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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

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  1. Ellie
    August 13th, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    #348 – Thank you.

  2. ExClcer'sMom
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    @Acme, I am so sorry if my initial responses caused hardship on you. I appreciate that you inquired, and looked to clarify things. We need that kind of truth. For, the record, your speculations had nothing to do with my response either. I am glad to see things resolved with you and friend.
    To clarify, the following is what upset me:

    I had recently learned about the camping trip, that related to the band-I believe it was called a “Father-Daughter Camping Trip”. My friend had no idea of his past, and was visibly shocked. I was not surprised that he keeps his previous sin secret. What horrified and shocked me was that a pastor would say that,“Yes [Mr. A] is a member who has strict accountability guidelines including informing any parents of children that he interacts with of his past so they can decide their level of interaction.” This is clearly NOT what is going on! My friend has been a member of that church for 15 years now, and never knew! It was only by God’s Grace that I have met her and we came to the realizations of our lives crossing once again!
    It upset me to hear such a lie, just as it upset me to hear how the pastors told people to NOT report the cases of child abuse that came before them after my family’s situation.
    One can say, maybe this person’s family slipped by someone, or whatever way someone may try to spin it around, but whether this camping trip was a “church event”, or simply “church members going camping”, My friend’s daughter was at risk that weekend, my friend has been a member of that church for years, and no one even told her? And surely Greg should have heard of the event, since his own son plays with that band as well. I’m sorry, but Corby’s statement, at best, sounds like SGM’ese, with some “managerial licensing”, which I prefer to say seems pretty much like a lie to me.
    @Jim (#295) Donald was not the one to have any bearing of my personal decision to not meet with Greg! On an earlier post, I said I was going to pray, and be slow to act, and that I had no intention of a meeting with me until I heard God Himself speak to me! What actually changed my mind was the “mis statement” from Corby, “reassuring” another how the “pastors have him under control with strict accountability guidelines”. Hearing that would make anyone believe that the pastors recognize the seriousness of the risk, but if they truly did, a member who had been there for 15 years would know to protect her daughter! Then, I do feel it slightly deceptive that Greg comes, and does not openly relate his relationship there. Add that to my hesitations from the beginning about why is he (Greg) the one coming to us, and not the ones initially involved, and musing about the timing..no, it really had nothing to do with Donald, or Acme-it is all about the pastors there at CLC, and their inability to openly acknowledge their own past wrong doing, and take responsibility for it.
    :trainwreck

  3. Roadwork
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Okay, in rereading my attempts at levity, it probably isn’t the clearest thing I’ve ever written.

    DPV: Let me see if I have your perspective correct:
    1. SGM church government and structure isn’t as you see church government and structure in the NT or as applied over the course of church history.
    2. While SGM calls itself “reformed”, you don’t see SGM as really being “reformed” as their definition doesn’t fit with the historical context of reformed.
    3. The SGM leadership is generally uninformed as to church history.

  4. QE2
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Re:Guy #348 Yes, we are all trying to make sense out of a lot of goofy stuff!

    I know so many of the posts over the years have been so helpful-sometimes it is like swimming in mud. You know you aren’t seeing it clearly, but you ARE seeing something. Then suddenly you read a post and WHAM! someone hits the nail right on the head and you think, Yes! That’s it!!

    I have noticed, though, that the posts in this thread do seem more contentious than usual. I can only say that this subject matters a lot to a lot of people, and it is not surprising that we are all feeling emotional. How can we not?

    For the most part, though, even though it might take several post interchanges, like Guy says, it almost always “self-corrects” and people apologize, or explain, or just concede that they need to respectfully disagree. I for one appreciate the venue for open, honest exchange of thoughts and ideas.

  5. Matt
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    ” I was willing to go along with Jim saying how it was historic to have an SGM or CLC pastor post on a blog, but, yes, I was hoping for more. It was just too much to ask that he engage the way the rest of us do.

    I do not think the CLC pastors can risk actually “engaging” here. They would not control the venue or questions. And it is all about having “control”.

  6. Donald Philip Veitch
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Thanks, Roadwork, I’m for levity when needed.
    1. As to church government, am more Presbyterian, seeing the need for Elders and built-in-controls of governance, rules of order, congregational participation (in the congregation, but also at the levels of presbytery and general assemblies), and the Book of Order. As to SGM polity, I see some troubles, e.g. no courts of redress. I even have a bit of an eye for LCMS governance. At this point, my sense–from again, attempted readings–is that Mr. Mahaney has been a functional Archbishop with a small group of Bishops, like David Harvey and others. Polity and governance is one of the several issues that SGM appears to be hammering out.
    2. As to “Reformed,” no, I don’t see SGM as “Reformed,” but that’s a big question.
    3. As to church history and what SGM-leaders know about church history, I couldn’t possibly rule on that one. It’s a good question though. One worth examining, e.g. surveys and studies. I’d love to see what attendees study at the Pastors’ College study. More generally, beyond SGM, this scribe is concerned widely about a small interest in that subject by Pastors–not all of course, but widely.
    I hope this helps, although, discussion of those issues are off topic. They are good issues, but ones that do not advance the narrative. I’m still trying to get my arms around the big picture. That, itself, has been a ride.

  7. Guy
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Matt, i agree that there is definitely a control issue. It has been the MO of sgm over the ages…however, i see them (sgm..primarily clc) testing the waters of late and i believe there are a lot of pastors that want to do the right thing…but a lot of them don’t know how to do it. The “blogs” were evil for so long – full of gossip and slander. Now, they are at least acknowledging us. Who’s to know what will happen next? I am (and always have been) open to a dialogue with any SGM leaders. However, I don’t play by the SGM rules and it freaks them out a little.

  8. exCLCer
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Wow, blogosphere’s been busy since yesterday afternoon! First of all “Hail to the Redskins, hail Victory….” (though it’s still tragic the cowgirls own the rights to that song). I was working at the game, but was still able to see most of it and could I be so optimistic as to say, we aren’t looking too shabby?!

    Now for the long part (warning, this might make DP Veitch look succinct, lol):

    Ok, first of all, mom, I understand why it upset you, the lies, the fake accountability, etc, but, please, please, for your own sake, don’t get all upset over a stark realization that the followers (current pastors) of their own mentors (CJ, Gary, John, etc) of this “-ism” may actually be not so far removed from the same way of thinking as their mentors. In practice, some things tend to change over time with leadership changing hands, but principle is part of the -ism’s core values and culture, and doesn’t change so quickly just because new ppl are “in charge”.

    I was worried about the possibility of you being unprepared for the conversation on the blog, and I know you must go through a bazillion ranges of emotion while abruptly reading, recalling, and analyzing the situation all over again after so long. But for me, reactionary blogging smells a bit like giving others words a little too much control over our emotions, and I don’t want that for you. I was afraid your eternal optimism and faith –in what could only be called miracles if they were to happen in spite of all the evidence and experience– would be a set up for another disappointment. I learned a long time ago that the only way to avoid disappointment is to have no expectations. You don’t have to defend yourself on here, or even let anyone know how ______ it makes you, to think/hear/read this or that. Let me do that for you. I have learned to replace emotion with reason; with practical and critical thinking –(we could argue all day if that’s a healthy thing or not, but it is what it is). Nothing anyone says, lies or criticism could hurt me at this point, so let me take that on.

    Mom, I know that a part of you always wants to believe the best, hope for the best, and wants so much to think others will see through the wall of -ism somehow because it’s so obvious to you what’s practical when it comes to the protection of victims, or the safety of children, or the way people treat each other. But “the best” is often a lofty goal and most often never realized. I’m not saying you need to give up hope, but be realistic, and it will protect you from disappointment. Experience (the past) is always the best indicator of future behavior. So put your efforts and raw emotions into your chronicles, not this blog – you can’t control what others do – if someone or a church wants to expose their kids to a child molester and has faith that god or christians or a woman who would marry a molester will suffice as protection– well that’s unfortunately and sadly their choice. All you or anyone can do is warn them, and thats what we are here for. Expect the lies and the justifications- its par for the course.

    The real issue isn’t Mr A – it’s the system of the –ism that would provide covering and misguidance, under a false sense of security, even in a situation such as this. Mr A could die tomorrow, and the system for these things to happen would still be in place there. Our story, Noels, SGMnots, all the other stories —well, its not really about each of us individually. We could all focus on these situations in depth and get easily sidetracked from the real issue. Our stories are the symptoms, the consequences, if you will, of the real issue. The victims of course deserve the full validation and appropriate apologies, but if truly sincere, it would be a natural result of a change in the real issues, instead of a means to quiet the storm so as not to disturb the profitable –ism machine from continuing.

    The SGM/CLC culture breeds arrogance, and instills calvanistic obedience, and encourages the acceptance of real evils (protecting and covering) while focusing on and instilling fears over imaginary evils (sin sniffing) in a one sided manner (“we will question you, but don’t you dare question us”). It models a hierarchical, authoritarian organization. It’s like the ultimate money making pyramid scheme, a top-down enterprise, made up of a god on top, then the pastors the next level down, and the great needy “sinful” masses at the bottom, with those pastors above them doling out, in turn, the rules and the guidance directly (and solely) imparted to them “from god”, backed by the threat of eternal D**nation or at least exile and excommunication.
    This indoctrination model is a dangerous influence against social change toward freer, more democratic, inclusive forms of society. It’s contrary to true humanism. If this weren’t the culture there, then nobody would be having to even discuss how to “handle” situations of child abuse, or spiritual abuse, or any of this – the humanistic value of protecting each other from suffering would be instinctual and no one in a church would have to go to the next rung up on the pyramid to get practical advice from pastors, who’s power and income is a determining factor in the advice they give out. They would be allowed to trust themselves more, having not been broken down over the years with a message of “you’re a sinner; you can’t trust your own judgment; trust us, we know better than you do; we can tell you what’s right; your sinner instincts are wrong”. Pampy said it well in #330.

    Acme – I understand what you were trying to say (Interesting. Where’s the disconnect? With the pastors and/or with Mr. A?) I think by involving themselves so much, as they did, in the defense of Mr A over the years, using their own names to testify to his character, they were putting themselves in a position (consciously or not) to be, in a way, responsible for him and his “care” or ongoing “treatment”. So in that, they would be the ones who most need to understand that trusting a pedophile or his wife or friends to be responsible for disclosure to unsuspecting kids and their parents is a very risky thing to do. Any professional treating a pedophile would NEVER recommend testing their wellness by spending time with children. That’s absurd!
    Legally the pastors might not be responsible for full disclosure, but morally aren’t we all responsible for disclosing information for children’s protection in every way? The disconnect, is that the willingness to tithe and the ability to present a “family image” in this church, is viewed as proving ones righteousness or virtually making one trustworthy.
    The camping trip, the band – not the only circumstances – from what I know “kids classes” are held in Mr A’s home on a regular basis, with church members children attending (presumably solicited through the mutual church relationships), who are also not informed of his history. It’s not odd to anyone that a person who struggles with pedophilia would surround himself with kids all the time? Boggles my mind. I wouldn’t want to risk finding out how tempted he was or wasn’t by using my own children as a test.

    Joe said:

    Donald, you do come off as a tiny bit pompous. Do you think you might consider posting maybe just twice a day? And then do short posts – one brief paragraph at most. And think carefully about what you might post before you do so. Would you be open to doing that?

    Hey Joe, get a phone/laptop with a faster connection if you cant scroll past the longer posts you’re not interested in reading. :wink: Its just that simple.

    ExCLCers sister2 – Hey you, welcome. #323 -Well said. And I agree, moms no idiot and can make her own decisions. The confidence and freedom to make our own decisions is something I really really learned to value after all the mess with CLC.

    Ozymandias – #336 – nice analogy (did I mention I love analogies)

  9. acme
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    exCLCer’s mom, you didn’t cause me any problems. No worries on that score!

    I agree that Greg should have revealed his relationship with Mr. A — surely he knew who we were discussing here.

    There also needs to be a clear procedure in place for informing parents. I had a conversation with my daughter about this — and showed her the picture of the band and explained what happened and reviewed again good touch/bad touch, possible scenarios, and telling me no matter what.

  10. ExClcer'sMom
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    @ 5 years (#349) I think what you may be remembering are two different situations. I know how sometimes we can be reading so many different statements, I keep a pen and paper next to me now! LOL I will re-iterate what i think you are asking for clarification on:

    When meeting with Gary Ricucci, he did not like me continually referring to the perp as a pedophile-he begged to differ over such a label being applied. (I do have a letter from a professional counselor in my possession that clearly defines him as such, BTW) When we looked up the word in the dictionary, and it read, “One who is sexually attracted to children” Gary’s response to that was, “Well, I think he was more attracted to the woman she was becoming rather than the child that she was”. At no time, to my knowledge, did anyone even suggest that she tempted such a thing, and thankfully, no one ever tried to imply that she was anything less than a victim. I would have left sooner if they had! Even when the Mays suggested I send her elsewhere, so that he could come back to be the head of household and father to his other children, they were not saying it as her having done wrong. As wrong as they were in their statement to me with that, I believe what Kathy was thinking was why have 8 other children “suffer without their father” due to one child not being ready to receive him back in the home. Now, we can all see the folly in that reasoning, but she obviously was full of koolaid. In many ways, I remember her as a wonderful person, just too steeped in koolaid.
    What may have caused some confusion was another story that my daughter and I both posted about. A young girl who came to CLC from the Fairfax Church, where she had been molested (a full blown ‘affair’ with a 14 yr old child) by the father in a home where she was taken in as a foster child. She had previously given birth to a child fathered by her school bus driver (who was around 30 yrs old when she was 13). Then, while here in CLC, yet another pastor made a suggestive comment to her while home alone with her, and he was only clad in a bath towel. There is much more to this whole story, but she was told that she “had a spirit of adultery attached to her”. That may be the post that caused you some confusion..

  11. Phoenix
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Re The Colonel (DPV)

    Colonel, welcome, and as others have said, thank you for your service. You retired after what, 30 years?

    I was married to a Marine Corps officer for 22 years and I recognize some of their shared characteristics in The Colonel’s posts. The emphasis on leadership and responsibility. The strategic and tactical thinking. The thorough and detailed thought process and the “situational awareness.” The pragmatism/cynicism balance. The soldier/scholar. But most of all, for those who may not know, a Colonel in the Marine Corps really is the same as a General or Flag Officer in the other services in many ways (no criticism of anyone or any service intended — just a point about that unique military culture.) They are used to being LISTENED TO and they must take their own words very seriously. All of this can make their discourse sound a bit alien to the modern blogging/texting/Facebook culture.

    In the “for what it’s worth” category. And, even having been buffeted and bothered somewhat myself, I love the give and take and the self-correcting freedom on this blog. I find it a good place to hang out.

  12. ExClcer'sMom
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Good for you, Acme!! Would that all parents educate their children like you have!
    :clap :clap :clap :clap

    ExClcer, I am glad to hear your words of wisdom on the whole matter.

    I was worried about the possibility of you being unprepared for the conversation on the blog, and I know you must go through a bazillion ranges of emotion while abruptly reading, recalling, and analyzing the situation all over again after so long. But for me, reactionary blogging smells a bit like giving others words a little too much control over our emotions, and I don’t want that for you. I was afraid your eternal optimism and faith –in what could only be called miracles if they were to happen in spite of all the evidence and experience– would be a set up for another disappointment. I learned a long time ago that the only way to avoid disappointment is to have no expectations. You don’t have to defend yourself on here, or even let anyone know how ______ it makes you, to think/hear/read this or that. Let me do that for you. I have learned to replace emotion with reason; with practical and critical thinking –(we could argue all day if that’s a healthy thing or not, but it is what it is). Nothing anyone says, lies or criticism could hurt me at this point, so let me take that on.

    You are right, I do need to leave that up to you. Love you.

  13. Donald Philip Veitch
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    A little off topic, but this is noted re: C.J. and Carolyn fleeing CLC.

    http://www.brentdetwiler.com/brentdetwilercom/2011/8/13/cjs-flight-from-covenant-life.html

  14. Matt
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    “Matt, i agree that there is definitely a control issue. It has been the MO of sgm over the ages…however, i see them (sgm..primarily clc) testing the waters of late and i believe there are a lot of pastors that want to do the right thing…but a lot of them don’t know how to do it. The “blogs” were evil for so long – full of gossip and slander. Now, they are at least acknowledging us. Who’s to know what will happen next? I am (and always have been) open to a dialogue with any SGM leaders. However, I don’t play by the SGM rules and it freaks them out a little.”

    Freaking out is good! It worked for me. :o)

    None of us knows how to do the right thing the right way. That is part of the problem.

    The Holy Spirit is the one who should be speaking. Not us. And that may not always sound like you think it might. It might be Paul saying he wished they would emasculate themselves. (Because they are Judaizers who make the rules)

    As an “outsider”, I see some of the same themes being played out I saw at the mega. People fear saying the right things but the wrong way.

    They are judged more on their toneand use of words than the content. This is wrong and simply another cult tactic to control people. We used it all the time.

    There was more flack about “how” people said things than what they said. Then people start walking on eggshells fearing the tone instead of focusing on the content.

    How does one say nicely they hate what predators do to children and the fallout for a life time? Is there a nice way to say that to those who actually help predators be predators?

    Why shouldn’t people be angry about that? As if their anger is worse than what the predator did.

    The point is, if you don’t play by their rules, you don’t play. Period.

    I think the jury should still be out on whether they are using the blogs to be able to say, “see we reached out”. “You can trust us now”.

    (You were right to post the letter, btw)

    But the letter had no real content at all if we look at it from an analytical truthful point of view. They are only blaming themselves for how they “cared” for her. Not what they did to help a predator. And that is the real crime.

    perhaps in 10yrs, they will admit that. :o)

    Let us continue to make it about the victims and not the pastors. They should be the least of our concerns.

  15. 5yearsin PDI
    August 13th, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    “from what I know “kids classes” are held in Mr A’s home on a regular basis, with church members children attending (presumably solicited through the mutual church relationships), who are also not informed of his history. It’s not odd to anyone that a person who struggles with pedophilia would surround himself with kids all the time?”

    Ugh.

    “When we looked up the word in the dictionary, and it read, “One who is sexually attracted to children” Gary’s response to that was, “Well, I think he was more attracted to the woman she was becoming rather than the child that she was”.”

    Ugh.

    Thanks Mom.

    Prayers.

  16. Breeezey
    August 13th, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    For ExCLCer’sMom… Waaaaaaay back at post #248 Radically Saved offered some financial assistance since you are currently in school and not working. Matt (post #279) also offered the same and I’m adding myself to the list. If you have a Pay Pal account you can get a Mastercard through it and use it just like any other bank debit card. I am an independent computer field service tech and one of the tech sites I receive work from pays me through PayPal. You can use an anonymous nic there too. Pleeeease allow us to serve you in this way. I know $$$ is tight. I lost my house last year and I’m still digging out but our Father promises to give back far more than we do. :D

  17. 5yearsin PDI
    August 13th, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Mom….

    I am upset, I have to admit. So let me get this straight.

    Your ex started to sexually molest her when she was 9 (3 years of it, right?) and a CLC pastor says that he was attracted to the woman that 9 year old was becoming, so it was more like adultery than pedophila, right?

    Did anybody ever rebuke him on that, challenge him on that, make him go take some counseling courses, did they do anything at all? This guy is still pastoring? Did he ever apologize?

    Ugh.

  18. Roadwork
    August 13th, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks for the insight, Phoenix.

    The only two Colonels I ever knew were Air Force (retired) and both of them were really hard to get along with from my perspective.

    It may also be my background – more like Up in Smoke and Animal House. I thought both of those movies were documentaries.

    Maybe I should use a picture of Tommy Chong for my avitar. It would probably help.

  19. Fried Fish
    August 13th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    @Matt #364 –

    But the letter had no real content at all if we look at it from an analytical truthful point of view. They are only blaming themselves for how they “cared” for her. Not what they did to help a predator. And that is the real crime.

    Actually, Matt, if you want to be analytical, they are not blaming themselves for anything, nor admitting being deficient in their care in any of the cases we have been speaking of lately here on the blog. Mr. Somerville only acknowledges their feelings of being cared for inadequately, not linking it to anything that CLC/SGM or their representatives may or may not have done.

    Mr. Somerville acknowledges his own personal deficiency in providing care over his 14-year tenure, but with no specifics, nor do I believe he was involved in handling any of the abuse cases at the time when they occured. I’m certainly willng to be corrected on that.

  20. acme
    August 13th, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    5 years, I looked for the reference, but couldn’t find it right off. The abuse lasted from when she was 11 years to 14 years old. I agree with both your Ugh’s

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