“exCLCer’s” Story

Yes, we know.  C.J. Mahaney has temporarily stepped down for a paid “season of reflection” (whatever that means) while an “independent” panel is coming in to spend hundreds of hours looking through Brent Detwiler’s documents and examining everything in order to determine whether or not C.J. actually did anything wrong.

Sovereign Grace Ministries churches across the country are holding family meetings where pastors are now shedding tears and admitting that they made mistakes.

Some SGM churches have even promised new polity.  Apparently, Covenant Life Church is contemplating allowing ordinary members to nominate men for consideration as candidates for some sort of “ad hoc committee” that will assist pastors with reviewing the process of addressing grievances, pastoral financial compensation, and situations of church discipline.  For the first time ever, ordinary SGM members might actually be permitted to have a voice in the decisions made by their pastors.

All of these things are good developments.

But are they enough?

Or is it a case of “too little, too late?”

Are confessions that happen only after irrefutable proof is posted online real confessions?  Or are they merely begrudging acknowledgements, wrung out only because leaders have been presented with no other choice, if they want to have any hope at all of preserving their livelihoods?

I don’t know the answers to these questions.  I know that many present-day SGM members are feeling very hopeful that things within their church organization are changing.  I pray that to be the case.

In the meantime, though, we continue to hear stories from former members.  Here is one – from someone posting under the handle of “exCLCer” – which landed in the comments of the previous post:

“exCLCer’s” Story

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.

367 comments

  1. Stunned says:

    Just a quick left over from the last thread-

    Brokenhearted, you are so right. You def should have goen to them first, but who knows how it would have worked out at the time. I rejoice that God has been preparing both your hearts for a moment like this!

  2. Stunned says:

    exCLCer, if you decide to go meet with these men, please don’t go alone. Please, take someone with you. These men are still behaving as a brood of vipers. (Good news is they can really do little to harm you now that you can see more clearly.) If you don’t have anyone else to go with you, please contact me and I’ll come down.

    Stunned

  3. Roadwork says:

    Sorry… I was in the midst of writing this when the comments on the previous thread closed.

    BrokenHearted –

    It’s a long way to go from where they are to where they need to be. They also have to be willing to acknowledge how the system that they have believed in, been a part of and benefitted from, is the faulty foundation that has allowed this tragic level of sorrow and pain.

    I do not type the following lightly:

    In Matthew 25 we, read, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.

    Truthfully, can you list instances where SGM has provided food to the hungry or drink to the thirsty? (And please, let’s get past handing out drinks to joggers and bicyclers on a park trail – these joggers and bicyclers have means – I mean giving food and drink to those that are truly hungry and thirsty.) To what Women’s shelters does your local church give to? What homeless shelters (strangers) does your local church support? Who heads up the prison ministry at your church? (I believe they stopped doing Angel Tree years ago.) There are a number of prisons in your area, both County (Loudoun) and State (White Post just outside of Front Royal), as well as a Work Release facility there in Leesburg.

    SGM has done a poor job of taking the Gospel to Jerusalem, much less to the ends of the earth.

    At some point, we have to step back and take a good hard unbiased look at what our church does, not what they say or what others say about them.

    On both of the blogs we find a trail of tears that flows deep and wide. And these are just the ones we know about. How many others have they left by the side of the road while a portion of our tithes and offerings to our local church flow only to SGM corporate, looking more like a franchise fee than an offering that truly furthers the Gospel in either actual proclamation or in practical assistance to the needy in this world. They can’t even properly discern the needy in their own congregations!

    Is a broken system that should be dismantled, not recovered in some new fabric.

    Your own moniker says all that needs to be said about the effectiveness of the SGM “way of doing things”.

    ~ Roadwork

  4. Roadwork says:

    And follow Brent’s example. Bring a good note taker if not a recording device. It will “serve them” to help refresh their memories later.

  5. BrokenHearted says:

    Roadwork – Thanks! You are right that there is definitely an insular (sp?) mindset in most SGM churches. I have wondered most of my life why we didn’t have more ministries for those outside of the church. I will say though that the crisis pregnancy centers have always been a top priority in the churches I have been in, if someone in a caregroup can’t make their rent or something others always stepped up (ex CLCer I am SO sorry this was not your experience), so I wouldn’t say that SGM has completely neglected those commands, but I think they could do much better.

  6. Phoenix says:

    ExCLCer,
    I am so, so sorry for what was done to your family. You are under ABSOLUTELY no ethical, legal, moral, or practical obligation to forward the agenda of those who hurt you by agreeing to a meeting. When I left Fairfax 9 years or so ago I chose to meet with Mark Mullery so that I could share my concerns with him regarding the Noel and Grizzly situation, the treatment of women and older single women in particular, and other matters. After that I was “invited” to an “exit meeting” with Dave Hinders, who had become our “sphere” pastor only a few months previously. He wanted to see me and my adult daughter together, apparently so that we could help each other resist the temptation to seduce him. As if… We both refused. I’ve never been sorry.

    If you do decide to attend, I encourage to take your own team with you. An attorney (I bet there’s someone associated with this website who would love to come) a pastor or minister (again, I bet you’d have volunteers) and your own friends. I would be very surprised if there are not current CLC members who would stand up next to you in this.

    Thank you for being honest about the fact that you do not consider yourself a Christian. Please know that Jesus is outraged, angry, and griefstricken over your situation! He said, “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.”

  7. Luna Moth says:

    exCLCer, I am so sorry that these things happened to your family. I can hardly imagine how you and your mom lived through it.

    Those men behaved in a wicked and wrong way.

  8. Walking Wounded says:

    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.

    Letters were written for years – no response. Now that some daylight is shining on their deeds, they respond poorly. How could they NOT respond? If they had a heart, even if they felt that what they did was right, wouldn’t they respond? If the Holy Spirit was moving in their life AT ALL, wouldn’t they respond? How can anyone attend Fairfax and sit under these men, knowing what they are like? Get a clue people!

  9. BrokenHearted says:

    Walking Wounded – I totally agree with your assessment except it’s CLC not Fairfax in this specific case. :)

    EX-CLCer – I am so so sooo sorry you and your family went through all of that!!! :( :( :( I wish I could hug all of you and just love on y’all. :( :(

  10. Phoenix says:

    Here is an incident that happened just last week. It shows the continuing ramifications of Noel’s and Grizzly’s story, or, rather, of the coverup.

    Background Note: One thing that made the N/G story so sad is that all parties were in the same homegroup;one of two that split and merged over many years. I was in it for 12 years and it had existed well before that. The relationships in that group were strong.

    Background Note 2: The behavior of the perp in the N/G story was by no means an isolated incident within his family, but was part of a pattern. Three of perp’s Mom’s brothers that I know of (there were nine kids in all, I think) were sex offenders. One of Mom’s brothers raped her as a young girl. Perp’s stepdad was mentally ill and we believe may have molested perp. He later committed suicide. [one sentence redacted by Guy]. Perp’s relationship with his Mom, though not physically incestuous, was certinly more spousal than parent/child. A toxic family, really, and very, very closed off to outside influences.

    My grown daughters and myself are all on Facebook now and (as everyone does) through Facebook we keep in touch with folks we’ve known. Some of those people are from Fairfax and the homegroup(s.) Last week a young woman, Mary, who grew up in FCC and now lives in Maryland posted a request for a room to rent for herself and her own daughter (seven years old.) Another lady, Phyllis, from the local area and
    homegroup(s) recommended that she rent a room in Mom’s house. Yes, really. My grown daughter, a mother of three young girls herself, and a veteran of all this, fired off a sizzling Facebook post to the effect that Mom’s house is a haven of pedophiles and child molesters. Hard to argue with that. Some days after that, Stephanie, another very old friend who was also a close friend and neighbor of Mom, scolded my daughter on Facebook for that comment. She said it was untrue, offensive, inappropriate, and so forth, and that it should have been shared in private. I’m happy to report that my girl fired right back that it was true and reminded her of the facts of perp’s actions. She said protecting children is always appropriate.

    As I said, this happened just last week. I echo dear Noel in saying that it’s time to put the truth out there and let parents protect their children.

  11. sgmnot says:

    I am so unbelievably sorry for all your mother, you, and your siblings went through, in particular your sister. I was one of the adults who brought food to your family during that crisis when you all still lived in the house. I also babysat you guys once or twice. I had ABSOLUTELY no idea that a sex abuse case was the reason your mother separated from your dad!!! I am in shock and completely disgusted with how my church leaders (then, I’m now OUT! Praise God!) handled your crisis. Oh My God! It makes me want to weep and sob! Such lack of care and concern for the victims, the little ones…the fact that you all went into the foster system, when we were a church then of @ 2000 people?!

    I am soooo sorry. If I could repent on behalf of my pastors and it would change anything, I would! I am so sorry you went hungry and were in such a place of crisis for so long.

    with tears,

  12. jedi says:

    exCLCer I am so sorry for the damages done to you and your family. I was also a member during this time. I now wish I would have asked my questions when all this was happening. I was told any type of questioning was gossip. I should have been told that you were family and I should help any way I could! So many things are falling into place. I read your account of what happened and I remember being told so many lies about it all. You probably know my sons. The way they made people feel who would try to ask questions is still the same today. Questions are wrong, it shows our immaturity and ungodliness and lack of support for our leaders. We should trust the leaders will do what is right and we should just sit back quietly and pray. The language they used back then,is still the same today. “We made many mistakes, we aren’t perfect…etc. They are not going to say they sinned or admit they have caused any harm for fear of legal issues. They hid and covered up anything about their actions towards your family. It is still classic behavior and is happening today. If they were truly sorry and experienced true repentence they would have stepped down when this happened. At the very least it should be brought to their attention now and their actions should be disclosed to the members. Who in the world would still trust these men with their children? With their own spiritual lives? If these men were sincere and truly sorry their actions would show it. Members of clc why are you willing to trust and support men who clearly are disqualified from leadership? Is there any evidence they are sorry when things come out about them? We have all been taught, “Believe the Best of others” and “Believe the worst about ourselves”. Can’t we just see this for what it is… control. They have us right where they want us. They are right and we are wrong.
    They also don’t want family meetings anymore, because it is so much easier for them to control and manipulate one on one. ExClcer,I would not go to a meeting with these guys. It will be a waste of your time. If they were sorry, you would know it.

  13. happymom says:

    BrokenHearted,

    Please take notes, allow time for everything to process and pray for genuine change. I look forward to the day when you are no longer known as BrokenHearted. :)

  14. Not Again says:

    Jedi, this says it all:

    “If they were sorry, you would know it.”

  15. Luna Moth says:

    As far as John L and Gary R are concerned: I am filled with outrage to think that even half of what exCLCer has told would be true. (I am not doubting exCLCer!)

    My eyes fail because of tears,
    My spirit is greatly troubled;
    My heart is poured out on the earth
    Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,
    When little ones and infants faint
    In the streets of the city. (Lamentations 2:11)

  16. Stunned says:

    Phoenix, this is unbelievable. This is sad. This is… sickening. How many other people have entered “Mom’s” home not knowing the truth.

    Many people here may not know this part of my story, so I’d like to share it so that they know from where I am coming when I say what I say. I am NOT against the pedophile, believe it or not. I am NOT against the perps. They are sinners, like you and me. They are not necessarily evil (though they may be), however the pain they have caused is lifelong and damaging beyond what most sins are. I am not out to see the perp’s destroyed but I am out to see that children are protected.

    As the daughter of a pedophile, we not only turned Dad (whom I love) into the police (not fun leading bullet-proof clad policemen into the happy home I had grown up in), we also went to see Dad every time the prison let us in, we took him to all his therapy meetings so he could get (real) help, we yelled at him and wept with him, we loved him and laughed with him. We let ourselves get good and angry and disgusted. We acknowledged and recognized what he had done to not only to one precious member of our family, but to all of us as we will spend the rest of our lives (and our children’s lives and their children’s lives) with this hideous scar and horrendous fruit.

    Now, as he is elderly and can barely get out of bed, I see him at least once a week. I have taken over his finances and do my best to protect his finances from predators who prey on the elderly. (There are way too many out there like this.) I kiss him on the forehead as he lays in his bed (I can’t bring myself to kiss him on his cheek any longer). I chat with him and remind him that he is loved. We don’t speak of it anymore but it is always with us, always with him.

    Each time someone comes on here and yells, “Bitter” or that we refuse to “forgive” i try not to laugh to myself. Oh, they have no idea what bitterness God has given me the grace to avoid and the forgiveness He has extended to me for my sins so that I can’t help but to extend it to others. So I have no desire to see these other SGM predators destoryed. (Well, at least once they repent. Before that time, I’m a huge fan of Lorena Bobbit.) I am out to see to it that their victimes are cared for and that there are no MORE victims in their futures.

    You see, in spite of the care and love I give my dad, his victim will always come before him. The minute she needs anything, I am there. She is the one who needs our support the most. (Not that I don’t give it to Dad, too, but if it comes to who gets invited to a wedding or who gets invited to Christmas, she will always be first on the list, and he can only attend if there is no chance she or any other children will be there.)

    And that brings me to my point.

    The children.

    It is about the children, the victims and not about the perpetrator first.

    IF there is any chance there are going to be children anywhere, the perp should NOT be there. No matter what. (Even if you didn’t care for the kids, a fool wouldn’t want children around the perp if even for the perp’s sake!)

    The fact that some people are so fool-hearty as to (in any way, shape or form) not do everything in their power to prevent a pedophile from EVER being in the presence of a child again is mindboggling and shows their ignorance of the situation. (Ain’t nothing wrong with being ignorant of pedophiles, oh how I would give my left front tooth to never have had the knowledge I have.) But ONCE you are in the midst of or know about a pedophile, as a responsible member of the public or church you must do everything in your power to educate yourself on the situation so that others will not be harmed.

    First hint: talking to your pastors is NOT educating yourself on the situation. Research. Go to people who have actually studied this. (Not the guys who are busy covering their own a…butts so they don’t get sued.) Talk to experts about the chances of a perp repeating their crime.

    Most pedophiles never act on their urges, however once they do, it is hard to stop them. A typical pedophile (there are 3 classifications), for whatever reason, begins to feel these urges during their teen years. Oftentimes, they are as disgusted by these desires as you are. For the most part, they feel great shame and would do anything to bury these desires. But the urges are still there. And as I’ve said, most never act on these urges. Instead, they struggle in their own hellish minds, tortured by their own thoughts, and too often too ashamed to ever seek help from professionals, trained to help those with this desire. (I pray, if you are reading now and feel these desires, please, go seek out help. There are not many psychiatrists/psychologists trained to help you, but there ARE some out there. Go get help. Now. It won’t be easy, but it will be so much easier than the alternative. Even if you have to just do your therapy over the phone. Any price you have to pay, it will be worth it.

    Those who do act on these urges, spend years and years struggling with their thoughts before they finally act. The fact that Boy (the perp in Noel’s story) and other young men in SGM actually acted on these perverse urges at such a young age (all but one was a teenager) is frightening. This is an indicator that they could be the worst kind and most aggressive, seducing victims throughout the perps lives, where ever they go. And possibly having their consciences seared against their victims. Worse yet, it is an indicator that there is a certain amount of rush and joy they get by the harm they are causing and the “crazy making” they are the author of.

    The pastors who do not know this are guilty of self induced ignorance. For you see, this information is not hidden in books, buried deep beneath the sea. This information- do you know how I first came upon it? It was by an every day, run of the mill minister. My dad’s minister. (Thank you!) He researched and in just days or hours found some of this out. He was the first one who taught me about categories, etc. We stood in front of Dad’s church (my brother and I) and talked to the entire congregation about what Dad did. We begged them to talk to their children and make sure that there were no other victims. Their church put a blurb about Dad and his crime in the church bulletin every week for a while, asking anyone to come forward who may have felt uncomfortable by Dad or harmed by him in anyway. (Fortunately, there were no other victims, so we hope and pray that no one else was ever harmed.)

    The church dealt with this upfront and honestly. (Praise God, Dad did, too. His lawyer tried to make Dad’s victim take the stand and Dad insisted that he had already done enough damage to the child and that his lawyer would NOT do such a thing. Thank heavens because I’d be in prison after killing the lawyer and Dad. And no, not everything was peaches and cream- I went to the police and, for my own protection from my own stupidity- told them that if anything bad happened to my dad, they should come looking for me first because most likely it would have been me who had hurt him.)

    The church responded with truth, light and did their best to make sure that every single nook and cranny had been searched in to make sure there were no other victims.

    Why aren’t the SGM pastors doing this? Why aren’t they going to the experts to figure out how to handle this, instead of turning to their “higher-ups”? (PS. Dave Harvey and CJ, your lawyers are not the experts I am talking about!) Such arrogance to think their higher ups know more than the people who have studied this subject for decades. (Btw, we were able to find an expert who actually dealt with pedophiles and sexual predators (praise God!) and who was also a born again Christian. But even if he hadn’t been, he was still a great deal of help and knowledge for us.)

    Why aren’t the SGMers bringing in real experts to deal with this? They have the money. They have the time. (Peacemakers is no expert in this area, either.)

    Please, people, do everything in your power to bring these things to light so that parents can protect their kids, the perps can get real help and so that no more children have to suffer because you decided to bury your head in the sand.

  17. Bethany says:

    Stunned :goodpost .

  18. Phoenix says:

    Stunned,
    I remember your story now. Thanks for sharing that it is possible for a family to continue and for people to heal while dealing with the harsh reality of this. Emphasis on reality! How grateful to God I am that I have never borne the unspeakable burden of such urges. I have my own issues.

    I, too, do not seek destruction of these perpetrators. And I do not feel good about needing to reveal all that background about “Mom’s” sad family history. I loved her. I say again that one of the saddest things about these stories is that the perps haven’t gotten the help they needed to try to bear these burdens and keep from hurting more children.

    If “forgiveness and restoration” meant the same things for other entangling sins as it does for pedophiles, then “forgiveness and restoration” would mean that recovering alcoholics were encouraged to become bartenders, former adulterous partners were deliberately placed in the same homegroup, convicted embezzlers were made church treasurers…I think the illustration is clear. And those are all victimless crimes…

    I feel a little sick.

  19. katie says:

    Stunned ^^
    :goodpost

    amazing story. thank you for sharing. this is exactly how it should be handled.

  20. Banon says:

    ExCLCer,
    I am so sorry for the damage that has been done to you and your family. I sympathise with your frustration with contacting these men. The question is now that you have an opportunity to talk to them will you? If not for yourself then maybe for the people (like myself) who may be under their leadership? There are alot of people waiting and watching for these leaders to show their integrity. This would be one of those situations.

  21. Stunned says:

    Phoenix, I really heard your heart when you shared Mom’s family’s story. I see/hear no hate in your heart toward her at all. What I see is a heart to see true healing (as opposed to “swept under the rug” healing) come to all. I wish Mom had the kind of help she needed (which was anything but what her SGM pastor’s gave her and her family).

    How different could this story look if her pastors had handled this with the love of God and the truth of Jesus Christ (and any level of integrity).

  22. Stunned says:

    Katie & Bethany, thank you, Ladies. I know it probably sounds silly, but whenever I share that tale it wipes me out, so your kind words gave me strength or a bit of “recovery”. Thanks.

  23. Stunned says:

    Just because we all need a break from the pain right now- thought I’d share that the ad at the top of my sgmsurvivors.com page right now says, “John Piper at T4G 2012
    See John Piper & others April 10–12 2012 in Louisville, KY—Register now
    T4G.org”

    Oh, how funny God is to give me a laugh like this! Thank you, God.

  24. Ellie says:

    He wanted to see me and my adult daughter together, apparently so that we could help each other resist the temptation to seduce him. As if…

    :::::::::::::::rolling eyes:::::::::::::::::::: what an arrogant TWIT!!!

    Phoenix, #10 – GOOD for your daughter!! (Phyllis KNEW about what happened at “mom’s house” & still told a mom with a young daughter to rent there??)

    Stunned – #18 – If only this could be sent out to every single SGM member. EXCELLENT POST!!

  25. Steve240 says:

    This was posted on the last blog:

    “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.”

    Good point. That is what I call DOUBLE DIPPING.

    C.J. Mahaney and other leaders also write books on “company time” and they get all the royalties from them. This is what I call TRIPLE DIPPING.

    There certainly are other ways that Mahaney and others get paid. Do you think he personally pays out of his salary for his books? Though I don’t know this for fact, I am sure he has a book purchase allowance where SGM pays for all the books he buys.

    I also imagine that SGM pays for his travel costs to where he is given an honorarium to speak at. It isn’t like the honorarium is to help pay for Mahaney’s travel expenses. It wouldn’t surprise me if Mahaney’s travel expenses are paid whether he is teaching at an SGM site or not an SGM site.

    All these sources of income that Mahaney and others get sure makes exCLCer’s story worse. That they couldn’t give some assistance to that family. How sad.

  26. Kris says:

    Here’s a question I have for all current SGM members:

    What do YOU think the necessary and appropriate response would be for the involved pastors to give to someone like exCLCer?

  27. DB says:

    With all the obviously critical subjects of discussion with respect to exCLC’er is the casuality of the loss of faith.

    Those of us should be deeply grieved by this one and it isn’t just exCLC’er. No how many other young adults that grew up in this system lost their faith?

    And who can blame them. ExCLC’er, I don’t blame you for walking away from Christianity because everything you experienced is a grotesque and warped version of the actual Gospel.

    Everything in this system revolves around the strong and powerful….lets face it, adult males as though women and children were put on this earth to be servile to them.

    I have been saying for years now that the draconian parenting teaching that has been taught in these churches (the constant beatings and shaming children, and first time obedience is just setting a child up for predation.

    And when an 11 year old girl’s behavior changes, these spiritual knuckle-draggers respond by (wait for it….) going to their predictible modus operendi of supporting that which has a Y chromosome.

    Un-be-fracking-leavable.

    Why does this chap my hyde so thoroughly? Because my three oldest will never darken the doors of a church unless someone dies or is getting married.

  28. Irv says:

    Stunned – thank you :goodpost

    exCLCer, Stunned, Happymom, Noel and the others who have shared your stories with such grace and transparency, you have touched more hearts than we can know. It is hard to know what to say. I have been deeply moved by what has happened to you and your families. Please receive our love, support and sympathy.

  29. exCLCer says:

    Stunned – thank you for that offer. I am definitely taking someone with me if I decide to have that “meeting” with them. I do have a great supportive circle of friends, (pretty much consisting of sinners, pagans, and secular outsiders), who are kind, understanding, educated, and empathetic, and will support me through anything, and Im sure they would all be willing to go with me. I t will probably be best to have someone with me who does not feel, in any way, bound by any of the religious doctrine they like to throw around.

    You’re right, the pastors can’t now do anything to hurt me, but I am hesitant to give them an opportunity to claim they have rectified their wrongs by sitting down and “explaining” their actions to me, as I do not see there ever being a “good explanation” for the things they did. Truly I feel my blood begin to boil when I even think of it. I don’t carry around a burden of anger and bitterness with me every day, for those of you who might think my life is controlled by the past. It’s not. I do struggle with the “what if’s” at times….what if I had been able to graduate high school like other kids, what if I didn’t know what it felt like to spend nights alone in institutions not knowing where the rest of my family was? What if I could have not gotten pregnant then, as a teenager, while in one of these institutions and actually could have had that dreamy experience of motherhood with a baby shower, or a nursery for my little one that every girl dreams about? I know it sounds kind of silly, but I think about those things and wonder how life would have really been different. BUT, I also think about how when I now encounter hungry people, abused people, pregnant teenagers, foster care children, or the homeless, I have a unique ability to say to them: “I understand” ….and really mean it. This keeps me from ever being a “tired of crying” type. Some unsympathetic folks will never be able to relate to suffering people and “know what it’s like”, and that’s probably a good thing, (for them anyway).
    But now, speaking to those out there who are suffering and feel like there is no hope and things will never get better, just know, there are a lot of people like me who can assure you, it does get better, and there is hope, and we will look for you and support you when no one else does.

    Jedi said – “If they were sorry, you would know it.” So simple, so concise, so true. Good point. Thank you.

    Pheonix – thanks, you actually just made me laugh out loud, when reading your post, my mind jumped to the mental picture of an attorneys initial reaction if they were to hear these pastors in person spin their self invented legalese out loud. Ha.

    Breeezy – Thank you and I do remember TJ. I really do appreciate the offers to help and it’s always touching to know there are people out there who are practicing compassion and kindness everyday where there is need. I try to live by that as well, as much as possible, especially knowing so many people are needy and it’s not always glaringly obvious. Need is something I now actively LOOK for in people, to see if there is some way I can help. I am touched by the offer of love and care, but I really don’t want anything material from the “body of Christ” or the “church” or anything given to me, as a contribution from any spiritual/religious place, even as heartfelt, sincere, and kind as it may be. I would ask you to instead just look for need in those around you, and do whatever you can for them, since I believe helping one helps us all, and is considered a gift to me, my family, and all society since as humans we are connected in so many ways we will never know. I’ve accepted all my struggles as a part of life which makes me stronger than I could’ve been without it. Percy Shelley, a social justice advocate and English poet from the 1800’s wrote a play called Prometheus. In it she writes:

    “To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite; To endure wrongs darker than death or night; To defy power which seems omnipotent; To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates From its own wreck the thing it contemplates, …this is to be good, great and joyous, beautiful and free; This is alone Life, Joy,.. and Victory”.

    How true this is, for me.

    And at the risk of sounding like a bookworm/nerd (Ok, …guilty), a quote by Edmund Burke sums up my intentions here:

    “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

    This is what this blog and my many conversations with others over the years has been for me – the struggle to stand up for what’s right in a contemptible struggle.

  30. Steve240 says:

    “Mike Phila” posted this on Refuge and just thought it was too good so am posting it here:

    “Listen, I know there ARE pastors that ARE filled with the Holy Spirit in SGM. That being said, my personal feeling is that there is a lot of self preservation going on right now. Over the years I have seen the “robotic” responses of many pastors that follow the company line. They are just doing it again …

    SGM Leadership: We are now Calvinists
    SGM Pastors: I guess we are all now Calvinists

    SGM Leadeship: Your congregation should be “happy followers”, or else you should ask them to leave
    SGM Pastors: My congregation will be “happy follower” or I will ask them to leave

    SGM Leadership: Have your church go through one of CJ’s books
    SGM Pastors: We will all now go through one of CJ’s books

    SGM Leadership: CJ is now reflectively repenting. All of us should reflectively repent
    SGM Pastors: I am reflectively repenting.

    Not everyone is a robot. But more often than not the SGM pastors tow the line of whatever leadership presents. I work in a the corporate world. I know how it works. It’s just sad that there is SO MUCH fear of leadership at SGM when we all are supposed to be filled with the Holy Spirit and listening to Him speak to us and His people. Paul didn’t shirk away from Peter and the other apostles when God put on His heart what He wanted them to do. Our leaders did (Brent is the exception with CJ).

    Now I pray that God is bringing His correction to SGM … and me too! I want change and dramatic change at that! I want the SGM board disbanded and local elders in churches to lead the local church. I want CJ to step away from SGM, at least for a period of time … without pay … to see if the Lord will have him continue in ministry. I want Dave Harvey, Steve and Bob Kauflin to step down from the board (if it continues). ”

    :goodpost :word to Mike

    Lots of words of wisdom in this comment Mike made.

  31. Kris says:

    About the ads that have been appearing for T4G –

    We can report “inappropriate” ad content to the company that does the ads, but I’m guessing my ideas about what’s “inappropriate” wouldn’t quite match up with what the ad company’s definition.

    I apologize for the confusion.

  32. Irv says:

    Steve240 – The book royalties have come up quite a bit over the months and I have felt a bit uncomfortable with assuming the authors actually receive those royalties. Do you or does anyone know if they actually receive the royalties? The reason I ask, is they have written these books as employees and were paid by the church or SGM when the books were written which in my understanding the church and/or SGM would own the royalties.(similar to intellectual properties)

    I could be way out in left field on this one but thought I would ask the question to those who might know. If this is the case, then it shouldn’t be difficult for SGM/CLC to set up a restitution fund utilizing the royalties for the families that have been so violated.

    Just a thought!

  33. Stunned says:

    DB- true

    Irv, you words moved me. (Please stop that. :wink: )

    exCLCer said, “I do have a great supportive circle of friends, (pretty much consisting of sinners, pagans, and secular outsiders), who are kind, understanding, educated, and empathetic, and will support me through anything, and Im sure they would all be willing to go with me.”

    I am so glad to hear that! And I much prefer your group of friends to most of the religious people I know. From what I read in the bible, Jesus did, too.

    exCLCer, you also said, “I t will probably be best to have someone with me who does not feel, in any way, bound by any of the religious doctrine they like to throw around.”

    Honestly, I think that is a good decision. When I was picturing being in there with you, I imagined what would happen if these guys got rude. I envisioned you having the wisdom to get up and walk out. I envisioned me launching myself across their desk and grabbing them by their throats and chocking them. Good idea to bring someone uninvolved with SGM.

    ” I am hesitant to give them an opportunity to claim they have rectified their wrongs by sitting down and “explaining” their actions to me, as I do not see there ever being a “good explanation” for the things they did.”

    I agree. I imagine they would only be using you so they can turn to their churches and innocently claim, “But I tried…” without real restitution.

    “I know it sounds kind of silly, but I think about those things and wonder how life would have really been different.”

    Silly? No. It’s a sane response to your situation.

    “Need is something I now actively LOOK for in people, to see if there is some way I can help.”

    I hope we can all become more like you in this way.

    “since as humans we are connected in so many ways we will never know.”

    Truth.

    “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

    I have never heard this quote before. What a perfect description.

  34. Guy says:

    One of my favorite chapters of the Bible is 2 Samuel 22. As you read it, replace David with your name.

    You can see it here

  35. Banon says:

    Kris,
    To your question about how the parties in question should respond to ExClCer and other offended persons. I would be pleased if they just admitted wrongdoing and sin in a clear response. I’m looking for statements like “We were wrong” ,”We sinned” and “We’re sorry”, without guilt altering modifiers like “misunderstandings” or “do things differently”. It would be great if they could admit that even though they may have been following protocol, their actions were wrong. I think there is room for grace even in this situation.Josh Harris was moving in the right direction. I’m praying for spirutual revelation and reconciliation.

  36. Walking Wounded says:

    I stand corrected, with all the postings flying so fast, I incorrectly said Fairfax, where I meant CLC. So, Josh and other CLC pastors, how about addressing this one, including the abominable lack of response/response from the pastors involved (Loftness/Riccucci)? Members of CLC/Solid Rock Church – ask hard questions! If you are afraid to ask them, then ask yourself why.

  37. Stunned says:

    Irv asked, “Do you or does anyone know if they actually receive the royalties? The reason I ask, is they have written these books as employees and were paid by the church or SGM when the books were written which in my understanding the church and/or SGM would own the royalties.(similar to intellectual properties) I could be way out in left field on this one but thought I would ask the question to those who might know.”

    I have a good friend who has just written a book and was paid to do so by the company that hired her for that purpose. Though they hired her and paid her for the book, she will still also receive royalties from the sale of each book. As with most any contract, both parties can come to an agreement of what they are willing to work for/pay for, in spite of what is the industry norm or standard. There is no way for us to know if CJ Mahaney, Josh Harris, Dave Harvey, Andy Farmer or any of the other SGM writers have gotten any royalties from their books unless we have inside info. (Anyone out there willing to share?) But I can tell you that I knew one writer’s family when he was busy penning an SGM book. (You know, one of the ones that everyone in a homegroup has to buy.) I was upest for this man’s wife because I felt he was neglecting her and their family during this period. (Ironic, huh?) I got the distinct impression that the writing of this book would be a benefit to the family in their near future. And not just in a “good for you” kind of way. But this must be researched by someone so that more of the truth/baloney can get out there.

  38. Steve240 says:

    DB said:

    “Those of us should be deeply grieved by this one and it isn’t just exCLC’er. No how many other young adults that grew up in this system lost their faith?

    And who can blame them. ExCLC’er, I don’t blame you for walking away from Christianity because everything you experienced is a grotesque and warped version of the actual Gospel.

    Everything in this system revolves around the strong and powerful….lets face it, adult males as though women and children were put on this earth to be servile to them.”

    :word :goodpost

    So true DB.

    As they say, children pay more attention to what you do than what you say. When they see the hypocrisy like this then like you said they get turned off to Christianity or at least SGM’s portrayal of Christianity.

  39. exCLCer says:

    Thanks stunned — I needed that laugh ( I envisioned me launching myself across their desk and grabbing them by their throats and chocking them.)You overestimate my wisdom….I could envision a race to who could get across the desk first. :wink:

    I’ll admit I don’t know what “restitution” is in a situation like this. Is there anything they could do at this point to “make it right”? There were a lot of ways and opportunities for a long time that they could could have and should have made the situation better — but as far as what can they do now? I don’t know.

    Banor asked: “The question is now that you have an opportunity to talk to them will you? If not for yourself then maybe for the people (like myself) who may be under their leadership? There are alot of people waiting and watching for these leaders to show their integrity. This would be one of those situations.” Hmmm, for me, its very hard to even try to believe they might be wanting to “show integrity” as opposed to just wanting to appease the discontent of their congregation or maybe just clear their reputation with a “we tried but she is a sinner who wont accept an I’m sorry you went through this as enough” (NOT Im sorry we did such and such). I’m trying to see what if anything there is to be gained for myself and others if I were to meet with them. Would it change how they do things? If they are truly sorry, they wouldn’t need to meet with me to make those changes. Would it clear their conscience? Not MY problem. Would they admit to their actions sincerely? That could be beneficial, but again, I don’t really trust they want to do that, and they don’t really need to meet with me to do so…. they clearly couldve included a confession of this sincere nature in their emails to me, without all the jargon and comments to protect their accountability in it all. So I dont know. Im guessing if they were sorry, they would have come up with a good way of showing it. Am I being unreasonably mistrusting? My heart says no.

  40. 5yearsin PDI says:

    stunned…16…excellent!

    Kris, in addition to what Banon said in 35-clear apologies- I would think that a most basic response is financial renumeration. Happymom spent quite a bit on counseling services for the daughter, who was affected not just by the perp but by the inept pastors. Not sure about Noel, but jurys award “pain and suffering” damage awards all the time, for amounts far exceeding actual medical bills.

    exCLCs story is horrific. How much would a jury award a woman if this was a company and the CEOs did this?

    “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.”

    Look at this:

    http://www.oginski-law.com/news/jury-awards-42-million-in-sex-abuse-case-against-mormon-church-20051122.cfm

    Posted on Nov 22, 2005
    Jury awards $4.2 million in sex abuse case against Mormon Church 11/22/2005 Associated Press Two college-age sisters have been awarded $4.2 million in a lawsuit against the Mormon Church, a judgment prompted partly by the way a bishop dealt with sexual abuse committed by their stepfather while they were children. Jessica Cavalieri, 24, and her younger sister, Ashley Cavalieri, were abused at their home in suburban Federal Way during the 1990s. The decision Friday by a King County Superior Court jury could be a landmark in sexual abuse litigation against religious institutions in Washington state, lawyers said. It’s the first sex abuse verdict by a jury in a lawsuit against a church in the state and could affect settlements in other abuse cases, including those against the Roman Catholic Church….

    The sisters, both enrolled in college, told The Seattle Times on Monday they feel vindicated by the verdict but remain troubled by the abuse. Jessica Cavalieri said she hoped the case would help the church deal better with such situations. “They don’t know how to handle abuse victims and pedophiles,” she said. “They’re just completely naive.” The jury found the church liable for intentional misconduct and negligence and responsible for damages of at least $2.5 million.

    One juror, Nikki Easterbrooks, said the issue boiled down to whether church officials should be allowed to treat an abuse complaint as a confidential confession or be required to report it to civil authorities. “I think abuse happens way more frequently than we think, and it gets handled internally

    After learning Taylor had abused the younger sister as well, the mother called authorities and learned neither church leaders nor a Mormon social service therapist who discussed the abuse with Jessica Cavalieri had reported the abuse of the older sister, the sisters’ lawyer said”

    google sex abuse cases, cover ups, awards for pain and suffering, etc. Courts are making the RCC church pay out millions per victim when the RCC knew of the sex abuse and covered it up.

    If SGM has more than a couple of brain cells still operating inside their skulls, they will settle out of court now before Andy’s pickets hit front page and some lawyer decides to take this case. I hope the families involved do end up with SGM’s (or is it CLC’s?) seven figure investment savings. I suspect it will come to that before this is all over.

    By the way, can somebody explain again how to do block quotes? Clearly step by step for the techno challenged types? Thanks.

  41. Guy says:

    5 years….send me an email and i will explain blockquotes to you ;)

  42. Banon says:

    ExCLCer,
    You may be right about all of your apprehensions, but what I’m saying is that some of us need to see it for ourselves. You along with everyone who’s shared on the blogs haved opened up a new level of transparency. They are now being held publically accountable. I just want to know if you will allow them to show their true character. Will they have the humility to finally admit they were wrong or will their pride for being right get in the way. These potential meetings now involve more than your family and your experiences. It becomes personal to every church member. If they are unable to do the right things now, then many of us will be leaving.There is only one way to find out. Everyone’s watching.

  43. Rose says:

    I think the only thing they could do would be to resign in shame and repentance and find a line of work where they could quietly serve without ever having a single hint of authority or prominence where anyone would look to them as examples. They have disqualified themselves for anything else.

  44. Steve240 says:

    Irv said:

    “Steve240 – The book royalties have come up quite a bit over the months and I have felt a bit uncomfortable with assuming the authors actually receive those royalties. Do you or does anyone know if they actually receive the royalties? The reason I ask, is they have written these books as employees and were paid by the church or SGM when the books were written which in my understanding the church and/or SGM would own the royalties.(similar to intellectual properties)

    I could be way out in left field on this one but thought I would ask the question to those who might know. If this is the case, then it shouldn’t be difficult for SGM/CLC to set up a restitution fund utilizing the royalties for the families that have been so violated.”

    I would be VERY SURPRISED if the royalties for the books went to SGM and not directly to the author. To answer your question though I don’t know for a fact. If someone knows or could find out I would like to know.

    One thing that I would like to know is the work for these books done on “company time?” Is this writing done during the day or is this writing done on the own time? I know with a pastor the lines aren’t as black/white like they would be with someone working a normal 9-5 type job since pastors work nights/weekends. This is a good question.

    It has also been said that these pastors have a pretty good market to begin with for their books within SGM. That is they can be assured that SGM will market their books within SGM so that a number of members will buy their books.

    With someone like C.J. it wouldn’t surprise me if the book royalties he receives produce an income near what his SGM salary is, especially with all the other leaders outside of SGM that promote C.J.’s books in these other group.

  45. Rom828 says:

    “FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS”
    As a pastor I would definitely say to Kenneth and the rest of CLC (and to all SGM pastors) to stop hemming and hawing and trying to make sure you defend what little there is to defend… and don’t listen to the lawyers who are trying to keep you from admitting too much… else you be sued. It’s time to embrace the full rush of the Holy Spirit’s conviction and power, like a title wave that it is… don’t step back from the edge, just yell something PC (I understand “Geronimo!” and “Bonzai!” might be troublesome) and jump, arms out wide, screaming if you must off the cliff, plummeting helpless into the arms of repentance, forgiveness, cleansing and reconciliation. Be free from the spin, the self-conscious “watching your words” and the endless self-justification and take the pain of this trial full on! There is treasure on the other side, there is love unceasing, there is truth unending, Jesus weeps and is ready for you to come. The time is NOW! You can feel it in the wind, you can hear in the trees, you can smell it in the air. God has orchestrated this amazing moment, “for such a time as this!” Fast and pray… Don’t hold back! You will not regret it.

  46. Kris says:

    I’ve been asked quite frequently over the past few weeks if “we” (all you other commenters and I) will EVER be happy. People write and say things like,

    CJ has confessed his sins, he has stepped down, lots of pastors are confessing sins – Kris, what will it take for you to stop bagging on SGM?

    Those of you who have been longtime readers here may have noticed that after CJ’s announcement, and especially after Brent’s documents were made public, I have been pretty mellow and low-key with the amount of “bagging” I’ve done. I was telling Guy just the other day that now that this stuff is out there and is being openly acknowledged, I don’t feel like I want to say much. It’s like, what’s left to say? Right?

    But then I keep feeling nagged by this sense that some of these weepy family meetings and some of these other efforts (like CLC’s “ad hoc committee”) are not really about the ROOT PROBLEM, which is that SGM pastors have regularly and continually believed incorrect stuff about their authority and about their right to remain in control.

    For example – when CLC pastors talk about how they’ve “had new polity in the works for over 18 months and are revealing it soon,” as though that is an answer to what ails them, I find it incredibly frustrating. Because, while CLC and other SGM churches definitely have polity problems, the bigger issue is actually more about the behind-closed-doors decision-making process they use. The bigger issues involve a lack of transparency and the need pastors seem to have to always remain in control, always remain in power. And, once again, what does “revealing a new polity that has been in the works for 18 months” demonstrate? In my opinion, it demonstrates yet MORE control, yet MORE lack of transparency.

    If CLC wants to introduce new polity, they should START with their new “ad hoc committee” – only, let the membership have total control over who is nominated and who is accepted onto that board. TOTAL CONTROL. They should NOT be creating an “ad hoc committee” that is still ultimately selected by the pastors. Mere “nominations” are NOT good enough.

    Once this congregationally selected “ad hoc committee” is formed, THEY should be the ones who select and write the new polity. This could occur in conjunction with pastors…with pastoral input…but it should primarily be done by the people. NOT by the pastors. And NOT behind closed doors…in secret…to be “revealed” after 18 months of secretly working on it.

    SGM pastors need to relinquish control. Of everything.

    When admitting wrongs, they should NOT be simultaneously trying to shape people’s opinions and excuse themselves in ANY WAY. I listened to a snippet of (I believe it was) Mark Mullery’s Sunday teaching, where he mentioned Brent’s documents. Yes, he admitted that SGM has problems…and yes, he acknowledged that some wrongs were done. But in the very next breath (or maybe it was the preceding breath), he subtly slammed Brent by saying something to the effect of, “I love Brent, but I wish he hadn’t put those private documents online.”

    It was very icky.

    At the Fairfax family meeting that has made so many so hopeful, there were considerable efforts at image-building, even as the pastors acknowledged the wrongs they did. I mentioned this already, but Happymom and Wallace are working on a point-by-point analysis of the inaccuracies in the pastors’ statements about their situation.

    What I personally found highly telling about these inaccuracies is that all of them made the pastors look better and Happymom and Wallace look worse. All of them. Now, if they were accidental inaccuracies – mere mistakes made in haste – what are the chances that ALL of the inaccuracies would make the pastors look better? Wouldn’t it be more likely, statistically speaking, for at least some of the inaccuracies to have made the pastors look worse, if these were accidental (random, not deliberate) mistakes?

    See – again – it’s fine if they want to admit fault…it’s great if they want to cry tears of regret…

    But with those tears, there should not be even a TRACE of excuse-making or of explanation-offering. Not even a trace. There should be ZERO sense that the pastors are trying to make themselves look better. ZERO.

    I am NOT “bagging” on SGM when I say this. It is the truth as I see it: these pastors STILL have not relinquished control.

    And I think THAT is what I would have to see – and see much evidence of – before I will begin to “believe the best” about SGM. I would need to see pastors who are totally relinquishing control…who are admitting wrong without a SHRED of simultaneous image-grooming.

    I wrote this a long time ago, but I came across it last night while searching for something another reader asked about. I still believe this:

    I was watching Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew the other night (yeah, OK – Guy and I enjoy the occasional trainwreck, and we both are the biggest fans of Dr. Drew’s great empathy and kindness…at least as it comes across on camera). And as the group of D-list “stars” were in one of their group sessions, they were discussing the “12 Steps” of the Alcoholics Anonymous-type process they’re supposed to be going through. They began to talk about “surrender,” which (if I’m not mistaken) is one of the first steps.

    Now, I know that there are all sorts of reasons to object to 12-step programs, and I’m not advocating that there needs to be an organization called “Controlling Pastors Anonymous.” BUT, I thought it was so interesting that the idea of surrendering to the truth about one’s addiction – and then surrendering the recovery process to a “higher power” – is viewed as so necessary to recovery.

    If you think about it, abusive control is basically the opposite of surrender. And it seems to me that what we see going on with SGM leaders is that even the ones who seem to be trying to make things better (like Josh Harris) are not really yet surrendered to the truth about what is going on in their churches. Instead, they remain in tight control of the “recovery” process, exerting the very same kind of control on people that caused all the problems they’re asking people to describe.

    I think that before any of these guys is going to “get better” (to use a bit of 12-step-speak), they have to start at the beginning and surrender their control. In my opinion, they need to hand it over to the very people whom they hurt. Let those people – any or all of them – dictate the terms of the conversations. Forget guest lists and hosting meetings at pastors’ homes, and all the rest of the stuff that reeks of control.

    Surrender, guys. I think you’d find it to be a relief. God never meant for mere sinful humans to be walking around feeling so much responsibility for (and exerting so much control over) others.

  47. Sidney says:

    Guy,

    I think you should have training sessions on the “tech geek” side of the blog for those of us who can’t figure out block quotes.

    Thanks,
    Sidney

  48. Kris says:

    It’s funny – I think Rom828 and I are saying basically the same thing. This sums it up:

    Be free from the spin, the self-conscious “watching your words” and the endless self-justification and take the pain of this trial full on!

    I recently heard a ridiculous rumor about how Josh Harris has been taken to task for uttering the sentence, “Sovereign Grace Ministries is getting spanked.” Or something like that. Apparently, the board is putting pressure on Josh to issue a retraction or give an apology for uncharitably judging and slandering SGM.

    I thought it was a ridiculous rumor…until I heard it from a second correspondent.

    It will be interesting to see if Josh caves to the pressure.

    If he does, there truly is no hope for CLC or SGM. In the minds of just about everyone in the universe (except, apparently, SGM’s board), Josh was only stating the obvious truth.

    SGM, you would do well to observe and learn from Josh Harris. He seems to be about the only one with his finger on the pulse of reality. If you try to shut him up or pressure him to apologize or back away from some of the stronger statements he made the other week, that shows how utterly out of touch the rest of SGM’s leadership is. Your people are pretty much all thinking what Josh said. He was merely stating the obvious. Stop pressuring him to retract what he said. Instead, listen to him and learn from him.

  49. Rom828 says:

    @Kris – Amen! :word :goodpost

    Interesting that SGM pastors serve as what others have called the “Doctrine Police” – they review “In His Steps” (it’s recent revival), WWJD, Church Planting Strategies, Para-church minitries, non-cross centered, gospel-centered Worship Songs and other movements or emphases with meticulous critical dissection. God can be using these things but SGM must crush any bit of unorthodoxy they discern, so much so that any goodness or grace in them is overshadowed and obliterated. Yet with themselves they will continue to justify and point to the little good that can be found as providing a residue of redeeming quality. Seems a bit hypocritical. Our tendencies as fallen creatures is to judge others by their perceived actions and ask that we be judged by our intentions. However you can’t have it both ways.