“In light of PJ’s plan to plant a church locally, Covenant Life members face fresh decisions.”
Membership intentions form CLC members are to complete (see screen shot below)
Should they stay or should they go???
We had planned to write about P.J. Smyth’s church plant several weeks ago, but other pressing topics demanded our attention.
As we discussed In our previous post, P.J.’s father, John Smyth, died last Saturday (August 11th) at his home in South Africa. In light of this stunning development, we wonder whether the schedule for planting P.J.’s new church will be adjusted.
Before delving into those plans, we are left wondering how much P.J. knew about his father’s horribly abusive behavior toward young men. So far around 80 men have come forward, revealing that they were brutally beaten by John Smyth. As our previous post states, Smyth was about to be extradited to the U.K. for prosecution. The timing of his passing is certainly suspect, and we expect an autopsy will reveal his cause of death.
Given that these beatings took place over decades and involved so many individuals, we find it extremely difficult to believe that P.J. Smyth did not know that his father was caning young men. Since this seems to have been John Smyth’s mode of discipline, how is it that it P.J. was spared the rod by his father?
A year and a half ago, Dee addressed this most serious matter and purported that P.J. was not telling the truth regarding his father. Here is an excerpt from her post entitled: Why I Do Not Believe the Statements From P.J. Smyth and the Elders of Covenant Life Church
A further clarification by P.J. Smyth leads me to believe that he is not fully disclosing the truth.
Brent Detwiler wrote an excellent post dealing with the changing statements of P.J. Smyth who is now the lead pastor of Covenant Life Church. In Lead Pastor P.J. Smyth Deceives Covenant Life Church About Knowledge of John Smyth’s Violent Beating of Boys. Brent outlined what he considers to be deception by both P.J. Smyth and the elders.
P.J.’s original statement.
Here is a link to P.J.’s original statement. In my opinion, he is implying that he had a happy childhood albeit he appears to hint at the use of corporal punishment in the home. he also denies seeing any sort of abuse.
During the time we lived in the UK, I was in boarding school from the age of 8 to 13. When I was home I never saw or heard anything that led me to suspect my father was engaged in the activities alleged. I had a happy childhood at home, and my father disciplined me in a manner consistent with the laws and cultural trends of the UK at the time, not in a manner alleged in the recent reports.
P.J. admitted that he was *mistaken* in his original statement.
The update is quoted in Brent’s post.
UPDATE, FEBRUARY 22: Since writing this I have realized that it is not strictly accurate to say, “I was not involved with those interactions” and I am sorry for the confusion this has caused. I was seeking to write in a timely way what I remembered, but my memory was flawed. The Covenant Life elders have commented here. —PJ Smyth
Here is what the CLC elders had to say about his amended statement.
Update from the Covenant Life Elders was written to the church on February 22, 2017. In this update, they actually express sympathy for those who are suffering. However, I do not know if they mean the alleged victims or John Smyth and the family or both. I sure wish they could come out and express concern for the victims but that does not appear to be the style of this ex SGM church.
It appears P.J. *suddenly* remembered a meeting in the 90s in which these problems were discussed. Oddly he remembered it after receiving a letter from Zimbabwe reminding him.
As we began to read these reports, questions naturally arose: Did PJ know of such allegations against his father? If so, when did he learn of them? Anticipating these questions and more, PJ wrote an open letter on February 4. Among other things, PJ stated in this letter that he was “aware that a delegation of pastors and parents insisted that [his] father and the Board of Zambesi Holidays make adjustments to camp life.” He also wrote that he “was not involved with those interactions.”
Two days after posting his open letter, PJ received emails from a UK reporter and a pastor in Zimbabwe that referenced his attendance at a meeting in June of 1993 where certain allegations of his father’s misconduct were discussed. Though he could not remember details of the meeting, PJ immediately informed the elders that his open letter was inaccurate. The following day he and his wife Ashleigh spoke directly with the Zimbabwe pastor.
And, of course, P.J. was being honest.
we also believe PJ was seeking to communicate honestly and in a timely way what he remembered. We believe he acted in good faith but his recollection of these earlier events was flawed.
Likewise, the Zimbabwe pastors who attended the June 1993 meeting have told us they do not believe PJ was being deceitful in his open letter but instead was struggling to remember details from events over two decades ago. In addition, family, friends, and ministry colleagues who have known PJ for many years affirm PJ’s consistent pattern of integrity and honesty. And ever since the media reports about his father broke, our experience with PJ is that he has been humble, open and eager to do whatever would honor the Lord and best serve the church.
I say hogwash to all of this.
Not long before Dee wrote this about P.J. Smyth, he became lead pastor at Covenant Life Church. Here is his message delivered on January 29, 2017. The title of his message was “Perhaps the Lord Will Act.”
And perhaps He has…
Six months ago I wrote a post entitled Covenant Life Church (soon to be Christ Church Metro) Joining Advance? link
What ever became of this plan???
Then several weeks ago Brent Detwiler put together a detailed post that revealed plans for a new church plant to be called Monument Church. It will be led by P.J. Smyth. Here are some screen shots that Brent included in his post.
It appears that several of these Vision Nights have already taken place. Does anyone know how many P.J. has conducted in light of his father’s passing?
Then there is this Covenant Life Church form on which CLC congregants are to indicate their intentions regarding church membership. Should they stay or should they go???
Brent Detwiler indicated in the above-referenced post that there had been a tremendous decline in church membership at Covenant Life Church – from around 4,000 to approximately 800. Will Monument Church be siphoning off some of CLC’s membership, which appears to have shrunken considerably?
We will continue to follow these developments and let our readers know what happens with P.J.’s church plant, which will be located in fairly close proximity to CLC.