"Matt and Josh specifically told Karen, after further review of her situation, that she did have biblical grounds for divorce or annulment, that she should have been released from Covenant Membership as she requested and that she should not have been put under church discipline."
Statement to TVC Covenant Members (June 10, 2015)
"I know this is not the end of the story for many, but I believe it is the end of the story for me."
It appears that The Village Church / Karen Hinkley debacle is finally coming to a close, at least for Karen.
In case you are not familiar with this situation, you can read about it at the following links:
We have been in close contact with Karen Hinkley since before her annulment was granted and have been supporting her efforts to move on with her life.
On Wednesday, May 27, Matt Chandler reached out to Karen via email, hoping to arrange a meeting with her. After seeking counsel and praying about it, Karen agreed to the request.
That face-to-face meeting took place last Wednesday (June 3).
Matt Chandler and the elders have just released a statement to covenant members of The Village Church, which you can read below.
Karen Hinkley has also shared her thoughts in a statement, which we are pleased to publish.
Statement to The Village Church from Matt Chandler and the Elders
Covenant Members of The Village Church,
We want to update you regarding our review of The Village Church’s current care and discipline process, specifically our desire to repent where we have sinned against those we have not treated with the love and care we are called to give as shepherds under the authority of a holy, loving God. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to watch or listen to the sermon “Wanderer/Restorer” from May 31 before reading further. This email will review one specific situation and then give a brief update on the elders’ current work related to care and discipline at The Village.
Over the past few weeks, you received two emails explaining a sensitive and tragic situation involving Jordan Root and Karen Hinkley. Those emails were intended to provide clarity and insight into a fragile and complex series of events. Since we sent those emails, we have had the opportunity to gather more information, have more conversations and hear from more people.
Early on the morning of Wednesday, May 27, Matt Chandler sent a personal email to Karen asking to meet with her facetoface in a place of her choosing. The following afternoon, the church sent an email to all Covenant Members in order to communicate our belief that we owed Karen an apology. Karen responded to Matt a few days later noting that she was encouraged but cautious and wanted time to seek counsel, pray and process before agreeing to a meeting. During weekend services on May 3031, Matt’s sermon reiterated our desire to repent, ask forgiveness and seek out genuine reconciliation with anyone we treated unlovingly.. After the sermon was posted online, Karen responded with an email communicating her desire to meet with Lead Pastors Matt Chandler and Josh Patterson. On Wednesday, June 3, Matt and Josh met personally with Karen and a couple of Karen’s close friends. Karen’s friends extended gracious Christian hospitality by offering their home for the meeting.
Matt and Josh started the conversation by telling Karen that they were not there to defend the actions of The Village but to ask forgiveness. Matt and Josh specifically told Karen, after further review of her situation, that she did have biblical grounds for divorce or annulment, that she should have been released from Covenant Membership as she requested and that she should not have been put under church discipline. Matt and Josh reiterated that they were not there to defend the actions of The Village but simply to repent and hear from Karen directly. Karen’s response was seasoned with faith, hope and love. She graciously accepted the apology and extended forgiveness. This beautiful exchange set the tone for the rest of the day, which was spent trying to unwind stories, clarify confusion and discuss next steps. By the end of the meeting, Karen was satisfied that we had heard all of her concerns and was eager to see us follow through on some specific items.
In the days following the meeting with Karen, Josh and Brian Miller met with Dallas campus elders and staff to further examine our interactions with Karen and Jordan in a new light. As a result of these conversations, The Village Church is taking the following actions:
We are apologizing more specifically to Karen in front of you, our members. While Karen is no longer a member, we are doing so with her permission and cooperation. Some of the information in our original Covenant Member email sent on May 23 was insensitive and did not reflect the fuller picture we have learned through our subsequent meetings and conversations. We are sorry for our error and how it affected Karen.
While the gospel is certainly for all sinners and grace is available for Jordan, we believe that the nature of his sin requires treatment that is beyond what The Village has been able to offer—and we should have recognized our limitations earlier. Based on an external referral, we have engaged a Licensed Sex Offender Treatment Provider to counsel Jordan Root. We will vigilantly follow the recommendations of this counselor regarding necessary next steps.
We reached out to several individuals at SIM, including the president, to apologize for times when we did not fully heed their counsel and were perceived to be threatening. Also, we are working with SIM to continue in our longstanding partnership to take the gospel to the nations.
As we communicated in our previous emails, we believe that the policies and procedures that are currently in place at The Village Church to protect children and families are strong. However, that belief has not stopped us from diligently moving forward with a thorough assessment of our abuse prevention and reporting processes across all campuses. In the months to come, experts will be analyzing everything we do in this regard to ensure that we implement best practices across the board.
The elders have also already had several meetings, both small and large, to review our current practice and procedures. There will be definite changes to our system based on these meetings, including a much more patient process before a member enters formal church discipline. We also want to recognize that there is a time and place for specialized treatment that goes beyond the kind of care that we, or even a qualified biblical counselor, can offer. We are working on these new policies and procedures and will update you when they are complete.
As Covenant Members of The Village, you know that the Church is comprised of people who have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. As a result of this divine reconciliation, we have also been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18). We are also called to an ongoing ethic of confession and repentance. Our hope in sending this email is to show you we are, by God’s grace, trying to do both of these things and to update you on the specific steps we are taking to repent and change. Reconciliation is often hard and painful, but it is always beautiful. Thank you for your patience and grace in this time. It is an honor and joy to serve you.
Statement from Karen Hinkley
As I laid in bed the night of December 16th, I wondered if I would wake up the next day and find myself in the middle of a crisis of faith. But by the grace of God, every morning since I’ve woken up with my faith intact and even strengthened. I believe that the only feasible explanation for this is that God had a plan for me that required me to trust Him. In His goodness, and in answer to the prayers of many of His people on my behalf, He has sustained my faith during the most trying of times, and He is now bringing this chapter to a close for me in the most beautiful of ways.
I woke up to an email from Matt Chandler the morning of May 27th. He apologized and sought forgiveness for not reaching out to me sooner, and he asked if I would consider sitting down with him and Josh Patterson face-to-face, with the sole purpose of hearing from me about the hurt I had experienced at the hands of The Village Church and what they could have done better. Naturally, I was skeptical at first, and I wrestled with whether I could trust his motives due to the timing of the email. But I decided to take a few days to pray, process, and seek counsel.
By Sunday, May 31st I had decided to take a leap of faith and meet with Matt and Josh. I knew it was a risk, but I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about repentance and reconciliation, and I felt that God was leading me to be willing to hear my brothers out. That evening I watched Matt’s sermon from the weekend online and was further encouraged in this direction. I sensed sincerity in his confession and apology. I emailed Matt, and we set up a meeting for Wednesday. We both communicated eager anticipation for what God might do.
As Wednesday approached I wasn’t sure what to expect. I chose to keep the meeting under strict confidence at that time, sharing it with only a few trusted friends so they could pray. I thought the meeting would have the best chance for success if it wasn’t a public spectacle from the beginning. Two of those friends graciously offered to host the meeting in their home and provide lunch for the five of us. It was clear to me that God was at work.
After sharing a meal together on Wednesday, the conversation turned to the reason we were there. Matt and Josh looked me in the eyes, apologized, and asked for forgiveness. They told me that they felt awful about how I had been treated. They said I had biblical grounds for annulment or divorce, that I should have been granted my withdrawal from membership immediately, and that I never should have been put under discipline. They wanted to hear anything I was willing to say about what had happened, and they promised to do everything they could to make it right and make sure that what happened to me never happened to anyone again. I thanked them for their obvious sincerity and forgave them.
We spent the next several hours talking about what had happened to me and what my concerns were. By the end of the day, Matt, Josh, my two friends and I were delighted to realize that we all wanted the same things for the same reasons. Matt and Josh promised many changes to come, and I have watched with joy over the past week as they have kept their word and begun to implement those changes. I believe the elders of The Village Church are showing fruit of genuine repentance, and I believe God will use them powerfully in the days to come.
I am praising God for what He has done, and I continue to be amazed by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to bring about reconciliation in the most unlikely circumstances. God is good, God is mighty, and God is faithful. All the time.
I know this is not the end of the story for many, but I believe it is the end of the story for me. This has been a long and difficult road both for me and for those who have walked closely with me, and I still have quite a bit of healing left to do. I believe it is time for me to move on in peace, trusting God to finish the good work He has started at The Village Church. I believe God is using what happened to me to do something beautiful, in His time and in His way, and for that I am exceedingly thankful.
In the Name of Jesus and for His sake,
NOTE: We will be doing a full analysis of this situation on Monday.