Ambassadors of Reconciliation: Let’s Take A Closer Look

As many of our readers know, the Ambassadors of Reconciliation have just released their Consultation Report to the Board of Directors of Sovereign Grace Ministries. (link) The report was prepared by Ted Kober and Ed Keinath.

According to Dave Harvey, "this plan includes three areas where they and others will be involved in helping us:

1. Adjudication of allegations against C.J. Mahaney
2. Group reconciliation with others who have offenses
3. Follow-up consultation and recommendations"

Instead of analyzing the report itself, I decided to investigate the organization that authored the report, the Ambassadors of Reconciliation. Why look closely at AoR? I believe that impartiality is of utmost importance in this process and that transparency is crucial.

When Dave Harvey first named the Ambassadors of Reconciliation as the organization selected to help resolve SGM’s debacle, he described AoR as “a ministry that primarily serves Lutheran churches”.  Fair enough. However, at that time I decided to investigate whether there were ties between Ambassadors of Reconciliation and Peacemaker Ministries (which has an established relationship with SGM). Furthermore, C.J. Mahaney and Ken Sande are friends as we have previously established here at TWW. In fact, Mahaney endorsed Sande’s 2004 revised and updated edition of The Peacemaker (which I recently added to my library) by writing:

“The Peacemaker is an indispensable tool for pastors. . . . There is no need for another book on this topic to be written now that this volume exists.”

Due to Mahaney’s close ties to Sande and Peacemaker Ministries, it was important that the SGM Board of Directors hire an impartial organization. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to find established ties between Peacemaker Ministries and Ambassadors of Reconciliation. (link)

That post went up almost a month ago. When I looked at the front cover of the Consultation Report, the AoR address — Billings, Montana — jumped out at me. Why? Because Peacemaker Ministries is located in the very same town! Google is such a wonderful research tool, and here is what I have found.

Ted Kober serves as President of Ambassadors of Reconciliation, which was established in 2004. Here is the description of AoR: “A Lutheran based reconciliation ministry established in 2004. Ambassadors of Reconciliation works with individuals, businesses, local churches, and national church bodies to foster lifestyles of reconciliation.” (link)

Ted’s bio at AoR shows his strong connection to Peacemaker Ministries by stating: (link)

“Ted Kober serves as President of Ambassadors of Reconciliation. Ted’s speaking includes presenting seminars on biblical peacemaking, training leaders in mediation, and leading board governance workshops. His international work includes equipping church body leaders from 33 different countries and 6 continents. Ted has published articles, Bible studies, devotions, and his book Confession & Forgiveness (CPH, 2002). He provides consulting for business and church leaders and serves on conciliation panels in a wide variety of cases, including complex church interventions. For thirteen years, Ted served in various leadership roles for Peacemaker Ministries and continues to serve as an adjunct instructor. He served as a reconciler for the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and on the synod’s board of directors. Prior to his work in reconciliation, his business background includes owning or managing interests in more than 30 different companies. He successfully resolved fifty-nine separate legal disputes in one estate. He has served in numerous lay leadership positions at Trinity Lutheran Church in Billings, Montana, and occasionally plays organ for worship. He lives in Billings with his wife Sonja, and they have one grown son David.”

Ed Keinath, who co-wrote the AoR report for SGM also serves as an adjunct instructor for Peacemaker Ministries (PM). Funny, I don't remember Dave Harvey ever mentioning the close ties these two men have with PM and Ken Sande.

I found an interesting interview of Ted Kober at the AoR website, which I highly recommend. In this video Kober explains how his friend Ken Sande reached out to him when he was embroiled in a terrible legal battle in settling his father’s estate. It is obvious that it was Sande who inspired Kober to establish a career in peacemaking, and he likely feels indebted to Sande for that inspiration. (link)

As Kober indicated in his “about us” information, he served in various leadership roles for Peacemaker Ministries for 13 years. Assuming he formed Ambassadors of Reconciliation immediately after leaving Peacemaker Ministries (2004), that means he began working for PM around 1991.

To give you an idea of the kind of work Kober did while at Peacemaker Ministries, here is a “Proposal and Agreement for Conflict Intervention” he prepared for a church. (link)

Kober’s proposal begins as follows:

“Greetings to you in the name of Jesus, our Peacemaker!

This proposal describes our services for a Conflict Intervention, which includes teaching, mediation, and consultation in response to the current conflicts in your church. Our intervention services are provided through the Ministry Relations Division of Peacemaker® Ministries. As the Senior Ministry Consultant for Lutheran churches, I (Ted Kober) prepared this proposal for you. I will be happy to answer questions for you, including if you desire, in a phone conference with your Board of Elders or Church Council. Upon mutual acceptance of this proposal, we look forward to further conversations to finalize dates for an intervention team to work with your congregation.”

If you saw the May 2003 Christianity Today article entitled “Missing the Rupture”, you would have read the following: (link)

“Dave Edling, director of church relations for Peacemaker Ministries, says his organization tells troubled churches, "Your problem is not psychological. Your problem is sin." … Edling and his associate, Ted Kober, intervene in eight to ten church conflicts each year.”

Since leaving PM to establish AoR, Kober and Sande have co-written peacemaking resources including Guiding People Through Conflict (link) and Cultivating Lifestyles of Reconciliation. (link)

The Peacemaker Ministries website features a couple of articles written by Ted Kober, which are entitled:

How We Treat Each Other in the Church

Conflict an Opportunity? I Hate Conflict! (link)

As I was scanning the articles featured on the PM website, one name really jumped out – Carolyn McCulley. She authored Keeping the Peace – Writing E-mail that will not Stir up Conflict. (link) In the article McCulley writes:

“Ken Sande, founder of Peacemaker Ministries and author of The Peacemaker, says e-mail has added an extra wrinkle in business and personal communications. As a former attorney and now a professional Christian mediator and lecturer, Sande increasingly has had to guide ministry and church staffs, as well as other groups, through friction that originated in e-mail or other online communications.

‘People are much more careful in how they write a letter on paper than they are in how they communicate through e-mail," he says. "The further you get away from a face-to-face communication, the more you lose your message-sending capabilities. It's not good enough to communicate so that you can be understood, you must communicate so clearly that you cannot be misunderstood. There's a huge difference.’ ”

Over at the Ambassadors of Reconciliation website, the Peacemaking Principles Pamphlet (a Peacemaker Ministries resource) is offered in the online bookstore.

Given the ties outlined above between Ted Kober and Ken Sande, is it any surprise that the Ambassadors of Reconciliation report recommends that select chapters of Sande’s The Peacemaker be consulted?

Well, there you have it folks. It will be interesting to watch this process go forward and observe how this serious matter gets resolved. I guess impartiality is in the eye of the beholder…


Lydia's Corner:        2 Kings 6:1-7:20       Acts 15:36-16:15       Psalm 142:1-7       Proverbs 17:24-25


Ambassadors of Reconciliation: Let’s Take A Closer Look — 51 Comments

  1. I decided to look up the street addresses for both Ambassadors of Reconciliation and Peacemakers (as listed on their respective websites). Turns out they’re located one mile from each other, in a city of about 100,000. While that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, that’s yet another seeming coincidence to add to the ones mentioned above.

  2. Those who expose the truth are not the problem. The problem is the problem! We shouldn’t fear the truth; we should embrace it.

  3. Good for you, Amanda. You took the research a step further than I did. The internet is a powerful tool!

  4. Deb, I never thought for one minute that you and Dee were not after the truth. Just because we disagree about the extent of salvation, would in no way mean that. I think you all are great and doing a wonderful job.

  5. I’ll repost for those who didn’t see my post before:

    The vice-president of Peacemakers, David D. Schlachter, is on the Board of Directors for Ambassadors of Reconciliation.
    Ambassadors of Reconciliation is an independent, non-profit corporation. Our approach is based upon the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. We provide our services through two offices:
    CrossLife Ministries
    Our licensed professionals provide Gospel-centered counseling to individuals and small groups. Counseling areas include marriage and family, grief support, addictions, and long-term behavioral patterns, and more. (Psalm 103:1-5; John 10:10; Romans 8:1-17; Colossians 3:1-17)
    ****Who can assist you in addressing leadership conflict issues? Our *Certified Christian Conciliators™ provide Christ-centered consulting to help Christian leaders address leadership issues and group conflicts in a biblically faithful manner. Proactive and reactive consulting issues include organizational, role definition, termination, sexual and criminal misconduct, theological differences, and others. (Matthew 5:9; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Colossians 3:12-17; James 3:18)
    *Certified through Peacemaker Ministries
    Reconciliation Ministries
    Our Certified Christian Conciliators™ provide consulting, conflict coaching, mediation, arbitration, and group reconciliation services. We serve individuals with personal, business or legal disputes, in addition to churches, schools and other organizations in conflict. (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 6:1-8; Philippians 4:2-9; Galatians 6:1)
    *******Who can help you to resolve disputes? Reconciliation Ministries connects you to qualified reconcilers who are experienced in helping individuals and groups reconcile relationships and negotiate agreements. (Matthew 5:23-24; 18:15-20; Romans 12:9-21; 1 Corinthians 6:1-8; Galatians 6:1) Our consulting and reconciliation services are provided according to the Rules of Procedure found in Guidelines for Christian Conciliation published by Peacemaker Ministries®.

  6. I almost choked upon reading, “When Dave Harvey first named the Ambassadors of Reconciliation”

    Admittedly, at first because I had misread the sentence but upon reflection and comprehending the sentence correctly, Dave Harvey is a wiley fox and should not be given the duty of selecting guardians of the henhouse.

  7. Ellie,

    Thanks for pointing out yet another connection between PM and AoR. I included that information about David Schlachter in the blog post I wrote a month ago and probably should have included it in this post.

    Who do these guys think they’re kidding?

  8. That’s all very interesting, but how does it prove AoR is not impartial? I see no analysis of the published document in this post; just a lot of (laughable) guilt by association ploys. Nice try.

  9. Did you know that Carolyn McCulley worked for SGM for years and was recently filming CJ over in the Dominican Republic?

    She’s a sweetheart, but I imagine very loyal to CJ.

    Just a question, but how many reconciliation ministries are there out there?

    They did get on SGM about quite a few things so perhaps they are being more impartial than you think they will be.

  10. Shato,

    Yes, I knew that McCulley worked for SGM. I remember reading on her blog that she was establishing a production (film) company. I also saw that she would be out of town for a few weeks. Now I know why…

  11. Adam,

    I don’t plan to analyze the document. I believe each SGM member should review it and then decide for him/herself how much they trust their leaders.

  12. “They did get on SGM about quite a few things so perhaps they are being more impartial than you think they will be”

    Shato, I don’t think you got the memo or perhaps the koolaid is too good? CJ was announced fit for ministry weeks ago. This was simply a PR exercise. The polity issues were agreed upon weeks ago and AoR is simply rubber stamping wht has already been done. This whole operation was planned down to the Larry man hug announcement.

    In fact, the rubber stamp of Mohler and Duncan were presented very shortly after the stepping down annoucement. Dever was lined up to be his accountability before you knew he was stepping down. In Mohler’s statement to the Courier Journal, he made it clear CJ should not give up his non sgm activities. My guess is that these activities as in speaking engagements, etc took up most of his time, anyway. :o)

    You have been taken for a ride. And you are totally free to go along with it. I am sure many will.

  13. There’s just something about the timing of the whole thing that bothers me. Mahaney “stepped down” just in time for his annual vacation, then he has a working vacation in the Carribean, and now this whole mess seem to be winding down just in time for fall conferences & such that will be going on soon.

  14. Lin,

    Great analysis! At some point SGMers have to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit.

    When do you think Mahaney will be repositioned on his lofty pedestal?

  15. Ellie,

    It grieves my heart to realize that the Holy Spirit is not welcome in SGM, according to so many testimonies. 🙁

  16. RE Dee on Fri, Aug 26 2011 at 10:33 pm:

    CJ thinks? Why, everybody knows that Professor Barnhardt is the smartest man in the whole wide world, just ask Mr. Klaatu & Bobby! ===> (smiley face goes here)

  17. That AoR document has paragraph after paragraph about “gossip,” “slander” and every other thing you could think of (drawn from SGM vocabulary) about the public dissemination of Brent Detweiler’s docs and their extensive public discussion “because it opens the door for sinful activity that dishonors Christ and discredits his church.” (Found in final graphs of p. 9 of the AoR report.)

    What a joke.

  18. “When do you think Mahaney will be repositioned on his lofty pedestal?”

    If all goes according to plan, I predict a standing O at next year’s T4G…. where he will promote his new book on Grace based on his experiences. Mahaney will thank Dever, Mohler and Duncan and the “panel” for holding him “accountable”.Maybe they will even play a clip of his man hug with Larry at the upcoming conference Larry is attending…. for the adoring young pastors in the large T4G audience.

  19. Some trivia here — C. McCulley was involved in film/video/commercials, etc., prior to going to work for SGM.

    I, too, wonder how many reconciliation-type ministries are out there? Who else might they have involved? I have no idea. I have formed no opinion one way or the other about Peacemakers or AOR, but if there is no financial tie between the two, I see no technical conflict of interest. If another organization exists that has no prior knowledge of SGM or Ceej, it would be interesting to see how their take would differ, but I don’t suppose that’s possible.

    I’m so sick of all this now that I’d prefer never to hear of SGM and/or its leaders ever again.

  20. The question is: Who is paying AoR? And do peacemakers and AoR want more business from the Reformed movement in the future with all the church discipline focus?

    I think the donors to sgm have a right to know how much all this costing to rehab CJ’s image. But I doubt any would ask. They probably think it is a sin to ask. Just give the money.

  21. “Our *Certified Christian Conciliators™

    With a trademark sign, no less.”

    didn’t even notice that!

  22. Numo–

    It’s funny how they said the leaking of the docs opened the doors of sin and discredits the church, blah, blah, blah. They focus on the leaking of the documents versus what they contain. Common sense would tell a monkey that the door for sin was opened a long time ago, and they assisted in discrediting the church themselves. Also, I can’t see how someone’s own written words are considered gossip or slander. This might be exposure, but it sure as heck ain’t the other two. ALL these people who are around CJ and supporting him are intentionally ignoring these facts ad making Brent’s leaking the docs the main issue, which, of course, in light of the contents therein, have faded swifty into the background.

    Peacemakers/AoR think that we need to wait on their ‘professional’ review to tell us that the reptile that bit a bunch of people and poisoned them was a snake. Freak them and their late report. Apparently, they cannot identify a snake and we can. I don’t need PM to tell me a snake is a snake. Funny how they think THIS is how sin has entered and will discredit their church. It’s all pale in comparison to CJ’s own self-condemning words. This dude wrapped a noose around his own neck. Brent just let us all see what he was seeing. And it’s not that everyone agrees that what Brent did was right, especially considering that Brent can’t even acknowledge the main reasons why he should have done this. But it doesn’t matter as much as the blaring screaming content that this monster, CJ, wrote. People are fairly judging him by his own words and have more than enough material, 600 pages, to help inform a pretty good opinion.

    These little boys, Mohler, Dever, Sande and the rest are trying to run around and cover up what their frat buddy just did like some dudes in college trying to cover up their buddy who raped some girl. Yet, it’s all obvious and no one is falling for this side show when the main show is the undeniable train wreck that it is. They are a bunch of CJ Fanboys. They can keep El-Creepo with his creepster Chester-the-Molester smile. I’d walk an extra mile just to avoid passing him on the sidewalk.

  23. If you want proof that this AoR document is not impartial, I have an easy suggestion: read it.

    Lin mentioned “rubber stamp”. Lin nailed it. That’s exactly the word.

    I almost didn’t need to read it. I could have practically recited it verbatim.



  24. Did anyone notice the huge theme of “SGM never writes anything down”? I mean, they had no protocols for anything, not bylaws, no routine for even FIRING people. Kinda important, no? No wonder it was like a high school clique. I like him, he’s cool, so we’ll be lenient on that pastor (their translation: he has good character, his motives are good). I don’t like him, he’s not in my cool group, so we’ll knock him around and eventually throw him out (their translation: he is showing poor character; his motives are bad).

    This seems pride based to me. We don’t need to write things down. Our discernment is impeccable. We have a monopoly on truth. Whatever we decide in the moment, however inconsistent with the past, is good and perfect. No wonder so many people are hurting.


  25. This is ugly: Dr. Bradley was also sentenced to 165 years for multiple counts of assault and continuous sexual exploitation of a child. Bradley was arrested in Dec. 2009 after a 2-year-old girl complained to her mother after an office visit that the doctor had hurt her.

    Bradley recorded homemade videos of the abuse, said prosecutors, who presented the judge with more than 13 hours of videos showing sex crimes against more than 80 victims, most of whom were toddlers.”

  26. I am of the opinion that there are two pillars which SGM bases their gospel on that they took measures to protect from being called into question by any agency hired to evaluated them. These pillars the exclusion of females from positions of leadership and doctrine of the eternal subordination of the Son. Although I don’t know the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) position on the doctrine of the ESS, I know they do not ordain women (although possibly as deaconesses idk).

    Ted Kober, who has sat on the board of the LCMS, will no doubt overlook SGM’s position on such matters as having any relevancy to their systemic problems stemming from their male-only authority structure-which has directly contributed to the violation of the rights of women and children.

  27. We cannot be reconciled until there is repentance.

    Henry Cloud and John Townsend write about the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation in their book “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life“:

    “Many people have a problem determining the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. They fail to deal with external resistance because they feel that they have to give in to the other person again and again or they are not being forgiving. In fact, many people are afraid to forgive [or ask forgiveness] because they equate that with letting down their boundaries one more time and giving the other person the power to hurt them again.

    The Bible is clear about two principles: 1) We always need to forgive, but (2) we don’t always achieve reconciliation. Forgiveness is something that we do in our hearts; we release someone from a debt that they owe us. We write off the person’s debt, and she no longer owes us. We no longer condemn her. She is clean. Only one party is needed for forgiveness: me. The person who owes me a debt does not have to ask my forgiveness. It is a work of grace in my heart.

    This brings us to the second principle: we do not always receive reconciliation. God forgave the world, but the whole world is not reconciled to him. Although he may have forgiven all people, all people have not owned their sin and appropriated his forgiveness. That would be reconciliation. Forgiveness takes one; reconciliation takes two.

    We do not open ourselves up to the other party until we have seen that she has truly owned her part of the problem. So many times Scripture talks about keeping boundaries with someone until she owns what she has done and produces “fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). True repentance is much more than saying “I’m sorry”‘ it is changing direction.”

    So, AoR, are you calling SGM leaders to repentance so there can be reconciliation? Until I hear AND see true repentance, it is not safe for me to be reconciled. I am not interested in subjecting myself to more abuse.

  28. Mrs.Stretch,
    Thank you again for sharing your story and thank you for posting that article. I’ve read everything I can get my hands on regarding forgiveness/reconciliation and that is simple, clear and concise.
    Fruit in keeping with repentance seems to be a major factor missing
    in the SGM’s “apologies.”

  29. Until they disband the entire SGM organization, there can be no true repentance or reconciliation. The organizational structure itself is sinful, fostering pride, arrogance, “lording it over”, hierarchy with clergy laity distinctions, statements of faith, membership requirements (legalism), conformity, etc. If you want to be accepted at SGM you have to do things THEIR way.

    SGM needs to be entirely disbanded – not restructured. It is NOT a “movement of God”. It is NOT a “family of churches”. It is a cult.

  30. NBTT,

    Agreed. And like has been said here, what is happening with SGM is something to keep our eye on. Something those who say they are reformed and evangelical need to keep their eye on.

    Things are being shaken. We live in an exciting time! I happen to believe we are on the cusp of a entirely new reformation that will cause the true church to emerge, preaching the real gospel – the power of God. Not some watered down, compromised, man-centered message groups like SGM call the gospel.

    So, I think focusing on the SGM story is important. Every time something happens in SGM it registers on the seismograph, warning people of its crumbling foundations. People in SGM ought to take warning and move to safer ground, and those who are closely aligned to SGM should take heed. Not doing so is like the foolish man who refused to leave his house during an evacuation and got swept away in the storm he was forewarned of.

    Or, like CJ and Carolyn Mahaney, who loaded their willing families into a little lifeboat and headed straight out to sea, ignoring the hurricane warnings as if the storm were a vicious rumor based on false gossip and slander, assuming they could all walk on water if necessary.

  31. NLR,

    I thought your last comment tells it like it is. For those that want to pussyfoot around, acting as though SGM’s sins aren’t offensive in nature to God or the christian, then I have to question how well they know God or understand the nature of his jealousy.

    Having the mind of Christ involves hating sin and its effect on that for which He died. It makes God angry when someone assumes lordship over something that belongs to Him and then acts as though He gave them that right.

  32. Evie,

    I like what you had to say:

    Having the mind of Christ involves hating sin and its effect on that for which He died. It makes God angry when someone assumes lordship over something that belongs to Him and then acts as though He gave then that right.

    Can I post that to my Facebook status?

  33. Evie,

    I love your comment about the people in SGM “moving to safer ground” due to the earthquake activity and SGM’s crumbling foundations. Very well stated. Evet time I try to warn my SGM friends to get out, they blow it off as sour grapes, unforgiveness, bitterness, etc.

  34. When we say we want to see true repentence, we have to ask what that would look like from those in sgm leadership. In my opinion from my reading of the Word,they are not qualified to be elders and should get out of full time paid ministry and focus on being disciples of Christ. Not leaders.

  35. Lin, I like the line from the movie “Oh God” where God (George Burns) tells the preacher to go sell shoes. Let these bums go out and get a real job and quit mooching off of God’s people and using the Lord’s name in vain by charging for their counseling, teachings, books, music, etc.

    “Freely you have received, freely give.”

  36. Lin, these churches will probably have some sort of infomercial soon where you get some sort of bonus gift if you call them within the next 10 minutes to sign up on their membership roster.

  37. BTW – how much is a Wartburg watch and where can I buy one? Is it water resistant?

  38. How do I get to be a certified Christian? (with the fancy tm badge and everything.

    If I was a dog, I’d be a pure breed with pedigree papers and all. How fun!

    I read talk of CJ and his family bailing out sort of like rats abandoning a sinking ship

    When I think of CJ bailine and yet showing up in the islands (Better make it spf 70 or better with shiny dome, dude,) I think of the scene in Star Wars (Episode 4, A New Hope) in which the Death Star is in the process of blowing up and who is the only one to escape, yup, Darth Vader (with a shiny dome of his own.)

    You drones and clones and Imperial lackies are the poor slobs who shared their fate with the Death Star, staying at your post ’till the bitter end.

  39. HowDee YaAll,

    SGM, purported to be a created closed re-ligious system built on a hyper-authoritarian failed shepherding model with a strapped-on debilitating form of  “re-formed theology” that is su-spected to be of a nefarious nature…


    This group (SGM) has been positively identified by bona  fide & credentialed  re-ligious pro-fessionals, as having “no” (zero, zip, nada) a-ccountability to the persons or groups it “a-ppears” to serve… hum…

    Oh, my?

    So, if we turn that idea around, we have… -a created closed re-ligious system, that serves only the creator, and the per-pet-u-ators of that there closed re-ligious system…

    Very scary…, don’t you think?


    (If one was to add the potential of a “spiritual di-mension”, one would su-spect devils- i.e. denjins of this present darkness, with very entangling mojo -are at work here…he,he.)

    bad mojo? 

    Where one is cautioned to “do the math”?

    -Without the proper balance (…or focus, for that matter), one is “sure” to be “spiritually overdrawn” don’t you think?

    Wouldn’t want that, would we…


    Sopy ;~)

    A quote to chew over:
    “There is a way that seems right to an individual, but in the end -it leads to da pooper hit’tin da proverbial fan, Vern….”    Christian Bible; Proverbs 16:25, adapted.

  40. Jonathan
    I can well assure you that everyone who argues in the Christina arena believe they are being directed by SCRIPTURE. If it was so simple, we would not have a gazillion denominations. But, each and every one of those folks in those denominations KNOW they have read the SCRIPTURE correctly.