Trinity Christian Chapel and the Christian and Missionary Alliance’s Slow Response to Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Pastor Jim Ammerman

Hubble Witnesses Shock Wave of Colliding Gases in Running Man Nebula- NASA

“Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away.” Ismail Haniyeh


In more ways than one, this story reminds me of something I wrote about Ravi Zacharias in 2015. I had seen this post: Press Release: Has Evangelist Ravi Zacharias Misrepresented His Academic Credential and noted it in a post here. It appeared to me that Ravi was lying about his credentials, and we now know that is an understatement. At the time, I said:

My question is simple. If he lies about this, what else does he lie about?

When someone lies frequently, one can assume that he is lying about all sorts of things. Zacharias sure did.

Let me take this into another situation. If a person is credibly accused of sexual harassment regularly over time,  I wonder what else that person has done. That seems to me to be a prudent concern. However, it appears that the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) hierarchy has some catching up to do in this area.

Ravi Zacharias was credentialed through the CMA. The CMA strongly defended Zacharias when Lori Anne Thompson came forward with her story.

C&MA had previously staunchly defended Zacharias against allegations of inappropriate behavior that MinistryWatch and other news outlets reported as early as 2017.

This was a hard lesson for the embarrassed denomination, which apparently did not ask questions of their star apologist. But did they learn their lesson?

Trinity Christian Chapel (TCC) gets a new pastor: Jim Ammerman.

The following information was shared with me by “Ashe,” an active member of Trinity Christian Chapel (TCC) in Sewell, NJ, a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA.) I called the Metropolitan District Office of the CMA and was told by a representative for Kelvin Walker that they may comment after seeing the article. I also spoke with TCC’s Assistant Pastor Nelson Houston who said he might get back to me but did not wish to comment.

In the CMA (some use C&MA), churches consult their uplines in the denomination when searching for a pastor.

Under the previous pastor’s 10+ year tenure at TCC, the church grew from roughly 75 congregants to nearly 500 in 2017. The church was thriving, healthy, and growing at his departure. Finding a new pastor began in Spring 2018, involving the C&MA Metropolitan  District and the church elders. The elders were provided only three candidates for the Senior Pastor position by the (former) Assistant District Superintendent (ADS) of the Metro District. (B. Riconda) Sadly, the man the church wanted accepted another position. The elders then discussed candidate Jim Ammerman but felt he was not a fit for TCC and went back to the C&MA requesting more candidates. The ADS told them that Ammerman was their only option and for the elders to “walk through the hiring process” with Ammerman.

The reason for their hesitation was understandable. It seemed he was unable to hold a pastoral position for more than two years. TCC would end up being his 5th church in the span of 8 years. There seemed to have been some issues, but nothing specific was mentioned. However, the CMA appeared to push Ammerman. At the time, he was still credentialed.

Not surprisingly, within a few short months, problems arose.

The children’s ministry leader accused him of sexual harassment which is an abusive environment for women.

In the first two months of his tenure, the elders had to conduct an in-house investigation into sexual harassment involving the pastor and the children’s ministry leader (CML). While their investigation did not produce enough substantive evidence to warrant discipline, the executive elder of the church communicated in the church investigative report and to the congregation that the children’s ministry leader misinterpreted Ammerman’s comments and actions with her. There was nothing sexual about them, and it was all just a “misunderstanding.” She resigned from the church shortly after that. This would come back to bite them on the nose.

It is very difficult for a woman to come forward to complain about sexual harassment. To blow off such a complaint as a simple misunderstanding shows a dangerous misunderstanding of what constitutes sexual harassment.

It was an allegedly uncomfortable or, some might say, abusive work environment for the pastor’s administrative assistant.

The assistant resigned shortly afterward. The pastor’s wife got hired for the position…interesting.

Ammerman allegedly made uncomfortable jokes about the youth pastor.

One Sunday, Ammerman allegedly asked the youth pastor to close the blinds because the sun was getting into his eyes. After the youth pastor sat down, Ammerman stated, “With the (youth pastor) on that side of the sanctuary, there shouldn’t be any sun glare issues.”

The youth pastor resigned shortly after that.

The elders then met to discuss the issues with Ammerman.

There was allegedly disagreement amongst the elders, so they put Ammerman in a 90-day Pastoral Improvement Program. This was allegedly not shared with the congregation. After much discussion and debate, they decided to keep Amerman as pastor.

Elder Campise remained unsure and concerned about Ammerman’s calling at TCC as pastor and continued to question and address it over the next year. On April 18, 2019, he sounded the alarm in a letter he sent (titled “Think About It”) to elders Wenner, Houston, Robert McChesney, and Jack McIntyre.

There were 3 points to the letter. I have seen the entire letter.

  • The elders had neglected in caring for the sheep because they had become so preoccupied with putting out the continuous fires of Ammerman and trying to teach, train and mold him into a pastor while ignoring his character concerns.
  • Ammerman lacked certain qualities and the character necessary to be a senior pastor. The elders were doing both Ammerman- and the church- a disservice by trying to make it work.
  • Campise called out the elders and how their pride was keeping them from admitting they may have made a mistake in hiring Ammerman,

There were continuing problems:

  • In April 2019, the Head Deaconess resigned from her position after difficult interactions with the pastor.
  • Ashe asked Pastor Ammerman not to discuss his wife’s diagnosis of cancer. He did it anyway, making sure Ammerman’s wife was visiting her even though Ashe asked them not to do so.
  • Within Ammerman’s first 15 months, the church lost over 75% of its congregation, including most of its ministry leaders, deacons, deaconesses, and every single staff member- aside from the pastor and assistant pastor.

“Ashe” was concerned about the pastor and went to the District Office of the CMA. Shortly after that, TCC allegedly discussed “disciplining” him, and one elder resigned.

On December 11th, 2020, Ashe went forward to the Assistant District Superintendent of the Metro District C&MA (Bortner) to voice concerns that the TCC elders and assistant pastor had not adequately addressed. According to the C&MA Polity on Church Discipline and Restoration, allegations made against an official worker of the C&MA are to be taken OUT of the hands of the local church leadership and investigated and addressed by the C&MA. The TCC church leadership was given clear instructions to NOT take actions against nor respond to Ashe and turn the matter over to the C&MA.

Less than a week later, the Trinity elders, pastor, and assistant pastor came together for an elders meeting to tend to routine church matters, finances, and business. As the elders were going through their meeting minutes, Elder Campise was caught off guard when the pastor and other elders began preparing a statement on how they (the elders and pastor) were going to try and “Biblically Discipline” Ashe for going forward to the C&MA and speaking up about the church leadership and their failures to protect the flock’. Elder Campise announced his resignation from the elder board and membership in the church. Another elder would resign in a few months. Merry Christmas, y’all!

The C&MA finally decided to investigate what was going on.

Multiple statements were submitted from former staff, ministry leaders, and congregants, including Ashe, which were reviewed by the C&MA, which they deemed warranted an investigation. An independent investigative team was assembled to review the charges, conduct interviews, and report their finding between April 2021 and July 2021.

Upon completion of the interviews, the team came back with a final report of “inconclusive with recommendations,” which was disappointing to many.

An explosion: the former children’s ministry leader (CML) files a police report alleging multiple incidents of sexual harassment by Ammerman.

On October 19, 2018, at the beginning of Ammerman’s tenure at TCC, the CML filed a police incident report with the Washington Township Police Department to document the multiple incidents of harassment by Pastor Ammerman. This was a new document that was forwarded to the inquiry team. A subsequent Zoom meeting was scheduled for July 21, 2021, with the CML and the C&MA Inquiry team. She was visibly pained when she recounted the inappropriate and disrespectful behaviors by Pastor Ammerman that involved sexual innuendos and unwanted physical contact, which continued even when asked to stop.

She had reported this to the elders, who didn’t give her concerns much credence. The elders told her to “keep silent” about her concerns and allegedly terminated her for speaking about it to others. Apparently, she was terminated as opposed to having “resigned.” This was allegedly NOT shared with the congregation.

Reportedly, Detective Longfellow contacted Pastor Ammermanat in 2018 regarding the inappropriate sexual innuendos and touch- which he did not deny- only relating that he was not trying to be inappropriate. He stated that the church had completed an investigation and report on the incident and to contact elder Jeff Wenner as the TCC representative for further inquiries. Detective Longfellow contacted elder Wenner regarding the incidents and was told that their investigation revealed no wrongdoing on the part of Pastor Ammerman. Elder Wenner did not deny that all of the inappropriate sexual statements were made and surmised that there was a misunderstanding. The police report allegedly states Detective Longfellow as saying, “I then related that I didn’t see how these were appropriate comments to make to a female co-worker, and he (Elder Jeff Wenner) had no explanation.” Detective Longfellow allegedly informed the CML that she could pursue both civil litigation and criminal litigation based on his objective investigation of Pastor Ammerman.

It was also discovered that Ammerman lied about the following. On page 10 of that report, he stated the following:

During our prior candidate interview with Pastor Ammerman there was an incident in his past (prior to him coming on staff at TCC) where he was once accused of harassment by church staff members.  As we dug into this matter we learned it was staff who took a comment out of context. He was then accused of sexual harassment by staff members.  The matter got so out of hand that Pastor Jim asked for an investigation by the C&MA as this was not being handled properly from a biblical or legal standpoint. Following the investigation, Ammerman was fully exonerated.  He then had an opportunity to take legal action against the staff (defamation of character) but chose not to.

In August 2021, the truth came out. It appears that he had pled guilty to his former church of sexual harassment. This allegedly has still not been communicated to the members of TCC.

From the TCC investigation:

What did the CMA know about this? Had they carefully informed the church of Ammerman’s past? Given the mishandling of Lori Thomspon’s reports on Zacharias, it appears that the CMA has some work to do…

Eventually, the CMA found Ammerman guilty of the following

  • Regarding the charge E-8-E.3- MORAL FAILURE, INCLUDING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT; SPECIFICALLY, SEXUAL HARASSMENT THAT CAME ABOUT THROUGH UNWANTED TOUCH, JOKING, COMMENTS THAT ARE SEXUAL AND/OR QUESTIONABLE IN NATURE. THE COMMITTEE RULED GUILTY
  • Regarding the charge E-8.E.4: MORAL OR ETHICAL FAILURE OTHER THAN SEXUAL MISCONDUCT; SPECIFICALLY, CREATING A HOSTILE LEADERSHIP AND WORK ENVIRONMENT THAT WAS CONDUCIVE TO SPIRITUAL ABUSE.
    THE COMMITTEE ALSO RULED GUILTY

Reverend Ammerman was given until October 1st, 2021, to respond to the ruling in one of the following ways:

  • Choose to work with the committee immediately to begin the restoration process. (could be a pastorxv
  • Choose to appeal the decision of the committee to the National Office, where a review of all documents and testimonies will be made.
  • Choose to surrender his credentials and resign accreditation, licensing, and ordination with the C&MA.
  • Choose not to respond at all, in which case we would have no choice but to assume that he was surrendering his credentials.

Ammerman attempted to appeal. Eventually, he was removed as pastor at TCC and chose to give up his CMA credentials. Yes, he could have worked to have been restored, which I believe would be a mistake. I’m not sure why that was offered… Yes, he could still start a church, but it would not be part of the CMA.

In the meantime, “Ashe” was harassed by those who apparently don’t understand that exposing sexual harassment in the church is a godly pursuit. Maybe the elders at TCC or the CMA could do a sermon series on how to reflect Christ on social media?

The unanswered question: “Why did the CMA circulate the CV of a pastoral candidate who had been accused of sexual harassment ”

This makes no sense to me. Perhaps the CMA might be willing to answer this? It’s time to take a hard look at what they really believe about sex abuse and harassment. It is highly unlikely he would have been hired by TCC if this had been known. This appears to have resulted in so much pain and conflict at the church.

In keeping with something I said about Zacharias, let me leave you with this question.

If he is guilty of sexual harrassment when he knows people are commenting and also might be watching, I wonder what he does when no one is watching…


Comments

Trinity Christian Chapel and the Christian and Missionary Alliance’s Slow Response to Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Pastor Jim Ammerman — 139 Comments

  1. Afterburne: nice to read a story of one these individuals doing the right thing.

    When it comes to Clergy Sexual Indiscretions, CMA is just another religious org that doesn’t do the right thing.

    Tozer was CMA for decades.

    CSA, DV & such, have have been happening for decades, even back in the so-called “Good Ole Days”.

    Back in the day even Dear Abby advised victims to, “Go tell your pastor, priest, or rabbi,” to get help.

    But the women and children did not get help.

    Orgs such as CMA are traditionally lead by male leadership. The Patriarchy is part of the problem. 2nd class citizens, women and children, are neither recognized nor listened to, nor advocated for. Fact.

    No matter how many books the Patriarchy guys sell or how reverred they are, they all seem to have missed the boat on dealing with their Patriarchal colleagues’ evil.

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  2. Ava Aaronson: No matter how many books the Patriarchy guys sell or how reverred they are, they all seem to have missed the boat on dealing with their Patriarchal colleagues’ evil.

    Part of these guys’ schtick seems to be a bulletproof shield that insulates their brohood from the truth about themselves, both back then and forward, forever.

    This is in radical opposition to Ephesians 6 command to arm oneself with truth, etc.:

    “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

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  3. Wild Honey: Even from a purely business standpoint (and I realize there are lots of caveats comparing a church to a business), why did CMA not drop this “pastor” like a hot potato?

    The patriarchy has to protect itself. And this is not sarcasm. The CM&A would not like to be proven wrong, as they practically forced this guy down the church’s throat. I really want to know why the CM&A promoted this guy as a lead pastor when he had a history of sexual harassment.

    Thank you “Ashe” for bringing this evidence forward. I am sorry you were harassed for doing so…but you did the right thing.

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  4. “Perhaps the CMA might be willing to answer this? It’s time to take a hard look at what they really believe about:”

    – Another Comforter
    – the kingdom of heaven (in the hypothesis of the agnostic logician Alfred Whitehead, there might be some way for this to be internalised)
    – the present eschaton of our ministry

    In short: the meaning of Holy Scriptures.

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  5. “According to the C&MA Polity on Church Discipline and Restoration,…”

    “Reverend Ammerman was given until October 1st, 2021, to respond to the ruling in one of the following ways:

    Choose to work with the committee immediately to begin the restoration process.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    restoration schmestoration

    it’s like the thighmaster of christian programs. one day people look back on it shake their head at the stupidity.

    good grief, if a pastor requires so-called restoration he/she was never qualified to begin with.

    i look at my muslim, buddhist, hindu, atheist and agnostic friends and family whose personal integrity standards don’t permit them to lie, cheat, manipulate, be irresponsible, lazy, unkind, uncharitable…

    and then i look at so many pastors…

    i marvel at the contrast.

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  6. I’m honestly confused about the crack about the youth pastor. So he asked the youth pastor to close the blinds because the sun was getting into his eyes. After the youth pastor sat down, Ammerman stated, “With the (youth pastor) on that side of the sanctuary, there shouldn’t be any sun glare issues.”

    So, what exactly was he saying that I’m missing? It’s early so maybe my brain is missing some inflection.

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  7. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: The patriarchy has to protect itself. And this is not sarcasm.

    Yes.

    One gender, one “gift” – pastor, running a church. From the get-go, this is not biblical.

    Then the one gender/one gift model does a deep dive like Doug Wilson, with protection of perverts, or, in this case, the CMA’s protection of a sexual harasser, and what’s the result? The church is a community run by guy pastors that protect criminals. Moreover, donors foot the bill.

    Nothing good about any of this. Better off joining the local country club than these ”

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  8. I’m curious how the info about the pastor’s previous wimpy admission of guilt came out. If the denom was apparently hiding it then how did the church get that information?

    Also… what is it with people shooting the messenger when pastors’ bad behavior is exposed?? The “Joe Snuffins” of the world seem to have missed a few memos.

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  9. “Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away.” Ismail Haniyeh

    “Truth is unkillable” (Balthasar Hubmaier)

    “For there is nothing hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come out into the open.” (Luke 8:17 AMP)

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  10. “… it appears that the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) hierarchy has some catching up to do in this area …” (Dee)

    Does a CMA-affiliated church support CMA and its hierarchy with annual financial contributions, like SBC and other denominations? If so, does that financial support, particularly from big-boys like RZ, influence their decisions about a particular ministry and minister? Do they turn a deaf ear to allegations about moral failure if big bucks are at stake?

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  11. Rich: he asked the youth pastor to close the blinds because the sun was getting into his eyes

    “For every wrongdoer hates the Light, and does not come to the Light [but shrinks from it] for fear that his [sinful, worthless] activities will be exposed and condemned. But whoever practices truth [and does what is right—morally, ethically, spiritually] comes to the Light, so that his works may be plainly shown to be what they are—accomplished in God [divinely prompted, done with God’s help, in dependence on Him].” (John 3:20-21 AMP)

    Those who live in spiritual darkness prefer to live in physically dark places … they refuse to come to the Light, lest the ‘Son’ gets in their eyes and they are forced to repent.

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  12. Afterburne,

    Sigh… ( not sighing because of Afterburns comment, but original post..)
    While I can not speak for others “motives”, I can state for myself that I DO NOT get “pleasure” reading and commenting on this blog about the “bad behavior” of church leaders… In fact I have plenty of other things to occupy my time..
    I post because I think we should hold accountable bad behavior, especially corrupt leadership that we see here… the damage done to this church, and individuals within the church is disgusting…
    I would say that, in general, the constant drip of bad behavior is an emotional drag…. BUT supporting people oppressed/abused is a duty!

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  13. CMT: what is it with people shooting the messenger when pastors’ bad behavior is exposed??

    Because the message makes them, their church, and their denomination look bad.

    It continues to amaze me when bad-boy “pastors” are exposed how many followers still rally to their side, supporting them to the bitter end. If and when “Pastor” gets around to unrepentant repentance, congregations give him a standing ovation! It’s a strange thing under the sun.

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  14. Facts are important and not all the true facts have been presented here. I am neutral about what happened but As a Christian I must speak the truth. I am friends with everyone on both sides of this issue. When the sexual misconduct was brought up Ashe was the music minister and never complained or brought it up. He brought it up many months to a year after he was dismissed as the music minister. He also posted on Facebook a lengthy post about not getting along with the pastor. I commented that he should go and speak with him and maybe bring someone. He deleted that comment as he only accepted comments of anger supporting his post.The case with the pastor has been settled and he is no longer at the church, that has been awhile. I attend a different church and Everyone has moved on except for Ashe. He can’t let go of all the anger and hate is has for being let go as music minister. As I said everyone has moved on and we are focused on doing God’s work. It’s articles like this from an angry man that takes us off of that focus and produces anger. Ralph needs to move on and put his efforts in God’s ministry.

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  15. Joseph M. Giammona,

    The thing that bothers me about your comment is that you target and attack Ashe for what you perceive to be his issues. So what if he was removed from his position as music minister and was upset about that? The real issue is that the CMA apparently knew about Ammerman and still wanted him to be a pastor after he had been in 4 churches in short order before coming to TCC.

    The CMA now has a couple of pastors who seemed to get a pass (Zacharias and Ammerman.) Finally a stink was raised and the CMA. did what they should have done early on-act like a denomination and prevent sex abuse and harassment.

    It wasn’t Ashe’s responsibility to go and speak to the pastor. It is obvious that this pastor had serious issues or he would not have been removed and had his credentials revoked.

    That should be the focus of your concern as opposed to going after Ashe. Perhaps you might look into how to respond sexuaal abuse and harassment. This blog looks at all sorts of churches and denominations that have failed in this regard. Sadly, we have a long way to go.

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  16. Joseph M. Giammona on Thu May 05, 2022 at 10:47 AM said:

    Facts are important and not all the true facts have been presented here. I am neutral about what happened but As a Christian I must speak the truth.

    …When the sexual misconduct was brought up Ralph Ashe was the music minister and never complained or brought it up. He brought it up many months to a year after he was dismissed as the music minister.

    He also posted on Facebook a lengthy post about not getting along with the pastor.

    I commented that he should go and speak with him and maybe bring someone.

    He deleted that comment as he only accepted comments of anger supporting his post

    ….Everyone has moved on except for Ralph.

    He can’t let go of all the anger and hate is has for being let go as music minister.

    As I said everyone has moved on and we are focused on doing God’s work.

    It’s articles like this from an angry man that takes us off of that focus and produces anger.

    Ralph needs to move on and put his efforts in God’s ministry.
    +++++++++++++++++

    Hi, Joseph.

    seems to me ‘the facts’ you mention, and your ardent conviction that you ‘must speak the truth’ are really your assumptions.

    something gravely wrong has happened, which seems to be a systemic problem with the CMA and its leaders.

    anger is the right response.

    seems to me what you champion yourself for (“everyone has moved on and we are focused on doing God’s work”) is spiritualized passive compliance.

    it is what enables egregious behavior in christian institutions.

    it is the reason the CMA and other christian organizations are allowed to continue with built-in corruption and dishonesty.

    it is long past time that christians rise up and insist that their leaders prioritize what is right over their careers, power & money. To insist that their leaders choose to do what is right especially when it costs.

    And it should cost.

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  17. dee,

    I find this really gross. YP’s get less respect to begin with because they are younger and less experienced. They’re usually seen as mentees, paying their dues before they move up to the big leagues. This kind of cruel, juvenile bullying of someone he’s supposed to be leading and discipling, someone who has a lot less power and respect than he does, is a sign of someone with real issues.

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  18. elastigirl,

    This. Ofc most of us reading here don’t know anyone involved personally and it’s true we don’t have the whole story. Ashe may be a jerk. I don’t know. Even if he is, this story appears to raise serious issues that go way beyond him personally. Joe G’s comment might be an example of a double standard: victims or whistleblowers who come forward must conduct themselves “perfectly,” no matter how much evidence there is of a perpetrator’s wrongdoing. If they get mad about something maddening, block or delete things on social media to protect themselves, or aren’t willing to drop an issue on someone else’s timetable, then THEY are the problem.

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  19. CMT on Thu May 05, 2022 at 12:43 PM said:

    I’d venture to say the christian leadership industry has taken a sensible “let it go and move on” maxim and exploited & manipulated it by spiritualizing it.

    Turning it into ‘godly’ and a sin to do otherwise…

    …because it protects the money and power machine in the Evangelical Industrial Complex.
    .
    .
    i see so much evidence of underhanded machinations done in the shadows by high-level entities seeking to shape the pastor industry and christian culture they way they want it and for their own benefit,

    puppeteers

    to manipulate pastors to believe hierarchy is biblical, and to fall into their slot (which feeds their ego, suddenly having power over underlings, but also makes them subject to the forces entities above them)

    to manipulate people into passive compliance so they keep buying and keep coming and keep giving their hard-earned money

    all to keep the machine running for careers, revenue, and power
    .
    .
    from where i stand, evangelicalism has become a giant cult.

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  20. I have presented the facts and the truth, I did not attack anyone and am sorry if the truth hurts some people here. I knew I would be attacked by some people here for presenting the truth, especially those who have an agenda. All the facts were not presented and as a Christian I felt my obligation to present them. I was there when this all went down and as I said I am neutral and friends with both sides. I am sorry if the truth offends those who want to spread hate and continue to divide the body of Christ.Again this is a done deal and people on both sides have moved on. It has been investigated by the police and the CMA. The decisions are old news. It is time to heal the body, and focus on God’s work. God is the ultimate judge and people need to take out the hate in their hearts on both sides and let it go. I mentioned Ashe not to put him down but the truth is he was not upset when meeting with the elders about the sexually allegations but after he was released a year later with 3 months pay and is still continuing to write about this in his slighted way! I was not involved with Ralph, I am not on either side and have no reason to lie! This article centers on him. He is still writing about this and not letting it go! Why can’t we forgive one another as Jesus has forgiven us with grace. Punishments have been handed out and many people are hurt on both sides. It is time for the healing to start! Stop the hate and focus on God’s love and ministry. Now let the knives fly at me for trying to tell the truth and be a peacemaker.

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  21. CMT: YP’s get less respect to begin with because they are younger and less experienced. They’re usually seen as mentees, paying their dues before they move up to the big leagues.

    “Paying their dues” before they can rise in position is also the dynamic behind Hazing.
    And why Hazing is so hard to stop – “I paid my dues! Why should They get off easy?”

    And a local SF writer’s observation about a subtle difference in the ending of the 1984 movie version of 1984, where it was hinted that 6079 Smith W might be promoted to the Inner Party instead of being just liquidated: “Only when you are completely broken to The System will you be permitted to advance within The System.”

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  22. Joseph M. Giammona on Thu May 05, 2022 at 03:35 PM
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    Hello, Joseph,

    Disagreement and errors observed and pointed out do not constitute attack.

    Concern for problems in christian culture that are unethical or simply foolish but which harm human beings is neither an agenda nor hate.

    you haven’t lied, but have conveyed your assumptions as facts and truth. You can’t possibly know what Mr. Ashe’s concerns and motives are.

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  23. PS, some people without mentioning their names said something went wrong here, leadership etc. How did they know exactly what happened. We’re you there and want to hide your names, come out of the darkness and show who you are. All we have here is a disgruntled employee who is complaining about the Pastor after he and the elder board decided to let let go for many reasons! Unless you want to show your true name, I was there through it all. Let him repost the Lengthly Facebook post of about 6 paragraphs and include all the comments he deleted to try and bring about a peaceful resolution. Again this is wrong! Again I do not have a side in this, no reason to lie. I welcomed the police investigation and the investigation by two arms of the CMA. Punishments have been handed out, both sides have real hurts and for some of you that can’t move on and want to continue this, there is a God who knows the truth and is in control that I have given my life to and if you want to slander me, go ahead but remember I am your brother in Christ who I put my faith in!

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  24. Editor: Thhis individual posted his email inadvertently as his name. I have deleted it and if he wants to rewrite this with the email, he can. I thought he may have made mistake.

    To answer elasticity, yes I know what Ralph Ashe’s motives were, we had many conversations while I was there. Also many posts to each other on Facebook. Since I was neutral did not take sides I was privileged to hear both sides of the issue. I have posted my name because as I stand before God he knows I tell the truth, why don’t you post yours.

    Search all comments for http://joefromtheheart@comcast.net
    and you’ll see his other 2.

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  25. Joseph M. Giammona:
    I have presented the facts and the truth, I did not attack anyone and am sorry if the truth hurts some people here. I knew I would be attacked by some people here for presenting the truth, especially those who have an agenda. All the facts were not presented and as a Christian I felt my obligation to present them. I was there when this all went down and as I said Iam neutral and friends with both sides. … Stop the hate and focus on God’s love and ministry. Now let the knives fly at me for trying to tell the truth and be a peacemaker.

    Mr Ashe might have seen more than you (or different things than you) and have been more shocked than you and have examined the situation for longer. I think there are more sides than two. It is not the job of police to sort out churches. You would convince if you used the phrases “some truth” and “some facts”. The body will heal in God’s time and the time of those involved.

    I don’t defend hate (if any) but I am testifying to devastating situations in a series of churches which has given me my own insight into those. In one situation there were seven factions none of which represented me, and in another three at least four factions.

    If you trust in Our Lord you don’t need to “damage control”. Mr Ashe was slower to see things than you were and you must leave him to his speed. Neither you nor his chosen denomination own his insights and gifts, and no-one but you owns yours. God wishes to help Mr Ashe without troubling you and you don’t trust God? There is no regulation quick deadline to be up to speed with your corporate line. Leave people to learn, with their Lord, as slow as they like.

    Did your denomination affect you the same way it affected the Rev Zacharias: lack of belief in our ministry? That’s at the root of all problems in all churches.

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  26. Friend,

    I don’t mean to be cryptic. The whole “you weren’t there, but feel free to throw knives at me, your brother in Christ” message is mighty familiar. It also tends to backfire among people who have survived abuse at church.

    I never heard of any of these people before today, so my agenda is blank. If the person posting as Joseph Giammona typifies the church culture Ralph endured, my heart goes out to Ralph.

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  27. Friend, your comments make no sense. First Ralph was in leadership and part of the culture in the church. Second you never can decide on anything unless you hear both sides of the story. Third, people on both sides have agreed with me, this all happened along time ago and most people have moved on and are busy doing God’s work. They are done with this, punishments have been handed out and everyone is so tired about this continuing after it has been settled. Wounds need to heal not ripped open again. I am not going to quote the many scriptures that support forgiveness, grace, and moving on to do God’s work. I put my name here, where is yours!

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  28. Joseph M. Giammona on Thu May 05, 2022 at 05:27 PM said:
    Friend, your comments make no sense. First Ralph was in leadership and part of the culture in the church. Second you never can decide on anything unless you hear both sides of the story. Third, people on both sides have agreed with me, this all happened along time ago and most people have moved on and are busy doing God’s work. They are done with this, punishments have been handed out and everyone is so tired about this continuing after it has been settled. Wounds need to heal not ripped open again. I am not going to quote the many scriptures that support forgiveness, grace, and moving on to do God’s work. I put my name here, where is yours!
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I imagine the ‘settlement’ was orchestrated with attorney involvement.

    Simply because the matter was settled does not necessarily mean it was done well and in an ethical way.

    Is it not possible that such settlement was not to everyone’s satisfaction?

    Is it not possible that such settlement was deficient on what is ethical, just, fair, good and right?

    Long ago simply quantifies time, not significance of what happened.

    Forgiveness of grave errors and insisting on what is ethical and just are different things.

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  29. Also on the church checklist: “my screen name is totally my real name because that’s how the Internet works, and nobody deserves anonymity online.”

    Does our honored guest realize what many of the TWW regulars have experienced at church? I’d clue him in, but my teenage self doesn’t want that story about sexual abuse in the youth group to be told right now. Somehow that would feel exploitative.

    Besides, it happened a long time ago, everybody has moved on, and anybody who mentions it must have an agenda.

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  30. Joseph M. Giammona,

    My concerns have nothing to do with Mr Ashe…. Mine are with CMA leadership that sent this preacher to this church and any church leadership that did not act on “bad behavior”… This blog would not exist if in most cases leadership “did what is supposed to do”…. The lack of “responsible behavior” of so many “Christian leaders” is beyond frustrating..
    So, it is not surprising that many posters are quick to be “concerned”….

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  31. Friend, how do you know any abuse happened at the church. The abuse whether it happened or not, I don’t know is a woman asked the pastor not to hug her and she claims he did. My point is this has been settled a long time ago and Ralph who was in leadership did not at the time complain about this. Everyone wants to move on except for a few people, and Ashe can not let it go. This situation was handled by a police investigation and two different boards of the CMA. I sometimes get a little passionate and I never agree with any kind of abuse.

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  32. Jeffrey Chambers, you are correct if the abuse occurred. They had 4 pastors to choose from, and the elder board picked this one. The abuse was the woman asked the pastor not to hug her and she claimed him did. After a police investigation and 2 CMA reviews the police found no evidence but the CMA said there was inappropriate behavior and the pastor lost his credentials. He has been over and everyone has moved on and healed. My problem with Ashe is that when leadership let him go because of problems with him, that is the only time he has brought this up. It has been dealt with and both sides want to move on. I have friends on both sides.

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  33. When I talk about not discussing this topic it is not for the people of this blog., it is for Ashe to tell the truth and correct his inaccuracies but all I saying is get the truth first, everyone should want that, there are inaccuracies and untruths in this blog and my point of not to discuss abuse in a blog but when a person for years he was not been abused posts constantly about this with inaccuracies he needs to correct it and tell the truth. It seems everyone else has move on. And yes discuss all abuses but make sure we have all the facts, all I am saying

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  34. AVA, I agree with you on this:

    “No matter how many books the Patriarchy guys sell or how reverred they are, they all seem to have missed the boat on dealing with their Patriarchal colleagues’ evil.”

    The teachings of Bill Gothard influenced the Duggars when they were newly married and attended a conference of his in Tulsa OK. It changed their lives and they bought ‘into’ Gothard’s teachings heavily.

    When their son Josh began to exhibit behaviors that were alarming, rather than try to get him some real help, they found ‘alternate’ ways instead. The tragedy of this played out in Josh’s life as he progressed from molesting his sisters to infidelity in his marriage and then to the crime of possessing child pornography.

    I wonder how these patriarchal systems can hold it together after such an example of their failures to handle evil in their midst arise? The MANY and varied examples of failings with victims trying to get help and being repressed or harassed? And the sharp descent of a young man born into a supposedly Christian home into behaviors that bespeak an attraction to evil that makes no ‘sense’ except when we take a sharper look into the teachings of a Bill Gothard and his ilk.

    Could early intervention of a healthy nature have changed Josh’s direction??? I think he would have at least had a chance to get help OUTSIDE of that strange, patriarchal world where the victims are seen as ‘the problem’ when they speak up and ask for justice . . .

    Bill Gothard is just one example and his finished work is viewed in the tragedy of the Duggar Family’s nightmare.

    Ava, you are right about this, yes. Patriarchy can’t cope with the seeds of evil in its teachings, when they bloom into full-blown misogyny and corruption.

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  35. First of all I want to apologize to anyone who I have offended. Abuse is a very serious topic and it does happen in some churches. I never wanted mean we should not discuss abuse. But when I saw the inaccuracies in the blog due to Ashe I felt I had to point them out. I did not know people on this blog had been abused and I want to be sensitive to this because it is an important subject. I will not be answering anymore comments to me and apologize if I said anything inappropriate

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  36. Joseph M. Giammona,

    If there are inaccuracies, please document them. Don’t just allude to them. However, the one salient point that is left is that the pastor had his credentials removed. As for truth, I saw emails, letters, etc. I called both the church and the CMA but got no response except “We don’t talk about it.”
    If it concerns you, send the documentation. Are you saying the pastor was fine?

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  37. Joseph M Giammona,

    Sorry, Joseph, the more you talk, the more you sound like the Scientologists trying to cover something up where the truth is known. (E.g., the 1950 Census, recently released, demonstrates that L. Ron Hubbard was married at the time, but his first wife and their daughter have been eliminated from the LRH “history” aka mythology. But not from the census enumeration.) When people say over and over and over again, “Nothing to see here, move along,” then, to use another metaphor, “where there’s smoke, there’s probably fire.” Think about it.

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  38. Joseph M. Giammona,

    Thanks for being clearer, I understand now. Please be aware this bunch of matters will not be “settled” for a long long time. Forgiveness occurs, but amidst lots of huffing and hawing and letting off steam and out loud puzzlement, and crucial enlightenment suddenly coming into view. Raw feelings help us understand the parameters of the healing.

    A kindly leader arranged for us times and spaces where we could process what had been done to us. But the double-minded official who was in charge of making this happen (a Jungian) got impatient and induced his subordinate to sabotage it. After that the interlopers (who have got extraordinarily grave connections elsewhere) recaptured our affections, sadly.

    In other cases despite my legitimate enquiring, at least two main “opposing” factions comprising a large proportion of congregation were concealing from me (and a few others) the main facts, which has led to me continuing a very harmful relationship unawares: which proved all the issues about all the people should have been aired better, sooner and longer.

    Ken F (aka Tweed),

    I’m appalled at the insecurity and lack of belief (at the bottom of all the horrible cases I’ve been through, too). If you’ve got an eccentric minister, carry on your belief in Jesus and Another Comforter out of their space. Ministers including “laics” aren’t supposed to be the bosses of our belief.

    My native denomination had put epic (even cosmic) effort into “modernising” has which placed it and its mega-personages and their hyper-emotive alleged “values” (and their endless irrational, dictatorial flipflops) in all our faces, just when those fathers have eaten the soured grapes of materialism and worldly manoeuvring.

    It is hard, hard, hard because we came to “love” our accustomed denominations. Elements allied to the C&MA destroyed Ravi on his sick bed as an underage youth, and that hasn’t been sufficiently remarked on. These things “imprint” or “bond” or “bind” one. (I put his book back on the shelf in the shop when I spotted the non-credible wording about cricket.)

    Ravi copied their unbelief in Daniel’s point about the eschaton, namely that this is when we minister (post Ascension). He ended up making a show of sitting next to a “financier” now under suspicion, with big red beams projected to point at his head: what was that supposed to actually mean (some sort of “sunset”)? This is what “apologetism” has been turned into: Mrs Zacharias’ employees at her OCCA firm became mere C&MA lookalikes.

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  39. Muff Potter,

    John’s continual sardonic key changes and overproduction (throughout his career) have in fact been aped exactly by the “christian worship” merchants which is why I have difficulty with both them and him. Part of the instrumental section was effective. Designer outlet religion, even as it pretends to be casual, is overdone entirely. Parts of the lyric, in itself, resonate. Please may I become their editor in chief? After deconstruction, we need de-production.

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  40. I need to address some of the comments made by my brother in Christ, Joe Giammona. I was there for all of the events listed. First comment, Ashe did not get fired! He resigned his position with a letter of resignation in November of that year (I was also on the Worship Team and had direct knowledge of the situation with Ashe resigning). The Pastor and Elders asked him to stay on through the end of the year which he did.

    In January, as Ashe was leaving his position, Jim Ammerman brought Ralph up in front of the congregation and blatantly lied to the congregation. Ralph had resigned, but Ammerman told them that he and the Elder board were giving Ashe a, “sabbatical” to help his Wife fight cancer. He indicated that Ashe would be on leave and hoped he would be able to return to lead worship in the future. Problem is, Ashe had already been helping his Wife during several critical phases of her cancer treatment over a year before this supposed, “sabbatical”. To be able to make bold face lies directly from pulpit is incredible! Joe does not know what was actually happening in the background and I can assure you Ashe had been addressing issues long before this blog ever posted

    Disgruntled employee, is that where this goes? How about a Pastor that was disqualified long before he ever stepped foot into this congregation? After Ammerman’s first incident with the other congregation, he should have been disqualified from ever stepping foot into a pulpit (and he knew it!). There are many more facts not revealed in this blog. The CMA has allowed a terrific wound to the church that has runs so deep, many have not returned to church. 75 percent of the congregation left. Are they “disgruntled parishioners” according to this logic? That was not because people were a little confused. There was real spiritual damage taking place and this blog is the tip of the iceberg! I am posting my name for those who may be reading from TCC because you know me. This situation goes way beyond a few, “misunderstandings”.

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  41. The unanswered question: “Why did the CMA circulate the CV of a pastoral candidate who had been accused of sexual harassment ”

    Well the candidate could have been exonerated; however, he, if the evidence presented is accurate, admitted to it though he seems to disagree with the definition of ‘sexual harassment’. He allegedly stated “my motives were never sexual” which leaves me wondering whether they were to harass. Admittedly his words could have been taken out of context.

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  42. Jerry McGovern Ashe was allowed to resign so he would not be fired. Ashe was reprimanded my the previous pastor, not Pastor Jim several times. He lied about the incident, I was there when it happened, it was on a weekday and no kids were there and it did not happened in the nursery. There were 500 people attending Trinity but the reason people left was because we did not have a pastor and one of the elders wanted to teach. Ashe was told by leadership not preach in the pulpit and just to do the music, he ignored it. Ashe was leading a class on the pro-life movement but instead was teaching he hate for the public schools. He was told to stay on topic and instead of doing this he quit as teacher. When the old pastor Mike left, Ashe considered himself in leadership and was. He often complain about the intern pastor’s age like he was senile. I should of reported Ashe to the CMA but Pastor Mike said he would handle it. Yes Ashe was abusive towards some of us. When I would go to him he would not talk to me as a Christian but walk away from me. Ashe was in leadership for a whole year and never mentioned the sexual harassment charge. I was in the nursery on Sunday mornings and taught Sunday school. I witnessed these things. Yes Ashe was part of the problem and a disgruntled employee that never should of gotten the job! I have no dog in this fight about the sexual harassment charge, I have friends on both sides of this issue but I am going to tell the truth about Ashe. He never was upset for about a year about the sexual harassment charge until he was told to resign or he was to be let go! Ashe was not honest with the blogger and I need to tell the truth of what I witnessed. Yes you are my brother in Christ and a great teacher at our previous church. The position I take will not be a popular one. I believe when sexual abuse is found in the church it is a serious matter and should be punished. I also believe if a pastor is innocent he should not be punished. I don’t know what happened with the hugging incident but God knows!

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  43. Gerry McGovern: Ammerman told them that he and the Elder board were giving Ralph a, “sabbatical” to help his Wife fight cancer. … Problem is, Ralph had already been helping his Wife during several critical phases of her cancer treatment over a year before this supposed, “sabbatical”.

    This message might not be the logical flourish you imagine. It also does not reek of the compassion I associate with my brothers in Christ.

    To quote the OP, “Ashe asked Pastor Ammerman not to discuss his wife’s diagnosis of cancer. He did it anyway, making sure Ammerman’s wife was visiting her even though Ashe asked them not to do so.”

    Appalling. Pastor divulged a diagnosis after he was asked not to. Pastor’s wife made unwelcome visits. Ashe’s wife was apparently still undergoing treatment and/or recovering a year later… and you view a sabbatical as suspicious because her illness went on so long?

    That’s the opposite of how grave diagnoses work.

    A year is a first step.

    Lengthy treatment is harder, not easier.

    I sincerely hope this lady has made a full recovery.

    I don’t know the details of her case. Neither do you, I’d wager.

    What follows is general. Imagine a woman with a stage II breast cancer: disease has spread to lymph nodes. Her 3 to 18 months of active treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and biologics. Bilateral mastectomy could be the best choice. Surgeons will remove lymph nodes, possibly muscle and other tissue. Nerves will probably be damaged. Chemotherapy is administered on a strict schedule for several months. Radiation might entail five treatments per week for six weeks. The patient will probably need physical therapy to regain strength and range of motion.

    This assumes the patient has high-quality medical care and tolerates the treatment; and that the treatment actually causes the disease to go into remission. She might need more than one operation or a change of protocol. She will probably be at lifelong risk of lymphedema and other conditions.

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  44. “I don’t know the details of her case. Neither do you, I’d wager.”

    You have made a good observation about cancer and I certainly can appreciate the details. In the case of Ralph and his Wife’s cancer, I do know the details firsthand.

    For the purpose of understanding this situation, timing is everything. Ashe did request that his Wife’s cancer not be discussed at church or from the pulpit at the beginning. (1 year before the sabbatical idea was ever floated).

    As far as the, “sabbatical”, Ralph had long before decided he was resigning his position. Ralph had also made it abundantly clear to staff and leadership why he was resigning. The Elders offered the sabbatical after Ralph turned in his resignation.
    Ralph had declined that and stated he was not returning to the worship leader role. So, to have Ralph called up in front of the congregation and have Jim “claim” he was being put on sabbatical seems noble and ‘Christlike” when Jim knew that was a lie and knew why Ralph was leaving.

    FYI, this is not hearsay or pass it down the lane conversations that often happen in a church. I was a first hand witness.

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  45. I was aware of Ashe’s wife cancer treatment as Ashe had shared it on Facebook and talk with him and his wife about it in church. When Ashe had the falling out with the pastor he did not want to have anything to do with him. Everything that was going on was no secret in the church. I prayed for his wife as she is a really good person and did a lot of good in the church. The reason I never reported Ralph for his verbal abusive behavior towards me is because his wife had cancer and he was having problems at home. I remember when Ashe got the music ministers job his first action was to get rid of 2/3 of the music team because he didn’t like the way they played or sounded, which was his opinion not shared by everyone. He hurt those people, some who had been on the music team for years. One I know of left the church because of this. My only regret in hindsight is that I let his wife’s cancer diagnosis, which I was deeply concerned about and his problems at home. I should of reported Ashe to the CMA for his abusive behavior towards me and other as he was in leadership. My other point is someone has tried to post to corroborate what I have said and there posts never went through. Gerry I do thank you using your correct name, I don’t have a problem with you! But myself and other were verbally abused and hurt by Ashe who was in leadership and Ashe posted on Facebook and openly let the church know about his wife and family situation. I fell a lot better now that I have this off my chest, the way he treated me and others!

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  46. Real accountability in a church and denomination is a very difficult subject. Parishioners rely on Elders and the organization to take care of their well being and be sure a person is fully (and Biblically) vetted for a role as Pastor, Elder, Teacher or Leader. When a situation like this arises, it is difficult to believe it has happened and folks tend to “get in their corner” with who they believe. It often does not go from the congregation to the highest levels of leadership in the Denomination because people tend to trust that the folks above them are looking out for their spiritual well being and cannot imagine that such disregard for them could exist that high.

    I have also noted folks questioning the testimony of Ashe and others because it came after the fact. Folks, many times these types of investigations only happen after the fact due to the sensitive nature of the facts and the utter frustration that people who should have stopped the events from unfolding did not do anything or their efforts were not enough to prevent harm (physical, spiritual or emotional).

    In any investigation, it is appropriate to check the facts of all of the testimony! BUT, you cannot only reveal facts that help your case alone.

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  47. Gerry I was Ashe’s friend and work with him. He did not care anything about the sexual allegations and I know that because I talked with Everyone that was involved about what I knew and Ashe was not involved. I talked with the youth pastor, the elders and leadership, Ashe was not involved and never talked about it until after his problems with Pastor Jim. Let’s stop with all this stuff, everyone who knew Ashe knew he didn’t care about the sexual investigation until he felt he could get back at Pastor Jim. Whether Pastor Jim was right or wrong, Ashe’s motives were corrupt. I myself suffered verbal abuse from Ashe many times when I approached him in love about many situations. Him firing 2/3 of the music ministry his first action in a leadership position hurt one of my friends dearly, who had been in the music ministry for years. My only regret is that I did not write a letter to the CMA of all the things Ashe did. Some he did behind 3 pastors backs. I was Ashe’s friend on Facebook, I saw his posts and when I tried to be a peacemaker he deleted my comments. Ashe was abusive verbally as a leader and I am glad After all these years I finally could get it off my chest. Also why has another person’s post who had problems with Ashe and witnessed a lot of this, post has not gone through. Now I also know who has been posting to me anonymously. You know me, we both went to Trinity, you do not have to question me here anonymously, call me or write me and let’s talk Christian to Christian in love and stop playing these games.

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  48. Gerry McGovern,

    Unfortunately, many of us have seen, personally, how the “hire ups”, DO NOT look out for the pew peons/sheep…. They look out “for the name of Christ”, which, translated, means, they look out for themselves…
    Corporately, we see this all the time, inside and outside the church…. It recently happened at my “secular humanist” institution… In several conversations with my colleagues, some of them still “defend the leadership”, knowing full well the system screwed us for their own sake… never-the-less, my colleagues say I am to negative in assuming the worst in my leadership…. I prefer to think that I am “pragmatic”, and recognize that humans are, basically selfish…. Of course there are exceptions, and there have been great leaders that put the “good of the institution” first, but it is not common, IMHO.

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  49. D Grasso
    I am in a car on the wasy to Florida. I know that you think your comment must be posted immediately and that I am waiting around for someone to comment to approve their comment. So, here,s the deal.
    1. You don’t get to tell me how quickly to respond to you. You are a new. commenter and must wait for your first comment to be approved.
    2. Now that I saw your comment, I have decided not to approve it. Frankly, you have miffed me off.
    3. Ammerman lost his pastor’s credentials. That speaks for itself. He also admitted to sexual harassment.
    4. I’m sure you don’t like the term sexual harassment. I am a woman who saw plenty of it during my life and I am grateful for the discussion. Maybe you are excusing some things in your life? Just asking?
    5.Are you a psychiatrist? It seems you are playing one in your comment.
    Here’s the deal. Play nice. Carefully offer proof for what you say, especially for the facts surrounding the pastor’s credetials being removed and I might let you comment.

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  50. Michael in UK on Fri May 06, 2022 at 05:16 AM said:
    “John’s continual sardonic key changes and overproduction (throughout his career) have in fact been aped exactly by the “christian worship” merchants which is why I have difficulty with both them and him.’

    How would you improve upon John’s musical arrangements and Bernie Taupin’s lyrics?

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  51. Gerry McGovern: Parishioners rely on Elders and the organization to take care of their well being and be sure a person is fully (and Biblically) vetted for a role as Pastor, Elder, Teacher or Leader.

    Churches should certainly have excellent hiring practices. However, pastors should not expect complete trust, and members should not offer complete trust. Really, there are churches that value everybody as a child of God, and the pastors point out their own fallibility—while living lives worth emulating.

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  52. Friend I agree with you 100%, all leadership positions should be this way, unfortunately they are not. Youth pastor, music ministers, deacons, etc. Any abuse they should be dealt with. I am against any kind of abuse period. I was never in leadership but served in the nursery and taught Sunday school, when there was a shortage served as an usher. I was just the average person in the pew. How some positions are filled I will always wonder but am willing to give everyone a chance. If I found the perfect church I would not go to it because I would ruin it. That is a joke but yes I am a sinner and need a savior!

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  53. I am now irritated.

    Joseph M. Giammona: Ralph was abusive verbally as a leader and I am glad After all these years I finally could get it off my chest. Also why has another person’s post who had problems with Ralph and witnessed a lot of this? Post has not gone through.

    At this point, do you think you can question whether or not something was allowed to go through on my blog? I have allowed your comments through, but now I see that you and your friend are communicating. Why I accept a post or don’t is none of your business. This is a game and a coordinated hit job, and I am tired of it.
    Your friend’s comments will not be let through. I don’t like this game, and both of you have taught me why I would never step foot in a CMA church that has the two of you coordinating things.

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  54. Bernie’s are fine, I love “We built this city”; Starship can sing properly; from Elton one key change fewer, several fewer instruments in the main orchestra might swing it for me. He ornaments tunes too much. A lot hinges on “production” which I assume Elton negotiated. There is always something wrong with his pianos (not soft enough: is that his playing or the “production”).

    In the “industry” attention wasn’t (and isn’t) given to diction which is why publishing lyrics is so useful. Over here Elton was more a TV than radio performer and he overdid his costume, and he didn’t come to much notice before he went whimsical.

    I agree this number (of Taupin) fits the theme! Many secular artists and experts have had penetrating insight into spiritual matters, with churches still showing almost no sign of catching up, they want to copy the outside and shy away from meaning. Taupin is underestimated.

    There are better renditions of “Here comes the sun” and “Fool on the hill” than the original ones but at least the covers are well known. Fool on the hill = Peter who wouldn’t pull his finger out of the dyke and Crippled Hans who wouldn’t get with the plan.

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  55. Joseph M. Giammona,

    It’s all very well to know others trying to contribute to a thread (we wouldn’t even guess how) but surely to admit it is the thing that is actively destructive?

    I knew all along there were things like this like you & Gerry are relating and I think Friend’s analysis insightful.

    What about Pastor Mike’s defensive attitude to the denominational authorities? Could he not bring you with him? Is he afraid of something in his background getting shown up?

    What about the way seniors bullied a 17 year old in hospital, not many generations ago?

    What about the show of fake “compassion” as diversion?

    What if Ralph who was in the wrong before (because he conformed to the denominational template) is in the right this time? It can happen. Perhaps he is in turmoil about the basis of his faith – which I hope you will be next. You are a sinner but it is right that God show us these churches, whether we flee quickly from one to the next, or stick it longer (and I’ve done both).

    In my last church were:

    1 – a regional boss who handled this genuinely as well as rules permit (risking resentment)

    2 – a vicar that had to be disciplined (we don’t get told what for) and his family who are probably in doubt about everyone now; and who had ties to dubious movements inside and outside our denomination which weren’t good for his flighty emotional temperament

    3 – senior parish leadership who carelessly fostered a hysterical atmosphere and had links with dubious movements inside and outside our denomination and aren’t showing signs of enlightenment; who kidded themselves they were supporting the vicar with their sentimentality

    4 – more genuine parish leadership who were over-impressed by 3 and don’t know where to seek better guidance (I was and am inarticulate and probably am not thought to have the credentials)

    5 – congregation that are with 3 and enthusiastic about the line, while not perturbed about the vicar offending in some way that they feel must be totally unconnected to their allegedly “evangelical” outlook

    6 – congregation who are unenthusiastic about the dominant tone and probably sympathetic to 4 on the quiet, but who didn’t think they would be seen as having credentials to express any views

    7 – a real missionary who gets buttered up by people of less straightforward motives

    8 – a beautiful pianist and real virtuous person who doesn’t comment on how the amplifying ministers obliterate her

    9 – me; the “amplifying pastor” was particularly dismissive

    I touched on the two immediately prior cases in my 1.02 a.m paras 2 and 3 (and all have major international dimensions going back over 50 years). As long as we as congregation individuals can’t cope, and can’t read any meaning out of Scriptures, and can’t take our courage in both hands (oh and pray) we’ll continue to project a disproportionate image of various wrongs and rights.

    A better tone from you to start with would have been “it’s so sad and here are a little more of some facts” like Gerry has done. It’s very wrongful of Ammerman to make everything public through his fake “compassion” stunt. Ammerman clearly hoped thereby to get a pincer movement going such as your acquaintance is trying to coordinate with you.

    If congregants like you and me believe the meaning of Scriptures, in 50 years time we’ll bring forth vocations for commissioned minsters who won’t fall in to such deep hot water. My nastiest “movement” actually preached Jeremiah (as sophisticated decoy). Halfway doubledmindedness causes rows like yours; while the pure kind I sometimes saw created zombies.

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  56. Joseph M. Giammona: for Ralph to tell the truth and correct his inaccuracies

    i – truth isn’t only about Ralph’s missteps. If you and Gerry have shed enough light on him to be getting on with, he may not have the energy to add to it

    ii – truth about the denominational ethos and its outworkings in defensiveness by everyone more senior than him, is part of truth and he is as entitled to testify as anyone

    iii – was that Mike inclined to butter everyone up (people pleasing to disguise his high handedness)?

    iv – the way your denomination burned Ralph out has left him in trauma and shock and he may not have the energy to call the rest of the seniors out for the rest of their wrongs

    v – I suspect you are in burnout also but have not yet realised it has “got to you”

    Not all the matters cited by Dee have been commented on yet.

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  57. Michael in UK: high handedness

    Michael in UK: something in his background

    I’m sure that wasn’t fair of me about him, he no doubt made a good escape from being burned out, himself.

    Half baked denominations form half baked congregations that fall out amongst themselves AND blow hot and cold with both good and bad pastors, who themselves learned to blow both hot and cold with seniors, who taught themselves to blow both hot and cold with subordinates.

    Easter must be a favourite season, lovely eggshells to walk on.

    Muff Potter: why I have difficulty with both them and him

    I must admit I started querying “christian” lyrics (not Taupin’s per se) after I grew uneasy with (much of) the musicianship, seeing as they are “projected” for us more thoughtfully than they mostly are worded.

    Not only aren’t they really sing alongable to, they are the watery side of trite, or plain heretical (like the one about crowns). One of the worst is the ectoplasm song, with a word “at-mo-sphere” entuned soppily in it.

    An over-excitable minister ALWAYS ended the compulsory 50 minute “concert” by saying “wasn’t that anointed” (and I don’t know what the “a-” word means) as if he is inviting me to heckle.

    I like some though: a tiptop service I was at had both “Ancient of days” and “ancient gates”. I like “jump in the river” which they don’t get the meaning to. At one of my worst churches (overall) not only did they have good guitarists and drummers, but youngsters amplifying (too young to be trendy) were very sensitive about it.

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  58. Friend: they also appear to think (or to have thought) that TWW regulars are members of their congregation

    TWW regulars have heard this sad story before, nothing new here about the state of affairs in some churches … it’s a familiar story of moral failure by trusted church leaders. So, it’s no surprise that TCC trolls think Wartburgers belong to their church … some of us have lived through the exact same thing at other churches. If the trolls stick around, they will see just how widespread this wicked web is.

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  59. Friend:
    Max,

    There’s an element of trolling, but they also appear to think (or to have thought) that TWW regulars are members of their congregation, posting here anonymously. I don’t think I’ve seen that assumption here before, and don’t know what it implies.

    What is chilling to me is that I have run into pastors who regularly sit down and check out all the comments, etc, of visitors. If they have your name it isn’t all that hard to find you on the web. And if you visit places like TWW regularly, yeah, you can be blacklisted.

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  60. They are not trolls who are third parties stirring up discord for the fun of seeing the discord. They are sincere. They think the problem is dealt with and shouldn’t be brought up again. However, the problem is not the single problem with their congregation but the systematic issues that allows abusers to continue to abuse again and again not just in their denomination but in many denominations and also in other organizations.

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  61. Erp,

    I am coming to the conclusion that a significant number of “church organizations” have NO moral standards when it comes the behavior of the “in group”…. Except if the people in the “in group” deviate from the “distinctive” of the “in group”… then they dropped, and erased from the group…
    I also use the phrase “church org” since some, like Calvary Chapel, try to claim they are not a “denomination”… yet they actually behave as a very strict denomination… and kick out anyone not hold strong their “ distinctives”..
    I raise this here, because as Dee has commented, good old RZ was CMA, and I know CMA leadership was made away of RZ lying about credentials… I know, because I have personal e-mails with CMA leadership about it….

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  62. Friend on Sat May 07, 2022 at 10:37 AM said:

    “There’s an element of trolling, but they also appear to think (or to have thought) that TWW regulars are members of their congregation, posting here anonymously. I don’t think I’ve seen that assumption here before, and don’t know what it implies.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    a cultural statement? that passive aggression are the norm and to be expected?
    .
    .
    at least i’ve observed that church culture grooms people to approach conflict resolution that way.

    the #1 value of christian leadership is control – frank confrontation & other such threats to control are spiritualized as sin, divisive, dangerous,

    passive aggression is the workaround

    even dispassionate matter-of-fact confrontation is Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad…. (all to protect professional christian careers & revenue)

    it turns people into fragile teacups who can dish it out but not take it. (it’s a mixed metaphor kind of day)

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  63. Erp: They think the problem is dealt with and shouldn’t be brought up again.

    These gentlemen want contradictory things: to say the issue is settled, and to introduce new information. ​

    People process difficulties at their own speed. Bad stories sometimes come out late, or discussion resumes long after the fact. Hindsight can give us wisdom, but we have to look back.

    Hmm… what would people now recall about me when I was under gigantic strain? Reports would vary (cf. the blind men and the elephant).

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  64. To all reading:

    I used to be a member of TCC, and I was there when everything happened. To start, I want to make something clear. There were comments made on this blog that were absolutely horrendous, and they do not represent all those from TCC who either still remain, or who left because they disagreed with the CMA’s final decision with Jim Ammerman. Those people play another part in this story. For true healing to take place, their hurt and struggle also must be acknowledged, whether I (or we) agree with them or not. Many in the congregation did not,and maybe still do not, know all the details of what happened, so I suspect that those groups felt like a carpet was ripped out from under them. That’s how quiet many of these decisions and issues were, and it caused great confusion. It was a very painful time for people on all sides. Mr. Ashe and many others in leadership who’ve left also were hurt by all of this, and these wounds must also not be ignored or minimized. There indeed is division, and I will explain from my perspective where this division came from. I will also explain my personal concerns, with the goal of bringing understanding. I will also be keeping names neutral as this blog originally intended, so I will address names as they were written on the blog such as “Mr. Ashe”.

    To start, I will address something I know firsthand- yes, Mr. Ashe wanted his wife’s cancer diagnosis secret until the time was right. In fact, when the time was right, the assistant pastor forwarded Mr. Ashe’s own words about his wife’s struggle and the prayer he needed in an email in a prayer chain with the church. Jim Ammerman, several months prior to the assistant pastor receiving permission from Mr. Ashe, asked me directly after a sermon, “Do you know that [insert Mr. Ashe’s wife] has cancer?”. That same day prior to him asking me, he prayed in the pulpit for “people with cancer” before the sermon ended, and distinctly remembered this prayer. Anyone who has dealt with Jim Ammerman knows he does not keep secrets well, and this was one example. So yes, the claim that confidentiality was broken indeed is true, because I was a recipient of this confidentiality breach.

    Not only was I a recipient of this breach, but I was also the recipient of receiving knowledge of Jim’s prior investigation by Jim himself. Way before any allegation of abuse and any issues Jim had with the leadership team, Jim told me that the CMA investigated him. He said this to me after a prayer meeting we had I believe on a Thursday night, and he said this in the context of explaining to me that he was hurt by the church. Subsequently, he told me that it was not good for him to talk about it, and in a sense, relive the past. He was visibly angry. That’s the important point for me. It was obvious that he was angry about the investigation. I assumed at the time, because of the visible anger I saw and the context he said, that he was unfairly treated and investigated. Imagine my SHOCK when I saw the WRITTEN DOCUMENT which is posted here with the date of when Jim pleaded guilty to sexual harrasment. The only two choices I have is to either conclude that Jim lied to me to gain sympathy that wasn’t warranted, or that he lied to the CMA so he could avoid more trouble. Either way, lies and deceptions were used in his conversation with me. And this is a microcosm of the lies and deceit he consistently used to many of us while he was pastor. IMHO, Biblically speaking, this behavior disqualifies a person from taking the pastoral role. Somebody like Jim Ammerman who could lie this easily to my face and still be able to apply for a job in the CMA with an admission of the guilty plea is one of the many problems I have with the CMA and its systems. I still don’t understand how the TCC elders did not have this information during the hiring process. For the sake of argument, let’s say that Jim was falsely accused. Do you think I trust the CMA dealing properly with a false accusation against a pastor? Judging from this whole experience, absolutely not.

    Even more disturbing for me, and this was my personal icing on the cake, Jim Ammerman wrote a thesis submitted in 2017 prior to applying to Trinity, and this was about emotional healing. The title of his thesis is called “AN EVALUATION OF THE EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY SPIRITUALITY COURSE AT COMMUNITY ALLIANCE CHURCH, BUTLER, PENNSYLVANIA”. The first sentence in his abstract is “The purpose of writing An Evaluation of the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course at Community Alliance Church, Butler, Pennsylvania was to measure the efficacy of the course to improve emotional maturity on participants”. His thesis is connected with Peter Scazzero’s book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”. I am very familiar with Peter Scazzero’s book “The Emotionally Healthy Church” because my best friend gave me that book years ago, and the book is all about healing and emotional maturity. There’s even a test in one section that has you rate where one is on the emotionally mature scale based on how one responds to specific scenarios of conflict. It’s meant to be an internal reflection. When Jim Ammerman came to Trinity, he was seen as an advantage because of this work, and we were ready to have more of a familial shift in dynamics, where we would focus more on interpersonal relationships and healthy dynamics with each other. Did that happen? No, just the opposite. Why was this disturbing for me? For somebody to have done this work, and subsequently, have to have 90 days of coaching in probation, have issues with those in leadership such there was a huge turnover in leadership and volunteers during his time a the pastor, AND be accused of sexual harrassment, not once, but TWICE in TWO different churches speaks VOLUMES. How does somebody who did a thesis related to EMOTIONAL MATURITY have this many issues caused by him behind the scenes that all relate to interpersonal relationships? I work in an academic institution and defended my own thesis years ago. If I remotely did HALF of the things Jim Ammerman did that contradicted the work I did in my thesis, I would’ve been fired, no questions asked. And for Trinity leadership and the CMA to take so long to deal with the issues caused by Jim Ammerman in the church breeded a huge mistrust.

    As I mentioned before, there was much division in the church, and there’s information that many of us knew, and others did not. Those who were in leadership roles experienced many issues by Jim. The children’s ministry leader and some of her team, the youth pastor, the subsequent youth pastor, two youth leaders, the previous head of the kitchen ministry, the head deaconess, an elder, the worship leader and some in his team, and the head of the coin laundry ministry (me), all left because as a result of Jim’s ministry. Them and others from the congregation. When those in leadership heard many complaints, it fell on deaf ears. Many, to this day, would never go back to Trinity, because they do not trust that Trinity’s leadership nor the CMA itself would actually listen to concerns and act quickly and appropriately. Meanwhile, there’s another side. Jim Ammerman and his family were kind to others in the congregation. And yes, they have good qualities also. There were things that they did, and did them well. So those in the congregation who did not know what was going on, nor interacted with this unhealthy nature, nor saw first hand the many lies that were told, consequently saw that most of the concerns about Jim Ammerman are not a big deal, or that the issues were fixable. THIS is what caused the divide. THIS is why there’s much hurt on both sides. THIS is why many issues were not resolved, and THIS is how the CMA allowed a church to bleed. The ones who had concerns were NOT listened to, and the ones who knew little details were left to make a decision on crumbs of information. Had the proper parameters been put in place, had Jim Ammerman been dealt with properly from the beginning, had the CMA leadership listened early on, this would not have happened.There will be those who disagree with me, and that’s ok, because it finally invites actual dialogue instead of the secrecy that plagued this whole scenario. There really needs to be an honest, hard conversation about what happened here, where the leadership in Trinity and in the CMA failed, and the proper steps to take from the top down BEFORE moving forward. If not, this scenario will repeat itself. It always does.

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  65. Amaryllis: And yes, they have good qualities also. There were things that they did, and did them well. So those in the congregation who did not know what was going on, nor interacted with this unhealthy nature, nor saw first hand the many lies that were told, consequently saw that most of the concerns about Jim Ammerman are not a big deal, or that the issues were fixable. THIS is what caused the divide.

    Very common dilemma. And why transparency is important, with testimony from all sides. Silencing of witnesses is a disservice.

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  66. Amaryllis,

    The two didn’t comment on what was done to Ravi as a youth, which Ravi never rebelled against. How will we have sound “apologetics” if we can’t demonstrate the integrity of our interacting frameworks? If we can’t demonstrate belief? Do those two think “Gospel” has to be nasty anyway? As long as they got “people-pleased” they don’t need to weigh up anything beyond their noses according to values? That Holy Scriptures don’t have meanings? That there isn’t Another Comforter? To give us the genuine and not false kind of confidence? (R Foster, this weekend’s video) (The meaning of Paul’s words about those who don’t discern Jesus’ body so they are dying on the inside) It’s nearly Ascension again which marks why we are in the present eschaton of our ministry through prayer, which Daniel and Isaiah are about.

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  67. Amaryllis: Anyone who has dealt with Jim Ammerman knows he does not keep secrets well, and this was one example.

    Thank you for adding your perspective, which clarifies the situation.

    I hope you don’t mind some general comments, since I have no connection to your church or denomination.

    Pastors need to be good at keeping secrets. Church members should be able to trust that they can confidentially ask the pastor’s advice as they face every kind of hardship as well as joy and new opportunity.

    Pastors and others in charge also need skills to explain problems that affect the congregation as a whole. If someone is stealing the Sunday collection, the congregation deserves details after they are investigated. Same should go for any crime.

    Abuse is not always criminal. Whether or not it’s a crime, a congregation needs and deserves reliable information. Unfortunately abusers and their enablers will suddenly discover a great talent for keeping secrets.

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  68. Michael in UK:
    Amaryllis,

    How will we have sound “apologetics” if we can’t demonstrate the integrity of our interacting frameworks?

    Precisely why Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. IMHO, love in this case demands healthy interpersonal relationships, and truth from all sides listened to, respected, and wrestled with. Proper protocols need to be in place. This is true whether a scandal exists or not.

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  69. Friend: Thank you for adding your perspective, which clarifies the situation.

    I hope you don’t mind some general comments, since I have no connection to your church or denomination.

    I personally believe in the concept “iron sharpens iron”, and I believe any comments, whether a person is connected or not, whether a person agrees with me or not, should be had in a respectful dialogue. In a healthy church, this should be happening. I appreciate your insights.

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  70. Amaryllis,

    I burned out and spent five years away from church before returning to a fairly healthy congregation. One thing I do is ask questions, just to make sure they hear from people. Right now I don’t see signs of problems, but I ask anyway… why did we change this, who decided to do X that way, what ever happened to Y, etc.

    There are no perfect formulas, systems, or guarantees. Still, members can size up the climate, even if they can’t change it. And they can leave if they want to.

    Sigh.

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  71. Amaryllis on Sun May 08, 2022 at 09:46 PM said:

    “Precisely why Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”.

    IMHO, love in this case demands healthy interpersonal relationships, and truth from all sides listened to, respected, and wrestled with. Proper protocols need to be in place. This is true whether a scandal exists or not.”
    ++++++++++++

    seems to me love is sorely limited when the relationship is bound by money.

    as soon as revenue and power are threatened, all of these things cease to happen (healthy interpersonal relationships, truth from all sides to be listened to, respected, and wrestled with, and proper protocols in place).

    there is far, far too much money invested in churches and denominations. careers, salaries, perks and retirement must be paid for. perpetuation of itself is the mission. it simply costs too much to truly do the right thing.

    one day the salary-free, bi-vocational Church Of The Zero Balance will be the norm.

    seems to me it is impossible to have truly healthy

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  72. elastigirl: there is far, far too much money invested in churches and denominations. careers, salaries, perks and retirement must be paid for. perpetuation of itself is the mission. it simply costs too much to truly do the right thing.

    one day the salary-free, bi-vocational Church Of The Zero Balance will be the norm.

    Well stated.

    Just read the “Tov” book and hit a paywall for the writer’s blog. Guess what the writer has to say there cannot be important since anything from the Holy Spirit is a gift to the Body of Christ. (Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4.)

    (BTW, support our workers in the Kingdom? Sure, for on-mission travel expenses, which is largely unnecessary nowadays due to technology. Expenses are not a livelihood. Some groups like the Jesuits take a vow of poverty. Their service is never to be a growth industry enterprise, although just maybe the RCC is sitting on fortunes.)

    Wisdom, knowledge, evangelism, pastoring, apostling, administration or leadership, teaching, prophesy, service, mercy, etc., are all gifts (free) from the Holy Spirit to the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit doesn’t do sales.

    Imagine the church startups in the NT book of Acts. Jesus died & rose & the Temple curtain split down the middle: no more middleman… no levitical offices, no temple.

    Working people with actual jobs are gifted by the Holy Spirit. They keep working their jobs while using their gift in their local church.

    Traveling apostles have their travel expenses paid for as they go from local church to church. But the local church itself is never a business enterprise. It is a Holy Spirit gifted enterprise.

    Anyway, the Tov writer notes the importance of leaders not always winning arguments and being gracious about descent. Wonder how the writer would react to your comment, and this comment. A while back, he removed a comment from his blog about his advertising of his Bible history trips making money for his own travel. The full disclosure wasn’t acceptable.

    Another ministry that puts on conferences for church victims of sexual violence blocked me when I commented about the growth industry enterprise of her “ministry” to victims … victims who may be suffering financially in no small part due to their victimization.

    Oh well, so much for full disclosure and integrity of mission.

    Fact: we can safely have this discussion here at TWW since no one is paid for anything: Dee, Todd, commenters, and guests who post their stories. A window. Fresh air. Breathe. Freely.

    Anyway, thanks so much for your comment, elastigirl. Explains the pushback from some of these (not Holy Spirit gifted… they are not free, not gifts) “ministries”.

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  73. Ava Aaronson on Mon May 09, 2022 at 08:40 AM said:

    so sick of it all.

    i loathe the word “ministry”. it simply means exploiting Jesus and human beings’s needs for money. putting on a middleman hat for money, tricking everyone into believing God ordained the middleman, (especially their middleman self in particular), and that they everyone needs a middleman.

    what a crock o’ $h|t it all is.

    come on, purveyors of God, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit — I challenge you to quit exploiting and profiting off them.

    reduce your overhead to the minimum (you don’t need a fancy desk, chair, an office with keurig coffee maker, for starters), pay it, and give everything else away.

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  74. elastigirl: there is far, far too much money invested in churches and denominations. careers, salaries, perks and retirement

    The 1st century model for doing church included pastors who did not have “careers, salaries, perks and retirement.” Yep, it’s time for the 21st century church to pause and ask two simple questions: “What is Church?” … “What isn’t Church?”

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  75. CMT:
    dee,

    I find this really gross. YP’s get less respect to begin with because they are younger and less experienced. They’re usually seen as mentees, paying their dues before they move up to the big leagues. This kind of cruel, juvenile bullying of someone he’s supposed to be leading and discipling, someone who has a lot less power and respect than he does, is a sign of someone with real issues.

    . As Gerry mentioned, only the tip of the iceberg.

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  76. elastigirl: as if the holy spirit is saying, “Monetize me!”

    As if … ‘cuz in truth, He doesn’t. Monetize His gifts to the Body of Christ… all 18, free, gifts. Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4.

    “Let me minister to you… ” apparently means let me profit off your spiritual need. For the Kingdom… but whose kingdom?

    When, how did the gifts of the Spirit become paid professions or better yet, enterprises to build dynasties?

    Where the Lord guides, He provides. So if a faithful follower cannot afford the accoutrements of religion on the market, guess those accoutrements are completely irrelevant and unnecessary.

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  77. Amaryllis,

    Thank you for your very kind words and prayers. I’ve recovered fairly well. A lot of support happens here on TWW, although the readers (and doubtless the lurkers) come from many different experiences and have many different ideas about Christianity.

    And what about you, if you don’t mind sharing? You no longer attend TCC, I gather.

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  78. Friend,

    This indeed sounds like a supportive community. As for me, I left TCC in August 2019. I still keep in touch with some who’ve stayed and left. I cherish the good memories. I’ve been visiting a healthy church also, and as of late, I’ve been learning about different traditions in Christendom outside of “systems” per se. A coworker of mine is a Coptic Orthodox, I speak with two women who’s passion is Bible translations (and I love translating in general!), my two best friends have been telling me about the book of common prayer from the Anglican tradition. They would also tell me about a Richard foster (spelling? I always think of the dessert :D). I used to meet at a Wed morning group where the women would speak about the Bible and learn about the teachings of old that focused on humility in all aspects, in ways that was very refreshing for me. If it weren’t for my work schedule, I would keep going. Our conversations are about meaning, as in, what do these way of worshipping ,if you will, do personally for someone and their soul. It’s been pretty neat hearing the different perspectives. I personally learn best with interactive communication.

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  79. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Money does not turn corruption on and off like a lightswitch. Sometimes I take paid work, and sometimes I do similar projects as a volunteer. My level of skill and ethics are about the same.

    Assuming most people are somewhat consistent, we’d need to go back a little further and discover why a person wants to be a pastor. Commonly held ideal of the call to ministry: being struck blind on the road to Damascus. That transformed Paul, but it’s not a replicable model. Yet some churches find these Boy Wonders in their midst and anoint them.

    A long discernment process might be the best approach. When someone feels called, form a group to pray with and for them. Give them some minor responsibilities, with training and supervision. Let this go on for a couple of years, so that the potential pastor can grow… or grow impatient. The group should include mere mortals, not glad-handing blurb writers. The process should require mental health screening and counseling, as well as a thorough background check and maybe even some formal education. The Holy Spirit should not find any of this an encumbrance.

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  80. Headless Unicorn Guy on Tue May 10, 2022 at 10:00 AM said:

    “And will come with its own set of problems.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    …it’s a wonder to me how pursuing God with others is especially full of noxious & destructive problems just waiting to happen

    (let alone problems with what is good, right, fair, and true).

    if money is taken out of the equation at least (beyond a commitment to minimal overhead), there is less to lose thus less to impede choosing what is honest & ethical.

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  81. elastigirl: if money is taken out of the equation …

    … ministry would not be a lucrative pursuit … seminary rolls would dwindle … mega-mania would crumble … fewer “Christian” books would be written … pew-sitters would have to search for Sunday entertainment elsewhere … etc.

    On the positive side, if money is taken out of the equation, we might have real-deal Church again! Pulpit and pew would put Jesus back on the throne. Worship would break out. Yep, if filthy lucre would just go away …

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  82. Today I’m wondering how many Boy Scout leaders who molested children were volunteers.

    The assailant in my youth group was not paid, not ordained, not even old enough to go to college.

    The molestor in my old neighborhood married a woman who ran an in-home day care. He used her for access to toddlers.

    Predators seek prey.

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  83. Friend,

    Even in Paul’s story, he was also vetted. He wasn’t trusted right away for good reason. Imagine being blinded, then having to wait between 3-14 years, no doubt to mature along the way, then asking Jesus’s disciples if his revelations/teachings are indeed correct so that it’s jot just “his opinion”, followed by being jailed, taken to court, being beaten multiple times while sharing his faith, and no “stable income” (“I’ve learned to be content with much and with little”). All the meanwhile, him personally saying “I’m the worst of sinners” and “I will boast in my weaknesses” which implies that he knows out of his own merit he did not deserve to be a preacher, and learning how to be content “in all circumstances” he faced for the sake of the gospel. What was required of him before and when he did to the work was nowhere near comfort, entitlement, prestige, or “guaranteed positions” the way certain systems are setup now. And that’s WITHOUT abuse (which Biblically disqualifies a preacher immediately, though that’s unfortunately not followed through well). Humility was the driving force. The way I see it, the “Pauline” model isn’t as simple as solely being able to preach simply because someone wants to.

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  84. Amaryllis: … abuse (which Biblically disqualifies a preacher immediately …

    And should be grounds for permanent disqualification from ministry. Unfortunately, TWW has reported on many instances where “pastors” who abused were restored to the pulpit … some to standing ovations! There are no examples in the New Testament of pastors who failed morally being restored to church leadership. Forgive them if they genuinely repent? Certainly. Restore them to ministry? NO!

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  85. Max: … ministry would not be a lucrative pursuit … seminary rolls would dwindle … mega-mania would crumble … fewer “Christian” books would be written … pew-sitters would have to search for Sunday entertainment elsewhere … etc.

    On the positive side, if money is taken out of the equation, we might have real-deal Church again! Pulpit and pew would put Jesus back on the throne. Worship would break out. Yep, if filthy lucre would just go away …

    Alas, Jesus was never soft on economic issues, such as when he addressed the rich young ruler.

    The only way filthy lucre goes away is in national economic downturns. Then, the road divides into God-seekers and criminals.

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  86. Max: Unfortunately, TWW has reported on many instances where “pastors” who abused were restored to the pulpit … some to standing ovations!There are no examples in the New Testament of pastors who failed morally being restored to church leadership.Forgive them if they genuinely repent?Certainly.Restore them to ministry?NO!

    That’s so sad (and infuriating)……And I absolutely agree with your point that they should not be restored to ministry. That’s standard protocol in many job settings. No reason why it shouldn’t be standard protocol in churches.

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