What Sovereign Grace Ministries Is Telling SGM Members About The Lawsuit

Sovereign Grace sent the following letter to members recently:

Dear [Member Name],

Last October, we informed you of a lawsuit filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), two of the local churches that were at one point affiliated with SGM (Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax), and eight individually named pastor-defendants.

As a valued partner in Sovereign Grace’s mission to plant and build churches with the gospel of Jesus Christ, we write to update you on this matter and provide you with the latest details as we prayerfully trust the Lord and submit to the legal process.

The allegations in this lawsuit are vague and largely unclear, but to the extent they can be summarized, they claim that several church members were the victims of physical or sexual abuse by a number of alleged perpetrators at various times and places across a number of years and that a number of pastors failed to report this to the secular authorities. The suit alleges that some of the pastor-defendants failed to properly report the alleged abuse to the secular authorities after the victims’ parents told them of it. There is one pastor-defendant accused of abuse, and these accusations appear to be that he physically disciplined one of his children. We do not believe there was a “cover-up” of sex abuse or pedophiles at the two local churches involved and we trust that the local churches carefully reviewed any reports of abuse to see that the proper response was made. We would encourage any pastor or church member to step forward if they were aware of any such behavior.

Our actions on the legal front do not reflect a denial of real pain for the victims or an effort to avoid the rightful course of justice in these cases. Rather, we are simply exercising our right and obligation to oppose any litigation that claims, without any evidence, that SGM was involved with some sort of conspiracy to wrongfully or neglectfully respond to reports of sexual abuse. We do this while remaining devoted to caring for the victims of abuse and to encouraging our local churches to develop policies and practices to ensure they remain places of safety and healing. In the interest of pursuing truth, we are obligated to answer and defend accusations against our ministry, even at the risk of a perception of marginalizing our regard for any victims and their families. We regret this challenge and, again, commit to do all that we can to seek truth and minister to all who are affected by these allegations. If the process of review and evaluation of this case uncovers any issues of which we are not aware, the Board stands ready to address those concerns in a manner that pleases God and respects and cares for those affected.

We will keep you informed of any progress in the ongoing litigation and ask for your continued prayers for a just resolution to this lawsuit.  We have received questions about the use of the 1st Amendment as a defense. Please make sure to read that section below. Here are the updates:

Motion to Dismiss Filed February 25, 2013

CarrMaloney, SGM’s counsel assigned by its insurer, determined there were a number of valid reasons to file a motion to dismiss the case with respect to SGM. As their motion states: “Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint is a vague, confusing document that fails to state any legal or factual basis for the claims against Defendant (SGM).”  Because Plaintiffs’ complaint is so vague, it is difficult for SGM to know the specifics of the incidents that have been alleged. Further, the alleged reporting of abuse would have been handled at the local church level and therefore would have been a matter strictly left to the local churches, not SGM. SGM does not have the authority to control local churches or govern their internal affairs.

Below is a summary of SGM’s Motion to Dismiss, as filed on February 25, 2013. The entire motion is 25 pages long and is a matter of public record. Because many of the deficiencies in Plaintiffs’ allegations are applicable to all defendants, several of the arguments SGM made were similar to those made by the other defendants. The following is a summary of our arguments. (The sections below in quotes and italics are taken directly from SGM’s Motion to Dismiss.)

  1. “[Plaintiffs’] complaint is so vague and factually deficient that it is nearly impossible to tell who committed the acts of abuse and when and where the alleged acts of cover-up occurred, much less how old the alleged victims were both then and now. Plaintiffs appear to have done this in a deliberate effort to deprive SGM of the factual grounds that it is entitled to for various defenses, including statute of limitations.”
    .
  2. “By alleging the alleged tortious conduct was a product of the churches’ teachings that conditioned the church members to “unquestioningly obey” their “spiritual leaders,” Plaintiffs have put the spiritual and doctrinal affairs of SGM and the local churches directly at issue. Plaintiffs allegations therefore violate the Free Exercise Clause of the 1st Amendment and must be dismissed.”
    .
  3. According to Maryland law, Plaintiffs have failed to state valid claims or have no legal basis for any of the alleged torts against SGM on grounds of negligence, infliction of severe emotional distress, conspiracy to obstruct justice, negligent hiring and supervision, or misrepresentation. In addition, the Motion to Dismiss includes a number of grounds for dismissal relating to each individual plaintiff, including statute of limitations and lack of legal standing,
    .
  4. Even if Plaintiffs are able to show that their case satisfies the legal criteria for stating valid claims, they still have no grounds to impute liability to SGM based on the alleged acts of the other defendants. It appears they are alleging that SGM owned and operated both CLC and SG Fairfax, and that they can therefore impute to SGM any liability these churches have for the alleged cover-up actions of their pastor-defendants. However, SGM does not own, operate, or control any churches. And, at the time of the alleged conduct, SGM did not employ any of the defendants who are alleged to be “personally involved in the events that led to this lawsuit.” Therefore, there are no legal grounds to impute liability for the actions of the individual-defendants to SGM, which is simply a religious denomination, and does not control or govern the local churches.

1st Amendment Defense

The second point summarized above addresses the 1st Amendment defense. Plaintiffs claim that the alleged abuse and/or cover-up was a product of the local churches’ religious teachings and doctrines that ordered the church members to “unquestioningly obey” their pastors. Our First Amendment defense points out that such a claim cannot stand because it asks the court to inquire into the legality of the churches’ beliefs. It is a matter of religious liberty to not involve the courts in determining whether the doctrinal teaching and pastoral counseling of a ministry or church is done correctly in their eyes. That is why this is included as part of the legal defense.

I want to strongly emphasize that we are NOT in any way using the 1st Amendment as a defense to somehow protect sex abuse or a conspiracy to cover up crimes of any kind. We fully respect the gift from God of established legal authority according to Romans 13. And we strongly encourage all our churches to fully comply with all laws pertaining to the reporting of crimes in their state.

With these commitments firmly established and understanding the nature of this lawsuit, we must use all appropriate legal means to address the spurious and defamatory charge of a cover up of sexual abuse as well as all the destructive legal implications that come with this lawsuit.

Please note that our November 17, 2012 statement referenced this First Amendment issue prior to the filing of the Amended Complaint. I hope this explanation adds any needed clarity as to why it is necessary for our legal counsel to make this defense.

Next Steps

Now that SGM legal counsel has filed their Motion to Dismiss and the Plaintiffs have responded to the motion to dismiss, a hearing is scheduled on May 17, 2013 to consider the defendants’ arguments for dismissal. After this hearing, the judge will rule on the motion, normally within two months of the hearing.  So, as we have communicated before, this is more of a marathon than a sprint. If the suit is not dismissed, the actual court date is currently scheduled to begin on February 3, 2014, but there are many things that could happen before then including judgment being granted in favor of some or all defendants based on the evidence presented during discovery.

We are all pained by a process by which we are perceived as “guilty until proven innocent” through a “trial” seemingly already taking place in the court of public opinion, resulting in myriad questions being asked based on incomplete information presented online. But, we are providing this information to ensure you that we are doing all we can to address these charges and address them in a way that honors God, and the members of Sovereign Grace churches. Thank you for your prayers and support.

Sincerely,

Tommy Hill

Director of Finance and Administration

Thoughts???

476 comments

  1. Luna Moth says:

    This is in reference to a comment on the previous post–The California “Bathroom Bill” is not law yet. We’ll see what happens. It may not go through.

  2. Jenn Grover says:

    First I love Tommy Hill and his family and want nothing but good for them. Tommy is a gentle, humble guy and I have a lot of respect for him. He is extremely bright and has been a huge asset to SGM.

    Second, Tommy should not be making the statements since he has no firsthand knowledge. It is a fact that pastors were asked to stand up at a pastors’ conference and tell everyone what bad job they had done in abuse cases. It appears that the mea culpas within private, the confines of the conference were more transparent than they were to the victims, in the few incidences where any attempt to apologize to the victims was made.

    Sovereign Grace had many opportunities to attempt to make this right with the victims – none of them rushed to court. through private conversations with some of them I know that they went way above and beyond in terms of forbearance and a desire to glorify God. Like so many other instances, however, SGM has been reluctant to confess where they were wrong. My bet is that the pastors involved had the guts to apologize and admit they made mistakes, thee would be no lawsuit.

    After the lawsuit was filed, SGM still had the opportunity to reach out and do the right thing. their lawyers and insurance company will not stand before god, they will and God would prefer for them to do the right thing more than he cares about their bank ledger.

    SGM still has the chance to do the right thing. It starts with the new Executive Director examining himself and the conflicts he has outstanding with others. It then moves to repenting for any concealment he participated in or other wrong-doing as a pastor. Then, it is time for someone from SGM to admit they have been wrong and ask for forgiveness.

    What good is it for SGM to continue to survive if it is only held together by a string of half-truths, corporate style branding, and friends in “high places?”

    Again, SGM is not the victim here. Their name has been drug through the mud because they have been stiff-necked. God will not be mocked.

  3. Diego says:

    This lawsuit is the closest thing to SGM bearing fruit in the past two years. And it’s not a fruit from God. Their arragance in the way they treated those abused in the past as well as the arragance shown through the AOR farce brought them to this place. CJ the spiritual leader still of SGM cannot jump ship and have the storm relent. He will be going down with this ship. He was given the opportunity to repent for a number of years but chose not to. His unrepentant sin and the condoning by the other leaders has robbed the people of SGM, those who loved this ministry, have now no choice but leave. God will provide for them. He will care for His sheep where SGM has neglected to.

  4. Oswald says:

    Jenn G @2 — If Tommy Hill is gentle and humble, a man you say you have respect for, what is he still doing with SGM? Maybe he should take the high road and say something that resembles repentance for the organization and then get out, as others of us have been advised and encouraged to do, and as many have already done.
    Let the redeemed of the Lord SAY SO.

  5. MAK says:

    Oswald, I agree. I guess humble and gentle people can also be deceived.

    It was also noted in last Sunday’s members meeting at CLC that they’ve spent $86K on the lawsuit so far. Which, they say, will be recouped via insurance proceeds.

  6. Jenn Grover says:

    MAK #5: “I guess humble and gentle people can also be deceived” – AMEN! There still, and I know I am not alone, many people who I still respect and care for who I would put in that camp.

  7. Persona says:

    I have never figured out why Tommy and his wife continue to follow CJ and work for SGM. But, I pray that they can break away from them sooner better than later.

    I guess he got somewhat of a promotion in the move to L’ville and maybe his wife prefers to live in the deep south. But, their commitment to that organization is something that baffles my mind. It really doesn’t jive with their character.

  8. Oswald says:

    …’extremely bright’/’deceived’… and a mouthpiece besides. I’m also reminded that ‘huge assets’ usually come at a high cost.

  9. Sick With Worry says:

    Persona – I know how you feel. I have several close friends at CLC, CFC, and Cherry Hill, and I do not get it. In some cases, they are “married in”, and in other cases….. well, they are just loyal.

    I have a theory. Here it is: Unless you believe that none of the people in SGM are believers, which I do not think any of us believe…. then it makes sense that God would have some good people in SGM land keeping things from being as bad as they could be. That must be the case. In addition, as goofy as I think things are, I have seen some good. So, go figure. The Lord is good even in the midst of all this.

    The straw that broke the camels back for me was the fact that I could no longer invite non-believeing friends to church because of the stuff on the web. It just was not worth it any more to me to have to keep looking over my shoulder to see what was going on. But, for the sake of some new believers… I am glad that each church has a handful of decent people…. Like Tommy Hill, as Jenn says.

  10. NameGoesHere says:

    Louisville is no more the Deep South than Manassas.

    That is a very good PR for anyone who hasn’t actually come here and read the stories. Anyone who has read the stories should immediately recognize that either SGM or the alleged victims are blatantly and boldly lying.

  11. just saying... says:

    The words “throw the churches under the bus” come to mind.

    If I was named in the lawsuit, I would distance myself as far as I could from SGM and their defense.

    We all know who made policy.

  12. Jim says:

    Tommy is by all accounts a good guy, who I would assume knows nothing about what happened.

    CJ, on the other hand, knows that this letter is complete bull$hit.

  13. Pffft says:

    I am at a loss for the vouching for the author of this forked letter.

    “spurious and defamatory charge of a cover up of sexual abuse” ALONGSIDE
    “Our actions on the legal front do not reflect a denial of real pain for the victims”

    Might as well write, “Whatever your position, that’s ours, too.”

    Note the Royal We: “We are all pained by a process by which we are perceived as ‘guilty until proven innocent’ through a ‘trial'”

    Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals.

  14. Jenn Grover says:

    One thing you have to remember is that SGM leaves out important details to make themselves look better. I heard an SGM version of a situation at a church go very badly. The SGM pastor relaying the story made the folks (who were family friends) look really bad. At the time I had concerns about the story and didn’t understand some of the information. I now highly suspect that I was told an SGM version of the story that leaves out important details that would make SGM look bad. I look forward to sitting down with the folks involved to her their story.

    The truth is that Tommy has to issue letters like this because SGM has overdrawn from the trust account because they have not and continue to not be completely honest. Leaving out important details that you know will affect how the hearer perceives the story is deception and SGM hs been guilty of it over and over. Think about all of the things we have been told that were flat out not true (Josh and SGM board agree on most things, SGM moving to Louisville only bc of cost, & once we found out the whole story about CJ/Larry, CJ wouldn’t look so bad, etc…) Mark Prater believes in the same type of communication deception.

  15. 5yearsinPDI says:

    “we trust that the local churches carefully reviewed any reports of abuse to see that the proper response was made”

    Oh please. Who was the poster recently who talked about asking Warren in Marlton about the pedophile policy, and Warren said they would have kept it “in house” in the past, but now they would call the cops. Remember that one not long ago? I appreciate a pastor candidly admitting that in the past they didn’t call the cops……giving Warren a break here…so why is SGM even pretending that churches would have made the proper response for this crime? I guess Susan Burke can subpoena Warren…..

    SGM does not have the authority to control local churches or govern their internal affairs.

    How can they sleep at night? How can they even go into church and sing? I don’t get it.

  16. Jenn Grover says:

    5Years #15: “we trust that the local churches carefully reviewed any reports of abuse to see that the proper response was made”

    The only proper responses I can think of are praying and fasting for the victims and crafting your departure letter to SGM.

  17. Bridget says:

    Thoughts —

    Did they actually send this to every member or just the elders at each church?

    Why is this signed by Tommy Hill?

    They are obviously trying to throw the local churches under the bus.

    Why would they even right this section:

    We are all pained by a process by which we are perceived as “guilty until proven innocent” through a “trial” seemingly already taking place in the court of public opinion, resulting in myriad questions being asked based on incomplete information presented online.

    They always say things that make them sound like whining children.

  18. Bene D says:

    You have to wonder where the myriad of questions are coming from and who they are directed to.
    Congregants, pastors, media asking questions to SGM bigwigs?
    Myriad is a lot.:^)
    Opps.

    ‘based on incomplete information presented online’.

    I haven’t seen that, not here, not elsewhere, be it blogs or media. Are SGM bigwigs finally are starting to sweat, given their own words are published in full, and media gives right of response to SGM when the plaintiffs legal council is interviewed etc.?

  19. Tempest says:

    Seems pretty safe to say that now the world can see what the victims families were dealing with. Their “pained by the process” is pathetic.
    Jim nailed it. #12

  20. Somewhereintime says:

    Jim… Good to hear from you. I miss the old site!

    This letter is the same dribble that I’ve been hearing from those in my old church. What is NOT said in the letter is THE problem. It was only a few here and a few there. It was pervasive and it will come out during the trial. Pastors sold their soul to protect CJ and SGM where in fact they are called to love, serve and protect those in their church. jenn Grover said it well, they are a stiff necked and proud people and God loves them and will continue to discipline them until they repent!

    I am so glad that my old pastor is no longer the one protecting me from the wolves when in fact, I was part of a wolf pack that eats it’s own!

  21. loveclc????? says:

    I cannot get past the LIES. These are our PASTORS!!!!!! Or were….. Come on show some integrity. Do they think that we are so stupid we believe this crap?

  22. KWIM says:

    Why is the director of finance and administration writing this letter and not say maybe the intrim communications? So confused. Do they trust Tommy to write a better letter than Mike Bradshaw?

  23. Jim says:

    For the record, I am in no way defending the content of the letter, as it is disgusting. What I believe is that Tommy is above this. As such, he should find employment elsewhere.

    It seems that these various committees have chosen to have their own separate “spokesmen”, (Mike B, Tommy), who may or may not have had any input re what was written.

    I do find it funny that SG still can’t get in front of any issue, but continue to play catch up/damage control.

    Perhaps they should just drop the PR ploys and live as if they actually believe that God cares about our actions.

  24. Keepinstep says:

    I’d like to know how this statement has a shred of truth in it: ” We do this while remaining devoted to caring for the victims of abuse….” Or do they still think that forcing a small child to confront and forgive her abuser defines “care”?

  25. Jenn Grover says:

    Jim #23: “Perhaps they should just drop the PR ploys and live as if they actually believe that God cares about our actions.”

    Amen, brother.

  26. Foot says:

    Tommy made HIS alleged CHOICE and is accountable for this slop, it will follow him the rest of his life and when Tommy stands before our Lord Jesus Christ. He is getting paid to do this and to support SGM, no excuses, no halo. Ditto for past board members, CJ, DH, STEVE SHANK, CC, Mickey C, present board members, and the other SGM minions that look the other way… While Tommy took the hoopspa to allegedly write this document to SGM members, it sent a clear message to those who have suffered under PDI/SGM “ministry.” As usual, another STALLING tactic, marketing ploy – buttery words, blue sky, just keep those tithes and offerings coming… However, our Lord Jesus Christ, the true HEAD of the true church (which He purchased with HIS BLOOD), will not be mocked. Tick Tock SGM, your day is coming…

  27. Somewhereintime says:

    Jim … disgusting is correct.

    I have ZERO respect for Tom Hill. None whatsoever. A man is known by his ACTIONS. If Tom Hill was such a “great guy” and “godly” then he wouldn’t be a part of this garbage! So, his name is on the document. He wrote it. He OWNS it. If he is a spineless man sobeit!

    A man-focused ministry will deliver man-inspired outcomes. None of us should be surprised. If you are you need to reconsider what is going on here.

  28. Todd Wilhelm says:

    “The bending of the mind by the powers of this world has twisted the gospel of grace into religious bondage and distorted the image of God into an eternal, small-minded bookkeeper. The Christian community resembles a Wall Street exchange of works wherein the elite are honored and the ordinary ignored. Love is stifled, freedom shackled, and self-righteousness fastened. The institutional church has become a wounder of the healers rather than a healer of the wounded.”

    -Brennan Manning, “The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled

  29. 5yearsinPDI says:

    Luna moth- thanks for the clarification re that CA bill.

    Jim….Tommy may not know about the sex abuse related cases. But he signed his name to this claim: “SGM does not have the authority to control local churches or govern their internal affairs”- knowing full well that the A team ruled with an iron fist.

  30. Jim says:

    5Years,

    I said that Tommy should quit his job.

  31. Whirlwind says:

    “SGM does not have the authority to control local churches or govern their internal affairs”

    Calling Brent Detwiler…

    Can you weigh in on this. I know this is the party line now, but what about in the 1990’s? What was the original understanding of little-a apostolic authority? How did that concept develop over time? Can you give us any examples of how the A-team interacted with local churches in the early days of church planting and how they perceived/exercised their authority with respect to the local church?

    At what point in time would any of this have begun to change?

  32. Bridget says:

    My question should be “Why is SGM having Tommy sign their letters?” He shouldn’t be/isn’t the spokesman for SGM. Since when does the finance officer of any group address the non finance, ethical issues of a group? Where are the “top men” in SGM when they should be front and center leading? SGM uses front men way too much.The men who were leading SGM through the times surrounding the lawsuit allegations are all no where to be found. Whoever orchestrated this letter and anyone who approved it should sign it, not Tommy Hill.

    5yearsinPDI @27 –

    Your right about Tommy signing his name to that statement and probably others. He shouldn’t be signing anything he doesn’t think is true and SGM shouldn’t be asking him to sign for them either.

  33. LetMyPeopleGo says:

    5years #15 – commented about this… “we trust that the local churches carefully reviewed any reports of abuse to see that the proper response was made”

    That’s the comment that jumped out at me. If you’re in leadership and you’re really concerned to find out if something has been handled correctly especially because you are accountable to others to report the facts, you’d go to the person who was in charge of that “something” and you ask them directly if they did what you expected them to do in that situation. If I was still a member, I’d want to know the facts…not what someone wants me to take his word for.

    If SG preaches that man is sinful, why would they “trust” man to do the right thing? And why would they expect their members to “trust?”

    I already know the answer to that question. It’s all very sick…the whole system.

    Jenn #16…good, sound, God-honoring advice.

  34. 5yearsinPDI says:

    Jim- yeah, you did. People should have listened to you back when your blog began.

    I realized something recently. My whole prayer concern for years was about the SGM influence on young Calvinists, like the GC crowd, who don’t reject the gifts and like Piper and Grudem. I hated the way SGM was seen as the natonal representative of being Reformed and Charismatic when they are really neither in fundamental ways. I wanted them exposed.

    I realized that I don’t care anymore about the whole GC crowd. I think God is going to do something new and fresh at the grass roots level…..people praying together and loving each other and it won’t be about leaders and the gifts of leadership. Like Todd’s great quote above, it’ll be the body of Christ, everybody. And the GC can go with God, or be left with conferences of hero worshippers and big dogs without the life God intended for us. SGM and the GC could get bigger, like the Mormons. Cults can grow. But I want to be part of the real thing. I pray for a true revival.

  35. turtle says:

    We all know about the mind control that’s happened with SGM. Could it be that is the problem with Tommy Hill. CJ made people think you were a godly, good, committed member if you trusted all that leaders said. Never to think for yourself. We didn’t need to know what happened because it’s none of your business. The pastors had everything under control. Not to worry. Maybe that’s the way it is with Tommy. Maybe that’s why he was selected to sign that letter.

    I agree with Jim, that letter is disgusting.
    Shame on them. They know the truth. People are chattel to them. In one day out the next, to suit their agenda. You better tow the line, or you’re out.

  36. Stunned says:

    5 Years, I hope this doesn’t sound condescending, but I have enjoyed watching the way you have grown/changed over the past few years. God is doing good things in you. Or at least that’s what it looks like from my “cheap seats”. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist. ;) )

  37. soarin' says:

    Does anyone know the date this email went out? I left about 5 weeks ago but just recently had my name taken out of the directory.I received emails until this week so I am guessing it went out this week?

  38. Persona says:

    Just once, I wish CJ would make his own statements, utter his own explanations and confess his own sins. I guess he will answer to two judges, one on earth and one in heaven. But, right now, I wish he would stand up like a man and be courageous enough to face the music.

  39. Waters says:

    5Years #34 — So true. Amen

    SGM and its congregants are, imo, in a dangerous position. The manipulation and duplicity have become so insidious…for those who have been lulled to sleep and remain, it’s like they are now comatose and responding by allegiance to SGM and each other.
    Choosing to believe duplicity is the direct opposite of seeking (takes effort) Truth.

    They love and adore and are loyal to what they have built (SGM) over those who have suffered all types of abuse at their hands.
    The statements and spin in response to being sued clearly reveal what is important — certainly they donot honor Jesus’ words to VALUE and love others enough to stop and bind up the wounds of the broken and broken-hearted.

  40. Remnant says:

    ” as we prayerfully trust the Lord and submit to the legal process.”

    Like they have a CHOICE whether to “submit”?

    Like they deserve an “atta boy” because they have taken the high road to “submit”?

    Just what the heck does it mean that they have chosen to “submit” to the legal process when they minimize the victims, minimize the severity of the charges, try to have charges dismissed and attempt to claim the First Amendment?

    I am just so tired of this favorite buzz-word: submit.

    I wish they would try on a new buzz-word: Truth or Honesty or Integrity or Love.

    I am left with the impression that a legal decision has been hinted at behind the scenes that goes against SGM, therefore it was time for SGM to put out a bit of a spin to the members.

  41. Yellow is a Happy Color says:

    As always, so very pastor-centered,
    and image-centered,
    and legally-cover-our-backsides-centered…………

  42. Kris says:

    Someone was asking if this letter was sent out to all members. It is my understanding that it was sent to at least the members who are considered to be in key leadership roles, perhaps on an as-needed basis.

    For instance, if someone were a concerned longtime member and (perhaps) a small-group leader or someone who otherwise served his local church very regularly and faithfully, and if that person emailed or otherwise expressed his concern or asked questions, this would be the response he would receive.

  43. Jenn Grover says:

    I think it was sent to pastors and left to them to distribute as they saw fit. In Pittsburgh, all of the members received it as an attachment.

  44. Somewhereintime says:

    I heard from a friend of a friend that a pastor in the Marlton church recently had a public facebook discussion about how they tell everyone about the issues and what is going on in the members meetings. I have a copy of the discussion. I should probably post it.

    Here is the issue that I am seeing with Marlton and similar churches across SGM

    1) What is told to members is similar to the letter that Tom Hill sent out. It’s the company line. It’s man-centered. It’s covering their arses.

    2) Only 30-40 people usually attend those members meetings.

    3) The common theme to these meetings is to say the politically correct thing, but the message is that everything is OK, move on, no issues here.

    The result?

    1) The general poplulation of the church doesn’t have a clue what is going on.

    2) The ones who do “know” only know the SGM version of the truth which is water-downed letters like we are seeing here from Tom Hill.

    3) This leads to the general consensus that everything is fine in SG. Our church is fine. There are no issues.

    The problem with SG members and most Christians is that most people DON’T CARE!

    I believe this not only to be an issue in SG, but a general issue across the United States with all types of people. We are witnessing the results of decades of washing down what is right or wrong. It is deeply rooted in the church. It is sad.

  45. Oswald says:

    I am a member and I did NOT get this letter.

  46. Joel says:

    #44 – Absolutely correct. Apathy is most people’s default, and probably always has been. They find it hard to get worked up about much of anything, and if they do, to sustain it for long.

  47. Bowncerpete says:

    Plaintiffs claim that the alleged abuse and/or cover-up was a product of the local churches’ religious teachings and doctrines that ordered the church members to “unquestioningly obey” their pastors.

    SGM is pretty quick to deny wrongdoing but they did not deny the accusation that they want members to “unquestioningly obey” their pastors.

  48. Bev says:

    “we are obligated to answer and defend accusations against our ministry,” . . .

    Someone upthread used the phrase “pastor centered” and this line from the letter is exactly that. Sorry about all you victims but the pastors come first.

  49. Persona says:

    This is off-topic but, I met someone this week who knew both CJ and Larry in the 70’s, before they founded the Gathering of Believers. He said they were strongly encouraged to start their own church, by a Charismatic leader named, James Beall. I had never heard of him before. Has anyone else?

  50. intheNICKoftime says:

    Persona in #38 –

    “It is better to be thought a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

    The old adage applies to CJ. Right now you can’t tie him down to much of anything. All he does is preach and that can go anywhere he wants it to. But if he were to answer a question we could nail him down on things, depending on his answer.

    If he said yes, we could all yell GUILTY!
    If he denies it, we all shout “Liar”.

    So you won’t see CJ defend anything in public, and certainly not in writing. Nothing until the trial.