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Rogue Retreat founder quits: Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

Chad McComas said he was given the option to resign or be fired from Rogue Retreat this week and chose not to resign.

Rogue Retreat founder Chad McComas was let go by the nonprofit on Tuesday. [Mail Tribune/file photo]

Rogue Retreat founder and executive director Chad McComas was told Monday to resign by 5 p.m. Tuesday or be fired from the organization he founded more than 24 years ago. He chose the latter.

McComas had been on administrative leave since mid-June, after a pair of nonprofits, Siskiyou Abolition and Siskiyou Rising, claimed meetings held at McComas’ Set Free Ministries endorsed gay conversion therapy in 2018. As a result, McComas was targeted by a couple. of investigations.

The allegations against his church, Set Free Ministries, were found unfounded in July by Medford City Attorney Eric Mitton, but a second investigation of Rogue Retreat had not yet been concluded.

McComas and employees, former and current, said financial problems were to be blamed for the decision to fire him after the fallout from the allegations led to a decrease in financial support from other local nonprofit groups.

Those closest to McComas continue to defend him and worry about Rogue Retreat’s survival without him at the helm. Former employee Krystal Perkins planned a rally at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, with a march to follow at the Rogue Retreat offices.

A petition posted online (, demanding to “Reinstate Chad McComas,” garnered more than 100 signatures within hours Monday.

McComas confirmed to the Mail Tribune Tuesday that Rogue Retreat’s board asked him Monday to tender his resignation or be terminated.

“I can say that I am deeply hurt and hurt that the board of Rogue Retreat has decided to fire me. For 24 years, I have built this organization from the ground up. It is my heart and soul, and I could never treat anyone like I’ve been treated. My heart is to do no harm,” McComas said Tuesday.

Although the city of Medford’s investigation found allegations against Set Free to be unfounded, McComas said the board was threatened with loss of funding from a number of nonprofits following the allegations.

“Because the investigation found that I did nothing wrong, they can’t fire me for that, so they say they have a list of things I was a bad administrator about, which is not true,” McComas said.

Rogue Retreat board members declined to comment. Rogue Retreat marketing coordinator Joe Powell said in an email to the Mail Tribune, “There is no official statement from our board of directors at this time.”

Shannon Holland, manager of the Rogue Retreat-run Kelly Shelter, confirmed Tuesday that she heard from a management meeting Monday in which the decision to fire McComas was announced. Holland later expressed frustration over McComas’ continued absence during a staff meeting, calling McComas’ loss “devastating for so many Rogue Retreat employees and customers.”

“They held a meeting and let all the managers know they were letting him go. They fired him. Many people are afraid of losing their jobs, so they don’t know what to do, but this is a mistake. I can’t see how it happens,” Holland said.

“We wouldn’t have any of this without him. Pastor Chad has helped a lot of people who are now on the payroll,” Holland said. “He’s changed people’s lives. He’s married people. The only thing I’ve seen him ask people and their personal lives is, ‘Do you have faith?'” And he’s accepted you and loved you unconditionally, no matter how you answered to this question.

Holland, who said she was homeless for five years, credits McComas with helping her turn her life around.

“We just had a staff meeting, and everyone was talking about how great their weekend was, so I decided to bring the elephant in the room,” he said.

“I don’t want to be in this organization without Pastor Chad. He inspired and built this place, and they are cutting into the heart and soul. Even if I wanted to be homeless again, I wouldn’t be afraid to stand up for fight it.”

Former Rogue Retreat participant Dana Bogdanove, who described herself as non-binary, said McComas had been a constant supporter of her decision to “come out.” Having moved to Portland last year, Bogdanove said they were shocked by the allegations against McComas and his firing.

“When I heard about the whole thing and that it started because someone accused Chad of being transphobic and homophobic, it was absolutely laughable,” Bogdanove said.

“I’m non-binary and queer, and I worked there for over a year, and the only homophobia or transphobia I experienced was from a co-worker who was fired a week later. Chad never wronged me. gender and was always extremely accepting. Most of Medford isn’t quite up to date on pronouns, but Pastor Chad was someone who cared about how he made people feel.”

Bogdanove added: “He was actually the one who came and checked in with me after that incident with the co-worker, and that impressed me because he was in the lead (as director) and I was in the part inferior. I had to give grammar lessons to so many people when I came out, and Chad was not one of them.”

McComas said he learned of as many as 50 layoffs in recent weeks. He questioned that his leadership and management of the organization was used as a reason for termination.

“I have given 24 years of my life, 12 without pay. I almost lost my house at one point because we bought a property and it almost went upside down. This just hurts so much because it’s my baby,” she said.

“This is an organization that, when I left, had over 500 people a night in housing, over 100 employees and many, many contracts and agreements between various organizations in Southern Oregon that supported our mission” .

McComas added: “Because of the allegations in June, things have really gone south, even after there was no evidence of anything I did wrong. I spoke to a lawyer who said, ‘No you have no reason to resign, and I advise you not to do so’”.

Contact Mail Tribune reporter Buffy Pollock at 541-776-8784 or Follow her on Twitter @orwritergal.


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