The SGM Board’s Letter To All SGM Pastors
By Kris, on November 14th, 2011
To the Pastors of Sovereign Grace,
|SGM Counseling Techniques. Used when|
questions and disagreements arise.
|Ambassadors of Reconciliation|
Investigate 60-80 defrocked clerics
and will interview a few 100 others
SGM-arrogances and abuses
|Historic defrockings by Mahaney, |
Harvey, Emerson, Kauflin and others.
Those of you who have been around for a while in SGM know we normally wouldn’t communicate to pastors throughout our family of churches where we disagree with a particular member-church (DPV: Actually, those of you who have been around for a while know that that's what we used to do, like the Cleveland Church...so, while we don't and didn't ever do that, write all the Pastors, we're doing it now). But there are a number of factors that seem to make this a helpful and necessary step in this case (DPV: Yes, we can't have CLC or FFX talking about "defunding SGM." It's helpful that we address this now). The major reasons already mentioned include the number of pastors (DPV: Numbers? 8? 10? 20? Of 100 Churches?) who have inquired about these things and the affect CLC leadership has had on some of our member-churches as the CLC pastors have chosen to broadcast (DPV: "Broadcast" = "Spread widely over internet, etc.") their differences and disagreements in public meetings and through the internet (DPV: Actually, CLC has done little except in their own congregational setting. Further, they've done nothing much, at all, on the internet.)
But (DPV: Major adversitive, "But") another reason for updating you of these things is that in the past, CLC has always functioned as something of a model of SGM belief and practice (DPV: And the CLC Pastors, having taken issue with previous SGM doctrine and practices, is now threatening us by taking issue with us. We're looking bad. CLC might even withhold their "mandatory tithes" and this could hurt CJ's salary). Pastors throughout our churches could assume CLC and SGM are on the same page (DPV: As they've always done), and look to CLC to observe the direction and positions of SGM. However, despite our many agreements on essential issues (DPV: Like lording, abuse, lack of accountability, arrogance, pride, unintreatability, the silencing of opposition, unilateral behaviours, and the like...mainstays of our old tactics now being exposed), SGM and CLC now find themselves with some differences and disagreements (DPV: And that little snot-nose youth, Josh Harris, taking differences with us? We'll show him), and it seems important to begin explaining those differences for the benefit of pastors and churches throughout SGM. We do not plan to post this correspondence on the Plant and Build blog right now (DPV: But sheesh, some SGM Pastor leaked this), nor are we planning on sharing it with a broader audience (DPV: We want an under-cover op at this time while we publish it widely to 97 Churches and Pastors) at this time (DPV: Oh, oh, it leaked).
A final reason for sharing these things with you—and really the one that ultimately prompted this letter—is that public statements continue to be made from CLC pastors (DPV: Names? Dates? Specifics? Any rebuttals?) that seem to us to significantly misrepresent SGM and have the potential to implicate and cast suspicion upon you (DPV: Or upon us "old goats, like Harvey, Purswell, Kauflin, and others) and the churches you serve. The CLC pastors have publicly (DPV: Not good, "publicly") voiced their concerns and criticisms for SGM broadly (DPV: Maybe to their members at church, but nowhere else. In fact, there has been significant silence in the wider world), and continue to call for reform in SGM in a number of areas. We feel their approach makes it necessary for us (DPV: The 10 new Board members) to explain our perspective and pass along to you our thoughts on their (DPV: Consisting of 18 CLC Pastors who've watched SGM up close) public critique.
Thoughts (DPV: And "Conclusions") from the Recent CLC Members Meeting (Date?)
In their most recent family meeting, made public through Josh’s Facebook and on their website, CLC openly shared their negative assessment of SGM leadership (DPV: Oh, oh. Opposition is not allowed). They expressed their belief that there are deep-seated problems in SGM, and that our authority has operated in unaccountable and arbitrary ways (DPV: Well, answer the objections SGM.) . On a few (DPV: Few? 1-3?) occasions, we have shared our (DPV: Pre-Det docs with 3 Boardsters...Mywayney, Harvey, Harris...or post-Det docs with 10 Boardsters?) concerns with Josh regarding the sweeping (DPV: Ergo, uncritical) and pejorative assessments he is making of SGM, his broad conclusions about the way SGM functions based on his limited exposure to SGM (DPV: Although brought into SGM in 1999ish, living in Mywayney's home, serving CLC since 2004, and having been a board member, not to mention Robin Boisvert, Grant Layman and other CLC pastors having been in SGM for decades...what do they know?), and the apparent (DPV: "Apparent" but not "not decisive"?) lack of consideration for the impact of his leadership statements on the broader family of SGM (DPV: Like raising questions about the entire senior leadership moves over decades). We wanted to share our perspective with you here because of the public nature of Josh’s comments and our concerns (DPV: "Concerns" = "Board dislikes" = "Board orders to `Shut Up.'") for how SGM is being portrayed (DPV: SGM has a Group Reconciliation Process underway to adjudicate 100s of inputs from estranged and beaten sheeple. 60-80 ex-Pastors are involved. Yet, SGM complains about how they are portrayed. C'mon, lads.)
The pastors of CLC (DPV: 18 Pastors at CLC to 10 new SGM Boardsters?) shared their concerns under two main headings in their family meeting: 1) leadership structures (DPV: Like Mywayney's monarchial papacy or episcopacy?) and 2) due process in evaluating charges against SGM (DPV: That's for starters). We readily (DPV: Got specifics?) agree with the need for growth in these categories (DPV: We need to "grow" since we hosed over 100s in our history), and we are indeed (DPV: Indeed = assuredly, undoubtedly...in other words, we got big problems) expending much energy in seeking to address these (DPV: Including strenuous efforts to rewrite our history without these sad narratives like abuse). Our disagreement lies with aspects (DPV: "Specifics" please) of their assessment, their presentation of these issues (DPV: Dates and details please?), and the impression their public statements can (DPV: "Can" but "may not have" for serious readers and analysts) have.
First, we (DPV: The new board of 10) agree on the need to address organizational weaknesses (DPV: "Organizational weakness" = tyranny, overlording, abuse, no accountability, no due process, Mywayney-unilateralism, etc, emanating from the big kingpin, Lord Mywayney). The last four months (DPV: Even though we've known about these "weaknesses" for years) only highlight the need for more clarity and definition in certain areas. However, Josh’s comments imply that the board (the old one (DPV: Which was 3, including Mywayney, Harvey and Harris) of which he was a part, and the new one convened in July (DPV: Now, we've expanded it to 10 to diffuse responsibility away from the besieged Harvey, since Harris stepped off the board, and now have stacked it with old hands, like Shank, Loftness, Prater and others)) has not been already occupied with reform in this area, and could leave the false (DPV: Dave Harvey, wanna try your arguments on the KingsWay event of 2010? Take our polity or leave?) impression that we are uninterested in or resistant to change and growth.
Although CJ’s LOA (DPV: Which never was, that is, the LOA. While working Ceej into the SGM-circuit. Then, the LOA, was retracted) and the release of Brent’s docs (DPV: Which really put the heat on and exposed us...many of us) have certainly (DPV: While we had the Det docs for months and months, their publicity "certainly" put us under pressure..."certainly" is a good word since Jul 2011) diverted efforts over the past few months, the board has spent much of the past two years evaluating ourselves and exploring changes (DPV: We've spent 1000s upon 1000s of dollars in time looking at our corporate belly button...like the Det Docs show...dollars that you've tithed to us and while we've continued to support Ceej handsomely at $250K/annum. We've been hard at work evaluating ourselves and doing not much of anything really) Included in this has been an evaluation conducted by the regional leaders of the former board in 2009 (DPV: But since the top dawgs make the big decisions, few would write up General Mywayney). That same year the board also conducted an assessment of our governance structures, and began a thorough polity evaluation (DPV: Which resulted in what? De nada?). Our size as a family of churches, coupled with our desire to walk carefully (DPV: While nobody knows the details of "walk carefully") through this process with our pastors’ input (DPV: Which few knew) and involvement (DPV: Including our back door meetings), have made the polity process a painstaking one, and much work remains to be done (DPV: Excuse us, we're ignorant clerics with little acquaintance of church polity given our paltry educational backgrounds), as our recent experience and the constructive criticisms of Ambassadors of Reconciliation have made clear. So it is no secret (DPV: Except to insiders) that SGM (DPV: That is, the Board of 3 in the pre-Det period, pre-Jul 2011) has identified weaknesses in our structures and our polity (DPV: But never made any changes especially since Mywayney ran things), and we are eager (DPV: Esp. in the exposure following the Det docs of abuse, tyranny, over-lording, hypocrisy and other abuses) to address these. We are disappointed (DPV: And in a "deep funk") that there has been so little mention made in CLC’s public statements of the history and nature of these efforts (DPV: Maybe because "so little" was done). Instead of acknowledging the ongoing process (DPV: Of staring at our belly buttons with no action) and the steps taken in this regard, many of which preceded (DPV: "governed and controlled over decades") the current crisis, CLC presented their critique as a call to reform. Such an approach, we believe, presents a skewed picture of the situation (DPV: Or, an "accurate picture") and can leave the impression that we are resistant to change and that problems are only being addressed in response to recent accusations (DPV: Well? ). We feel this is misleading, one-sided, and uncharitable (DPV: Who's the "we" on this expanded SGM Board of old hands? http://sovereigngraceministries.org/about-us/leadership.aspx. It would appear that CLC Pastors have as much depth, insight, and up-close understandings as the new boys to the board. Further, is criticism necessarily "uncharitable?") It is difficult (DPV: Difficult? Really?) to understand why there is a call to reform in areas (DPV: Because there has been no reform) that we are already seeking to address (DPV: Seeking to address? Results, Harvey, after years of inquiry? C'mon man), and we (DPV: Once a team of 3 in the pre-Det era, now a 10-man team of old hands in the post-Det era) are seeking to do so with the counsel of our pastors.
The second heading they presented is also a category where there is much agreement. Before (DPV: "Before" = 18 months before Jul 2011) Brent’s documents were released, we had become aware of our lack of appropriate procedures for handling grievances, and this season has intensified this realization (DPV: "Lack of appropriate procedures" = we shanked 100s and 100s of folks, including Tomczak and Detwiler for starters. This period has 'intensified this realization" = "we realize we've been exposed"). We failed to implement policies for bringing charges against an elder (DPV: And 60-80 Elders at the AoR on 10-12 Nov, never mind Ceej) and against an SGM leader (DPV: So, we screwed over perhaps as many as 80 Pastors, so what?) . We are especially grieved to see how this has adversely affected not just C.J. (DPV: The monarchialist author of "Screw-em-over" policies), but some former pastors from SGM churches over the years (DPV: Can we say "decades?"), and addressing this weakness is a significant priority (DPV: Although we won't talk specifics, the injuries, or compensable restitution for damages, loss of incomes, pension and more for those pastors...and surely not for the molestation cases). We must and will reform there (DPV: Talk is cheap). We also need to make a clear way for people to bring grievances (DPV: Without calling them gossips, slanders, dividers, proud, unintreatable, unteachable...all our former tactics will need refinement, like Mickey Connolly's recent use of the term "divisive"...that's in the SGM deck of cards now), and create a process for establishing what charges are to be heard and what should be rejected (DPV: Including an inside-job with 3 panels headed without objective Judges, a Jury, and an open process of plaintiff-defendent...the 10-Board member shall suffice). We have learned that many church bodies have these policies (DPV: Although we've been so arrogant in years past. Never did much more than have 9-month wonders from our Pastors' College. Sang our own music. Thought our "stank didn't stink" and thought we were better than all other churches, except in this area of due process. Mywayney led us in this arrogance.). So we have been at work to develop, alongside our polity changes, appropriate policies to process grievances (DPV: We've added the "Divisive Card" to our usual deck of cards like "gossip, slander, pride, unteachability..." We'll see how this new card plays out) that both protect leaders and churches and afford redress to those truly offended. This is one of the many reasons we secured the assistance of AOR (DPV: Because we've really been incompetent through the years and decades of Mywayney's leadership...and because we need a "PR" card and can control the release of info...it's worked before). But here too, we wish CLC would have more clearly acknowledged both our recognition of this weakness and our efforts to address it (DPV: Maybe CLC is tired of "all talk and no action." Maybe CLC Pastors see Ceeg for what he has been and is.) Their presentation takes pains to stress our absence of such policies and their own call for change, which can obscure our concrete efforts and raise questions about our clarity, sincerity, and good will (DPV: A plaintiff plea to not withhold $$ from SGM). Again, we do not believe that they communicated an accurate picture of our efforts.
Although we are agreed about the need for change in this area, it also seems we may disagree in what some of these processes should look like. For example, we believe that allegations made against a minister are to be discussed and weighed only in the context of private confrontation and appeal (Matt. 18:15-16) or in the context of a church judicial process (1 Tim. 5:19-21). (DPV: Never mind that that has been tried dozens of times without effect and without due process, necessitating a wider distribution) We believe the Scriptures require a just process, in which a man should be publicly rebuked or corrected only after “two or three witnesses” have given their testimony in the presence of the accused, if at all possible (“both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord”, Deut. 19:17), and the accused has been given an opportunity to speak in his defense (Prov. 18:17). (DPV: We must admit that we've heard from dozens of witnesses through the years without any response of significance or depth.) Furthermore, sins which have been publicly confessed should be publicly forgiven, not dissected and rehearsed (DPV: We've done this for decades, so it's hard to "teach old dawgs no tricks"). Any further consequences of confessed sins should be determined and announced by way of a church judicial process (1 Tim. 5:19-21). (DPV: Even though we've had no judicial process for decades and though we've) We do not believe that it is appropriate to discuss at length the sins of a leader nor allegations against him (or anyone for that matter) in congregational forums (DPV: We still believe in the Star Chamber, Privy Council, and no congregational voting or information, then, as now.
We still think a non-answer to Detwiler is the best policy. In fact, we have no answer to him).
Beyond these two categories, the CLC pastors also discussed the need for congregations to be vitally involved in significant decisions. This would be another area where we believe there is much agreement (DPV: Despite decades of our past). However, CLC’s presentation stressed their own commitment to change while leaving SGM’s position in question. Josh’s comments made no reference to the specific teaching we did on this topic at the T4G meetings in 2010 in which we encouraged every church to give attention to this area (DPV: Wha! Baby bottle please. Harvey, you've had years to address it without answers). Moreover, it would appear (DPV: Or, "it, in fact, appears") that the CLC pastoral team would be unaware that this has been a growing practice in some SGM churches and has been the longstanding policy in others (At Covenant Fellowship Church, the elders have involved the congregation in the purchase of land and the evaluation of elders for many years as well as in the affirmation of Jared Mellinger as the new senior pastor over three years ago (DPV: This is highly debatable, Mr. Harvey)). We are grateful that CLC is addressing their weakness (DPV: Inherited by Lord Mywayney and Sir Harvey...talk about a shift of responsibility...reader, caveat emptor) and now seeing the need to involve the congregation in meaningful ways. But we find their omission of references to SGM’s instruction and the practices of many churches to be misleading (DPV: Or, "just forgotten" and 'rather irrelevant" since SGM doesn't appear to be a major factor in CLC life anymore), and their assumptions about SGM in this area somewhat (DPV: "Somewhat?" Many CLC Pastors have been in SGM for years and years) misinformed, and therefore illustrative of how they can at times (DPV: Which times?) mischaracterize SGM.
We have communicated to Josh (DPV: And so, while we never publicly bone-job a Pastor, we're doing it now) that his broad (DPV: and grossly ignorant) critique of Sovereign Grace in public forums, while identifying certain weaknesses with which we all agree, is having the effect of raising suspicions (DPV: Legitimate and thinking suspicions) in local churches (DPV: Especially the tithing angle) against local church pastoral teams – something we assume he does not intend but that he does not seem to adequately consider as he seeks to lead his own local church (DPV: So, SGM is a super-governing entity worrying about other SGM churches. Clearly not congregational. Not presbyterial either. More at, in their history, a monarchial Papacy with their chief "strategist and theologian" speaking, Lord Mywayney). Moreover, these critiques can (DPV: But "not always") also fail to present an accurate picture of SGM’s leadership, particularly as it seeks to navigate (DPV: "Deep six" and "control favourably") the current crisis and address areas needing change. This, too, can raise unwarranted suspicions (DPV: "unwarranted suspicions" = "thinking analyses") throughout our family of churches.
Our Commitment (DPV: "Our Committment to Whacking CLC Pastors and Getting Damage Control in Place)
We (DPV: the 10 of us since the post-Det era) are committed to our relationship with the pastors of CLC and we continue to dialogue with them (DPV: Including this public critique of them). These are men we greatly love and respect (DPV: Although we are publishing an SGM-wide chastisement of CLC), and we cherish (DPV: provided you yield) our partnership together—a partnership that spans three decades. We recognize they (DPV: CLC, those boneheads, not us in SGM) have been facing a very challenging season (DPV: Including the toleration of gossip, slander, pride, unintreatability, discussions about SGM sins of abuse, etc.) , and we pray (DPV: once and awhile...we need to work on this "deficiency" too) for these brothers and for their church as they (DPV: "They"at CLC, not us) walk through these difficulties (DPV: CLC difficulties created by SGM). Our request to them at this point is to confine their public pronouncements
(DPV: Unlike we're doing here, as the SGM Board, publishing to "all Pastors") concerning reform to issues CLC is facing (DPV: As they've done, but now SGM accuses them of not doing), although we have urged them to please continue to share concerns for SGM privately with the board, just as we have sought to share our concerns for them privately. We are eager to deal freely with any and all issues, questions, and even disagreements. However, doing so publically in a way that doesn’t present the full picture can often be unfruitful and have negative relational effects as well.
Furthermore, we are committed to doing whatever we can to help meet the very real leadership challenges (DPV: and their sins) CLC is facing as a result of this crisis (DPV: CLC is in "crisis"). We believe God has much good for the future of CLC because he has so evidently been pleased to bless others through them in the past (DPV: Never mind Harris's public repentances about the past abuses). This church has been an abundant means of grace for SGM for nearly three decades. Through their training up of leaders (DPV: With 9 months of education and myriads of examples of abuse), their example of faithfulness to the gospel and their financial giving (DPV: At about $800,000/year which we, SGM, may lose), CLC has been at the forefront of much of our mission together (DPV: We'ze in trouble if FFX starts reducing giving too).
No matter where you fall on the spectrum of agreeing or disagreeing with their leadership, we hope you will see them through this same lens of faith and grace (DPV: While we publicly rebuke CLC). It is impossible to ignore the difficulty of having to work through these issues (DPV: And we've been sweatin' it) when in the past there has been so much unity, but God is with us and has good for all of us in this (DPV: Including this season of exposure, rebuke, reproof and discipline). We are learning from each other, sharpening one another (DPV: Including how we "sharpen CLC" and publicly rebuke them to all of SGM), and are eager to see how God glorifies himself as our dialogue continues (DPV: Including how CLC has a "rudders' order change" Harris, got it yet?).
Please pray for us all, that our discussions will be marked by grace and humility (DPV: Especially, as we humble ourselves and seek men who were humble enough to realize they needed to be educated, itself, an act of humility...of course, Mywayney and Connolly humbly thought they could speak without humble learning), and that God will be honored in all our conversations and decisions.
As always (DPV: Or, since the Det docs dumped on us), we desire (DPV: With "provisos" attached in the small print) to continue to receive your feedback.
In His Grace (DPV: Never mind the decades of ungraciousness, self-righteousness, pride and ignorance),
The SGM Board
(DPV: 10 of us now in the post-Det era. Rather than 3-4 of us in the pre-Det period.)