by Jim Butler
The Local Servants Directory, mailed with the March/April 2001 issue has proven helpful to many. I have received dozens of emails, phone calls and letters from people who, through this directory, found a group with which to fellowship, received visitors to their group, found a Feast site to attend, found lost friends, found someone who could help them, made friends, etc. I would guess many more used it and did not tell me.
I also received corrections and requests from new people who want to be listed in the next directory. I also received some complaints. Some people listed in the directory received one or more pieces of unsolicited mail:
1) Several pages of close-typed material with numerous scriptures.
2) Copies of old Herbert Armstrong co-worker letters.
3) Several pages about past Church of God problems claiming that I gave permission to use the directory as a mailing list.
I sent a letter similar to the one at right to those who copied part of the directory in a manner violating its copyright and two agreed to stop doing so. The third person probably has not had time to respond.
I think most of those listed in the Local Servants Directory were strong enough not to be upset by these mailings. Those who were upset might want to take their names out.
Someone, I cannot remember who, commented to me: “We teach our children the Bible stories about David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions’ Den, and the Apostles and their persecutions—then we get a couple of unwanted but harmless letters in our mailbox and we decide that serving God in this way is just too dangerous. And our children say, ‘those stories don’t have anything to do with real life, do they?’”
Dear [person who used the Local Servants Directory as a mailing list],
Thank you for your continued interest in God, the Scriptures and His people.
This letter is in regard to the use of the Local Servants Directory ©2000 or ©2001 by Norman Edwards. I produced this publication to help people find others with which to fellowship. Several of the people who were listed in that publication received unsolicited letters that I believe were from you. The purpose of your letters was not to seek fellowship, but to mail literature expressing your particular point of view.
The letters that you apparently wrote contained no personal contact information, but [description of the literature the person mailed]. I have testimony from at least three people who were offended or upset by receiving this unwanted mailing. The first page of the Local Servants Directory clearly explains the purpose of this document and that it is not to be used as a mailing list. Every page contains the copyright notification. I have no record of you asking for my permission to use this information.
I consider this a serious offense and as the publisher of this list, I believe I have an obligation to defend those who gave me permission to publish their names and contact information.
I am coming to you alone, obeying the first step of Matthew 18:15–17. I hope we can resolve this issue together. I realize that you may not have read the first page or the copyright notes on every page. You may believe that God wanted you to do this in spite of what I requested. There is also a remote possibility that some mistake has been made or some fraud has been committed (someone falsely using your name or address). Please respond to me so that we can resolve this issue simply and inexpensively.
If you have used the Local Servants Directory as a mailing list, I will forgive the offense and will not hold you accountable for any damages if you will, within the next 30 days, write, and cause to be delivered to me, a letter for publication that includes the following: 1) an acknowledgement that you did use the Local Servants Directory as a mailing list to send your literature, 2) an apology to those who received it, 3) a statement that you understand it was a mistake and that you will not do it again. If you use the Local Servants Directory again as a mailing list, or if you take additional time and expense (more documents, certified mail, process servers, air travel, etc.), I will no longer consider the above remedy sufficient.
If you have not used the Local Servants Directory in this manner, please write and let me know and save both of us further expense and effort. If I do not hear from you, I will continue with the other steps in (Matt 18:15–17). If you will not hear “the Church”, I will be forced to treat you as “a heathen and a tax collector”, which would mean taking up the issue in civil or criminal court. I hope that we can settle this matter between ourselves, or at least within the Church. If I do need to take this matter to “the Church”, please let me know what body of believers you would consider “the Church” to hear this circumstance.
Norman S. Edwards