Sinfully Craving Truth: Families of SGM Abused Children Respond

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” Kahlil Gibran

Cat's Eye Nebula-Hubble Telescope

 

I am leaving to bring my final child off to college. It is a bittersweet time. I wanted to continue in the series on psychology and the church but I have received some correspondence and would like to do some more reading in order to adequately present the various forms of "Biblical" counseling. So, we have decided to do this post instead.

People ask us, "Why SGM?" We follow their story with fascination because we believe that it offers all churches, in this day of the post evangelical thicket, many lessons. This group has ties to the old shepherding movement which did not die but merely changed it's theological shell. This story involves authoritarianism, hubris, pedophilia, spiritual abuse and hundreds, if not thousands, of bodies left in the dust while leaders sought more and more recognition on the world stage.

Well, once you hit the stage, you have to be able to stand the perspectives of those viewing your play. You cannot say "Look at this" and "Don't look at that." People look and they see what is obvious to them.  You cannot control them so it is important that you are able to stand the scrutiny. If you feel you need to hide it from observation, then you probably shouldn't be doing it.

One of the most bizarre statements that I have ever read is this. When people have quizzed their SGM pastors for answers to legitimate questions they are dismissed with this statement. "You are sinfully craving answers."

What? Is not Jesus the Truth? Did He not put in us a desire for the truth? This has to be one of the most bizarre and abusive statements that I have ever read. And I have a suggestion. Run, as fast as you can from any man who says this to you!! This is not Christian, it is the words of men who believe they are above questioning. It is a statement left over from the shepherding movement. It is abusive and wrong. Such men do not belong in the pastorate. Period!!! 

Once again, i ask our readers to understand the trials that these families has been put through at the hands of men who appear to this writer to have a low emotional quotient. Such people should not be allowed to pastor a church. Rule Number One: Find a pastor who understand the heart of Jesus. Ask yourself this. Would Jesus have ever responded as some of these men have responded?

Warning: there are some statements in here that may drive people  to extreme anger. I am still coping with it myself-you will see a couple of editor's comments. I couldn't help myself 

All men who address the church are pastors and part of leadership in this SGM church.

 

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Wallace’s response (speaking on behalf of the others included in the first statement) to the Fairfax family meeting on 7/24/11…

 

If there’s anyone who would attribute charges made by us and other voices on the internet to gossip and slander… then you’ve only heard half the story.

Words in italics are direct quotes from the meeting. Bold words are Wallace's responses.

Mark Mullery: 

“Some time ago, we made a decision to stop having family meetings because they weren’t being particularly well-attended. And so, I think we’ve discovered the secret: just a little controversy, crisis…great family meeting opportunity.”

Speaking for Happymom, Noel and Grizzly, we were outraged by Mark’s choice of words. Considering the severity of two child molestations and the rape of a third child Mr. Mullery, we did not find your opening statement amusing.

It appears that Mark is referencing the controversy inside his church. However, apologetic pastors who elicit public sympathy whereby key elements of the truth are obscured is the greater controversy.
 

Mark said:

“Sadly – and it breaks my heart to tell you this – sadly, in seeking to care for them, we became part of their trial.”

Mark paints a deceptive picture here. They never cared for us at any time during our confrontation with them. From October 2007 to February 2009 we didn’t hear from anyone from the Fairfax staff until our son contacted CJ Mahaney. During the following months, their efforts were directed towards convincing us that their assessments were the correct ones.

 

“We lost sight of the victim. These are complicated moments. In the swirl of all the other things to think about, we lost sight of the simple fact that an innocent victim had been grievously sinned against and was in need of constant care.”

Mark and his fellow pastors also lost sight of Noel’s daughter and my son. In fact, their sights were never set on the victims. But in the swirl of all the things to think about they remembered to call their attorney’s. Also, constant care was not what we expected from you and your staff Mr. Mullery. All we wanted was honest answers to our questions.

 

“We should have followed up more and over a longer period of time.”

Mark’s statement seems to suggest that some type of pro-active benevolent follow-up was taking place. This simply isn’t true.

 

“We weren’t trying to cover anything up, but we did want to protect the identity of the victim.”

Protecting the identity of a victim would suggest care and concern. Their actions don’t line up with their words. Fairfax protected the identity of the perpetrators in both our children’s cases because of the family’s status… they were not prepared to deal with a potential scandal in 1998 and then again in 2007. In 1998 our son’s case was given to a pastor primarily concerned with protecting the reputation of the perpetrator’s father. The 2007 incident would have been a significantly bigger issue had it been exposed.

 

“We’ve been accused of not getting it. Guilty as charged. We didn’t get it. I’m so sorry.”

You still don’t get it Mr. Mullery. This is not about you and your staff putting on an emotional show to convince your congregation how sorry you are for the way we had been treated. Picture someone running you over with a truck and then apologizing to an audience of bystanders…as you lay there in a ditch. 


Much of what Happymom and I had to say during the year and a half we labored to be heard was ignored and invalidated during the process. Therefore, we consider any public apologies from you and your staff to be self-serving and lacking any real substance.

 

“I deeply regret my impatience, self-righteousness, pride, hard heartedness. These things compounded their suffering instead of easing it.” 

Mark forgot to include, ignoring many of our emails, ignoring our hard questions, and protecting a deceptive pastor.
 

“We reached out to Noel and to Wallace and their spouses and families. It pains me to say, that our attempts to be reconciled to them have not proven successful so far. Please pray that this might happen.”

With reference to our family, this is an outright lie. There were no attempts to be reconciled, only legally advised defense measures to protect the reputation of the church. Mark and his crew were more concerned with protecting themselves and had no choice but to deal with us after CJ Mahaney became involved.

 

“We can’t agree with everything that’s written about us on the blog’s, but we’ve tried to go to school on what we can agree with.”

Mark Mullery presumes to act as Judge and Jury by choosing what to accept and what not to accept from the blogs. Tell us Mark, what has been written about you and your staff that isn’t accurate?

 

“We’ve tried to learn from our mistakes. We’ve tried to learn from these experiences and to make substantive changes in response.”

Do these mistakes include allowing members of your staff to twist facts and omit key information to protect the church’s image?

 

Vince Hinders

“We failed in our care for these victims.”

Although Fairfax made this the dominant issue, lack of pastoral care in no way adequately describes our experience with them. We had forgiven the pastors numerous times for lack of care, poor leadership, etc. We forgave them for what they had apologized for. Their non-descriptive apologies however, became a smokescreen that obscured tougher issues. They used this approach in the family meeting to extract sympathy from the congregation and we found this offensive.

Vince goes on to speak about 32 years of sex-abuse free leadership, and sex-abuse Free Church property. The issue that no one wants to talk about is sex-abuse committed by minors away from church property.
 

He further states:
As Mark mentioned, in the Noel story, the two families involved were family friends. They were neighbors. They were in the same care group. But there was no cover-up of these crimes. The boy’s crime was reported to the police and Social Services by the victim’s parents within 24 hours of disclosure at the urging of one of our pastors. And, over time and not soon enough, people from three different care groups in the area where these people lived were involved and knew about the situation.”


If the boy’s crime had not been reported to the police would you have reported it Vince? His last sentence is vague and misleading. Does Vince mean care group leaders, or was everyone in the three groups given this information? Which begs the question, was the identity of the perpetrator made known to people at risk…close friends of the family who interact on a social level?


Vince failed to mention that Fairfax disagreed with parts of Noel’s story. This was never resolved. Mark Mullery told Noel and her husband they had inconsistencies in their story. Mark uses the word “inconsistency” as a substitute for “lie.” Do any of you on staff in Fairfax have the guts to say Noel was lying if this is what you believed? Noel asked what the inconsistencies were but no answer was given. Is this one of the mistakes Mark Mullery learned from? Will he now go back and get this right with Noel and her family or does he still think its ok to not answer questions he doesn’t like?


In reference to our son’s case in 1998, Vince said: “This situation was never reported by the parents to the police.”

It’s not clear why Vince included this bit of information. Was this statement meant to make us look bad in some way Vince? However, we regrettably failed to report the crime because we thought the church would handle the situation scripturally. Instead, we were instructed by a Fairfax pastor on how great the father of the perpetrator was and Steve Shank blasted us for our sin.

 

Our daughter’s case:

“And also, we just want to clarify one thing, that two days before the trial, two pastors on our staff (Dave Hinders and Steve Whitacre) were served with subpoenas. Both pastors appeared in court at the appointed date and time and were ready to testify if needed. They had never been asked by anybody to participate in that part of the process directly. However, it should also be noted that the perpetrator pled guilty, so they were never called to testify.”

Vince neglected to mention that I asked them to participate…The subpoenas were hand-delivered one day before the trial. Vince Hinders was well aware of the fact but also failed to mention that two days before the trial I was on the phone with Dave Hinders pleading with him to come to the courthouse with Steve Whitacre.

What prompted my phone call to Dave was a prior phone conversation with the detective assigned to the case. She told me it would be a “good idea” for the pastors who heard the confession to be there ready to testify if necessary. However, Dave made it clear to me they weren’t coming. During our long heated discussion Dave told me, “I have my church’s reputation to consider.” I then called our detective and asked her to issue the subpoenas.

In a future meeting Steve Whitacre said he would have personally escorted the perpetrator to the police station if he had declined turning himself in. We did not have this information at the time and we forgave Steve for not telling us. In the same meeting Dave said he didn’t remember saying these things to me during our phone conversation and we forgave him for this.
 

“In both stories, as appropriate, we fully cooperated with the police and the Social Services.”

Concerning our case, either the Fairfax County Police Department lied to us or Vince Hinders twisted the truth a little. Our detective expressed frustration with the Fairfax pastors and told us they were “uncooperative.”

“But the big question that people have is…Are our children safe? Is it okay to have our children here?”

Vince then goes into an impressive litany of how well protected children are in the church with the new programs in place. But the big question people should have is, “Are our children safe outside the church?” Unless the leadership discloses the identity of sexual predatory minors in the church the issue of safety remains unresolved. People at risk need to be informed particularly when it involves minors. If not, young sex-offenders in social settings outside the church, away from church property will be undetected.

During the initial stages of our ordeal with Fairfax, we revealed the identity of the perpetrator to a family with young children in the church. The family was very close to the perpetrators family and was completely unaware of the circumstances. The young man was a twice-convicted sex-felon.

Happymom presented this question to Mark Mullery concerning minors: “Why don’t you inform people at risk of a known sex- offender in the church?” His response: “That perpetrator could grow up and sue us for defamation of character.”
 

Clarification:

“One resource that we have found is a book by Diane Langberg. It’s called On the Threshold of Hope.”

Vince neglected to mention for some reason that Happymom was the one who recommended the book to the pastoral staff. She received emails from Dave and Mark thanking her for the recommendation.

Vince Hinders speaking for Lou Gallo

“Lou and Lisa have attempted to resolve these relational conflicts with their relatives in a humble and biblical way, most recently through an independent, professional Christian conciliator here in Fairfax. Sadly, the situation hasn’t improved over time and has, in fact, deteriorated. The other family withdrew from the mediation process, contacted the pastoral team, and made a charge against Lou that he has engaged in a pattern of deception which is still current and could possibly disqualify him from being an elder.”

We did not create this relational conflict. It remains unresolved because Lou lied to us on multiple occasions and refused to answer our questions face to face. He has a long history of turning things back on us when confronted.

We spent a year and a half trying to address this but Fairfax protected Lou by consistently invalidating our claims. Contrary to Vince’s statement, the lying issue did not suddenly emerge after the mediation process but, in fact, had been something we labored to communicate to the pastoral staff from the beginning. And we did not withdraw from the mediation process as Vince also stated. We were there for both meetings totaling 9 hours.

As a follow-up to the mediation process, Fairfax set up a meeting to give us their final conclusions based on the mediator’s assessment. We asked Vince if we could ask Lou our questions in this meeting and he said no. Given this, there was no point in going so we declined the invitation.

The mediator’s conclusion was…

“There was nothing apparent in Lou’s responses or conduct during the mediation that, in what we observed, reflected a current attempt to avoid accountability or clear himself of any wrongdoing. Rather, there was clearly apparent conviction and heartfelt grief.”

During the meetings Lou avoided our hard questions and was deceptive in some of his responses to us and the mediator as well. He was extremely relieved when I asked the mediator this question after 5 hours of frustration: “Why do we desire to have our questions answered?” His reply was, “because you are sinfully craving answers according to James 4.” (Editors Comment:Egads, where do they train these guys?) With this announcement Lou began to weep. The mediator had confused heartfelt grief with extreme relief…Lou was now off the hook. At this point, we told Lou and Lisa that we had forgiven them.

 

“We have spoken at length with Lou and Lisa, and we believe that they have provided reasonable, humble, and honest answers and responses to the questions that they’ve been asked by their relatives.”

Vince’s statement is deceptive. Lou may have answered our list of questions but we weren’t given the opportunity to hear his responses. In fact, Fairfax blocked every attempt we made to ask Lou our questions face to face with a Fairfax pastor present. They claimed Lou had answered our questions (behind closed doors) but refused to tell us what his responses were. And the one question we did ask him in private was answered with an outright lie.

 

“When this conflict emerged, Lou and Lisa offered to meet with the other family’s pastor to get help with mediation because Lou and Lisa knew that they distrusted Sovereign Grace Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries. So, they said, hey, we’ll go to your pastor. We’ll go to your place. Sadly, the other family declined.”

Either Vince is truly ignorant of the facts or he purposely created a deceptive picture. Yes, we declined going to our pastor however; it was our strong desire to meet with Lou and one of his fellow Sovereign Grace pastors. (Vince was aware of this) When I suggested this to Lou, he said, “that aint happening.” And Fairfax backed him up on this.

We made two separate appeals to Vince Hinders and Kenneth Maresco for their participation in a meeting with Lou and they both declined. We were never given a reason why as they both ignored the question when we asked.

 

“…he has repeatedly reached out and gone to these family members in person. He has written letters and e-mails of apology…”

After not hearing from Lou for 10 months he appeared at our front door 2 days before a scheduled meeting with CJ Mahaney to apologize to our daughter. When asked, he could not tell us exactly what he wanted to apologize for and would not answer a few other questions we had. I told him it would not be in my daughter’s best interest at this time.

The second time Lou came to our house was after the mediation process. He apologized to our children for “not being there” and told them I was a wise man for asking that question in the mediator’s office – the question that was answered with James 4.

Lou’s two apology letters were filled with deceptive statements however; he did apologize in both letters for not being there. We tried bringing the deceptive apology issue to the pastor’s attention numerous times and they ignored us each time.

 

“In late 2010, the pastoral team sent a letter to the family who made the charge against Lou, and told them of our decision. Sadly, they told us, “The church will hear the truth, regardless of any conclusions you come up with on your own.”

Yes Vince, the church is now getting the opportunity to hear the truth.

 

“And at one point, we invited one of the bloggers from the Refuge blog – the one who manages that site – to actually come here to the church and sit in on our mediation meetings with them. We didn’t have anything to hide. We want to be reconciled to them.”

This is entirely false. Jim from the Refuge blog came to Virginia on my invitation. He came as a friend. When I informed Fairfax that he would be there for the meeting, I was questioned on what his role would be. The fact is they didn’t want him to be there. And Jim was at one meeting only, not multiple meetings as Vince seems to be indicating in his statement.
 

Lou Gallo

As it was similar to other breaks in our relationship that have occurred over the past 18 years, I wanted very much to understand my contribution as to why this kept happening. Over the course of the next months and years, I made several attempts to own my sin and to ask for their forgiveness.”

The breaks in our relationship were the result of Lou’s dishonesty and failure to acknowledge specific sins beyond not caring for us. His attempts at owning his sin were selective: “I confessed to them that I was proud and selfish.”

 

“As I began to understand the things they were bringing to me, I confessed to them my deficiencies in caring for them and that I did not love them like Hebrews 13:3 states.”
“Deficiencies in caring for them” can more accurately be described as “family abandonment.”
 “At two significant times in this family’s life, I allowed my fear of health issues Lisa faced to cloud my judgment…”

During the time leading up to my daughter’s court case, Lou made a deliberate and calculated decision to back away from our family. He was instructed by SGM lawyers to tell his wife not to discuss details of our daughter’s case with Happymom.

Lisa was not covered under the clergy-privilege statute and therefore could have been called as a witness to testify on our daughter’s behalf had she been given knowledge of any details. Lou endeavored to avoid this possibility and then lied about it when we confronted him. We had given him our daughter’s court-date months in advance, and a few days before the trial Lou told me they couldn’t be there because he had a scheduled meeting with Vince and Lisa had a doctor’s appointment.

I pleaded with him to come for our daughter’s sake. He came for a few minutes before the trial and then left. Lou’s explanation of this to the Fairfax church on 7/24 was that he allowed his fear of health issues Lisa faced to cloud his judgment.

The other issue Lou is referring to occurred in 1993 and it involved circumstances surrounding the funeral of our baby and a church split. Lou protested the funeral because we sided with the portion of the church that opposed him.

 

He said to Happymom at the time, “This church split is sick and you don’t see it. You’re the enemy’s trophy and they’re going to shine you up and put you on their mantle and we’re not coming to your baby’s funeral.”  (Editors comment: I am barely able to contain myself-How could they??!!!!)

For 16 years Lou maintained that Lisa’s health issues were the reasons for not coming to the funeral. In his 2010 apology letter he said, anger and hard heartedness were the reasons. (He never admitted the reasons why he was angry) But Lou currently states that his fear of health issues Lisa faced clouded his judgment. Which is it Lou?

While Happymom was recovering in the hospital a day after giving birth to a dead baby, Lou called and yelled at her over the church split.

This particular issue was somewhat addressed in a 2003 meeting with Vince but never completely resolved. Lou did not own up to these things. In this meeting he said, “I don’t remember saying those things, but given the frame of mind I was in at the time, I could have said those things, and if I did, I’m sorry.” Happymom had forgiven Lou for this mostly out of a desire to end the break in the relationship with her family.

 

“Sadly, I stand here tonight, and we have not been reconciled. We have had a short time of reconcilitation after meeting, as Vince mentioned, with the third party impartial mediator that both of our families agreed to. Forgiveness was extended, and that very night Lisa and I went to their home and asked their children’s forgiveness, and of our niece in particular. We enjoyed a wonderful and tearful reunion as families.

“The pastoral team and a representative from Sovereign Grace Ministry received an e-mail from this family sharing the news that they had forgiven us and our relationship had been restored. After three weeks of relating again as families, the relationship suddenly deteriorated and, sadly, we find ourselves here tonight.”

Yes, this is true; we did forgive them for the things they had apologized for. But Lou forgot to mention that we had discussed getting together to work out the unresolved issues face to face. Happymom and I were eager to do this as the thought of getting all this stuff behind us was very much in our hearts.

As mentioned above, the problem occurred when I expressed the need and desire to meet with a Sovereign Grace Pastor. We believed it was important to have one of Lou’s fellow pastors witness his answers to our questions so that he might be held accountable …but Lou said, “That aint happening.…” And again, Fairfax backed him up on this.

In an environment where the accountability standard is top priority, and if godly reconciliation was truly Lou’s goal, why would meeting with a SG pastor present a major problem?

Our questions still remain unanswered.

 

Ending thoughts:

If there’s been a 32 year history of no molestations occurring on church property then the issue of safety on church property has never been the real problem. People at risk need to know the identity of underage sex-offenders in the church so that children will be safe in social settings away from church property. It is the pastor’s responsibility to inform people at risk.

Fairfax leadership relinquished their responsibility in dealing with a pastor who had lied to us. They relied on the testimony of a complete stranger who knew nothing of our family history and ultimately turned it all back on us. Fairfax protected Lou from having to answer our questions directly and minimized the situation by calling it a “family disagreement.” They also referred to the issue as a “difference in interpretation of the facts.”

Will they publicly confess to the charges made in this response? Will anyone step down from public ministry for integrity’s sake? And will there be restitution made to the families involved?

No amount of tears can make something right that is clearly and undeniably wrong.

“But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

 

Lydia's Corner: 2 Kings 3:1-4:17 Acts 14:8-28 Psalm 140:1-13 Proverbs 17:22

Comments

Sinfully Craving Truth: Families of SGM Abused Children Respond — 66 Comments

  1. ” People at risk need to know the identity of underage sex-offenders in the church so that children will be safe in social settings away from church property. It is the pastor’s responsibility to inform people at risk.”

    Let me get this straight. People want the pastor to tell the congregation if underage sex-offender is in the church? Are we talking about a convicted under-age sex offender, or a suspected under-age sex offender.

    What other sinners in the church should be identified by the pastor to the congregation. Shall the pastor announce the embezzlers, the people who look at porn, people who bring false witness, people who watch HBO? How about those who drink too much wine or cheat on their taxes.

    This is the pastor’s job? announcing sinners among the congregation?

    Oh my, I can’t imagine being in a church that denounces under-age sinners.

  2. Seneca

    It is the pastor’s responsibility and every mature adult’s responsibility to tell families if they are at risk.And we are talking about an admitted underage sex offender who molests tiny children. Yep, let’s say that a teen has molested a tiny child and then is allowed to continue to work in a nursery and be a babysitter for many in a church, then yes, 100% absolutely, without a doubt they should be warned.

    I am still irritated that a group of parents did not warn me, a new mother at a Christian school about a woman who had men over for a good time while her little boy, a friend of my son, was at the house. I did due diligence when he was invited to spend the night. I asked around if all was well at the home. I went to the house, asked about the activities planned and movies to be shown, etc.

    Well, boyfriend # 10 arrived for a good time and my son happened to walk in on the action, looking for the promised pancakes. I later found out that many people knew about this and did not seek to let me know. And guess who was held up as the bad guy? Me because I decided to let another mom know of the situation. I think they called it gossip.

    So, yeah, I think molestation is an even worse situation so I think any reasonable (which may not mean these pastors) person would seek to protect the vulnerable. Rant over!

  3. Seneca, REALLY? People who cheat on their taxes are not harming anyone else in the church, nor are they a danger to anyone. Sexual predators of minors need to be exposed to everyone for who they are. That is why they have a database of such perverts, to warn the community. I do not need to be warned about tax evaders! They are not going to harm my children. Your comparisons were absolutely pathetic and show a complete lack of discernment and discretion. PLEASE!

  4. Eagle, Christianity is not a mess. Christians are a mess! (Except me of course)

  5. So, will we have more respect for SGM churches if they start denouncing underage sinners from the pulpit? I suspect not.

    (It’s still a little unclear, was this young man criminally convicted of anything? The lawyer in me wants to know.)

  6. And Dee, maybe in addition, he should no longer own possession of his booger-er… Just my suggestion. Ultimately, it was used as a weapon.

    His scarlet letter should be a patch of a kid with a big freaking “x” through it!! And he should be required to have it tattooed on his butt too!

  7. Seneca

    This was a teen aged boy,molesting a 3 year old kid. He needs to be separated from all little children and be placed in an intensive treatment program. And he should be kept away from small children. If he approaches them, he needs to be thrown in a mental hospital until this gets figured out. He must never, ever be allowed to be near children. Someone is going to get hurt in this deal. It should be the predator, not the little children.

    Let me tell you that had it been my son, I would have been the first to get him the help, keep him away from all kids and place him in the hospital for intensive care. i would also warn the people in my church about my son’s problem in case something slipped past me. Yes, it would be hard but the vulnerable need to be protected and i would spend all my efforts in getting intensive therapy for my son and loving him through the pain.

    And I am not saying that this is the same treatment that should be given to a teen boy fooling around with his teen girlfriend so don’t go there. I am talking about a teen boy with tiny children.

  8. Seneca,
    The problem in the Fairfax church is underage sex-offenders who are known only to a select few in leadership but unknown to families close to the perpetrators family.

    Obviously a dangerous situation could occur when a young offender interacts with other children away from church property and the parents are unaware of the circumstances.

    In my Response I mentioned that the young man was a twice convicted sex-offender. Common sense needs to be exercised with “suspected” sex offenders.

    I did not suggest that the entire congregation be given ientities from the pulpit, only “people at risk”…families with children close to the offender’s family.

    When a pastor has knowledge of a sex-offender in the church whether by confession or from disclosure from the victim’s family, that pastor needs to inform the appropriate persons so their children can be protected.

  9. If Paul told the Corinthian church to “deliver unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh” those among them that were involved in fornication and fornication with one’s father’s wife, what do you expect him to say of a teen boy molesting small children?

    I would imagine that the people fornicating in Corinth that Paul talked of were of consenting age, and he was disgusted by their behavior. Do you really think that Paul would have treated a teen boy (I believe of consenting age by Paul’s society’s standards) any differently than he did this family in Corinth?

  10. There is apparently a 1998 case and a 2007 case. I’m not sure which is which. Both of them have been used to hammer SGM. So which case was Griz referring to?

    I don’t think you have named this young man on your blog. But you think the church should name him. Tentatively based upon comments, the young man has not been found guilty by a court of law? (That remains less than clear to me.)
    But just as Wartburg Watch seems less than eager to “name names,” the pastoral staff may be under a greater burden to not “name names” of an underage youth.

    (I suspect naming him at the church is long since a moot point don’t you? Word does get around.)

  11. I see from Wallace’s post that the young man is a twice convicted sex offender and found guilty by a court of law.

    Is this the 2007 case or the 1998 case?

    I certainly think a judicially convicted sex offender should be kept far and away from the children of the church. It just might be a little more difficult to tell every new family that enters the church that Johnny Jones is a convicted sex offender.
    “Welcome to our church Mr. & Mrs. Smith. See that nice young man over there in the blue jeans and tee shirt, he’s a convicted sex offender.”

    But let’s pound SGM for not doing EXACTLY the right thing, as we judge what the right thing is.

    Cindy K thinks the proper thing to do is get rid of him. That is certainly the easiest thing to do. Perhaps SGM should consider it.

  12. Seneca

    Oh, there was plenty of grace for this kid. There was little protection for the children. And Cindy is a believer in grace. You just have trouble conceding her point. God will forgive this kid if the kid desires it. And that is incredible grace. And Cindy is one of the most grace-full people that I know. Seneca could stand to use a bit more grace himself.

  13. Seneca,
    The 1998 case was my son, 2007, my daughter. We don’t have any desire to make either one of the offender’s identity public. We have forgiven them. If your son or daughter was at risk from a sexual assault would you be grateful for heads-up from someone?

  14. Seneca
    Could you do me a favor and be a bit more circumspect? This family has been through hell and you don’t need to add more. Darn it.

  15. Seneca, what do you suggest is an appropriate course of action for a church to take in the case of a under-age teen boy sesually abusing a pre-school age child? Let’s assume the parents of both children and the pastors are aware of the sexual abuse.

    Now what?

  16. Oh, Dee — don’t you see yet that you can’t reason with Seneca? He has demonstrated a lack of compassion time and time again, and now he’s demonstrating a dangerous lack of common sense. His remarks on this post are some of the most ridiculous I’ve seen by commenters on this blog — I mean seriously perverted thinking, to the point of turning my stomach. (And I’m a big fan of zombie movies, so that’s pretty hard to do).

    I know you’ve stated that someone who makes the comments he does must have been hurt in some way in the past, but I think you’re letting him take advantage of your kinder nature that holds out compassion to those who have been injured. Perhaps he has, but having been harmed in the past does not give someone cart blanche to be intentionally and provocatively offensive to others who have also been hurt, especially in such a sensitive matter as this.

    I’m seriously disgusted, and I’m generally a live and let live kind of guy.

    “Where’s Seneca” sounds like a better idea all the time. God gives grace to the humble, but opposes the proud. I counsel you to do likewise.

  17. Seneca, you wrote:

    Cindy K thinks the proper thing to do is get rid of him. That is certainly the easiest thing to do. Perhaps SGM should consider it.

    I never said that. I think that the parents should hold the kid accountable for his behavior, and Dee presented many viable alternatives for help. In Corinth, someone communicated to Paul that the situation, and Paul communicated direction back to the church there. I don’t think that CJ is any kind of Paul, but in terms of SGM, he should have heard about these things like Paul did. But the church did nearly the exact opposite of what would have helped to heal and support all of the parties. That’s why this is a mess. They protected the abuser and revictimized the victims.

    The teen could not set limits for himself, and with people who can’t set limits, it is reasonable for people to set their own limits and boundaries themselves. (Small children can’t do that at all!) If the parents had trouble doing that, the church and the families in the church could have helped to lovingly teach the young man how to have boundaries by setting them for him.

    You don’t make a drunk in recovery hang out in a bar. You don’t offer him booze when he visits your house. You don’t take boston creme donuts over to a diabetic when you visit. You don’t give your 1 year old a glass of milk in Waterford crystal. That is compassion and setting those kind of limits is the role of parents and the church — to help those kids grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. You’re casting these measures as punitive, not as compassion. Putting that kid in a position that facilitated his problem gives the devil opportunity.

    If the kid lacks the ability to behave appropriately and violates others who have no ability to defend themselves, you have to teach him that behavior.

    Seneca, has anyone asked you how you would feel if you learned that your baby daughter was being cared for in the nursery at church or by a babysitter that had molested other little girls just like yours? Would you want to be the test case to allow that kid with your precious girl unsupervised? I watched a TV show about a pedophile in the mid ’70s with my dad, and he started talking and said that he honestly didn’t know how he could keep himself from killing a person if they’d ever did something like that to me.

    Would you honestly want to put your most precious little girl up on an altar as a test case for this kid?

  18. My last words on the Fairfax church situation:

    Compassion and grace for the kids who were abused.
    Compassion and grace for the parents of the children abused and what they had to go through including less support than they deserved
    Compassion and grace for the under-age perpertrators and their parents
    Compassion and grace for the leadership of Fairfax who found themselves in a very messy situation and could have done different.

    We need grace from God, we need compassion for others.

  19. One more thing, Seneca:

    Compassion and grace for the other potential victims of the perpetrators, i.e., a warning to those in the immediate circles of their families NOT to leave small children with them.

  20. According to his website: “Seneca figured it out 1959″ – enough said. He and his views will be pushing daisies soon enough

  21. Honestly, I continue to cringe everytime Seneca gets more attention here. You all can keep trying to talk to this inhumane spectacle and waste of time all you wish, but psychos like him get the attention they need everytime you address something he says. He doesn’t care if tge attention is negative, it’s attention and his mission accomplished. I would love to see Seneca banned from this site. Why do good-hearted people have to put up with this abusive and inhumane speech from a person day-in and day-out. Haven’t we all been abused and frustrated enough. Then you willingly invite this person into your life every time you address them even if it’s to correct him. Can we all agree to just ignore him–even if he goes so far to say the victim deserves it–can we please just ignore him!!! His presence is making me consider not reading this blog as often. I’d rather do that than to end up hating this effing asshole. I’ve never been so disgusted. And what’s more disgusting than a pedophile who rapes babies is Seneca, who sides with them and thinks they deserve some dignity for ruining a persons life.

    I humbly ask my gracious and too kind blog queens here to please consider the greater harm keeping Seneca Herr wiki do to people who are already raw and hurt. Please, I beg you, to stop giving this jerk a platform to spew his venom over innocent people. Please stop getting sucked back in everytime he says something nice in-between a million insults. That’s classic sociopathic behavior. There are no redeeming qualities in a heart like his and he’s just playing you all. So what if he’s been hurt, he sure as he’ll doesn’t care about hurting other people as much as his hurts are continued to be wondered about. I frankly could care less. He has no heart.

  22. NLR, I do not want to make light of your anger towards Seneca. Your anger is well justified and well stated.

  23. Senica said those were his last words, would some powerful person that controls the board make it so, please.

  24. Eagle,

    I think things are so fouled up because there are flawed human beings involved. These churches are all right down the street and around the corner. It is heartbreaking when those who should set the best moral standard for society need to take some lessons from the secular world about how to protect their little ones. How can people be pro-life, when they take their own and sacrifice them alive on altars of obedience to pastors in order to not “sow discord among the brethren.” It is disturbing and should be.

    People put up with it because we human beings have
    traits that make us all vulnerable to persuasion.
    Groups that start out with a virtuous end can fall into these human trappings through our imperfections, and soon the end justifies the means. Groups like PDI/SGM then institutionalize those means that are not so virtuous, and people soon lose sight of the virtue and the goal that they originally intended. They subtly forget, little by little, what they wanted to accomplish by following their own way instead of the Bible and the Holy Spirit in them.

  25. The statment, “You are sinfully craving answers” is an abuse of James 4:1, 2. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire, but do not have, so you kill. You covet, but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.” (NIV)

    If in the SGM pastor’s judgment you are quarrelsome (external observable behavior or fruit) then you can be further judged to have sinful cravings (worship posture/desire of your heart/motives of your heart where you either worship/love God or worship/love an idol). This, it seems to me, is why speaking gently and with an overabundance of compliments is so important to them.

    What were Wallace’s questions that ended up getting him the label “sinfully craving answers”?

  26. Matt

    Why didn’t u tell us? Evil question
    Pile of bunkum by abusive individuals with no true accountability

  27. Eagle-

    I appreciate the difficulty of the problem of evil you describe. I have children and while I am a Christian, I don’t know how I would do turning to God if my children were hurt or abused. It’s a terrible fear of mine.

    To take the problem of evil on its own – you can’t have a problem of evil without moral standards. It is incredibly difficult – I actually believe it’s impossible – to make a consistent philosophically coherent case for moral standards without the God of the Bible.

    God has a reason for the evil he allows – I hate saying it that way. Some others (likely commenting here) with a different view of God – more of an open theistic view – will likely disagree with this.

    With the above in mind, I would add, the God of the Bible is the only available God amongst all the various religions whose child was abused in an unjust act – namely Christ’s death on the cross. For me, this is where I would have to go if God calls me into a trial where my child is abused or hurt. I only pray I don’t have to endure it and especially my child.

    I wish email and blog comments communicated empathy better than my poorly written words above.

    Sincerely,
    Matt

  28. Matt,

    Excellent post. Many Christians believe that it was the Father Himself that abused Jesus Christ on that cross! Talk about a perverted doctrine! They have a really distorted view of Isaiah 53, and the Father’s heart toward the Son. Very disturbing indeed. Maybe Dee and Deb can do a post about that, if they have not already. I am fairly new to this blog, so I do not know.

  29. Eagle,

    You’ve asked me to define the universe and give examples, and I only have about five minutes to spare right now! It reminds me of my girlfriend’s thoughtful four year old daughter who asked me one day how God who is all good could have made the Devil who is all bad. I looked at her and praised her for her profound question and said that all of the great philosophers and theologians have been asking that same question for generations. Understanding that has been a driving part of my faith, and the journey has been fascinating.

    I hope others chime in here on that subject, and I’ll be back!

  30. Politically correct thinking which tells us not to judge (discern) has gotten us into this mess and Seneca is a casualty. SGM should have done at least three things in this situation.

    1. They should have put the child and his family out of the church. This is exactly what Paul did when gross immorality was found in the New Testament church.

    SCRIPTURE TEXT: “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. 3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler– not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.”
    I Cor. 5

    2. SGM’s leadership should notify the authorities any time a perpetrator is found within their ranks. Some people want to believe that ALL matters must be handled within the church, but let’s not forget that God also sets up governments for the purpose of handling criminal matters and pedophilia is a criminal offense. It is a lie that ALL matters must be handled within the confines of a church.

    SCRIPTURE TEXT: “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad…for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.”
    Romans 13:3,4

    3. Reached out to the families of the abused children in these situations, providing monetary help for the specialized counseling needed.

  31. Ted,

    You are spot on! Thanks for such an excellent comment. May pastors make wiser choices in the future.

  32. Deb, the scripture that was quoted by Ted to “remove the wicked man” was written to the entire assembly – not just to the pastors. It is the responsibility of the entire congregation to remove the man. There is no need to wait on any pastor to make that choice. Corinthians was written to the whole assembly, so that is their responsibility as a group to get rid of the creep.

  33. Ted,
    Excellent comment. We called the authorities the second time having learned a very difficult lesson years earlier.

    Matt,
    After CJ got involved and Fairfax started paying attention, getting any answer from them was like pulling teeth. My guess is they were following instructions from attorneys to protect themselves, sad how that didn’t really work for them as all their “legal counsel” seems to have backfired and has not protected the reputation of SGM after all. (props to Janna for that one)

    Our questions at the end were directed towards one pastor who we had relational issues with for 18 years and while we forgave him,we did not want to repeat the same mistakes as in the past. We wanted truth and healing to take place and Fairfax made every effort to prevent that question/answer period from happening.

    I don’t doubt that SGM pastors have gone the “sinfully craving answers” route, that quote came from the paid mediator they hired.

    Deb & Dee,
    Thanks for the excellent work at TWW and for letting us tell our side of the story.

  34. Happymom,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I was incorrect in attributing the “sinfully craving answers” quote to the SGM pastor. Why was the pastor not accused of “sinfully concealing answers”? No response necessary – I can kind of guess why.

    It is interesting how the SGM Pastors tend to have this culture of concealment from the sheep and then how CJ seems to also have had another culture of concealment from the SGM Board and other SGM Pastors.

  35. I think this is a big part of the problem. People keep looking to “the pastor” to do everything. The Bible uses the word “pastor” one single solitary time in the entire NT. This “office” has gotten WAY too much attention and has put this one man (normally) into an unBiblical place of running the show and making all of the major decisions.

    The text above that Ted quoted from 1 Corinthians, clearly states to “remove the wicked FROM AMONG YOURSELVES”. That clearly is addressing the entire assembly, not just some select “leader”.

    So we need to get rid of this pastoral rule mentality that has infiltrated our churches. “The pastor” is not the big kahoona and needs to be taken off the thrown that only Jesus was meant to sit in.

    People need to take back their churches.

  36. “Sinful craving”

    I’m always amazing at how telling SGM’s buzzwords are.

    If you take a look at their buzzwords and examine them closely, it becomes obvious they are used to construct subterfuges nearly each and every time.

  37. Happymom,

    I’m really glad that you and Wallace took the time to respond to Mark Mullery and gang and that you allowed us to post your remarks here.

    Keeping you and your family in my prayers. Blessings to all of you!

  38. Eagle,
    Thank you so much for asking, I am humbled that you would even ask me that. I’ve been a Christian for close to 27 years and although there has been pain and suffering, God has been so intimately involved in my life and has carried me through storms in a way I find hard to describe. Here is an example I hope will help illustrate that. When I get the chance to visit our daughters grave (in NY) I am saddened momentarily to think that I will not have her here in this life, but then I am reminded of the promise that HE will never leave me nor forsake me (Psalm 9:10) and that I will have her for eternity. She is in heaven, enjoying the presence of Jesus, and I will see her one day. I am sobered by that as I look out at all the other headstones and my heart and prayers go out to the moms and dads who might not have that hope. (yet) I honestly don’t know how they make it through something like that without Him, so although I am sad for that time, I come away thankful to a God who comforts me. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
    And even as I have cared for and comforted my child through the trial of abuse I have seen God show up and minister to her in ways I never could have on my own. And while there has been trial there has also been tremendous blessings. Yes, there is pain and suffering in this world, Jesus said it Himself, “In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
    I find such peace in that and can point to so many times where He has come through in ways that are incredibly personal that could have only come from a Father who is intimately acquainted with all our ways and who really does care for us. The more I’ve read and studied the Word the more I learn that we were never promised a life without pain and sorrow, but through the work of Jesus, we have hope and in that we press on.
    Please don’t apologize for asking that question. Wallace and I would be happy to take this off line if I have not answered your question sufficiently. I mention Wallace in case you’re a guy and would feel more comfortable talking to him. (I know he sounds pretty upset in the above post, but he’s really pretty cool :)
    Also, I have no hatred in my heart towards the people of SGM, I once loved this ministry dearly and I am praying that God would redeem all of this somehow for good.

  39. Eagle — I really respect your questions. So very honest. They are the questions that most people don’t think to ask because they don’t think deeply enough.

  40. Eagle — I could take a stab at the things you’re wrestling with… but as soon as I try, I realize how sorely unsatisfying and insufficient my response is. It leads to even more difficult questions.

    But I’ll give it a go, nonetheless. Perhaps God’s direct action and initiative taken on behalf of people & people groups as described in the bible is highly the exception (& far from the rule). Perhaps the rule is that “ish” happens (I like my new word, thanks to NLR).

    Maybe the Joseph story in the OT is a prime example of ish happening.

    In the Joseph story God obviously allowed it all to happen, but at the same didn’t abandon Joseph, but brought about something very good out of it.

    And here I am confronted with a new hard question: surely the very good could have been accomplished without so much devastation.

    For the sake of honesty I couldn’t leave the obvious question unsaid, but I have now strayed a bit too far from the original post.

  41. Ms. Happymom,

    I think your treatment by your pastor/relative is detestable. But I don’t understand why, when you had problems with him in NY, you would choose to join his church in Fairfax?

    If it were me, I would not want to be in the same state, let alone in the same church, and CERTAINLY NOT under his “care”. What’s with that?

  42. Pingback: Around Town: Week in Review (From Gothard, Patriarchy Movement, Sovereign Grace Ministry News to Spurgeon on Secondhand Windbags) « The Reformed Traveler UNITED STATES

  43. TinyTom,

    Certainly a valid question.
    When the events surrounding the funeral happened I forgave him and two years went by before we reunited with this pastor.
    Desperate to work things out and at that time, we were drawn to PDI and what we thought was a healthy church, so we relocated to the church in Fairfax. Also, this pastor happens to be married to my sister. He was not on staff when we moved here.

  44. Eagle, you are not alone, many of us out here no longer accept the same pat answers or the convoluted theodicies about why God allows bad stuff to happen to good people & innocent little ones. The best one I’ve heard yet, and I say that with sincerity, is Greg Boyd’s “Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy”

    Elastigirl, you’ve done it again! I mean the bit about the exception vs. the rule. That never occured to me before. Thanks for the Aha moment.

  45. To all

    I am moving my son into college and will not be back til the weekend. Please forgive the silence.

  46. Eagle,
    One more thing I should have added when answering your question. Please know that there were many days I’ve yelled up at the Heavens with my fist raised questioning God’s love.
    I’m sorry if I wasn’t more sensitive in answering your question.

    Dee,
    Hope all goes well with the move.
    Deb,
    Happy Birthday!

  47. Eagle – no one is going to Hell. NO ONE!

    Here are some Scriptures that I posted on another thread.

    1 Timothy 2:4 “Who does will all men to be saved, and to come to the full knowledge of the truth” (Young’s Literal Translation)

    Romans 5:18 “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.”

    2 Corinthians 5:19 – “God was in Christ, reconciling THE WORLD to Himself, NOT COUNTING men’s sins against them!!!!”

    John 1:29 “Behold the Lamb of God who TAKES AWAY the sin of the WORLD!”

    There are MANY more that prove that everyone will be restored to the Father through Christ and His finished work of the cross and resurrection.

  48. Eagle,

    I read this blog regularly, but have never commented. Your heartfelt questions have prompted me to add another perspective. My husband has been on a church staff or in some kind of denominational position all of his career. So, we have always been immersed in church life and our faith has been integral to us. Our daughter is 38. In her later teens, we found out that she had been sexually molested by a grandfather from the age of 2-10 on annual summer visits. It has been 20 years ago that we started dealing with the ramifications of this. In the chaos and despair of the first few months of finding out, I decided that the only way I could get through this was to be honest with God about everything I was processing. I read, talked with people I trusted and tried to make some sense of what had happened. All the while, I was restless with the concept of God not intervening in such evil acts to a child. After several years of this, I sensed that I needed to choose whether I believed in an all-powerful God or an all-loving God. The thought that God could have stopped this abuse for eight years, but chose not to was too much for me. If that was true, I would need to walk away. I have come to embrace that God is a loving God, who is not able to stop the evil acts of humans. I am at peace with that, and my faith still sustains me.

    I realize that this may not be a popular view, and it may not be correct. I just know that going through this changed my view of God, but my faith is still intact.

  49. psr, I believe God is BOTH all loving AND all powerful. What happened to you daughter is horrendous and tragic. Why God allows such things to happen, I do not have a clue. Because God holds back His power, does not mean He is not all powerful, nor that He is not all loving. Our human reasoning and logic just cannot grasp why God allows such evil to exist. There are things that maybe we will never know till we meet Him face to face. We know in part.

  50. happymom,  I can assure you that there ain’t no “crickets” in heaven!

    You go girl!

    Ma prayers too!

    Sopy

  51. I was pretty sure I would get a lecture from my response. I respect your belief, but no one really knows the nature of God. Please respect my belief, which has not been formed quickly or in a shallow way.

  52. psr, no lecture intended, and no disrespect intended whatsoever – just my belief being stated as well.