Current Page: 7 of 19
Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 23, 2012 06:31AM


My wife and I were a part of Covenant Life Church and Lord of Life Church in Indiana, PA, for nearly 8 years (1984 – 1996).

I had been an assistant home group leader until my wife had a nervous breakdown in December of 1990. She was clearly postpartum, as she just had our fifth and last child. On top of that I foolishly decided that she should have a tubal ligation only a few days later. She was also homeschooling our two oldest. But because of this, which translated into me “not taking care of my family….” I was removed.

At the same time there was another person who was a home group leader, whose two children were in rebellion, and was not removed. (I’m not saying that he necessarily should have been removed; probably not in fact.) Also, when my wife was having mental-emotional problems it was my fault; but when the wives of certain other men in the church, even leaders, were having similar problems, it was because of a chemical imbalance.

There has clearly been a double standard as to who is in and who is out. I have also become aware of many other such occurrences. The way that I discovered I was no longer an assistant home group leader was when I went to my church mailbox it was no longer there. It’s similar to them painting over Larry Tomczak’s door, but on a much smaller scale.

When the radical change in PDI’s doctrine occurred I strongly spoke out against it. At that time there was hardly anyone, if anyone, in our local congregation who agreed with TULIP. But they eventually became heavily indoctrinated, sort of the way the JW’s do via their Watchtower and Awake literature, much the same way our pastor previously was.

In fact, at one point, before my pastor, Mark Altrogge gave in, during one of our three-hour knock down face to face meetings; I asked him how long he had been a Christian. It was like 25 years. I asked him if during that time he read God’s Word regularly. The answer was yes. Then I asked him if he read it prayerfully during that time. Again the answer was yes. Then I asked him when he came to believe in TULIP. He knew at that point that he had just got busted and he uncomfortably admitted that it had been about two years earlier when C.J. started propagating and later pushing it on people.

Mark then agreed to read any book of my choice which took an opposing view to Calvinism. I asked him to read Robert Shank’s “Elect in the Son”. He read it and about three weeks later came up to me before a church service and called me aside and, very quietly and almost secretively, told me that he completely agreed with Robert Shank’s position.

Now he had to break the news to Brent Detwiler or Dave Harvey or whoever was “Over” us at that time. They were panicked as he was one of their main songwriters. He had actually discussed pulling some of his songs that had a Calvinistic bent to them.

He was asked to write a position paper and he asked me to help. I did, but it was very lengthy. So Mark wrote his own, which was very pointed and well written. He then submitted it to the PDI leadership. Also during that time he had even seriously talked with me about leaving PDI, and we discussed whether or not he should turn the church building over to them.

After submitting his paper Mark was asked to “dialogue” with them on the subject. When I asked him how the supposed dialogue was going he said that they gave him several books to read and discuss, like Anthony Hoekema’s “Saved by Grace”. Then C.J. even invited him to speak at Covenant Life Church, which of course was PDI’s mothership.

I very much doubt if he would have ever smelled CLC’s pulpit had they not been going all out to dissuade him from what he actually believed. It was either conform, conform, conform, or out, out, out.

Towards the end of our time at that church I continued to address many of the following things listed below, but Mark refused to hear. I had been saying and have continued to say that:

People of Destiny / Sovereign Grace Ministries leaders and local pastors are elitists who think they have a corner on the truth; they are very proud and arrogant; they view themselves as the enlightened ones, while viewing all other Christians and their church affiliations as the unenlightened; in other words, those who do not agree with their theology are looked down on as second-class Christians and denominations; they are manipulative and controlling; much of the time they act like a bunch of clones; and that they are absolutely obsessed with TULIP.

Over the years there have been lots of hypocrisy and a clear double-standard regarding how they treat certain people and the way they treat certain other people. I’ve always likened Sovereign Grace Ministries to the Holy Roman Catholic Church. At the very top you have the infallible Pope CJ Manahey. Then the cardinals, arch-bishops, bishops, priests, etc.

In his 7/10/11 Sunday evening message at Covenant Life Church, it was refreshing to hear Josh Harris finally admit to several of the same things. In Brent’s “documents” I found the part about CJ blackmailing Larry, Doris, and Justin sickening and reprehensible. Isn’t it interesting how even though C.J. is supposedly so close and in tune with God, it took him some 13 years to acknowledge his sins of pride, hypocrisy, manipulation and mistreatment of others; and now finally he has gotten around to making things right with Larry. It so obvious, as is evidenced in Brent’s documents what an idol Reformed theology is within Sovereign Grace Ministry..

Case in point, within these documents, C.J. stated that it would have been OK and that he wouldn’t blackmail the Tomczak family, if Larry left the movement, but did not say that it was over “doctrinal” differences. It has become clear that C.J. is not the most humble person on the face of the earth. As a movement they need to realize their facade of humility is nothing more than false humility, which of course is just another form of pride. It is apparent that C.J. has always craved adulation and the leaders of People of Destiny / Sovereign Grace Ministry have always fallen over each other when introducing each other. And if they happen to be introducing one of their gods like RC Sproul it is downright scary.

As a post script I want to state that before CJ changed in the early 1990’s, he was my very most favorite Christian teacher. In my cassette/CD library I have by far more of CJ’s messages than anyone else. Unfortunately, his desire for prestige, power, and recognition made him the arrogant autocrat that he is today.

I don’t know where you stand doctrinally, but why all the fuss? Brent and CJ and all the other SGM leaders and their underlings should not be upset about any of the things that are going on at this time since God foreordained it from all eternity; as He did with all demonic activity, and every rape, murder, disease, child molestation, etc. True? Over and over again their own theology mocks them.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 23, 2012 06:40AM


I am a teen and have been attending Covenant Life Church for my entire life (17 yrs). I grew up around all of this stuff and accepted Christianity to be what I was taught from Covenant Life Church. I was fed the doctrine of Covenant Life Church when I was first starting out in my walk with the Lord and all throughout since. I was always under this impression- You go to church, and whatever the pastors at Covenant Life Church say is right. To me, because the pastors taught how humility is supposed to look and spoke in the most “humble” voice ever and with such sincere and calming slow gentle tones…Anything they said had to be true. This was earlier in my walk before I really ventured to question whether what they teach could be wrong. I felt that if I ever thought that, that I was cursed for good.

Now, I want to say that even though I have never met with a pastor about issues, the heavy Sovereign Grace Ministries / Covenant Life Church values still affect me as a teen just as much as it affects a lot of the adults. (Even if I have never been slammed by pastors during a counseling meeting.)

What do I mean by that? Well, teens are taught what their parents have been taught. And since there seems to be too heavy of a vice on “not questioning authority”, those teens get brained washed and never want to question whether what they are being taught is true. A lot of my friends would come up and tell me it was wrong to date/ like a girl if I was a teen. There was no indication of any impurity, but right off the bat they said it was wrong. I would get prescribed the good ol’ award winning, top seller, teen sensational book… “I kissed dating goodbye”. Of course I felt soooo happy and full of joy to hear I needed to read that book just because I liked a girl and therefore was idolatrous, sinful, and impure. Heheh…. not….. It hurt me soo much and still hurts me today. My teenage friends would over and over tell me I was wrong for doing something that the bible says is very natural: loving someone of the opposite gender and in the main goal of one day marrying them.

Another thing I recently have been hit with is… In light of all of the things going on with Sovereign Grace Ministries and CJ.. I have come to realize so many things I was blind to. I realized that there were major things that were concerning with certain aspects of Covenant Life Church / Sovereign Grace Ministries. One thing from my point of view is there is an unhealthy use of grace and an overpowering message of grace. Don’t get me wrong, I am full on for grace.. But when it becomes a thing were you can never stand up for what’s right, is a safe haven to continue with sin, and/or smoothes over grievous sins such as abuse, etc…Then I am very concerned/ angry. [Romans 6:1-3]

I would go to my friends for advice of how to handle certain situations (specifically a situation that involved one of my friends being abused.)

My friends told me stuff like, ”look, you need to not be bitter at this person, you need to just forgive them…I think having the authorities involved is way out of the question.. The pastors are more qualified.” I was not bitter, but was angry that this incident was going on, not stopping, that it was being hidden, and not being dealt with. [1 Corinthians 5:13]

I would get that response over and over. Seemed like nobody was willing to support me and understand anything. Many told me I was self righteous and wasn’t forgiving/forgetting, and didn’t understand because I was a teen.

To me… if someone is abusing someone and is hiding it, not stopping, and doesn’t care about what they are doing… something NEEDS TO BE DONE…cant just shove it under a rug. I’m tired of being wussified by being shoved down for every time I want to stand up for what’s right!! I cant stand it one bit!!!!!!

Right now I will say I believe the friends who told me that were wimps. I know that may sound strong but I am tired of this wimpy ‘go with the flow’ mindset Covenant Life Church has laid. Can nobody stand up for what’s right anymore?! The teen world of course is filled with “oh it’s not my place to get involved…plus I don’t want any trouble to penetrate my bubble”, but I have seen it in adults too. I’m sorry but as a teen to see adults, especially leaders of my church not take a stand for what’s right, it realllly doesn’t look cool at all to me.

We are at war with sin. You’re never going to see a soldier decked out with firepower walk up to an enemy who has only a knife and say “oh please don’t hurt me!!! Please oh please oh please don’t hurt me!!!” No, he would use the power he has to take out that opponent. We as Christians should realize we got firepower from the Lord to take out sin and resist Satan who only has a little dinky knife. And we need to use it! We can’t just be driven by our sins and act like there is no battle.

Covenant Life Church seems to view sin as something that’s just normal. Its almost like its considered incurable and that we are certain to sin at some point each day. While that may be true I really don’t think from a teen standpoint that we should expect to sin. We should expect not to sin since we are reborn by the blood of Christ!

That’s the basic gist of my experience at Covenant Life Church as a teen. After leaving I have lost most of my friends and hope to be able to get some support through the ex member blogs and help other people too who need support. This has really been a dark shadow in my whole life so far and a huge trial. Thanks.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 23, 2012 06:52AM


I was born again in the mid-1990s in a Spirit-filled non-denominational church. It was a beautiful time as a content and single new believer for many years. In 2003, my husband and I were married and we were blessed with a healthy, beautiful daughter. Early on in our marriage, my husband was experiencing problems getting a job in his field. I have always been a working mother.

When our daughter was about 2, my husband was offered a job in his field at Northwestern in Chicago (we live in Maryland) and off he went with plans that we would follow shortly after.

During this time, as a new mother, I started attending a SGM church in the area (we were introduced to SGM during a time when we were starting an ESL program at our church, so we fellowshipped with some members of the SGM ESL ministry). The people were all so friendly and I was lovingly challenged in my role as mother. Initially, it was a blessing. I had never been in a congregation before where most of the women stayed at home and at first I found this to be refreshing and even progressive.

After about a year, my husband was offered a position in the DC area, so he moved back to the area. By this time, I had pretty much stopped fellowshipping with our prior church and was only fellowshipping at the SGM church.

Initially my husband also enjoyed fellowshipping there although he also missed the Spirit-filled type of worship and fiery preaching that we had at our home church. We started attending Care Groups. I was the only woman that worked.

As time went on, things started to change. Often times at the children’s birthday parties, before someone would ask my name, they would ask me whether my child was homeschooled or attended the church’s school….I actually tried to enroll my daughter in the church’s school, but since we were only in Starting Point and we were not official members yet, we were declined. My daughter started to question why I dont stay at home and she started to experience some separation issues that she had not had prior to us being in the new environment. What I saw was refreshing and progressive, became an area of condemnation and a heavy burden for me.

Our marriage was starting to fall apart. I would openly discuss what was happening in Care Group meetings and people would always comment that it was “refreshing” that I was so open. I wondered to myself what the purpose would be to get together if people were not going to freely share what was going on. We sought mariage counseling from our CG leaders and then we were supposed to be escalated to our pastor. I contacted our pastor for several months asking when we could receive the marriage counseling. We were told that there was a backlog. By the time that I did meet with our pastor, my husband had left our family again. I asked him why it took so long and he said that he had been really busy with pastor retreats, vacations, etc. He met with me monthly and I did begin to experience some healing.

Initially, our Care Group leaders were really supportive of me but they began to ostracize my husband. I thought if I can forgive him and want reconciliation, who are they to turn their backs on him when he had not offended them. I started to feel very alone. I was told by my Care Group leader that it would take a “miracle” to save our marriage. My husband was removed from the CG contact lists even after I asked that he be kept on the lists in case anyone in the CG wanted to reach out to him. The CG leader denied my request stating that my husband was not a member and that he did not think it was wise for a variety of reasons.

It was very uncomfortable for me to attend a family care group when my family was in a crisis and my husband not there with me. I felt a lot of shame. I was not able to be a stay-at-home mom. I have to work everyday and get babysitters to help in caring for my daughter. I dont have a husband that can support our family with his income, in fact our family is falling apart….After several requests, I was not assigned to a new care group as the church was having difficulty identifying a care group that had single mothers in it is what I was told. Since we are not divorced, I could not attend a Singles care group. After not fellowshipping for several months, I asked if I could attend our care group’s women’s fellowships only and the pastor agreed.

I continued to attend church and even started to attend the Single Parents ministry for a while. The Single Parents ministry is run by a pastor and his wife and all of the lay leaders are married. The men and women have to pray in separate rooms…..

My husband is back in the area, but not living with our family. Our care group leaders have not asked for his number to reach out to him in any way. One of the CG families visited him at the restaurant that he works at and I thought that was a kind gesture. I sort of feel that it may be a relief for the CG that I am no longer part of the regular meetings so that everyone can get on with their marriages and our marriage problem is no longer the big pink elephant in the room.

BUT, by the grace of God, I am still standing and pressing ahead. As much as I would love to be able to stay home and spend more time with my precious daughter, I cant. So, I spend as much time with that I can in the evenings and weekends. I am the class mom and try to make her events at school when I can. I have been blessed that my job has also enabled me to work from home sometimes.

We visited our home church, and I have thought abut returning. Although I still feel so much shame about the state of our marriage. I NEVER thought that I would be living as a single parent. We are not divorced. The word is so hard to say and think about.

For the past couple of weeks, I have chosen to rest and have devotional time with my daughter than to rush to church. The weeks are so full of rushing that I feel we really need some downtime.

With all of the recent changes at the SGM church and pastors and congregants leaving, it feels like so much is shifting stand. So the Lord reminds me to stand on His solid rock.

My daughter reecently completed the Summer Celebration. After the week was over I asked her how it was. She responded that it was fun but that all they talked and sang about was sin. She said that it made her feel a bit down and without joy.

I really feel like we are at a crossroads. I dont want to be a “Church hopper” but at the same time I believe that we need a healthy church right now. But then I wonder if there is such thing. As most people say, “all churches have their problems”.

I feel optimistic about the future, but I am drained over all that has happened over the past couple of years. We are leaving for vacation on Saturday for a week and we are looking forward to being able to rest for a while…

Just sharing my story, which has brought some release.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 24, 2012 08:49AM


Brothers and Sisters,

I’ve been made aware that Brent Detwiler has emailed a document to many of you regarding what he calls the “ethical demise” in Sovereign Grace Ministries.

While I’m not surprised by this development I am saddened and angry. This is what we would have anticipated when, in November, we marked Brent as a divisive man because of his persistent gossip, slander, scoffing, and threats. If you had any doubts whether this was just, I hope this latest development will put them to rest. He has now, in a sense, invaded your home and workplace with his campaign against Sovereign Grace Ministries and Crossway. Now that that door has been opened I will not be surprised if he continues to do so. So while I’m not planning to respond every time Brent may send something I think it is important to respond this first time.

Let me be very frank with you. His claims of love and concern aside, in my judgment (and it is a pastors sacred duty to make judgments in situations like this) Brent is driven by a sinful lust for vindication and vengeance.

The charges that Brent has brought against C.J. Mahaney have been thoroughly examined by respected pastors in Sovereign Grace Ministries who, having all of Brent’s documents, other pertinent documents and the first-hand testimony of many witnesses had access to more evidence than any of us will ever be privy to.

Their findings were published and are still available on Sovereign Grace Ministries’ Plant and build Blog. Nothing was hidden, nothing was kept back. And considering all this evidence they found C.J. fit for ministry. Let me quote to you from the Sovereign Grace Ministires, board’s recent endorsement of CJ.

After reflecting on the events of the past year and C.J.’s history with us, we think it is important that you know of our gratitude and great respect for the man who founded and has led our family of churches for many years. He has significant leadership gifts, has a history of considerable fruitfulness over 35 years of ministry, and has been rigorously examined over the past year (both through individual examination of accusations brought against him and through a comprehensive evaluation of our entire ministry). This comprehensive process has clearly confirmed C.J.’s fitness to lead and his exceptional character as he has graciously endured major trials. Through all of this he has been found to be a man and a minister of fundamental integrity.

In addition, Sovereign Grace Ministries has undergone a rigorous examination by Ambassadors of Reconciliation, a report that is also available on the blog. Sovereign Grace Ministries recently published our response to the recommendations in both those reports on Plant and Build and we welcome anyone who hasn’t read it to please do so. Sovereign Grace Ministries and the individuals involved have confessed and apologized where appropriate and as you will see in our responses are taking steps to correct the areas that these reports have noted.

Brothers and Sisters, we must not allow this witch hunt of C.J. Manahey and other Sovereign Grace Ministries leaders to continue. We can’t stop Brent from his writing but we can and should refuse to read or listen to the divisive speech he and others continue to spread. To do otherwise is to poison your soul, damage Crossway and displease God. I would not be a faithful pastor if I didn’t tell you so. Sadly, many people have already left because they have been affected by this. I appeal to you not to let this continue.

I love Crossway. I think we are a solid biblical church. By God’s grace we faithfully preach the Word, care for one another, and have a heart for the lost. Like Paul I feel like a fool talking this way but for the sake of this church I believe I must.

So please join me, the pastoral team and many faithful members in fighting for Crossway. Please stir the love and loyalty I know is in your heart and pull together to weather this storm that we find ourselves still in the midst of. Please don’t let Brent or any other divisive man or woman destroy the unity that scriptures command us to be eager to maintain. Please don’t let the devil have his way in this. Please don’t let gossip, slander and divisiveness have their evil effects.

The other pastors and I have sensed for some time that we are on the brink of some great things here. I am excited about our future together. Please don’t let these issues distract us from what God is doing right here, right now. I am eager to work and fight to pursue our mission to make disciples of Jesus. Please continue to work and fight with us. Thanks to the many of you who are already doing this.
With affection,

Mickey Connolly
On behalf of the pastoral team

PS – as always, if anyone would like to speak to me personally about any of this please let me know and I will set up a time.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 24, 2012 09:31AM


John Loftness speaking:

I am here right now to give some context before CJ comes to give an update from his leave of absence. More than four months ago CJ volunteered to take this leave. The board decided to expand the board of three men by having all of the regional leaders in SG – I am one of those leaders – and so suddenly in a day I was transformed into a board member. I’ve known CJ for 33 years.

Since leaving CLC and moving to Solid Rock four years ago our friendship has only deepened though we don’t see each other as much as we once did. I give you that background because of our history because the board asked me to serve as a liaison with CJ so he could get appropriate updates of our work and developments that might affect him. The board also thought it was wise and helpful if CJ could receive pastoral care from someone who knew him well and was familiar with all that was going on in Sovereign Grace. I consider it a great privilege to stand with my friend during this most trying time. We’ve met often, we’ve talked extensively about his soul his leadership and how to evaluate Sovereign Grace. So what you are about to hear reflects the content of many many conversations over the last four months.

CJ speaking:

Over the last four months so many of you have communicated your support to Carolyn and I and we are so very grateful.

I have been looking forward to this moment when I could address you. I have spent much time over the last four months studying Second Corinthians. Paul is uniquely personal in Second Corinthians, uniquely heart revealing and heart appealing. He says to the Corinthians, “My heart is wide open to you.” He expresses this care in this unique way it is the only time he does this…soon after this statement Paul says this to them, “make room in your heart for us.” You bear no resemblance to the Corinthians…but I think there is relevance in his communication. I want to…my heart and I want to appeal to you to make room in your heart for me.

Here is the state of my heart. I am sad, I am hopeful, and I am eager to return to the privilege to serve you. Those would be three categories. I am sad. I reflect on what you have experienced during this season, the time you have invested because of all that has taken place, the challenges you have encountered over the past four months, how this has adversely affected your church. I locate myself in the midst of that and find my way to where I bear responsibility for that, I am so sad. My heart aches and breaks because I want to serve you. I don’t want to create work for you. So I pray that my sorrow and sadness is evident to you. I want to open my heart to you. I feel like it has been four months of mourning for the people I love the most.

But I am also hopeful because God is sovereign and He is wise and He is good and He has good purposes for Sovereign Grace and His good purposes cannot and will not be frustrated ultimately.

Deficiencies can be and will be addressed. Never has there been an interim board that we should be more grateful for or appreciative of. These men and their wives have given countless hours of sacrifice. We have been served heroically by these men and their wives. I am so grateful for Dave assuming this leadership role which he did not desire, did not volunteer for, and all the men participating on this interim board because they love the Savior and they love us so let them be the object of our appropriate gratitude for the countless ways they have served us during this season. I have hope because these are humble men, men of integrity, looking to lead us wisely as we walk forward. So I am very sad and I am also very hopeful. That is a little of my heart.

I want to appeal to you to make room in your heart for me. Many of you – this appeal isn’t necessary. From the beginning you have indicated that there has been no adjustment in your heart toward us. The room that was there prior is still there. And some of you seem to have added room in your heart. I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding. So many of you, this appeal isn’t necessary. Given the size of Sovereign Grace, given the diversity of questions, it is quite possible, it is understandable that for some there might be less room in your heart today for me. There may be little room , or maybe no room and if so, I understand. My appeal would simply be that I hope and I pray that what I say and in the future will allow you to make some room in your heart for me.

Here is some of what I have learned during this season of reflection. I hope this provides some clarity where there has been confusion. I am not trying to persuade you. I am just providing you with my perspective for your consideration.

I will address you from two categories: personal reflections and reflections on Sovereign Grace and my leadership of Sovereign Grace.

The leave of absence began in July. It was voluntary, it wasn’t imposed on me, it wasn’t disciplinary. It was a decision I made for a few different reasons. In light of the public distribution of Brent’s docs…here is what I wanted to do. I wanted to protect the office of the president of SGM. I wanted to protect the integrity of SGM, protect you and your church, I wanted to protect the integrity of the adjudication that was about to go forward. I wanted to take time to evaluate my heart and my ministry in relation to the leadership to Sovereign Grace. After the Leave of Absence was announced I was informed by numerous leaders outside of Sovereign Grace that this decision was decidedly unwise, that it would be perceived as an admission of guilt or some form of discipline, though neither would be true. And in retrospect I do think this was an unwise decision on my part with unintended consequences and the board agrees with me on this. This leave of absence rendered me unable to communicate my perspective or defend me from all manner of false accusations. But the leave did provide me with opportunity for reflection and unhurried evaluation and I am grateful. I have had so much interaction with individuals and received so much helpful and wise council inside and outside Sovereign Grace. I have learned much, I know God better, I love Him more, trust Him more, by His grace I am a wiser leader. So I am grateful for this unwise decision.

Next my transition to CHBC. After the public statement about the leave, I decided with the support of the board to attend CHBC during my leave of absence. I am very aware this decision has left you with a number of questions and I understand why.

Prior to the leave we had decided that Mark Dever would pay a strategic role in providing me with care and counsel…so his involvement was decided prior to the decision to attend CHBC. After my public confession and statement, it quickly became evident that for me to remain in CLC in this season would be untenable for a few reasons: there was hostility from a number in the church toward me after the release of Brent’s documents and I had disagreements with the approach that was adopted by the CLC pastors concerning these documents and in relation to my confession an approach that they thought best served the church.

So I didn’t see how I could remain in the church because I didn’t want to be a distraction, a disruption in the church, and I certainly didn’t want to be divisive to the church, because I love this church, I helped found this church, I gave 27 years of my life to this church. I wouldn’t want to do anything to harm this church. So I thought it would serve the church, serve the pastors that I wouldn’t be drawn in by the church to anything controversial by having to reveal any of my differences or concerns. I was desirous of serving the church.

I realize this doesn’t fit the expected practice relative to a church that preceded this decision…I know that, and I understand the questions but this was a situation where I believed and still do believe that the Word agrees that remaining in CLC would not have served this church or have served the pastors of this church. I did consider becoming part of Solid Rock Church but I didn’t want to be a distraction to that church either, didn’t want to draw that church unnecessarily into this controversy. I am at this time a walking controversy and I did not want to distract another church, to disrupt any church or to be divisive in a local church.

Finally I made this decision as a husband. My wife has an unusually strong constitution but I needed to protect her from the assaults that we were both the objects of. I am a husband before I am a president. When it was announced that I would be attending CHBC it was suggested that I was fleeing accountability and my response is as follows. I was not under any formal church discipline. Actually I was pursuing accountability. I was taking a leave of absence that I thought was a statement of accountability. I continue to participate in my small group with Bob and Jeff and Gary and continue to receive their care and council, encouragement, correction. I was running into, not away from, two separate panels and I was placing myself under the care and council of Mark Dever for the purpose of adding even more accountability. Mark is a true friend. We have a history of relationship. He is an excellent pastor and the man does not flatter.

One final reason – I needed help, I needed pastoral care, I needed the benefits of worship and preaching where I wouldn’t be distracted, where I wasn’t viewed suspiciously, where I didn’t have to be concerned about anyone approaching me before the meeting or after with questions or accusations. I needed to sit and listen to sermons that could speak to my needy soul. Mark is a dear friend to Sovereign Grace and I will never forget their kindness to us.

I don’t consider myself an exception at all. I do think these were exceptional circumstances.

Next, reflection on personal sins. At the beginning of the week of absence I have acknowledged – like all of you I have examined my heart – would be a practice for me – self-examination in some form has been a practice for me my entire Christian life. Perhaps for some it appears this self-examination, particularly as it relates to Brent’s docs, began in July with the leave of absence. But actually this began just after I received Brent’s first docs which would be more than a year prior to July. When he sent the first docs I immediately sent it to those I serve with. I began to consider the contents of his documents and invited the observations and evaluations of those I serve with and through this process I was able to identify with the help of friends and the eyes of others, my wife at my side providing her insight as well, and I was able to identify more clearly certain incidences of sin, habits of sin, most of which I had previously acknowledged years before but I was engaging them again. By God’s grace I was engaging them in a more perceptive way and I hope more thoroughly.

So over a period of a year I crafted and sent to Brent two written confessions as a means of humbling myself and in hopes of being reconciled with him. I want to make clear that my written confessions to Brent were sincere, I was convicted of those sins. I did grieve and still do over the effects of my sin and I communicated that to Brent as well as to other men that were affected by my sin. I still want to communicate that to anyone and everyone that has been affected by my sin. It is a part of what informs my sadness.

However, it does appear that some assumed or concluded that I agree with Brent’s narrative, his accusations and interpretations and judgments of my motives, and this simply wouldn’t be true and it never has been true. Brent’s docs construct a narrative that I disagree with. That narrative portrays my sins as scandalous, calculated and deceptive, and uncommonly intentionally hypocritical, and pervasively so, and this is false. Yes, sadly I am a sinner and throughout my Christian life I have never viewed myself otherwise, and I think I have acknowledged this however inadequately throughout my Christian life but I don’t believe my sins are uncommon or scandalous or disqualifying. I have never believed that since the day the first doc arrived.

So I was grateful for the findings and rulings of the first panel in this regard and their agreement with that assessment. I look forward to the review panel, the second panel’s findings and rulings regarding this matter as well. I wish those panels started today.

I think I made a significant error in how I related to Brent’s docs. I viewed his docs as a means of personal sanctification and I related to him as if this is a matter of personal offense. So I pursued personal reconciliation, I appealed repeatedly for mediation, I held out hope that Brent and I could be reconciled, and sadly to date that has proved to be a false hope.

I should have realized that Brent was making accusations and making charges, he was calling into question my fitness for ministry. This was First Timothy 5, not Matthew 5.

I think it might also be helpful to say something about the confession statement to Covenant Life and to you via a letter. Those confessions were sincere. I do, like you, take my sins seriously. I see them in light of the holiness of God. I need a Savior and I am so grateful that the Father has provided a Savior for my innumerable sins. But after making this confession I have received much helpful critique from a number of leaders about my confession and I have concluded that I did not serve you well with this confession. My confession has been misunderstood, misinterpreted, and exploited. My confession should have been more precise. It was my desire through my confession to humble myself, to take responsibility for my sin, to set an example, to protect SG.
Instead, my communication in some ways create speculation that left me vulnerable to interpretation, that left me vulnerable to exploitation. I left the wrong impression of my sin. In that confession I was trying to convey that I take my sins seriously but I regret that my language conveyed that my sins were unusually serious. I do not think that, I have never thought that. I didn’t distinguish my sins from Brent’s accusations, judgments, narrative and I should have.

One member of the first panel said this to me – quote: “I respect, CJ, how seriously you take the respectable sins but you left the impression that you did something scandalous. But nothing you confessed reached the level of public scandal requiring a public confession. Your sins are routine and common. That is not to minimize my sin. But it did help me to see the wrong impressions I left and I regret that.

Another member of the panel said this: “I think you made a genuine effort to be humble. You overstate the level of offense and you confuse those outside of Sovereign Grace.” I happen to think that is an accurate critique. I didn’t just confuse those outside Sovereign Grace, I confused those inside Sovereign Grace as well. I over-stated. I think I did that as well the year before at this Pastors’ Conference. My apology in relation to the polity process. A number of you came in afterwards and said in effect, you overstated that. I think you were right. I think this panel has an accurate assessment.

Finally, in relation to my confession, I wish I had defended myself. I think I briefly, at the outset, possibly at the conclusion, referenced my disagreements with Brent’s narratives and accusations. But I wrongly concluded that it wouldn’t be humble of me to defend myself. I am now convinced that this really reveals an ignorance of, a misunderstanding, a wrong application of humility. I had no category for an appropriate defense against criticisms and accusations, especially public ones. I think not having a category didn’t serve me.

I have no category for an appropriate defense against criticisms and accusations, especially public ones and I think not having that category didn’t serve me, didn’t serve Sovereign Grace, didn’t serve this process. Actually as I look back and reflect, though I was new to this process and evaluation, I wish I hadn’t made that confession statement at that time and what I should have done is postpone any confession statement until both panels had ruled. It made my confession statement all the more [unintelligible]. Not doing that left me vulnerable to critics and I don’t think it served you. Those are just a few personal reflections that I hope are helpful.

Now reflections on Sovereign Grace, reflections on my leadership of Sovereign Grace. Prior to this leave of absence I had become convinced, with the help of others, that I am not gifted to manage a movement. I lack the necessary organizational skills, I am not good at establishing policy and procedures and processes that set an appropriate expectation for how we serve together.

My gift of leadership is more strategic than it is tactical, it is more theological than it is practical. And given the growth we have experienced even in the last 10 years we need practical leadership here, and appropriate structures and procedures. It is critical for SG, not optional and where change has been required in SG a process is necessary and here I would perceive definite other weaknesses in my leadership. I can introduce change quickly, I can assume when I have introduced quickly everyone understands it.

I can change quickly. I can tell you it is frightening how quickly I can change, it is disconcerting how quickly I can change. I can change quickly, I can make major decisions quickly. This doesn’t always serve a movement where process is necessary. Certain change is required, explanations, and more explanations, discussion, debate, and more explanation and persuasion. At times my leadership has helped create confusion. If you add to this our history of not communicating wisely – another area I want to take responsibility for, not communicating wisely and well, especially when you have made some significant changes.

There are additional deficiencies with their consequences. As I reflect I realize that I so often am not even aware of the effect of my statements. I can be musing while interacting with guys, or musing in the context of a message, yet I am unaware that guys are assuming that I am setting direction and it doesn’t serve. Or I am peering in the future and sharing my musings and not considering how to communicate that so that they are introduced wisely, so that there is a process of explanation and consideration, so there is a procedure and plan. Too often I have not done that. So at one point I am just musing about transferring the gospel to the next generation of pastors.

And I can leave all of my friends my age assuming that their season of effective, fruitful service is quickly coming to an end. I don’t want to leave that impression. But I realize that I can leave that impression and let me just say to all of the older guys here, and not just because of the economy, you have many years of service left and Sovereign Grace needs you more than ever. That is not a criticism of the younger guys. Thank God for our younger guys. You bring us great joy. This movement isn’t ready for you to have a transfer of leadership at this point in time and I am sure you don’t desire that particularly with the number of wise older men in this room who want to serve you till their dying breath and with the grace of God.

As it relates to my leadership over the past four months, as I have reflected in particular over the last eight years of my life, I think I ended up serving in the areas that I am not gifted to serve to the detriment in the areas where I am gifted to serve, and have been the most fruitful over the years. The first among these would be preaching. For the last 3 years there has been a rising course of voices of friends inside SG and outside SG who have spoken to me, met with me personally, and communicated the same concern: Why aren’t you preaching? We are perplexed. Why aren’t you leading a church? What are you doing? I have a friend, a leader outside of SG that took me out to breakfast in the context of a conference, and in complete seriousness said, this breakfast informs a rebuke. I said what is the concern? Took the entirety of breakfast, I took 2 pages of notes and he just said you need to get back in the pulpit and you need to die in the pulpit and you need to lead from the pulpit. And he was quite forceful to impress on me what he felt like would be a form of disobedience if I didn’t because he said God has created a [indiscernible/inaudible] how can you not perceive this? Why are you not doing something about this?

I think he is right. I think I have neglected my call to preach. I think I have accepted a role that is more managerial and quite obviously I am not a manager. And I also think I am a pastor. That is what I think I am. I’m a pastor. And over the last 8 years I have become detached from serving a particular local church. I hope that changes soon. It is my intention to change that soon.

So during this season of reflection I have just benefited significantly from objective evaluation of my gifting from men inside of SG as well as outside of SG and I think I stand before you with more clarity on where I am called and gifted to serve and where I am decidedly not called and gifted to serve. Hopefully that will make me more gifted to serve.

And as I have looked at SG and myself, evaluated my leadership but SG more [unintelligible] I am aware that there are a number of areas to be addressed. Dave is going to communicate areas that need to be addressed. I just want to give you three.

Before I do, this practice of evaluation is the norm in Sovereign Grace. If you are new to Sovereign Grace, areas of deficiency aren’t unusual. You won’t be growing out of areas of deficiencies in our lifetime. So it is not abnormal for us to evaluate ourselves. I think it is abnormal this time. There is a loud voice from critics and the prevalence of slander that tends to intrude upon this evaluation, to distort this evaluation. The process of evaluation is one we are committed to and have been historically and will be in the future and actually even bringing these few areas to your attention I have to qualify what I say. I don’t believe these are systemic and I am not attempting to evaluate all of Sovereign Grace. I don’t assume my preferences in [unintelligible] that it applies to all of Sovereign Grace. And I don’t agree with our critics who evaluate Sovereign Grace this way. I show concern for anyone, beginning with myself that make statements about Sovereign Grace that are categorical in nature.

But just a couple of areas. First the doctrine of sin. I am deeply grateful for how the doctrine of sin serves the Christian. I am grateful for how it has served us in many ways. The doctrine of sin must be handled with great care and I don’t think we have always understood it properly and I bear some responsibility for this deficiency. Many years ago as I began to teach more about sin and sanctification I did not at that time anticipate all the potential pitfalls in the understanding and applying the doctrine of sin, especially as the amount of churches increased over the years. Oh my, I regret not foreseeing this. I regret not preparing us for this. I think I also assumed that our emphasis on the gospel would sufficiently protect us. Not necessarily so.

So as I have reflected over the last 4 months, I think this has been a 6 year process, in relation to the doctrine of sin I think there are a few areas where we have been affected by a misapplication of the doctrine of sin. First area is fellowship. This has been a strength in Sovereign Grace. I pray it remains a strength. At times the doctrine of sin has had too much of a prominent place in our practice of fellowship. Very careful here, so no misunderstanding. The practice and experience of fellowship is much much much broader than the application of the doctrine of sin. And our practice of fellowship must not be reduced to identifying sin or rehearsing sin or endlessly exploring the potential idols of our heart. Our practice of fellowship should primarily be a means of preaching and applying the gospel to each other. It should be a means of identifying evidences of grace in each other. The category of what it should be could be expanded.

But it is all too easy for our practice of fellowship to become a preoccupation with sin, primarily about sin rather than a fresh proclamation and application of the gospel to our lives. I regret these misunderstandings and misapplications where they have occurred. I wish I would have anticipated them. I think it was about 6 years ago I began to perceive these deficiencies. I’ve looked back through notes where I was – OK – I was attempting to address it but, OK, it was just a point in a message. I asked David Powlison to come to our Pastors’ Conference and preach a message on introspection. So that was all by design. That was simply the single message, had the privilege to teach the pastor care class at pastors’ college last 3 years and this has certainly been a section, but I should have done more

And the second area in this regard is the area of correction. At times the doctrine of sin has been unhelpfully applied in relation to others instead of towards ourselves. So individuals have been corrected and pressed to acknowledge sins that others perceived, sins of the heart and when there isn’t immediate agreement with that correction and assessment then the category of pride can be introduced. The person appears to be unteachable then that is in sin, particularly if everyone else in the group is in agreement with each other about your sin. There is a wonderful quote, I think over the years it has been misunderstood and misapplied. This is from J.I. Packer’s work on the Puritans, Quest for Godliness, “Our best works are shot through with sin and contain something that needs to be forgiven.” The purpose of this quote is to humble us and to provoke us to guard our hearts. I don’t think this is a mandate for us to suspect the hearts of others or to pursue the sins of others or to correct others. I regret not perceiving this misunderstanding and misapplication. I regret not more effectively guarding misapplication. There is more I wish I would have done.

The second would be pastoral evaluation. This is another area that I think my leadership has been inadequate. More could have been done, more should have been done, more will be done. Sovereign Grace needs to provide our pastors with guidance, the content of a process where objective evaluation of pastors so that pastoral evaluations are theologically informed, objectively done, uniformly done, not arbitrary, not suddenly announced. A pastor shouldn’t be blindsided by an evaluation. And this is particularly critical when there are concerns about the pastor’s character or gifting. The content of this evaluation should be theologically informed, predetermined as well as the timing of this evaluation. I’m aware I’m aware I’m very aware that there are pastors that feel that they have been inappropriately evaluated, even mistreated by Sovereign Grace. Listen, I don’t believe this is systemic from my experience and I have pursued a number of these situations. Here’s what I have decided. Each situation is very different. Very different. We certainly do want to give attention to it. We are giving attention to it. In some ways I spent almost 2 years trying to give attention to it. And we are thankful for AoR and they are serving us even this morning.

One more thing before I finish. Once we have a pastor in place in Sovereign Grace we want to do all we can to keep that pastor in place. We do not want our pastors fearing that in some way that we are looking for a reason to disqualify them. We want to do all we can if at all possible for our pastors to have lengthy, fruitful service.

Finally, polity. You are aware of this involved in the process, it will continue. It is not something that should be done quickly, different ways…2 years this process. It has been the tireless work of Jeff and Dave, thanks for your patience and participation. I think we are making progress. It is going to take much longer to make the kind of progress we need to make. We should not be surprised about that. I had a leader say to me just the other day “the fact that you guys don’t have all of your polity clarified and formalized is not a sin. You are a very young movement. ” So that is encouraging, gave me hope.

One aspect of polity that I do regret not having in place and that would be the appropriate handling of grievances in conflict resolution. We have not had grievance procedures in place for pastors or church members so no doubt there are instances where former pastors or church members would have been greatly served by these procedures. I am sorry that. I am sorry for the effects of that. The board is addressing that. Obviously receiving the value of AoR concerning that become a consistent part of Sovereign Grace church and Sovereign Grace procedures as well. It needs to, we want to, it will become…so that’s not exhaustive. It won’t surprise you that I have lots more to say. I am not going to say it today. I have lots more to say. I have never been this quiet for this long in my entire life. I was going to say it is killing me, but it is sanctifying.

Finally, it would not be good leadership on my part for me to leave you preoccupied with areas of deficiency. It would not be good godly leadership. Do we have problems. Yes we do. But listen. Problems we are facing, confronting, experiencing. These things do not define us, and they do not define our churches. Sovereign Grace is a gospel preaching movement. And by God’s grace Sovereign Grace will continue to be a gospel preaching movement. One thing I would like to say and stress. We must not let our critics define us, or redefine us. I think the days ahead are going to require all the content of Dave’s excellent message.

I think the days ahead are going to require more discernment as it relates to the identification of slander and the influence of slander in our churches. I think the days ahead are going to require courage on the part of pastors and when necessary publicly identify those who are divisive. I think the days ahead are not only going to require, I think they are going to require courage. I think in some ways in Sovereign Grace we have more humility than courage. And we are going to need more courage. Humble courage. It doesn’t mean we don’t learn from critique, we do. But there is a difference between learning from critique and allowing critics to define you. We are capitulating to slander in the name of humility.

So we are going to continue to evaluate ourselves. But it would not please God if we minimize the evidences of grace in our midst, that have been present and pronounced for so many years. This is not spin. This is not hype. This is not some form of SG self-promotion. This is simply and humbly and accurately an acknowledgment of the mercy of God in and to SGM.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 24, 2012 09:38AM


“Thank you very much. You are very kind, particularly at this time.

“Because of my history with this church, my love for this church, I am so very grateful for this time this evening to address you. Thank you, Josh, particularly, for giving me this opportunity to address this church that I love the most.

“I am sure to some of you here this week, the charges against me have come as a complete shock, and I am so very sorry for that shock.

“Let me clarify something at the beginning: the object of this action is not your pastors, the object is me. This is not about them. This is all about me and Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM). Therefore, I can appeal to you to provide them with your full support and I fully anticipate your doing so.

This has been my prayer from the very beginning, that this would strengthen your relationship with them, not weaken that relationship with them with your support. And if you are angry, I understand, and you can direct that to me. My intention tonight is to share with you a few of the ways I believe I have sinned this evening, some of my failures and how we have arrived where we are this evening.

“A number of years ago I had come to realize there were a number of pastors who had offenses against me, and I began to pursue some of them for reconciliation. In January 2010 I communicated with Brent Detweiler (BD). He had left SGM in ’09. When I communicated with BD, he was not willing to meet with me.

He wrote a document outlining my sins and failures to SGM. After reading this document, I did not agree with a number of his points or the manner he presented them. Not to crucify B or to defend myself, but this information brings ways I have failed, and this what this evening is primarily about, how I processed and responded to an issue in 2003-2004 regarding certain deficiencies in my leading the team. Sadly rather than listen to their correction and examining my heart where recorded [can’t read my writing] might be sin in my heart and the way that prodded them and I behaved sinfully in that season. I was difficult to entreat; I was not easy to entreat. I sinfully judged their motives. I was arrogantly confident in my perspective. Different times I judged myself favorably to them. I was offended by a lack of care in my season of trials, and though we continued to work together, I gradually withdrew from them in my soul. I withdrew from them even after I agreed not to do so. I was confirming their charges by the way I was behaving.

In 2004 I began to see some of these sins, and those in my care group were able to see some evidence of growth present. Now that I look back at my perspectie and my confession of my sin, it can only be described as woefully inadequate. I never informed JH and Kenneth Maresco (KM) of DH and BD’s concerns.

When I first received it, I should have sent it to a group of men to help me see my sins more clearly. It showed… the effects of those sins on those I was called to serve with … and the affects of those sins. [I’m leaving out bits of my notes I am unable to read.]

Another affect of my sins, I have been poor at resolving conflict and tried to manage conflict on my own. In light of Brent’s offenses, I should have had the leadership team manage the conflct, should not have tried to manage Brent’s offenses on my own. For months I let this process drift. I thought it best to attempt negotiation in person and not in writing, but I let months drift.

Brent sent another document, 165 pages, where he pointed out more deficiencies, further illustrations of sins, and how my sins contributed to his release in 2009 (from SGM). I sent it to a group of men, asked them to read the document and let me know any arease where they agreed with the documents. I met with them after so I could give them my own perspective.

That was a sad and painful day, seeing the effects of my sin. At the end of the day I asked the men to forgive me, which they did. I then circled around to other men. I then sought to meet with Brent, and sought a 3rd party. Brent then [(?)missing words(?)] and asked me to review the documents again. I recused myself.

John Loftness (JL) then cataloged all Brents charges and spent a day going offer each of the charges with greater specirficity and I crafted a different document of ten pages or so. Brent did not find this adequate. Ken Sande reached out to Brent, which he declined. And we discussed involving a different outside party. Brent sent a 3rd document pointing out deficiences when Larry Tomczak left Atlanda. We had a conflict over how Larry described his leaving SGM. It grieves me to report to you that in a phone conversation where I sought to coerce Larry, that I coerced him. My public announcement of his departure was self-righteous critical of Larry. I was in sin and at that time I was blind to my own sin, and I am deeply grieved by that.

But by the Grace of God I am happy to report that seven months before Brent’s 3rd document a letter had alrrived on my desk that Larry appealed that we meet and be reconciled. I wrote back to Larry and said, “Let’s do it!” We began to meet in Tennessee. I am humbled and I am delighted to let you know that we met and I repented of my sins to Larry and Doris. They freely forgave me in a meeting we had in Nashville in December of last year [12/2010]. Larry and I stood side by side and started this church [CLC]. We stood side by side and started SGM. And in November I have asked Larry to come and be our special guest at the Pastors’ Conference where we will once again stand side by side. [applause] Actually we won’t stand side by side. I think it would be more appropriate for me to stand aside. And he has been a wonderful example to me of forgiveness. I want to emulate that.

There have certainly been other examples where I have contradicted what I have taught, where I have certainly displeased tand dishonored God. But in the past year and a half I have seen more sin and growth in a way more thorough than I have ever previously. These months have quite obviously been from God. I believe God is disciplining me for my failures and I am glad for his discipline [cant read my notes…] The object of his discipline is his love and care… [can’t read…] In this season my temptation has been more to be overwhelmed and to loose sight of the gospel, but when that happens my lovely wife is always there and good friends to remind me that the discipline of the lord is not punitive, it is the love of the Saviour to save me from my sins. And there is always grace, how sweet the sound. [Cannot decifer notes…] I bear a unique and primary responsibility for all that took place with Larry 14 years ago and in 1994 and I am grateful to God that in some degree I am reversing(?) that leadership failure. I am a sinner in need of grace, probably more grateful than ever before what Jesus did with my sins upon the cross.

There is an element I do not agree with in Brent thinks my sins contributed detrimentally to his leaving SGM. We are creating a panel to evaluate this situation, SGM as a whole. I am removed so I have no influence in this process. […leave of absense… independent panel… ] I want each charge evaluated. The information will be made public and communicated to you, and I am looking forward to this panel. But this evening is about attempting to communicate my sorrow for my sin, and my leadership failures and its effects on others and its effects on the church I love the most. So, I think it would be most appropriate for me to ask your forgiveness for these sins that I have identified.

“We forgive you, CJ!” ::clapping::

CJ: [This section of my notes very difficult to read]
Anyway, thank you. You have forgiven the acts of these sins, I am asking… I don’t want you to feel in any way obligation to forgive me but it certainly would be appropriate to thank you… [words missingg] I am here this evening to ask you to forgive me for these sins and their effects on you. Would you please forgive me?


CJ: That is very kind.

Please pray for me, and before I conclude, let me give you my even greater burden this evening. I want to do all I can to guard the gospel; I want to do all I can to guard the gospel of Christ and him crucified. I want to do all I can to protect your relationship with the pastors at this local church. I want to do all I can to protect all the churches in SGM. I have the deepest respect for the pastors and members and I don’t want to harm you or them in any way. So, I want to do all I can to protect the pastors and churches in SGM. Most importantly, I want to please God. I want to please Him and I want to crucify sin, whatever this requires of me. So please pray for me, and please pray for Sovereign Grace in [missing word] and our matters of policy and practice that need to be addressed and appear as team leader, a primary responsibility for these arise since these have been revealed on my watch. [Section I cannot decipher… like Please don’t case in a catelot, assume of churches or pastors by any means.] There are so many churches in SGM filled with evidences of grace, so while I acknowledge deficiences I want to acknowledge evidences of grace in each and each church.

Areas that need polity: Steps of accountability… need to be addressed, and we have been aware of it for 2 years. How we evaluate pastors needs to be addressed. Some in the past has been inconsistent, and in some missing. It has to be …[consistent?].How pastors correct one another, this needs to be addressed. How we resolve conflict needs to be addressed. So please pray for Sovereign Grace and those in charge of SG as they work on these areas. Pray that Brent and I will be reconciled We were once good friends. The negotiations I have had with LT gives me hope. Please pray that God would be glorified through all this by reconciling broken relationships
… [missing words..] of the gospel. Issues of the gospel, that has so graciously saved each of us.

CONGREGATION: Applause (30 seconds)

[Then as CJ came down from the stage, Josh joined him, and Robin also, and Robin prayed for him.]

[CJ speaks very fast, and I could by no means keep up with him, and my notetaking is rusty, but this has been my best shot. Hopefully CLC will come through and post the audio like they promised. Then my transcription errors can be corrected.]

“The Stenographer”

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 24, 2012 09:57AM


Part 2 From “The Stenographer”
July 14th, 2011

From “The Stenographer” comes the following, which are notes from this past Sunday night’s meeting at Covenant Life Church. The attendees of that meeting were promised that an audio recording would be posted on CLC’s website, but to date, that has not happened. Please note, “The Stenographer” would like any other attendees to correct anything that might be incomplete or inaccurate.


July 10, 2011

Covenant Life Family Meeting – Part 2

Josh Harris summarizes

The CJ and Carolyn left the building. JH took over. Goal was to give people a brief time line and update before answering questions.

JH: We reached about 150 questions [received by email]that were very good questions, hard questions. We will not be able to get through all of them tonight, so we have already planed to meet again next Sunday night for those who can attend. It’s so important for you to know we want to get all of this out in the open. We want to keep having more conversations. All the pastors are here in the front row. I will be trying to answer questions on behalf of them, but I will have the pastors jump in at any time they want to or feel they need to adjust something I have said. Our team is experiencing a wonderful unity through all this. I want you to be aware we do not always see eye to eye in all these things.

We want to try to stay on topic; we will see where it goes. I want to start out by just saying this is the most complicated thing I have ever been a part of. I had a conversation with a friend outside of Sovereign Grace. I think he was trying to encourage me. I said, “I don’t think I could imagine a more difficult leadership challenge than what you are working through.” There are so many layers to this. There are not simple answers to this. And our eccliastical issues, church government issues, …how does Sovereign Grace speak into churches; how do churches speak into Sovereign Grace. These documents are bringing out many points where there is [no defense? Not sure of wording on this] for it. There were relational breakdowns, eccliastical breakdowns, …Part of the reason I am saying this to you because I think the impulse in our hearts is to simplify all this, to say this person is a good person and that person is a bad person. It is just not that simple. I think God is after all of our hearts, particularly the relationship of the church’s involvement. The thought is that your pastors have been a part of it. I have been serving as the SG Board since 2008. There are so many answers that are clashing; there are feelings that I am sure will come out. Part of me wants to defend CJ, and yell at Brent. Part of me is mad at CJ about how this has unfolded. We have a real relationship; he has been a spiritual father to me. But if you have ever wanted to strangle your father [crowd laughter]… this is similar to that in how I can be: angry at Brent for bringing so many people into this issue. At the same time, I can understand he’s done what he has done. And I wish these relationships were restored.

I would like to start out with trying to share a time-line of my involvement, and Kenneth and Grant. I think it gets to a lot of your questions and I think it will help you to see. How many of you have read the documents. [Many, many hands raised.] I won’t tell you you shouldn’t and I won’t tell you you should. But heads of households, you need to know what is going on to decide if you want to be part of this church and part of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Read the same way you would if you picked up any book. One person reports the same set of facts one way; a different person reports the same details in an entirely different way. These documents are not this [missing adjective] statement of all that has taken place; they are one person’s interpretation. Brent is a man of integrity. He has not doctored e-mails. But, he does get into interpreting motives, and I encourage we not get into taking that as fact.

Timeline. 2004 – Apostolic Team (AT) meetings, Brent Detweiler (BD), Dave Harvey (DH), Steve Shank (SS), and CJ (I think that was it) that were working through issues. DH and BD were seeking to bring observations to CJ. You need to understand we have all been ….?… whether as a movement. At that time the AT was separate from churches and was a sense of authority and encouragement in the way they were caring for the churches, the way it interacted but that did not always bring all the elders into the discussion. The Pastoral Team (PT) did not know that the AT was bringing observations to CJ. CJ did not agree with the observations and was holding the observations at arms-length because he didn’t trust their perspective. They involved me (JH), Kenneth (KM) and Grant (GL). They reached out to us to see “What are you talking to C.J. about?” We compared notes about how CJ was being cared for. They assumed we were caring for CJ, and we assumed they were caring for CJ. Because he didn’t agree, he wasn’t telling us. He was just managing this information. He has since realized this was wrong. He confessed a number of things, being unentreatable, resisting correction.

8/20/04 – month before the transfer when I was put in as Senior Pastor – was really hard for CJ, for everybody. The timing was really off, and were a number of things—health of daughter… they all piled upon. CJ wrote confession of those things to these men. He didn’t follow up on the observations.

CJ began to bring us into his concerns for these men. He began to express these things to us. What he didn’t want to give was the details. We encouraged him to get back to the men. We weren’t sure how to do this. Then we began to question our judgement honestly. Maybe Brent’s approach was wrong here? How do we work these things out? We weren’t hearing the details how he was working these things out, didn’t realize CJ wasn’t talking to them. We were trying to provide accountability to CJ. We started wondering why did they need all this information. In a sense, we began to protect CJ from the kinds of interactions that would have benefited him.

Another thing I can feel regret over. CJ asked me to be the point person to care for him and to interact with the AT. As I began to bring and [missing word] it began to affect our relationship. I began to feel it was not healthy for CLC for me to be the person trying to confront CJ… I communicated to the men, “I want to be mentored by this man; I don’t think I should be the one coming to do this.” So I stepped out of that process. I know part of my intention was to protect my relationship and protect CJ, but I think it was also fear of man involved. I didn’t want CJ to be mad at me. I didn’t want to lose his approval. I know I am not the only person involved in this, but I could have taken more risks; I could have spoken more into this. That is part of what lots of us feel. I know Grant feels this to a certain extent. Kenneth feels this. Kenneth went further in the process. Kenneth didn’t realize all what was going on behind the scenes. When Brent wrote the first document, we were reading what we went through but reading whole other side that we weren’t aware of. It has been a very difficult thing. Part of what took place after that was we didn’t understand how incomplete the process of the AT. We were seeing growth in CJ; he was seeking to pursue accountability.

These documents make CJ sound like he was arrogant, but he is really a very humble man. Our interactions with him were good. We were getting over that [unclear word] of that 2004 experience. I began to see Brent was on a sin hunt, and truth be told, I think that we have wrongly put people’s sin in their faces over and over again. [Unsure of wording at the beginning of next sentence:] But it isn’t a good time to say that when he was it came being to being challenged, I began to really view all that happened in 2004 in a different way and that is part of the reason I [ ? ] on from that. I know I am making excuses right now. It isn’t like we were keeping a big secret – we didn’t know all the problems taking place on the Apostolic Team. We were moving on, pressing forward, and trying to put the past behind us. There was an unsettled feeling but we were just trying to move forward. That was 2004.

I am not sure, exactly, [something..something…] but when the blogs began. I don’t think that we have processed the blogs as effectively as we could have. We have not talked about it like we should have. You feel like you are looking at porn — you are looking at an anti-SGM blog. [twittering laughter] The mindset was, “there are some things being said on here that are untrue, but there are a lot of things being said that are slander. We don’t want to talk about it and increase the traffic.”

A lot of them are saying the really hard things we need to hear. Not everything. But they raise some really important issues for us to grapple[?] with.

Beyond the sins CJ and other leaders, we are seeking anyone who would come forward and say “This is how I have been wronged.” To make amends to people One of these guys who runs the blog has been interacting with the [word?]. We said, “Anyone who is willing to send their story, we take seriously people being heard. I want to reach out and make things right as best as possible. That was part of the process. CJ seeing where people had been offended. There are a number of things I don’t like about them, but they have been used by God. Read with discernment, talk to others about it. Talk [?something?] about using communication like that for affecting us.

2010 – Last year the documents coming. CJ reaches out to Brent and says, “I hear you have an offense.” Brent writes the first document. There was a butting of heads. CJ wanted to handle one way, Brent wanted to handle a different way. CJ said, [notes unclear] Brent stood firm. CJ stood firm for a number of months. Didn’t know how to respond to a number of things being brought. I think we should have immediately brought an independent panel. From Day 1 CJ was wanting to pursue a process of reconciliation with Brent however Brent would choose. Brent had a very different perspective. I understood why, but he ended up writing a second document. CJ was seeing it as a personal issue, but should have realized it was bigger than that, included SGM. Second document he handed over to the Board.

We met with CJ in November, 2010: Grant, Kenneth, Josh Harris, [?something?] Robin, [?Bob Kauflin?], Corby McGordon. They read these things and were brought into these issues from 2004 for the first time. I now know we should have included more people from the beginning. We sat down with CJ. Leading up to November I had sat down with CJ [?word?] where we said, ‘this is where we agree with Brent” “Here is where we [?words?]hhe made the decision to write a confession. We sat down in November and shared the concerns, encouraged him to humble himself and encouraged him to do all he could to [?word?] reconciliation. We were all anticipating there would be this time he would say, “I am going to sit down and pursue reconciliation”, and after that CJ would share things with the people. We were not planning to hide things.

Brent responded with his third document. In the document you see the frustration Brent is feeling because CJ does not agree with all the things he [?word? – opposed ? outlined? ] he sent to use. That document came in the last month. That was a huge moment when we read this . I got it when we were on vacation. [?word?] made it seem clear Brent was not satisfied and was going to send it to all the pastors of SGM, but we knew that there was some pastor who was sending all these things to the blogs, and we felt that would not be the best way to handle it. We were trying to keep these documents from being [?word?] on everyone.

1) It seemed clear Brent was not satisfied; [? On words here ?] …to any 3rd party mediator.

2) 2) It contained all the information about Larry Tomczak that was most [?word?] things in the documents of sins for CJ and the pastors here at CLC were not aware of, the [?word?] that CJ made to Larry in that phone conversation that was recorded. It was deeply grieving; [?such unclear notes – Why can’t CLC just post the audio?] …had been on the team a long time. Kenneth particularly called Larry and said, “I had no idea all of this took place.” We know that three weeks ago when Brent sent that 3rd document, it was then that [?word?] the Board ( [parenthetical here but wording cannot be made out] )

Dave Harvey, Jeff Purswell and me are the Board of SGM. It is not healthy to have a board of three people in the mediation of the [?two words?] we have ever faced. We realized we have got to [?word?] over [?word? ?] to get outside help — we need to appoint an independent panel involved, someone outside of SGM. There are all kinds of ministries out there that deal with church problems. The one we have been pursuing in particular was recommended by Ken Sande is used by the Lutheran Church. That is [?word?] far, far from Sovereign Grace! The process of them taking on is still in process. [Wording wrong—I think that was the gist.] We really need this kind of outside help. We are at a [?word?] place right now.

The other thing that took place [?word?] was we realized CJ [?words?] try to write these confessions and try try to meet brent half way, we said “You need to take this even further.” That is when the idea of a leave of absense came up and he [?word?] to make a public confession and bring more into the things Brent said. [?words?] the things here Brent sent all the documents to all the pastors. They read all the documents. We had a meeting with Dave Harvey and Jeff; again with Jeff about the details in the 3rd document. We realized it was important for CJ to make most decisive action. He really wanted to take the decision off the Board, to make that decision. He said, “I will resign.” [?words?] …[Come on, CLC, I’m really struggling here – PLEASE post the audio!] … …he would take a leave of absence. But [?words?] was that this would convince Brent that we were taking this seriously, having an independent panel and everything… Things we communicated [?words?] Brent he [?words?] with that sent all the documents [?word?] night to all the pastors in SGM.

[I welcome input from other attendees to fill in the blanks…]

CJ has already shared with the Board. One pastor posted the documents to the blog (…JH: “Okay, it’s ME, but don’t tell anyone!” …laughter) Somebody sent the documents to Jim at the SGM Refuge which was picked up by Survivors, and everyone is reading them right now and that is the narrative and that is what is taking place right now.

[After this point, Josh began to take questions from individuals present, and answer some questions that had been sent in, so that will be transcribed as part 3.]

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 24, 2012 11:33AM


Last week we announced that C.J. Mahaney would be taking a temporary leave of absence from his position as President of Sovereign Grace Ministries. This leave was intended to create a fair and open process of evaluation for C.J. and the ministry and was not intended to be disciplinary. We assumed that the charges against him would remain private and that following the evaluation period, we would be able to announce publicly an independent evaluation panel's findings.

Since our announcement Brent Detwiler sent his accusations against C.J. and Sovereign Grace to all Sovereign Grace pastors. His material has also been published on the internet. Brent sent his material to the Sovereign Grace pastors despite repeated appeals that he engage C.J. and Sovereign Grace through the agency of an independent mediator, and if he refused to do that, to simply meet with an independent evaluation panel so they could examine his charges without C.J. or Sovereign Grace present to respond.

In light of the fact that C.J. has now been publicly accused with no opportunity to defend himself, the board of Sovereign Grace has made the following resolutions.

1. That Brent Detwiler’s refusal to participate in mediation with C.J. Mahaney—unless Mahaney first agrees (a) to publish an extensive written response to each of Detwiler’s accusations and (b) to make a public confession prior to any mediation or impartial evaluation of his charges—is unjust and constitutes a denial of biblically grounded due process for a qualified minister of the gospel (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Timothy 5:19-20, Proverbs 25:9).

2. That Brent Detwiler’s distribution of written accusations against C.J. Mahaney to all Sovereign Grace pastors constitutes the public slander of Mahaney’s reputation.

3. That the board of Sovereign Grace Ministries has reviewed Brent Detwiler’s documents accusing C.J. Mahaney of sinful practices in the conduct of his ministry and finds no reason at this time to deem him unfit for ministry. However, the board will reevaluate Mahaney’s fitness after receiving formal evaluation of the accusations lodged against him (see below). The board acknowledges that sins have been committed but also recognizes and appreciates Mahaney’s eagerness to confess sins, pursue reconciliation with Detwiler, and pursue personal holiness and growth as a minister.

4. That C.J. Mahaney is a qualified minister of the gospel and this board approves his pastoral and teaching ministry in Sovereign Grace and the wider body of Christ.

5. That Sovereign Grace Ministries will engage a process of evaluation regarding CJ Mahaney's fitness for ministry.

A preliminary panel will examine confessions that Mahaney has already made to determine if at present he is qualified to be a pastor and the president of Sovereign Grace. In light of the public defamation of his character, this is to be done with all deliberate speed. The board deems this preliminary panel necessary to show that while it has concluded that Mahaney is fit for ministry, other temporary outside evaluation is necessary either to lend credibility to its assessment or to make changes this panel deems necessary.

A second panel will commence work concurrent with the first. It will consist of members of an independent conciliation ministry with no ties to Sovereign Grace. This panel will create a process for examination of the outstanding charges against Mahaney and create and lead a process for a fair hearing of those charges to determine if they are true or false. The board will then seek review and comment from qualified pastors with a good reputation in the body of Christ who are not directly associated with the ministry. The board will then make a determination of appropriate action in light of the panel's findings and the advice of the above pastors.

Dave, Aron, Craig, Jeff, John, Mark, Mickey, Pete, Rick, and Steve

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 24, 2012 11:47AM


At our recent retreat, the Sovereign Grace Ministries Board decided to relocate the Pastors College and our Gaithersburg office to Louisville, Kentucky. The move will take place in 2012. Given the significance of the decision, we wanted to communicate with you directly about how we reached this decision and share some of its implications.

Around 2008, our country’s economic downturn began to place a strain on SGM’s ability to do ministry in several key areas. Supporters (including Sovereign Grace churches) were broadly affected by the recession, and giving declined for several years as a result. In response, the Leadership Team made extensive cuts to staffing and other costs, while still trying to preserve the ability to fund church planters, train pastors, and serve our international partners. But there was a limit to how far cutting could go before church planting and other activity central to our mission had to be scaled back.

One program that faced particular challenges was the Pastors College. Even though the Leadership Team has been proactive about keeping costs as low as possible, the extremely high cost of living for the DC area set the base cost fairly high. This had several effects on our mission:

Small churches could only afford to train a pastor every several years, limiting their ability to expand or pursue church planting
Although Jeff Purswell wanted to explore a two-year curriculum, doing so would be prohibitively expensive because the main cost of attending (housing) would more than double (10 months to 22)
Prospective church-planters from outside SGM, many already carrying debt from seminary, faced an enormous hurdle to attend the Pastors College without a sponsoring church

More can be said about this, but we hope that is sufficient background to illustrate why, for several years now, the Leadership Team has been considering relocation for the Pastors College and the rest of SGM. In short, our mission is to serve Sovereign Grace churches, and being located in the DC area was placing limitations on our ability to do so. The economic downturn raised the profile of that issue, and the idea of relocating is only further validated by the needs we now see to expand on—not lessen—church care, training pastors, and pursuing mission.

We don't want to give the impression that a move was a done deal even before the events of July 2011—it wasn't. However, this conversation long preceded these events and, for the reasons given above, it has been an increasingly strong likelihood for several years. Over the past few months, our staff has explored various locations for a potential move, including visits, demographic studies, many conversations, and much prayer. They shared this information with the new Board when it was established, thus confronting us with this question: if we were starting SGM tomorrow, what would be the main factors for determining location and where would those factors lead us?

Here are the main factors that led us, after much discussion, to approve this relocation generally, and to choose Louisville in particular:

The cost of living index is much lower there, such that we anticipate up to 40% reduction in the cost for a student to attend the Pastors College
The proximity to Southern Seminary allows us to upgrade our academic offerings, including opportunities for collaboration and potential transfer credit toward a Masters degree
The lower cost of living also allows us to further reduce administrative overhead (although ours is already lower than the standard for non-profits), especially in the areas of office space (including the Pastors College) and staff compensation
The more central location will make it easier for pastors to audit classes or attend preaching practica (Louisville is within a day’s drive for two-thirds of the U.S. population)
Basing Sovereign Grace Music out of Louisville places Bob Kauflin’s team much closer to Nashville, where they can both learn from and help influence other spheres of Christian music development

There are three questions that we anticipate you’ll have immediately.

First, don’t we want the Pastors College to be near a Sovereign Grace church?

The answer is yes. However, another recent development will remedy this. The Leadership Team has wanted to plant a church in Louisville near the seminary for several years, and after speaking at a college event there in February 2011 C.J. began to consider leading the plant himself. He made this desire known to us when we were seated as a Board, and we approved the plant this month. Although this was by no means determinative for the Pastors College, this does mean that students will have the opportunity to participate in a church plant led by C.J. This will both facilitate CJ.’s ongoing influence in the college, as well as provide students a smaller church experience that will more resemble their ultimate ministry context.

Second, won’t it be difficult to replicate the benefits of having Covenant Life Church as a host church?

We do not want to give the impression that this decision was a no-brainer—it certainly was not. SGM’s setup with CLC has provided numerous benefits over the past 15 years. From host families and adopting care groups to event volunteers and its members’ hospitality, CLC has made a tremendous investment in the Pastors College since its inception. So, of course, this cannot all be replicated. And we want to thank the pastoral team of CLC and its members for these many years of faithful service and the fruit they have borne—the Pastors College would not be where it is without them. However, we believe that in the long run the Pastors College program will be enhanced, and all SGM churches will be better served, by this relocation and the benefits it offers.

Third, how will this affect the Pastors College calendar?

Although this relocation will require a transition period, we want to minimize any disruption to Sovereign Grace churches’ training needs. Therefore, we plan to host a new Pastors College class beginning in January 2013. The year will be slightly abbreviated, running January-August, with some parts of the curriculum delivered through other venues (e.g., small group settings). The following year’s class will commence in September, 2013, putting us back on a normal schedule.

As noted above, we are excited about opportunities this will afford us to collaborate with Southern Seminary, which will only enhance our program and facilitate further training for our students and pastors. The Leadership Team will communicate more details in coming weeks.

Please join us in praying for all those participating in this relocation. Despite the many adjustments this will entail, we are trusting God and hopeful that this move will position us for greater service to our churches as together we proclaim the gospel and plant churches for the glory of God.

Grateful for your partnership in the gospel,

John Loftness, Chairman
on behalf of the Board

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 24, 2012 02:42PM


1) In addition, people were actively writing on blogs with complaints against the SGM Board, AoR and the process.

2) Contrary to false assumptions and complaints that were widely distributed through blogs and emails.

3) However, one unusual aspect in this case was that the gossip and personal attacks began within hours of SGM Board announcing that it planned to use our organization. Usually, groups wait until we begin working with them before criticizing us and our work. The first evidence of this appeared on the blogs.

4) False information was apparently posted on one of the blogs.

5) Obviously, a number of people were misled by false information posted on the blogs.

6) While some may have been influenced by the blogs.

7) Was greatly exacerbated by those writing and reading blogs.

8) During November 8-10, a number of people made appointments after reading some of the positive reports on the blogs.

9) Blogs can provide a way for people suffering with similar hurts or problems to share them with others who can sympathize and at times provide helpful advice. Blogs have at times served as electronic support groups.

10) Some bloggers claim that such media provide a way for the oppressed to speak out with power against unfair treatment by those who control communication and cause hurt to the multitudes.

11) Nevertheless, the sinful effects of the blogging and judgmental.

12) It appeared to us that many were vulnerable to easily believe anything written on a blog and then add their own condemning thoughts, whether or not the blogger’s identity was known.

13) However, blog support groups rarely have a professional leader who guides the group and helps them avoid sinful talk.

14) the judgmental criticism we received from the blogs.

15) One man in particular told us that he was hoping that SGM would be destroyed and cease to exist, and he was intent on writing what he could on blogs.

16) One of the greatest factors that inflamed the conflicts and increased people’s wrath and clamor was the extensive use of sinful communication in talking on the blogs.

17) Unlike verbal gossip to one or two people, posting sinful talk on web sites or on blogs becomes a public venue, which has even more potential to destroy reputations, harm innocent people, and escalate further attacking.

18) The Bible is full of admonition and teaching against sinful communication because of the natural tendency of human nature and the harmful effects of such talk. For example, leaders in meetings or those who sponsor blogs could remind people of things such as...

Compiled by:
Magruder High Days
SGM Survivors

Options: ReplyQuote
Current Page: 7 of 19

Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This forum powered by Phorum.