"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."
Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)
The departure of Larry Tomczak from PDI (renamed Sovereign Grace Ministries) has always been somewhat of a mystery until now… For those not familiar with him, Larry Tomczak took a young C.J. Mahaney under his wing back during the Jesus Movement (1970s) and together they founded a Bible study in the Washington, D.C. area called "Take and Give". They attracted a large following which numbered into the thousands and eventually started a church in Gaithersburg, Maryland that is now called Covenant Life Church. Mahaney became the pastor of the church. They also established an outreach ministry called People of Destiny, which focused on church planting, and Tomczak led this effort. He also served as pastor of Fairfax Covenant Church before relocating to Atlanta. (SGMers, if I don't have the history correct, please let me know.)
Next year Tomczak will be marking his 40th year of full-time ministry. This milestone must be extremely important to him because he has finally decided to "tell the story of a painful turning point" in his life and ministry. He and his wife Doris have just released a document via the internet entitled "THE TOMCZAK DEPARTURE FROM S.G.M. — WHAT REALLY HAPPENED".
I have always wondered about "the rest of the story", and the Tomczaks have decided to be transparent regarding what happened. Here is an important excerpt from that document.
"Recently, I wrote a “Statement of Reconciliation” with CJ Mahaney, attempting to be as gracious and discrete as possible regarding specifics. But as more details surfaced on the Internet it became apparent that God wanted everything in the light. Our experience is not an isolated case. It is probably one of the most egregious and ignominious examples of deceit and abusive behavior surfacing in SGM at this time. But it did not create the crisis. Instead, it revealed how root issues have been ignored and left unaddressed for too long. May we all proceed in humility and mercy, mindful of Prov. 28:13, "He who conceals his sin will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes his sin will obtain mercy."
After 24 years of service in the DC area with the “Take and Give Ministry” (TAG), co- founding Covenant Life Church in our home and then serving in leadership in Fairfax Covenant Church, I with my family departed disappointedly, yet hopefully, for better things in Atlanta in 1996. We knew for a number of years that I was being marginalized in Sovereign Grace Ministries (formerly People of Destiny International) and when differences with Reformed doctrine began surfacing, the tension only increased."
After going through a challenging situation with his son, which is explained in the document, Tomczak agrees to a "leave of absence"; however, he and his wife decided to leave the organization when "disingenuous public statements and letters" were sent nationwide which misrepresented what had actually happened. Tomczak reveals the following:
"I was publically slandered at Covenant Life Church, called a “liar” (with guests and non-believers present) as the leader declared, “I’d rather be dead than do what Larry Tomczak is doing!” Local leaders were affirmed leading to an almost unanimous standing ovation. My reputation built upon 25 years in ministry, was debased nationally and abroad. My “Seven Reasons for Departing PDI” were not conveyed and for 13 years this perception remained in the public domain, separating our family from many relatives, friends and leaders in the Body of Christ. It also resulted in serious financial repercussions for us as a family of six."
Who was the senior pastor at Covenant Life Church until he turned over the reins to Joshua Harris in 2004? Why it was C.J. Mahaney.
As some of our readers know, Mahaney announced earlier this year that he and Larry Tomczak had finally reconciled after all these years. Here's what Tomczak reveals in the document:
"For over a decade we tried to bring CJ and the apostolic team to account for the injustice, even enlisting nationally known leaders in the effort, but to no avail. Finally, in November of 2010 he consented."
Tomczak believes that the leadership culture in SGM has drifted from Biblical norms and that the senior leaders need to "step down for a season to be retooled for ministry according to 1 Peter 5 and 1 Timothy 3 standards. He further states: "Public repentance and public statements should be made along with restitution where appropriate."
Larry Tomczak concludes with the following post script:
"PS: Because the issues and contents of this statement have already been made public at church meetings and on the Internet for months, I sensed it was appropriate to release my story at this time. CJ and I are almost 40-year friends and our reconciliation statement still stands. In my study I keep a plaque he gave me decades ago. On it are the words: “My Brother, I would not be the man I am without your care and example. I am eternally indebted to you. Your Yokefellow, CJ.” I would add: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Prov. 27:6)"
We highly encourage you to read this well thought out document by Larry and Doris Tomczak. You can access it here. We will have much more to say about this development in an upcoming post.
Lydia's Corner: Esther 1:1-3:15 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Psalm 35:17-28 Proverbs 21:19-20