton: I did become aware of that and umm just through conversation, umm with different people.

Me: Do you know, do you keep documentation of when those conversations occurred, when the conversations occurred with the people that you talked to, do you keep that documentation?

Ann Shackleton: Yeah, [M], those are, are process questions, and those are questions that, um, that I don’t think I can share with you today.

Me: Ok, I was just wondering if you can tell me on what date you became aware of that action that I took.

Ann Shackleton: And that’s, that’s again, that’s a process question, but if you have if, if you need to understand more of the reason why, I’m happy to share that with you, but the other process questions don’t really seem relevant to me.

Me: Ok, are you aware on what date I was asked to, in your words, ‘step down’ from ministry, are you aware of that?

Ann Shackleton: [M], is there anything else? So that’s another process question, so I’m just wondering If there’s anything else that I can help you- in terms of the understanding of things. And if not then you know that might be that all that we can, we can get to today, and that’s ok.

Me: Yeah, I guess what I would like to understand is when, when my termination from Young Life occurred because I’m confused about when that occurred. Or I guess I would say I’m not confused about when that occurred, but I think there is confusion in general about when that occurred.

Ann Shackleton: Yeah.

Me: So I was wondering if you could expand on that.

Ann Shackleton: Umm, probably not. I think if that, if that wasn’t clear to you at some point it did become clear to you, um so yeah there’s clarity around that now.

[I am clear that my termination occurred on August 31st, 2015, before Young Life staff became aware that I had told students I was gay in any Young Life setting, which is information they obtained from a blog I wrote on September 28th, 2015.  The letter of termination states that my termination was “effective immediately” on October 16th, 2015.  In an email from Mason Rutledge on October 14th, 2015, he revealed “I have learned some new information that is important to discuss in person.”  Because the only information used in my letter of termination was the fact that I told students that I was gay, it is reasonable, logical and rational to conclude that this reasoning was not the reasoning for my termination on August 31st, 2015, which is confirmed by Danielle Eylander in my other blogs Sexuality, leadership, grace, etc…. and Talking about It.]

Me: Ok, can you also expand on what happens when or if someone is, well you say asked to step down, what if somebody is never asked to step down from ministry, what happens then?

Ann Shackleton: It depends on the situation.

Me: Ok, well do you know in my situation that I was never asked to step down from ministry?

[Confirmed by Danielle Eylander]

Ann Shackleton: I did not know that. Tell me more about that.

Me: Ok, are you aware that I met with Scott Didrickson and Danielle Eylander on August 31st 2015?

Ann Shackleton: Umm, Ok, tell me more about that.

Me: Ok, well I did meet with them, and at that time Scott Didrickson did not ask me to step down from ministry, but informed me that I was being removed from ministry and terminated from ministry due to my sexual orientation being in conflict with Young Life’s policies, and I was just wondering a little bit more about that, if you could tell me how that came about, and as the Young Life head of HR, I believe you had a conversation with Scott Didrickson before that meeting occurred and expressed to him how you wanted him to communicate to me during that meeting, is that true?

Ann Shackleton: And, [M], that’s another process question, and that’s, I want to help you understand the reason for going on, uh, uh, this decision was made if that’s what you want to do. But, um, you know, the process questions, those are internal. We don’t disclose those.

Me: So would you say that, um, if it was impossible that any Young Life member or any Young Life staff knew on august 31st 2015 that I had talked about my sexual orientation with students in any Young Life setting, would it be impossible that that was the reason that was provided to me in the meeting on August 31st 2015 for the reason that I was either, in your words, ‘being asked to step down from ministry,’ or being removed from ministry against my will, or terminated, or whatever other terminology you want to use for that process?

Ann Shackleton: I’m not sure I understand that question. I, I get the date that you’re talking about, you don’t have to repeat that, but, what are you saying, is it impossible, what?

M: I’m saying that it’s impossible that I was asked to step down for that reason because on that date nobody in Young Life staff knew that I had taken that action.

Ann Shackleton: Oh. Well, um, Ok, I don’t, I don’t want to argue the dates over it with you.

Me: So if Scott Didrickson sent texts to people saying that I had been removed from ministry due to developing my own theology regarding sexuality, leadership and grace, would that have any indication on the reasoning that I was removed from ministry, or not?

Ann Shackleton: I don’t know, there’s been a lot of writing, you know, we’re aware of some of the writing that you’ve done, there’s been a lot of writing that goes on back and forth at different times and all of that, but those things are, those, those are our reasonings.

Me: Ok. Interesting.

Ann Shackleton: Yeah, and again, I think, [M], that’s probably getting into the more, more detail. And if there’s something you want to share with me I’m happy to hear it, but, um, I just want to make sure that you’re really clear about why you were let go, and other than that, if there’s something else that you want to share with me I’m happy to hear it.

M: Well I’m kind of unclear about why I was terminated on August 31st if Young Life staff had not become aware that I had taken that action. Was there another reason that was relevant on August 31st?

Ann Shackleton: Umm, no, I’m not aware of that.

Me: Ok, Ok, I was just wondering, can you expand on, as the head of HR, are you responsible or involved in the process for communicating to Young Life Area Directors or staff members how they should communicate to volunteer leaders when they’re asked to step down from ministry, or terminated, and how those meetings should go, what should be communicated during those meetings?

Ann Shackleton: Yeah, that’s another process questionm so, [M], if that’s the kind of question that you’re wondering about, I probably am not going to go down those roads. So if there’s anything else you can let me know but-

M: Ok, um. Danielle Eylander told me that there’s a policy that in Young Life no leader is allowed to lead students of the gender they identify as a partner. Is that true?

Ann Shackleton: I don’t, I’m not, no, we don’t have a policy like that.

Me: You don’t have a policy that says that adult leaders cannot lead students of the gender they identify as a partner?

Ann Shackleton: They identify as a partner. Well we don’t have, yeah, [M], I think that’s another policy/ process question. You said that they identify as a partner, I would hope that none of our volunteers have a kid as a partner, so I don’t understand-

Me: Oh, ok, sorry,

Ann Shackleton: -your question there, sorry.

Me: Let me see if I can, sorry, yeah, if I’m not being clear. Umm, Danielle Eylander communicated to me that there is a policy in Young Life, throughout all of Young Life, that leaders cannot lead students of the gender that they identify as a partner. Is that more clear, does that make more sense?

Ann Shackleton: Not really, no. As a partner? We don’t have kids be partners with leaders.

[Excerpt from my experience in a meeting with Danielle Eylander:

“I mean, like when it comes to kids, when they’re like, ‘Can gay people lead?’ What I tell them is like ‘I don’t know, like there’s not a technical rule that says they can’t but I do know, there’s a rule that says you can’t lead the gender that you identify as a partner, and I do know that there are probably tons of homophobic people in the ministry of Young Life, like it is a national- international- organization, but I don’t, like can I say what? Sorry.”


“Do I think that Young Life kind of has the policy, like am I aware that that’s something that’s like in spirit of their policy? Yeah, I kind of think that is, like that it’s a little difficult to have gay leaders in Young Life because you can’t lead the gender you identify as a partner, so where does that leave someone who, like, is in same sex relationships? I don’t, like, I, I think that it’s probably in the spirit of their policy.


“Well it’s, I didn’t use the word ‘policy.’  I used the words ‘You cannot lead the gender you identify as a partner.’ And I said, so I think, like, that is a rule.

Me: Well, so you see that’s like a rule.

Danielle Eylander: Yeah, that is.

Me: That only excludes gay people, that’s homophobic.

Danielle Eylander: I get that, by default, it is homophobic.

Other references to the letter of termination, which Ann Shackleton, Senior Vice President of Young Life’s Human Resources, claims she is unaware of and was not sent by any Young Life staff.




These texts from Danielle Eylander are from 10/15/15.  She responded to me only because I had posted on Facebook that I would bring the media to a club event due to Young Life’s refusal to provide a written record of my termination.IMG_0056

Danielle said there was a document in existence, from HR on 10/15/15 at 12:28PM.  If you look at Mason Rutledge’s email below, he said he would get help from “more folks” to write the letter based on “new information.”  That email is from 10/15/15 at 8:11PM, which means they intentionally changed the content of the document before sending it. They did so because I had asked to have an attorney present at the meeting in which they planned to give me the document, and then announced publicly that I would bring the media to a club event due to their refusal to provide the document.  It is unethical to change the reason of a termination and the content of a termination letter for any reason whatsoever.IMG_0057

IMG_0164 (1)

In the very first email, Mason Rutledge referred to my act of telling students that I am gay as “new information.” Scott Didrickson was CC’ed and involved in this process, so he was aware that I had been terminated on August 31st, 2015, and that this “new information” was being used to write my letter of termination six weeks later.

IMG_0162 (1)


Mason Rutledge acknowledged that “more folks” were involved on their end.  This also suggests that my desire to have an attorney involved influenced the content of this letter so include what he acknowledges was “new information.”  I had asked for a “written record of my termination,” which Danielle Eylander confirmed occurred on August 31st, 2015.  Any “new information” was irrelevant to this request.


The final “Termination Letter,” which Ann Shackelton claims she is unaware of, and was not written or sent by any Young Life staff member.  The only reason mentioned was based on the “new information” that Mason Rutledge referred to in his emails.  It is full of assumptions, because they “have no idea what was said during those conversations,” according to Danielle Eylander.  It is also completely different from this final communication from Terry Swenson, V.P. of Communications:



Me: No, that doesn’t mean, anything, because I said at the very beginning that I respect the beliefs. What I don’t respect is that you’re misrepresenting the reason and like saying there’s a lack of clarity, when I feel like I’ve been very clear, and like my only, and like, it’s just so messed up, that when parents were asking at the beginning, you were saying this can’t be discussed, and then once they created a false reasoning, then they sent out a letter, or an email saying like, ‘We’re disappointed in the decision he made communicating with students,’ like trying to imply that I had communicated inappropriately with students, which might be their opinion.

Danielle Eylander: No, and um, I can see how you would read that from the letter. People were trying to figure out how to word things, I do know in that writing of that letter, they were trying to word it in a way that would protect your business. But if it comes to that, like what was said in the letter and the reasoning, like I think there could be clarity from talking to Young Life.

Danielle Eylander: But from my understanding, they said they sent it to you. Like I was told, and they did. I was told that they sent you that letter. Like, I was told, because I know that they were trying. Whether people are- they’re homophobic or not, and if they are homophobic, they’re blinded, but I do believe people were trying to handle this in a way that was still honoring to you.

Danille Eylander: Yeah, well, oh yeah, yeah I think for sure, but I also think that, I mean, did I like the letter they sent out? No. I didn’t think about it in the sense that it would imply you communicated inappropriately with a kid.

[local pastor]: Is that a fair read of the text though?

Danielle Eylander: Um, I need to reread it. I didn’t even think of that because I don’t think that you’ve ever done that. I would never guess that of you, so that wasn’t.

[local pastor]: But do you think others could read it that way?

Danielle Eylander: I just don’t remember. I mean, I could say ‘Yeah’ and make it better, but I don’t know what it said anymore.

Danielle Eylander: Well, regardless, what if, if it was, how could I have helped?

M: You can tell the truth. That’s all I care about. Is that.

Danielle Eylander: But even in, in a job, you’re not allowed to discuss anyone’s termination, so it’s like I’m not allowed to discuss that.

M: Well it’s like you did, they did discuss it when they sent out that response to parents.

Danielle: And I don’t-

Me: And Young Life has a policy not to discuss situations with kids, and they broke their own policy by sending out that letter.

Danielle Eylander: In which letter?

Me: The response to parents which said ‘We’re disappointed in the decisions he’s made communicating with kids.’

Danielle Eylander: But the response, the letters that you asked people to send. I think at that point it changed because at that point you publicly asked Young Life to respond. [I never asked Young Life to respond]. So that’s where, different like I, I didn’t have anything to do with those letters. So what can I do? Let’s say, and like it’s hard, I don’t know, it’s different, it’s like Young Life is an international organization, I’m sure a ton of people in the organization do not agree with homosexuality in ministry. Most of the people that I work with here, in the greater Seattle area, don’t agree with that, so it’s different, I don’t know, it doesn’t feel like it to me, but I’m sure that’s- I don’t know why I’m saying that, but anyways, what can I do differently? What can I do to help the situation, or to help you to trust me, or? I’m not allowed to talk about your termination. Like I’m not allowed to really talk about anyone’s termination, and the only reason why we did with [another leader] is because [the other leader] asked that we do it a specific way so that [they] would be left out.

Me: Well I asked in that meeting, to be, I said, ‘I want this to be very open and honest. And I don’t have any problem talking about this, and I don’t want this to be something where people are wondering.’

Danielle Eylander: Right.

Me: I asked for that, and what I think is like very wrong, is like Scott said, like ‘The world will know we love God by the way we love each other.’

Danielle Eylander: Yeah.

Me: And then like you’re denying that this is the way you’re loving, by like removing me from leadership because I’m gay,

D: Mhmm

Me: Or because that’s not right or whatever.

Danielle Eylander: Mmhmm

Me: And like that is not allowing the world to see how you’re loving me. And telling me to be quiet about it is literally telling me, like ‘Don’t let people see how were loving you.’

Danielle Eylander: Mmhmm

Me: And that is very, very wrong. And

Danielle Eylander: What can I do? Personally what can I do?

Me: Like I think you need to be honest.

Danielle Eylander: I can’t really talk about it.

Me: Well you can.

Danielle Eylander: Yeah, I can, and I can, and if I did, I wouldn’t be able to work with the girls that I work with, and I wouldn’t be able to do the ministry, like, not the organization, but I wouldn’t be able to serve the girls that I serve in this capacity, like I do, and like I don’t think it’s wrong. I get that, really, like the context changes it because it’s hurtful to you, but I don’t think its wrong for an organization to say, ‘Hey, you can’t discuss what happened’ and it’s always been like that, we’ve never discussed why a leader’s been asked to step down. Like, or why a leader stepped down.

[local pastor]: Terminated.

Danielle Eylander: Terminated, yeah, that’s what I meant to say. But like, that is part of working, I don’t know, like, I need to think about that now that we’ve talked. Honestly, I feel like if we could have been in conversation maybe my eyes would have been open to a lot more. Like, I am trying to figure out what to do, I am constantly thinking, do I still want to be a part of this, and is this, like what is this communicating to kids about Jesus? What is this communicating to kids about Christians? Like, umm, and the church in general, and.

[local pastor]: What do you say about that?

Me: I say well the bottom line is I would never have been able to continue, and saying anything other than that is not the truth.

Danielle Eylander: See, now, I just don’t know because from my understanding the letter was sent, so maybe everyone is lying to me, but I doubt that Scott Didrickson was lying to me, because he said, ‘They sent a letter to him.’

Danielle Eylander: I mean, that’s fine, you can show me, I’m not saying that this is not true, but I’m saying the spirit of it was people were trying to write you a letter that was like, I, I, for sure, where Young Life wouldn’t get sued, I’m sure that was part of their intention.

Danielle Eylander:  I fundamentally disagreed with the letter. I risk you like saying that. I don’t like the letter they sent, I disagreed with it, but I can’t, like what do you want me to do? Like?

Danielle Eylander: Ok, I don’t know, I need to look at the letter, but I am sorry. I don’t know, I wasn’t a part of writing the letter and I really wanted to be. I did want to be. I in the beginning was really like, wanted to be a part of the conversation to like make sure it was loving and caring and to make sure nothing was hurtful, like I did want to be a part of it, but I’m so low on the totem pole, like I wasn’t a part of it, and I wasn’t reading it through the same lens as you and I’m sorry, I just, when I, I didn’t like the letter.

Me: But do you see how that-

Danielle Eylander: That’s a huge mistake and a wrong, yeah.

Me: They cannot say, ‘This is what we believe,’ but they can say some like allegation, and that is unacceptable and it is, it’s very homophobic.

Danielle Eylander: You said it before, I’m not in your position, so I don’t know what it feels like, and so I don’t know how the letter comes across to you.

Danielle Eylander: Like I had no idea that letter made you think or feel that way. And I feel like I should have time to process that. This is the first time Ive ever thought about that letter leading to that conclusion.

Danielle Eylander: Like I’m just like a part time staff person, and like anytime I talk about anything in this issue regarding like any sexuality in our faith and conduct, like I don’t- they know where I stand, so they don’t include me. Like I’m not included in any of the conversations. And even the letters that are sent to you like I’m not included in them at all, like.

[local pastor]: I was gonna say could you, could you admit that that those other- how can I state this? That if those other reasons were not stated in the original meeting between the three of you-

Danielle Eylander: Yeah

[local pastor]: That’s not fair

Danielle Eylander: Oh I totally agree, and that’s part of like the letter, like I totally agree that that’s not fair to you.

Me: Well that’s the only letter I got, but they also, when parents sent emails like supporting me expressing their opinion about the situation, they sent back like just one statement to everyone that sent that, they sent the same thing to everyone.

Danielle Eylander: And it was like short?

Me: No, it was like several paragraphs

Danielle Eylander: Oh, see and at that point like I just stayed out of it because I didn’t like the first letter that was sent to you. I just didn’t, it didn’t make, it didn’t I don’t know, I didn’t like it.

Danielle Eylander: And I cant, like I’m sorry if that letter was hurtful, and then hearing in the meeting where you were like ‘Yeah, that letter made it seem like I had inappropriate conversations with kids,’ I was like, what that alludes to, from my radar, but like I know Scott [Didrickson] was helping in that letter.  I think they were probably writing it, I think there was like a timeline that was really stressful, like I don’t know, but I don’t know.  You gave, I know that, that seems like an excuse, but it was like Scott [Didrickson] had to communicate with HR what you wanted, and he had to communicate with Regional Board, or Director, and Mason [Rutledge] had to communicate with HR and Scott [Didrickson].

[local pastor]: In the meeting with the three of you, do you recall it being any-any- do you recall the reasons for asking him to leave having anything to do with the cabin time or the conflict of interest or-?

Danielle Eylander: “No, no, Scott didn’t- I don’t think Scott said any of those things.”

[local pastor]: OK

Me: Ok, so, ok, uh.  So, well that’s clear, that’s what I was wanting to hear. That’s like very significant to me, because from there, I go to like this thought: I hear what you’re saying when you say, ‘We tried to word that- or they’, not you, you weren’t involved- they tried to word the letter, or the response sent to parents, in a way that would protect my business and not damage me.  And I, well don’t know if I agree with that, but from my perspective, saying anything like that at all is worse and more damaging than the reason that was originally presented to me for my termination.  So any way that they tried to word that reasoning is unfair to me, because it was not originally the reason for my termination.

Danielle Eylander: But you don’t know-

[local pastor]: It’s not what was said to him.

Me: It’s not what was said to me.

Danielle Eylander: Right.

Me: I feel like any way that they present a reason to parents that was not presented to me..

Danielle Eylander: Was unfair.

Me: Was unfair, and inappropriate, and definitely looks like backpedaling.

Danielle Eylander: But the letter was to you, not to parents.

Me: No, it was sent to parents.

Danielle Eylander: But they sent it to you, right?

Me: No, they sent me a letter of termination, that’s the only thing they sent me.

Danielle Eylander: But in the letter, they said- did they say that it was because of

Me: In my letter of termination they did say that it was because I told kids in cabin time.

Danielle Eylander: And that’s what they said in the letter to parents, right?

Me: No, they didn’t say anything about cabin time or Young Life setting- I can bring it up, but it doesn’t matter- well, it does matter.

Danielle Eylander: It didn’t match.

Me: What was said to parents, and what was said to me, and what was said to leaders and student leaders, and what was said to me, are not consistent, at all. They don’t match at all.  So I think any way that they tried to- I don’t want to get upset- but any way that they tried to phrase it

Danielle Eylander: Yeah

Me: Is unacceptable, because it’s not, they could have, they should have, been able to say to everyone..

Danielle Eylander: The same thing.

Me: ..across the board, what they said to me.  And I understand, I do understand the concept that organizations, and any business, do not really talk about terminations, I do get that, and I think that’s reasonable, but..

Danielle Eylander: We did.

Me: ..the bottom line is, it was talked about,

Danielle Eylander: Yeah, we did.

Me: “..in several ways, several settings, with several different audiences, and what they said to everyone else was not what was originally presented to me. And that is not fair. And that’s like, like..

Danielle Eylander: Not right.

Me: We can, like, it is a very, very, very big deal.  It’s a big deal to me, because we’re talking about this concept of, like, things aren’t clear…

Danielle Eylander: Yeah.

Me: And kids are growing up in this organization and someday might come out…

Danielle Eylander: Then that’s important.

Me: And this same thing can happen.

Danielle Eylander: Yeah.

Me: Like this was an opportunity for it to be somewhat more clear.

Danielle Eylander: Yeah.

[local pastor]: So you’re in agreement there.

Danielle Eylander: No, no, I agree.  I just don’t know how I can help.  Like, I, I, I think it should be- I mean, I think, for sure, it should’ve been, everything should have been- well, I don’t know.”

[local pastor]: Can I just- I just want to pause on a moment where you agree.

Danielle Eylander: Yeah.

[local pastor]: I just want- may it be duly noted for the record, that you agree that it should have been consistent across the board- what got said in the meeting,

Danielle Eylander: Yeah.

[local pastor]: “..what got said to students and parents, um, and that it wasn’t, to your recollection, and to the very best of your recollection, the reasons that were subsequently stated were not stated in that original meeting, to the best of your recollection.”

Danielle Eylander: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think that it should be.

Me: I think that any reason that contributed could have and should have been said in the meeting where I was terminated, and it wasn’t.

Danielle Eylander: Yeah, yeah, I agree.

Me: And Scott said in the meeting, like ‘I spent three hours on the phone with HR going over everything, and this is what our- this is what the response to you is.’

Danielle Eylander: But he didn’t list things, yeah.

Me: The response, the response, had nothing to do with what was said in the letter

Danielle Eylander: Right.

Me: “…what was said to student and adult leaders, and what was said to parents. And then, even that had nothing to do with, like, this other reason, conflict of interest, which- the first time I ever heard of that as a reason for my termination was in our last meeting.”

Danielle Eylander: No, I know you were talked to about before.

Me: Yeah, five years earlier.

Danielle Eylander: Right.  I do agree with you, I, like, thought the letter was horrible. The letter that you received, I was like, this is– but, but I don’t, I don’t think, I don’t know, it’s hard for me, yeah, business, yes, it should have been, and personally it is hurtful, but I also, it’s hard for me, I see, like, you know, Scott in this, and it’s like, I do believe he was trying, like you know, having a conversation with you, it’s like, wanting to be, like, there’s people involved, and he’s trying his best, and I don’t know.”

Me: Well, so where does it ever come up, the idea, like, ‘Why can’t we say to other people what we can say to him?’ Was that ever, like, considered?

Danielle Eylander: Wait, what?

Me: Like, ‘Why can’t we tell everyone the reason that we told him?’

[local pastor]: The reason that was originally given to him.

Danielle Eylander: I think the letter was horrible, but I don’t think people are saying stuff outside of what you were given in that letter of termination.  I think it’s wrong that he verbally told you something else, and the written thing was wrong- or- different, like I think that’s like wrong to do that, but I just, I also can see that someone is like ‘He wants specific reasons why.  Like, we told him why, and now he wants a letter.’  I think they just added more detail, I don’t know.  But I do think, I do think that was confusing, and I do think that it was not the best business way to handle it, like that was not the most appropriate way, and also I think that’s like, because it is centered around something that’s very personal, that’s very hurtful, and I, so, but I don’t know what I can do to help, like I want you to talk to Scott about this.  And Scott really doesn’t have any control either, but like, he was a part of more conversations, and like, uh, am I not giving you what you want?

[local pastor]: Ok, probably what happened was you were told one thing in the meeting, told another thing in the letter.”

Danielle Eylander: Yeah.

[local pastor]: And you don’t- there’s no dialogue in the letter, right you didn’t have a chance to, right.  That then, reasons were given, then, um, to students and parents that maybe originally agreed with the letter but did not agree with..”

Danielle Eylander: What was originally said.

Me: Right, and I think no matter how you…

[local pastor]: Wait, wait, wait, wait, and I’ve hear you say (Danielle) ‘that’s unfair.’

Danielle Eylander: Yeah, I do think that.

Me: I appreciate that.

Danielle Eylander: I shouldn’t defend Young Life, it’s just hard when you know-

[local pastor]: I think all of us would agree, I don’t know if you would,

Danielle Eylander: Yeah, yeah, I, I totally agree that that’s like not appropriate.

Me:  Well, I feel like, in order for something that significant to happen, there were a lot of moving wheels, and it had to take, like some, well, I do feel like the correct word is ‘conspiring.’ Like, ‘We cannot have the real reason get out, for whatever reason.’

Danielle Eylander: Right.

Me: ‘So, let’s change the reason.’  And no matter how you look at it, the reason that was changed sounds way worse for me, and way better for Young Life, than the reason that was told to me in that meeting.

Danielle Eylander: Mmmhhmm.

Me: So I feel like Young Life is this huge organization that has risk management and a bunch of lawyers that can tell them, ‘If we want to cover our asses..’

Danielle Eylander: Yeah.

Me: …’then, it doesn’t matter how bad we screw this guy, we’re going to say this in the letter, and we’re going to say this to the parents.’

[local pastor]: They would never use those words.

Danielle Eylander: Right.

Me: Of course. But then I’m just this individual person who was told something in a meeting, and got railroaded, I feel like that’s the right word.

Danielle Eylander: Yeah.

Me: And that meeting, and the letter that was sent to me, and the letter that was sent to parents, and there’s pretty much nothing I can do about it, and Young Life’s response is like, ‘Yeah, there’s nothing you can do about it.’  And I feel like it takes a lot of conspiring to do that, and multiple people played roles in that, and Scott was probably an integral role in doing that, and that, everyone is personally responsible for their own actions, and that was his action.

Danielle Eylander: Yeah, Ok.

Danielle Eylander: I don’t think anyone was being very legally minded.  I think that’s why the did mess up with the letters not matching.  I don’t think there was a lot of conspiracy, like, I don’t.  Like, if their lawyers were behind it, everything would be matched.

[local pastor]: Well you said what got said to him in that meeting

Danielle Eylander: Yeah.

[local pastor]: …didn’t match what was said later in the letter and to people, and that that was not fair

Danielle Eylander: Yeah.

Danielle Eylander: I stopped paying attention when they sent the letter, I mean the original letter because there was something that I was like ‘Oh I cant handle that.’ But like they don’t know.


6 thoughts on “Letter of Termination

  1. I was “terminated” from YL many years ago after volunteering for 10 years for about 1000 hours a year or more. My big sin was calling Colorado to express concerns about communication. I got a message on my answering machine telling me never to come back. Never did get a letter, except letters asking for money for about two years after I was booted. I asked for several times for them to stop sending me requests for money to which they sort of chuckled until I mentioned I will contact the postmaster general and file a complaint. I eventually got ahold of the person that made the decision to get rid of me and he basically made me feel like a piece of trash until I got ahold of his boss, then we had a more frank conversation. Eventually, I did reconcile with the local leadership because it was important to me. But I would never go back, there is an undercurrent of contempt by the higher-ups for volunteers and they don’t even see that. Their entire boogieman attitude towards people who are gay is stupid. I mean local leadership fully knew leaders even staff that were involved in “relationships” which broke YL “moral” code but no one did anything because well these folks were big donors or in good with local leadership. Also the run around pass the buck denial defend nonsense is typical evangelical rhetoric. I loved my time at YL and was stupid enough to think it was a calling. I no longer think like that. They don’t get how bad they hurt people or they don’t care. I think it’s a little bit of both. Im sorry this happened to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These people were clearly morons according to these receipts you’ve provided. They couldn’t answer any of your questions. Or were not willing to, shall I say.

    But as a Christian, if I’m teaching my children that marriage is between a man and a woman and you’re teaching them that God is okay with Christians being gay, I would have a huge problem with that too.


  3. M,

    I don’t understand why you’re so upset at Young Life. You came out as gay and being attracted to men. How can you expect an organization like this to let you lead young men that you could be attracted to.

    The same reason why they wouldn’t let me, a heterosexual male, lead a young female group. You can be upset at how the handled it, but not at the heart issue.


    1. Thanks for the comment. Many people have made it to the point of understanding that no one can tell anyone how they can and cannot feel about anything. I would agree with that, so I don’t feel I need anyone’s approval to feel any of the emotions I have felt throughout this experience.


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