Your History

Someone wrote me with an interesting idea for a post – that readers tell about their history with Sovereign Grace Ministries.  The suggestion was that whenever possible, specific church locations and dates would be included, but I realize that in the interest of privacy, some of us won’t want to share that info.  Nonetheless, I do think it’d be highly instructive, especially for SGM pastors and others who might be silently lurking, reading the site for the first time, to get a sense of the scope of the SGM history that is represented by those who comment here.

So – let’s share our stories.

394 comments to Your History

  • New post up. Comments to close here soon.

  • BrokenHearted

    She read it on here. Yet another way God used SGM Survivors. :)

    I don’t regret sharing my story here – what I *do* regret is not sharing it with the pastors/people involved first or at any point in the past 7 years, but God is bigger than my sin and He is bigger than their sin – and He is at work “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” :)

    BTW, this in no way is to say that they did not sin or that those of you who have been sinned against and are sharing here are wrong. I just am really excited at what God seems to be doing and want to share it here since I have shared my hurts here I want to share today’s joy as well. :)

  • Patti

    Brokenhearted, that is so cool what the Holy Spirit is doing for you right now. Just please keep listening to his guidance because I have found that it seems He heals in order to send us back into the camp to help heal the rest. I’ve been listening to the amazing stories of holcaust survivors all week on Daystar, tonight last one I think. God so supernaturally causing events to happen that enabled the victims to trust God many years later after hating Him for what Christians allowed. But they are never ever to forget. And one thing I take away from such massive abusive events is how they got to be that way through the people around them turning a blind eye. The Christians who only wanted to think about lovely and pure things not balanced with the ich we must see and think about in order to heal people. And to anyone here who feels the need to preach at people who can’t love God right now, it doesn’t help.

  • Stunned

    Brokenhearted, I am so happy that God is setting you free. This is something to truly rejoice over. This is why Jesus came to die and rose again, so we could be free of bitterness, malice, envy and rage. Praise God for this wonderful thing He is doing in your heart. I pray He gives that same freedom to all. Let us know how it works out from here!

    I hope this person does go back and reads your email all the way through, if they haven’t done so already. Your voice needs to be heard.

  • WaitingPatiently

    Brokenhearted, when God moves it IS super freeing. Whether man gets it right or not, whether their intentions are sincere or slightly spinned or full-on spinned, God can still use the situation to move you to a place of peace and freedom. And that’s the amazing thing! God is so much bigger than all this.

    I’m praying for you in that He will bring you to full freedom and joy and that He would use this to continue to convict, change and redirect the hearts of SGM pastors in whatever changes are necessary.

  • BrokenHearted

    Oh. My. Gosh.

    I sent that email and I am 99% sure before they even had time to read it I had a message expressing remorse over how I was treated from one of the folks who I’ve been so bitter against.

    I cant even type I’m crying so hard.

    God is so kind to me!!!!!!!

  • BrokenHearted

    Stunned – I am not a member at the fairfax church anymore. I was there 1988 – 2004, so they may have released that info to parents in the church.

    Thanks for your prayers :)

  • DB


    If your heart is to forgive those men, God bless you.

    But forgiving and forgetting are two different things and the people that would let a girl bbe their sacrificial lamb need to give an account.

    Seriously, I will believe there is real change when

    1) The man is not always right.

    2) The man is not protected.

    3) The woman is provided for (and, broad hint, Bob Kauflin could redirect his extra lawyered up money to this family and CJ couldd redirect his 6 figure donations in this family’s direction and you do not need to construct palatial churches when you have families in your midst that don’t have the basics and you are in an extremely wealthy geographic location so your middle class to poor folks ratio is such that the burdon should be relatively light.

    Brokenhearted, after my family was dismembered, my oldest child (15 or 16ish at the time) apologized to one of the pastors for harboring a bad attitude toward him.

    He forgave her.

    (deleted cuss words) pastor, big man, so proud of his Y chromosome forgave *her* that (beep beep beep dedede beep.) man should have been groveling begging her forgiveness but he is so deceived by the line of $h!t that he has been fed by this family of churches (Inc.) that he likely doesn’t even remember the exchange.

    My daughter is that much lower on his food chain.

    And your goodhearted intentions brought back *that* memory so be careful..

  • 5yearsin PDI

    Andy- what is your picketing website?

    You’ve been talking about it for a while and they must know about it. I think you’ve forced at least some confession of wrong, and deserve credit for cracks in the whitewashed wall. I had forgotten about you when I first read MMs statement, and I am more cynical now. It would be good to see Noel and Happy Mom fully satisfied, but we are certainly not at that place yet.

    Do you have a mailbox addy for donations? I’d be glad to mail a twenty and think I helped pay for a sign.

  • Stunned

    Brokenhearted, that is AWESOME. God is at work! I praise Him for what He is doing in you. Will be praying for that email. (I love seeing God at work, freeing people to forgive.)

  • BrokenHearted

    Y’all might not agree with me, but I was SUPER convicted while listening to their family meeting and I am crying over here.

    The Holy Spirit is giving me something I never thought I would have… a desire to be reconciled with those guys. A desire to not be angry anymore. A desire to ask their forgiveness and actually tell them how they hurt me instead of bottling it up and just hating them.

    It feels super freeing…’cause I’m not scared anymore. I am not scared to talk to them. SO weird… I am emailing 3 of the SovGrace FFX guys right now. :)

    Even if you don’t agree with me please praise God for whatever He is doing. :)

  • Stunned


    You guys still have not been told the names of the perps?

  • Stunned

    DB, think about it, CJ was asking that not only would the church (including tithes from poor people in CLC- in one of the richest counties in the entire nation- which just so happens to be one of the richest nations in the entire world- where was I?… CJ, who made 6 figures, would go other places to speak. He was paid by his church for this time, even though he was speaking at another place. THEN (from what has been shared) he was paid by that other place, too. Then his organization/non-religious-non-church (that’s not me saying this, they are actually legally filed as a non-religious organization- please feel free to go check this out- don’t trust me- your church ain’t no church by their own legal admission)… then CJ’s non-religious organization (which takes in money and sells things..hmm… business anyone?), they not only pay him a good salary and pay him while he is going off to these other places, which also pay him (I thought George Castanza made it clear that double dipping was wrong?)… not only does he get paid (generously) twice, but THEN both the rich and the poor and anyone else giving a tithe to SGM/CLC also pays for CJ’s plane fare to this place where he will be double dipping. (You each got a thank you note from him, didn’t you?) Oh, wait, did I mention that after all this you ALSO paid for his wife to go with him on these trips. And remember that peachy little part of Brent’s documents where Brent believed CJ was trying to pressure SGM into paying for his son on the flight, too?

    Well, no wonder they had no money to put into the mouths of starving children.

    These rotten, no good son of… :beat This is not a dead horse I am wishing I was beating right now.

    Hey SGMers, instead of giving one more penny to a bunch of over fed men who stand by and watch children abused, how about you give your tithe to someone in your community who is hungry! Don’t know anyone? Best getting to actually getting involved with the hurting and the hungry instead of whatever the heck else you are doing “serving” at your church. ‘Cause if you don’t know someone who is in need, then what you are doing isn’t worthy of your time.

    angry much? today I am!

  • BrokenHearted

    On Mark’s talk at the family meeting – Wow. That was REALLY good.

    On the church safety portion – I could see how Vince’s talk could come across as defensive or trying to minimize their responsibility, and I am so sorry it was hurtful to Noel and HappyMom the way he handled it. But, for me – not as one of the parents involved – it was reassuring. It helped answer some of the questions in my mind about ways they are trying to keep kids safe, if these events happened on church grounds, how they would handle it once learning about such cases. I was so grateful to hear that they are calling the parents whose kids interacted with the child porn guy.

    On the defense of Lou – This is so opposite to what HappyMom and Wallace have written. This is so hard. :( :( HappyMom – I look forward to hearing what y’all have to say about the meeting – what is true in your mind, what is false in your mind, and stuff. My heart is hurting for all of you. :( :( Lou’s crying just broke my heart, mixed with the things y’all have said, it’s so hard. :( :( :(

    Sidenote: I never heard any names mentioned of the victims. (or perps)

  • Whirlwind

    happymom wrote in #372:

    His response: “because that perpetrator could grow up and sue us for defamation of character.”

    I’m not an attorney, but even a quick Google search finds this:

    In order to prove defamation, you have to be able to prove that what was said or written about you was false. If the information is true, or if you consented to publication of the material, you will not have a case.

    Seems like their attorneys should have known this, or is there an attorney out there that can bring additional light on this?

  • DB

    Same here, Stunnned. I keep thinking my reading comprehension is going down the toilet and I walk away and come back.

    11 years old, that’s a year younger than my baby girl.

    And nobody extended help toward this mother.

    A lot of fat pigs wallowing in their wealth while a mother and nine children went without. I’ve been poor. I know what it feels like to be homeless. I do *not* know what it feels like to choose between eating and being sheltered and having my children violated by a (delete foul words but thee are no decent words to use so you use your imagination.)

    I agree with Stunned. You (deleted word with no substitute in polite company) you cannot give the little girl back her tween and teen years; you can’t. Just as you cannot give back the precious things your actions or complicity have robbed this family, I say you should remove yourselves from a position of authority.

    Those of you reading this who are under the authority of such (removed word that has no substitute in decent society,) and you’re just waking up to reality; DO NOT SIT QUIETLY BY. How on earth do we know that such a thing isn’t happening right now under our noses?

    If they didn’t protect this family what makes you think they *are* protecting anyone in their care.

    So, go ahead and eat, drink, and crack jokes with Molehill, Driscoli, and Dunkin Donuts because someday you will be in front of the Judge and He will be playing the tapes that you can’t erase no matter who your (deleted word) friends are.

    And I don’t want to even witniss that exchange because I will actually pity you on that day.

  • Stunned

    exCLCer, please, take Breeezy up on his offer to help your family. Right now, it is time for your family to feel the love of the body (which you should have felt many moons ago). I know right now you may feel as if you are OK, but please, please allow the body of Christ to care for you and your family, even in a small practical way. So please, take this from your older sister in Christ, contact Kris and tell her that you are willing to let Breeezy help your mom and you guys out in whatever way he wants. I don’t know him from Adam, but his offer seems sincere. Let him be God’s hands in your life right now.

    In Him,

  • Stunned

    I just read part of exCLCer’s story. (I can’t handle it all at once. I had to only read portions. I will read the rest soon.)

    I swear by everything that is good and holy, not one person better come on here and tell me that ANY pastor that knew what was happening in that household is worthy of trust. NOT ONE. There was not one pastor who knew what was going on who is worthy to be trusted today. And I am not just talking about exCLCer trusting them. They, by their behavior, have SHOWN themselves to NOT be trustworthy pastors, and barely trustworthy Christians. Frankly, I don’t know a man even outside of Christiandom that would behave in such deplorable ways.

    Right here and now I am calling for every single pastor who was involved in exCLCers’ story to step down immediately. You are not worthy of the work a pastor is called to.

    SGM is filling the pastor’s college (only they invite men to go to that school) because they know that a lot of the current pastors will have to step down as these stories become better known. Problem is, they are creating even worse sycophants with the new pastor’s college.

    This must be stopped. God, please be with those who are grieving and being abused today. And God, please, those of us who are not, give us the strength, love and compassion to stand by their side, making sure that they are not alone.

    God forgive us all for the people we have ignored along the way.

  • Breeezey

    Below is an exerpt from The Omega Letter by Jack Kinsella. Most of the posters here are believers. Although they have been damaged and hurt, they still believe that God truly loved them enough to send His Son to die for them. However there are some like exCLCer who have been hurt so badly that they either lost what little faith they had or never believed in the first place. I would beg of all unbelievers that both post and lurk to not just allow their tears to be written in one of God’s books but to allow their name to be written in the Book of Life by giving all of their hurts and pains to the One who says He will one day wipe away all tears.

    The Books
    And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20:12)

    Allow me to set the stage for the scene just described. We are being given an eyewitness account of the Great White Throne Judgment.

    “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. ” (Revelation 20:11)

    The Great White Throne is the third of the three great judgments outlined by Scripture; the first two being the Believer’s Judgment at the Bema Seat and the judgment of the sheep and goat nations.

    The Judge is at all three of these judgments is Jesus Christ. The Great White Throne Judgment is not a New Testament doctrine — the Prophet Daniel described it exactly as John did.

    “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, Whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” (Daniel 7:9-10)

    Notice another similarity between John’s account and Daniel’s. Both John and Daniel refer to the ‘books’ — plural.

    “And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)

    So the Book of Life is the ticket into heaven. Anyone whose name is not in there will join the antichrist and false prophet in the Lake of Fire.

    What are the other books?

    There is the Book of Tears. “Thou tellest my wanderings: put Thou my tears into Thy bottle: are they not in Thy book?”

    The Book of Tears records our pain and disappointments and sadness — Who we trusted and how we dealt with the trials and tribulations of this life.

    “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. . . . For Thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” (Psalms 56:10-11,13)

    God also keeps a Book of Remembrance:

    “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His Name. And they shall be Mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” (Malachi 3:16-17)

    This is where God records that which sometimes man forgets. The Scriptures promise that: “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21)

    The fourth book in which our names are recorded is the Book of Births.

    “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in Thy Book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalms 139:16)

    I believe the Bible teaches that everybody is recorded in all four books; births, remembrance, tears and life.

    Babies who die as babies go to heaven, so their names must also be recorded in the Book of Life. Paul says that, while “I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Romans 7:9)

    If that sin is not covered by the Blood of Christ by the time we leave this earth, then we have not overcome — since we are overcomers only through the imputed righteousness of Christ and not our own righteousness, holiness or ability.

    If we are not overcomers through Christ, then are our names blotted out of the Book of Life and “the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.” (Revelation 20:5)

    This is a lot to take in at once, so I will try to summarize. The Bible outlines four different books in which our names are recorded and against which we are judged, either at the Bema Seat or the Great White Throne.

    The books record our births and our trials in this life. We are judged according to what is written in those books, and we are saved according to what is written in the other two.

    God records the day we called out to Him in His Book of Remembrance or He blots our name from the Book of Life if we fail to do so in this life. If our names are still recorded in the Book of Life then we will appear before Christ at the Bema Seat for the believer’s judgment.

    We will still be judged based on what is written in those books, but our judgment is to determine our rewards rather than our punishment. Stop with me here for one second. Note again the criteria for appearing before the Bema Seat.

    Those who stand before it trusted Jesus rather than themselves. The small and great in Christ will both be there.

    Some will receive great rewards, others will receive no reward whatever apart from being permitted entry into the kingdom. “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1st Corinthians 3:15)

    Then there is the Great White Throne. Those who appear before it will be judged for all their works, but they will be sentenced based on just one criteria.

    Where their name should appear in the Book of Life — there is an ink blot.

    Salvation isn’t difficult. It is what God created us for. Every person who ever lived is (or was once) recorded in all four books.

    Whether or not one’s name remains in the Book of Life depends on Who one trusts to keep it there.

    So please don’t let hurt, anger, rage, and pain keep you out of the Book of Life. The hurts you felt through SGM qualify to be written in the Book of Tears both they will not keep you in the Book of Life, only Jesus can do that.

  • Whirlwind

    I know SGM pastors practice expository preaching so they can’t avoid the more difficult texts of Scripture. Has anyone ever heard anyone with SGM preach through Ezekiel 34?

    1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

    7 “‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.

    There’s more through the end of the chapter. Verse 10 is especially interesting in that the Lord says He will hold the shepherds accountable by removing (de-gifting?) them.

    Can anyone say whether this receives any attention in the PC?

  • Remnant

    Blue Sky I’m glad you’ve found comfort and that my words are timely. I hope you take the advice of Stunned and FSGP to chill.

    Blue Sky, I cannot fathom willingly going back to someone who seriously spiritually abused me. It’s up to them to have the wake up call from the Lord, and up to them to take on the Godly mantle as men of God to seek you out with honest, heartfelt, tears of repentance and an offer of restitution.

    Going to them and expecting to receive something other than serious spiritual abuse, is unwise. You’re just inviting them to kick you more.

    And you certainly don’t deserve that! You are a precious child of the King! And I’m sure the King doesn’t appreciate His children getting kicked by those He charged as servants. Your King/Father will have His say – if not this day, in that Day which is to come.

    And that is where I hang my hat.

    exCLCer Your story is heartbreaking. The evils the SG leadership played on your family are so far from Godly – so far from love – so far from righteousness. How did those pastors go home each night to a hot meal without vomiting the feast, knowing that you were starving? How could they not deliver baskets of provision? How how how???? The question rings….and deserves an answer.

    That you and your siblings have found your way home to mom after years forced apart by these evil pastors is heart-warming. I thank God. I can’t imagine…

    God is a Righteous Judge who oversees with jealousy. Evil like this does not go unpunished. He sees and is not fooled by man’s folly or self-delusions.

    Hugs. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope the guilty parties can come to see the fullness of the evil they did to you and are brought to their knees in Godly sorrow.

  • Breeezey

    ExCLCer… Allow me to say this FIRST – your story enrages me like few others. Because TAG/GOB/CLC/PDI/SGM only targeted the middle to upper middle class there are few stories here of “extreme” poverty. Your story is one of them. As a former member of CLC allow me to say that if there are any needs you, your mom, or your siblings have PLEEEEEASE allow your extended family here to help. I would be among the first to donate. :welcome

    BTW… my kids were the CLC school for 3 years, from the Frost Center on Aspen Hill Road through the first year in Gaithersburg. So you may remember my oldest, TJ. My (now ex-)wife and I couldn’t handle the cost and the car pooling so they all finished in public schools.

    I am truly sorry for the pain and hardship you endured and the tears you shed.

  • happymom

    The perspective that Mark painted about “not wanting to reveal the identity of victim” (25:23 in the audio)
    does not line up with his response to me in our meeting with him last spring. I asked him why don’t they notify families at risk?
    His response: “because that perpetrator could grow up and sue us for defamation of character.”

    Also, he stated “in the swirl of things to think about we lost sight of the victim.” He failed to mention that in that “swirl” they called their attorney’s.

  • FSGP

    Ozy and those interested in SoCal –

    Now the sitchy-ation that we got in Sandy Eggo with them elders, that sitchy-ation, why they cud get de-elderfied. Then some dem boys cud get re-elderfied. Cuz that there pastor, he got de-giftified but shazam weren’t he re-giftified. An’ a this all is blessed by the apostle who was de-apostlated.

    The only horses them boys in Sandy Eggo gots is geldings, yup.

    Former SG Pastor

  • Phoenix


    I can well understand your anger. In the year or more after Noel’s story the parents in the same homegroup, some of whom were also neighbors, were not told of that perp (who had much access to their children.) Certainly the church at large was not warned, even when we were to attend a Celebration Conference with the perp’s family. In the interests of full disclosure here, let me say that I did know. I didn’t tell everyone because 1.I mistakenly believed that the situation was being handled in good faith if imperfectly 2. The actual acts that took place had been obfuscated, distorted, and minimized. 3. I was allowed to believe that Noel and Grizzly wanted the confidentiality 4. Perp’s family were still my friends as well 6. I thought this was an isolated, aberrant incident 5. I was still not fully detoxed from the Koolaid.

    Maybe I still need to work through what I should have done differently.

    Two more thoughts. I want people to be comforted and find hope in the fact that all these years later Noel and Grizzly’s beautiful daughter is thriving. Although I am very close to the family, there have no doubt been issues for her that I don’t know about. But I have watched her grow up and she is a brilliant, glowing, whole, young woman, making her parents, her siblings, her friends, and the young men crazy.

    Finally, notBob and others, those of the “Fairfax gang” who were underage are now grown men and I don’t think any of them are still at Fairfax. The one who was an adult at the time married soon after the incidents and I don’t think he is at Fairfax either. Notwithstanding, feel free to email me. You can find my e-mail and my real name in an earlier post. Kris and Stunned both have them as well. I will freely share what information I have.

  • happymom


    Just when I think I’ve heard the worst that this ministry has done, along comes another story that breaks my heart. I can’t find words right now. I am so very sorry for what you and your family endured. Not only do these leaders not reflect a “Gospel-centered life” they can’t even respond like any normal human being would to people who are suffering. Thank you for bravely sharing your story.

    To those who went to bat for Noel & I regarding Tired of crying,
    Thank you! I honestly feel sorry for someone who is so blinded by loyalty to SGM or any another ministry that they completely lose sight of how very ungodly they sound. I know the truth, do does Noel,comments like that do not deter us.

  • seeking truth

    exCLCer ,I’m so sorry,that should have never happened to your family!I really wonder where these pastors hearts are? Do they have one? How could men who are suppose to be caring for people act like that? It’s just awful.I just don’t understand why so many pedophiles are protected within the SGM system.It just doesn’t make sense!!!!
    So glad you all survived and were reunited back together as a family!!

  • Ozymandias

    Bridget —

    I looked over at Grace Church SD’s website, under the About Us, Team subdirectory, and it shows the elders (all of whom are pastors) and a leadership council, which, according to the description, was formed by the elders. Is it the leadership council you are referring to you when you talk about a group of “lay [non-vocational] elders” vs. “paid [vocational] elders.” Are all of the men on the leadership council part of the church’s small group leadership structure? Are the folks on the non-vocational leadership council on rotation, and do they meet together with the pastoral team on a weekly/monthly basis?

  • andythepicketer

    Phoenix #256 Correction: Not threat of imminent picketing, just imminent.

    When I read about yet another case of sexual abuse of a minor in this very thread (an 11 year old), believe me it’s imminent. In fact we already have the signs, the banner had a misspelling so it’s being shipped back and done over. For the first picket there will be just a few of us so the actual day will be a total surprise for the staff at Fairfax. After the initial picket I’m posting dates on a website and accepting additional volunteers. There is plenty of public space out along the road that is available for picketers and Fairfax’s 15 member security team won’t be able to stop a legal picket as there will be no trespass on their property. I did find it amusing how they went over their security measures in such detail, how they have ex & current law enforcement etc. So what, they can’t do zip off their property without being sued, arrested or fired from whatever agency they serve. With Snyder V. Phelps ET AL. being decided for the picketers by the US Supreme court on March 2 of this year and the recent Federal Court ruling that qualified immunity doesn’t stop lawsuits by picketers whose rights were violated by the Maryland State police, picketers are more protected then ever before.

    With respect to the Family meeting & cry-a thon at Fairfax, it seemed pretty blatant in it’s obvious attempt to manipulate the flock. They were working real hard at whipping up sympathy for
    themselves. They are scared to death of their church disintegrating and it will if they don’t discover honesty. Anyone that has been watching these cases since last March should be enraged at the Fairfax staff for such dishonesty. Recently a current attender at Fairfax (that I know) referred to them as scum. After listening to the entire family meeting I can understand why she is suddenly so angry at them instead of me for the first time in a month or so.

    So yes the picketers are coming, Fairfax first and then Gaithersburg. Rinse and repeat many, many times until the scum is gone and the children of this community are safe from pedophile filth and their enablers/protectors.

    Ex-clcer: I’m so sorry for your pain. I get it and understand. You and your family are in my prayers.

  • Ellie


    EXCELLENT response to “Tiring” in #361!!!

  • ExCLCer — I just have no words for your story. You’re a very impressive person, you know that? I’m a bit in awe of you.

    As to your comment to “Tired of the Crying,” AMEN. Being a blogger myself for a long time now, I never understand the angries who don’t avail themselves of the “click-away” option. “D**n this free content that people put a lot of time and thought into! It’s so ENRAGING!!” I mean, please. No one’s being forced to read. No one’s being asked to pay.

    Why torture yourself? Go look at Cute Overload and chillax.

  • notBob

    Noel regarding your post #331. You mentioned that one of the molesters was a pastor’s son? And others have mentioned there was more than one perpetrator. None of this has ever been revealed a SGC of Fairfax and the members there have a right to know who these people are so they can protect their kids. My kids attended during the late 90’s up until a few months ago. And I would really like to know who the perps are so I can inquire of my children if they are hiding anything that might have happened to them. This is crazy! I can’t believe we are trustingly letting out kids go to a church where they hide and protect people that molest children?!!? I can’t wrap my brain around this. I just hope nothing happened to anyone else and that they aren’t afraid to talk about it because they think they would be blamed for the problem.
    Sorry if this sounds like a rant but I’m really upset about this.

  • exCLCer

    RadicallySaved – thank you so much for your concern. We are survivors. I truly learned to be happy with little, understanding that freedom, truth, and family are the greatest treasures on earth, so in that I am RICH. It took many many years to recover from the situation we were in. Me and my siblings were all separated for many years, gradually aging out of the state system one at a time but eventually finding our way back to eachother and our mother. A few of them had fairly decent foster homes for a while, but many of us shuffled through shelters, institutions and various other temporary living arrangements. I cant speak for all of us, but I myself feel like the price paid in pain and suffering alone for so many years, was still well worth the freedom from the invevitable years of involvement in that wicked church, had we not been booted from it — best tears ever spent. We are each stronger for all we have been through, and many of us are now really involved in helping people who go through what we have survived. Theres still a lot of anger for a few of us, and we as a family understand that too.

  • exCLCer

    Walking wounded – Im reassured to hear your take on the response I got. I wondered if it was just me, ya know, feeling like it was carefully crafted to express concern without expressing any responsibility.

    Tired of the crying – if youre tired of it, then dont read it. Until you are a victim in that situation, dont be so sure of what you may or may not have done. To say that people werent thinking critically may be true, but you obviously have no understanding of how indoctrination works, and how critical thinking (questioning) was pervasively rebuked in this church. But I will tell you, I didnt see all those critical thinking members, you seem to know of, crawling out of the woodwork when my family was in desperation, thats for sure. I didnt see all these “smart” people rushing to our defense. I wish I had.

  • exCLCer

    Pilgrim, I often wish I could go back and ask all the questions at the time too. I was old enough to know things were just WRONG, but not quite mature enough to process it all and stand up against what was a clear injustice. I do remember the kindness of some rare people, not even knowing how destitute things were, but sending food and inviting us for meals here and there (thank you)…I guess it was so bad it started to be kind of obvious. One person gave the pastors a fairly large sum of money telling them it was an anonymous donation to help us… I think it went to the molesters legal fees. Anyway, not many families knew enough to help though. I remember how my mother used to make meals and deliver them to whoever was sick or pregnant, and the pregnant single moms we would have living with us from time to time, or the crack addicted foster babies that came through our home, and think, why are we any less deserving of any help when we became so needy? But there was no rally for us, and I understand why, because we were told it was all supposed to be kept very secret. If the church members knew they might ask questions and it was NOT to be talked about under any circumstances. So Im sure there were good people there who just didnt know. Yes, they blamed my mom (in their roundabout, “youre not submissive enough” way). Yes they blamed my sister, even saying the perp was not a pedophile, but must have just been attracted to the woman she was becoming (at ELEVEN years old!!!), and Yes they justified our subsequent poverty as self induced by my mothers reluctance to help them keep this man out of jail. I still cant “wrap my head around it” either. He did have a short sentence, (thanks to the pastors legal support for him), but once released he refused to help pay for the support of his family, since he was obviously the victim of such an unforgiving wife and kids. I think my mother assumed, like you and many others, that the pastors, as church leaders, would make right decisions, but she found out pretty quickly that wasnt the case.

  • Bridget #353 — So “paid elders” at Grace Church SD, huh? Uhm …. I’m not quite sure how that’s better. Why the need for “paid elders”? Seems like an added expense for the church, if you ask me.

    Maybe they should outsource all “paid” eldering to India.

  • exCLCer

    anne aka acme,
    old timer,
    praying for covlife,
    walking wounded,
    radically saved,

    Thank you to those who listened to my story and related and those who expressed the genuine concern and integrity (that the people who should have back then never did). I do appreciate that affirmation of human decency.

    praying for covlife– (we may know eachother — there were a lot of people Ive never talked to or seen since everything went down, but still remember some of them very fondly).

  • Patti

    I would like to say something about ‘moving on.’ I thought my rejecting God altogether was moving on. How I regret using drugs, alcohol, anything to forget the past was moving on. I think moving on was selfish. I should have shouted from the rooftops so more kids would not have to endure what I did. When Jesus turned me around, moving on is going back and helping.
    I listened to Daystar last night. I don’t listen much to Christian TV but Joni Lamb has a good program where they talk about issues and have guests on that talk about their pasts. One man who was born in concetration camp has an awful horrible story to tell. He has moved on. But before he ‘moved on’ he wasn’t going back and helping. Going back, telling your story IS moving on.

  • FSGP

    Blue Sky – :welcome

    I’m with Remnant and Stunned. Cut yourself some slack, grab yourself a seat, relax and chill for a while.

  • happymom


    Wallace & I stand in agreement with you & Grizzly. A friend is transcribing it for us and we are preparing to post our response.

  • here we go again!

    @ Tired of crying!!!!!!!

    Please who ever you are have some compassion on these AWFUL child abuse cases……….do you have children? how long have you been in the church? have you ever been abused in any way and trusted in God to support your leadership in the situation? If you have children and they were molested IN CHURCH by a teenager and you were the victim but the pastors/leaders kid was the one who was the one who did this you may have called the police BUT BUT BUT people want to not think that this is true at first and when the curtain is finally pulled back and the evidence speaks and IT IS TRUE it is HEART BREAKING !!!!

  • Bridget


    Ozymandias and Whirlwind –

    Grace Church SD has changed their polity over the past 18 months :D which might be why the files cannot be downloaded. The change was welcomed and completed with total transparency; including keeping the congregation up to speed with the process by way of family meetings. Time was allowed throughout the process for prayer, study, observations, and questions. There is now plurality of eldership which includes paid elders as well as lay elders.

    By His Grace . .

  • Stunned

    Blue Sky, I’m with Remnant on that one. Go easy on yourself. Be good to you. It’ll help you to be gracious and good to others and to accept the love and forgiveness of the one who has died (literally) to pour it out on you.

  • Stunned

    Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

    Please, everyone who is so encouraged by the Fairfax family meeting this past Sunday night, with the tears and the opps, our bads, PLEASE take the time to go back up and read Noel’s post #331.

    Please be willing to look at the truth, even though the light of the sun, after all the darkness these pastors have been trying to hide you in, is going to burn your retnas a bit. The truth will be better in the long run, though it’s hard to see now.

    And if you did think that these guys were honestly repenting (before you read Noel’s post and found out they were lying and manipulating you) please ask yourself WHY you believed them. There’s probably a different answer for each person, but I’d imagine God wants to show you the whys, even if He doesn’t do it right away.

  • Blue Sky

    Thank you, Remnant! A timely word and very meaningful encouragement for me especially now.

  • Whirlwind


    I have a hardcopy of the polity book and know it mentions having an apostolic leadership team. Noticing it wasn’t available from their store any more, I wondered if it’s been pulled as part of a change in “Perspective”. :wink:

    I don’t know when it disappeared though to give a timeline to @Steve240’s question about what changes have been taking place for a while now.

  • RadicallySaved


    Mary (post 345) summed it up – so sad to hear about your family…it truly is heart breaking. A question I have is, how are your siblings and your mom today? While I feel sick about the lack of care for your family that occured in the past, I want to know how you, your siblings, your mom are doing today? Financially, emotionally, spiritually? Are there practical ways TODAY that we, as sons and daughters of the living God, can serve your family? If you don’t want to post, you can get my email address from Kris. I want to do more than pray for your family, I want to understand any practical needs that may still exist –

    P.S. I have been liberated from automatically sending my tithe to my Local SGM church!! Many of my friends feel the same, I have been praying for God’s guidance on where to send tithes and it has been fun!!

  • Mary

    Noel – post 331. How insulting for you! I am so sorry. Really, these guys have got to STOP sugar coating it and get down to some real repentance. It is far too late for damage control. UGH! I am so sorry. No apology is better than a false one. Wow. Thanks for filling us in…. I am a huge fan of truth and am postive God is a fan too. Really guys, anything less than the total truth is um…a lie and is sin. Come on! Disappointing to say the least.

  • Mary

    EXclcEr: I am SO sorry for what you went through. I am heartbroken to read your story. I am equally heartbroken for how they represented Christ to you. So sad. I don’t know why these stories still shock me – but they do. I am shocked to read your story. Ugh. People need to realize there are some VERY serious repentance that needs to take place. Something more than CJ getting a paid vacation. My heart goes out to you and your family. I am terribly sorry. You did a great job writing your story…thank you so much for sharing. Peace and love. You should have been loved and cared for then….I am crying that you weren’t….so sad.

  • here we go again!

    @pattie #238 question

    sorry I did not get back until now-it was 2 hours ahead here in gaithersburg when I started posting and I was so tired:)
    any way to the answer to your question on the COVENANT LIFE SCHOOL K-12
    The school was always a MEMBERS ONLY OF CLC school until last year. They opened enrollment up to outsiders last year. I heard it was the best thing that they ever did for the school . I would think that it is hard to be with the same people from k-12 especially since it was the same people you went to church with! infact the school sits right next to the SGM pastors college as it goes on.

  • Ozymandias

    And lo-and-behold, another church posted the March 2004 Dave Harvey booklet on polity. Link is operational —

  • Ozymandias

    Whirlwind —

    Grace Church in San Diego used to have all three Perspectives booklets in .pdf format under their mediafiles subdirectory; however, when I checked tonight, I get a WordPress error, which suggests that they’ve now been removed. If you type in the following URL — — into Internet Archive, there appears to be a 2008 hit, which may mean that the document is available going that route (however, Internet Archive seemed to be having difficulties tonight, so I wasn’t able to actually bring up the 2008 cached page).

  • Remnant

    Blue Sky

    You said:

    1) Pastor sinned against me (nothing immoral or financial, just a blatant case of spiritual abuse)
    2) I handled the situation poorly

    Well of course you handled it poorly!!!! Blatant spiritual abuse by a pastor is not something one handles well. Nor is it something one OUGHT to handle well.

    Pastoral “men of God” who call themselves “pastors” are the ones who ought to be ashamed for handling your situation so awfully.

    Please do me a wee favor: give yourself a break!

  • Blue Sky

    Kris and Guy plus fellow Survivors,

    Thank you for creating this safe haven to share stories and weep with and encourage one another, in so many ways I feel safer here than in the walls of my local SGM church.

    The short version of my story (leaving out some shocking specifics that would identify me):

    1) Pastor sinned against me (nothing immoral or financial, just a blatant case of spiritual abuse)
    2) I handled the situation poorly
    3) In trying to make sense of what happened I went through a terrible time of confusion
    4) Pastor never admitted anything wrong, it was all about my response, which I eventually repented of
    5) Over time with God’s mercy, He gave me the grace to forgive the people involved but deep within I still could not make sense of it
    6) Years later in discovering the blogs, I began to read and see similar stories of spiritual abuse and for the first time have begun to identify what happened.

    On top of that, the whole CJ/Brent thing came to light, so I’m challenged in a greater way to ask why I am still settling for the dark shadows when I could be out under the blue skies enjoying the freedom of leaving my SGM church. I still hope and pray for change at the root level but I’m clearly in the watch and see mode now.

  • Whirlwind

    @Steve240 re: post 248

    As to SGM leaders already making changes before all this happened…

    The change from “apostolic team” to “SGM board” would probably be part of this, which is even alluded to in Brent’s documents where he talks about them foregoing a five-fold ministry and becoming just another parachurch organization.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if these changes have come through the influences of relationships from outside SGM – Dever, Duncan, etc. I can remember hearing podcasts among the “T4G crew” where CJ was the recipient of some friendly mocking about his apostleship.

    I think the SGM board sees themselves playing more of an advisory role rather than an authoritative role for local churches, but it’s not clear how that plays out for doctrinal issues – Calvinist, complementarian, etc. I guess they’d stop advising a church if it distanced itself too much doctrinally. I’m not sure how well this has been communicated among SGM church leaders and members. I have noticed that I can’t find their booklet on church polity in the SGM online store any more – or maybe I just haven’t searched correctly since I can’t locate any of those Perspectives booklets.

  • Noel

    Of the perps that I know of they were all mid-teens with the exception of one, handsome and popular single guy. Of the teen perps at least two of the boys had the same circle of friends. I don’t know how many victims there may have been but I am certain that if the pastors had made an announcement with the very first case the parents in the church would have been able to talk to their children and make decisions for their children’s safety on their own.

    DB – thanks for the laugh…I needed it.

  • not going back either

    I recently saw the movie “Zookeeper” and there was a line in it that one of the free animals said regarding some of the caged animals…
    “That is just their captivity speaking.”

    That line has helped me put things in perspective, like when “tired of all the crying posted” I thought of that line and I had a picture of someone behind bars bowing down to the poor structures and methods that have brain washed them jeering at me who is outside the bars and freeeeee….he took the shackles off my feet so I can dance, just wanna praise Him…

    I listened to CLC’s third members meeting today….More questions, more Joshua being as open and honest as he could.

    A few good questions, and a few questions that was “just their captivity speaking.” like….”CJ has repented and sought reconciliation, what more do you people want?” Some people will just never get it.

  • DB

    I would say the piece of, um…work that would self-righteously judge parents of children that were molested is a foul troll and I would second Lucy’s anti-poo name change. I have a few suggestions…..Scatologically Averse, Eschew coli,
    Fecal-free forever.

    But, alas, El Trollo will stand before God someday and I wouldn’t want to be in the ultimate no spin zone for that one.

    Happymom and Noele, understand one thing, I don’t know how you have demonstrated such grace under your circumstances because, trust me, I couldn’t handle that and I would likel be involved in a crime that involved, at the very least, a radical dismemberment of the male appendage. I would also be tempted to debark our troll.

  • Not Important

    Tired of the Crying,

    As a member of a SGM church, and someone who usually laughs at the irony of people like FSGP, I can unequivocally and I hope without a judgmental spirit say you’re a jerk.

  • katie


    Were all of these perpetrators friends or about the same age? And how big is the Fairfax church? I wonder how many other attacks there were that went unreported, or unconfessed for kids who couldn’t report themselves. If these kids were all around the same age, or maybe even if they weren’t… I wonder if there is something going on behind the scenes at Fairfax that could be causing them to act out in this way.

    I don’t know… just a thought.

    So sorry for what you’ve been through. :( And their response even now just astounds me. I hope the congregation will see through it.

  • Noel

    I am slowly catching up on everyone’s stories but I am angry and struggling today. I am so sad for all people behind the stories. The trail of spiritual abuse is overwhelming and it’s not about sexual abuse it’s about spiritual abuse. As I said to Happymom today, this whole SGM mess and is un-be-freakin-lievable!

  • Irv

    Steve240 – Thanks for the taking the time summarize for us!!! It is helpful!! :D

  • Noel

    Okay, Griz and I finally had the opportunity to both listen to Mark Mullery’s family meeting. We were almost encouraged (suprised?) that he was having this out in front of everyone. I was considering calling Mark to thank him for taking down the wall and doing something real. I cried as Mark confessed to the church and was so encouraged that he was finally trying to do something right. That is until we heard Vince and Lou! Mark shame on you for letting that happen.

    What’s the point in saying the sexual abuse happened if you are going to LIE about the pastors encouraging us to go to the authorities??? What’s the point in saying that you have tried to reconcile if you aren’t going to ADMIT that the reason we aren’t reconciled is because of the shallow, insincere apologies you gave us in those countless meetings. Constantly making generalities without owning up to the specific offenses and even denying the specific offenses.
    -We handled it badly but we didn’t tell you not to go to the authorities.
    -We were not learned in our approach but we never encouraged the perpetrators family to overturn the charges behind your backs.
    -We were scared and didn’t know what to do but we never raised our voices at you and told you that you had a carnal desire to see the perpetrator suffer. PLEASE!

    There were so many lies in that public confession of truth it was just ridiculous but in an effort to not go into the petty details Mark, Vince, Lou, I will just make this one correction for the benefit of you and all the members of your church that are reading. Vince you mentioned that the systems you have in place to protect the children’s ministry classes were in place for the past 15 years and that you do background check etc. That’s great but…..our situation occurred after you had that system in place and our daughter’s perpetrator DID SERVE IN CHILDREN’S MINISTRY IN THE 3 YEAR OLD CLASS WELL AFTER HIS CONVICTION! Own up to it guys! In addition, this boy was not listed on the Sex Offenders Registry because he was a minor, as was the pastors son that molested someone, as was the perp in Wallace’s story, the child porn guy hadn’t been caught yet so clearly he was not on the registry, etc. That registry is not a catch all. If you want to protect the children of your church be a truth teller! Stop trying to control information! Let the parents make informed decisions to protect their children!

    But once again, it is not about that and you know it so shame on you for all for that drama. Tell the truth about who tried to reconcile…..tell the truth about why these families are not reconciled. Stop with the “damage control” already! Tell the truth.

  • BrokenHearted

    Only 15 minutes in, but WOW I love what Mark Mullery has to say about the whole SGM so far…

  • alemap

    Got plenty here with 2 goldens! :D :D

  • FSGP

    Stunned 308 – :word :clap – Keep smiling – it bugs them!

    Tired of the Crying 306 – TROLL ALERT! (Just saw Mike turned it on first …)
    Tired, if I could I’d reach through my computer and across the wires to where you sit at McDonald’s, eating your McNuggets and gulping your 2nd gallon of sweet tea, and I’d … I’d … I’d make you eat a green salad. Then I’d escort you to your 10-speed in the rack outside and send you home. And you would CRY all the way home, you tired little troll.

    Don’t make me come over there,
    Former SG Pastor

  • Mike Cole


    Go for it! ‘Poo-flinging’ HA!!!!!

  • #306 — Oh, for God’s sake. And I’m tired of the verbal, uhm, poo-flinging.

    Can I change my handle to that?

  • numo

    This is somewhat OT, but please bear with me –

    My sincerest thanks to whoever mentioned (in comments a post or two back) that TAG – or whatever it was called at that point – met for a while at Christ Church on upper Mass. Ave. in D.C.

    Because that is *the* missing piece (or one of them) in the history of the church that booted me… which was formed by a group of folks (mostly wonderful!) who left Christ Church after a split on polity and theological matters.

    The church in question has deep roots in the discipleship/shepherding movement and has many similarities to CLC, Fairfax and other D.C.-area SGM churches… but I have never been able to figure out exactly what it was. (There were former TAG members in this church during my time as a member, but they really didn’t want to discuss TAG, as they’d experienced some serious problems during the time they were involved there.)

    Without this blog, I would never have known… and while that doesn’t have me on emotional ’tilt’ at this point, 2-5 years ago, it would have been a different story.

    Thanks to Kris, Guy and all the dedicated posters here for what they do. You are appreciated far beyond current and former SGM circles.

  • Free Indeed

    Correction from post 319:

    The main point of the sermon i mentioned was actually this:

    The one who fulfilled the law for us requires uncompromised “righteousness” from us….

    still, why weren’t the 2000 members of this particular SGM church raising eyebrows? or were they??

  • Larry Tomczak Messsage at Immanuel’s Statement Mahaney
    Someone asked what Larry Tomczak shared in his message on Sunday 7/24 about C.J. Mahaney and Tomczak’s reconciliation with Mahaney. This is my summary of what Larry shared during the first service about himself and Mahaney. This can be seen on the posted video. The downloadable MP3 is for the second service. I haven’t seen where this information is included on the mp3.

    Video = 1st Service (Used to provide this summary)
    MP3 = Second Service (Doesn’t contain all the information I summarize here)

    First Larry taught on Psalm 126. This Psalm includes a section that talks about first sowing in tears (weeping) and then reaping in joy. Larry said that what 13 years of waiting for reconciliation with C.J. is an example of what this Psalm talks about. There was “weeping” but it eventually lead to reaping with joy.

    Larry went on to explain that God has a certain cycle that we have to learn to cooperate with. That is, things don’t always happen in the speed we are use to in this day and age of a lot of things being fast. There has to be patience. I would add that we need to remember this when we cry out for change within SGM. It may be a cycle and we don’t know God’s cycle on this or what God may choose to do.

    Larry thanked Charles Schmidt for the input he gave during the early years of the church that Larry and C.J. established (now CLC). This included keeping Larry and C.J. on the right track. Larry went on to talk about the falling out Larry and C.J. had with Charles Schmidt and the eventual reconciliation that Larry had with Charles. It was something that Larry didn’t think would ever occur.

    Larry went on to talk about his reconciliation with C.J. Mahaney. Larry indicated that after 13 years of repeated appeals, C.J. finally responded late last year. Mahaney first met with Larry, then another meeting happened with Larry and Larry’s wife Doris, then a meeting with Doris’s parents, and then a meeting with one of Larry’s children. Larry said Mahaney “in humility was listening” and talked about Mahaney’s “pathway of humility with a contrite heart asking forgiveness clearing the decks.”

    Larry said he wrote up a testimonial of this reconciliation and was posted online and within 48 hours of this testimonial being posted, C.J. was acknowledging God’s “further dealings” and he was stepping down and taking a temporary leave of absence.
    Larry said that he had talked repeatedly with C.J. about C.J.’s stepping down. Larry indicated that C.J. was going through a time of weeping but C.J. knows that he is in a place where godly sorrow (weeping) leads to repentance and if C.J. could “stand the pull” of all of this then God would pull C.J. through this. Larry indicated that sadly many “check out” when this happens. Larry said that C.J. would be the first to say, if he was here, “please be patient with me God isn’t finished with me yet and there is more that God yet intends to do. “

    Larry said he also talked to one of the (SGM) Leaders this past week and the leader was saying let happen whatever needs to happen and let God refine us.

    What Larry shared about C.J. does sound encouraging. Hopefully what Larry indicated is true and not a façade or acting. What Larry reported sounds somewhat similar to what Josh Harris has said about C.J. not seeing all of his sin yet.

    As I have shared before, so far the SGM Board’s statements seems to have a different view on this whole situation. If Larry’s account is true, at least Mahaney sees the need for godly sorrow leading to repentance while the SGM Board doesn’t even see this need. Of course if Mahaney wanted I am sure he could have asked the board not to “white wash” his actions like the board seemed to do.

    One good question is that if this reconciliation started last year, why didn’t this even alone cause C.J. Mahaney to step down earlier. I hope this information is helpful to those who can’t listen to the tape.
    One other thought I had on this is to realize that Larry Tomczak’s position would be to want downplay the blackmailing issue. After all there was something that Mahaney had that he could use to blackmail Tomczak. I am sure Tomczak doesn’t want too much attention drawn to this due to this issue. It is just good to realize what perspective one is at.

    Hopefully this summary is helpful.

  • Stunned

    Roanoker, you mentioned that your local SGM church had a family meeting and that it was not put on line like many of the other SGM family meetings were. Would you mind letting us know which SGM church you were in?

    Bwahahaha, just cracking myself up here today, aren’t I?

  • Stunned

    sadsoul asked a very important question above. I think some of us may have missed it. sadsoul said he/she (bet you’ve never been referred to as that before ;-) ) belongs to a non-sgm church but has been experiencing many of the things many of us in SGM have expereinced.

    sadsoul goes on to say, “We have been shunned, we have been lied to, some have left….but for the sake of our pastors, for the sake of the church — do you continue to confront or do you just let it go. Do you recommend that you send a letter to the elders like the guy with all the documents….we too have been in leadership…tried to talk through things. When you see the lies continue, and you know its not true, and that others are believing the untruths? What would you suggest is the best way, when you feel like you have swept things under the carpet long enough, that they continue to let things seem like “oh, that is just them, they are bitter?” How would you counsel someone who is tired of the “dirty little secrets?”

    Dear sadsoul, I am sad to hear what you are going through. I am sad to know that you must feel so alone in this. I know God can/will lead you in this time. I have no idea how He wants you to proceed so please know this opinion of mine is just my opinion. God may have you run out the door and not look back or He may have you overturn tables. (I hope He at least doesn’t call you to do it, holding a whip like Jesus did. Kind of hard to find a whip nowadays.)

    Two things come to my mind. I, personally, just want you to run away and never have to think about it again. That would be my wish for you.

    Kind of.

    I have one other thought.

    These people who are still there? They need to hear the truth. All of them do. If there are any dirty secrets being swept under a rug, then there’s only way to clean ‘em up. Pick up the rug and sweep them back out. If I were being left behind in that church, I would have given anything to know the truth so I can make my own decision. You may be saving countless people (or even one) from suffering what you have suffered there.

    Your call which way you go. Better yet, God’s call. He will show you.


  • Roadwork

    Over the 20 years that I was in (sounds like a prison sentence), one thing that was constant – the leadership always put the responsibility on the members to go and ask questions, to speak to them privately, etc. When I was involved in some of the ministries, I always had to pursue them to find out what their needs were. When it came to serving them, they were some of the poorest communicators ever. After the demise of the magazine and the Celebration conferences, when it came to information about the church itself, or Sovereign Grace overall, there was little to none except the once a year DVD for the pledge drive. They always make you the pursuer for information. Oh yeah, except we’re supposed to always believe the best and not question leadership because they’re watching over you. If I non-communicated to my wife in this way, it wouldn’t be much of a marriage, would it?

    You’re now reading one of the two only real SGM periodicals that publish on a regular basis.

    Maybe they don’t really want you to know what’s going on. Think about the SGM emails that go out… It’s not information, it’s advertisements. It’s about songs, books, CD’s, conferences, and the opening of new franchises, etc.

    If it’s weren’t for the blogs, the Detwiler Papers and the rumors (Gossip! Cover your ears!), would you even be here now? And what are you discovering, especially if you have the courage to dig through the archives? Significant problems with SGM churches, apostles and leadership wreaking havoc on the lives of many. And it’s been going on for a lot longer than these blogs have been in existence. It’s a broken system and sad to say that I have been their enablers through my blind attendance, tithe, offerings and support.

  • Free Indeed

    Michael, thanks for your comments.
    My experience in almost 2 decades of Care group meetings was that the only time the bible was cracked was when someone wanted to exhort us during the worship portion of the meeting…

    During the meeting we NEVER studied the bible – EVER!!! I asked about this early on in my SGM experience, and several times over the years – that is what we ALL wanted… But the answers were always vague, but one that came through was that the pastors do not want us discussing and possibly misinterpreting the scriptures…

    What we did instead was to discuss, at least for the past several years, the previous sunday morning’s message – WHICH also almost never included much bible study – i think you must be well aware of the formula: a few specific passages are read at the start from one book (never any cross referencing or serious bible study) – never any real preaching of the good news to help us know we are free and loved and in God’s power to overcome, and Grace to impact the world… But instead, typically directed to examine our sin… and not uplifted – i can personally site several poignant examples of this:

    1.Our good works are a strong indication of our readiness for judgment day = Blasphmy!!
    2.We mix Grace and law in a great way = Read Galatians – Paul says this is a ministry of death and we are bewitched
    3.The one who fulfilled the law for us requires uncompromised holiness from us = also blasphemy

    I rarely felt uplifted and empowered after the message – in fact, for the past several years, never. I remember friends saying after any given message “could i have felt any worse after hearing that!??”

    Anyway, that is what we did at caregroup.

    They were “confession-fests” typically only at the “break-out” meetings which were men w/ men and women w/ women…

    @ Tired of the Crying – you raise some valid points. I think the overwhelming amount of comments on this blog show that people feel that one of the main strengths of SGM is in fact it’s people.. I believe you may be one of many who can think for yourselves…

    But i ask you to consider this: why are sooo many of the stories related here, sooo similar, and from sooo many people from different churches within the SGM movement… There is something serious to consider from this…

  • Janna

    Quick Note from Janna

    Hello All, sorry to break into the conversation. For those who remember me and left me many kind comments, I just wanted to say that I won’t be posting here anymore but I will be over at SGM Refuge from time to time. I remain committed to helping SGM Survivors who would like my feedback about the topics Kris and Guy were kind enough to let me address here.



    P.S. – there’s no need to reply to this message. Carry on!

  • Stunned

    Patti asked, “So I am asking those of you who did read the dating ones, does he make any sort of statement in the order of disclaiming his way of doing dating. I mean does he say that this is just the way he did it and if anyone is interested he thought it worked well so here’s the story? Or does he use a lot of scripture to support his theory that this is the way it should be done?”

    There is an awful lot of implication that this IS God’s way of doing things. Or at least His best way. Lots of scripture or allusion to it (since we both know there is nothing in scripture that says how one should date.

  • Irv

    Thanks Guy – I am just thinking perhaps we can and should do better to ‘serve’ some of the SGM pastors. I don’t quite get it, the congregations were taught how to properly confess sin, can’t figure out why the leaders don’t get it. Would hate for these men to think we’re just a bunch of whiners and complainers without offering solutions. :bang

    Bravo Zulu made me laugh – Haven’t heard that term in many years. I was four years in USAFSS working closely with NSA and ASA. The Navy guys would use BZ or bravo zulu regularly (especially when referencing the airmen) :lol: . Good memories!!

  • Stunned

    Yellow is a Happy Color (great name- we have been getting some really well named posters lately) said, “On yet another note, I was the one who expressed concern about my tithe money funding this mediation thing with CJ. Rather than give my money to CLC with a note on it, it just makes more sense to put my money right in the hands of missionaries overseas.”

    Agreed 100%. If someone wants to argue that the tithe should go to the local church, I beg of you to look into it more deeply here with some excellent research by a top rabbinical scholar. According to this scholar, if you want to be following the law on where to put your tithe, you’re sure as heck not putting it in the right place by making sure CJ Mahaney gets this counseling nor a million other things that YOUR money goes to.

    However, I beg you not to be legalistic about where your money goes anyway. If you DO want to be legalistic and you are going to bring your tithe to the storehouse so that you and the poor can have a big party, please invite me. I am not poor, but I do like a good party. (I’ll bring my own cider. No, I am not being fascietious,- just a bad speller- I would love to join any modern day tithe feast.)

    But if you’re not going to be legalistic (that is a good thing) then DEF use your tithes to do good, like Yellow’s suggestion. Or a million and one other ways to spend YOUR tithe money that could actually do good, rather than triple pay your pastor/speaker to go speak somewhere else. (I’ll try not to get sick when I think of the triple dipping that sometimes happens there.)

  • Dr.StupidHead

    “Tired of the Crying

    It seems like a good number of the comments here and stories try to put their short comings on others and explain EVERYTHING away from their perspective”

    Have you ever attended the SGM PC College ? This quote from your post is a text book example used by several ( please note that the word several does mean all thus it is not a generalization ) SGM Pastors to shift blame ( or sin-sniff ) towards someone who is trying to undestand or is bringing up sin.

    And thanks for makeing so many generalized statements about us evil bloggers in one post :clap BUT I have to tell you I will never be able to fit into your statements about housewives so you may need to reword those 8O

  • Stunned

    Lucy, 236- I had never thought of it that way. But you’re right. These poor guys, I actually do feel sorry for them more and more every day. (Wait, I take that back, I feel more and more sorry for them daily with spikes of “What the heck?!” anger when I read new stories of their abuse. Then I feel sorry for them. After a bit.

  • Stunned

    paperbagprincess, thank you for coming here and sharing. Great name, by the way. I love hearing from brothers and sisters from other countries. Here in the US, we are desperate for a different perspective on Christianity (even though we’re not even aware of our desperate need for it). Please continue to share whenever you’d like.


  • Stunned

    Rose, your 184 was excellent!

    Steve240 brought up Senator Weiner. Every time I think of him and his photographic scandal, I think “Everything about this liberal politician leans to the left.”

    (Just thought I’d throw in some humor for anonymouse.)

  • Rom828

    Tired of Crying

    A rather HATEFUL tirade it seems… did you learn this at SGM or did you come up with this all by yourself?

    Seems you feel personally attacked by this blog… I’m sorry you feel that way. People have expressed themselves in many different ways. Kris will probably (if she hasn’t already) chime in to echo that and say they are free too. I don’t agree with everyone and of course gross generalizations are uncalled for… bloggers here don’t mind being called out on stuff like that. I replied to one person myself who humbly considered what I said.

    TOTALLY UNNECESSARY – “because YOU were too stupid not to call the police when a child was molested”

    You obviously did not want to enter into the dialog but decided just to post a temper tantrum… :barf:

    I am sure there are many many fine people (I know many) at SGM churches. You at this moment would not be one of them…

    I think you owe the people here an apology for the way you communicated on this blog.

  • Mike Cole

    :koolaid ALERT …. #306 :koolaid ALERT

  • Stunned

    Anonymouse, great name.

    I read your questions and there seems to be an awful lot of inaccurate assumptions in them, or rather accusations. I would really like to give you the benefit of the doubt and think you are not being kind of mean in a passive aggressive way, and possibly you really weren’t being that way, so I will answer your questions after we talk about the questions themselves first.

    Your first question was, “Would anyone on this site be willing to participate in a follow up post about how they have since moved on with their lives? There are a lot of posters that say, ‘Looking Forward’ or other positive tag lines. And yet, after being a reading-only-non-contributer for several months, I can’t help but to observe that there are a lot of habitual posters on here and there’s a fair amount of repetition by those same posters. (My best guess is that they want to make sure an opportunity isn’t missed to share their experience with this new expanded audience?)”

    It would appear the you equate people coming here to comment quite a lot with not moving on. Am I correct? Where does this assumption come from? Do you think that if someone moves on, that they would not come back to minister to others?

    In South Africa on the most brutal of the prison islands, where Nelson Mandela had his lenghthy stay, there were many political prisoners. They were treated horribly for their listening to the consciences over the law of the land. After apartheid ended, these men were released. They spent many years healing (or trying to). Since then, the prison has been opened as a museum, a place to educate people. The government has actually asked these former political prisoners to come back, live on the island and be tour guides, educating the public about life there. For many, it was devastating to return. One guard in particular, who spent his young adulthood there, after many years away finally decided to go live on the island, next door to his own prison guards. It was HAAAaaaaaaaaarrrrrrddddd for him to do. His wife wouldn’t even join him for a few years. But he is there because he believes it is the right thing to do.

    Do you believe he is not moving on, as well?

    I often want to leave here (I admit, I get weary of my stomach turning into knots when wave after wave of people come through here, their lives in tatters due to the hardness of men’s hearts), but I feel God has called me here to love people, speak truth and point people past man to God. I don’t know if in your opinion that is moving on or not.

    Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t even know what “moving on” means. Would you be interested in dialoging more about that?

    Your second question was, “will any of you reach a place where you are willing to look forward without looking back? i do understand that this is a ‘support blog.’ it just so rarely sounds like anyone contributing here is happy and thriving in a new and better place (so is the sharing and commiserating helpful?). i don’t really hear people say, ‘i had a bad experience, but life is so much better now and here’s why.’

    Would you please explain what you mean by looking forward and not looking back? Do you mean for that to sound like a slam or was it a mishap? If you did not mean to make it sound like a slam, would you please rephrase it so I can know what you mean? My head is busy from the minor whiplash I just received to probably fully comprehend your question. But I can try to answer what you are saying.

    I have never met anyone who is healthy who doesn’t look in both directions. Do you not look back in your life, too?

    Don’t sound happy? Hmmm, that is a hmmm… ..strange observation. Some of the people on here crack me up with their humor. Others, well heck, I took a break from writing this because I saw I had an email from someone on here and I found myself in tears of joy for the great stuff that is happening in their lives right now.

    Maybe you are confusing “weep with those who weep” with not being happy? If so, count me in the weep category. (God forgive me if I ever leave that category and sear my heart against those who are suffering.) Do you know the scripture that says that those of us with the gift of mercy should administrate it with joy? That’s me. I’m sort of like FSGP- people think of me as extremely happy. I actually joke that I am bitter and people who know me actually burst out laughing. You ever hear that line from Steel Magnolia’s, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion”? It’s an awesome one.

    Am I thriving? Well, I am a homegroup leader in my current church, if that is what you mean. Though, I’d hardly call that thriving. I’d just say there are a bunch of clearly misguided people who actually want me to lead their homegroup. ;-) I am busy in my church and community, building relationships and what not (creating gardens where there were empty lots, too). I have lots of tomatoes right now. (Is that thriving?) Some days life is great and some days I just long to go home to heaven and sit in His lap. (Sometimes it is minute to minute.) Is this thriving?

    I don’t know. It seems like your honest question is not looking for answers, but trying to make a point. Please correct me if I am wrong. If you are genuinely asking questions, why these? Why is it that you want the answers to each of these? Are you planning on leaving your SGM church and wondering how it is out in the waters? If it helps, sometimes it is scary and sometimes it is lovely.

    You had said, “i don’t really hear people say, ‘i had a bad experience, but life is so much better now and here’s why.” If you have been reading here for a long time I am not really sure how you could have missed all the people saying exactly what you’ve said, but just in case you need to hear it again, “For me, life is so much better outside of SGM because I get pointed to God and not to my sin. ‘He who looks to Him, his eyes are radiant.’”

    Did that answer your questions?

    I hope you’ll answer mine. Thank you if you do.

  • Rom828

    HAPPYMOM #245

    “Why were we not informed of this sudden acknowledgment of wrongdoing?”

    That was my question earlier… (see #211) I was hoping Mark had but doubted it.

    Was there no mention of followup, of getting together with wounded parties to make the confession accurate and true? :scratch

    Anyone know?

  • Tired of the Crying

    It seems like a good number of the comments here and stories try to put their short comings on others and explain EVERYTHING away from their perspective… maybe YOU struggled with not thinking through things biblical and fell into a cult like way of thinking and doing things… don’t make your mistake EVERYONE’s by then saying all people at SGM church do this and have/had this experience… just because YOU were too stupid not to call the police when a child was molested do think that other’s wouldn’t just tell the authorities then walk through the issues with the church… this could happen at any church…

    don’t blame others for YOU putting pastors on a pedestal and going to them for all your decisions… it’s not bad to ask for wisdom… but don’t then go and say EVERYONE does this same thing…. It’s insulting. DON’T say all women at SGM just became house wives because YOU fell into this thinking by not thinking biblically and critically.

    Stop insulting everyone at SGM by saying they don’t know how to think for themselves. YOU may not know, but it does not mean I don’t.

    Go ahead and post crimes or things that may need publicity… but STOP saying everyone falls into the things YOU may have fallen into.

  • Michael

    I am currently attending an SGM church. I am not named Michael. :new

    My experience has been mixed, and I have seen some of what is above written. What I will say is that our CG meetings are not just confession parties as has been described. But who knows what goes on elsewhere? We actually do read our bibles and the likes of Edwards. We too went through the whole CROSS at the expense of perfect life, resurrection and ascension phase. That has faded away.

    The worst of the pastoral sins is their inability to listen. “Unentreatable?” OK. Sure. That too. The root of it is they do not listen and play head games in order to ‘win’ the discussion. CJ appears to be in this mold. Not surprising that many of his hand picked emulate this form of mind control.

    This is not everyone on the staff, but we got two of the CJ type. It is a shame too. I have enjoyed many of his sermons. I guess I should chalk it up to an amazing God using a broken fallen man to do his work. I am very curious to see if the sermon from Josh Harris is a beginning or lip service.

  • nepotism

    Dan (#251),

    I am so utterly horrified by what was done to you.

    These people will have to answer to God one day for what they have done and that
    is surely far scarier than standing up to a cousin!

    Sounds like a pack of bullies in the school playground.

    There were lots of big families at the church, which I did not have a problem
    with per se. It was the never ending praise of the pastors/leaders who, like I said
    were all related to each other and the bizarre way that no one ever questioned or
    said a single thing that indicated they formed an independent opinion.

    I remember once thinking that it felt as though the congregation had all had
    frontal lobotomies! It made no sense. I know that in an office you see this kind
    of sickening pandering to the superiors but at least there you can rationalise that people
    have their mind on a promotion. But what is the gain from doing this to leaders/pastors.
    They’re not going to give out front row seats in heaven.

    The only ‘shepharding’ that I saw was when the pastors lent down and pulled the
    wool over all the little sheep’s eyes!

  • Abednigo

    My email addres is

    Use the first letters of these words: I Kissed Dating Goodbye

    Add: Not (to those three letters)

    Use: Yahoo

  • Mike Cole


    Yes, I’m starting to have meeting with pastors who sinned against me in the past. The meeting format have vetted and I feel comfortable. I mean they poop just like I do and if they diverge from the meeting format. I can leave. God is in control and I have faith.

    Yes, I will have faith and gasoline. – Jesus take the wheel…

    Okay I’ve had too much sugar today. :clap

  • Stunned

    Adednigo wrote, “But they stressed that if anyone was mistreated by them in the past they want to hear from them to try and make it right.”

    I have no issue with you relating what they said, and I appreciate it. But do these guys not know the biblical command (yes, this time the word biblical actually refers to a bible verse and not someone’s pet theology of the decade) found in Matthew 5:23 & 24? “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

    How can they read this verse and not quake before a holy God? It is THEIR job to seek out every single person that they know they have hurt. Heck, we have made their job a million times easier by giving them this site. They not only have to rely on their memory or their (rather seared) conscience, they can come here and find dozens, nay hundreds (many hundreds as of last count) of individuals that claim they have been harmed. They can contact Kris and start the process right here and now. They can obey the bible and this very obvious command. For them to say that someone else should go to them when they KNOW they have done wrong, is (in my book- ah, that would be the bible) unconsciounable. (spelling wildly off on that one.)

    When their repentance is real, they will seek out those they have harmed. Not hard to figure out. And besides us, I hear Brent Detwiller keeps pretty clear records of those who have been damaged, too.

    There, that could keep them busy in repenting for at least the next few months.

    Not upset with you Abednego, but each time I hear that these guys invite people to go to them (the ones who have done the harming) I am both grieved deep inside (I can only guess it is the Holy Spirit) that these men are ignoring a clear bible command and also shocked (i don’t know why I keep being surprised) at their immature insensitivity to ask those whose trust they have broken to come TO THEM! Hello! Reality calling them- how is that not terribly insensitive (I would expect better from a junior high student- you break someone’s window by mistake, you go to their front door, you knock on it and you say, “I am sorry. I will pay for it.” you don’t expect the person to come to you! Did these men’s mothers and fathers not teach them any better? And if not, the bible makes it clear. Not incumbent on the victims, incumbent on the one sinning. How could anyone follow these guys? Beyond me.)

  • Walking Wounded

    Our care (or lack of care as the case may be) for your family during those years was one of the most challenging tasks that we have encountered as pastors in more than 30 years. That is not to excuse any failures on our part, but to let you know that, in the light of today and what we have learned since then, and especially in light of getting your perspective, we would see deficiencies in our care. There are gaps that we may be able to fill in and things we remember that may broaden your understanding, but please don’t take that as making any defense or let it take away from the deep sadness we feel for your experiences in the aftermath of Dave’s sin against your sister and mother, and beyond that, to your entire family.

    @exCLCer, I am so sorry to read your story. It is tragic to see that response. It is a carefully crafted note setup to minimize any wrongdoing on their part. SGM Pastors, can you not see how wrong this is? What about a heartfelt “I am full of anguish over the pain you have gone through, and strongly desire to talk to you to see what I can do to correct it – that was a different time in my life and I have learned much since then”.

    we would see deficiencies in our care

    Are you serious?

    John and Gary, do you really believe you did nothing wrong? Even if you do, mourn with those who mourn. How about caring for this child of Jesus, how about showing some REAL care?

  • Stunned

    Rose said, “Looking forward, I have no issues that pressure me to conform for acceptance, nor have I ever looked to the church and pastoral input as principals. Nevertheless, I was mistreated, more because I was open about my thinking for myself than for anything else. Period.”

    Amen and ditto here, Rose! I almost wonder that it is not those who are too quiet that get harmed (as those of who speak out on the behalf of others have gotten slammed) but I sometimes suspect that those who do OK in SGM are doing OK because they themselves …well, don’t speak out for others. And is that really an admirable trait? I don’t know how people can be in some SGM churches for 20 years and be OK unless they are willing to let a friend or two get fried alive without speaking out to stop the injustice. I know this can’t cover everyone, but I have seen it happen quite a few times.

    And please, if you’ve been in an SGm church for a decade or two, please don’t dismiss this. Please ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you if there has ever been a time where you didn’t speak up when you should have. And remember, the verse, “Don’t take up anothers’ offense”, isn’t in the bible. For the most part it is used by manipulators to keep them in power and keep you from stopping their abuse. Where would each of us be or this world be if it weren’t for those who do take up for others who are weaker than themselves?

  • thankful (to be out)


    I agree with you – didn’t word it well, sorry. I’m so glad they read the documents! And I agree with you about the discouragement – they DO have reason to be discouraged by what they now see and know from reading. My heart goes out to you all in Roanoke – many times before we left, my husband and I would wonder about the dear people there and what you all might be hearing and knowing about what we were going through in Richmond! Sorry if I didn’t come across the way I meant! Glad that the folks there ARE reading and questioning. I don’t know if that’s happening with the people that are left at KWCC.

  • Stunned

    Scales Falling Off, beautiful testimony! Thank you for sharing.

    notgoingbackeither, you said this and it made me cry. (Tears of joy, not bad tears.) “I pray you experience the nearness of God and the joy of your salvation, (and sanctification, that you are no doubt finally convinced is God’s job and not yours …it isn’t so much that we hold Jesus, but that he holds us…… When I got sick and tried to apply what I had learned at CLC I ran to the cross. Although thankful for Jesus’s work on the cross, it isn’t where I find abiding strength, because Jesus isn’t there anymore, he is alive at the right hand of the Father. It is in his presence that I find strength.”

    (I had to reread that last line because by the time I got to it, my eyes were already glassy from tears.) Thank you for using the gift of expression that God has given you to glorify him. Wow, that sounded dorky Christian. Sorry, I have no other way of putting it right now. It’s just beautiful to see truth and the most beautiful truth of all expressed in the way you did.

    SGMnation, I am glad your experience has been a positive one. (Much of mine has, too. Boy, do I love some of my SGM brothers and sisters!) I find it very interesting how some churches may be a bit different from the others. I think your theory as to why may be accurate. I am curious about … I don’t know, tracking? Is that the word I want? I am curious to know which churches may be different and possibly why. (Different in a good way.) Do you think you would feel comfortable telling us which church you are in? I understand if there may be some reason why you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that, but if you would, it would help me to possibly (?) get a better understanding of the whys and the how comes that go on around here.

    SGMNation, I just reread your post (I think #86) and now I am cracking up! (I am about to pick on you but only in a kidding way and I hope you know when I pick on people it normally means I feel I respect them and they can take it, unlike me who dissolves in tears over many things. :) ) When I read, “I’ve always maintained that historically SGM is tough for people who have a sensitive conscience” I burst out laughing. I am guessing you’re not meaning to say this, but it sounded like you were saying that you didn’t have a sensitive conscience. Sorry, cracked me up. Thanks for the laugh, whether it was intentional or not. (I’ll be even happier if I find out you are laughing, too.)

  • Stunned

    Former CLC’er, thank you for sharing your story up in post #80. The part where you say that you would smile for no seeming reason gave me a smile. Thank you.

  • Pilgrim

    Dear ex-CLCer,
    I wish I could go back in time and ask all the questions. Why, as a church, were we not all stepping in and helping? I assumed we would. Many of us struggled financially, but there were not many who would have chosen to withhold a little extra money every month in order for you and your family to stay in the house and keep food on your table. All it would have taken is a word from on high, and we could have organized and supported your mom during such a difficult time. For a short while, I used to bring what extra food I could scrape together (it wasn’t much) and send it home through one of your family members at the school. I don’t know how many other families tried to help ???? In light of the short prison sentence, perhaps HE could have gotten out, eventually gotten a job, and continued to support the family (from afar). Why did we not rally for you and your family? Looking back, I simply cannot imagine a more fitting way to use our tithes and offerings than to support a family like yours. How messed up is it when a church does not stand up and help the most vulnerable members???
    I could be wrong, but from my perspective, the church leaders at the time made themselves judges and jury members. Did they blame your mom? Did they blame your sister? Did they really justify not supporting your family because your mother pressed charges????? It seems so messed up. I can not wrap my head around it. I think at the time, I just assumed (never again) that the “church” leaders would make the right decisions. I never knew what decisions were made from on high. We couldn’t talk about it because THAT would have been gossip. Besides, who was I to question them???? Now we all have to come to terms with what we were capable of. We turned a blind eye. We failed you.

  • Abednigo

    @Steve240: Thanks for the link. I’ve skimmed it a bit. I tried to email you but it bounced back. Maybe I got the email address wrong.

  • Roanoker


    You may have misinterpreted… They were discouraged FROM reading the documenst, not discouraged BY reading the documents.

    As members, they should have a right to know about the decisions that were made for them that directly affected their spiritual lives. But SGM has never seen it that way.

  • Abednigo

    I would also add that I did correspond with Josh Harris a little bit and gave him a list of issues/suggestions including action he should take. The only response that Josh Harris did give me was a brief thank you (after asking him about it). All you can say is that at least I did try.


    Sorry to hear your sad story. So sad to hear the reports of their misguided actions.

  • Still In It

    :new regarding the giant PC class this year: think they are anticipating replacing massive numbers of non-cooperative pastors soon? :wink:

  • FSGP

    Breezy #243 asks:

    1. Was being a pastor your livelihood? Depends on how you define “livelihood”. I was considered part-time staff but my hours were over full-time.

    2. Are you still in full time ministry? I am not. Probably never will be.

    3. If so, can you tell your story of how God bought you back to your true calling after being “degifted”?

    I don’t know that I was “de-gifted”. If I was, that was probably the least hurtful thing they did. I would say that I found my true calling only after escape from SG. It has been and is to represent Christ to the dying, economically disadvantaged, poorly educated, imprisoned, homeless and their families. These are folks that SGM and SGcs don’t even pay lip service to.

    I did have a mentor from my younger days ask me to join him in planting a new church. This plant (a true plant – 2 guys, their Bibles, and, most importantly, the Holy Spirit) would have been within a couple miles of a SGc. I declined the opportunity though my carnal mind fantasized about it.

    Thanks for asking,
    Former SG Pastor

  • Abednigo

    With regard to Josh Harris’s books on “kissing dating goodbye” and courtship I have a whole blog dedicated to critiquing it:

    Josh Harris may have given a few messages admitting the problems that existed at CLC with how singles related but from what I have seen hasn’t done anything to share these problems on more of a wide basis. He could have easily shared these problems on his blog for example. It is also baffling for Harris to assume that a couple of messages could correct cultural problems that have existed at CLC since 1978 when this concept was first introduced in one of Larry Tomcaz’s books.

    The sad thing is that Harris and others who promote this alternative are quick to point out all the “defects” they see with dating but won’t admit the problems that IKDG and courtship have caused. Why is one alternative presented as being so much better when it has its own set of problems? Recently it has been mentioned that two of the couples written about in “Boy Meets Girl” are either divorced or in that process.

    I won’t write any more since most of my thoughts are on my blog. Spare the regular readers hearing this again. ;-)

  • praying for covlife

    exCLCer, i’m so so sorry to hear this story. i have a hunch that we may know each other (from when we were young kids) (based on timeframes), if you would like to contact me, Kris has my email address.

  • thankful (to be out)


    Of course the folks there would be discouraged by what they read in Brent’s papers. They have been directly affected by the system that Brent helped create. Brent was directly involved in the whole mess when SW came to Roanoke to be Sr. Pastor and of course, the former “apostle” to Roanoke, Gene E . . . he’s been directly and indirectly involved in so much. The list goes on for him – Roanoke, Cheasapeake, Brent’s own de-gifting, and now recently over half his church walking out because of the manipulation and spiritual abuses in Midlothian/Richmond. The folks at Roanoke should be very interested and I am so glad to hear that they have actually been reading the documents. I don’t know if I could say the same thing about the folks who are still at Kingsway. I am afraid that they have taken Mickey’s counsel and have not read what’s there (the truth).

    Thankful (to be out after 11 years at KWCC)

  • Andythepicketer

    I believe this whole family meeting at Fairfax is just more PR. Fairfax has been exposed big time and it’s only going to get worse for them. This week I have talked to two people that still attend Fairfax and neither one knew about the sexual abuse until a few months ago. They are both livid at their leadership and one is already planning to go to McLean Bible for a while just to clear her head. She is angry and said she has seen an increased number of people leaving Fairfax and a great reduction in the amount of first time visitors. Neither of these folks (who I have known for years) were talking to me because of my posts here & my plans to picket their church. Both have called me this week and are in a great deal of guilt for defending there church. Direct quote ” I didn’t know the staff here were really such sleazeballs. Now that everything is coming out, they are so sorry”.

    That’s my take on it as well,they are sorry they are being exposed. Get ready Fairfax Staff, you’re in for a very rough and HOT August.

  • old timer

    exCLCer, so sorry for what you went through….and here is what I would like to see happen from these leaders—that they would talk, speak and write like a normal person instead of like a spiritual guru with a legalese twist to cover their behinds. (but probably impossible after honing those skills for 30 years)

  • acme

    exCLCer, I am so very sorry. What happened to you, your sister, your mother, your family — and yes, even Dave was so wrong. I’ve dealt with both of those pastors as well in our family situation.

    Anne CLC 1986-2007

  • Roanoker

    The reports I’m getting here are not good. There was a Family Meeting here a couple of weeks ago but it’s not posted on the web site. Apparently the members were discouraged from reading Brent’s papers.

    It’s my opinion that the Senior Pastor here really likes the Kool-Aid.

    Mr. Local Senior Pastor, it’s time to be accountable and make your words public. Let everyone know what you’re telling your flock.

  • exCLCer

    My mother got involved with CLC (Tag,GOB,PDI,whatever) beginning with a festival called Jesus’76, got pregnant by one of the church members, and was advised to marry him. She did. So I along with my siblings were all in this church by default.

    We all attended the school CLS from what may have been the first year it opened in the lower level of the frost center in Aspen Hill. As a child, not knowing any different, I didn’t think it odd that field trips were actually “Right to Life Picketing” sessions, or that the children were routinely spanked by the principal for any and every little thing — perceived attitude, fidgeting in class, running in the hall, etc. I didn’t think at the time, it was odd to have required reading like the “Pilgrims Progress” in second grade, with issues like despondence, suicide, and legality, with atheists and giants who are out to abduct and murder pilgrims (christians) and then being instructed on the severe burden of sin being so great that our life’s purpose was to carry that despondent burden on a path of deliverance. I didnt know kids in other schools were reading “The prince and the pauper”.

    I didnt really understand why the library in the school was so small, and most of the books had several pages stapled together, and why when I checked a book out and pulled the staples out of those pages I was a sinner and severely punished at the school when they saw the book came back un-stapled.

    And I certainly didn’t understand the true cost of attending this school — how parents had to be members in good standing, and tuition depended on their level of involvement with the church (“oh, you’re short on tuition this month? Well you can clean the pastors house, or babysit for one of them— did you tithe this month? Have you missed any homegroup meetings this month?).

    I thought it was normal that we couldn’t listen to the radio – it was secular and an outside influence from sinners trying to D**n us to hell along with them – and that TV was the same. It was a childhood wary and afraid of anything outside of the church since it surely meant hell fire and D**nation.

    I often mused to myself how sneaky and smart all these outsiders must be because they put on SUCH a convincing show of being really good nice people – but they must be wicked since the church says so. I remember asking my teacher once “Will Catholics go to hell too?” She said they would. I asked her then why didn’t we tell them that when we shared a bus ride with their kids to the last rally. I was sent to the office for punishment. Apparently, asking questions is a sin, and god wants the church to beat the sin out of us.

    Fast forward through more than 10 years of this indoctrination, sin picking, and being limited to the CLC circle in school, church, homegroup, youth group,…. (hell, even vacation was to these church sponsored retreats).The secular world was something to be afraid of.

    My mother was concerned when her 11 year old daughter had been “acting out”, having a “bad attitude” towards her husband, and the church had advised my mother to admonish her and demand she respect him as godly children should. When she found out a few years later that actually he had been sexually abusing her since age 11, she immediately called the pastors (John Loftness and Gary Riccucci). They handled this situation in the worst ways possible.

    I could detail a hundred things they did next which only made the situation worse by blaming the victims, covering up the crime, and supporting the pedophile financially and legally. They even sent my mother to her care group leader for counseling who told her to god wanted her to send her daughter away so that this man could stay in the house as the head of the household.
    Despite all of their pleadings my mother insisted on justice and pressed charges. They had claimed they were looking for counseling for my mother and her child, when really they were biding time, retaining legal counsel for this man, to allow him to turn himself in as a show of repentance. They pressured her to ask the court for leniency for this man who had abused her child. They testified as character witnesses for him in court. He had repented and been forgiven, just like that. We were all warned not to tell anyone in the church, even though the abuser was still attending — it would be gossip.

    But my mother was not submissive enough and since she refused to ask the court to not send this tithing man to jail, we were all put out of the church, out of the school, and the pastors told my mother, our “poverty was self induced” because she had not been submissive to their guidance. My mother pleaded with the church for help, but they only further demonized her.

    Having been a homemaker and mother for years in the church approved way, she had little means of providing for her 9 children. She went and got a minimum wage job and worked until it almost killed her. Our electricity was cut off, our house was in foreclosure, we were pretty much starving, and she came down with pneumonia and was hospitalized. Having offered no help so far, the same pastors showed up to let her know they would make sure all of us children were taken care of while she was in the hospital.

    We ended up all split apart, turned over to the state child welfare division, and spent the next several years separated in foster homes, institutions and shelters. But the pastors care and concern only ever was for the molester — they arranged for the kids to “visit their father”, and arranged for my sister, the victim, to have to sit down in a meeting to accept his apology, so he could be forgiven and resume membership in the church.
    There’s a long list of decisions they made that negatively affected and re-victimized my family. Once I got older, I started sending a letter to them both, every year, listing the things they had done, telling them I wanted to be a constant reminder of their actions. They NEVER once responded or acknowledged these letters (and later emails). I would drive by their building (locals call the MALL OF JESUS laughingly) and spit out the window at it. Years went by and I continued to send the letters, even when I knew they would never respond.

    One day last year I ran into someone I had gone to school at CLS with. He asked about the family and I told him what had actually happened. He asked if he could go to the pastors to question them about it, and I of course said yes. He did just that, and the initial response much later TO HIM from Gary was:

    “Please forgive my long overdue response.

    Thank you for making me aware of your conversation… and for your obvious heart for the care of anyone drifting from fellowship with Christ…for whatever reason.

    Yes, John and I had primary pastoral responsibility for the family during what was certainly a most tragic, grieving and painful experience.
    The sin committed and subsequent fragmentation of their family was one of the saddest experiences of our ministry. Because of the sin and alienation there was a need for separation, so John provided care for the mother and children while I walked the father through the necessary legal process in taking responsibility for his actions.
    As she got older, no doubt much discussion took place between her and her Mom about that very difficult season. I would be glad to talk personally to you, to answer any questions and to explain the steps we took and why, as this tragedy unfolded.”

    Maybe I’m pessimistic, but it sounded like an offer to take the opportunity to justify and rewrite history from an advantageous viewpoint. I have no reason to suspect any different. If they felt they had done something wrong, surely they would have responded to MY letters over the years. I wrote an excruciatingly long email and sent it to both John and Gary suggesting an apology would at least help thier reputations since they cared so much about that. After this church member again followed up about it with them, and in the midst of all this CJ stepping down chaos, they finally responded to me. Gary, in part, wrote:

    “It appears that, at least in some of your comments, there may be some misunderstanding of what we did and why. Our hope is that a conversation and some clarification about the past may be a means of God’s comfort and grace to you for the future.Please contact John or me if you feel that a conversation might be helpful.”

    John, in part, wrote:

    “Our care (or lack of care as the case may be) for your family during those years was one of the most challenging tasks that we have encountered as pastors in more than 30 years. That is not to excuse any failures on our part, but to let you know that, in the light of today and what we have learned since then, and especially in light of getting your perspective, we would see deficiencies in our care. There are gaps that we may be able to fill in and things we remember that may broaden your understanding, but please don’t take that as making any defense or let it take away from the deep sadness we feel for your experiences in the aftermath of Dave’s sin against your sister and mother, and beyond that, to your entire family.”

    Both replies ended with an offer to meet and discuss everything. I have really struggled with wanting to believe they would have the decency and integrity to actually acknowledge and admit to their wrongs, apologize, and leave it at that if we met. But the words that keep jumping out at me are: “misunderstanding” and “broaden your understanding” and “gaps we may be able to fill in” and “sadness we feel for your experience” (as opposed to sadness we feel for our actions). I don’t trust them. I also feel like now as an adult I have a CHOICE I didn’t have as a child. I can choose to not sit and hear a whole cockamamie roundabout justification with a good dose of biblical rhetoric thrown in, especially since I feel like that would only serve to royally piss me off. And since I’m not a christian, I am not bound by by doctrine to react with humility or reverence. And, by the way, I know they read these blogs, and I don’t care if they know its me on here, and I don’t care if that offends them. I realized that my intention all along was to attempt to have them acknowledge what they did, hoping that if they actually SEE it, I mean really GET IT, it wont happen to anyone else. My entire life was negatively affected for years, by their decisions, in ways that would make you cringe to know,and if they don’t “get it” then maybe others will. So I will decide whether to have this meeting or whatever, but if I do, and if they are reading this, just know that I will NOT sit through a justification session. I’m not looking for the truth — I already have it — I was there – I have all the documents to prove it — I KNOW. I just feel like they are sorry it came out, sorry it was told, not sorry they did what they did. I dont know if their apology is forthcoming in a meeting, or if it will be more like damage control — like “sorry you were hurt, not shut up about it already”. I guess theres only one way to find out.

  • Irv

    It doesn’t take a lot of time to get behind (way behind) in blogosphere. I don’t think I can catch up but had some thoughts in light of the latest “come clean”, emotional brokenness, confession, et al. Although others have offered the same sentiment, I wish to direct my thoughts directly to the pastors within SGM. If you are reading this and you are not an SGM pastor, please respect our privacy and skip down to the next comment.

    Dear Mark and fellow-elders,

    Hippocrates is credited with the statement “Desperate times call for desperate measures”. I will modify the statement to say “Desperate men resort to desperate actions”. Although some of the first attempts at confessions, apologies and the ‘new’ transparency are appreciated, they seem to be more desperate than heartfelt.

    I don’t question your hearts. I have met many of you, I was once part of you and I consider some of you as friends. From my perspective your heart is not in question. I also believe that you love God, that you love His church and desire to fulfill God’s purpose in the earth. At the same time, I must judge your agenda, your actions and your fruit. “You will know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:16, 20). Unfortunately the SGM denomination, family of churches, movement for decades have left a bloody trail paved with the destruction of the lives of the saints. The emergence of the much maligned blogs (and bloggers) and the Brent papers, has made it impossible to hide behind “there is no perfect church” attitude.

    To help you build back some trust (which is earned not given), I have put together the start of a confessional letter that I give you freely with no strings attached – that I believe will help you begin to re-establish trust, respect and dignity.

    Dearly Beloved of our Lord Jesus,

    We, as pastors, have wanted to honor God as His servants within the confines and building of the local church: to feed and care for his people, to equip the saints for the work of His ministry, to lay our lives down for their sakes, to facilitate people to the throne of His grace with patience, forbearing, and love, to provide a safe place of worship of our Lord and to enjoy the fellowship of brethren. I regrettably confess we have failed God and His church.

    We have made it about ourselves. We have been blinded by our own ambition, pride and hypocrisy. We have sought to build our own kingdom built on sound doctrine rather than building on the foundation Jesus Christ. We have sought and pursued pleasing men rather than God.

    This has resulted in the destruction of hundreds of lives that God entrusted to our care. We have been quick to judge others while slow to judge ourselves creating an adversarial relationship with those who disagree or challenge us. We trusted our intentions, which we felt were good and righteous rather than truth. We esteemed men and trusted men rather than Jesus and His Holy Spirit.

    Because we have allowed these sins and actions, to go on for the last three decades, we are now reaping what we have sown. God will no longer let us look the other way and justify ourselves. It has taken public exposure and humiliation from the blogosphere and the Brent papers for us to see what we have become and what we have done. As the Lord has now put us on a road of confession, repentance and restitution, we trust the Lord will perfect the work He began in all of us in Christ Jesus.

    We are truly sorry and apologize to the hurt, the wounded and the disillusioned as the result of our sin and our actions. To those people, we commit to the Lord and the listener, our goal to personally confess, repent and make restitution where possible both publically and privately. Thank you for the grace and mercy extended to us in this time of true ‘restoration of the church’.

    With deep regret and hope,
    Pastor Mark

    I am available for personal consultation as well. The heads of state of SGM have my email and my phone numbers. I wish you the best in the Lord – to His Glory.

  • Abednigo

    @Lucy 276 – I must admit you made me laugh out loud with that one, because you’re absolutely right. Couples tend to not be given a chance to figure that out for themselves. They’re given scenarios that COULD lead to sin for SOME people and therefore NO ONE should do it. “So and so started holding hands and within 2 weeks they were having sex. So you shouldn’t hold hands and should put to death any desire to do so!” We have a word for that (hello again, legalism).

    I’m sure it’s a challenge to find the balance of talking to your kids about sex before marriage (sinful) and sex after marriage (good). But don’t focus so much on the sinful part that they don’t know that sex in marriage is good.

    And don’t even get me started on the pressure put on women (and only women) to be modest, and to ensure their clothes protect every single man on the planet from lusting after them. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

    Anyway, sorry for any sidetracking of the overall discussion.

  • sadsoul

    Thank you all for sharing your story – it give some of us courage who are not in SGM but in abusive churches too. With all that you know now – how would you recommend that some of us proceed. We have been shunned, we have been lied to, some have left….but for the sake of our pastors, for the sake of the church — do you continue to confront or do you just let it go. Do you recommend that you send a letter to the elders like the guy with all the documents….we too have been in leadership…tried to talk through things. When you see the lies continue, and you know its not true, and that others are believing the untruths? What would you suggest is the best way, when you feel like you have swept things under the carpet long enough, that they continue to let things seem like “oh, that is just them, they are bitter?” How would you counsel someone who is tired of the “dirty little secrets?”

  • And, yes! I know! That’s not supposed to factor into your romantic decisions in SGM! To that I say “BLECCH” and “BOOOO” but also, look. If you don’t think about whether you have sexual chemistry BEFORE you marry, I’ll bet you’ll be wondering why you don’t AFTER you marry.

  • @Alemap 255 — Thanks. Honestly, though, I write that for myself just as much as anyone else. Part of me is still sittin’ around, twiddlin’ my thumbs, and hoping for Ye Olde Healinge Apologye.

    @Abednego 265 — You said:

    /But if lying on a hammock with your fiance (or girlfriend) doesn’t cause you to sin, then it’s most likely perfectly fine for you to do it./

    And I say if lying on a hammock with your fiance or girlfriend doesn’t cause you to WANT to sin, then it’s mostly likely time to call it quits on that one.

    Ain’t no sexual chemistry there. Good grief. You’re not siblings.

  • FashionablyLate


    I was reading Ps. 34 last night and immediately thought of you (and your moniker) — Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

    ….and then OldTimer posted the exact same verse!

  • Patti

    When Josh Harris’s books were being promoted in our area years ago I didn’t even know he lived on the east coast then since the promotion (by radio or church) always advertised him as one of our own. I never read them but just read excerpts and listened to the promotions enough to know I didn’t agree with them. So I am asking those of you who did read the dating ones, does he make any sort of statement in the order of disclaiming his way of doing dating. I mean does he say that this is just the way he did it and if anyone is interested he thought it worked well so here’s the story? Or does he use a lot of scripture to support his theory that this is the way it should be done? I’m just saying that if he does NOT do any sort of disclaiming of this being the true way, then no one should be causing any more emotional pain by implying that a young impressional compliant parent and God wanting to please couple was stupid for following it all hook, line and sinker.

  • Dr.StupidHead

    Last nite I listened to the FairFax meeting MP3….. it resulted in much anger and weeping. Angry becuase I find it just to hard to believe that a person who is supposedly gifted by God Himself would deal with it so so poorly…….and weeping becuase could you all imagine if this started happening in all the SGM churches? Pastors getting behind a mic and stating that they were wrong in many things. Actually publically admitting they did not care for victims as well as they could have :cry:

  • BrokenHearted

    just a note on the whole noel’s story thing…

    my pastor at my church after ffx said that

    a: the guy was in cm by mistake and the pastors immediately remedied it once they found out


    b: that the pastors are the ones who called the cops on the perp.

    does this not match up with what has been shared here?

  • Rom828

    Breezey #243 – Thanks for asking… it’s been over 13 years since I was in an SGM church and since my demise. I was an SGM pastor for 15+ years. My dismissal was based on Harveys’ capacity, character, calling and gifting. No financial or immoral stuff. I will have to write my story later this weekend. And yes my sole income came from being a pastor… not too many options open after one gets dimissed so I used our retirement to reinvent myself. Also it can take a while to heal. I know you all understand that! :D

  • Remnant

    Mike Cole Did I understand you correctly in that you are having a meeting next week with SGM leaders? Will you be taking a witness with you?

    Happymom and Noel’s Stories Wasn’t the perp of Noel’s child placed in children’s ministry [without the parents of the children being notified that an admitted teenage child molester would be overseeing their children]? If so, this was certainly NOT revealed at the teary-eyed members meeting. And, if true that they sent the perp to work in the children’s ministry, FFSGM is continuing to cover-up to protect themselves. They spun a tale. And if so, how long did the child molester work with the children at FFSGM? If so, each parent has the right to know if their child was in the same room with this perp.

  • Mike Cole

    Another Anon in Nova ,

    Sorry don’t comment on specifics.

  • DB





    and encourage…


    All of which leads to

    Dictators (with no)

  • Abednigo

    For the record, I’m not a fan of those books. I read them, but there was the tendency in me to do try and do what they did. Although I read his first book before even going to an SGM church, I felt a pull to mirror what he did. In that sense it was no fault of Josh’s. I was just desperate to find a way that worked in the whole dating thing.

    I’m curious what statements I made have been discussed previously though. I don’t want to dig up old stuff unnecessarily. My experience with SGM is definitely limited compared to most of you.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Thanks Abednigo, I know your reply is truly sincere and I appreciate that.

    If you search this blog site you will see quite a bit if discussion on the very statements you just made. Wish I was a better “searcher”, I would find those discussions for you. I think you would find them interesting. :wink:

  • Abednigo

    A Kindred Spirit #263: To Josh’s credit, he gave a message a year or two ago about all that (his books and how people took them). I think it tied in to the larger issue of principle vs. practice that Josh spoke about recently and how poorly SGM handles it. People weren’t told explicitly from the pulpit that courtship was the Biblical way to do things, but a lack of any other option gave people that impression (and the intense push of Josh’s books gave that impression as well). But as with any big issue, like dating, people can tend to latch on to ideas to make sure they’re “doing it right”. And with singles the whole focus can be on “what do I have to do to get married?”, and then here comes this book with one way and it just spiraled out of control. And Josh seemed to recognize that. Not that I needed him to say it, but one line from that message was (not an exact quote), “A man and a woman CAN go alone out to coffee together!” It was sad that that had to be said. I didn’t need to hear that, but I was glad to hear Josh say it from the pulpit.

    I don’t think they need to come off the shelves, but people need to use their brains and read books like that like they would any other “Here’s my story” type book. Here is the experience of one guy and it worked for him. That’s great. And there are probably some good things you can take out of it. But if lying on a hammock with your fiance (or girlfriend) doesn’t cause you to sin, then it’s most likely perfectly fine for you to do it. :)

  • Another Anon in Nova

    Mike Cole, I’m curious if you were at CHBC’s member’s meeting where Mark Dever defended C. J. Mahaney? I wasn’t (not a CHBC member, but friends with a few members), but heard a report the next day.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Thinking about what Dan said…

    The “pastor-as-king mentality” has always boggled my mind! :scratch

    I don’t see Jesus doing that in my Bible. The “King of Kings” is washing other people’s feet – a servant!!

    When you see CJ manipulating like a spoiled child to get his way in Brent’s documents, you begin to realize how that whole mentality probably went down.

    Joshua Harris *appears* to have a servant’s heart. I could be wrong – I’ve seen the boy work his charm back when he manned his dad’s tables as a teenager at homeschool conferences. It’s really a hard call as to whether he’s the real deal or not. I have to admit I’m skeptical. I just don’t see how he’s kept his head this long if he wasn’t somewhat like the others in SGM.

    But then again, Josh was a young man when he went to CLC and moved in with CJ (19 or early 20’s?). His relationship with CJ would have meshed with the relationship he had with his father – the environments would have been similar. Maybe this could be Josh’s shining hour. Maybe for the first time in his life he will become his own person, acting on his own convictions.

    (Note to Josh…if you are the real deal, PLEASE do something about “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “Boy Meets Girl.” Let’s get them off the shelves, buddy. You could singlehandedly put an end to the “courtship fiasco.”)

  • Rom828

    CJ didn’t like People of Destiny after awhile but they couldn’t settle on a new name so the kept PDI… Maybe they should have changed it to PPI – People of Pre-destiny (or Predestination) International!?! :spin

  • Mike Cole

    HA! Sidney.

    I helped make those shirts!!!

  • Req55

    Post 248#

    At Cov Fel they were not and currently still are not considering or even talking about it.

    Although accountability is needed and will be a deal breaker

    Also, pastors need to be in care groups with the “normies”, rather than holy huddles where they’ll end up picking the next popular christian book to follow and start/stop teaching doctrines at their whim, and then not informing the congregation of the why of the changes


  • Sidney

    Funny that others wear those great Celebration T-shirts to sleep in! Haha!!

    Here’s the PDI meaning:

    Proclaiming God’s Grace
    Developing Local Churches
    Influencing our world with the Gospel

    Some were close! I had to go get the t-shirt so I could get it right.

  • Roadwork

    Some thoughts for this morning…

    Mark’s admission –
    “We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We were ignorant. The hurts from these sins… the effect of sexual abuse of a child runs deeper and lasts longer than any of us could have imagined. We’ve been accused of “not getting it”. Guilty as charged. We didn’t get it.”

    If SGM locally and as a whole focused on REAL outreach and ministry to the needy and hurting in their respective areas, they wouldn’t be so ignorant of such things and they would be better equipped to handle and respond to these kinds of situations. Instead, SGM, as we all know, is an inward focused, navel gazing, closed and sheltered denomination/society.

    When I went to school, it was required that we get involved in one of several available ministries. And we had to do that every semester. (I chose street ministry for all but three semesters, if I remember correctly.) In the summer, you could either take classes or go on a summer outreach to some needy area of the world.

    The PC isn’t.

    And happymom made this point – The major shift from the 7/10/2011 Family Meeting to this one. In two weeks it changes from the typical vague non-information that SGM dishes out oh so well to specifics and naming names. I would say this was prompted only by the fact that they were now exposed.

    And Sidney, I think I was trying to make the point that it has taken MAJOR external forces, including internal exposure (the Detwiler Papers) before any admission of any incompetence or wrongdoing whatsoever.

    It’s not like these guys suddenly came to these conclusions on their own. I suppose that could be a result of telling the Holy Spirit that He and His giftings are no longer needed… If my wife had come to leadership about my sin on this level, they would have been on me like white on rice about not leading my wife and family. They need the same kind of accountability (standard) that they have held me to. And they won’t get that kind of accountability from each other. Too much opportunity for abuse of power and CYA as we’ve seen.

    And how, by the way, does the leadership, once very charismatic, decide over a period of time to be cessionist? What was once declared as being from God is now not? Despite the obvious fact that this change was purposely not communicated to the congregations, this is a turning away from what they once proclaimed as “Holy”. So all the messages on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, prophetic words, prophetic songs, words of wisdom, etc. were not God? This is a shift, or may I say, a “turning away” that should not be glossed over.

  • Mike Cole

    In Adullam’s Cave

    I have become very vocal about my experience and CHBC is behind me 100%! The pastors there actually care for their members which is a far cry from my previous experience at SGM. I know that sounds harsh, but unless you have walked in my shoes you could never understand. CHBC has given me the space to heal and grow. The members I believe have the impression something has happened at SGM but know nothing of the specifics.

    I didn’t get into my specifics on purpose but at a time when I needed the church to be the church they were anything but….ALL the way to the TOP of SGM! Granted there were a three individuals who were great friends…but 3 compared to the masses…the negativity has an effect on you. I finally decided my life was better outside of SGM than in it.

    After giving them an opportunity to repent, which they failed tremendously on, I cut them out of my life. Surrounding myself with those pushing me towards God rather then away was significant. I truly believe many in SGM forget we serve a RISEN Lord who has overcome sin, since they focus way to much on how they have sinned!!! Do you not know that Christ has forgiven us of past, present, and future sin!!! (stepping off of soapbox)

    SGM pursued me from posting on here. It has taken 11 months since the initial contact to my first meeting next week. SGM does nothing fast and that includes repenting. My situation involves 6 pastors from 3 churches. I have made sure the process being set up focus us to talk about the right things instead of the spin zone.

    My contact occurred prior to the current situation. I have focused my message on their lack of care. Since I believe their current system is the equivalent to the British health care system. Many wounded lying in the congregation bleeding to death. I decided to get out before I died.

    I don’t think they are systematically pursing them who have departed or had issues because I tried multiple times only to be ignored by many people. It wasn’t until I went vocal on here by name that I was contacted. One thing I haven’t done is gone ‘nuclear’ by naming names and situations primarily because I didn’t think it would be conducive to the reconciliation. Although I have been tempted many times. LMAO.

    Those who have contacted me via Facebook or email have gotten ‘the real deal’ though. Most are in denial about their sin and have yet come to a place where they can repent and from my perspective they are worse off than I ever was since I knew my sin. They are in darkness which is a much worse place than I.

  • Phoenix

    Thank you, Waiting Patiently. I found it and have listened. As one who was right in the middle of Noel’s story and has remained so; but found out about Happymom’s story later and indirectly…my very first impression is that for Fairfax (a particularly obdurate outpost of concealment, obfuscation, and blame-shifting) this is a big step. I certainly think it is very, very late in coming. Clearly driven in part by Josh’s stance at the mothership and by the eminent threat of picketing at the Fairfax building. I want to reserve other response until Noel (who was out of town and probably doesn’t even know about the family meeting) and Happymom have had a chance to respond.

  • Alemap

    I,too, applaud the way you are able to put my muddled thoughts together in your post. You could not have said it better. I have been told that I’m dwelling too much on the past by family. Until I have resolution to the numerous offenses against our family and the terrible accusations to a dear friend, I will continue to heal here!! Lucy keep up the wonderful words that speak for a lot of us!! :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap

  • BrokenHearted

    my internet comes today and then no more phone typing.

    i THINK…

    Proclaiming Gods truth
    Developijng local churches
    Influencing the world with the gospel

  • 5yearsin PDI

    Sidney, I can’t remember what PDI stood for in the interim either. But if I recall correctly it was Josh who wore a T shirt that said “PDI is a verb”.

    Proclaiming?…Declaring?…Ignoring… :D ?

  • Rose

    Lucy, I think you are right on the mark when you identify the presumption of heart-knowing ability as being the downfall of many an SGM abuser. That presumption set them down the path. (That, together with reading comprehension difficulties.) I suspect that a lot of the sin that is discovered viewing the world from the platform of that presumption actually had its origin in the heart of the abuser, but is being projected onto the abused. I came to this when I observed a young, abusive pastor regularly tell the congregation that he knew they were sinning in one way or another because he used to do the same thing himself! Oops, pretty obvious.

  • Dan

    Hi nepotism #141;

    Thanks so much for your comment and understanding! Great to see someone else on this side of the pond – I’m really interested you have been to Grace Church Bristol as well. You would have surely seen my family there (the biggest family in the building!).

    Sadly no – I was never offered any therapy, the general SGM aversion to therapy shone through, I was told the issues were sin related.

    Yes indeed – the family relations in the church are quite shocking aren’t they. It makes it hard I think for critiquing when leaders are wrong or make mistakes or are harsh. At one point during the “correction” process, I shared how I found it difficult to approach and speak to the senior pastor on any level because he was so distant, he responded by asking the CGL leader (his cousin I think) for observations – the CGL leader knew I had difficulties as I had shared this with him and said NOTHING.

  • A Kindred Spirit


    You really do have a gift for words, my dear.

    (Click on Lucy’s name and it will take you to her blog.)

  • One question I have is on how various SGM Leaders are indicating that they were ALREADY starting to make changes or look into making changes in SGM before Brent’s documents were posted.

    One example in the change in polity such as having lay elders or other accountability. Josh Harris made it sound like this was already being looked at. I am just wondering how true this is? Was this really true or is this something the leaders are saying or exaggerating to try and appease concerned members?

    I am curious to hear what people know on this.

  • WaitingPatiently

    Here you go Phoenix. It’s the first one on the list. It’s on their website. You probably just missed the family meetings link on the right.

  • Phoenix

    Can someone please bring me up to speed on the Fairfax family meeting? I find references to it but I can’t find (am probably missing) any details. It is definitely not available on the SGM Fairfax website. As I am a Fairfax survivor (I’ve posted my real name and e-mail before) I’m very, very interested. Thank you!

  • happymom

    Something I find interesting.

    Fairfax posted their response to the SGM issues on their Facebook account.
    July 10, 2011, Mark refers to us as “voices on the internet..speaking to the issues and OUR CHURCH IN PARTICULAR.” If not Noel, Grizzly, Wallace and myself, who else could he be referencing, since we have been the ones seeking to expose how they handle abuse?
    So how did he transition from labeling us as “voices” to the group of people he is now tearful over in front of his church?

    Why were we not informed of this sudden acknowledgment of wrongdoing?

    Their final summary letter to us dated September 30, 2010, clearly lays out that we were wrong and pastor lg is right.
    Are they now willing to hear our questions and allow pastor lg to answer them? This is not a family issue if the staff continues to ignore our challenges to lg’s apologies and cover him. I am appalled that pastor lg mentioned child b’s name when the behavior and abandonment of him and his family have caused as much emotional pain and suffering as the incident itself.

  • old timer

    Lucy, #233…You are a very wise woman. Why can’t these leaders just go to the people they have hurt and apologize? Why is it so difficult if they are so humble?

    Clinging, way back in # 180 or so, said that we need to cling to Jesus. I know I have been clinging to Jesus for years and I thank HIM for it because I would be dead otherwise. HE has gotten me through my life as I’m sure HE’s done the same with everyone on these sites. We love HIM or we wouldn’t be here.

    We are still working through the emotions of the hurtful situations that we experienced at the hands of these leaders.(includes wives) Until the emotions are dealt with and talked out then no one can move on…..healing can’t take place. I think people forget that HE is near to the brokenhearted, Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit Isa 42;3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.

    We have overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, loving not our lives unto death.

    We didn’t love our lives enough so that we were unwilling to die to self. We didn’t cower when threatened with death, spiritual death since we haven’t been faced with physical death yet– but remained resistant to the externally applied pressure of pdi/sgm–and held on to our emotional connection to Jesus.

    Regardless of the experiences we had in an organized church..we have clung to Jesus. We have been led of the Holy Spirit into the promised land. Our very lives point to Jesus WHO is the author of the faith we have and the ONLY ONE who perfects it. Our lives point to HIM and HIM alone. That is the word of our testimony-that no matter what happens we point to Jesus. If that is not the focus of any believer’s life then “Houston there’s a problem.”

  • Breeezey

    @fsgp & Rom828 and the other “formers” out there
    If I remember correctly scripture says: The gifts and callings of God are without repentance. And: Your gifts will make room for you.

    You both are former pastors within SGM. I have a few questions.
    1. Was being a pastor your livelihood?
    2. Are you still in full time ministry?
    3. If so, can you tell your story of how God bought you back to your true calling after being “degifted”?

    God is a God of resurrection andd restoration. Miracle stories are always a great read. History is still His Story in each of our lives. :clap :clap

  • happymom

    Anonymouse said:

    “Happy Mom – I don’t think you’re really fair to accuse Fairfax of hiding their family meeting message. This has been online at least since this morning (church offices are closed on Monday”)

    WHAT I SAID WAS: “If Fairfax has nothing to hide then they will post Sunday’s family meeting online for all to hear.”

    Pretty sure I started that sentence with “If” – I didn’t accuse anyone in that statement.

  • Another Joe

    Huge Brain fart!!!!

    Havent been on for a while so when i saw the whole fairfax confessional thing i had to say something. So somebody correct me if im wrong on any of this.

    If i had brought those stories to them in person without anyone knowing about it do you think they would have confessed? NO in fact i do not think i would have made it out of there without a lawyer present.

    This is sick and very twisted in a horrible way.

    They get caught in sin, they cover up there sin with another sin, and then keep sinning to cover up the previous sins.

    And these are the people leading us.

    Wake up those pastors would have never confessed to anything nor did they even think about those poor people.

    I think that along with C.j. these pastors should be put before board hearings and the findings made public.

    Show the churches DAVE!!!!! that this behavior will not go unpunished in your churches by men seeking to protect there own selfish interest and putting there lives before the Gospel.

  • happymom

    We had no knowledge of this Family meeting until Monday, the day AFTER.
    Working on our response.

  • seeking truth

    AKS- thanks for your encouragement in #162.It helps to hear that!

  • Patti

    Here we go again!,
    Thanks for the school blurb, so are you saying like if a family decided to leave SGM/CLC and say…switch to the local Baptist,AG,Presbyterian church then they would also have had to switch their children’s school ??? Not that SGM membership requirement isn’t weird enough so that’s new news to me, I never would have guessed that was a rule. But before I move the bar up again I would like a confirmation from anyone on my first sentence? Thanks

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    I was talking with some non-Christians about CLC the other night after my gym class. They have this mocking tone, talking about the church, what they’ve heard, etc. I’m a newer CLC member, and I had nothing much to say to defend the church. In fact, these folks don’t know how much damage CLC/SGM has done.
    How sad to be ashamed of my church…. The only thing I could offer was that Josh seems to be stepping out in a bold new direction.
    On another note, I can’t get over the whole Pastors College concept. The idea that I have men in authority over me who may not have anything more than a 10 month piece of paper–that’s scary to me! That’s an awful lot of power and an awful little education!
    On yet another note, I was the one who expressed concern about my tithe money funding this mediation thing with CJ. Rather than give my money to CLC with a note on it, it just makes more sense to put my money right in the hands of missionaries overseas. :scratch
    About someone’s comments about looking forward, I totally feel a tone of kindness here. No endless ranting. This is an awesome group of people that care and support each other. I enjoy reading and learing.

  • Can I say something in a general way to the steady stream of people who traipse onto the blog suggesting we’re all on a slow train to Bitter Town or already living there in our giant scowling mansions, building more rooms every day?

    It’s always fascinating to me how these people presume to know the invisible condition of strangers’ hearts. (Or is that the “charismatic” part of SGM at work then?)

    Since one assumes, based on how massively irritating it all is, that these people aren’t Jesus, they can’t possibly know if we’re “bitter” or “unable to let it go” or whatever dismissive lingo they choose to use. Still, they presume to know what they cannot know, all the while dismissing what’s empirically in front of them, especially now: years and years of SGM’s abuse and dysfunction and unrepentance.

    Here’s the thing, though: We “bitter” souls wounded by SGM are closer to finding freedom and healing than the unrepentant souls who wounded us. We can – and do – find those things in Christ even if/when our wounders never say “boo” to us. We can work through forgiveness APART from any healing actions or redemptive words from them. That’s just how good God is.

    We don’t necessarily NEED them in order to be free. We ultimately need only him.

    But ….. and here’s the problem for them …….. they need us in order to be free. They can go to God all they want saying, “Uh, sorry, God, sorry. Sorry about that thing with that person,” but that doesn’t truly free them because they haven’t sought forgiveness from the person they’ve wronged. I mean, I can extend forgiveness in my heart all the livelong day – and I do, I swear I do, haha – but forgiveness isn’t received UNLESS IT’S SOUGHT. A gift that sits unwrapped isn’t a gift received. And that’s the job of the unrepentant where forgiveness is concerned. To seek it and receive it. Until they do, there’s no true freedom for them.

    WE can find freedom without them. They can’t find freedom without US. They need us for their own healing.

    I’d worry less about the people presumably living in bitterness and more about the people imprisoned by their own stubbornness. One group is much closer to true freedom than the other.

  • katie


    another name that popped up under the Gathering Unto Him, Inc was “Kent Kramer”… some googling pulled up this:

    Kent William Kramer, 43, of 285 Cherokee Ridge died Tuesday, Oct. 15, 1996.
    A native of Ludlow, Mass., Mr. Kramer was a son of Gwendolyn Chamberlain, Light House Point, Fla. He was preceded in death by a brother, John Thomas Kramer. He coached track and cross country at Athens Christian Academy. He was a member of the Institute of Financial Planners. He was the former pastor at Gathering Unto Him Church, Bradenton, Fla., and Promise Keepers.

  • Joe

    Also, does anybody know anything about “Gathering Unto Him Inc.” ?
    It’s a company which seems to have CJ as its director:

  • Joe

    Unless I misunderstood that last one. Have a look at it for yourselves.

  • Joe

    They no longer own any of the branding for People of Destiny, though. So, should anybody here want to start a ministry with that name for ex-SGMers, they could buy the trademarks for People of Destiny at:

  • Joe

    Interesting that SGM still owns the domain name for the old pdi website –

    Not sure whether there is any significance to that, but just thought I’d mention it.

  • WaitingPatiently

    D = Dwelling on sin? ;) This focus is something I’m praying and hoping will change.

  • WaitingPatiently

    Hah, Sidney – I’m wearing a 2004 celebration shirt as we speak. They are quite comfy as night shirts.

    Let’s see if memory serves. I believe they explained the change in one of the PDI magazines and they created some long explanation for each letter when it became PDI, Inc. I can’t remember what it all was. I just remember thinking how wordy it was and I would never be able to repeat it to someone who asked. And look, I was right!

  • Sidney

    One more thing….

    Roadwork you said: “Only sadness that it has required two dedicated blogs, 600 scathing pages that they have no choice but to acknowledge and many, many tears to even get this far.”

    I beg to differ….it will l take hundreds of thousands of dollars, a very long time and an ” independent” investigation to get them to admit….and that is IF the “independent” investigation actually decides there is anything to admit.

  • Luna Moth

    G’nite, Sid. And everyone.

  • Luna Moth

    You mean those phrases? P was Proclaiming the Gospel. I was Impacting something, I think. D was…don’t know! :scratch :P

  • Sidney

    And now for a little trivia….

    I just grabbed a sleeping t-shirt out of my dresser. It’s a Celebration shirt. Does anyone remember what PDI meant after it was People of Destiny???? (Celebration shirts make great sleeping shirts, by the way!)

    Sid needs to go to sleep.

  • here we go again!

    A kindred spirit

    I agree with you

    my question though is DO THESE NEW STUDENTS KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON ?

  • paperbagprincess

    I am not from the US, and attended a SGM church in my country. Although people in the church dismiss or are not aware of the the connections/roots with the Shepherding Movement and SGM authoritarian doctrine . . . it is there. Unfortunately, I know several families, including mine who have been negatively affected by the SGM trained leadership desire to control information, lifestyles, behaviors and ideas.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I don’t see how they can ever gain their credibility back. They would have to change their polity and clean house of all the major offenders and replace them with a new bunch. (Hey, maybe that’s why there’s such a large class going into the PC this fall. :wink: )

    Seriously, what’s a person supposed to think when there’s SUDDENLY all these confessions by pastors popping up after Brent shares his documents and they then leak out into cyberspace?

  • not important

    A Kindred Spirit
    July 27th, 2011 at 9:38 pm
    I’m confused. When was this meeting, Sunday night? This past Sunday night?

    So these guys confessed and apologized to the members rather than directly to Noel and Wallace’s families? Is this the first time Noel, Grizzley, Wallace, and Happymom are hearing some of this stuff – via a recording of a family meeting? They didn’t first go to Noel, Grizzley, Wallace, and Happymom and *THEN* say all this to the members?

    How long ago was it that the sexual abuses took place?

    How much time has passed since Noel and Happymom first shared about the sexual abuse on the blogs?

    If you listen to the recording, according to them, they have tried on numerous occasions to communicate with Noel & Wallace, have attempted to own their wrongs, and desire to be reconciled. At one point, Happymom and Wallace actually emailed everyone involved that they accepted the apologies, and extended forgiveness – a wonderful reunion took place, and then three weeks later Happymom and Wallace suddenly and inexplicably reversed course.

    (That’s their side of the story – I’m sure Happymom will give you the other side.)

  • here we go again!

    it almost seems like many of the SGM churches do not see the whole picture of what is going on!??????? they are not affected ? We need to take a stand and tithe in other ways for a season until this is over!

  • here we go again!

    @ sydney
    I over heard someone asking Jeff Purswell about the big class coming and they told me that he just did not get it? of why there may be a concern about them coming. I really do not think (as intelligent as one may be) it is a reality yet. I mean are they sitting on a bunch of$$$$$$$$$$ and do they really think that people do not know what is going on and what is not resolved yet?

  • here we go again!

    Sidney 217

    yes CLS is another bubble…………I have heard they are a nice school BUT I also heard that there are people that are “top dogs”(parents of students) and at times this means that if there are issues(picking on each other and etc sin) that depending on whose kid they are may depend on how the one being picked on will have to endure. In other words I know that there were some leaders kids in the school and that when caught doing a certain sin the one who was not a leaders kid was blamed. Finally the others confessed but it was several weeks later and i was just not good.

  • Sidney

    here we go again! …..

    Good question someone asked about CJ being another person and the effect on them. AND good ?????? about the HUGE pastors college class.

    I believe you can choose to NOT have any of your tithe go to SGM if you prefer it that way. Just ask your pastor or Corby.

    So….CLS is still the same ole same ole???


  • here we go again!

    I was thinking back to the sunday meeting (last sunday)) when someone challenged the pastors to bring this question to the board:

    basically it went like this……….

    So if you took CJs name out of the picture and just looked at the sin would this be so confusing ? In other words for anyone else that would do this they would have to “throw in the towel” but not for CJ! we have to pay a TON of $$$$$$$$$ so we can just make sure of it!

  • Roadwork

    Believe the best or believe the evidence?

    It took them how long to figure out that they are incompetent? How many years?

    What was required to get them to admit any of this? Two dedicated blogs and the Detwiler Papers.

    You know, if they had a REAL elder board (not their twisted definition of elders) then maybe they would have had some wise counsel available to them that might have kept things from getting worse.

    Honestly, I would suggest their credibility in ALL things is completely shot.

  • here we go again!

    I notice it may be unclear (#my post 210) CLS is the k-12 school that is in the church building.

  • Not Again

    Well, giving money is sometimes easier than actually doing the hard part. Especially when it is someone else’s money.

    Giving money, if it happens, could be genuine or could be a ploy.
    Tearful public apologies could be genuine or could be a ploy.

    This could be a smart move or a no-other-options strategy, or it could be the beginning of a paradigm shift for some within SGM.
    Time will tell.

    I pray and hope that these things are the beginnings of something genuine, a move of God bring truth and light into dark places.

  • here we go again!

    why are 25 more PC students coming in? Please tell me WHY?????????????
    I mean they just don’t get it!

  • Rom828

    STILL :new but I’m getting there!

    All this is quite overwhelming to someone new like myself. I entered like most sharing my two cents worth on arrival but really it takes time to absorb all that is said, felt and expressed on this site. Hard to keep up with which testimony is whose. So I am sitting back, listening, reading and learning what I can.

    One thought on Mark Mullery… if I am an SGM pastor (which I was)I would at least call the people I would be talking about in the meeting (hopefully he did but it does not sound like it) expressing that I would be following up with them on this. I would say please take what we will say as a teeny attempt at expressing our horror, sadness and regret for all that transpired. Please let’s get together and talk so that the pastors involved can adequately confess our sin to you and then more clearly and definitively confess our sin before the church. Just my thought… hopefully this happened… we’ll see.

    As someone mentioned… I would not want to hear from friends or mp3 or video what was said about me to a congregation by a pastor without hearing from him first.

  • here we go again!

    I guess I will be brave and put my little blup in about the school……………I was blind to this myself but wanted to mention that it is encouraging that they opened enrollment up to NON MEMBERs(last year i think) . It all makes since to me now . They probably did not want “outsiders” to come in because there was such a legalistic tone in the church and that would mean unless you were a member in CLC there was no way to understand the stuff in CLS!
    I wonder if the school will survive!?

  • 5yearsin PDI

    Sometimes money talks louder than words. If they offer to make restitution for how they bungled things, by giving a BIG chunk of money towards the hospital, counseling and other expenses the families had to pay themselves, then I think we need to accept that they are trying to make amends and do the right thing. So let’s see how that goes.

    No money and ya’ll can stay suspicious, but complete financial restitution and we’ll have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  • There’s absolutely ZERO “gloating” on my part, either. I want the confessions and the new openness to be genuine.

    I can’t help that it feels way too much like a jailhouse conversion to me…

  • A Kindred Spirit

    And I would further say that there is no gloating here. Only sadness that it has required two dedicated blogs, 600 scathing pages that they have no choice but to acknowledge and many, many tears to even get this far. If they had not been caught, I seriously doubt we would have seen any of this at all.

    Ditto that, Roadwork.

    And I agree with you and the others, there really are a lot of intelligent, thoughtful people on this blog.

  • Roadwork

    A side note – today I witnessed a written exchange of thoughts between Abednigo and FSGP and they were able to express their thoughts in written form to one another in a civil manner even though the overall topic is a difficult one.

    Two blog posters that don’t know each other are able to communicate in written form – something that the lofty SGM leaders cannot accomplish as they must “meet in person”.

    For me, I’ll hang out here with the smart people that learned how to write. Communication in written form is truly the “biblical” way.

  • Roadwork

    While I’m no Mullery fan and I have only had time to listen to the first 29 minutes of a meeting that goes over an hour, I’m encouraged by the fact that he mentions that he found a couple of Harvey’s first posts not helpful. (Since when have you ever heard dissention within SGM that didn’t lead to a degifting? Here’s someone that may actually be saying what he thinks. Out loud even.) And he also mentions the blogs by name as well as the Detwiler papers, including the number of hits the Papers have received.

    However, as I have read some of the archives, I also note that many posters before me have expressed hope for change after other significant events, yet no positive change followed.

    While encouraged, I am also cautious. Real repentance is followed by significant and lasting change. And they have a lot that needs to be changed. Starting with formal accountability and followed by many things we all listed in a previous thread.

    And I would further say that there is no gloating here. Only sadness that it has required two dedicated blogs, 600 scathing pages that they have no choice but to acknowledge and many, many tears to even get this far. If they had not been caught, I seriously doubt we would have seen any of this at all.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Unfortunately, for those of us who paid close attention to the details of Wallace and Happymom’s story, it’s obvious that the Fairfax pastors’ expressions of sorrow weren’t…well…let’s just say they portrayed things in a way that was NOT very truthful.

    Ahhh…I guess *THAT* is why they didn’t go to Happymom and Wallace first.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    Paul..I’m with you. Just giving this apology, and the specifics such as being afraid to get professional help, and “unwisely used a Peacemaker model for conflict resolution. This resulted… put them on an equal plane – …. This resulted in the victim’s family being corrected when they should have been gently cared for as sufferers.”

    I think this is huge, as huge as Josh saying the problem is pervasive in SGM and not just CJ.

    Time will tell and I want to hear what happymom and Wallace have to say. But this is a good start seems to me. It might imply some changes in the future if such incidents happen again in SGM churches, and that can only be good for the children.

  • Fried Fish

    @Paul #193 –

    If you look in the archives here, you’ll see I haven’t been here long and have no personal axe to grind with SGM.

    I believe you think you’re doing the right thing, but you’re being awfully overzealous. Many of the folks here went through years, and even decades of abuse which was covered up, as well as being lied to, slandered, blame misdirected at them, were persecuted out the door and beyond… many of them made humble attempts at reconciliation only to be bitten again by their abusers.

    Please give them enough grace to try and understand that while some tears and an apology may be a genuine first step, they may also seem disingenuous coming from someone who is speaking for an organization having a long history of deception and misdirection (or who may have a history of it themself). If the habit of abuse truly transforms into a habit of grace, then they will believe. You keep praying too.

  • Paul and others,

    I do believe that Wallace and Happymom are working on writing out a point-by-point explanation of the significant inaccuracies present in the statements made about their situation by the pastors who talked at the family meeting at the Fairfax church.

    At this point, it’s not so much about “believing the worst” (or cynically TRYING to find “spin”). Unfortunately, for those of us who paid close attention to the details of Wallace and Happymom’s story, it’s obvious that the Fairfax pastors’ expressions of sorrow weren’t…well…let’s just say they portrayed things in a way that was NOT very truthful.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I’m confused. When was this meeting, Sunday night? This past Sunday night?

    So these guys confessed and apologized to the members rather than directly to Noel and Wallace’s families? Is this the first time Noel, Grizzley, Wallace, and Happymom are hearing some of this stuff – via a recording of a family meeting? They didn’t first go to Noel, Grizzley, Wallace, and Happymom and *THEN* say all this to the members?

    How long ago was it that the sexual abuses took place?

    How much time has passed since Noel and Happymom first shared about the sexual abuse on the blogs?

  • Mary

    Joe – nice post # 198

  • Joe

    I agree, Waiting Patiently. Jonathan Edwards’ book ‘Religious Affections’ is really helpful in this regard: he argues that emotions are not a mark that God is at work. Neither are they a mark he is not. It is love for the brethren and for God which is the true fruit of the Spirit’s work.

  • WaitingPatiently

    Paul, I have to agree with you on this one. Instead of hearing/reading everything through our “spin” SGM filtered glasses, let’s instead watch, pray and hope that true change is occurring in areas of SGM. It is not letting your guard down by at least praying and hoping they are sincere. Will it take a while to earn back your trust? Absolutely. But it has to start somewhere. If there is insincerity underneath any apologies…God will not be mocked. It will come to light.

    Until then, I wait patiently watching, praying and hoping.

  • Paul,

    My comment wasn’t meant as a gloat. It was a reply to what Patti ended with in post #176 “But he should not have even aluded to ANY thing amiss on the victim’s part.”

    I have been praying through this whole ordeal and will continue to pray. But I am not easily swayed by tears coming from pastors since I’ve seen this time and time again in my own former church, inserted into areas that it would seem “appropriate.” I tend to err on the side of skeptical, especially as I look at the way in which they spoke, what they said and how in small ways they twisted it back onto the victims.

  • Mary

    A-Mouse: I am very happy and thriving in a much better place. I am closer to Christ and I love life. I am totally healed. I am not angry with SGM. I love CLC. I don’t love SGM. I don’t think they are necessary. I believe in the local church. I believe God can bring together people to worship without SGM or CJs help. They could help as a ministry without running, controlling, taking money from the local church. Why not, just come alongside and help another local church without taking them over? I just don’t agree with the structure of SGM. But, I love CLC because the local church was God’s idea – not man’s. We are one body. I prayed for Pastor Harris last night. I will pray for him again tonight. Not because I need anything from him. Just because CLC belongs to Christ and I want God’s best for them. So I pray. I share. It’s ok.

  • Joe

    Paul, weeping is not repentance. Repentance is a change of mind evinced by a change of life.
    So far, sorrow has been expressed by SGM pastors. But a bank robber also expresses sorrow AFTER he his caught. SGM cannot be said to have repented until there are more than tears – there is a concrete change of direction.
    This may be the beginnings of repentance. But it might just be the sorrowful tears of someone who got caught and intends to carry on the same way.

  • Paul

    #151 Happymom stated “If Fairfax has nothing to hide then they will post Sunday’s family meeting online for all to hear.”
    My wife and I just listened to the family meeting and listened as two broken, seemingly repentant, pastors confessed of their failings with Noel and Wallace. It saddens me to see #179 Bethany’s comment “It gets “better” as you move towards the end of the meeting. :barf:”
    Should we gloat and get joy when men finally “get it” and are repenting for their sins?
    Ps 51 [17] The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
    If we are praying for “reform” then it looks like God is moving. Gloating and mocking when pastors are weeping over sin in front of their church, attempting to right a wrong and acknowledging their sins, somehow does not seem to be what Christ would ask us to do. I am not so naive to say that total reform is here, but please let your first response be to pray, rather than gloat and mock. I heard “confession” ,and a man who wanted nothing better than to reconcile with his family, and yet some on Survivors hear “spin”. What, exactly would it take for you to say “God, thank you for what you are doing in bringing this all to light?” OR, do you not want to see reconciliation?

  • One thought that occurred to me when I was out this evening was that the SGM Board’s response to what Mahaney did is comparable to the blunder that Representative Weiner did in response to the allegations of him sending an R rated photo to someone he didn’t know.

    After the events transpired on a Podcast I listen to one PR expert said that it was the worst thing Weiner did denying the allegation. It caused caused focus on what he did to be drawn out for a long period of time. If Weiner had initially admitted what he did then it wouldn’t have gotten nearly the attention and would have been forgotten after a few years. Now people will be much more likely to remember what he did.

    In a similar way, if the SGM Board hadn’t of “white washed” Mahaney’s sin then it is possible the event wouldn’t have received nearly the attention that it has received. Maybe people would have backed down and all these bloggers wouldn’t be blogging so much about what he did. In some ways the SGM Board has figuratively “shot” themselves in the foot.

  • Remnant

    Rose Beware: Block quoting is addictive.

    Okay, I listened to the FFSGM member’s meeting. I wish they had posted the Q/A session as I’d love to have heard what questions are on the members minds.

    I was brought to tears – but then wondered if my emotions were being manipulated.

    And then I got angry – I’m so glad Patti heard some of the same things I did. I cannot believe the spin they put on the family non-reconciliation. And because I do not believe the spin they put on that huge matter, I am not sure I believe them on ANY matter.

    How much of the tears was an indication of genuine repentance and sorrow is yet to be seen. For now, I’m not buying what they are selling. Not until I see changes instead of tears…though I know changes need to start with tears.

  • FSGP

    ClingingToJesus –

    Jesus wept.

    You can look it up if you doubt me,
    Former SG Pastor

  • ClingingToJesus


    Hi, thanks for clarifying that. I wasn’t implying that they’re mutually exclusive. I am sympathetic to folks here who have been hurt and am simply trying to encourage, not to criticize. I’m sorry if I came across that way.

    My hope is simply that our identity be found in Christ, as his children, loved and cared for by him. Though wounded, may we not find our identity there. Though abused, may we be able to lift our heads high unto heaven and find our rescue. And let us find in him the comfort and joy that he intends.

  • In Adullam's Cave

    Mike (Cole),

    Given my own circumstances, your story is especially interesting to me.

    Did SGM pursue you for reconciliation recently?
    Does it appear to be part of a process growing out of their current situation?
    Do you have a sense that they are systematically pursuing those who have departed or had issues with them?


  • Rose, way to go with the block quoting! :D

  • Rose

    And, look at that, my new friends have even taught me how to block quote!!!

  • “Clinging” –


    I think it’s a false dilemma, to say that if you’re paying attention to SGM’s problems and discussing them, that has to mean that you can’t be “clinging to Jesus.”

    Being concerned about an organization’s harmful practices and clinging to Jesus are NOT mutually exclusive. Most of us are fully able to do both. And ARE doing both.

    I actually think this false dilemma is one that is taught to people by their SGM authorities. Perhaps it’s not taught in words, directly. But people are trained to think that if they aren’t “believing the best” of their pastors and church organization, then they are somehow being distracted from “the gospel.” (Or somehow not “clinging to Jesus.”)

  • Rose

    @anonymouse: Why would we “move on” from this task to which the Lord has called us?

    “This is what the Lord says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there: ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates. This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. (Jer. 22:1-3)

    Are you wishing us to say, “Peace, peace” when there is no peace? Do you heal the wounds of the Lord’s people lightly? We were asked in this post to repeat our stories, cutting and pasting where appropriate. So of course you’re going to hear some repetition. This is the testimony the Lord has given us: he has rescued us from our oppressors and brought us out so that we could proclaim the day of liberty to the captives. It is a small thing compared to the rescue he has provided from our sin, but it is not insignificant or unworthy of being mentioned. It is an issue of justice and mercy and an application of the truth.

    It has been a year since I was booted out of an SGM church. I could equally well say I was mercifully delivered, for though they meant it for my harm and to shut me up (of course they convince themselves otherwise), God meant it for good. It is indeed true that I am not yet settled in a church somewhere else, but I am not just licking my wounds; I am fighting the good fight. It would be nice if there were an undershepherd and fellow believers who would care for me in my time of need and come alongside me, but whether there are or not (and I believe I have found them here, even as I hope for some in my physical community) God cares for me himself. Jesus is my shepherd and my husband. I can never be entirely alone.

    Both the church and the world need to hear the good news that God is just and he is merciful, that he is in the world reconciling us to himself through his son, to whom all authority has been given and to whom everyone, including those who sit in places of judgement must submit. That is what we proclaim here.

    I don’t honestly expect life in this vale of tears to be “so much better,” using your words, but I do look forward to a day when Christ will welcome me home and say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord,” and every tear will be dried. What is your expectation? Have you already received your reward?

  • alemap

    Seeking the City,
    I think JP was told not to say that right before he said it or something like that. I think someone had said CJ was not a happy camper. Someone on here remember?

  • alemap

    I’m going to ask a stupid question. Why is this confession happening now? Caught with the hand in the cookie jar? I’m sorry but the average person would have reacted a whole lot different to the plight of these 2 families. The whole thing was really making me sick with the sin AGAIN placed on the victim’s family. I just don’t get it.

  • seeking the city to come

    SGMSingle #63–

    Thank you so much for the link to John Piper’s missions message from Celebration. I will give it another listen. BTW, I often wonder if JP was taken to task for daring to deliver such a message, knowing that PDI didn’t do missions.

  • ClingingToJesus

    Hi. :new

    Just thought of a quote from Scotty Smith that I’d like to share. It’s been helpful to me in hard seasons, and I hope it encourages you as well.

    “Whatever you’re holding onto tighter than Jesus, let go of it … Bitterness, resentment, regret, unforgiveness, envy …”

    Many people have been hurt and understandably feel a mixture of emotions. But if those distract you from Christ, let it go. God is not unaware of your troubles and he will right every wrong. It seems that he is in the process of righting some things at SGM. This is good and is evidence that he can be trusted. And my prayer for everyone here is that we’d be able to look past these things, to worship our Savior and celebrate his kindness and sanctifying grace at work in us all. I pray that you will experience his grace in the midst of your circumstances and feel his comfort through your trials.

    He is worthy to be praised and to be clung to tighter than all else.

  • Patti,

    It gets “better” as you move towards the end of the meeting. :barf:

  • Alemap

    :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap

  • Obviously, those of you who are answering “Anonymouse’s” question are being far nicer and more gracious than I was. :D

    I should probably apologize for being such a cranky pants.

    But you know, for “Anonymouse’s” benefit (and for the benefit of anyone else who was cyber-high-fiving “Anonymouse” and thinking that she asked a great question), here’s a thought…

    If people here were NOT finding it “helpful” to explain what had happened to them and discuss SGM’s issues – would they really continue to do so?

    I mean, the people here are by and large some of the most articulate and thoughtful folks I’ve ever run into online. They are intelligent. They do not come across like people without lives, or people who aren’t “looking forward.” Anyone who has read here and interacted long enough with them would have gained a sense of this.

    I guess that’s why I took such offense to “Anonymouse’s” question. It struck me as a thinly disguised attempt at trying to insinuate that the people talking about SGM’s problems have bigger problems than SGM has.

    And that’s a load.

  • Patti

    I really am sorry to point something out here when someone has acknowledge their sin so much. But what I am about to point out is a necessary sniff that I feel I must do and have self appointed myself the detective in this area. It has to do with the sorryness on Mark’s part about the case in post #169 .

    Having said this, the one thing I am still seeing missing in ANY apology of any sort is a 100% accountability without pointing out or accusing wrong of some sort in the offended party. Until ANYONE of any of us can apologize for our wrong doing and END the apology there, we cannot be trusted in that area ever again! I’m sorry, but I believe that 100%.
    This part:
    “……. going to process that flawlessly.” yup, he just HAD to say THAT…. the emotional abuse continues, no need to be even remotely involved with SGM to see that one

    I do know what he meant and what he was trying to say. But he should not have even aluded to ANY thing amiss on the victim’s part.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    roadwork, 169….wow.

    Credit where credit is due, this is a huge and much needed apology.

    so, as far as the “sides” are lining up… Mark sympathetic to Josh (systemic problems), or more online with the SGM board (only CJ problems)…or silent so far?

    Really, its great to see this apology.

  • Patti

    Anonymouse, thankyou for this question.
    (so is the sharing and commiserating helpful?).

    Yes, yes, and a thousand times YES!!!! Thankyou so much to all the ones here who have posted the same stuff again and again and pointed back to your original testimonies here, for me, and for others, I know you don’t do it for yourself, thankyou! And I do see that most of you have moved on wonderfully in spite of the pain. This has been the best church I’ve experienced in a long time. And I do attend church.

  • FSGP

    Lucy 44 – Cheers! I’ve checked your blog and I think we may have, ahhhh, encountered some of the same people. Some of your entries are ROFL stuff.

    AKS & Luna – Thanks for listening!

    Patti 124 – Right on!

    TW 144 – Kris and Guy provide a place for you to be heard, if and when you are ready. You are among friends, mostly. There are folk here and at Refuge that will hear you offline, if that would help you. Go chase yourself some Joy!

    Abed 145/148 – I have no animosity towards you, amigo. I am sorry for the pain you have experienced and did not mean to imply that your existence and experience has been or is painless. However, you yourself state that your species of pain was not inflicted by SGM or a SGc and, uh, dude, this site is called “SGM Survivors”. BTW, happymom in 151 writes good advice (and shows her tender heart).

    Mmmm, beer,
    Former SG Pastor

  • Mary

    Roadwork – WOW! Thanks for posting that.

  • Mary

    This is a statement to all those who state the people on here were simply too weak to think for themselves and that is why we had a problem at SGM. Some of the SGM tactics are sneaky. I really didn’t see I was giving them this power. It happened slowly. Over a long period of time. We were slowly taught to “confess” and “share” everything in our lives until you had nothing personal left. Nothing totally under your control. No one gave them that control all at once. And, how can it be “our” weakness. These are mighty men of God right. Why would they accept that control? It is not some weakness in me but in them. My new church doesn’t control me. I don’t need control. My new church is healthy and wonderful. Don’t judge the people here. That is not your job. Your job is to love. We have a judge. A judge that died. A judge that stands at the right hand of God interceding for us. He is good at His job and doesn’t need your help. Really, some of your statements here amaze me. Do you think that will bring peace? Reconciliation? Healing? Really. Come one. Love on another. That is what God tells you to do. Love your neighbor, love your enemy – whatever you want to call people here – they all fit in the “God want you to love them” category.

  • Mary

    I don’t think anyone should “go” to SGM if they were controlled and abused by leadership. Matt 5 is clear they should come to the hurting. “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering”

    They can go to those they know they hurt. They can come on here and join the discussion. Either they are too wimpy or are disobedient. Scripture is clear on this issue. They are sinning by ignoring those they’ve offended. Rose in post above – gave a very clear statement of what she needs from them. There are others here who have as well.

    These leaders hold themselves up as mighty examples to the flock. So whatcha gonna do?

  • Roadwork

    Listening to Mark at the Fairfax family meeting.

    At 23:35 He addresses Noel and Wallace’s story directly.

    Quoting Mark from here. I wish I had more time to transcribe more of this but here it is without commentary:

    Noel and Wallace are justified in critiquing the pastoral care they received through their trials and afflictions. Sadly, and it breaks my heart to tell you this… Sadly in seeking to care for them, we became part of their trial. Like Job’s counselors, we came in a time of need and made things worse. Looking back, we made many mistakes.
    Here are a few:
    We lost sight of the victim. These are complicated moments. In the swirl of all the other things to think about, we lost sight of the simple fact that an innocent victim had been grievously sinned against and was in need of constant care. One of the mom’s reflected to me later and said, For us, this was 24/7”.

    We should have followed up more and over a longer period of time. We failed to surround the victims and their families with care. We failed to surround them. Our instincts were to keep the circle of those who knew about this small, not trying to cover anything up but we did want to protect the identity of the victim. Sadly, this left the victim’s parents without the support system they needed at the time when they most needed it.

    We should have made sure more people knew and knew quickly. Both people in their caregroup where they needed to be able to work these things through and close trusted friends as well. Many more people were needed to be in place to extend care to the victim’s family. We failed.

    These were situations where the family of the victim and the family of the perpetrator were friends. There were preexisting close relationships. As they’re trying to sort these things through, when relational conflicts arose between the victim’s family and the perpetrator’s family, we unwisely used a Peacemaker model for conflict resolution. This resulted… put them on an equal plane – “Get the log out of your eye”, “Get the log out of your eye”, “Go for the speck”, “Go for the speck”. This resulted in the victim’s family being corrected when they should have been gently cared for as sufferers. I’m so sad. I allowed that to happen and led and participated in that way. I did that.
    Our aversion to therapeutic thinking kept us from language and people and resources that would have helped these families and would have helped us to help these families. We didn’t give hurting people room to air their emotions.

    How in the world is somebody whose child has just been cruelly sexually abused going to process that flawlessly. Of course, it’s going to be raw. But, instead of giving the room to work things through, we corrected them and they expressed themselves in ways that we deemed incorrect. I’m so sorry. We were proud. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We were ignorant. The hurts from these sins… the effect of sexual abuse of a child runs deeper and lasts longer than any of us could have imagined. We’ve been accused of “not getting it”. Guilty as charged. We didn’t get it. I’m so sorry…

  • A Kindred Spirit

    “I get to sin, listen to the Holy Spirit convict me of my sins, and repent-restore without any meddlesome busybody speaking their word into my life.”


  • DB

    The reason I continue to tell my story is to let anyone out there sharing a similar experience to know that they are not the only ones.

    That would have helped me a lot.

    My husband feels no need to be on these blogs although he still talks about the harm done so many years ago but when I explained my logic, he understood and respected my decision.

    I have forgiven the people years ago and I am not bitter (a code word, btw,) but forgiving is not forgetting.

    And people continue to be hurt.

    My real life? It is a mixture of the good and bad with the good far outweiging the bad.

    I am glad my children were freed from this before it did any serious harm.

    I marvel at te difference between my older and younger children who have never had the bad church experiences.

    I get to be my authentic self and, again, the good and bad are tere.

    I get to pray directly to God and seek direction directly from Him.

    I get to sin, listen to the Holy Spirit convict me of my sins, and repent-restore without any meddlesome busybody speaking their word into my life.

    I still miss some awesome people but the really key ones are still in my life somewhat.

  • You know, I’ve been keeping a lower profile here lately. Like I said in one of the other threads, I’ve been feeling a special empathy for the people who are currently in SGM churches and struggling to process the events of the past few weeks. I’ve thought that so much commentary (endless lengthy comments) from non-SGMers wasn’t so appropriate under the circumstances.

    But “Anonymouse’s” question has raised my hackles…especially with the ending tag of, “Don’t attack me for asking my sweet little ol’ innocent question that’s actually trying to get in a dig at all y’all…”

    Anonymouse, are you serious?

    Your church organization is hitting the skids, finally having to face up to the many issues of polity and abuse that we’ve been talking about here for years – and THAT is what you feel driven to post?

    Don’t even try to portray it like you’re just all concerned for the poor people here…because if you actually were concerned for the people SGM has harmed, you wouldn’t be trying to get in “subtle” digs like that. Instead, you’d have taken enough time to read through the comments in which many of us have already addressed the issue of whether or not we’ve moved on and are looking forward.

    Ugh. Sorry.

    I just HATE passive-aggressive junk like that! If you want to say that everyone is backward-looking and bitter and unproductive, then please, come right out and say so. Don’t ask your stupid little roundabout questions and then tell us not to attack you.

    (I guess my newfound empathy has flown the coop at the moment. And I was so enjoying it, too. I would much rather believe that SGMers are seriously dealing with their church’s issues and reading here out of concern for their CHURCH ORGANIZATION and their proven-dysfunctional leader than because they STILL want to defend SGM and try to turn things around and paint the people here as the bad guys and the ones with the problem.)

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Hey Anonymouse,

    I can see where it might seem that way to someone who is not a “regular”, but if you’ve read much on the blog you would know that most of the “regulars” *ARE* “happy and thriving in a new and better place” and they want the same for all survivors.

    They want SGM’s continued abuse and wrongdoings and “business as usual” to STOP! When SGM stops, the blogging here will stop.

    If you had been abused once yourself how could you possibly skip off whistling into the sunset once you were healed and happy and ignore any folks along the way that were suffering from what you just overcame? Wouldn’t you want to help them? :scratch

    Have you read much on other abuse sites? How do those bloggers strike you?

  • Mike Cole

    Okay. Here I go. Obviously I’m Mike Cole, yes the 6’8″ one. I actually became a christian at the University of Tennessee through a campus outreach of a SGM church – Cornerstone Church of Knoxville. They had just become a member of SGM, PDI then, and within my first year Larry stepped down. Loved Larry and his family!! After graduating college, I spent five years doing campus ministry. I have a gift in evangelism and it was recognized by the church.

    From 1991 to 1998 I was at Cornerstone. I’m probably one of the few individuals who went to Pastor’s College who indicated they had no interest in being a pastor on their application. I put down evangelist. I was in the second class of PC and enjoyed it quite much.

    I was a member of CLC from 1998 to 2003. I worked for CLC for one year and SGM for two years. I never signed the covenant document that you all speak of. From 2003 to 2005 I had a crisis of my faith. I left the church.

    Upon my return in 2005, God had dealt with me heavily on a personal level I decided to go back to CLC since they knew me the best. Worst decision ever!!! I mean EVER!!! Fortunately I never became a member since they were going to require me to go through the membership class again. I know how many times do you have to take it?

    So I left CLC not because of the MASSIVE neglect of care from the pastors (that was a given) but from the MASSIVE Pharisaical attitude of the members. If you know me you know I have no fear in letting you know what I think. I approached ever person who judged me and gave them an opportunity to repent before I left. No one did, even though they were the worst sinner they knew. (tongue in check comment there)

    After bouncing around a few PCA churches, because I had issues with everyone wanting to know my business. I wanted to look forward and they wanted to look back. Surprisingly enough I landed at Capital Hill Baptist. I’m in no way a spokesman for them and my experience has been very different than most. I’m probably the most charismatic baptist there. LOL. Yes, they all know I post on this blog. Nothing to hide here.

    I have limited contact with those from Cornerstone and during my membership I had a significant impact on the congregation. In fact I won’t attend the church. The leaders know why. Most members don’t understand the degree of hurt the leaders and specific members had on my life. I won’t attend CLC either for similar reasons.

    I’m actually in the midst of SGM wanting to reconcile with me. I’ve been open to the process. I have indicated this has to be about their lack of care and not my sinful actions that occurred when I left the church. They know I will walk at the first sign of SGM trying to spin it on me. My first meeting is next week. I have doubts that they have changed, but it’s God’s place to judge not mine. I cannot treat them like they treated me.

    Now I have MANY opinions on certain individuals that I will NOT address in this forum because I don’t think it’s helpful to name call. I do hope they see their need to repent and I hope Josh continues down the road he has taken. I have faith in God that He is working in Josh’s heart to care for those under him and those who left. A level of humility that I have NEVER seen in SGM, yes NEVER.

    Feel free to ask questions and if you want Kris can give you my email.

  • FSGP

    ‘Mouse –

    Your question #2 –
    I look back and give thanks to God Almighty for getting me out of SG.
    I live in the present and thank Him for the bounty He has blessed me with.
    I look forward to tomorrow because I know there will be more Joy and I’ll be a day closer to Him!

    ‘Mouse, my worst day the last few years was better than my best day when I was in SG. My best days are … ineffable. Regardless of how I may be perceived across the electrons, I am criticized frequently by co-workers for being too happy, for smiling too much.

    I am blessed with more Joy than most people can imagine,
    Former SG Pastor

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Seeking Truth said…

    My only regret is that we didn’t leave sooner ecspecially for our childrens sake.

    Many parents feel that way.

    It’s hard when we discover later, when the parenting years are long over or mostly over, that we raised our kids wrong in some area. It’s heartbreaking when we discover that our adult children are struggling with something due to the way we raised them. I feel as sorry for the parents as I do for the kids, maybe even moreso. (The kids don’t have the enormous guilt and heartbreak of inflicting such upon one’s own child.)

    Children are AMAZINGLY resilient, they truly are. God made them that way because He knew how badly their parents would screw-up from time to time. I certainly had my share of screw-ups with mine.

    For my “obvious screw-ups”, the ones they know about (or have brought to my attention :wink: ), I have apologized and they have forgiven me. It’s amazing how quick they are to forgive and forget. There are things that God has brought to my attention privately that the kids haven’t ever mentioned or even thought about that I’ve went to them and apologized for – things I told them or taught them that I now realize are incorrect.

    It’s an ongoing process and I’m glad they didn’t disqualify us as their parents because of our screw-ups.

    Love truly does cover a multitude of sins.

  • anonymouse

    1.) Would anyone on this site be willing to participate in a follow up post about how they have since moved on with their lives?

    There are a lot of posters that say, ‘Looking Forward’ or other positive tag lines. And yet, after being a reading-only-non-contributer for several months, I can’t help but to observe that there are a lot of habitual posters on here and there’s a fair amount of repetition by those same posters. (My best guess is that they want to make sure an opportunity isn’t missed to share their experience with this new expanded audience?)

    2.) will any of you reach a place where you are willing to look forward without looking back?

    i do understand that this is a ‘support blog.’ it just so rarely sounds like anyone contributing here is happy and thriving in a new and better place (so is the sharing and commiserating helpful?). i don’t really hear people say, ‘i had a bad experience, but life is so much better now and here’s why.’

    please don’t attack me for asking by reading negative tone, it’s just an honest question.

  • Luna Moth

    I don’t feel I can give details of my whole story at this point, but–

    I “married into” PDI. Awhile back.

    I remember Larry–heard him speak numerous times. I remember when he was being “disciplined,” and I remember when he left.

    I remember when they wanted everyone to read the book about how all the bad things are really God’s plan, and how the following year they started teaching TULIP. I was appalled that people just went along. I didn’t just go along. But like so many things I got used to not saying what I really felt.

    I remember when PDI changed its name to SGM. And I remember when the local church changed its name to “SG Church of City-X”.

    I remember when my cousin who had attended a different SGM posted a link, which I followed, and was astonished to discover a WEB SITE for people who felt the way I do. I read here (and on Refuge) for months before daring to post. I read, and processed, and said “Wow! That was it!” and cried and raged and read some more.

    I’m still seeing the path unfolding before me. With Him.

  • anonymouse

    Happy Mom – I don’t think you’re really fair to accuse Fairfax of hiding their family meeting message. This has been online at least since this morning (church offices are closed on Monday)

  • seeking truth

    My family attended KWCC in VA for 10 years. All I know is that when we left no one in our family was sad about it.I was disgusted in the counsel and lack of care that we were seeing displayed in the leadership.We use to have a lot of respect for some of the leaders,not just for the fact that they were leaders,but for a time they seemed to really care about the people in the church,but I began to wonder after some of the things I began to hear and see happening.We never completely fit in in all those years,didn’t always go with the flow.We didn’t ask for permission to do things differently or seek counsel on every little descision we made etc. Somehow though through the process we seemed to forget who we were and when we left felt somewhat dead. My only regret is that we didn’t leave sooner ecspecially for our childrens sake.It’s really kind of hard to put our story all into words because the experience seems complicated.We have been gone for some years now.I do remember thinking life is to short to live like this,and we don’t have to live like this anymore.We are thankful to be free!

  • FashionablyLate

    Brokenhearted said, “The problem isn’t that they couldn’t help me, the problem was that they didn’t say ‘I don’t know how to help you, let’s find someone who can’ they just kept saying ‘A real Christian wouldn’t…””

    Exactly! :word

    I am so sorry for what happened to you. Since leaving SGM Fairfax, I hope that you have found the right resources to help you heal. Thank you for sharing some of your story with us.

  • BiL

    Attended a PDI church from 1983 til 1996. Same story as most folks here. Unlike most folks here, I will never set foot in any church again as long as I live.

  • keepinstep

    Brokenhearted #107 – I’m so sorry for what you suffered, but not as sorry as Father God is. I pray continued healing for you and your family members. I pray that this healing can also come through his powerful grace that allows you to release these cruel men in forgiveness.

    Your story is more proof that SGM leaders – with only a few exceptions – are hirelings, not pastors. Where is the compassion of David, Jesus and Paul – where’s evidence of God’s heart that warns it would be better to be thrown into the deep ocean, than mess with one of God’s little ones?

    I continue to ask God for mercy for these clowns, only because of the mercy I’ve received, and mercy demonstrated in the Word. But God alone knows at what point his mercy ends – and I hope SGM leaders don’t want to skate that edge.

  • Paul

    20+ years at Metro Life Orlando. We were wonderfully cared for throughout the years we were a part. Divorce would have been a reality without the loving council, and how can one ever forget the care and love extended through years of cancer and illness? But over the last few years got tired of being seen as “sinners” as opposed to “saints.” Funny that the Apostle Paul could write to the “Saints at Corinth” when it was obvious that it was one dysfunctional bunch of folks.
    Sad to remember how I wrote the “blogs” a few years ago with such blinders on. I would have to write each of you individually asking forgiveness for my unkindness, but like most in SGM I didn’t see you as people with real hurts and concerns, but rather as “nicknames on a blog.”
    As pastors and other SGM members read here, I pray that they would realize, seeing the length of membership, and some of the stories of real pain, that those that write are not anonymous bloggers, but real flesh and blood that once served alongside with them for many, many years.
    Brothers and Sisters in Christ, that want to see repentance and reform, not the destruction of SGM.

  • keepinstep

    Brokenhearted #134 – thanks for all those lyrics, which I remember as well. Holy Spirit regularly reminds me of song lyrics from TAG days – the songs composed solely of scripture, that helped us memorize the Word.

    Remember this one, from 1 Peter 2:9?

    We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a chosen nation, a people for God’s own possession! That we might proclaim his excellencies, that we might proclaim his excellencies. He has called us out of darkness, into his marvelous light – that we might proclaim his excellencies!

    It was hard to get discouraged or introspective about sin, while singing songs of God’s great love and his purpose for our lives.

  • WalterB

    Well my time with PDI/SGM contained a number of similar events to many of you, merging with PDI then PDI changing to SGM, theology changes, attitude of superiority, “if you’re not here, you are nowhere”, intolerant of other Christians who believed a bit differently, etc, etc.

    My departure I believe was unique, so I will comment on that starting with our engagement.
    I got engaged at one of the Celebration events, this was my wife’s first exposure to SGM. After the conference she said this was such a depressing event. Virtually everything was about how bad and terrible people are. I could tell she was not interested in anymore of this, but she was willing to attend the normal Sunday service (she was from a non SGM church (perish the thought in some SGM circles). After our marriage we attended Sunday services about 4 more times. Now an important event for us was that I lost my job due to the company downsizing and eventually going out of business about 3 months prior to our wedding date. I got caught in the dotcom crash. No worries, we still wanted to get married and proceeded to do so.
    Well what turned out to be our last day at an SGM church started off well. People were very friendly and asked how we were doing. The service started and the pastor did a good job. At after the service was over, one of the wives of a care group leader came up to us and chatted for a couple of minutes. At the end she asked if I had found job and I stated I had not as of that day. She asked my wife if she had a job and my wife said she did. The lady then said to me in front of my wife “You really worked yourself a sweet deal” and then promptly walked away. My wife’s look was one of complete astonishment. On the drive home, my wife said she had never been in a church where people could say something so cruel. My wife also said she was ready to challenge this lady on the spot to give a biblical reason for her actions or immediately admit what she said was wrong.
    To the pastor’s credit :D he did ask me to come in a talk, this was a few months after I finally left. I explained we were now attending my wife’s church (considerable closer to our house) and the pastor was happy for us. I did explain what happened and to the pastor’s credit he said he wished he known sooner as he would have confronted the individual. He asked for the name but at this point I said, it’s been a while and I preferred to not bring up the person’s name. I was told that the pastor mentioned the event at the next meeting he had with the homegroup leaders.

    There were other events (very serious) that I experienced well before marriage while at the church, but those will remain burried for now or ever I can’t say. I do keep thinking one thing…..If only I had left sooner, if only I had left sooner

  • happymom


    Thanks for clarifying that and you are completely forgiven. I realize some posting here may not have had the chance to read through the archives, so that is my suggestion. It really does provide background for many frequent bloggers and proof that we DID meet with former leaders. It would be impossible to add up the time we put into emails and meetings in an attempt to work things out. Our second ordeal began with Fairfax in October 2007 and we were officially blamed and dismissed September 2011.
    I can only speak from our experience at Fairfax, you could read our story, Wallace & Happymom, April 8, 2011. There is also Noel’s story in the archives, both out of Fairfax.

    If Fairfax has nothing to hide then they will post Sunday’s family meeting online for all to hear.

  • BrokenHearted

    I was just listening to some of my old Sara Groves stuff and thought of y’all

    “I’m all here and you’re all there, some of this is unique and some of it we share. Let’s add it up and start from there, oh it’s all right here…now, I’m not God I’m a girl I confess that I don’t have a sea of forgetfulness, no it’s all right here…it’s make me stronger it makes me wince, it makes me think twice when I pick my friends…”

    “Just a little while ago, I couldn’t feel the power or the hope, I couldn’t cope, I couldn’t feel a thing. Just a little while back I was desperate, coping, laid out, hoping you would come…”

  • Dan

    Hi all (thanks so much for the hey’s from people – missed you all too!)

    Steve W and I have been discussing an observation that I hope the independent panel have noticed;

    Does anyone notice that it’s always the ex-SGMers who have to make the first move for reconciliation to begin?

    Larry Tomczak said he spent years trying to make contact and in the Brent papers, finally C J said; “Let’s do it”.

    Brent himself had to send the papers before there was a response,

    My situation personally had to be begun by Steve W contacting Pat Ennis, and then Bob Kauflin when Pat refused to continue the conversation.

    I realise that there may other situations where the SGM pastors or board have begun with the initial contact. Just seems to me that their attitude is; “You’re angry – you come to us”. The apologies would look far more sincere, if the initial contact came from them surely?

    Just a thought …

  • Abednigo

    I stand corrected. I did make a blanket statement, but it was directed at the folks with issues with Fairfax. I know some have already tried in recent years. I can see how my comment may have came across as a blanket “everyone in every circumstance should reach out”. It wasn’t meant to be that. I’m sorry for any confusion.

  • Pilgrim

    I attended GOB/CLC throughout the eighties. Attended two other SGM churches for a total of around 15 years. I was a young adult and baby Christian when I began at GOB/CLC. I can look back now and see how foolish I was to think that a bunch of guys in their 20’s and 30’s should be considered “elders” or worthy of my trust. I can see so much in hindsight now that I have lived some life, gotten some education, and gone to some healthy (not perfect) churches. I am not going into any detail right now about my experiences, but I would suggest to anyone considering SGM to STAY AWAY.
    Looking Forward said “We were cautious at first since we knew CJ and SGM by reputation (mostly bad reports from outsiders and damaged former members) but decided to proceed with care and discernment.”
    Lee went on to ask “ Do more compliant type personalities end up becoming more hurt because they rely too heavily on pastors’ advice instead of seeking God for themselves.”
    I don’t want assume that either of them (you) realize how they (you) sound. “Blaming the victim” comes to mind and is a recurring phenomenon in the stories on the blogs. At the same time, they (you) both make valid points. It is much easier to manipulate, deceive, and prey on the young, the weak, the uneducated, and the injured, so there is truth in your statements. I am so glad that Jesus came for those that needed a physician.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Katie said…

    i personally have not really suffered the effects of SGM domination, however, i have seen it up close and personal with close friends who have been yelled at by pastors, brushed off by pastors when they come with a concern, girls under such control from their fathers that they can’t do anything – even as adults, and when those girls finally get an ounce of freedom they run wild, marriages torn apart, people who obviously need mental help not getting it (although i’ve seen a big change in pastors’ views on this issue in the past few years which i’m very grateful for), and the stories go on.

    as some of my friends are finally seeing the dangers and downfalls in SGM leadership, they’re coming to me with a lot of questions since they’ve known i’ve held issue with the church for years. please pray that their eyes will be opened and that they will not continue to be disillusioned by the church!

    Katie, I will be praying. Your friends are fortunate to have you as a friend.

    What in the world are some of these men and pastors in SGM thinking? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM?!!! They “brush off and yell at” young girls when they come to them with concerns?!! :x

    I’m thinking “millstone”, folks…and pastors, you should seriously start thinking about it, too!

  • Abednigo

    FSGP: I’m sorry if my encouragement came across as a blanket request. It wasn’t a request, let alone a blanket request for everyone on this site. It was a simple encouragement based on one person’s comments on a single church. If that was misunderstood I’m sorry. Either way, you seem to feel that was inappropriate. If I was telling everyone posting here to do that, then yeah that would be misguided and ignorant. But it wasn’t what I did (and I wouldn’t do that). I really don’t understand your (possibly misunderstood) animosity at me for encouraging one person to reach out. I’ve seen first hand in my own family how churches can rip families apart and hurt people so bad they never fully recover. It’s horribly tragic. So please don’t assume that I haven’t experienced major hurts at a church. I have. And just because it wasn’t an SGM church doesn’t mean I don’t get it. I do.

    You are right though, in the cases where they are aware, SGM leaders SHOULD be trying to contact people. They absolutely should. And some pastors (probably not enough) have been doing exactly that. Will they all do that eventually? Sadly, probably not. But many have, many more like will, and relationships will be healed and restored. Sadly, many will not. And that sucks. We as Christians are great at shooting our wounded. That shouldn’t be.

  • TW

    @FSGP #108

    Sodden thought – Do you realize how many people are anonymous because they want to protect family or themselves from retribution? And this is a common reaction here to a church, a denomination, “Christian” leaders. This is NOT a reaction to the KGB, CIA, IRS, the local police, a malicious employer or a jealous ex-boyfriend. Can we get the spiritual equivalent of a restraining order?


    and also your #140… Thank you for speaking for so many of us.

    As I have continued to mostly be a lurker here, I have contemplated sharing my SGM story, but cannot get past the fear of retribution, more recrimination, shunning and a stirring up of all the pain.

    You are right, at least in our family’s case. They know who we are. They know how they slandered us, broke up our family, shunned and continue to shun. We are not holding our breaths in expectation of any type of apology or attempt at reconciliation by SGM or any of their representatives. But we do pray for change. We do pray for healing for the many who have been wounded and devastated by the hard, cold arm of SGM. We cry out to God for our children who were devastated by what our family experienced at the hands of a church and men that they once highly regarded.

  • Roadwork

    I remember listening to an African-American pastor from Tulsa one time as he told the story from Daniel. He called them, “Shadrach, Meshach and A Big Negro.” Dang he was funny.

    P.S. Humor is not an available class at the PC.

  • nepotism


    My heart goes out to you. I have also attended SG Bristol, UK and was freaked out by how
    all the pastors, leaders, CGL were related to each other. The whole place essentially seemed
    run by one extended family.
    There was also very little fellowship for folk who weren’t one of the ‘select’.

    Great that you have finally found reconciliation and peace. I hope when all this blew up
    the senior pastor offered you counseling about the abuse you experienced as a child
    and didn’t just condemn you.

    How does a pastor think he has the right to go and share private information about you with
    another church. Is that legal? if he felt that other churches need to know about your ‘sin’,
    does that mean that he also felt the need to tell them about his?

    I’m also deeply concerned that the senior pastor threatened to tell members not to even
    speak to you if they met you!!! How is this not shunning?

    I got the impression that they do shun but don’t want to say they shun.

  • A Kindred Spirit


    I appreciate your heart for all of us here.

    Thank you, my friend.

  • FSGP

    Abednigo #121 –

    Would you go to the various and sundry SG sites and make a similar request? Would you go there and ask them to contact those that they have hurt? I’m serious about this. Start with the SGM board; I think they are meeting right now.

    You see, in most cases, SGM, SG churches, and leaders across both know exactly who they hurt, how they hurt them, and when it all went down. In many cases the wounded here and at Refuge tried repeatedly and through multiple channels to reconcile.

    Please reconsider your request here until you have been slandered by local leadership, the senior pastor, an “apostle”, and other SG leaders and you have tried to make things right all levels. Come back after you have had family and other relationships ripped apart. Come back after a loved one has been physically abused. Come back after you have tried to blog on one of the SG sites. Come back after you are discounted because you are anonymous – I’m assuming your name is not Abednigo.


    I’ll await for your report on this new mission,
    Former SG Pastor

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Wow, Brokenhearted,

    I wonder how many other “SGM daughters” read at the site…and possiblly comment, as well.

    (I frequently have SGMers tell me that they don’t have families within SGM that are that extreme.)

  • Roadwork


    Do have your hubby call me. After he gets off the floor, that is. It is really, really good to hear from you. And do tell hubby’s dad “Hi” for me. And don’t forget to call 911 if he goes into shock…

  • BrokenHearted

    AKS – Sorry I missed your comment before. I was one of the original posters on the QD forum, but started posting less and less and don’t post anymore.

    Roadwork – just got your email. Nevermind. You might know more than I do on his fam’s situation. :) :-p

  • Stunned

    And someone can come on here and say some of us are wrong to be angry?! How can you read some of these stories and NOT be angry. If you can read all of the above and no anger enters your heart, then there is something truly broken and wicked in you. God is angry when people are abused. You should be, too.

  • BrokenHearted

    roadwork, yes they mishandled his family’s situation, but they acknowledge that and apologize. they just won’t apologize for calling sin sin. sorry if that sounds harsh, but there was a LOT behind the scenes that I think reflect well, rather than poorly on the pastors involved overall. but, yes they did make some big mistakes.

  • BrokenHearted

    I don’t know why, but I have all of these old songs stuck, so Im going to share.

    “lord i live by your word, lord i live by every word from your mouth. i am like a tree by a stream i am bearing fruit my leaf is green all that i do is prospering oh lord i live by your word.”

    “what you began you will finish by your strong hand i will prevail, every trial you work in it and your faithfulness cant fail. though i do not claim to understand themysteries of your sovereign plan, i know the go9od work you began you will finish.”

    “the nations are waiting for us theyre dying to hear the song we bring. the nations are waiting for us, waiting for the gospel we will bring, that in each nation men might come to know the king.”

    “how high and how wide, how deep and how long, how sweet and how strong is your love. how lavish your grace, how faithful your ways, how great is your love oh lord.”

  • A Kindred Spirit


    I can’t stop thinking about your poor wife. :(

    I hope you don’t mind me reposting this again.

    I was never a member of a PDI/SGM churchso maybe I don’t have the right to post here, but my wife was. She got out around 20 years ago and still carries the emotional and spiritual scars from the neglect and abuse she received at PDI Fairfax. She was run ragged with church activities and squeezed financially for the building fund ( like everyone else ). She suffered from depression and was told she shouldn’t seek professional help. She went to the leaders with her concerns about the terrible situation at home with her mother’s drinking problem and was minimized and ignored. When her stepfather came on to her she went to the pastor (someone she knew personally) and was blown off and told she had misunderstood things.This was the same pastor who later tried to covered up child sexual abuse ( Happy Mom’s testimony). They were supposed to be looking after her the way a good shepherd would his flock but they treated the victim as the problem.
    Finally she had to choose between mental/ emotional health and this insane church system. All those people at that church and especially in here home group who said they loved and cared for her were not sympathetic and loving but shut her out. She lost her relationship with a family where she had helped raise their kids and was practically a member of the family. We were not married or in contact at the time all this took place or I would have helped her. These days I listen to her as she continues to struggle with the sense of betrayal and frustration and the negative messages she brought away about how God sees her and what he expects. I hold her as she cries. She is still afraid that they can hurt her again. On occasion we have argued about attending church. I want to but thanks to PDI/SGM she wants nothing to do with God’s people even though she loves the Lord.

    I just have this visual picture of you holding her as she cries that I can’t get out of my mind. I know you feel helpless at times as to what to do or how to help her.

    I asked this earlier, but has she read any of the blogs?

    I hope it helps to know that people here are praying for the two of you. She is blessed to have a husband like you.

    – Kindred

  • Roadwork

    And BrokenHearted, it’s okay. I especially know your husband and his family. I do believe your husband’s family could tell another grossly mishandled tragic tale at yet another SGM franchise….

  • Abednigo

    I agree with Remnant. I hope I didn’t imply that you had to. It was simply an encouragement. But no one is under any obligation whatsoever. But I think most people, maybe not all, but most would be surprised.

  • Remnant

    BrokenHearted You said:

    But, you’re right. I should go to the pastors there and talk about this stuff. I don’t really want to because I don’t feel like rehashing all of it, and I am pretty sure they would want to bring in my new pastors and “the Gospel” all over me. But, that is totally judgey of me. I am ASSUMING they won’t act any differently than they have in the past.

    Sweetie – there is absolutely NO OBLIGATION upon you to do anything you do not want to do. This is your life. You get to call the shots.

    If you want, you can walk away and never look at them again. And that’s a perfectly fine decision if you want to make it.

    There is absolutely NO OBLIGATION, NO GUILT, NO PRESSURE to do anything. The ball is totally in your court. You get to choose for yourself what you want to do.

    Opening yourself, your precious tenderhearted, sweet self to these men of cold-hearted steel may be like casting your precious pearl before swine.

    Who knows, perhaps there is a new “openness” policy, a new repentance, a new way of doing things at your old church. But, forgive my naivete, I doubt such sweeping changes have occurred in these mens’ hearts during the mere month since Brent’s documents have been released.

    These men have been indoctrinated for decades…give the Lord time to work. These men have lots of work to do and we don’t know for sure if they are willing to have ears to hear what the Lord is saying to them. If they turn out to be men of God who are willing to do the hard work ahead of them, if they end up being repentant and sorrowful, perhaps after they’ve been proven trustworthy you might consider speaking with them….IF you want to.

    There is no obligation to rush into anything with anyone.

  • Patti

    I just want to say that I too had good times in my IFB school and reformed church I was raised in. It is good to remember some of the fun times. The fun times however just did not include the super fundies. I actually feel sorry for them now, so laden with religion. It was refreshing to read Brokenhearted’s acknowledgement of the people who WERE good to her.
    I think this is a common saying… it takes at least twenty positve statements toward a person to just counteract one negative. I would think the principle would apply to any type of abuse. So if I do the math with someone who has been abused over and over….

    Does anyone know of a story in the Bible where the perpetrators of abuse demanded that their victims forgive them and stop being embittered toward them? Paul abused people. He never demanded that the people even trust him. It took others to convince them that he truly had been changed by Jesus Himself. And I am sure they tested the waters very carefully.

  • Roadwork


    If you’re comfortable contacting me, you can do so at roadworkradio at gmail dot com.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I have never been able to REALLY worship with most of them because I was too worried about what they were thinking or if I was even worthy of worshipping with them.

    That statement right there pisses me off so bad – you have no idea!!! (Seriously, this is the kind of stuff that prompted me to start posting on this blog.)

    Brokenhearted, I know *EXACTLY* what you’re talking about. There are a lot of people that feel/felt that way. And SGM is not the only offender, but they’re right up there with some of the worst.

    Shame on EVERY CHRISTIAN that makes someone feel this way!!!

  • BrokenHearted

    RoadWork –

    Amen!! :) I think you probably know who I am or at least would know who I am as our timelines matched SO closely. :-)

    “There is a day, that all creation’s waiting for…”

    See, I honestly look forward to seeing my bros/sis’s from FFX in Heaven not so I can say “SEE! This is what it was all about all along!” or “HAHA! I made it :-p”, but to be able to worship with them BEFORE THE SAVIOR and not have to worry about all of the crap here on earth. I have never been able to REALLY worship with most of them because I was too worried about what they were thinking or if I was even worthy of worshipping with them. So, in Heaven we will ALL be so entralled by His presence no one will care or even remember all of our grievances on Earth. :)

  • Roadwork

    So SGM, let’s see you trot out Heb 13:17 “for they are keeping watch over your souls” after hearing Brokenhearted. SGM: What a cruel misrepresentation of God the Father you have become.

    If this is the best watch they can keep, maybe the salvation of those FCC “pastors” should be questioned.

    Brokenhearted, we may never receive any explanation for the wrongs done to us in this life by others. That’s okay, because one day, in that day, we will see He whom our souls have longed for. And when we ask for explanation we may only hear, “I AM”. In His presence nothing else will matter.

    ~ Roadwork (former FCCer)

  • Patti

    FSGP said:
    “Sodden thought – Do you realize how many people are anonymous because they want to protect family or themselves from retribution? And this is a common reaction here to a church, a denomination, “Christian” leaders. This is NOT a reaction to the KGB, CIA, IRS, the local police, a malicious employer or a jealous ex-boyfriend. Can we get the spiritual equivalent of a restraining order?
    Josh Harris, read here and weep. CJ Mahaney, read here and wail. Rev Mohler and Rev Duncan, read hear and mourn. SGM board, read here and then resign. Is this the result of Godly, Spirit-led, Word-infused living?”

    Yes! That was one of the thoughts I had that proved to me we are NOT the slanderous, bitter, backbiting group of bloggers THEY slander US to be.

  • BrokenHearted

    Abednigo – Thanks for your reply. I am not at all connected to Fairfax anymore, so I didn’t even know that they HAD a family meeting about this kinda stuff.

    I know there is bitterness in my heart. I wish that there wasn’t. I feel like I keep trying to forgive, but every time I have talked to the people who hurt me back then in the past couple of years. They don’t treat me any differently now. They still treat me like the “stapler of fruit” they treated me like back then. so, it is really hard for me to believe they have changed at all.

    But, you’re right. I should go to the pastors there and talk about this stuff. I don’t really want to because I don’t feel like rehashing all of it, and I am pretty sure they would want to bring in my new pastors and :barf: :barf: “the Gospel” all over me. But, that is totally judgey of me. I am ASSUMING they won’t act any differently than they have in the past.

  • BrokenHearted

    Thanks y’all!! (on a keyboard at Father in Law’s WOOT! ;-))

    Now that I have a keyboard let me say –

    All of the people at SovGrace Fairfax who sinned against me are forgiven. Their sins are not greater than mine or somehow unforgivable because they have never apologized to me. I had a LOT of GREAT relationships and people there in my 16 years. Paula, who gave me the best 15th birthday party EVER and showered me in gifts when my mom was so depressed she cancelled it the day of the party. Sissy who loved on me everytime I came over to her house no matter how messed up I was and NEVER ONCE judged me. Laura, Melanie, Mary, Phoebe who were my “Psalm 16 buddies” and never tried to make me be someone I wasn’t. Kim who despite knowing EVERY sin I’d ever committed just kept loving her uneducated friend. Becky who stood by me when every other person in the caregroup turned their backs. THESE people showed me the love and acceptance of Christ, and I am so grateful for them.

    I will fully admit that I was super messed up. I had a LOT of baggage and needs. I was NOT an easy person to love, and even those who DID love on me and accept me I am sure I hurt them deeply in all of my sin and pain. I don’t think the pastoral staff or any of the caregroup leaders were really prepared for me.

    The problem isn’t that they couldn’t help me, the problem was that they didn’t say “I don’t know how to help you, let’s find someone who can” they just kept saying “A real Christian wouldn’t…”

    Honestly, if I went through all of the 26 – 32 year olds NOW who grew up at FCC THEN I would bet decent money that at least 75% of them had some sort of drug addiction, eating disorder, suicide attempt, self-injury, or copious amounts of sexual “misdeeds”. Just sayin’. :)

  • Abednigo

    First off, it grieves me to read the stories people had at various SGM churches. I haven’t had that experience in my limited time at one, but I do recognize similar issues and as I’ve said in a previous post they seem to be more with people latching on to individual practice and elevating it to Biblical principles (aka: legalism). The pastors at SGM churches need to do better at being more clear that in those areas the Bible isn’t 100% specific on that people need to have the freedom to seek God in how to proceed. Example: For all the talk in the Bible about purity, we can’t take that and turn courtship into the only way two people can pursue marriage. It’s utter nonsense. We can say fornication and adultery are wrong. That’s clear in Scripture. But we can’t say a couple can’t hold hands or kiss before their wedding day. That may be what God calls one couple to do, but not another. And certainly not everyone. Preference/practice does not equal Biblical principle. Period. It’s those kinds of things that I think SGM churches need to get better at. Other churches, like my last one, can swing in the opposite direction, which is equally dangerous. We need our pastors to say, “Here’s what the Bible says. Here are specific non-negotiable commands in Scripture. But these other areas where it’s not clear, it’s up to you to use wisdom and seek guidance IF YOU WANT IT.” All the legalism I experienced was from certain people, never the pastors.

    Happymom: “Folks at Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax, was Brokenhearted’s story discussed at your FAMILY MEETING on Sunday too? Or was that boiled down to a family disagreement also, along with all the other blogger/stories out of Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax? Nice spin guys.”

    I think Brokenhearted, and anyone else with bad experiences over the years, should really try and contact them again (if compelled to do so). I know some may be afraid to, and that grieves me as well, but I understand it. A hurt can go deep and grow over the years. Believe me I’ve seen it in people close to me. But they stressed that if anyone was mistreated by them in the past they want to hear from them to try and make it right. They made some MAJOR mistakes in how they handled people over the years (MAJOR!) but they are truly grieved by that. I was grieved to hear these stories! But they were truly convicted, grieved and deeply sorry. But they are not victims. They see where they have made mistakes with the true victims and made the hurt even worse. But they couldn’t address every person and every situation in one evening. Some may not be believe them and their desire to make things right with people and that’s fine. But at least give them a chance to try and make it right.

    I’m not defending how they handled things before. Hearing the stories was awful and it boggles the mind how a pastor could do that to someone who trusted them. But I’ve had friends and family equally hurt by former non-SGM churches, so SGM doesn’t have the monopoly on hurting people. But that being said, I’ve treated people horribly wrong before too, thinking I was doing right (or worse yet, not caring whether I was wrong or not). But I’d like to think that someone would give me the chance to make it right if I was truly repentant.

  • Remnant

    I am weepy-eyed after reading these “testimonies” of pastoral abuse, hurt and broken hearts coming out of Sovereign “Grace” Church.

    I thank each of you for sharing your story and pray that the God of Israel, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, will bring His Shalom, His peace to your hearts this day and affirm to you just how very precious you are to Him.

    The Body of Messiah was never meant to harm but to form a unity of love where one would share the burden of the other.

    It seems that SGM has become an evil empire rather than a place of healing, wholeness, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, integrity, goodness and love.

    How He must sorrow over the wickedness of this place.

  • Patti

    This is the website to my daughter’s church, she recently moved farther away because of a new job, so might not be going as often but this is where her heart is. Anyway,
    I was just thinking if you called them, they might know a good egal church in your area.

  • A Kindred Spirit


    If Brokenhearted is shunned for sharing here, I’ll be making a trip to her current SG church, so help me I will! :x

  • happymom

    Thanks for sharing your story. You are brave to do that although prepared to be shunned for doing so, or at the very least, corrected for slander. Your humble and repentant response to the poster whose wife also suffered at Fairfax is precious and one we never found at Fairfax in 12 years.

    Folks at Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax, was Brokenhearted’s story discussed at your FAMILY MEETING on Sunday too? Or was that boiled down to a family disagreement also, along with all the other blogger/stories out of Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax? Nice spin guys.

  • A Kindred Spirit


    Your story just broke my heart.

    You’re such a good husband. I can literally see you holding your wife as she cries. (It makes me cry.) You’re a good man – God knew what she needed in a husband.

    Has your wife read any on the blogs?

    I’m praying for you both today.

    – Kindred

  • Already Gone

    To Lee, you ARE joking, right?

  • Already Gone

    To Brokenhearted, I wish I could just give you the biggest hug!

  • A Kindred Spirit


    Thanks for sharing your story, your handle name fits your story. I pray that you are at a much better place spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

    And you did an EXCELLENT job typing on your phone. :)

    Have you read any on the “quivering daughters” sites?

  • Luna Moth

    FGSP, thank you.

  • A Kindred Spirit


    You need to go back and read what you just said.

    I’m thinkin’ you don’t realize how that came across.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    FSGP… :word

  • Rose

    @ Looking forward, I have no issues that pressure me to conform for acceptance, nor have I ever looked to the church and pastoral input as principals. Nevertheless, I was mistreated, more because I was open about my thinking for myself than for anything else. Period. :wink:

  • FSGP

    Sodden thought – Do you realize how many people are anonymous because they want to protect family or themselves from retribution? And this is a common reaction here to a church, a denomination, “Christian” leaders. This is NOT a reaction to the KGB, CIA, IRS, the local police, a malicious employer or a jealous ex-boyfriend. Can we get the spiritual equivalent of a restraining order?

    Josh Harris, read here and weep. CJ Mahaney, read here and wail. Rev Mohler and Rev Duncan, read hear and mourn. SGM board, read here and then resign. Is this the result of Godly, Spirit-led, Word-infused living?

    I prefer my odds among the pagans,
    Former SG Pastor

  • brokenhearted

    so, i still do not have home internet and it is too hot to walk to the library, so i shall attempt to type my story on my phone. please excuse typos and grammar. :-)

    i started attending sg church of fairfax the week before i turned 5 in 1988 and left essentially a week before i turned 21 in 2004. i left originally to go away to college and then permanantly that Christmas when a girl in my cg rebuked me for missing church because she “hadnt seen me in the past few weeks”. i had been away at college for an entire semester. :-P i moved to another sgm church and am currently a member there, although hubby and i are moving to the arlington church as hubby got a job cl9ose to there. a number of people assumed i would go back to fairfax and i told them not if they paid me. :-p

    i was never molested or sexually misused in any way at fairfax. but, i was fed YEARS of legalism, that for me only got WORSE after mark came not better. as a child i wastold not to talk to kids who went to public school, i was spanked for every infraction because that is what the church told my parents to do, and my mom was told by my youth pastors wife (before lg it was kj) that the worst decision a mom can make for her 13 year old is to stop spanking her. but these things could have been true for most churches in the late 80’s early 90’s. what was really damaging for me was the constant telling me i was not good enough.

    i was not quiet enough, godly enough, mature enough, or a lot of other “enoughs”. i had a mom who stopped homeschooling any of us when i was 15 but kept having babies that she would promptly hand off to me to raise. i had a dad who would routinely yell and scream so loud that kids would be sobbing in a corner and would lift a kid up with one hand and smack them with the other. neither of my parents went to church much in my teen years, and yet no one in the church EVER asked. and, being loyal to my parents was my number one priority so i never said anything to anyone.

    when i hit about 18 i stopped trying to match up and started forcing myself to vomit, not eating, dying my hair incessently. yeah i wanted attention, but it was so someone would see how much i was hurting inside. i routinely contemplated suicide, but everytime i would ask for help i was told i was seeking attn or sinning or not trusting God.

    in desperation i called dh to tell him my sibs hadnt done school in 4 years and he laid on verses about honoring my parents and told me to confess to my dad my slander. (he apologized since) my mom at one point called him to ask how a godly wife can encourage her husband to lead and he told her the same slander baloney. his bro vh told me i wasnt saved because i was bulimnic and “real christians dont sin like that.” i had like 5 sgm people tell me that over one summer. i called lg and his wife for counseling and they put for off for MONTHS had one mtg with me and told me because i hadnt thrown up in like 2 weeks i wasnt really bulimnic. an older friend, married 2 kids, was told by dh to stop being my friend because i was never going to change and it was stressing her.

  • happymom


    We are not expecting pastors to do anything except respond as any normal human being would.

    Many people loved their time at Fairfax, until an issue arose or their child was molested.
    May I ask if you’ve read through the archives here and on SGM refuge?

  • Lee

    Looking forward said “We have not had these experiences; we have learned to seek God for ourselves, and use the church and pastoral input as adjuncts, not principals. Maybe this has made us less vulnerable”

    You said it way better than I could…but this is exactly what I’ve thought is part of the problem. Do more compliant type personalities end up becoming more hurt because they rely too heavily on pastors’ advice instead of seeking God for themselves? I’m not saying this is always the case, but could be contributing to the problems.

    Can you imagine the burden this puts on the pastors as well? Trying to fix everyone? Even if they go about it wrongly?

    I loved my three years at Fairfax Covenant during the late 90’s…I’d still probably be there if I hadn’t moved too far away to attend.

  • happymom

    another story from Sovereign Grace church of Fairfax:

    PO1 said in post #98

    “When her stepfather came on to her she went to the pastor (someone she knew personally) and was blown off and told she had misunderstood things.This was the same pastor who later tried to covered up child sexual abuse ( Happy Mom’s testimony). They were supposed to be looking after her the way a good shepherd would his flock but they treated the victim as the problem.”

  • Looking Forward

    We have been members of CLC for over 11 years. Our church experience was varied, from liturgical to evangelical, but in CLC we found a good combination which met our needs. We were cautious at first since we knew CJ and SGM by reputation (mostly bad reports from outsiders and damaged former members) but decided to proceed with care and discernment.
    As I read through the blog testimonies, my heart is saddened by what has happened to so many people. We have not had these experiences; we have learned to seek God for ourselves, and use the church and pastoral input as adjuncts, not principals. Maybe this has made us less vulnerable.
    An example – if I became aware through evidence of a child molestation, I would call the police…no question. NOT the pastor. I might call him later, but first I’d see the offender locked up. Period.
    My children have all graduated college and gone on to post-bac degrees – boys AND girls! To discourage anyone from higher education in this day and age is wrong – especially women. Period.
    If I have a Bible or theology question, I look up the answer for myself. Later I’ll discuss with my husband the wonderful truth I am finding, and seek his input as well. I have never in our marriage asked for permission to do anything. My husband has too much respect for me and my intelligence to require that. Period.
    We probably don’t fit the mold, and for that I am eternally grateful. We have formed deep and abiding friendships at CLC, and appreciate and respect the pastors for their dedication and hard work. In this challenging time we face, I truly believe that Joshua and the pastoral staff are committed to healing and transparency, as well as reconciliation. I know that my husband and I are, and seek it out.
    But that is us – I realize that the heavy handed disciplines and the “from the top” authority structure can be devastating to those with issues pressuring them to conform for acceptance. I cannot even imagine how painful it must be for those deeply hurt by these practices. But we are praying for you, and I hope you will pray for us.
    “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. “—Psalm 25:4-5

  • rose

    For four months I attended a church in the mid-West which was in the process of becoming adopted by SGM. The pastor was already a graduate of PC, and his brother, the associate pastor, was away at PC most of the time I attended, but had returned in time to serve as a bouncer the morning it had been decided that I and my family should be met in the rain in the parking lot and sent on our way.

    What I would like from this church is an acknowledgement from Norm that discussing whether or not Christ is identical with the cross is a legitimate activity for a Christian, repentance from Ben for refusing to talk to a lowly woman enough to clearly and openly identify himself and his business to her on the phone, and an apology from Phil for participating in keeping a Christian family from worshipping where God had brought them that Sunday morning.

    I would also like Norm to rebuke his PCA pastor friend who went to him as a pastor of a shepherding church “telling tales,” and I would like Norm to acknowledge and repent of his participation in that gossip, including his inclination to accept what he was told without asking for “the real story” from us. After all, at least part of what was repeated by Jason was clearly hearsay and the other part was a product of Jason’s active imagination and a projection of his own sin.

    I would like all of them to acknowledge, confess and repent to me and to my family that they abused their authority to harm us.

  • brokenhearted

    first SGMNATION i 100% agree with your assessment! this is why I think new sgm churches are like 180 from old sgm churches, in general. this is why when i left sovgrace ffx for another sgm church my experience was 100% different.

    second, PO1 – I am so so sooo sorry that your faced all of that! please tell her that if someone named, D&i%d$i, was ever one of the people who hurt her please please email me and tell me. the same pastor who happymom writes of ignored me when i came to him btime after time for bulimia, his wife told me she was sick of praying for me because i wouldnt change, another pastor told me to confess slander to my dad when i came to the pastors with some fairly serious questions about my parents AT 19!! And another told methat because i was depressed bulimnic maybe a cutter by that point i couldnt be saved. oh wait no i started cutting after i left and my NEW sgm pasotr told me “your sin is no different than mine i love you and im glad youre here.” so if she, your wife, would care to email or talk i’d love to love on here. but if not i 1000000% understand please tell her i am so so so sorry she faced all of that and if i did anything to add to it i wish i could look her in the eyes and beg forgiveness.

    please excuse all of the typos no internet til thur so typing on my phone

  • NLR

    Wash Thy Brain–

    You said: The best actors are those who can do psychological acrobatics and convince their own minds of something first (effecting their own emotions in the process); then they are better positioned to influence the thinking of parishioners through both public and private speech. (I actually have an interesting example of Mark Dever’s employment of emotion/acting, which he employed in a conversation with me when attempting to sidestep a difficult question of theology — and a handful of other people were in the room listening as well, so it wasn’t a private conversation.)

    Would you care to give the example or explain more? I found this intriguing. Never thought of this before. How does someone convince themselves of an emotion first to sway someone else? Thanks.

  • Mary

    I am curious about something. I have forgiven the people that hurt me at CLC. I know I sinned in our conflict as well. I also caused hurt to others. I was not a victim. God used all that happened to send me somewhere else and I am glad. I am healed. I don’t need anything from them and as far as I am concerned I don’t need them to resolve anything. I only share my story because first it is my story, second in case it helps someone that is not resolved. I am wondering if anyone here needs something from them “personally”… an apology, reconciliation…Again, nothing “general” they need to change. But do you need anything from in order for your own personal experience to be healed. There are so many stories on here it would be hard for any pastor to try to resolve them all at one time. Just wondering, if someone said that they really needed something from SGM … if any lurking pastors would be interested to know your heart. I know they didn’t listen before – but I think this blog has their attention. What would you say you need/want/desire “personally” from SGM leadership?

  • PO1

    I was never a member of a PDI/SGM churchso maybe I don’t have the right to post here, but my wife was. She got out around 20 years ago and still carries the emotional and spiritual scars from the neglect and abuse she received at PDI Fairfax. She was run ragged with church activities and squeezed financially for the building fund ( like everyone else ). She suffered from depression and was told she shouldn’t seek professional help. She went to the leaders with her concerns about the terrible situation at home with her mother’s drinking problem and was minimized and ignored. When her stepfather came on to her she went to the pastor (someone she knew personally) and was blown off and told she had misunderstood things.This was the same pastor who later tried to covered up child sexual abuse ( Happy Mom’s testimony). They were supposed to be looking after her the way a good shepherd would his flock but they treated the victim as the problem.
    Finally she had to choose between mental/ emotional health and this insane church system. All those people at that church and especially in here home group who said they loved and cared for her were not sympathetic and loving but shut her out. She lost her relationship with a family where she had helped raise their kids and was practically a member of the family. We were not married or in contact at the time all this took place or I would have helped her. These days I listen to her as she continues to struggle with the sense of betrayal and frustration and the negative messages she brought away about how God sees her and what he expects. I hold her as she cries. She is still afraid that they can hurt her again. On occasion we have argued about attending church. I want to but thanks to PDI/SGM she wants nothing to do with God’s people even though she loves the Lord.
    It infuriates me that this harm was done to her (and so many others) supposedly in Jesus’s Name. While I applaud Brent Detwiler for coming forward as he has done I have little sympathy for him or CJ. If this was done in the name of secular politics or as part of corporate culture it would still be reprehensible but that would be expected. Yes Paul corrected Peter in the matter of the Judyisers but nowhere does it say that there was “degifting” or blackmail. CJ and Brent were leaders in this system that perpetrated this fraud and this abuse. If it has come around to bite them, I find a certain poetic justice in that. I believe in God’s forgiveness and that we are to forgive one another, but it tends to be couple to repentance. If the road that brings these men (and the rest of the leadership) to repentance is not a comfortable journey…oh well.

  • katie

    i’m not comfortable sharing the details of my story because i’d prefer to remain anonymous, but honestly, it’s not drastic or horrific like some of the others here. it’s more the subtle problems i’ve seen over the years – as others have said.

    i personally have not really suffered the effects of SGM domination, however, i have seen it up close and personal with close friends who have been yelled at by pastors, brushed off by pastors when they come with a concern, girls under such control from their fathers that they can’t do anything – even as adults, and when those girls finally get an ounce of freedom they run wild, marriages torn apart, people who obviously need mental help not getting it (although i’ve seen a big change in pastors’ views on this issue in the past few years which i’m very grateful for), and the stories go on.

    as some of my friends are finally seeing the dangers and downfalls in SGM leadership, they’re coming to me with a lot of questions since they’ve known i’ve held issue with the church for years. please pray that their eyes will be opened and that they will not continue to be disillusioned by the church!

  • Wash Thy Brain

    I’ve been reading here for a while now and have never posted. I grew up in CLC and even came to be involved in several leadership roles there of note. I was sincere/devoted in my faith and in my deep involvement there. I look back now and cannot believe how naive and – let’s be frank – brainwashed I was for so many years. I believe CLC is filled with deeply sincere yet scarily misled sheeple. Some of the pastors are no doubt sincere as well and truly have a heart to care for people (I think Gary Ricucci would be one of these); but others seem to be running a machine.

    I have learned so many things since my personal “awakening,” one of which is that you need to be a great actor to be a big-hitter/1st string CLC pastor (and I think this applies to pastoral positions in many other large churches as well). The best actors are those who can do psychological acrobatics and convince their own minds of something first (effecting their own emotions in the process); then they are better positioned to influence the thinking of parishioners through both public and private speech. (I actually have an interesting example of Mark Dever’s employment of emotion/acting, which he employed in a conversation with me when attempting to sidestep a difficult question of theology — and a handful of other people were in the room listening as well, so it wasn’t a private conversation.)

    I also had knowledge of past SGM issues (not just the Larry Tomzack one) long before they became public. Sadly, I must say from personal experience that there is darkness lurking under the shining surface at CLC (like most things in life — Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake, anyone?). At the end of the day, I sincerely believe it is a cultic machine, and also a little like Hotel California (“you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave”).

    I cannot share my information or story in order to protect my family. But more than a few dark days were spent in CLC.

  • NLR

    Slightly OT–

    But considering the present circumstances, would anyone know of any CBE egalitarian churches in NOVA/Dc?


  • Sidney

    I know this is off topic…while I’m glad that Andrew over at Sovereign Grace Ministries blog is posting so many “tough comments,” I’m wondering why I don’t see the one where I ask Dave Harvey to comment on the integrity of “treating CJ as a teenager” and then going on like this for nearly a decade (Brent documents Part 2 page 93). I asked if this is “protecting the Gospel” or “protecting CJ.” My comment wasn’t snarky at all. It was just an honest question.

    I think Andrew is doing a great job, but I also think it’s good for folks to know what isn’t getting posted.

    I don’t think the people need to spend hundreds of G’s to figure out if Dave was “above reproach” when he did that. I already have the answer…they can pay me to tell them. I’ll take the money….I’ll give it to the orphans in China.

  • Sidney

    Waaayyyy up there, someone mentioned concern that their tithe is going to support SGM and they didn’t know if they wanted that. I can’t even remember which comment it was.

    But, I want to mention that this question has been asked of at least one CLC pastor. I believe that you can write in the MEMO of your check that you do not want any of the money to go to SGM. Perhaps also writing a letter and attaching it to the check and putting it in an envelope would also work.

    It seems from more than one person that it is not a requirement for money to go to SGM. And, I’m sure if you said you did not want your portion going there, you have that ability.

    Just saying it in case anyone out there is concerned…as I remember someone mentioning it above.

    Check with your pastor to be sure.

  • Stunned

    AKS, I have a t-shirt with the name Dory on the back!!!!!!! Ahhahahahahaha.

  • Mary

    I think it is interesting that alot of us spent several years in SGM. It shows we were committed to the church. It just seems SGM was not as committed to us. :wink: I pray for healing for everyone on this site. I pray for Pastor Harris to have wisdom and strength from God. I pray for God to lead SGM to a time of true repentance. I pray for a commitment from SGM leadership to serve, not lord over, the church. I just pray. May God’s perfect will be done on both the blogs and in SGM.

  • Mary

    Hi. CLC 1989-2000. Committed a sin. Confessed to a pastor. Repented. Years went by without any temptation in that area. I was totally over it. Then, I was confronted and told they should have dealt with my sin differently back when I had confessed it years earlier. I was told I had to follow certain “steps” they declared for me in order to be forgiven of my sin. What? I thought that whole cross thing was for real? I thought it was by grace that I was saved and not works. Now I have to work for my salvation? I was so confused. In private I was told I had “works” to do to earn my salvation. At church they talked about grace. I began to think that meant that the cross, Jesus, and grace was for everyone else but me. There was no hope for me – only for everybody else. My sense of worth dropped to nothing. Ok. Maybe below nothing. I was depressed. angry. suicidal. unloved. unworthy. hopeless. If I did what they required that meant I had to “earn” their love and God’s and that was depressing. I knew I would just have to keep working and keep earning love and that depressed me. The constant struggle to earn their love was already exhausting me. So much to do to keep them all pleased and now there was more. I didn’t do what they required and I was shunned. unloved. unacceptable. That was depressing. No one tried to understand or ask what I was thinking or feeling. All I got from my so called brothers and sisters was a attitude of ‘do as you’re told or you are nothing’. So I believed I was nothing. I meant nothing to God. I had no one that loved me. No one. I responded very badly. I was so angry. Shunned. Scared. More anger. Condemnation. Divorced. Angry. Bitter. Depressed. Suicidal. Lost. Empty. What Do I do now? How do I live through each day without the daily interaction of leadership in my life?….years went by….so hopeless….then…Church. An amazing pastor. Truth. Grace. Hope. Hope. Hope. Forgiveness. Freedom. Joy. Love. Whole. I love who I am. I am a woman. I really love who I am. I love who I am in Christ. God’s daughter. Beautiful. Made in God’s image. Righteous. Amazed by God. Amazed by Grace. Good news!! Peace. Changed. HOPE. I love Christ’s bride. I love the church. I am Giving. Serving. Loving others. Enjoying God. Really enjoying God. He is awesome! You know, the hard part of telling your story here or anywhere is the sin trump card that CLC holds. It works like this: My sin was 23 years ago. I am so over it. I have no temptation or struggle with that sin at all. BUT, CLC people would throw down that sin like a trump card – act like it just happened yesterday. Anything to discredit someone else in order to pump up their own reputation. They would do that without any knowledge of the woman I am today. I use my real name because I think using someone’s confession as a trump card is wrong. It was wrong for CJ to do it to Larry. Wrong for anyone at CLC to do that to me or anyone else. The fact and sum of my life is that I love Jesus SO much, because I have been forgiven much. So, I use my real name. They can use the sin card but I will use the grace card. I truly believe in grace. Jesus’ blood was enough for my sin. The gospel really is good news! A big thank you to all who had the courage to share where at SGM they have been and their stories. And, a big hug for those that are still afraid to share. I understand. Love and hugs to you out there. In the words of Jason Gray: “I won’t deny, the worst you can say about me. But, I’m not defined by mistakes that I’ve made because God says I’m free.” My freedom was beyond costly. A cost I can’t even comprehend. Thanks be to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May the rest of my life bring glory to Him!

  • As my husband, Gamaliel, said, my family and I were in KWCC from 2000 until around the summer of 2009. I attended Providence in Pittsburgh for 2007-2008, but then left to attend an Anglican church.

    AKS – you are too sweet. :)

  • Joe

    Steve240 – can you give us a short summary of what Larry said?

  • If anyone is insterested in hearing Larry Tomczak’s message on Sunday:

    Realize the video appears to be of the first service and the mp3 is of the second service. In the first service (on the video) is where Larry talks more about Mahaney. I didn’t hear the same discussion on the mp3.

    Just so people know.

  • sgmNation

    Thanks everyone for sharing – enjoyed reading your stories. I’ve attended a SGM church in the DC area for well over 20 years – still there and still happy. I was young when I joined but it wasn’t my 1st church – I had already been a Christian for a few years so I wasn’t as impressionable and I think that helped me. No question about it, there was a shepherding/Gothard flavor to the movement in the early days – “asking your caregroup leader before buying a car, etc…” As you can imagine, a lot of legalism – set up to earn respectability through good behavior and towing the line.

    IMHO, this has been lessening, especially in the past 8-10 years. The shift to more reformed theology and the focus on the gospel helped…or at least it helped me. I know that there has been a distinct shift in attitude in our church that moves toward more freedom and less legalism. I think the trouble is not every apostle, pastor or every care group leader got the memo… which speaks to one of the problems that SGM has. It doesn’t ever ‘fess up that it didn’t know or got it wrong. When you don’t correct these ills publicly – like shepherding, legalistic practices, misuse of authority – part of your leadership won’t get it and bad practices continue on and on… Yeah – and there’s a pride that underlies all of this that lead SGMers to put their pastors on a pedestal and some pastors are too unwise and immature to stop that. Also, I think some of the pastors in the “bad old days” would take advantage of the service of the members and had a sense of entitlement. My wife was once drafted to clean the pastors home for a few months – not a single thank you. But we booted that guy :-) and my current pastors are different – I can truly tell you from my observation that they don’t expect to be served and if you serve them, they certainly don’t take it for granted.

    I don’t doubt or diminish most of the stories here at all and some of the stories sadden me. However, if I may, I would say that my own experience is generally good. Here’s what I know – my wife had a very serious life threatening illness and we were upheld because the pastors and the people of the church helped us in incredible ways. Not just meals and practical help but also emotionally and spiritually supporting us. My close relative passed away and they were there by our side. When one of my kids ran into troubled times, they didn’t make me feel bad but instead really just stood by me in a supportive way. I think in the past they might have responded differently but they have grown in their own maturity over the past few years….hey, like us, they can grow and learn too. Yeah, there’s still legalism at different points but through my travels of various churches, it’s not a unique problem…still not good though! At least in our church, I don’t think the pastors are the main drivers for this – it’s just people not knowing the gospel and how it plays out in real life. Also, it can happen to the best of us (Check out Galatians 2 and what Peter did).

    I’ve always maintained that historically SGM is tough for people who have a sensitive conscience and are struggling – that said, I see changes that give me hope. Plus, I’m confident God is at work – one way or another, it’ll get sorted out.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share my story – not spectacular and a little different. Blessings to you all.

  • red crab

    Not Going Back-I posted but didn’t see your post till now. That was a verse that the Lord whispered to me right after i left. And I cling to that now. Thank you for your prayers. And a hearty “AMEN” to what you wrote…

  • Not Going Back,

    The torn veil and entering in – the theme of a painting and some thoughts on entering the throne room of grace…

  • red crab

    Stunned- that was well put and I’m glad you can write off the cuff like that! [ of course!] It made so much sense and I found myself nodding and cringing at the same time. All those emotions have been felt. And some you hadn’t mentioned. Thanks again friend! You got a way with words- and congrats on your book! Can I read it?
    AKS-I like “dory” and I can see stunned as a dory! “Just keep swimming,swimming,swimming….”

    Former CLC’er- I’m glad you have found new life and can smile again!

  • not going back either

    CLC 14 yrs soo long, was asking God why he wouldn’t release my husband and I for several years before he very suddenly did… :scratchquite a few years ago. Being out I, like former CLC’er, find myself smiling at random, knowing that those who are free in Christ are free indeed, and it feels great.

    Red Crab–I am praying for you and your children. Surely this is getting you in the gut in many layers…I pray you experience the nearness of God and the joy of your salvation, (and sanctification, that you are no doubt finally convinced is God’s job and not yours :wink: …it isn’t so much that we hold Jesus, but that he holds us…But I didn’t learn that at CLC…

    When I got sick and tried to apply what I had learned at CLC I ran to the cross. Although thankful for Jesus’s work on the cross, it isn’t where I find abiding strength, because Jesus isn’t there anymore, he is alive at the right hand of the Father. It is in his presence that I find strength. I have so often had a picture of CLC’ers worshipping the torn veil, wrapping themselves in it and living there, while I shout at them “GO INSIDE”, “the veil was torn so you could enjoy his presence!! Quit worshiping the torn veil and go in an abide in his presence!!”

  • ScalesFallingOff

    I posted the following three posts in 2008 shortly before leaving CrossWay in Charlotte (Brent and then Mickey’s church). I just found them and re-read them for the first time in 3 years. We left shortly after I posted here (Spring 2008) and it’s amazing to me how these issues have come out. If the SGM leadership was truly humble and “teachable” they certainly had many opportunities to foresee what they are now reaping.

    January 31st, 2008 at 11:41 pm
    I’ve been reading this blog for a few days. I’m a current SGM member in the southeastern US. My closest friend and his family just officially left the church this week. In the 6 years my wife and I have been members, we’ve had numerous close friends leave. I’m beginning to understand why.

    I’m posting on this thread because it started off with the topic of CJ’s message on submitting to the leadership. The last time CJ was at my church he spoke on a similar passage (1 Cor. 3), where Paul warns the Corinthians not to align themselves with a particular leader, saying (paraphrasing) “Apollos led me to the Lord, so I follow him” nor should we say “Paul shared the Gospel with me so I belong to him.” The whole point of the passage was to say that the leaders in the 1st century, though worthy of support and respect, were not the head of the church.

    But CJ actually used this passage, and somehow turned it upside down, to turn it into an opportunity to bring up our Sr. Pastor and Brent Detwiler and honor them for having led the church so well. It became one of those “it’s appropriate and right to honor these two men” speeches. I couldn’t believe it. And everyone stood and clapped and it was all so nice and an absolute perversion of scripture.

    Anway, I could look past that because it was isolated, or so I thought, and I figured CJ had come into town to bolster support for the local leadership, like a good CEO. But lately the scales are dropping off and I’m beginning to understand how the emphasis on our sin nature, on our unworthiness, and on submission to our self-appointed leaders make a dangerous combination.

    I too love the folks at SGM. We’ve benefitted tremendously from many fine examples of loving servant-heartedness and care, as well as many excellent practical teachings. But it has become difficult to feel like a non-conformist when I have some differing theological views, or to feel like every time I have a concern or question about how church or care group works, I need to be directed to what my “root sin issues” are. It’s amazing how the leadership “humbly” accepts the praise for the good things in SGM, but, as you pointed out at the top of this post, any failures are due to members who are not submissive enough.

    Whew. I could go on…

    February 1st, 2008 at 10:52 am
    Yes, I’ve had a meeting with our Sr. Pastor, and actually I’m meeting another pastor today to express these things. In past discussions, there has always been a gracious response from the leaders, but then a “let me point you to the cross” approach. You get pointed back at your own failings (of which there are many in my case), and the leadership is kind and sincere, so it’s hard. But who do they listen to? Who are they accountable to? It’s like you said, if there’s any defect in the system, it must be because folks aren’t submitting enough or self-examining their own sin issues enough.
    It’s often difficult to point to specifics when having a conversation with those in leadership, it often feels more like a Jedi mind trick. You leave with this kind of “I-don’t-know-what-just-happened-but-there’s-nothing-wrong-with-what-I-was-just-told” kind of feeling.

    February 1st, 2008 at 5:20 pm
    So I had a meeting this afternoon with my pastor. He was very gracious. Indeed, as is my experience with all of the leadership, these men are genuinely caring and desirous of serving God and doing their jobs the best they know how. I shared my concerns, and he listened to them. He took notes and is bringing them back to the Sr. Pastor.
    When he asked me what I wanted, I said I’d like to see some change, some acknowledgement from the pulpit that there are structural defects that have produced undesired results, ie, good people leaving the church for similar reasons – a feeling that the leadership is unapproachable or getting tired of being directed back at one’s own sin whenever one has input for the leadership. I said I’d like to see pastoral accountability to the body, not on a one-on-one basis, but corporately in the form of an elder’s board (that ain’t gonna happen). And I said I’d like to see the pastors belong to care groups and get rid of the sphere groups and “pastor/care group leader retreats and meetings.” Oh, and I also suggested that there be a lot less of the honoring thing.
    He did receive these things sincerely, though he said of course that it’s not likely that many of these things will happen. And he did show his concern for me that I not allow my own cynicism to plant a seed of bitterness (that’s common SGM speak, but he was sincere and caring).

    At the end of the day, I think there’s just a fundamental flaw with the Apostolic model, particularly since the “apostles” were self-appointed, and they’ve surrounded themselves with men who affirm their apostle-ship. There’s not a lot of room for transparency and questioning, and the “apostle” definitely sets the tone and calls the shots.

    What they perceive as their methods for dealing with the logistical or administrative challenges of caring for a large flock, I see as diminishing their ability to relate with the flock. I think they function efficiently, but efficiency’s not always best spiritually. And I think they’ve decided they’ve figured out the best way to do church, and there’s not a whole lot of opportunity to change things.

  • Fromer CLC'er

    I was in CLC from 1983 to 2000 (with some visiting before that while in college). Initially I learned a lot about the Lord, but then the church became reformed and C.J. became solemn and condemning. There was lots of legalism and tons of awkwardness between single men and women. At a time when I needed serious counseling for a family crisis, C.J. preached against Christian counseling for a year. That was tough for me when in a vulnerable spot, but thank God I continued to pursue what was best for me instead of following the pastor’s opinion. After hearing about sin ad nauseum, feeling like I had to edit everything I said in care group, and being told I was “self-focused” when I was clinically depressed, I got tired of it and threw in the towel. I had started to see C.J.’s controlling personality and how others were snowballed. When I left, I would find myself smiling for no reason. It was great to be free of the legalism. A friend told me after I left that leaving the church was good for me and asked what happened. I replied that he was seeing the real me, since I wasn’t free in CLC to say or do things that truly reflected my personality.

  • alemap

    Check your cell, you got a text!! :D :D :D :D

  • FashionablyLate

    I would not like to identify myself by name, but I was a part of the Fairfax SGM church (before it was SGM, actually) for four years. I have family who have been a part of SGM for over 15 years.

  • A Kindred Spirit


    Thank you for sharing your story.

    I find the stories about the change from Arminianism to reformed theology fascinating. I mean, how in the world did something like that happen?!!!! That’s a DRASTIC change!

    It blows me away everytime someone mentions it.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Ahhh, I see Stunned came up with a comment, and a very nice one at that.

    I’ll see if I can find the one I was thinking about.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Okay, Stunned. :lol:

    I believe you. And maybe it wasn’t you.

    I’m thinking you need a new handle – how about “Dory” (Finding Nemo)? :wink:

    Btw, congratulations on the book!

    I’m with you, Red Crab, I’d love to hear her just make something up.

  • Melody

    @ Bob Gram – I never thought to use the term “flavor of the month” but we too were exactly that for a time. Not too sure when the pastoral team lost their taste for us, it could have been that their care for us was really just to use us as a means to an end and when the end came we were no longer needed and the “care” ended too. Or we could have ceased being the means they used once it became apparent that we were too sinful and didn’t fit the nice polished mold of the ideal SG family. Not sure, communication is vague and it’s all been very confusing and painful.

  • Sidney

    Hey, SGMSingle! You know my husband? Unteachable??? :P

    Why don’t you know me????

    SidneySurvivor at gmail dot com

  • Stunned

    ahhh… God heals.

    It is good to trust God.


    AKS, help us out! Where is the post and what did it say? Can you remember enough of it to do a search?

    PS. Red Crab, I still haven’t a clue what was said, but I do know what it’s like to have those rose colored glasses taken off. I then went on to order rose colored contacts- harder for a strong wind to whip off, but those eventually failed me, too, when God cared enough to remove them and allow me to see the world for what it is. The good news is, you’ll find it’s worse than you thought it was in some parts, but without that special tint, you get to see cetain things that you couldn’t see before. You’ll actually find a certain depth and color to things that that darned rose covering was preventing you from seeing altogether. Those “bad” people out there who are athiests or at least don’t have “right” doctorine— turns out a lot of them kick….er… tail when it comes to being amazingly loving, fabulous people. And I have a lot easier time seeing my own fault, though I seldom stick around long enough to “gaze” at it. It’s not like the belly gazing SGM sin finding where I nearly have to make something up. It’s more like I see, “Wow, I was a jerk.” Then you repent to God and sometimes to a person, they smile, take you by the hand and you’re skipping off into the no longer rose colored sun set. You also grow these roots where you feel more secure because those roots of yours are going down into Him and not some mere, shifting human being. No more, “Change is here to stay” cause you don’t put anymore trust in people. I mean, the bible says that Jesus did NOT entrust himself to man, because he knew their hearts. So why are we stupid enough to. We can love people, but not bother entrusting ourselves to anyone but him. Life feels a bit more secure then. He is the was and is and is to come. He is not going to be shifting for a minute. (Note: this does NOT mean you are ever going to figure the big guy out. He is wild and untamable and uncontrolable and he busts out of every freaking box I try to put him in. He gets to do stuff like that- he is God.)

    Warning: you are not going to feel this way at first. For the first (couple of years maybe?), you’re giong to feel like the earth has moved beneath your feet. You might even understand those earthquake victims or cartoons who are standing on tera firma one second then in mid air the next. It will feel awful. you may feel sick to your stomach. (May? Ha. You will.) You will be scared. You will be free and happy one second then you are going to want to run back under the covers the next. You are giong to want to test the waters and find it is safe. The next day you are going to want to run back to your SGM church and your SGM ways if for no other reason than it is familiar. you are going to want to vomit. (Have i mentioned that yet?) You are going to want to cry. S ometimes for joy and other times from sheer terror of the unknown.

    It’s not going to be pretty.

    But being born never is. And that’s kinda what is happening to some of us. We’re losing our dependency on the system that fed us for so many years. We’re venturing out past the gates into the big unknown. but here’s the good part. you know who is out there waiting for you? HIM. And He is worth getting to know in that completely independent way (IF He is calling you to it.) It’s a scary ride, but one I don’t think I’ll ever regret.

  • Zenith

    I was also unclear in one part of the first paragraph. It should have read:
    My wife and I were part of a PDI/SGM church for over 10 years (1984 – 1996). I had been an assistant home group leader UNTIL (not after) my wife had a nervous breakdown in December of 1990

  • Zenith

    Oops, I meant Mid-1990s, not Early 90s – PDI/SGM Senior Pastor and Songwriter Caves to Leaders in Early 1990’s

  • red crab

    Well shoot, stunned, I’d have loved to have read whatever you had written about healing and trust issues. Can you just make it up then? I’m sure I’d like it. You always put [ well maybe not always but MOST of the time!] a smile on my face and a chuckle come out. And boy do I need that now. Having taken off the rose colored glasses a year ago everything looks like parched land to me now. Smiles don’t come very often.
    AKS- I guess I can’t have a timeline especially as things will be horrible for a long time to come, still I don’t really know where to go from here. Ok stunned start writing something.

    Pseudonym- I like your description.

  • SGMsingle

    I am still not comfortable enough to give all the details that would identify me, but I will give a general outline of my story.

    I joined CLC in the mid-1980s after being in a church associated with the Shepherding movement. That Shepherding church had completely imploded and ceased to exist after one members’ meeting where the members confronted the pastor over abuse of authority and forced his resignation. It was not pretty and many were hurt. I pray that what is going down now at CLC will not result in a similar implosion. Enough people have been hurt already.

    Anyway, I saw CLC as a place that did not have such extreme practices as my former church had, but there was still a respect for authority. After a few years I led a care group , but later was asked to step down due to a lack of gifting. I knew I had no future in leadership there, but I stayed because I loved the people and saw so many needs that I wanted to help any way I could. I especially reached out to the “bad kids” who were marginalized on the fringes of the church. I still attend CLC.

    Over the years I have personally known many commenters here, including Blues0080, Acme’s husband, Gamaliel, Kerrin, “Greg”, Sidney’s husband, “Chad” (NOT Mahaney), and “Jesse”. I am sure there are others I have not recognized. Unfortunately I also know several people with tragic stories who never commented here or contacted Kris or Guy. There are a lot of wrongs that still need to be righted.

  • Stunned

    no memory, i meant I had no memory of it.

  • I posted my story here on sgmsurvivors (aka the “silly” site) way back when I first found it in April 2008. You can click on my name to read it — and to see what the forum used to look like way back when.

    In a nutshell, I started at CLC as a new college graduate in 1986, was in @Blues0080’s home group (and later in care group with @Sydney), experienced much of what @29 years before the mast did, went through counseling with pastors and my husband’s church discipline, and left in October 2007 (I left; he stayed). In 2009, I wrote a letter to CJ (care of Jim from sgmrefuge) telling my story and requesting that husband be restored to CLC.

    In my letter, I told CJ that

    In the 21 years between my first and last Sundays at CLC, I tasted much that is good and wonderful, because God is so good, so faithful, and so kind. In that time, I have also tasted much that is bitter and even poisonous
    —these include
    – the fearful avoidance of those who may not be CLC-Christians or may not be “godly” enough even if they’re in CLC, of our neighbors, of our communities (including the public schools)—and the subsequent pressure to fit in.
    – the difficulties recognizing our very creatureliness
    o that the brain is an organ too, that malfunctions and may need medications to help regulate its functions,
    o that behavior may be affected in ways that are not governed by prayer, preaching, and self-control
    o that emotions, instincts, personalities, and more are God-given – and not suspect
    o that separation and divorce are sometimes sad necessities

  • Stunned

    OK, so here’s the internal monologue I had when I was reading A Kindred’s Spirit’s post above:

    AKS: Red Crab, I sensed you as a “kindred spirit”, as well.

    My internal monologue: You ARE!!! You two are such Kindred Spirits! Oh, you two would like each other so much… (then my brain tripped off in laadie-da-land imagining the two of you meeting and how happy you’d both be. I don’t think butterflies or singing birds showed up, but they may have.)

    AKS: Stunned commented beautifully just recently on another thread with reference to the time it takes each individual to heal and trust again.

    My internal monologue: Wait. What? I did? I wonder what I said. When was that? I have no idea.

    AKS: Stunned, would you copy and paste it here for Red Crab?

    My internal monologue: Wait, what? No. What? I have no… no. What? I don’t know what you are talking about. I swear. She’s not going to believe me.

    AKS: And I know you’re humble and will be embarassed to do such, but please do it anyway.

    My internal monologue: No, she’s going to think I am being humble. Yes, I’d be embarassed, but I’m not humble. I swear, I have no idea what post it is, let alone where it would be. She’s not going to believe me…. Maybe it was somebody else who wrote it? Bwahahahaha. My memory stinks. Bwahahaaahaahaa.

    Red Crab and AKS, I’m sorry, I swear I have absolutely no idea what AKS is talking about. The other day a book I just wrote came from the publisher. I was looking at it and would read something and think, “I like that. Did my editor add that?” Turns out I wrote it, but didn’t remember. I showed it to my daughter last night and she was looking at it and reading part of it to me. I told her, “I never wrote that!” She said, “Mom, you mention your own mother’s name in here.” Me: “Oh yeah, I guess I did write that.” Even the acknowledgments that I wrote just a couple of weeks ago I was reading back to myself and had absolutely memory of it. (I kept reading to find out what I said. It sometimes stinks having a bad memory but it’s also delightful because everything is “new”, even when I did it myself, it’s a surprise.) Bwhahahahah….

  • Zenith

    PDI/SGM Senior Pastor and Songwriter Caves to Leaders in Early 1990’s
    My wife and I were part of a PDI/SGM church for over 10 years (1984 – 1996). I had been an assistant home group leader after 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 have a tubal ligation only a few days later. She was also homeschooling our two oldest. But because of this I wasn’t “taking care of my family….” I was removed. At the same time there was another person who was a homegroup 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.) There has clearly been a double standard as to who is in and who is out. I am also aware of many other such occurrences. I was notified that I was no longer an assistant homegroup leader when I went to my church mailbox and 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 doctrine occurred I strongly spoke out against it. At that time hardly anyone, if anyone, in our local congregation agreed with TULIP. But they eventually became heavily indoctrinated, (sort of the way the JW’s do via their Watchtower and Awake literature). The same our pastor previous was. At one point, before my pastor gave in, during the second of the two 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 he was just busted and uncomfortably admitted that it had been about two years earlier when CJ started propagating and later pushing it on people. My pastor 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 he 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 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 he 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 he 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 CJ even invited him to speak at CLC, 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 our pastor refused to hear. I had been saying and have continued to say that:
    – PDI/SGM 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 SGM to the Holy Roman Catholic Church. At the very top you have the infallible Pope CJ. Then the cardinals, arch-bishops, bishops, priests, etc.

    In his 7/10/11 Sunday evening message at CLC 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 CJ 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 SGM. Case in point, within these documents, CJ 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 CJ 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 CJ has always craved adulation and the leaders of PDI/SGM 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. Right? Over and over again their own theology mocks them.

  • SGMsingle

    Seeking the city to come:

    You said “I rejoiced at Celebration 1998 and maybe 1999 when John Piper said something to the effect that the Church needed to send out its young people to hard places—to go and die, if need be, for Jesus’ sake and for the eternal welfare of those who are lost (how I wish I could find those tapes)”

    I have good news for you! That exact message is on Piper’s website. Here is a link, but listen at your own risk. It may inspire you to make some life-rearranging decisions!

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Red Crab,

    I sensed you as a “kindred spirit”, as well. :)

    Yes, it was (and still is at times) hard to trust. It’s takes time, and everybody’s timeline is different.

    Stunned commented beautifully just recently on another thread with reference to the time it takes each individual to heal and trust again.

    Stunned, would you copy and paste it here for Red Crab? And I know you’re humble and will be embarassed to do such, but please do it anyway. :wink:

  • A Kindred Spirit

    “The Lord has blessed us regardless because our hearts were right before HIM when we did it.”

    Old Timer, AMEN to that!!

    I can say that to so many stupid things my husband and I did.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Welcome pseudonym :welcome

    Loud noises don’t bother me. If we can assist you in any way, let us know.

  • pseudonym for a reason

    my story can be summed up like this

    my whole life i was part of an engine. somewhere along the line that engine was taken apart and put back together again, and it seems to be running just fine. but, there is an extra bolt lying on the floor. i am that bolt. and i would have absolutely no problem with that -in fact i would be grateful for that- except, i’ve got some serious wear and tear. i plan on being very noisy about that.

  • old timer

    NLR, thanks for the kind remarks I will pass them onto my husband! They fit him….usually…unless I decide to assist the Holy Spirit…and then he gets back into shape. I also like the older men who heed the Lord and can think for themselves and their families too. Some of what I can’t share online is how we left and what happened then.

    DrStupidhead, Did a kid call you that? sounds like something a kid would say. we did some dumb things with our money back in the day(not like you were taken advantage of however)–felt like we needed to bless other people-and were taken advantage of often then.

    But my husband and I just discussed a few situations a couple days ago–he kept saying “I forgot that.” and then said “The Lord has blessed us regardless because our hearts were right before HIM when we did it. ” Even in our ignorance HE took care of us. How refreshing!

    Proverbs …somewhere.They who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Thanks Kris and Guy, Jim and Carole for helping us find refreshment in a hot and dreary land.

  • Patti

    I would like to know what you think about the book I mentioned earlier that other posters have mentioned also, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse in light of your SGM experience. I would like to know if you think that the issues the authors raise are not spiritual abuse or are you just saying that you haven’t witnessed any/none/some of their definitions of spiritual abuse. And if any or some, which ones. Thanks

    Also, to anyone who attended the CLC school, are their any comments ? Thanks

  • red crab

    AKS- thank you for your kind words. I have read your posts for a long time and thought of you as a “kindred spirit.” Can I ask if you have a hard time trusting after your experiences? I don’t mean this to be a “nosy” question and it’s open to all really. The thought of being a member in another church just makes me squirm. Trusting leadership? Not gonna happen for a long, long time if at all. What’s the saying- “fooled once shame on you fooled twice shame on me.” That would be me.

    Stunned- nice visual! I expanded on your “Adam” and gave him a very pale body with a zinc nose! Thanks for the smile today sister!

  • @Natalie – I’m very glad that you found comfort and solace during your time of distress. Not everyone has has been cared for in that way. I’d be happy to discuss with you my familiarity on the subject and my own testimony of several confrontations bestowed on me when I was accepted to an out of state university. I would just ask that you with hold your judgment until you’ve weighed the evidence (even from a perspective that is new to you or unfamiliar to you).

  • Stunned

    Dr. Stupid Head, when I read your post I was torn. Well, not really torn, so much as sad with a sprinkling of mirth at the end with your very last line. I suppose I am grateful for that last line, because reading what happened to you can make one fear that your spirit would be damaged beyond repair so it brought me some comfort seeing you bring a tad of levity in at the end.

    I don’t know you from Adam (except that Adam would probably be the really old guy). Sorry, I lost what I was going to say. I keep picturing a really old Adam standing at the beach and not having a belly button. (‘Cause when you think about it, how are you going to know if someone has a belly button or not unless they are on the beach.) Excuse me as I try to wipe that mental picture out of my head. (Still not working- Adam is now holding a quickly melting ice cream cone. Darn it.) Anyway, I don’t have a clue who you are but I am glad you found this site and you can know that while your sitation is uniquely your own, that you are not alone in having lived through some of the crazy that is SGM.

    I wish you had received the same care from your church. And I pray that God used His earthly body to reach out to you at some point along this painful path. If not, please let us know so we can see what we can do to be a part of His love in your life. (Not that I have a clue how we can, but He may have some way.)


  • seeking the city to come

    I have posted a couple of times previously. I have hardly been able to keep up with all the SGM news as I don’t have internet access at home and it’s usually several days between trips to Starbucks or Borders. By then, I’m hopelessly behind. But here goes.

    I attended an SGM church from 1992-2000, with a little time off around ’93. I had been a Christian for many years and was a seminary student, so I immediately thought several things at ______ were a little off, but I had my reasons for going. Because of a recent major loss in my life, I found the sung worship part of the service to be a place of healing, as I literally cried out to the Lord as we sang. The tears that flowed were healing. But I was put off by the lack of solid teaching (I always felt as if I were on starvation rations while I attended) and the top-down structure, among other things. I had never experienced such a strange form of church govt. in the several churches I’d been a part of over the years. I found it most troubling but didn’t really have anyone to discuss my concerns with so I just pondered it on my own. Although I tithed (but never gave to the misnamed “mission fund”), I was never privy to any sort of financial documents or budgets. I always thought it strange that the paid pastors had the ability to determine their own wages, etc. Seemed like the foxes minding the hen house, if you will. Now I will say, I was never a member, so perhaps those documents were available to members. In any case, my “crap detector” was giving off enough warning signals that kept me from formally linking up with this organization. However, I did attend membership classes and went as far as having the pastoral interview in which, as we were finishing up, the pastor, actually one of my favorites (no longer in pastoral ministry but still attending, I believe), remarked, “I believe God is giving you to us.” I have no idea what I said in reply, but I remember thinking that God was going to have to communicate that to me before I signed on! Because I had been involved in very missions-active churches, I was puzzled by the lack of any sort of mission outreach. In fact, I did raise this concern in my membership interview. It was 1996, an Urbana conference year and I asked what would happen if some college students went to Urbana and came away from it sensing the call of God into foreign mission work. The gist of the reply was that they would have to find another church because PDI didn’t do missions. I rejoiced at Celebration 1998 and maybe 1999 when John Piper said something to the effect that the Church needed to send out its young people to hard places—to go and die, if need be, for Jesus’ sake and for the eternal welfare of those who are lost (how I wish I could find those tapes—JP preached powerfully and passionately and I was so sad because I knew he was speaking a different language and that his words were falling on deaf ears. And I knew that unless an edict came down from CJM, this aspect of PDI life would never change, though Jesus Himself issued the command). I remember that the pastors were preaching through the book of Acts (sort of) and the sen. pastor coming to odd conclusions about the missionary aspect of the early Church. I think it was in response to this message series that I commented to one of the other pastors that I thought ______ was playing fast and loose with the text. (I had heard really good expository preaching over the years so I had a sense of when I was being snookered and that someone was trying to tell me that the text was saying something it wasn’t.) Clearly, I was totally clueless about PDI culture at the time, so I can only imagine that my comments found their way back to the senior. Not that I care, of course.

    I could go on but will spare you. I left in 2000 for so many reasons but I suppose the bottom line for me was that I was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. But the lack of serious Bible study; the Stepford Wives approach to people; the homogeneity in thinking (or at least the attempt to produce this); and so many other things which wear on the soul merely confirmed that this was not the place for me.

    I feel sad for SGM people (not the leaders, though)—the organization they’ve linked arms with is being weighed in the balance and will be found wanting if a true and honest impartial inquiry is made into the dealings of CJM and the entire A-team. It’s hard for me to understand why SGM board wants to keep up the deceit. I for one found what I read in the documents to be quite D**ning, not only of CJ, but the rest of the gang too. It’s obvious that they do not trust God enough to be honest with either themselves or with the parishioners. Mercifully, the God who sees all, including the secret motives of the heart, is not duped by this charade. May He yet be glorified!

  • No big story from me – I grew up at CLC (1994-2001), then went away to a four year university and decided to not join a SGM church after that. Women’s education, shunning and legalism were my main reasons for not joining upon graduation. In the years since, I’ve grown more into doctrinal disagreement with SGM. While my story isn’t dramatic, I was an eye witness to many others. Now, as a grown woman and member of the PCA, I see a responsibility to engage my family and friends still at SGM – I don’t believe the situation is beyond redemption because the power of God isn’t stunted by anyone or thing (including SGM).

  • Dr.SupidHead


    HEY that is great that your in a church where you have been accepted and fit into that body of Christ :clap
    Some of us here have had some very soul shaking experiances and are just trying to work out our situations the best way we know how. God has used this “silly” site to bless many of us and I am one of them. Are there sinful posts here that may even contain bitterness ? YES absolutly BUT we reconize that we have faults and are trying to overcome any “silly” way we can.

  • Dr.StupidHead

    I am somewhat fearful to go into great detail about my story becuase I am just now years later getting some lines of communications again….My leaving was more of a I had no other option. I attended a westcoast SGM church for nine years when I was involved in a money situation with a pastor & family. Some very bad things went down and eventually it all came out. My heart was definaelty messed up by what some of the people involved had done to me. The rest of pastoral team spend alot of time making sure I told no one and talked to no one. One of them actually blamed me for the whole thing and was infuriated that I would cuase so many God fearing people to sin. I will never forget when he said “you should be praying for ______ instead of publically hateing them!”…..I sucked it all up but then the “shunning” started :o( It really sucks to be in a church for so long then be at a point where your not welcome anymore let alone serve. I tried to deal with my heart issues and asked the pastoral team for help but after being stone walled for eight months I gave up…..
    I have found out now that the pastor and family recieved tons of care,council and accountabilty. It makes me sad to contemplate why I was blamed for everything and recieved little care? I know that church was big on talent and looks so I struggle with bitterness that if I had what they were looking for I may have faired better.

    And to those who want my identity just think about the name I post with LOL :spin

  • NLR

    Old Timer–

    I just thought, OMG! Why did I think Old Timer was here before and was a man! Anyways, I hope you are the right Old Timer than I’m thinking about and not a woman. Sorreeeee…. :) :spin

  • NLR

    Old Timer–

    Your story sounds somewhat like my story in my non-SGM but SGM-friendly-in cooperation with-church. I, too, still have friends who are there, see these things, but are stuck. They are afraid. They think I had a lot of courage to leave. I was just as afraid, but I guess, God gave me the courage I needed. I followed Him out the door, not really my own leading.

    I am glad you shared as much as you did. For some reason, I am really affected when men, especially older men, share stories about being afraid, terrified, feeling alone. I am usually drawn to them, to hear them and listen, I dont know why. I guess, as a younger woman and having been in a church that has been so authoritarian and paternalistic, it helps me to see men take off the facade of false masculinity and just be themselves. Your weakness and struggle is refreshing because it’s real and you allowed yourself to feel those things. Yet, God has no failed to build you up and esteem you, and affirm you by His own doing, and not some programmed manipulated way–especially with putting women down so that you could look more like a man and be built up. Then you’ve had the courage to tell us. I think you are very much a man all the more because of that. I love it that we can have strength in weakness. I am blessed by your sharing and to see how God has loved you throughout.

  • old timer

    I can’t use my name or location. We were in PDI for 12-13 yrs. I started reading other books, checking out internet prophecy, looking into other doctrine and realized that what was being taught and force fed to us wasn’t exactly what I wanted our family to hear. Each Sunday at the end of the message I would sit there feeling the weight of condemnation….because the Lord was dealing with me to leave until I finally told HIM, ‘Ok, I’ll go.” There was no joy, no victory in Jesus, no Blood of the Lamb who took away the sins of the world, no love lifted me…..just focus on what a worm you are until you go crazy. We couldn’t even say that someone had a good heart, no, we had to say they had a horrible black sin-infested, disgusting, revolting, deceitfully wicked heart above all things, ad nauseum, etc—on and on and on.

    Now, this was way before the blogs and I thought I was crazy. I felt so alone, isolated and terrified. But I knew that I had heard God and HE said leave so I did. Still it was extremely difficult because of reasons I can’t even share publically…all I can say is that God is faithful and HE will provide for us and be the Father He says He is! The last few years that I was there I only remember the Holy Spirit moving 2 times…….and he used young teens to do it. A visitor from another country said it was dry as dust there on a Sunday morning and it was.

    I wondered why people even went to church if they didn’t even want to know what HE was saying to them or wanted them to do. Why didn’t the leaders show folks how to know God for themselves and then let God tell the people what HE wanted them to do. Another lady who left said that the leaders don’t need to tell me how to spend my time because God can tell me what He wants me to do for the area. I knew how church money was spent and that regular tithers wouldn’t appreciate some of that. I saw much hypocrisy in the leaders and didn’t appreciate it…..they said one thing in public but another thing in private. The same standard they used to measure others was never applied to themselves. They sure loved to hear themselves talk.

    The elitism and superiority was more than I could bear. If you weren’t in our church you were a heathen and going to hell. Other churches weren’t even Christians.

    After I left it was such a relief….no more condemnation, no more double standards, no more hypocrisy.

    We have friends still there and they are stuck. They see and observe what goes on but don’t leave—just attend out of tradition and routine.

  • Hi Natalie —

    I’m sorry for your tragedy, too, but I’m happy to hear your church offered you solace and care.

    However, when SGM doesn’t do that to the people they wound, sites like these are necessary. They’re vital. They’re hospitals for the wounded where no hospitals existed before.

    Comfort and care can come in different forms and we can’t discount their value simply because we don’t like the form.

    I wish you continued healing. And I wish that for everyone here as well.

  • Bob Gram

    Hi…I’ve posted once before, but didn’t say “Hello!” Great stories…helping me sort through my own SGM experiences…those expriences haven’t been abusive, but I’ve seen lots of SGM weirdness apleanty. I was wondering; has anyone out there been what I call their sgm church’s “flavor of the month?” I was when I was “courted” for the PC…and then dropped like a bad habit when at the end of the process I was found not “gifted.” Hey, thanks and look forward to more reading here!

  • Well, our story is at our blog. (Click on my name, if you’d like.) We were only briefly at “our” SGM, but I would say our story highlights a lot of the subtle menace and paranoia creeping under all those smiling surfaces.

    A fair warning: Reading our story to its conclusion is a *commitment*, I ain’t gonna lie. Basically, clicking on that link will feel like courting our blog — before you even know what happened and whether or not you really want to. (Oh, and there are plenty of awkward, cringe-inducing moments, too. Just like a horrible REAL courtship. I’m really selling this well, I see.)

    FSGP — Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve always wanted to hear more of it.

    AKS, High Church, Rose (hope I’m not forgetting anyone) — Thank you for your kind comments on previous threads. Sorry I couldn’t respond sooner. Time gets away from me these days.

  • 29 years before the mast

    Started at Gathering of Believers in 1979
    Left Covenant Life Church in 2008.
    Went through all the changes or personnel, theological changes, polity changes, shepherding, permission to date or spend time with someone of the opposite sex (only men asked– the women waited),Schmidt, Tomczak, new buildin, we are now Reformed (except no one in the congregation knew or understood what that meant), being assigned to caregroups and then reassigned every two years, CJ becoming “senior pastor” even though no such designation appears in the NT, the sacremants changes (only the royal priest uh I mean elder could administer baptism and communion)–this last change was the catalyst for us finally leaving. Now happily ensconced in a non-reformation church (try it –you learn that there are other vital, dynamic, functioning communities of faith out there that believe that God’s character is primarily about love and not sovereignty and there are other “truths” out there other than those approved by CLC).

  • Stunned

    Natalie, I’m so sorry that you went through a tragedy 4 years ago. I pray God is healing you and bringing you closer and closer to Him.


  • natalie

    I attended covfel for 5 years. Now I am at a church plant with an SG church. I have been to tons of churches in my lifetime and none have taught me the truth like SG. Is it te best church , no their is none. We r all sinners.
    But what I can say that all this talk about women being confined is ridiculous. Women are respected and cared for. I suffered a great tragedy in my life 4 years ago and the pastors and the church cared for me like no other. Maybe the Lord is tweeking some things. But what you are writing is just wrong. You all sound bitter and you need to keep your gaze on Christ instead of wasting your time warning people about a bible centered church. Its slander …
    I know some of you been hurt and that is sad. But the Lord is there for you not some silly site

  • Alemap

    Our family’s exodus began on both sides of the continent. My older son left the San Diego church about 1 year before we did here in Maryland. We belonged to the Kingsville, Md church. I also want to say that there are a lot of wonderful people in our former church. We left for several reasons: doctrinal issues, emphasis on indwelling sin, ostracization due to parenting differences,cloning of the pastors and congregants,cliques, emphasis on performance based faith, sin sniffing and fruit sniffing. Medical issues that we actually used medication for and the inability to feel included in the youth caregroup due to learning differences and the processing of lofty concepts. The atmosphere was one of elitism and even though my husband had been a wonderful Alpha leader, he was told later on that he no longer qualified. The ungodly shunning for whatever reason, the suicides and depression related to the teachings and attitudes of superiority. We almost lost our daughter to suicide because of the college caregroup’s mentality. I probably have more but am just now after being gone 2 years, I have moments of flashbacks that I had forgotten about.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Hi Gamaliel,

    It’s good to see you, too. I’m doing well. Thank you for asking. :)

    I’ve really enjoyed getting to know your wife through the blogs. She’s an exceptional young woman – very sweet and compassionate, and a gifted writer.

    Hope you guys are doing well, also.

  • Blues0080

    Gathering of Believers, College Park Fellowship, Covenant Life (1980 – 1990), Abundant Life Community Church (1990 – 1996)…I left PDI/SGM shortly after Che Ahn and Lou Engle left and was a part of their church for a while. I’m currently loving church in a house church. I was a cgl(acme and a few others here were in my cg), worship team member, follow up coordinator, and once appeared on the cover of people of destiny magazine. i’ve seen how much my percetion of others and how church should be have been so colored and damaged by pdi/sgm…and daily god is bringing things up that i need to deal with and repent because of what i allowed to become a part of my thought process especially in relating to and forming opinions of others…

  • Gamaliel

    AKS, great to see you! How have you been? :)

    I won’t say my real name because I don’t trust Big Brother Google, but I have provided identifying information in the past and a lot of folks at Covenant Life know or remember me. I’m the second-born in my family. My dad started the sound crew at CLC and ran it until 1993. I was at CLC from 1987 (when I was born) to 2008. Spent some of 2008 at Providence Church of Pittsburgh.

    I am not a big part of the SGM Survivors story. I wasn’t mistreated or abused at CLC, but left over some doctrinal issues and my growing discomfort with the disturbing caregroup atmosphere. I was a member of a PCA church for a little while after leaving SGM. Most of my family still attends CLC, although my older brother is a confirmed Episcopalian and another brother is between churches.

    My wife and her family attended KingsWay Community Church in Richmond from 2000 to 2009. They left a few months before the infamous “Family Night” in the summer of 2009 that began the exodus from that church.

  • Glad I am out

    I was at Cov Fel in Glen Mills for 10 years and had both good and bad experiences. I started to move into leadership positions but backed out when I had disagreements with how some of their ministries were done. Stayed on the periphery the last few years. There is a pastor there that I correspond with from time to time. I left on good terms in 2010 to join a church plant of another denomination. One of my biggest gripes is the unwillingness to plant a church in a middle to lower middle class area which was why I left. I will say I did learn a lot there but I am also now unlearning some of it. Most of the membership really love the SGM way. I would not go back. There are a lot of good people in SGM and I pray that God brings the necessary changes about. They need to realize that this is all for God’s glory and not theirs.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Lori “Red Crab”,

    God is so good and He loves us so much, He will restore what the locusts have eaten within your family. The hardest thing is waiting…it will happen on HIS timeline, not ours. It’s hard for mothers/grandmothers to “wait” when it involves our children and grandchildren.

    It’s impossible to love with a love as deep as that of a mother and not feel all the things you’ve felt and are feeling. God understands, He’s a father.

    Praying for you today, dear sister.


  • A Kindred Spirit

    Due to the need for anonymity, I cannot give my history. The SG church in our neck of the woods is CrossWay, Charlotte, NC – Mickey Connolly, Larry Malament, and Brent Detwiler.

    Canary and Gracie’s families suffered at the hands of these men (their stories are on the Refuge site), as well as many others whose stories I am not at liberty to tell. If current and former CrossWay members were to call around to folks who have left through the years and inquire as to why they left, they would hear some of the stuff that’s on the the blogs. There would also be some interesting conversations with those that visited for a while, like Kris and Guy, but then suddenly disappeared (especially from those that met with pastors with “questions or concerns” and THEN suddenly disappearing).

    However, after saying all that, the sad reality is that if asked, very few would actually tell the “real reason/reasons” they left.

    The problems are systemic, affecting all the “family of churches” within Sovereign Grace Ministries.

  • BrokenHearted

    hello everybody!

    i posted last night but it looks like it didn’t go through. (kris did it get stuck in moderation or did i not actually submit it? :-p)

    i wanted to thank everyone for their awesome posts. y’all give me hope and make me so excited to be a Christian!

    my timeline is SO close to Roadwork’s except i was 5 when i started at Fairfax in 1988. then moved to another church a year after the ashburn plant and just switched to another one about 2 months ago.

    i post anonymously because i originally posted with my real name and people gave me flack about how i was slandering my parents bc it is impossible to talk about all the bad stuff PDI/SGM did without bringing them into it. i do not haveinternet at home til thur but i hoping to go to the library and typeup my story later. ill include details but not my name so it wont come up on google.

  • BrokenHearted

    hello everybody!

    i posted last night but it looks like it didn’t go through. (kris did it get stuck in moderation or did i not actually submit it? :-p)

    i wanted to thank everyone for their awesome posts. y’all give me hope and make me so excited to be a Christian!

    my timeline is SO close to Roadwork’s except i was 5 when i started at Fairfax in 1988. then moved to another church a year after the ashburn plant and just switched to another one about 2 months ago.

    i post anonymously because i originally posted with my real name and people gave me flack about how i was slandering my parents bc it is impossible to talk about all the bad stuff PDI/SGM did without bringing them into it. i do not haveinternet at home til thur but i hoping to go to the library and typeup my story later. ill include details but not my name so it wont come up on google.

  • Tony Reinke, Mahaney’s blog writer, has his own blog. I find it interesting that Reinke hasn’t posted anything about the SGM/Mahaney debacle.

  • Kris, since you mentioned in one of your early comments here about the lifestyle issues (home schooling, courtship, etc.) I thought you all might like to see a related series I am doing about gender, authority, legalism, and abuse in Christian families

    Manifesto of Liberty and Responsibility in Christian Families

    Web links about parenting with grace instead of authoritarian legalism:

    Review of the book Submission is Not Silence (about marriage)

    Review of the book Quivering Daughters (about abuse and control in QF home schooling families):

    Vida Savta (Virginia Knowles)

  • I think it would be interesting to explore just how each of the incoming PC candidates got there.

    The PC is unlike normal seminaries, in that admission is mostly by invitation only – and if an SGM member directly and outrightly expresses an interest in going, he will typically find that he will have unwittingly stalled his progress, as leaders do not look kindly upon a member’s openly stated desire to become a leader…unless, of course, the member is a son of a current SGM pastor.

    I have heard from a few guys from non-SGM churches, who have shared that their expression of interest in attending the PC was met more positively…so there are apparently at least 3 separate sets of admission guidelines, as far as I can tell:

    1. The admission guidelines that apply to leaders’ sons

    2. The admission guidelines that apply to SGM outsiders, with two subsets –

    …..A. SGM outsiders who in some way represent groups with whom SGM would like closer alliances:

    ………1. Groups led by CJ’s Reformed Big Dog celebrity “friends”

    ………2. Groups that could make it look like SGM actually does try to do foreign missionary work

    …..B. SGM outsiders who aren’t from any group that would add to SGM’s cache/credibility

    3. The admission guidelines that apply to ordinary SGM members.

    That admission into the PC hinges on such a subjective system and demonstrates clear nepotism and favoritism ought to concern every SGM member – especially because no other formal education is required to become an SGM pastor. And once a guy becomes an SGM pastor, he wields a LOT of authority with ZERO formal accountability to ordinary members.

  • Roadwork

    Lacey’s back.

    He certainly has a history with SGM.

  • Stunned

    24 years in SGM,

    We were in Cov Fel at the same time. I knew many of the people that moved up to the Souderton church, as well. (Loved quite a few of them.)

    No pressure, but I’m looking forward to reading your story when you are ready to share it.

    Hugs from an old sister,

  • 24 Years in SGM

    Covenant Fellowship 1986-2000, GCC-Souderton 2000-2010

    Haven’t written my story yet, but I have one.


  • Stunned

    PS. I am also amazed that the defacto head of SGM, Dave Harvey, considers this newsworthy when so much chaos, sin and confusion is reigning at SGM.

  • Stunned

    Or it could be an indication that they were closed down last year so the class that had intended to go last year, instead are going this year. It would only make sense that they had twice as many. Is this the case?

    who still can’t go near her old pastor’s site

  • People expressed shock at Harvey’s latest blog entry indicating the pastors college had their biggest enroallment yet this year. I wonder if this is an indication of being on Stage 4 of the list below.


    This is what Jim Collins wrote in his book “How the Mighty Fall.”

    Just a thought.

  • red crab

    I haven’t posted in awhile. Still trying to process all my thoughts. It has been a year since I left CLC having attended since 1989. Before that I was at Halpine and left that church when everything came out about PK. It was my first church as a new believer. RIght now I’m having that “deja vu” feeling of trading one bad experience with an even worse one. Before I found this site I thought I was crazy. I tried so hard to be the perfect “lifer” and still I never felt like I fit in. I got on as many ministries as I could thinking THAT will quiet that voice telling me something is wrong. It must be my sinful heart I kept thinking. Search my heart for more sins and make sure they are all confessed at CG that week. I just grew more despondent as time went on.

    The worst was watching my kids withering under the condemnation and elitism that was happening at CLC. I wrote about that awhile ago. Now as my family has been torn to shreds by a pastor who doesn’t see his own part in what has taken place, that was the push I finally needed to leave and brush the dirt from my feet. I went back once, to the second Sunday night meeting. It was a sense of closure for me. I realized I could walk in that place and not be afraid anymore. Of what they could say or do. This story is not over though. I have grand kids that I can not see without “supervision” because I no longer attend that church. As I told my husband before all this started happening “God will no be mocked” – and I feel vindicated to a degree by what is finally coming out.

  • I have to say, what Joe shared reflects a bit of my own experience.

    To repeat, we did NOT have a bad time at our SGM church. But after we left and had put up a little blog where I posted a handful of basically noncommittal pieces detailing our ambivalence and sharing some of SGM’s disappearing history, it was shocking to deal with SGMers who were basically rabid about anything that wasn’t glowingly positive.

    I was particularly amazed by the way people accused me of “gossip” and “slander” for stating my opinion. Ironically, my opinion of SGM wasn’t even that bad at that point. But the blind loyalty and the extreme irritation over our discussions of facts (such as Larry T’s role as co-founder) made me believe that SGM did something to people’s thinking that was not normal…and that I’d never experienced in my life out in “normal” Christianity.

    I remember the Wikipedia wars, which was another checkpoint along my journey toward coming to believe that SGM was highly dysfunctional. Contrary to what some people thought, I had absolutely nothing to do with what originally sparked the editing battles, which was posting the link to this site. I wasn’t even aware that that was happening until someone commented about it. But basically, someone would post the link on Wikipedia’s SGM article, and then an SGMbot would come by and delete the link. This happened several times, and SGMers complained rabidly. I seem to recall a lengthy discussion page where people angrily defended SGM and called us (what else?) “gossips.” It was crazy.

    I doubt SGM leadership fully grasps how it was SGMers’ own behavior – especially their unkindness to those who had been truly victimized – that made the organization seem so cultish. As Joe said,

    All in all, I encountered many many SGMers and CJ fans who valued PR over truth.

    I think we’re seeing the fallout of that mindset now, as CJ faces his “time of reflection.” An interesting topic for discussion sometime would be what it is that fuels such an irrational desire to whitewash history and promote SGM as basically perfect, even as it is loudly proclaimed that “no church is perfect.”

  • FSGP

    Here’s my story from the prior post, copied and pasted as requested, with this addition. I am anonymous because I know that SG is vindictive to the core and I have family still entrapped there. Until they get out I’ll remain cloaked (along with my Klingon warship off SG’s port bow). Plus it keeps the SG TopSecret Uber Intel Gathering team in a bind. Remember, they can’t acknowledge or parley with anonymous bloggers. Their rules, not ours.
    Kris asked us ” … to share a bit about their history with SGM. How long have they been (or how long were they) part of the organization? …”

    I was part of a church in SGM for ~ 5 years. During that time I was a home group leader and then a pastor. I resigned from all leadership positions because of staff and leadership issues, by my own choice and without any indication from church staff or SGM that I should do such. At the time the church was engulfed in a number of interpersonal conflicts. I had great hopes that these conflicts (especially the ones that I was part of) would be resolved. To this end I remained a member and attended the church for ~ 6 months after I left leadership. I fully expected conflict resolution and reconciliation until my last day attending the church. On that day I had a most painful but most fortunate encounter with the regional apostle. During this encounter I found out (among other things) that men I had served with were accusing me of sin. This is one of the lies that the apostle accepted as fact. He had never once prior to this encounter attempted to contact me in any way. Neither had any of the leadership team.

    I was ready to bag it right then but my best friend and soulmate, MsFSGP urged me to give the apostle a chance. So I did. He was supposed to get back to me but several days went by and I did not hear from him. (I guess accusations of sin are not that important at the local leadership, local sr pastor, and at the apostle level). So I contacted him and suggested that maybe Mt 18 was the way to proceed. He agreed and gave me the names of my accusers and asked me to contact them and arrange meetings. I did this – and every one of my accusers refused to meet with me one on one. One never even responded to my attempt to arrange a meeting. Are you with me so far? It gets better.

    The next communication I received from the apostle said … wait for it … “they” decided that I had not sinned. So face-to-face, one-to-one meetings were not necessary. This produced a precipitous dip on the emotional rollercoaster! So I hadn’t sinned??!??? But whatever I had done was serious enough to talk about among local leadership and the regional apostle (without me). And fuel the church gossip mill??? MsFSGP and I were like the old cartoon Popeye at this point: we stands what we can and we can’t stand no more. The sweetest place on earth, modeled on Scripture, was instead the little house of horrors, modeled on Kafka. We sent an email to the local leadership team, thanking them for opportunities to worship and serve our Triune God together, blessed them … and resigned.

    The response was odd. The senior pastor never directly acknowledged our resignation. There was one member of local leadership who never responded. There was another who responded with argument. The apostle was informed of our departure, and he asked if we would continue to attend the local. Two members of the leadership team asked as well. We responded with absence. Several years have gone by so that maybe they got the message by now.

    But that’s not all! The locals wanted to meet with me to “share observations” and the apostle encouraged this as well (sure he did). This was so important that they wanted to set this meeting up nearly 8 months after I had quit leadership and 2 months after I had resigned from membership. And I, despite advice from 3 people very close to me, agreed. (Yeah, I’m not the sharpest tack in the happy meal). I still thought reconciliation was possible. I suggested an agenda and a time limit for the meeting. The pastor responded that the meeting would be short because they just wanted to bless me and recognize my service (yeah, right – there is not a single true “survivor” or “refuge-e” who believes that one!). Another leader was a little more transparent; he said the meeting would take hours – after all there were a lot of issues to be worked through. I’ve watched enough Westerns in my lifetime to smell an ambush. So I said “see ya”, though not exactly those 2 words.

    Life post-SG has included battles with depression, anger, and resentment. Yep, ol’ FSGP is way human. That is why he has to pray so much “God, be merciful to me a sinner”. But life has emerged into a time of greater joy than I ever had in the SG system. My best days have been in the past few years, after escaping.

    Get out, friends, and get on with life. There is Joy to be had!

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it,
    Former SG Pastor

  • Patti

    I have not been a member of nor attended an SGMchurch. I stumbled across this website through a series of events. I was helping a young person in my area see what I thought were errors in Mark Driscoll’s doctrines. While watching one of Mark’s videos, I noticed he had three mentors listed. One of those was CJ Mahaney…hmmm..that name looked so familiar to me. So in googling it, found the connection to the church my daughter was about to get involved in but had some serious ‘checks’ in her spirit about the teachings through the the way the SGMers were talking. I called her and “co-inicidentally” she was just getting ready to go hear CJ speak on Sunday, first time for her to hear him. I started reading all I could read on the SGM site and CLC site and other SGM church sites. I listened to sermons, I read their blogs. I found out their growing affiliation with the SBC, CBMW, and Gospel Coalition.
    I was able to tell her she was right about the things she was sensing, just by reading and listening to their own material. At some point typing in SGM brought me here. It was the first place that did not censer my posts, my cries for advice and truth and let me say it like it was. I told too much, for SGMers that is.

    In an indirect way SGM influence has made me fearful to blog any more of the story. I want to maintain a good relationship with Daughter (her handle here). If we knew at the time how much SGMers didn’t like to be talked about maybe we would have picked better anonymous names. But then the way the story went and is going it might not have made any difference. I feel bad because I had no idea yet just how seriously SGM took their discipline policy until reading all the testimonies here. I can see how an SGM member could be very fearful of someone blogging something about them that would not be slanderous or gossip to regular people but if their leaders heard about it they could get disciplined. Just want to say to any new readers here that if you happen to read any archives, I am the Patti that has been posting only since spring 2011.

    For now, I am holding my breath, and reading the Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. I was a victim of spiritual, emotional and physical abuse in my IFB school. If I had known about this book while my kids were still at home I would have made it required reading.
    Hopefully they will read it now.

    IMO if you are fearful of reading that book, you might still be under the power of spiritual abuse.

    I hope someday Daughter will be back on this blog with good news.

  • Stunned

    Dan! It is good to see you here again. I’ve been wondering how you’ve been doing.

  • happymom

    Our story is in the archives. Wallace & Happymom – April 8, 2011

    Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax. 1995-2007

  • Dan

    Good to see you posting here again. I am really glad that reconciliation happened with you and SGM. It is especially sad when a church’s actions split apart a family including your parents which happened in our situation. Sadly some of the communication I had with various SGM Leaders fell on deaf ears.

    One thing that really grieved me with your situation was that I was in communication with Pat Ennis who at the time was SGM’s Executive Director. I was in communication with Pat Ennis at the suggestion of one local SGM Pastor who suggested I contact Pat Ennis when he saw the criticism I posted about SGM on this local pastor’s blog. In one email to me, Pat Ennis assured me that SGM was looking into various cases of abuse and seeking reconciliation and that with this being the case that maybe I should reconsider posting SGM’s problems all over the internet (or something to that affect).

    When Pat Ennis emailed and shared this with me I thought great maybe SGM really means business about seeking reconciliation. I wrote Pat Ennis and asked him about Dan’s situation in England. Sadly I got a brush off from Pat Ennis that basically contradicted what he told me about seeking reconciliation.

    In Pat Ennis’s brush off letter he said that the regional leader over in the UK had “offered” to meet with Dan. It turned out this “offer” to meet with Dan was the “speak to me if I wished” letter Dan mentioned in his above comment. Pat apparently felt that this “offer” given Dan was sufficient and it didn’t warrant SGM doing any more investigation into the situation including listening to Dan’s side etc.

    Despite follow up appeals to Pat Ennis to reconsider his brush off and how quick he was to dismiss my concerns I never heard back from Pat. I also shared this contradiction with other SGM Leaders in emails but sadly never heard a response back. Well at least they can’t say I didn’t try or didn’t try the “go in private” approach that a lot of SGM Leaders say is what should happen.

    It was as if with this case (and other cases) that I shared, Pat was trying to drop “like a hot potato” if he could. It was as if there was an excuse to get out of looking into the case further then Pat would do that rather than dig into the situation.

    After getting no where with Pat Ennis I decided to try emailing the SGM Leader in the UK. Fortunately this letter didn’t land upon “deaf” ears and generated the group’s reconsidering what was done to Dan and their has been reconciliation. It just really disappointed me (though didn’t surprise me) to have SGM’s Executive Director at the time act the way he did. Sadly it validated a lot of the concerns that people shared on the blogs.

    Well maybe what I shared counts for sharing my story or at least part of it. ;-)

    I do have some direct experience in SGM but that will be another comment.

  • Joe

    I have never been a member of an SGM church. I read Larry Tomczak’s autobiography a long time ago and was quite inspired. Subsequently I read everything PDI I could lay my hands on. They used to have the complete archive of People of Destiny Magazine online.
    I started to find it odd, though, that Larry T had disappeared. Some time around the early 2000s, PDi became SGM and Larry was expunged from the public record. It was – in all SGM publicity – as if he never existed and CLC/PDI/SGM was the vision of one man; CJ.
    The more I read and heard from CJ (who I had previously liked), the more I began to have big doubts about the balance within his theology. It also seemed as though SGM had ceased to be practicing charismatic and merely creedally so.
    I made friends with several SGM people. An old friend of mine also joined the staff of an SGM church after attending Pastor’s College. I also attended our then-local SGM church several times.
    During the same period, I began to meet individuals who felt they had been mistreated by SGM pastors. I wrote them off as just being disgruntled people who would not be happy in any church.
    Soon, three things happened:
    1) One of my closest friends left his SGM church. We talked about this at length and – though he wasn’t angry with the church – it was clear that being part of that church had dried up his spiritual life to the point of almost eliminating it (it was later refreshed when he joined a very different type of church).
    2) I wrote the Wikipedia articles on Larry, CJ and SGM. Despite writing true and unbiased articles in which every single statement was referenced to a reputable author, armies of SGMers seemed determined to suppress the truth. They didn’t want Larry acknowledged, they didn’t want the shepherding movement to be mentioned, they didn’t want the fall-out with Lydia Little to be included. They certainly didn’t want any links to blogs like this. They didn’t want Larry’s and Josh’s publishing success to be written about in such a way as it might overshadow that of CJ. They wanted Carolyn mentioned. They didn’t want any description of their church planting methodology. All in all, I encountered many many SGMers and CJ fans who valued PR over truth. I had no agenda in writing these articles (other than to present the whole story, not just the one recorded in current SGM documentation) but I was shocked at the CJ Youth and their militant desire to push against the simple retelling of the truth.
    3) Two of my closest friends joined SGM. They no longer talk about Jesus or about their relationship with God. They talk about (in this order): their church, their sin, CJ.
    Nowadays, I am not living close to an SGM church, but I swing in and out of the blogs. I feel a strong identification with what is discussed here because of similar experiences I had in a non-SGM church. I also have a passion for the truth, and hate the way SGM seems to distort the simplest of facts about itself. I also hope to be of help to those friends of mine still in SGM.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    I am a silent lurker who has benefited from what I’ve read here. I am a current member of CLC. I actually only started reading this blog because Josh Harris mentioned it in a recent meeting/sermon. I’m glad to be here!

    I cringe at the idea of my tithes and offering going to right a wrong that CJ should have righted himself a long time ago.

    This site has spurred me on to pray for Josh Harris more. This could be his finest hour…

    Keep up the good writing.

    @Janna,I have appreciated your input, along with everyone else.

  • Dan

    Hi all, I guess I’m one of the “lurkers”,

    I joined SGM in 2002 after hearing C J Mahaney speak at Stoneleigh Bible Week 2000 (run by Terry Virgo and Newfrontiers) – it was a small church plant in Bristol, in the United Kingdom and was a member of the growing church for 2 years.

    I started to have personal problems get worse – linked to being abused when I was a child at school and having issues with my sexuality (I don’t believe in using labels). The issues were essentially depression, self-harm and anorexia. I kept it secret for a long time and then my parents suggested going and speaking to my care group leader who I probably had the best relationship with out of the church leaders.

    I did so, and they (CGL and wife) were initially very receptive but said they would go and tell the senior pastor. I then had a follow-up meeting with senior pastor and CGL and again it was initially okay. But the next meeting turned nasty – in between meetings the senior pastor had met with Peter Griesley (UK “apostle” as was then and now on SGM Board) and told me that the issues were related to sin and they suspected I was in an active gay relationship although he admitted he had no proof. They presented me with four ultimatums, which involved moving home to my parents, and being wholly accountable to my homophobic father.

    I had two weeks to decide, and so being rather shell shocked I contacted some close friends including my former senior pastor all of whom were horrified at the authoritarian demands. Being ignorant of SGM and what would happen, I rather naively thought that if I went and said I would not be complying and felt it best to leave and move on, that would be that.

    The meeting was awful – the senior pastor was very shocked and then got progressively nastier and told me that I could not resign, as I was in sin. If I persisted, they would write to all churches in the area and tell them of my sin (he actually admitted he followed this through with one Newfrontiers church in Bristol), they would tell the whole church of my sin and any members would be told not to speak to me if they met me. I was shocked but felt this confirmed I had made the right decision.

    Being shocked I thought again rather naively that I would write to the SGM Board (Mahaney, Detweiler, Shank and Harvey) and explain what happened. I received a very short note from Harvey saying that Peter Griesley was the father of the church and it was not their concern. I then received an extremely terse email from PG saying that I was wrong but they would “speak to me if I wished” – which I declined.

    I have had no contact for five years until January last year when I felt I could not tolerate the splits with my family (who are still in SGM) and being forbidden to attend the SGM church, so with the help of Steve who opened up the process of reconciliation I finally had some meetings – firstly with Peter Griesley and then with the senior pastors of the church. The meeting with the senior pastors was really great, and they apologised for acting as they did and said that I would be welcome back at the SGM church (I have been back once and warmly welcomed by them).

    So all in all – largely a happy story – I hope it gives hope to some that reconciliation IS possible and I must be honest – it’s SO great being rid of bitterness and anger against the SGM leaders, finally I feel free!

    Still very grateful to this site and SGM Refuge for helping me realise I was NOT cast out to Satan and was not alone, and indeed having a voice when the leaders refused to contact me or care for me. And still very concerned for all those hurt and abused by SGM, and of course have a deep love and concern for SGM being as my family are still in it and so many friends here.

  • Sidney

    Wasabi (you make me hungry!! Yummm!)

    You said: “Let me state again that the stories being shared throughout this blog are not unique to CLC – the misuse of authority is widespread in SGM churches.”

    For us, the worst misuse of authority was at the Gilbert, AZ SG church and the leadership in the West. It was not at CLC. (and we spent 8 years at CLC and TWO in Gilbert…go figure)


  • Ellie


  • Wasabi

    Attended two SGM within the DC-area for 8 years; both recently “planted”. I outlined my story in a previous post. Let me state again that the stories being shared throughout this blog are not unique to CLC – the misuse of authority is widespread in SGM churches.

    There has been much discussion here on the documents we signed to become SGM members. This makes me recall the legal agreement needed to work in children’s ministry. While some of the clauses are absolutely necessary for working with kids, such as criminal background checks, others parts are VERY intrusive. Read it again: if you recently signed this mandatory document, the SGM church can check your finances, make inquiries with your employer, and check other sources as required.

    You can imagine the manipulation when I refused to sign this ‘How-stupid-do-you-think-I-am?’ agreement. After explaining my position to the senior pastor three times, he finally pressured with “Wasabi, I don’t understand your hesitation; ALL of the other CM workers here and ALL of the CM workers at CLC sign it”. Nope, ain’t gonna sign it. Ironically [you’re not going to believe this] after all this fuss about authorization to check member’s backgrounds, the pastoral staff found out they put a registered sex offender on the CM security team! I’m sure he helped out at least a year. This was all kept very quiet.


  • Sidney

    OH! I forgot the MOST important part….

    Jesus saved my soul in 1979ish. Though…upon joining CLC, my pastor told me that there was no way I did “those sins” while I was saved, so the most logical thing was to decide that I was saved just before coming to CLC when I finally turned from “those sins” and joined CLC.

    I pray they change this position. I pray beyond prayers that they change this position. It messed up what I believed about God for 14 years.

    Now, thank God, I live in the wonderfulness that people actually sin…and do “those sins” even while they are saved! Praise God!!!

    And no! I do NOT have to get re-baptized! Thank you, Jesus, for saving me ONCE!

  • I’ll share a little about our own story, for those of you who haven’t read here much…

    Guy and I attended an SGM church (not CLC) for a little less than a year. We arrived at the end of 2006 and left in the fall of 2007. (We have never talked specifically about which SGM church, because we have always maintained that we don’t want our SGM pastors to experience any fallout from the fact that we started this site.)

    We did not actually have a bad SGM experience. We liked many aspects of our SGM church and thought the pastors were some of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet.

    We thought our SGM church did a great job of reaching out to newcomers. We very quickly were made to feel welcomed and at home, with a definite sense of “instant intimacy.”

    We were allowed to attend a small group and really enjoyed it. (Our church apparently did not tightly control who was permitted to join. In our case, membership was not required.) At our small group, we did NOT routinely go around and confess our sins. Our group leader did NOT ask us intrusive questions or put us on the “hot seat.” It was mostly a pleasant time…a time to hang out and socialize…and then we’d have some prayer and talk about the previous Sunday’s message. I did find the lack of real Bible study, as I’d always known it in other churches, to be odd and a bit disturbing after awhile. Nothing wrong with discussing the Sunday sermons, but it was just odd.

    We probably would have become members at some point, if we hadn’t started feeling nagged by several little things. We were troubled by the resolute sameness, where everyone seemed to think and read the same things. Far more families homeschooled than not. Many of the young adult girls were living at home with their parents, and most of them had not gone on to college. Some worked at menial jobs, while some were stay-at-home daughters. The general feeling, though, was that they were waiting for Mr. Right to come a-courtin’. As I watched these young women interact, I was bothered by how there was a VERY definite undercurrent of the idea that the only “truly biblical” vocation – the only “truly biblical” thing they were put on this earth to do – was be a wife and a mother. It was as if life were in some sort of holding pattern for them.

    But at the same time, it seemed like they were hampered in breaking out of this holding pattern because of the restrictions of the courtship system. Although there might have been exceptions, the general feeling was that the only worthy potential courters had to be guys who shared the girls’ commitment to the “local church” – which meant the “local” SGM church.

    As I observed the culture at our SGM church (because I do love to watch people), I got the impression that young women were really boxed in, in a way that was unhealthy and not nearly as “biblical” as they were taught it was.

    So, the cultural homogeneity, with such an emphasis on homeschooling as “God’s best choice” (it was largely unspoken, but it was there nonetheless), along with the courtship system and such a heavy sense that everyone read and thought the same things…that if it came down from “on high” (Gaithersburg), everyone did it – all of that weighed on Guy and me and made us wonder if we could ever fit in.

    We were also put off by the music. I know that many of you have been hugely blessed by SGM’s worship music, and I do believe that there are some wonderful SGM songs. I am not criticizing the music, necessarily. But for people who have been part of the larger Evangelical/Reformed world for many years, there’s this vast treasure trove of music that transcends denominational boundaries. We often felt “homesick” for that music during worship time, as we listened to the unfamiliar tunes (many of which did seem rather dark, with a tremendous emphasis on our guilt and sin and what “the Savior” suffered).

    And that contributed to another nagging feeling – that SGM saw itself as set apart from the rest of the Christian world. Even the way our SGM friends gave their “testimonies” was different. Rather than focusing on how they met Jesus, they instead told stories about how they ended up at a Sovereign Grace church. This was disturbing.

    So after a little less than a year of going back and forth in our thoughts, Guy and I decided one day that we needed to move on. We did not immediately meet with anyone to explain why we were leaving, although eventually Guy did have a conversation with one of the pastors that ended with the pastor’s asking us to have a meeting with him. Guy (being the way that he is) just sort of casually blew off this request, as we saw no point in dragging things out further…plus, there was this odd feeling that the pastor was taking our leaving in the wrong way, like there was some sort of personal conflict that had to be resolved…when there absolutely was nothing of the sort.

    And that is our story. Really, it’s a non-story. We had no issues with our SGM church on a personal level, no conflicts with anyone on a personal level. There are no relationships that need mending, no one with whom we ought to “reconcile.” We were mostly outsiders looking in, participating but always evaluating and questioning, and in the end our questions led us out the door.

  • Sidney

    Family at CLC since early 80s…I was a teenager…attended for a couple years till I didn’t have to anymore.

    Joined CLC in 1996

    Moved to Gilbert, AZ SG in 2004

    Moved to South Denver SG in 2006

    Left SG 2 months after the Denver Shanking. (for the new folks, this is a term that someone on survivors or refuge coined back in 2008-2009 when Mr Shank was actively helping pastors in his region “step down due to lack of gifting” while giving the church members little to no truth about why.)

    PS. I use a fake name because I don’t want my family/friends to be bothered by people telling them they “figured out” who I comment as on Survivors. Thanks for honoring that. If you’d like to talk, I’d be glad to talk with you. I’ll share my story with you. I’m “doing well.” My walk is very strong. I’m not bitter or sinfully angry…well bitter sometimes…though hopeful that one day, the issues will be dealt with. SurvivorSidney at gmail dot com

  • Roadwork, I still have the same SNA flyer somewhere along with Benny and Renny sermon notes. Benny was my pastor for 8 years at MLC until we left last year.

  • PDI/SGm from 1989-1998- Covenant Life, Covenant Fellowship, and Providence Church of Pittsburgh. You can click on my name for more details on my story.

  • Roadwork

    A Generation’s Worth of History –

    We had been continuous, long standing members within SGM from about 1990 until earlier this year. Within that time we belonged to three SGM churches. We were part of Fairfax until sometime around 2001. When we moved, we moved to stay within SGM. So we’ve attended three Foundations classes, have served in various ministries over the years and received counseling at various points over this time from both pastors and CGLs.

    And we have a perspective of SGM that now spans 20 years across three different SGM churches, in different areas and under different “apostolic” regions. 20 years is a generation. A generation’s worth of history, if you please.


    As I mentioned, we’ve been in SGM since the very early 1990’s. We started in Fairfax when they were still meeting at Robinson and later at West Springfield. We were in Fairfax when Bob was still leading worship and when Brent and the Charlotte plant were sent out. We where there when Larry was relocated to Fairfax and then went to Atlanta. We were there for Challenge ’92, when the building was built, during the refreshing, when Denver was sent out, when BP stepped down, when SS came in temporarily before finally moving west, when MM was installed, when Ashburn was sent out, etc., etc., etc. I’m reluctant to give more details about our history past leaving Fairfax as that would probably easily identify us. As a side note, we also attended Saturday Night Alive at Church of the Apostles when Benny Phillips and Renny Scott took turns teaching each week. SNA’s music was very “contemporary” for its time and the experience was quite charismatic.

    (This is an earlier SNA flyer as the location given is different.)

  • Mine is already at

    I should note also that I went to Saturday Night Alive in Ffx from 1979-1980 when I was in high school. Went to Annandale Bible Church at the time.

  • I know a few folks already shared this info in the previous post. If that’s you, would you mind copying and pasting your comment over here? That’d be great.