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A Message To SGM Survivors From GS And Covenant Life Church Pastors

Kris says:  Yesterday, I received the following from Covenant Life Church pastor GS, with a request that I post it…

Dear exCLCer and SGMnot,

This past week I read the stories that you posted on SGMSurvivors. The details are heartbreaking for me, the pastors of Covenant Life, and the members of our church. I cannot imagine the anguish these events have caused for you and your families. I am doubly grieved to know how deeply disappointed you are with the pastoral care you received during that crisis and in the years following.

In my 14 years of pastoral ministry at Covenant Life Church, I have so often failed to love and care for God’s people the way I should. If it weren’t for the grace of our Lord Jesus and the forgiveness of the saints, this pastor would not have the faith to keep caring for God’s precious church. Stories like yours cause me to cry out for more of God’s Spirit, more of God’s heart. I do
not want to fail his children in their time of deepest need!

I realize you don’t have much confidence in the pastors of Covenant Life Church right now, and I can understand that. But would you be willing to talk with me about your experience? Though I am sure it would be painful to review the details, I want to make sure our pastoral team learns all we can from your experience so that we can better serve other families in the future. And if
nothing else, I hope I could express the grief we feel for the suffering you have endured.

Kris has my e-mail address — please let her know if you are willing for me to contact you about this. In the meantime I will be praying for you and your family.

On behalf of the pastors of Covenant Life Church,

GS

(Family Life Pastor)

370 comments to A Message To SGM Survivors From GS And Covenant Life Church Pastors

  • katie

    good for you, greg.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    @ Mom…..Mom- it is so horrible. May it be true for you, that those who go forth weeping bearing precious seeds, will reap with shouts of joy. May your mourning be turned to joy and God give back the years the locusts have eaten.

    Greg- as someone who reads and posts here I appreciate your letter and expression of desire to make things right on behalf of the church, even if you personally were not involved with the situation.

    The following wrong demands a public apology:

    “Yes, Gary Ricucci (are we allowed to say names?) told me my poverty was “self-induced” because I would not ask the judge to NOT send my ex husband to jail, the man who sexually abused my 11 yr old daughter for 3 years. ”

    May I also point out that I probably speak for the majority of us in saying it’s all a lot of hot air until SGM makes FINANCIAL restitution to people for all the time and money and counseling that resulted from your inept bungling of the situations, inc those at CLC, Noel, Happymom, etc.

    If your lawyer advises you not to admit to wrongdoing and make any financial paymets at all because that could end up as a huge lawsuit payout to the victims for extra “pain and suffering”, tell your lawyer to go to hell, you plan to do what is right no matter what the result.

    Thanks for the letter. Praying for Josh and all of you.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Hey there, Greg. Just a thought. If you read ExCLCer’s story, YOU can talk to Riccuici (and of course CJ….) to get her contact info. They are the ones who stood by a child molester and condemned a woman for standing up for her child.

    Man up and YOU make the FIRST step and contact her and all the others directly.

    After all that harm that CLC has done to them, why wouldn’t the pastors of CLC make the FIRST CALL when their online acounts make it clear who they are?

    As a member of CLC, I appreciate this effot to make ammends, to do the right thing. PLease don’t be half hearted about it… Thanks.

  • Jim

    This is history folks. I don’t know the story, or who’s a good guy or a bad guy, but I know that a SGM pastor has never reached out to a wounded sheep on one of the blogs.

    Historical moment.

  • katie

    :goodpost
    good thought jim

  • LongingforHeaven

    ExClcerMom can I just tell you how much respect I have for you and your daughter. I feel heartbroken that you not only had experience the pain of having that happen to your child but that you experienced a betrayal from the church that is beyond me!

    Ughhhh this stuff really makes me sick!!! I can’t even imagine a mediore pastor ‘caring’ for a member like this. Especially Gary, who seemingly has a reputation for supposedly having the gift of healing…well his awful statement seems very ‘healing’. I don’t know why but I can’t separate Gary telling exclcer’s mom that her poverty was self induced and his daughter mocking her dad for spending countless hours planning their vacations to Disney. What a joke.

    So now the pastors send a message from the uber nice guy pastor at the same time they post a blog saying if you are not relationally connected to some piece of news you should bury your head in the sand!!! Come on people, isn’t that the type of thinking that allowed all this secrecy to protect the prepatrator and none of the other church members to even know enough to help this family!?!?

    Remember Your Relational Responsibilities
    The decision of whether or not to read critical comments in Brent’s documents or the blogs takes careful thought and prayer. One helpful way to process the issue is to think about your differing responsibilities. A simple way to sum this up is: Be tough on yourself, concerned for those closest to you, and protective of others.

    The person for whom you are most responsible before the Lord is yourself. Therefore, if someone says something critical about you, it’s generally wise to ask for God’s grace to hear them out and thoroughly examine their input. If you doubt your own judgment or objectivity, you might even want to bring in a third person to hear the criticism against you and help you to process it. The same would be generally true if a report concerns someone for whom you have some responsibility (spouse, child, employee, or even a close friend). If the report contains some truth, it may be necessary for you to take action to ensure that the person you are responsible for faces those truths and deals with them biblically. The same may be true if the person has significant influence over your life (such as the pastors in our church). If the report is true and the person refuses to repent, you may need to distance yourself from that person’s influence.

    But if a report concerns a person for whom you have no responsibility and who has no significant influence on your life, you should generally shy away from reading or listening to critical things about him. Even if the report is true, you can probably do nothing about it. If parts of the report are false, you will have allowed your mind to be poisoned against another person. Remember that Satan is the father of lies; he loves to spread slander and poison believers’ hearts against others. So unless you have some kind of responsibility to listen to critical words about another, it is best not to receive such words, and especially not to pass them on to others.

  • Dr.StupidHead`

    Is cynicsm a sin ? :scratch
    I am haveing a tough time with this personally.
    Its pretty easy to find someone these days. And why through “the evil” blogs ? I was a lurker for years but then someone who met me at a celebration years ago got ahold of me through a motorcycle forum. Its not to hard. No big announcement………….

  • keepinstep

    As soon as I get out of this computer chair, I’m going down on my knees to thank the Lord in Heaven for the work of Holy Spirit in Greg’s heart. Thank you God! Thank you Greg!

  • Ellie

    Even if the report is true, you can probably do nothing about it.

    You’re kidding, right? You guys DID read the good samaritan & all those other things Jesus talked about?

    If these people cared (other than damage control), they would contact the families involved directly. (They KNOW their names.) And they’d do it without making them SIGN anything.

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    I’d insist on a stenographer, videography, camcording, tape-recording, witnesses, and a written record if contact was made. Given a stated interest in the reports, documenting any meeting is essential. From what has been on offer for a long time? Justified distrust. Let the CLC Pastor be willing to be recorded, if any story is told.

    I’d recommend putting that on the table–a public recording. Get his reaction.

    This is where Brent Detwiler has it on CJ. Brent’s willing to meet with mediators, but Brent wants written records and wants those records to be open to the public. Instead, CJ retreated to the hills and he’s not coming back to CLC any time soon.

  • happymom

    Yellow is a Happy Color,

    If I’m reading that right, Greg is asking permission to contact them. He is just asking them to let Kris know if they are willing to talk with him.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    I’m sorry. When CLC tells me:

    “But if a report concerns a person for whom you have no responsibility and who has no significant influence on your life, you should generally shy away from reading or listening to critical things about him.”

    If we are talking about a child molester like Mr. A. who repeatedly abused a child over 3 years, and

    If Mr. A. is foot loose and fancy free at CLC, and

    If I have young children that I bring every week to CLC,

    …..then Mr. A, and this whole situation DOES have SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE on my life.

    And secondly, when CLC tells me …..

    “Even if the report is true, you can probably do nothing about it.”

    I simply don’t believe it. You know, I read a nice book a while back called DO HARD THINGS. Those sharp, bright teens inspired me to believe that I could do hard things, and that I shouldn’t listen to people who tell me that I “can probably do nothing about it.”

    Thirdly, CLC tells me ….

    “So unless you have some kind of responsibility to listen to critical words about another…..”

    Responsibility? I am a mother. You better believe I have a responsibility. I don’t want my children, or anyone else’s to be around Mr. A. God’s Holy Spirit is living inside of me and will help me in any and every difficult situation, including this one. :barf:

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Greg, I do appreciate your words, or perhaps your desire to “do what is right”. I have been in email contact with another young man, who I do believe in his desire to bring unity in Christ and open honesty with his pastors. I do not know that with you, but I will tell you what I wrote to this young man:

    “It struck me that while I have forgiven men for the situation I went through, I do not trust any of them. I haven’t had to-I am not around them, and my trust is in God. I seriously believe from (ExClcer’s) experiences with them that an “apology” would not be sincere, but more like a formality-something to make them feel better, or “absolved”. Their absolution is between themselves and God. I do not need their apology, and they do not need my absolution. I do hope whatever is necessary does happen in their hearts and in their lives, to ensure not another case of child abuse goes KNOWINGLY unreported, and mishandled. Yet, I realize all of this hurts God Himself just as much, even more, than it does me! It is up to each person to reconcile with God as they in their heart are willing-I don’t feel the need to be part of it-God can handle that part. It is up to me to forgive in my heart. Now, I do have to consider, having read how they have knowingly covered things up, how involved I should become, to stand up for those children and parents who are told to not report such crimes. That should never have happened-ever! It was not “my story”-it was every story after mine! Was that because they “learned” from the experience with my family that by bringing it out into the open, it cost too much in legal fees? Is that why they “covered up” every instance after that? I don’t know, and probably will never know, but God DOES know, and THAT is between each person and God, for ultimately He will judge them all.

    Perhaps God can use you to bring a change in the hearts of those at SGM that need it, but I don’t think I need to be involved for that to happen. As far as “counseling” for me, as possibly the same for many other “victims”, it is not available. I have no insurance, there is nothing. But, I am not complaining, mind you, for I think God Himself is the greatest Counselor of all! He has taken me through much more than you could know – we all do have our story-but, with God, He is patient..He doesn’t expect to “solve” all my issues within a frame of 6 months of hourly appointments every week..He is with me right when it hurts, nudging me every day, gently guiding me to a higher place of understanding and forgiveness. I believe He can do that for anyone-I am no one special-but some people have not learned to look to Him, and listen to His voice as I have. Maybe that is another benefit of a hard life. I am grateful for it.

    I know a lot of pain was expressed in my email last night. I probably should have waited to send it. Not because I believe differently, but it was late at night, and I will admit I have lost some sleep, staying up late reading these blogs, and things always feel worse on little sleep. The disappointment, the shock, and the horror are still there, though. That “men of God” would actually counsel someone to commit a felony, knowing it was such..I am still in shock-it is just so sad.

    As far as you trying to make sure my family is “sought out for forgiveness” goes, %&****, it seems to me, while that may be a goal you would like to have happen, that is something you cannot force. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”.

    When the hearts of men are changed, you will not need to try to make anything happen-nothing would be able hold them back from doing what is right!

    Until that point, all it would be is “a formality”-a bunch of words that they would selfishly be hoping could make something easier on them. I do believe it would be important to put some parameters in place for situations to be brought to light in the future. I think you have a good idea about identifying trained people to address issues like this. Obviously, God is doing something there. My one suggestion in your search is to not go with anyone who encourages any kind of secrecy, but to find one who is willing to educate, for with knowledge comes understanding, and understanding brings healing. I hope you can make a difference, if nothing else, shed enough light on things that other victims may feel free enough to share and receive healing. “

    Those are my thought for now, Greg. I will pray about any more involvement, because, as I have said in this letter, for me it is not about the absolution for pastors, it is about making things better to prevent more victims.

    5yearsin PDI-Thank you! I love that Scripture, but am not familiar with it-do you have a reference for it? I will read/speak it daily! I want to make a difference in the lives of women and children who have been abused. I want to help them learn to not just survive, but to overcome! I see this all as my training.Please dont anyone take that as in any way minimizing the pain my children have gone through-I would rather they never have experienced any of that-ever. It is the biggest heartbreak of my life, and the darkest years I have lived through.I hesitate to be involved in more with them-one reason I have hesitated to post too much here.

    I will pray about it, Greg. I will be honest enough to tell you I dont know you, I dont trust you, and your words may be genuine, but I dont know that. Perhaps it is god you must speak to first, and let Him put it on my heart. or maybe it is everyone else you need to speak to. Or, as “Happy” said, maybe it is just for you to pray right now, that God changes the hearts of the men who actually were directly involved?

    Those are questions I have-I dont have the answers. I think it is something we all need to pray about. Always a good thing-to pray.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Happy Mom, thanks for the clarification. I am hot and bothered and missed that detail. :)

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Longingforheaven@#6, you blockquoted from somewhere. But, what’s the source? Or URL?

    Here’s the quote:

    “The decision of whether or not to read critical comments in Brent’s documents or the blogs takes careful thought and prayer. One helpful way to process the issue is to think about your differing responsibilities. A simple way to sum this up is: Be tough on yourself, concerned for those closest to you, and protective of others.”

    The whole thing is “turn the brain off.” Who posted it?

  • happymom

    Yellow is a Happy Color,

    Believe me, I understand “hot and bothered” been there quite a bit myself lately. :)

  • four 1/2 pt calvinist

    Everything I knew about greg somerville, he was good man
    That said, if you meet with these people, exclcer, do not go alone, do not let them gang up on you (only meet with one at a time) and I agree with donald, bring witnesses or representation and record the meeting. In maryland you must have their permission to record or you are breaking the law.

  • ExCLCer’s Mom, thank you for joining in the conversation and sharing your story. You must be proud of exCLCer — she’s so brave, resilient, and smart. I’m glad to know that you found help outside CLC — as I did as well — and even more glad to hear that you were able to pull your family together again.

    Yellow is a Happy Color, :good post #11. I was so sick and angry when I discovered that my beautiful girlie had been at parties and functions with Mr. A — and sent queries to the other adult in the band — who tells me I need to hear the other side of the story, that it really wasn’t that bad, that exCLCer’s story was riddled with error (using a typical nitpicking focus on twigs — not even the trees, let alone the whole stinking forest.)

    Greg, thank you for coming here and reading the stories — and emailing Kris. I remember when you and your little family first came to CLC — and watching you all grow over the years, in number and in stature. I continue to pray for CLC — there are so many people I love still there — what a summer it has been.

  • Guy

    I also recommended to Greg (and the other pastors) that they post a similar message on the CLC blog. We will see if that happens.

  • West Coast

    Dear ExCLC,mom,and others who have been so hurt,

    When I sinned grievously against someone very close to me, I was forgiven by them and by my Savior-for which I am eternally grateful- but I didn’t earn back the trust and I have reaped because of my sin. I will probably never be fully trusted by this person and deservedly so. I understand perfectly that you cannot trust the pastoral team; they are not trustworthy. And yet, mom, you are filled with a forgiveness and confidence in Christ that is stunning. God can still work through this mess so that hopefully, from here forward, fewer precious children will be abused.

  • Defended

    Mr. Somerville, I hope that as your heart is pierced for exCLCer and her family that you will cry out to God and invite the conviction of the Holy Spirit to give you NO peace until you have reconciled with every one of those that you have failed to care for over the 14 years. Just as we, as parents become aware of our mistakes over time, you have the privilege and responsibility of caring for God’s people and I pray that you will really open your heart and mind to God’s bringing people to mind so that you can humbly bring your care to any and everyone who was skipped over or ignored, for whatever reason… and if you do, you will exalt the Lord as you minister, I’m sure of it!

    I remember John Loftness being mentioned in the last days of Noel’s Story. Has he also been saddened at these stories yet? Is he still one of those pastors you signed on behalf of?

  • happymom

    ExCLCer’s Mom,

    Thank you for what you shared in #13, there is so much wisdom in that comment.
    This one really struck me:

    “When the hearts of men are changed, you will not need to try to make anything happen-nothing would be able hold them back from doing what is right! Until that point, all it would be is “a formality”-a bunch of words that they would selfishly be hoping could make something easier on them.”

    Amen and Amen!
    Praying for you and your family.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Greg, part of a valid apology might include publicly identifying the molesters in question, particularly if they are in CLC (or whatever SGM church).

    You owe it to victims and their families to do your part to make sure that it doesn’t happen to anyone else in our church. ExCkcers Mom said this as well.

    Greg, there is someone here on the blogs whose father had commited similar crimes against children. Her church was very healthy and open about it. They had meetings about it and informed everyone that this man was in their midst. The man was truly sorry and submitted himself to this public proces–a real show of humility and repentance from the perpetrator. He wanted everyone to know the truth about what he’d done so it wouldn’t happen again.

    All this to say, you may want to find out about other churches who really took the effort to show they were seriously on the side of the victims and preventing future incidents. It’s got to be more than tears and words, although that’s part of it too.

    I’ll try not to be so hot and bothered. :) Maybe some mint chocolate chip ice cream would help…..

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Acme (#19) Thank you for your encouragement! I am proud of my daughter-very much!I could almost laugh at what your were told about “hearing the other side of the story” if that were not so sick of them to say! What “Other side” of the story should you hear? The police report that told the disgusting details, and a story of an 11 yr old girl who went to bed afraid every night in her home home, and even tried once to kill herself due to this man’s actions? is that the other side they thought you should hear? yeah, I bet it wasn’t either. They really dont want to “go there” with me, because I have copies of almost every document concerning that matter! I have moved on in my life, and have left that man in the hands of God, but if I know of another child at risk that I could prevent them from going through what my daughter went through, you bet I will speak up and do whatever it takes! I am not certain, because I have only recently heard about this band, but I think his lawyer is a member? If so, the Judge set him straight in court once already! Yet, in pretty much every instance I have encountered in life, anyone who is truly repentant does not minimize the trauma of their victim, rather use the victims feelings to recognize the severity of their actions. from my understanding, this is something absent with Child Molesters..I suppose that is why me or my family have never seen any appropriate remorse form the perpetrator there either. I dont know where his friend is coming from. But, you are right to stand up and protect your child! Nothing is more important that doing that!

  • Mike Cole

    @NLR – In response to your post,

    “I had run into some ex-SGMers at some time or antoher during my time there. I dont know why they left CLC or another SGM church, but if it was for pastoral abuse and issues with abuse and authoritarianism in that church, then I feel sorry for them. Because their abuser has now found refuge where they have. How ridiculous and disturbing is that.”

    I have thought and prayed about this, since I do fit your category. I hope that I would be a reminder to CJ that His grace is sufficient. The same Lord who met me in my time of need can meet him in his time. I really do mean that.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    And Acme, it took a lot of courage for you to talk to Mr. A’s band partner.

    Where is it in Scripture about calling things out of darkness and bringing them into the light? That’s what you did.

    And ExClcer’s Mom, you have such a grace about you. You come across as truly wise, and it doesn’t seem like bitterness consumes your life. This is evidence of the Holy Spirit in you, for sure!

    There are some amazing and godly women on this site!!!!! You are an example to me.

  • West Coast

    PS. Mom, My husband and I have sons and no daughters and we can’t comprehend what you and your children have gone through. Yet you have come out so strong and with all the children remaining close to each other. I hope and pray that God is using your story in a mighty way to bring Himself glory, to bring true repentance, and to save precious children.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    West Coast (#21)-Thank you-I’m glad to know you understand! Forgiveness and trust are two entirely different things!
    Defended (#22)-My thoughts exactly!
    Happy Mom (#23)- Thank you!

    One thing I should mention; When sin, or anything other lie for that matter, is covered up for a given time, it grows-it becomes more complicated. Only God knows the proper way out of this one. Mr. A has other children. Yes, I do believe they should know to protect their children in the future, but I also hate to see more people hurt in this situation. Exposing Mr. A will surely cause embarrassment to his daughters..I hate to see that. Yet, (I am thinking this through as I type-kind of dangerous)..On the other hand, I can remember when one of my daughters told Gary Ricucci’s daughter (they were in school together) about “good touch/bad touch”, and how that was why her daddy had to leave home..Gary called me to tell me that I needed to instruct my daughter (then she was around 7 or 8 years old)to refrain from telling anyone such things. I told him that I had recently explained things to her, and that to tell her to “not tell anyone” would only make her feel shamed, and there was no shame to be had except by the perpetrator! That would be the same in this instance as well. Mr. A’s daughters should be made to feel no shame whatsoever, just acceptance for the person they each have become. Had tings been appropriately dealt with 20 years ago, this would not be so complicated. If Mr. A did not try to minimize his crime, and recognize that no healthy adult would want a child around him-ESPECIALLY FOR OVERNIGHT CAMPING TRIPS- this wouldn’t be so complicated. Yet, complications are not a good reason to risk another child. What parent would not want to know such a history? On the other hand, I will admit, I trust no one anymore when it come to the safety of my children. I cannot even tell you if I think that is wisdom or fear, because it just is, and I will not consider anything different. I dont want to see his daughters hurt, But, I am not the one who committed such a crime. It is the crime, the sin that causes all of the pain..

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Happy, and West Coast, once again, thank you for your kind words. God is Good. I do not choose to live my life with bitterness. I try to focus on what is good and true. (Well, my family and I also like to focus on what is funny as well, but that is not exactly applicable here ) Love does cover a multitude of sins. I have failed my children in many ways, but never intentionally-they know that. I love them to the deepest depths of the sea-the farthest reaches of the sky, and all that is within me-they are my reason for living. I know there is nothing wrong with that, because God gave them to me, and wants me to love them so! I thank Him for that! I tell people everyday, that when I wake up , and I can see, I can hear, I can smell my coffee brewing, and get out of bed with two feet..even if I work until the day I die-the fact that I CAN work-that I have 13 healthy children, whose future is still before them-I am the most blessed woman on the face of the earth! I never forget that every day! Yes, I will bring up sad or ugly things, but for the sake of change. I do hope to see God Ordained changes come to CLC/SGM, or whatever they end up-just so long as the hearts of men change. Just so long as children are taught not to become victims, and are encouraged to speak up and not feel shame. I do so hope for a change to come!

  • Ellie

    This guy sounds so obnoxiously arrogant – “the other side of the story”. What on earth is wrong with him?? He sounds like he is enabling Mr. A in his pervertedness – any lawyer worthy of the name would advise this guy not to have a BAND with CHILDREN in it that go on OVERNIGHT camping trips!!! Are they NUTS or what??
    exCLCer’s Mom – I can only echo what others have said – you have so much wisdom, thank you for being there for all the children.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Thank you, Ellie. I do agree.

  • In Adullam's Cave

    I am a full skeptic and critic of SGM and SGM leadership, and my personal story with my family (if shared) would give me full credibility that I am not never defensive of nor tolerant of SGM or SGM practices; but I must confess that I am saddened by the choir of attacking voices, speaking as though this pronouncedly thoughtful and gracious email from Mr. Somerville is unlikely to be sincere.

    I am very grateful that the times that I myself have expressed repentance, sadness, and initiative to help – that I was received with joy and eagerness by those who deserved my repentance. Don’t say that repentance isn’t genuine if circumstances put people in a corner – or few of our testimonies of how the Holy Spirit cornered our souls would still hold weight.

    I realize that full trust requires proven new patterns of behavior, but I sure hope that the times I might need to write a letter like Greg has written – it is received with warmth and appreciation. I am with JIm – this is a historic and admirable moment (that requires sincere follow-through) that should provoke gracious appreciation, not responses that sound like a series of “Ya, right! Like you really mean that.”

    I repeat, if you knew my own story, you would not dare tell me that I only am saying this because I have not been sufficiently hurt by SGM and its leaders.

  • Nickname

    Thank the LORD that Mr. Somerville wants to pursue this matter. I know that it is very difficult to trust at this point in time. Forgiveness is the easy part — trust must be earned, and it takes time, LOTS of time to re-establish trust. It could be that you will never need to re-establish trust with these pastors on a personal level, but that may not be the issue here.

    I realize that many people do not trust even this communication; that many will be going over it with a fine tooth comb, and may find fault with the way it has been delivered, or presented, or anything else — and that’s understandable. Those who’ve been burned don’t want to go near a match book ever again.

    Still — I am blessed, encouraged, and hopeful and I have faith that GOD is bigger than this whole mess, and that HE is orchestrating events, tuning our hearts, and preparing our minds for some kind of closure or resolution or restoration or all of the above — I don’t know — but I am so grateful that there is finally and attempt at DIALOGUE!

    The CLC pastors have had the courage to take a stand that opposes the policies the SGM apostles put in place against acknowledging blogs, sins, complaints. THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS. You have restored a tiny smidgen of hope within me that perhaps this is not a lost cause, and that there ARE men in SGM with integrity, consciences, and guys that are listening to the Holy Spirit rather than an earthly leader.

    Praise God, from whom all blessings flow. To all who have suffered — may God bless you, heal you, empower you, protect you, and cover this multitude of sins with His perfect love.

  • Mary

    I am greatly encouraged by Greg’s email. I agree with Jim that this is a huge step for CLC – one I applaud. I pray for Exclcer and mom: my heart goes out to your family….love and hugs.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    In Adullam’s Cave, I can agree with you somewhat. I do really appreciate GS’s email, and his attempt to rectify things. I dont know from personal experience (I have only been reading these blogs for a couple of weeks maybe), but I understand this to be “historic”, and can appreciate that as well. However, Greg is NOT any person who was involved with the situation with my family in particular, so I dont understand his stance as being even as meaningful as others on this blog who were actually part of CLC when things happened to my family. In other words, for someone to say, “I remember, but I was not aware of all involved-I am so sorry I did not do more”, when they were present and could have made a difference (if they had known), is a big difference from; ” In my 14 years of pastoral ministry at Covenant Life Church, I have so often failed to love and care for God’s people the way I should. If it weren’t for the grace of our Lord Jesus and the forgiveness of the saints, this pastor would not have the faith to keep caring for God’s precious church. Stories like yours cause me to cry out for more of God’s Spirit, more of God’s heart. I do not want to fail his children in their time of deepest need! ”
    Do you see where I get my hesitancy? One is speaking directly to a personal involvement with the situation, and the other is a very general statement. Is it that Gary and John Loftness are no longer involved in the CLC ministry that Greg is taking over, and speaking for the church? Or, is it that Gary and John Loftness have no change of heart, and…. I dont know what else??? That is why I must pray about it. I am not trying to be difficult, it is just that I dont have a lot of time to waste. I just dont, that is all there is! Greg may have totally pure intentions-I just dont understand the purpose of a meeting. God can speak to me, and change my heart, but that will be the only reason I would show up for such a meeting! I am not at all about pleasing men anymore-I seek to please God! I make no apologies about that either! :D

  • ExClcer'sMom

    @Nickname.. :goodpost

  • In Adullam's Cave

    I really do understand “Mom” and I have no intention of diminishing the need for folks like you to have a lot of proven action before there will be real trust.

    I also understand that there are a whole lot of people that need to write letters like this much more than Greg needs to.

    It really is just a beginning, but I think there will be plenty to continue to be skeptical of, without brushing aside the few thoughtful things that start to happen.

    Please know I mean no insensitivity to your very real ad longterm hurt.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    In Adullam’s Cave
    You are right-it is a beginning. It still so makes me want to cry, yet also feels so good to have someone acknowledge the pain my family has been through, and the validation of why we do not trust. Thank you. With that, I must go to sleep.

  • West Coast

    In Adullam’s Cave,

    We are a part of a SGM church and have been for over 12 years. I am encouraged by the latest developments, but I know that sin has repercussions. I also know it can take a long time to admit one’s sin. And I know it takes a long time to earn trust again. I thank God through Jesus Christ that He is slow to anger and abounding in mercy and that He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

  • Breeezey

    According to the CLC website Gary turned 30 in August of 77 which means he turns 64 this month. Greg graduated college in 85 which puts him about 46-48. Just young enough to be his son. If the pastors at CLC have had discussions about this before Greg reached out I’m trying to imagine what the meeting sounded like. Greg saying: Gary!!! You told her her poverty was self induced!! What the #$%^&*(#@! were you thinking? And we just sat there and watched this family be pulled apart!! We had what, at least 700 members at that time and we couldn’t recruit enough families to help keep them together? What, we didn’t have enough guest rooms out of 700 members??

    ExCLCer went to school with my son TJ so I was there and I knew nothing. My nephew had just joined the navy so I had an empty room somebody could have stayed in. My (now ex-wife)still lives in the house we had on Weller Rd. 2 miles from the Frost Center where the school was at the time. MacGruder HS was packed every Sunday yet very few knew what was happening.

    We are called to bear one another’s burdens. And Jesus prayed that the world would know that we know Him by the way we love one another. Dropping the ball on this is doesn’t come close to describing it. Greg wants a meeting to learn. Gimme a break. This is a no-brainer. Gary was in his early 40s, he should have had more sense than that. I can understand Greg being brokenhearted but was he outraged enough to get in Gary’s face in the hall? John is over at Solid Rock in College Park so no chance meetings in the hallways at CLC. My thoughts are an apology without an offer of restitution of at least seven figures is not worth much. Conversation alone is just hot air.

  • waiting/deciding

    Speaking of Gary, isn’t there a bit of cause for concern that on the CLC website it says his title at SGM is Director of Student Care? More specifically, because it says his responsibilities include “Under the direction of Jeff Purswell, Dean of the Pastors College, Gary is responsible for helping students to watch their lives as well as their doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). He regularly meets with students, oversees special events, and provides pastoral counsel and care.” If Gary has repented of how he handled the situation with ExClcer’s Mom’s family and sought their forgiveness that’s one thing, but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case. Given that, shouldn’t there be a little concern that he’s guiding and teaching all the incoming “pastors”?

  • waiting/deciding

    I’m also wondering if the independent panel that’s in the process of evaluating CJ’s fitness to be a pastor will look at the sexual abuse cases that happened at CLC while he was the senior pastor, or if they’re just looking exclusively at Brent’s documents. I’m speaking out of turn a bit because maybe the sexual abuse cases are in Brent’s documents, I don’t know. While it doesn’t appear that CJ was directly involved at the time (I could be wrong), he was the senior pastor, so certainly he must have known what was going on and how things were being handled. It seems to me that some scrutiny is warranted there as well in terms of fitness for pastoral ministry.

  • Walking Wounded

    Greg,

    Possibly a better place to start would be to ask John and Gary to come forward with a written, public confession of what they see they did wrong. Let’s drop the SGM-speak and see some straight talk from those men. We all make mistakes. How about some honesty – or do they really feel that everything they did was correct? Forget talking to the lawyers. Forget worrying about lawsuits. The first step should come from then. While I am glad to see an SGM pastor make a move towards them, you must see their lack of trust. This has been going on for years. They have written letters for years. So you really expect them to trust you when you walk up to the line and ask them to step across? You (the CLC pastors) can do better!

  • Stunned

    If this guy were real, as soon as he read exCLCers story he would have gone into Ricuccis &Loftness’ office and either balled up his fist and punched them each square in the jaw or (if he were being extremely merciful), pulled them up by their collars and told them they he was personally driving them to Mom’s house so they could grovel at her feet and admit clearly to every freaking wrong they had done to destroy her family.

    THEN and ONLY THEN would he have ANY right to write this letter!

    Look, Buddy, take care of confronting (in a very real way) those two men before you come looking to make nice. I have no idea when you lost your masculinity but it is time to go find it again.DO RIGHT, then come asking for help.

  • happymom

    ExCLCer’s Mom,

    I don’t think you need to explain your hesitancy to anyone. Your caution is wise and earned, most likely through years and years of disappointment of the leadership to do the right thing and protect children. We had CJ get involved in our issue only to have him completely bail on us and just last summer K. Maresco called our home to tell us he was involved in our story and watching and asked us to keep him in the loop of things, he too, completely bailed on us and like CJ, continued to ignore all emails we sent them.

    You said something in your earlier comment, #28, that could very well be the banner statement for our situation:
    “When sin, or anything other lie for that matter, is covered up for a given time, it grows-it becomes more complicated. Only God knows the proper way out of this one.”

    God bless you and thank you again for speaking up on behalf of children. Nothing in my life has shocked me more than to witness grown men act like complete cowards in the face of child abuse.

  • BeSeparate

    My experience with Gary Ricucci was that he was very a very caring person when caring for you was part of his “job”. As soon as our family fell out of favor with CLC because of a disagreement on policy and doctrine, that caring disappeared. There was no room on his “daytimer” anymore for the “lost sheep”. My wife hit the nail on the head when she made the observation that these guys are not true shepherds in that they could care less about the one who goes astray. They write that one off so that they can continue to control the other ninety nine.

  • Greg was the principle at Covenant Life School. While in that position he advocated “Nazi like tactics” in their educational system (he actually used those words and/or similar ones… my sources are previous teaches and students). Until CLC “pastors” admit to using such communication tactics, specifically and publicly, and why this was wrong I would not trust that they have changed in their communication.

    Greg is now a “Family Life Pastor.” There are families in CLC currently deciding if they want to stay based on recent revelations. Add to that all these sexual abuse stories they are now becoming aware of via “the blogs.” How can CLC address this? Send a “Family Life Pastor” to provide some assurances by going straight to the source of the problem.

    This letter seems like a CYI and damage control. How better to avoid further attrition (i.e., lost revenue from families leaving)? Maybe appear humble and contrite, ready to learn from those families previously damaged/hurt by the system they created and propagated?

    Past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour. Simply stating, “I have so often failed to love and care for God’s people the way I should” is really easy to do. But until they admit specifically and publicly their past failures then who’s to say they don’t continue doing the same thing in the future?

    How did you fail, Greg? How has the system failed the people, specifically? How is this letter, and the disposition expressed in it, not more propaganda to further your cause?

  • LongingforHeaven

    Exclcer Mom I am astound by your grace and your heart of forgiveness in the face of your experience with those pastor.

    Even though I believe that Greg is a really nice guy and probably is even genuine in most of his sentiments, I don’t get this tactic (??) of sending out the Mr. Nice pastor (like Josh for CJ at the meetings) while Gary and John sit back waiting to see how thing unfold.

    I remember a while back that Kenneth Maresco shared how he needed to be counseled by his several pastor because he was struggling with anger towards some doctor who messed up something when his son an injury. Would to God, that in all those years that your daughter was writing her letters to them that they would have taken even one meeting to talk about anger towards the perp for the lasting damage that sexual abuse does. It is not some superficial fracture that heals. I hear one of Gary’s son has a blog of his own defending uncle CJ, how will he defend his own Dad’s actions?

    Exclcer mom for all my anger at those who would cover up and side with the perps, I too find my own heart wanting to believe these men and their soft sweet words. But I do believe that the Holy spirit has definitely given you much wisdom and will guide you through even this. I am praying for your family.

    DPV that except was taken from the members portions of the clc blog. I am sorry but I had to post it because I am sick of this glasnos on the outside and contradictory internal reality that members still are being called to live by. It makes my head hurt. And I am frankly exhausted by it.

  • Jim

    This is what Greg said:

    “I realize you don’t have much confidence in the pastors of Covenant Life Church right now, and I can understand that. But would you be willing to talk with me about your experience?

    Kris has my e-mail address — please let her know if you are willing for me to contact you about this.”

    This seems like a reasonable first step. Greg wants to speak with the injured parties himself before moving forward.

    We can all armchair quarterback this deal and demand that SGM sends a million dollars to everyone who tells their story on a blog, or demand that some kicks someone else in the teeth before they reach out to those who post their stories. Great. “I tried to reach out to them on their forum, and look at the nutjob responses. Let’s just forget the bloggers.”

    Is that what we want? When SGM reaches out to one of us on one of our forums, let’s just slam the door in their face. Good thinking. I’ll fly to Maryland to sit in on the meetings to ensure the BS is not brought to the table. What will you do? B***h and moan on a blog because you disagree with the manner in which THEY HAVE REACHED OUT TO ONE OF US?

  • Pilgrim

    elCLCer’s mom,
    You have been on my heart since exCLCer came on the blog and told her story. I still struggle with my perception about the whole situation. I struggle to articulate my feelings about the the causes and ramifications of all that your family suffered. The absolute betrayal at the hands of the perpetrator was horrible. But the response of the pastors in CLC is staggering. How could they have been so callous?
    It wasn’t just John Loftness and Gary Riccuci. I am pretty sure all the elders knew what was going on. Certainly the school teachers and principal (Bob S​) knew. CJ knew. Could they not relate to the pain of a wife and mother whose world had been shattered? Whose marriage was ending? Whose child was betrayed and hurt at the hands of someone who represented a father? The pain of trusting and entrusting precious daughters to the man who vowed to love and care for you all the days of your life only to have that man abuse that trust and harm your daughter?
    I can’t imagine how your child suffered. I try to imagine how you suffered. It hurts trying to put myself in your shoes for even a moment. exCLCer expressed a little of the pain she went through when she believed that someone would eventually come and take her from the facilities/group homes. I am sure they all suffered.
    Where was the church? Where was the “the body of Christ?” I would ask Greg S. to search his heart. What kind of place is this? How could the “church” turn it’s back on the most vulnerable in the midst? What happened didn’t happen in a vacuum. The environment the leaders created allowed this to happen. They blamed your poverty and the loss of your children and home on you????? How could any of the leaders who knew sit by and allow your children to be taken from you? Why, why, why, did they feel the need to uphold the person who caused so much pain while you and your children suffered? Am I missing something???? Was there not one leader who could see straight????

    Ex 22:22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.

    Job 22:9 And you sent widows away empty-handed and broke the strength of the fatherless.

    James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit (care for) orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.