We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. CS Lewis
A most stunning part of this saga is that Rizzo is allowed to be a pastor and an “overseer” at all. Over the ensuing years, I would find myself writing a number of posts on this strange yet lucrative group. I bet you don’t know that this group continues to be the fastest-growing Christian “group of churches” in the US.
Prayer Force and all sorts of stuff
The most frequent request that I receive is for a copy of the now hidden from the public document called The Prayer Force Manual. This document trains people in the Church of the Highlands (which is the mothership of the ARC) on how to defeat demons and other such entities. Yet, the document is strangely worded. For example, did you know that when demons are around, flowers don’t grow?? Well, if you don’t believe me, let me refer you to a document that I put together: The ARC (Association of Related Churches) Is Planting Churches, Looking for Flowers, and Scoping Out Demons. This will give you an overview of this organization.
I have a copy of the actual Prayer Force manual (the whole thing) which is hard to come by. Once I wrote about it, it disappeared from being publicly posted at the Church of the Highlands. I have one favor to ask. If you really must have a full copy of this document (not the synopsis in the last link, do NOT request it in the coming week or so when I anticipate being overwhelmed with requests.
Also, If you want to see “clueless in action,” come back for Part 2 which I plan to post on Friday. I have no other word for it.
Dino Rizzo has a rathered checkered sexual past but that doesn’t matter to the ARC/Chris Hodges. He’s a rainmaker.
Let’s go back to my first ARC post to get the background: Dino Rizzo, Stovall Weems, and Steven Furtick: Banking on the ARC? The following is quoted from that post. Some of the links from one source about Dino’s relationship with a woman who was not his wife have been removed. Here is one still up. However, I remember reading them with astonishment. Here is what was alleged.
- Rizzo was the lead pastor of the huge Healing Place church.
- He had an alleged long-term affair with a woman who was put on the payroll of the church.
- When it was revealed, Chris Hodges made an appearance in front of the church and said Rizzo and his wife were going away and that the church was to trust him. Rizzo would never return.
- Rizzo got a nice pastoral job at Hodge’s Church of the Highlands
- He is now Executive Director of the ARC and is also listed as a Founder of the ARC (Hmmmm)
- Any pastor who has a long-term *relationship* with a member of the congregation or with an employee of that congregation should never, ever be allowed in the pulpit again. Warning: Don’t try “King David came back from it” gambit. You will be embarrassed. Think about what I just said. Was David a pastor? Such a person may be restored to his membership in the congregation, not the pastorate.
- Not taking this stuff seriously can come back and bite you on the nose.
It done bit them on the nose.
Lawsuit #1: Vibrant Church (ARC) sued by a woman who was allegedly sexually molested by Jason Delgado. Dino Rizzo allegedly covered it up.
The Dispatch posted Former Vibrant church intern sues for sexual harassment.
It alleges then senior pastor Jason Delgado made unwanted sexual advances by “various electronic means,
…The suit further claims Eagan, who was an intern at the church, was given a poor evaluation by her supervisor, identified as Laurel Jones. The suit said Jones did not provide documentation to support the poor evaluation but told Eagan she was “too sexy” to be an intern.
…“Mr. Jason Delgado used his position of confidence, and his knowledge of Mrs. Eagan’s situation to fulfill his sexual perversions.” the suit states. “At best, this is a deliberate manipulation of those in need to fulfill unnatural, sexual fantasies. At worst, this is a calculated sexual predator, with his free pick of vulnerable victims.”
Apparently, Delgado’s dad (asst pastor), mom (human resources director), and up to 25 others were told about this, including Dino Rizzo, the *overseer* of Vibrant Church
The suit also said an umbrella organization of the church, identified in the suit as XYZ Corporation also to be named in the course of the trial, did not intervene, including defendant Dino Rizzo, who the lawsuit claims investigated Eagan’s claims. (Ed We assume XYZ means the ARC
Rizzo is listed as executive director and founder of Association of Related Churches (ARC) on that organization’s website.
Lawsuit #2: Dino Rizzo and Greg Surratt (another ARC pastor/leader type) allegedly covered up alleged sexual predation by Pastor Joshua Mauney.
According to The Roys Report in Lawsuit Accuses Church Planting Group of Allowing Florida Pastor to ‘Sexually Prey’ on Employee
ARC knew that Joshua Mauney, ARC’s former national director of church planting, had a history of sexual misconduct. Yet, ARC allowed Mauney to plant and lead Newsound Church (now Sound Church), a former ARC member church in Royal Palm Beach, Florida. And during his time there, the suit alleges, Mauney raped and sexually assaulted Doe, his female assistant, on numerous occasions.
The lawsuit is being brought by a woman identified as “Jane Doe,” and alleges that ARC knew that Joshua Mauney, ARC’s former national director of church planting, had a history of sexual misconduct. Yet, ARC allowed Mauney to plant and lead Newsound Church (now Sound Church), a former ARC member church in Royal Palm Beach, Florida. And during his time there, the suit alleges, Mauney raped and sexually assaulted Doe, his female assistant, on numerous occasions.
The next quote by Roys had me laughing so hard that I choked on a piece of lettuce. I call this the SBC “We really are all autonomous so don’t sue us” defense.
Also accused are three other pastors of ARC member megachurches—Justin Dailey, pastor of Action Church, in Orlando, Florida; Dave Sumrall, pastor of ITown Church, in Fishers, Indiana; and Shaun Nepstadpastor of Fellowship Church, in Antioch, California.
All five men served as “overseers” of Newsound Church and were appointed by ARC, the suit says.
The Roys Report reached out to all five men for comment, but only Surratt responded.
Surratt denied any wrongdoing by ARC with either Newsound or Vibrant Church, claiming ARC has no “ecclesiastical or legal authority” over member churches.
…Similarly, Surratt claimed that neither Rizzo nor pastors Dailey, Sumrall, and Nepstad were not acting in any official capacity with ARC while overseeing NewSound.
…The lawsuit also provides a link to ARC’s constitution, but that page apparently has been removed. (Ed: Reminds me of the disappearance of the Prayer Force Manual)
…When read the portion of ARC’s Constitution quoted in the lawsuit, Surratt said, “That’s not true.”
When asked if the lawsuit misquoted ARC’s bylaws, Surratt said, “I don’t know anything about that.”
(You have got to see the photo of Mauney that Roys posted. Loving the too-tight, white t-shirt showing off that body look… )
Rizzo got involved. It looks like Rizzo and the ARC made sure that the pastor got more $$$ than the victim. It makes me wonder if Rizzo had some experience in dealing with this sort of matter…
When Doe reported that Mauney “had been inappropriate” with her, the church told Doe to contact Rizzo, the suit alleges.
…The lawsuit claims that Rizzo interrogated Doe and asked her “if she wanted to be devious and make the church close down.” The suit says Rizzo also connected Doe with Justin Dailey of Action Church to whom she divulged the “whole story.”
About four days later, Dailey sent a letter to Newsound’s congregation, telling them Mauney had resigned but not mentioning why, the suit says.
It adds that Dailey then sent Doe a form to sign, stating that she would not sue Newsound nor speak to anyone about her abuse, and offering her $21,000 in severance. The suit claims Newsound and ARC also “gifted or paid” Mauney $70,000 after he resigned.
It is my opinion that Doe should, and will eventually get far more in compensation than Mauney. Shame on Rizzo, Surratt, and the ARC.
It is no surprise to me that Dino Rizzo and other members of the leadership team of the ARC are being named in these lawsuits. Rizzo’s own little debacle at The Healing Place was handled by Chris Hodges and the ARC. Rizzo went quickly back to making bank in the ARC. Why should he take victims seriously? Did he ever apologize for what happened at The Healing Place?
Stay tuned fr Part 2.