A Stenographer’s Notes – Part 1 From Covenant Life Church’s July 10, 2011 Family Meeting

July 11, 2011 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

From our friend “The Stenographer” comes the following set of notes:

7/10/11

Covenant Life Church (CLC) Family Meeting, led by Josh Harris (JH) – Part 1

The meeting began with a time of worship, followed by JH taking the mike. The following are my efforts at notes of what was said, but I’m not perfect, so please forgive the lapses or errors that become obvious when the actual audio gets posted.

JH:  “CJ Will come and share, and after that he will be released and we will answer questions.

“Things that we want to cover tonight:

“We want to make it clear that it is all about him. He welcomes your questions. He wants to hear from people in CLC, answer their questions. He  wants you to be able to ask questions and not feel constrained.

[missed wording of Josh thanking CJ]  “Let’s welcome him as he comes.”

{applause}

CJ: “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.

VOICES FROM THE CONGREGATION:
“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?

VOICES FROM CONGREGATION: “Yes!”

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”