Reports From CLC’s Recent Meeting

Covenant Life Church had a meeting last night to address the lawsuit and other issues.  Here are one attendee’s impressions:

Nothing to report regarding the CLC family meeting.  CLC’s attorney did most of the talking.  He gave a chronology of the lawsuits.  That would have been OK as a summary but he took a lot of liberties to interject his opinions regarding the attorney of the plaintiffs.  He mentioned a couple times about how these types of cases are handled this way to aid the plaintiffs and their attorneys to force large settlements.

The only quote worth noting from Josh Harris was “(the) plaintiff’s picture is not accurate it is far from accurate”.  Other than that they spent the whole evening telling us why they can’t tell us anything.

Here’s what another reader had to add:

There were pros and cons from tonight’s members meeting…not that many of each because the pastors aren’t willing to address any specifics while the appeal is ongoing–so that’s the first BIG con, but I can understand the legal stuff even if I don’t like it.

Another con is how at times they vaguely described the plaintiffs’ accusations as not 100% accurate. (“vaguely” b/c they aren’t giving any specifics)  I feel that the opposite pro also happened though: I feel that our pastors are taking the accusations seriously (and by extension aren’t just throwing them all away as false).

How are they taking it seriously?  Josh said that CLC will be hiring an outside, independent organization to investigate.  The reasons for this are even when the lawsuit gets to its final completion point, it might not get us any closer to the truth of what happened.  This independent investigation will.

From another reader:

Looking over my chicken-scratch notes from tonight, there really isn’t much more to say.  The lawyer talked for at least 30 minutes–and he just gave a detailed timeline from the initially-filed lawsuit to the first then second amended lawsuit.

My notes specifically on the “independent firm to investigate these matters” had these 3 sub-bullets: – provides the truth – will give us (the pastors) outside, objective correction where necessary – process that might identify any false claims

The timing of this independent investigation is subject to the lawsuit, i.e. they might have this investigation happen and be completed in the next 3-6 months, but while the lawsuit is still open or pending (the appeal), CLC pastors won’t be able to share the results of that investigation with the church.  Josh brought up the valid question, “Then why do this independent investigation at all??” .. and the reason is simply it’s the right thing to do. [Josh said this]

And then another reader had this to add:

Well….I was at the meeting.  My jaw dropped when Josh trotted out a defense lawyer who spoke for half the time.  This felt so manipulative, because the defense lawyer made the point that no specific times or dates were mentioned, none of the accusers names were brought forth, etc. etc  (even though they would be later).  He really made it look like, to an outsider, the accusers never had any kind of case at all, and were just making wild, broad accusations.  In reading through the charges and amendments though, it sure seemed pretty specific to me, and there were a lot of vivid accounts.  On top of this, the lawyer only mentioned the statute of limitations with regard to the civil lawsuits — with no mention that criminal lawsuits have no statute of limitations.  This gave the appearance that CLC was completely in the clear, so long as the appeal fails, and that only the Virginia church had to be concerned.  He also questioned the timing of the 2nd amendment to the lawsuit occurring 3 days before the judge was to rule on the lawsuit as a whole.  He didn’t say it directly, but it came across as him calling all of those accusers bald-face liars.  He said the prosecution knew they had a very weak case, and that’s why they brought these other cases forward.  Ah, but what if these people were telling the truth?  Does the timing really matter?  Shouldn’t we want to get to the truth?

If none of this is true, it’s quite odd that NM is in the trouble he’s in, and DA was already convicted.  And sure, maybe they can’t talk about the allegations now because of the suit.  But didn’t they have 5 years previous to talk about this, when the SGM Survivors board began?  Where were these guys from 2007-2012, if they really wanted to get to the truth?  They were hoping this would die away.

If nothing happened, why was CJ able to blackmail LT?  Do we know the truth of what the blackmailing was about?  Don’t we have the right to know the truth?  What was that all about?  Is it tied to this sexual abuse?

So many questions — so few answers.

Finally — ZERO mention of Brent’s accusations with CL and the pastor’s potential roles in covering that up.  I guess they didn’t even want to dignify that with a response.  But again, if you’re 100% innocent, wouldn’t you want to put those horrible lies to rest?  Wouldn’t you want to shout it from the rooftops?  Unless….Brent is absolutely right.  Hmmm….interesting.  If you’re 100% innocent, why not come RIGHT out and say it?  What’s the risk in that?  How would that message get twisted by congregation members (which is why the lawyer said they couldn’t talk about the suit, since members might misconstrue their points).  If you say “we’re dead innocent” there ain’t no misconstruing a thing.



  1. Disappointed says:

    Thank you very much to Jenn Grover (#953 from last thread). I have posted one other time. I really appreciate the insight you bring to the blogs. You seem like a very intelligent, insightful, and level-headed woman. You bring a lot to the board.

    How do you all feel about the independent review? I know they are trying, but isn’t there a conflict of interest for them to pick the firm? I’m not sure who else could pick it, but when I look back in history, I think of Enron and Arthur Andersen. Of course we know AA was willing to reflect Enron’s books to show massive profit, to cook the books, in return for a hefty payment from Enron. Will CLC release how much they will pay this independent firm, and what this firm charges normally? In other words, who’s to say that CLC wouldn’t just say “Whatever you normally get paid, we’ll pay you double.” OK, yeah, I’m a conspiracy theorist. But those things happen in business, as illustrated above with AA.

  2. Bridget says:

    Rick –

    I am so at the same place where you are with the structure of the Church in our day. After over 30 years in the Church, I feel like so much of one’s, time, money and effort is sucked into the structures of the Church and pastors spin and exhort that this is what God desires to further His kingdom. Once one is in the gripps of the system, it’s hard for anyone to escape it, especially pastors.

  3. Follow Him says:

    It’s Just..#961 (previous thread) – Your summary is what I took away from the meeting too – for the most part. Jenn asked “Did they answer the question, ‘How can we best glorify God amidst these allegations?'”. I perceive that Joshua has been answering this question for the last year, in that his continual emphasis/entreaty to the congregation has been to follow Christ, not man. He has continually pointed back to the sufficiency of the Word as our guide. That’s probably the best way we can glorify God in our lives. This week he has encouraged the congregation to pray and fast for three days. In the recent letter to members about this, he wrote: “As we fast, let’s pray that:

    We will treasure Christ above all other things.
    We will run the race of faith with endurance.
    We will deliberately consider Jesus during difficulty.
    We will love one another.
    We will honor God and glorify him with our lives.”

    He has also said many times (both in member’s meetings and on Sunday’s from the pulpit) that the pastor’s desire regarding the lawsuit is for the truth to be revealed – whether it is favorable towards CLC as a church, it’s pastors, it’s members, or not. When all is said and done with the lawsuit, my expectation is that the truth will be made plain. If it is not, then my family will listen to the Spirit to see if we are led elsewhere. We have decided to follow Christ. Sometimes he shakes the dust off his sandals, and sometimes he sits and waits. Right now we are waiting.

  4. Steve240 says:

    This is interesting about CLC hiring an outside company to investigate these allegations. My guess is that CLC won’t want this investigation to start until after they are sure they can’t be sued by the plaintiffs. If they have the investigation while still able to be sued, they they risk of whatever information is discovered in this investigation getting into the hands of those suing and possibly making it easier for the plaintiffs to win their lawsuit.

    Just my hunch.

  5. exCLCer says:

    Mak at #936 in the last thread said: Josh Harris said “(the) plaintiff’s picture is not accurate it is far from accurate”. This begs the question: Sooo, Josh’s assertion of personal knowledge of accuracy/inaccuracy is based on what exactly? Firsthand knowledge of the actual situations of abuse? A strong personal belief in the defendants and their “version” of events?
    For some of these situation in the case, Josh was not even at CLC, so he would have no way of knowing how “accurate” those are. For the situations that occurred while he was at CLC, to make a bold statement about the accuracy of what happened, there must be some knowledge relied on and members should ask what that knowledge is. If Josh didn’t know what had gone on, then he can’t say for sure what is accurate and what isn’t…..if he DID know what had been going on, and was privy to the circumstances, then he would be outright lying to make this kind of statement, knowing it is actually a very accurate picture, and at the least should have been upfront about his personal involvement in these situations from the beginning. If he is basing his statement on what the defendants have told him, well, then he sure is putting a lot of (misguided) faith in the integrity and character of the accused, convicted, and implicated persons, and should be more honest about the bias (judgement) he is representing in that statement.

  6. Jenn Grover says:

    Disappointed – thank you for the kind words.

    IJTB – thanks for answering my questions on the last thread so thoroughly.

    It can be easy to be disappointed that there was not a ton of detail provided from the CLC meeting but if you stop and think about it, there is zero discussion from the CFC meeting because most people doubt they are getting a 100% straight story (and I think that might be a generous description) and discussion is pointless in the CFC culture because the pastors believe it is their job to tell you what to think, not to listen and accept feedback. At CLC members are still talking because at least at some level they believe their questions and concerns are being heard.

    Someone referred to the day of small beginnings on the last post (perhaps it was Marie about the PCA statement.) I think that is how CLC can be viewed right now – they are seeing the day of small beginnings, although it probably feels more like gargantuan compared to the past, it is still the day of small beginnings towards the larger goal, but it is the start. So, perhaps critique is appropriate, but try not to despise it.

    Is this how members see it, or was it too discouraging and disappointing to see the progress?

  7. Rick says:

    Steve240, what does it say about the CLC leadership if they won’t launch the investigation until after they are no longer legally liable? Isn’t that the height of cunning and guile? Ultimately, here lies their conundrum–if they truly have a conscious understanding of the demands of the Gospel (to use their term), what does it say if the investigation goes forward once they are no longer legally liable; will they commit to compensation for the victims if the independent investigation shows that some of the allegations are true? I must confess, I have doubts, based on the lack of candor they have shown thus far.

    I feel for them; had they come clean about CJ before the Brent documents were released (which forced their hands), I think they would be in a much better position regarding trust. Their tolerance of questionable leadership behavior, and their very flattering words toward those who were behaving badly, have put them in a much worse position regarding credibility. I don’t know how they will recover–my hope for them is a confrontation of grace and wisdom for them all.

  8. Kris says:

    exCLCer said,

    If he is basing his statement on what the defendants have told him, well, then he sure is putting a lot of (misguided) faith in the integrity and character of the accused, convicted, and implicated persons, and should be more honest about the bias (judgement) he is representing in that statement.

    This really gets at the heart of what goes on anytime anyone says one or another of the lawsuit allegations cannot be true. Unless one has personal insider knowledge, one is just exercising faith in what one thinks one knows about the defendants.

  9. Stunned says:

    This may sound heartless but whenever anyone mentions how hard this must be on Josh or other pastors ( and I am sure it is hard), I keep thinking of the three year old who was forced to face her molester or the woman who was told she had to have sex with the man who molested her young daughter. That, that is hard. Repenting for harsh leadership? Easy peasy in comparison.

  10. Oswald says:

    I think we can be reminded, as the message from CLC yesterday included…we need to live in the present and the future, not going back to what should been and what might have been. We can’t change the past, only learn from it and go forward. It is God who is a work in you, both to will and to do of ALL His good pleasure. We can trust that His name will be glorified in all this.
    Stunned and Rick have gone back to ‘yes, but…’. Let’s resist that thinking and trust that God has brought all of that about to teach something. Yes, people were hurt and that is acknowledged and we hope plans are being made to avoid that happening again.
    We must trust God Who is definitely at work in us.

  11. Rick says:

    Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it; a thorough autopsy often can help prevent future bad practice. Their current practice still smells of their past practice. CLC missed their best opportunity to break from the past when they declared CJ fit for gospel ministry. They have chosen the path they are walking. The only cure is unsparing self-examination, unsparing repentance. The way they handled the CJ situation set the stage for the trust issues that play themselves out today.

    If past practice isn’t disclosed with courage, candor and honesty, how can they hope to build anew. Doesn’t mean they are not forgiven–just unwise.

  12. exCLCer says:

    “we need to live in the present and the future, not going back to what should been and what might have been”

    ………um, if you don’t even acknowledge mistakes of the past,it is bound to repeat itself. People and institutions can only learn from a mistake after admitting it. As soon as the blaming others, hiding, and minimizing starts they distance themselves from any possible lesson. “Not going back to what should have been” is stupidly dismissing the value of retrospect and how essential it is for any possibility of future change or at the least the assurance of change.
    To me, “cant change the past” sounds a lot like “get over it – we arent going to focus in on it, so neither should you”

  13. Rick says:

    Oswald, I think that the going forward you speak of would have been possible if all of the CLC pastors had offered their resignation when all this broke. I think the offer of resignation would have been honorable and appropriate–the church could then, in grace, refuse that offer–but it would have in some measure allowed the CLC pastoral staff a fresh start, free from the debilitating behavior of the past. A sermon on focusing on the present and future seems rather self-serving in the context of all that has gone on, don’t you think? Scripture records good and bad behavior of leadership–unsparing even to those named in the Faith Hall of Fame detailed in Hebrews 11. Leadership must be willing to self-disclose and accept the consequences of mistakes and failure. The congregation has the blessed place of forgiveness and restoration. I have not observed this interchange, which is why for the leaders sake, yeah go with that sermon–it would have been more appropriate coming not from leadership, but one of those who had been hurt by their past practice.

  14. exCLCer says:

    and by the way, “acknowledging people were hurt” is NOT the same thing as acknowledging the responsibility one has had in causing that hurt.
    If I punch you in the face and say “I recognize that your face now hurts — and Im sorry you FEEL like you have been hurt — and categorically I do not agree with the practice of punching other people in the face — BUT that is the past now so look to the future”……something is seriously missing, namely, “I should not have punched you in the face and I am sorry I did that, it was wrong, and I will show I have remorse for my actions and I will do whatever it takes to help your face to heal and to make sure I do not do that again to you or anyone else.” Even young kids know the difference between a real apology and a fake one.

  15. JeffB says:

    I recall that the AoR report mentioned that pastors said that proclaiming God’s forgiveness after someone’s confession was a new concept for them. That’s pretty astounding.

    It wouldn’t be surprising if, despite the AoR’s teaching, their original belief (that forgiveness had no place in confession), still held, after so many years of reinforcement. So, at a deep level, they may feel that if they confessed that they had any part in the abuse and/or cover up, they would not be forgiven by their victims and the general membership. And, maybe, not even by God.

    Of course, this would in no way excuse them for not being completely honest about their culpability. It’s just another example of how false teaching can lodge in one’s mind and heart.

  16. Stunned says:

    exCLCer, AMEN!

  17. Steve240 says:

    This may sound heartless but whenever anyone mentions how hard this must be on Josh or other pastors ( and I am sure it is hard), I keep thinking of the three year old who was forced to face her molester or the woman who was told she had to have sex with the man who molested her young daughter. That, that is hard. Repenting for harsh leadership? Easy peasy in comparison.

    What about ExCLCer’s mom? Right after she found out that her now ex husband molested her daughter and had CLC Leaders Loftness and Ricucci siding with the molester, she found herself pregnant. Having to deal with all of this must have been rough enough and then to add being pregnant and having to deal with opposition from CLC Leaders was really rough.

    She was pregnant with little support and CLC Leaders cutting off church support from her.

    Not saying the other situuations but just saying her situation was rough also

  18. Persona says:

    If Chip Grange was the attorney who was asked to speak to the CLC congregation, I believe he should recuse himself from any involvement in the case, due to his long-standing friendships and relationships, with the defenders.

    With all due respect, how can any of his views be considered objective? Additionally, it puts him in a very awkward position if he disagrees with any of their goals.

    And, if Josh is truly interested in getting the full truth about child abuse cases at CLC, he would invite the local police and social workers to conduct a thorough investigation, immediately.

    He wouldn’t try the same trick SGM did when they hired the AoR in to do ‘independent’ audit. Surely, you all remember how helpful they were in resolving the issues of greatest importance to the congregation.

  19. FashionablyLate says:

    Gee, I’m so glad that CLC has changed so much now that it’s not part of SGM. ( <—I'm being sarcastic, in case anyone isn't sure.) Ugh.

  20. Persona says:

    In this case, sarcasm is warranted…the root of sarcasm is ‘lack of trust’.

  21. shunned says:

    If you really want to know a bit more about what is in the play book of SGM, please read the book,”I fired God” by Joceclyn Zichterman. Leafs from IFB has been in use in SGM for a long time. It is time to demand that the leaders live by the word of God and what they preached in the past. If we, as congregants, give them a pass, do not be surprised that you are violated. It will happen sooner than later. You just cross the pastors, just disagree with them and require that they share it with the entire church. See if they would do it or manipulate and paint you as the sinner who must be treated as an unbeliever, cut off all relationship, require members to cut off all relationship, spread gossip and slander with the sole purpose to destroy the credibility of anyone who challenges them. They are not worried about God or his people but only about money and power. When they say “we are doing this for the good of the church” they mean we need to protect our small group of people who are the sole supporter of our life style. If we do not protect it, God cannot protect it. Men have come and gone. God has protected his church from state sponsored terrorist yet you would not believe if you are in SGM churches where the local pastors somehow have a powerful hand to help our God. What a load of crap! These men destroy the name of Christ and must be opposed if you really care about Christ and his surrfering. SGM makes a mockery of Christ and his suffering. They will continue to sin, destroy peoples lives, threathen, blackmail, declare mentally ill anyone who calls them to repent. They never really dialogue just like you and me with our friends. They treat you like a toddler and proceed to tell you what you must think. Do noy buy it but question what they say. Ask others within and without the church if what they say can be corroborated. If there are gaps, go back and drill down. You, as a man or woman of God, must be like bereans. Get to the bottom of these issues. do not take what SGM says as complete truth. They have a track record of providing only a portion of the story that make SGM look good or reduce the full effect of sin. This is tantamount to slaughtering the sheep by the covering shepherds. Do not accept it or you will be slaughtered soon (because you also are only a sheep in their eyes). If you rise up and stand with Christ, he will protect you and bless you.

  22. Remnant says:

    I am hearing so much absurdity.

    RE: Not living in the past but forging onto the future without glancing back…..but if the past has never been reconciled, how can the past be left behind. An unreconciled past simply brings all the jumbled emotions, the jumbled lies with truths, the distrust, the wrong doctrine, the wrong Jesus, the hidden things, the things that aren’t repented of INTO the future. For example: Does CLC intend to continue the practice of keeping secret files on members? If CLC has never officially admitted to those secret files, has never given those secret files to the members, has never repented, how in the world can the membership move into the future not knowing how the modus operandi will be handled? There can be no future without a completely reconciled, honest, respectful assessment, and complete transparency about what the pastors think they did wrong and/or right. How can a congregation trust a pastorship who does not let the congregation know and understand and approve or disapprove the manner in which business is conducted. How can a membership trust a pastorship who does not transparently show how money is spent, how salaries stand, how other monies are accounted for? How can a congregant, an individual, judge whether they want to remain a part of a church where the pastorship does not respect the congregant enough to be completely honest? Forgetting the past? NO. Not until the past is discussed and dissected. Not until the present is dissected and discussed and a congregant is given the opportunity to say yea or nay for themselves regarding the current standards of operating.

    RE: Having an independent evaluator come evaluate the situation. Been there done that to the tune of $400,000 (right?). The modus operandi in that situation was to do nothing about the sexual and spiritual abuse reports except for vague bandaids applied without doing much deep surgery to fix the root cause of the justified concerns.

    RE: An attorney coming to a family meeting and blaming the victims.

    RE: Josh making such disparate remarks that only seem like SGM is still in full force: what was actually said that made any difference to any of the issues at hand?

    RE: It is as if CLC/Josh/Pastors think that lot’s of words spoken equates with love, care and concern. Give the peoples an appearance of “family” while not treating them as family.

    RE: Untruths about unknowns, unspoken words about CL while the elephant is in the room.

    One absurdity piled upon another.

    And people have the audacity to say some people just might be experiencing bitterness? I’d say bitterness is a justified emotional response. Until these “men of God” can act in a Godly fashion, there is much room for disharmony, discordant emotional experiences, and distrust.

  23. justawife says:

    @Persona18: The lawyer who spoke yesterday was Scott Ward, a lawyer that works for the Gammon and Grange law firm. I never had heard of him prior to yesterday.

    I, like a couple of people who have written here, was not a huge fan for having Mr. Ward speak for the majority of the meeting. I too felt like he could have just stuck to telling you the timeline of the lawsuit rather than interject some personal opinion regarding the plaintiff’s attorney. I also didn’t view his speaking as any objective POV, as I knew he was hired as a defense lawyer and his opinion regarding the accuracy of the accusations is probably going to be biased.

    The “far from accurate” claim made by Josh Harris regarding the plaintiffs was a misstep on JH’s part. Especially in light of the fact that many of the comments made by Josh following the lawyer’s explanation of events actually was trying to NOT reach a conclusion regarding the accuracy of the accusations. I don’t know why he said that and perhaps he would like to believe that the claims are far from accurate but the truth is he probably doesn’t know, especially given that one individual (DA) actually went to jail for pleading guilty to a charge.

    I actually thought the internal investigation was probably the best part of the whole meeting yesterday. I do have my doubts given the AoR debacle, but I am giving the pastors the benefit of the doubt that they will hire a reputable organization to do the work. I am praying they hire G.R.A.C.E. and don’t just go with any firm that doesn’t specialize in looking into sexual abuse. I really am glad there is at least somewhat of a desire to accept that there were flaws in the way that they handled these cases.

    Other than the internal investigation (which hopefully will yield something good), I don’t know what the real purpose of the meeting was, other than to tell members why they can’t comment on the case. I guess if that is a significant problem it serves its purpose but it could’ve done without the personal opinions that commented about the accuracy of the plaintiffs’ claims.

  24. 5yearsinPDI says:

    2 Samuel 21 speaks to NOT living in the future and going forward, when the past is unresolved:

    During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”

    2The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.) 3David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance?”

    God brought famine on His covenant people until the sins of the late (dead) leader Saul were resolved and justice was made to the people Saul had wronged. David had NOTHING to do with what Saul did, but he was still responsible as the new King to clean up injustice that Saul had left behind.

    1 Cor 10 speaks of warnings from Israel’s history to the church:

    These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.

    These sex abuse cases are the Gibeonites. You don’t go forward and you don’t get away from famine until you clean up the past, even if it was the other guy’s fault.

    Oswald, CFC has yet to declare that the SGM statement in their defense- to the effect that SGM had no control over local churches- is a deliberate lie. You are in a church that is submitting to liars. I am genuinely worried about you. I hope the Lord grants you the strength to leave. It’ll be worth it even if the leaving is hard.

  25. It's just the beginning says:

    @Rick, #11: I don’t remember Josh or the CLC pastors ever declaring “CJ is fit for gospel ministry” .. they stopped short of calling him UNFIT–and perhaps they should have, but the CLC pastors felt it was not their place to asses CJ’s fitness for ministry since CJ was a pastor/minister of SGM not a pastor/elder of CLC. (even though CJ was senior pastor of CLC for 27 years…when Josh Harris took over CJ was not on staff at CLC in any capacity)

  26. Rick says:

    Was it that they said his actions did not disqualify him from ministry? Something to the effect was said–I regret that I do not have an exact quote, but I am sure something to the effect that I related was shared.

  27. It's just the beginning says:

    The CLC pastors would not declare him unfit, i.e. they would not say he was disqualified from ministry. BUT at the same time, the CLC pastors did say if he were to come back to CLC to be put on staff [by SGM or something], the CLC pastors would not just let him on staff because they had concerns about his leadership.

    So the CLC pastors at the time were not comfortable having CJ on staff at CLC–they made that perfectly clear. But they didn’t feel it was their place to declare him unqualified for ministry.

    Does that make sense?

    The sentence in bold above is certainly debatable: should the CLC pastors have made the public declaration that CJ was unfit for ministry? some people think so / some people don’t.

  28. 5yearsinPDI says:

    rick- I believe you are referring to the three man panel with Ortland and Trueman. Yes, they said CJ had done some normal human typical sins, but not the scandalous kinds that disqualify a man from church leadership. I am sure you can bring that report up with a search.

  29. justawife says:

    IJTB27: I don’t think a declaration should have been made regarding CJ’s fitness or unfitness for ministry. There is one pastor on staff at CLC who was against any such mention of CJ’s qualification for ministry. If it wasn’t their job to assess his fitness for ministry then why did they declare him fit one way or another?

    I agree it was a hard time for CLC pastors as they were dealing at the time with a very hurt church over what CJ had done in the whole blackmail fiasco, the disinvitation of Larry Tomczak, and the fleeing to Capitol Hill only to leave CLC and go to Solid Rock and then plant a church in Kentucky.

    Maybe they didn’t want to burn their bridges with CJ and wanted him to come back at some point and address many of the members valid concerns. I think a good amount of people left CLC following this incident as they were particularly hurt over the preferential treatment of CJ and his family following the revelation of events.

  30. JustAGirl says:

    EXCLCER: You are absolutely correct in every single comment! Josh was not apart of the church or Sovereign Grace when any of these allegations were going on. He probably hadn’t even heard of them at the time. He has NO right to say that these allegations are untrue and that the CLC pastors never did these things because he was not one of them, nor did he even know them at this time. He came to be an intern when I was in middle school and has no clue what these children went through. My main concern is that maybe these things are still going on at CLC and he’s trying to cover up those too.

    As a person who KNOWS that these things happened, no one has the right to say “they didn’t happen”. I just hope that this only makes them realize that there is an issue that needs to be corrected and not hidden. Our children deserve this.

  31. intheNickoftime says:

    Just because a panel “found him” not to be disqualified doesn’t mean it was so.

    You can be found innocent of all kinds of crimes but that doesn’t mean you didn’t do it. It just means you got an expensive lawyer. CJ/Harvey/SGM paid big bucks to get an innocent finding for CJ.

    And if the CLC guys would say things in plain English, and move away from the “lawyerspeak” and saying things so that they don’t come back on them, we would all be better off.

    Lastly, CJ may have officially left CLC but he was still sucking up the adoration and worship from all the kool-aid drinkers, and he was in the building so much of the time it would be difficult for many to understand the fine points of whether CLC guys could or could not speak into his life and make judgments on whether he was disqualified or not.

  32. It's just the beginning says:

    @justawife, #29: you said “I don’t think a declaration should have been made regarding CJ’s fitness or unfitness for ministry” — from my memory, the CLC pastors never made any declaration about CJ’s fitness or unfitness. They did say that if CJ were to come back to CLC, they would not let him be a pastor–and based on what had traspired up to that point (this was probably in the Oct 2011 timeframe), I totally understood with and agreed with the pastors.

  33. Rick says:

    IJTB (32)–thanks for the clarification. I did not remember the statement that they would not let CJ be a pastor again. I remember a lot of flattering words toward CJ and SGM from Josh in that immediate time period.

  34. justawife says:

    IJTB#32: I recall a clear message from the pastors (all but one who disagreed with the statement) “We do not believe CJ is unqualified for ministry”. They then backed it up at a Coffee and Questions by stating it was not their place to make that determination, that was SGM’s place to determine whether or not he was fit for ministry, since many people were disturbed by the statement.

    They did say at that Coffee and Questions that if CJ wanted to return and preach they would not just let him preach until he had addressed the issues he left unresolved. So it was almost as if they weren’t saying he was disqualified from ministry but he was disqualified from ministry at CLC unless he resolved some major issues he left behind. It would have been better, IMHO, to not have said anything regarding his fitness for SGM ministry.

    Rick#33: There really weren’t much flattering words toward CJ or SGM so much as no ill will. I think there was something at the time (this is around the time he moved to Louisville) that basically wished him and those other SGM pastors well in their church plant there. At the same time, this information was simply relayed in a members email and was never really made a big deal of. CJ and other SGM employees were never sent off with any lofty grandeur (though I do believe this happened at SRC). It was mentioned but mainly ignored with neither extreme praise for CJ or condemnation.

    There may have been some blurb about being thankful to CJ about his years of service to CLC but it was relatively minor. Still, in light of how Larry Tomczak left and how his role in founding CLC was pretty much equivalent to that of CJ, it felt a little unfair to some that CJ received at least minor recognition while Larry T never was.

    I do think the tone of CLC towards SGM still attempts to be as non-threatening as possible (the mention of them as brothers in the faith). There isn’t any explicit praise for SGM or CJ anymore as there used to be, however. I often wish CLC pastors came down a little harsher against SGM and how they had acted, but I understand that they really didn’t want to offend people. Ironically, their not calling CJ, SGM, and the whole AoR process out did lead a fair amount of people to leave CLC.

  35. Rick says:

    Justawife–thanks–my memory must be in a state of fade.

  36. Persona says:

    I remember Josh saying he “..could not say CJ was disqualified from leading.”

    I have heard so much double-speak over the years that I immediately recognized Josh was being very carefully in choosing his words and it probably meant there was a hidden meaning in his choice at that time. Later, as I read that Josh’s position at SGM at the time, forbade him to evaluate or bring judgement upon CJ, I realized why he chose the words he did that day.

    CJ protects himself well. NO ONE is allowed to assess him, negatively, that is.

  37. Yellow is a Happy Color says:

    Thank you, to the Covenant Life folks who posted about the meeting.

    Wow, in the past 2 years, nothing has really changed…… For shame.

    CLC members, take this meeting as a clear sign from God that your church leadership is toxic. Get out, and go find a healthy church. There are tons around, and the folks there would welcome you and help you heal.

  38. nemo says:

    It has been said that CLC and SGM can not speak about the specifics of the case while the civil suit is being appealed. Even though they won round 1 on a technicality, they should seek to settle. There is a statute of limitations in man’s justice system, but not in God’s justice system. If people were harmed, CLC and SGM should seek ways to compensate them. Does God care if they waited to long to file? CLC and SGM should follow Matthew 5: 25-26:

    25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

    Once they have settled, they can freely confess and begin the healing. Healing will not occur until then.

  39. Mr Stretch says:

    Sounds like another ho hum day in SGM.

    Let’s just all move along so we can get on with our lives. This whole thing has been just a bother. Can’t we just all go back to telling everyone how worthless they are. Man, isn’t that an awesome calling. Let’s all say I’m a worthless worm together. C’mon you all can do it!!

  40. Marie says:

    Jenn Grover #6, yes it was me who brought up Zechariah 4:10: “New International Version (©2011)
    “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the LORD that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?””

    I had said before that this verse could get mis-quoted, because I am sure there is an entire context behind it.

    How I hope and pray that CLC makes a serious, impartial independent investigation outside of the lawsuit.

    I was never a part of CLC so I don’t feel like I have the right to share an opinion about it, except to support ExClC-er’s point that it was unfair of the lawyer to insert opinions into his speech.

    I hope that this could be the start of something new for CLC, but I am sensing from the people who are more familiar with that church that things are continuing to look bad…

  41. Dr. Pepper says:

    Sometimes I think we’re living in a dream. Sometimes I sill cannot believe that two years ago the docs came out and in Dec. 2012 covlife became no longer a sgm church. It’s still very shocking. If someone would have told me in 2010 that covlife would not be a sgm church anymore I would have laughed in their face.

  42. Steve240 says:

    This is what Brent quotes Josh Harris as saying July 2012:

    Some of you have told me that you think we should have publicly disciplined CJ or should speak against him serving as a pastor. I disagree with that. I do not believe CJ is disqualified from ministry. And so I wish him success in his new church plant and pray that he will prosper.

    It can be found here

    Under the subheading ” Relationship with CJ”

    This is one of the most disappointing words I have read about Josh Harris saying.

  43. It's just the beginning says:

    Steve240: I agree that Josh should not have said that, especially since just a few months later Josh said at a coffee and questions*** that they would not feel comfortable if CJ were a pastor at CLC. If you’re not comfortable with him ministering at your own church, how can you be comfortable with him ministering somewhere else? That was a foolish sentence to say. I think given the context, he wanted to “wish CJ well” in his new church plant.

    ***[not sure which coffee and questions it guess was it was closer to the Sep-Nov 2012 timeframe]


    Three sentences later Josh says this: “I am disappointed by aspects of the way he’s [CJ] related to our pastoral team and to our church through this process.” — but apparently on June 28, 2012 those disappointments in CJ’s behavior didn’t amount to enough for Josh personally to think CJ was disqualified. I wonder if he still feels this way?

  44. Nickname says:

    #43 – It’s Just the Beginning

    I’d imagine that Josh and many others involved in this situation have been ambivalent about many things throughout this trial, and that his/their opinions about qualification and other subjects have changed as more and more information came to light.

    It is so hard — so hard — to believe bad things about someone you love. This is why victims of pedophiles are often not believed at first. It’s easier for us to believe that a beloved victim lied or misunderstood than it is to believe that a beloved friend/relative committed an act our minds can’t even begin to re-create. Our minds can handle the ‘small sin’ of lying much easier than we can the huge sin of molestation.

    It’s incredibly hard to believe that someone you have loved and trusted as your Christian brother and leader has acted wrongly.

    Our defense mechanisms kick in; we deny, minimize, normalize — combinations of all three things — because our hearts are broken and our minds are in states of disbelief.

    As time goes on, the truth will be easier to swallow — I hope.

  45. Bob says:

    Kris, you wrote: “This really gets at the heart of what goes on anytime anyone says one or another of the lawsuit allegations cannot be true. Unless one has personal insider knowledge, one is just exercising faith in what one thinks one knows about the defendants.”

    Agree wholeheartedly. But, of course, the same can be said on the flip side. In other words … This really gets at the heart of what goes on anytime anyone says one or another of the lawsuit allegations ARE true. Unless one has personal insider knowledge, one is just exercising faith in what one thinks one knows about the PLAINTIFFS.

    I say, we should apply the same skepticism equally. The fact is unless we were there, we just don’t know. Let’s apply the same cynicism toward both sides.

  46. Steve240 says:

    It’s just the begninning re: 43

    I would say that there is a big difference between not being “comfortable” with having someone as a leader of your and the person being disqualified as a leader. Sometimes this happnens with leaders have different doctrinal beliefs (e.g. Calvinism) or views of how the group should be going. Sometimes people are comfortable with a certain personality type on staff but that doesn’t make the person disqualified.


    Regarding Josh and others being ambivalent and kind of explaining Josh saying C.J. wasn’t disqualified, Josh said this 1 year after the documents became public. By that time a lot of the dust had settled. I could accept this explanation had Josh said what he said earlier.

    Josh indicating that C.J. wasn’t disqualified almost leads one to believe that Josh had more details than are public about C.J.’s actions that better explained C.J.’s actions. I doubt that there was but that is what someone could read into this. On the other hand, maybe it was just Josh Harris fence walking.

    It was still disappointing to hear Josh claiming C.J. Mahaney wasn’t disqualified.

  47. Rick says:

    The most disheartening characteristic of the CLC and SGM leadership is their tolerance (for several years or more) of leadership hypocrisy and deceit that the Detwiler document dump so meticulously documented. We sometimes think that the boundaries of integrity are rooted in abstaining from adultery and embezzlement of funds. I think hypocrisy and deceit (a false facade of righeousness) are, frankly, more corrosive to the life of a church than the ‘big 2′ sins.

    That tolerance (and the documents make it clear they observed questionable behavior for years) is what makes moving forward so hard–their refusal to self-disclose robs them of a necessary credibility with all except the hardened faithful. That is why, even a well-meaning comment that CJ is not disqualified from ministry, is a relatively dangerous (to one’s own credibility) statement to make. Silence really is golden, at times.

  48. Tempest says:

    From the last thread:

    “The only quote worth noting from Josh Harris was “(the) plaintiff’s picture is not accurate it is far from accurate”.

    I find this incredibly sad coming from the Sr.Pastor who tearfully told his church just last month that he was a victim of child sex abuse. Was he physically present for each and every allegation?

  49. It's just the beginning says:

    I totally agree Rick.

    You also see the cumulative effect of small mistakes/errors made throughout the last two years. 6 weeks after the documents come out, Josh says this:
    “You know, in an ideal world it would be best for C.J. to stay here. I think he agrees with that. I think he would want that.”

    If the right thing to do was to have stay at CLC and not flee to CHBC, then it should have happened that way.
    If the right thing to do is to _not_ plant a church when you have open and unresolved issues with the pastors from your former church, you shouldn’t plant a new church.


    There is never a good enough reason to do the wrong thing, yet tolerance and the over-emphasis on being at peace with your brother opens the door for so many real problems/concerns to be swept under the rug for the sake of unity. Unity trumps righteousness; unity trumps true accountability.

    I think many years from now (possibly even now?) Josh and the CLC pastors will realize their mistakes of leniance (if that’s a word) and tolerance–I understand WHY they did what they did at certain times..I watched it all unfold: it was always with a heart seeking reconciliation / giving CJ/SGM space for God to penetrate their heart. Josh truly believed that CJ/SGM would give in to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and recognize that how CJ/SGM was responding to the CLC pastors was wrong (even if CJ/SGM had valid concerns where Josh/CLC pastors got things wrong) ….. but that never happened.

  50. Pam Palmer says:

    Bob @45

    I say, we should apply the same skepticism equally. The fact is unless we were there, we just don’t know. Let’s apply the same cynicism toward both sides.

    Skepticism or cynicism should NOT be applied equally. The public can withhold pronouncing judgement until a criminal investigation and court case is completed, but skepticism is the last thing that a concerned citizen should direct at a victim.
    Statistically, pedophiles are notorious at lying and deceiving others around them, denying that they really did do such horrible crimes. From an article published by the Mayo Clinic:

    When confronted about engaging in such activities, pedophiles commonly justify and minimize their actions by stating that the acts “had educational value,” that the child derived pleasure from the acts or attention, or that the child was provocative and encouraged the acts in some way…A US Department of Justice manual for law enforcement officers identifies 5 common psychological defense patterns in pedophiles: (1) denial (eg, “Is it wrong to give a child a hug?”), (2) minimization (“It only happened once”), (3) justification (eg, “I am a boy lover, not a child molester”), (4) fabrication (activities were research for a scholarly project), and (5) attack (character attacks on child, prosecutors, or police, as well as potential for physical violence)*.

    And conversely, victims of pedophiles within religious organizations, are sadly, often not believed by those around them, even though false claims of sex abuse are very rare.**/+ From the Child Protection Project’s website, an organization fighting the abuse of women and kids in the FLDS cult:

    It’s expected that any religious organization will have some predatory pedophiles join, in order to gain access to children. What is alarming about these cases is that in nearly every one, the people (usually women) making the allegations are not believed, are often vilified as troublemakers, shunned, and lose their church support system at a time when they need it most. In a number of these cases Religious officials had notice for ten to thirty years of the abuse and did nothing to help the children. Unbelievably, the perpetrator is regularly offered counseling and even financial help by his Church while the victims, often single parent families, fend for themselves.

    It is shocking how similar the reaction to abuse allegations in the FDLS church is to how things allegedly have occurred in SGM/CLC/SGC.