You can recognize survivors of abuse by their courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward and share their truth so others know they aren't alone.” ― Jeanne McElvaney, Healing Insights: Effects of Abuse for Adults Abused as Children link
A plea to our wonderful readers:
Shauna and Billy have serious financial needs. Due to the alleged actions of Lakeside Baptist Church: pastors, Elders (with a capital E), and members appear to have participated in punitive actions towards Shauna by cancelling her cleaning services. Shauna must be home when her son returns from school because he is developmentally delayed. She had a brisk business of cleaning houses and caring for horses for many member of the church. That business began to dry up upon her leaving the church for reasons which TWW will continue to describe. This has resulted in her being behind on her rent, phone, etc. There are days she worries about providing food for the two of them. But she tells me she is blessed since she has always made it through.
Well done, Ken Ramey! You and your people have successfully kicked a dear woman and her raped son to the curb. Why don't you turn the other cheek like a certain Carpenter (who deserves the capital C) suggested and help Shauna and care for her son?
Would our readers consider Facebooking Shauna's plight with links to the Go Fund Me Account? Any small amount would be helpful Thank you so much. Bill and Shauna's GoFundMe
9Marks style church discipline is a bust
It should come as no surprise to our regular readers that Ken Ramey and his Elders (capital E) are sold out to the authority-driven, discipline-pursuing 9Marks' view on church. It is becoming patently obvious that authority-driven leadership leads to abusive church discipline.
For all of 9Marks palavering over the "biblical" way to do church, they have yet been unable to deal with the fact the abuse crawls right on in along with every membership contact that is signed. What makes it even worse is that even the 9Marks boys can't do discipline as we have documented in Todd Wilhelm's situation and The Village Church/Karen Hinckley fiasco. Just in case you are willing to blow this off as "you don't know the whole story", let me reiterate. Todd Wilhelm is willing to sign a form allowing UCCD and 9 Marks to openly discuss what happened. They, of course, refuse to do so.
The utter inability for 9Marks to define who, what and when to apply discipline in churches is what is leading to this developing mess that some call 9Marxism. If John Folmar at UCCD – (9Marks and BFF of Mark Dever) cannot properly apply church discipline, why in the world do they think anyone can do this sort of thing without causing an outright disaster? Mark Dever continues to support CJ Mahaney who is the best example of failed church discipline that exists.
That is the problem. You see, church discipline is only for the little people. Not for the BFFs of Calvinista leaders who agree doctrinally, love to be *in charge* and who can donate money.
Lakeside Bible Church membership covenant/contract
It will come as no great surprise to you that this church has an obvious love of church discipline. Read through the bylaws of this church and you will see that the discipline section is the longest part of that document. Jesus Christ gets 3 lines. Church discipline gets around 40. When one joins this church, they must sign they agree with the bylaws.
Section 6. Discipline of Members
LBC is committed to practicing church discipline as outlined by Christ in Mt. 18:15-17. The threefold purpose of church discipline is (1) to glorify God by maintaining purity in the local church (1 Corinthians 5:6), (2) to edify believers by deterring sin (1 Timothy 5:20), and (3) to restore a sinning believer by calling him or her to return to a biblical standard of doctrine and conduct (Galatians 6:1).
(a) The four-step process of church discipline is to be carried out with a gentle, loving, God-like attitude (Heb. 12:5-13).
(b) Members of the church and all other professing Christians who regularly attend or fellowship with the church, who engage in promoting false doctrine or conduct that violates Scripture and bring reproach on LBC, shall be subject to the following steps of church discipline: (1) It shall be the duty of any member of the church who has knowledge of the erring individual’s heresy or misconduct to warn and correct them in private, seeking his or her repentance and restoration. If the erring individual does not heed this warning, then (2) The warning member shall again go to the erring individual, seeking his or her repentance, but accompanied by one or two individuals who shall confirm that the sin has occurred or is continuing to occur, and/or that the erring individual has been appropriately confronted and has refused to repent. If the erring individual still refuses to heed this warning, then
appropriately confronted and has refused to repent. If the erring individual still refuses to heed this warning, then
(c) It shall be brought to the attention of the Elders. If the Elders find after thorough investigation that the erring individual is continuing to sin, that he or she has been appropriately confronted, and that he or she has refused to repent, then the Elders shall inform the church (i.e. the congregation) thereof at a regularly scheduled worship service in order that the entire church may call the erring individual to repentance. If the erring individual demonstrates repentance, then notice to that effect may be given at a regularly scheduled worship service. If, however, the erring individual does not repent in response to the church in its collective call to repentance, then (4) The individual shall be publicly dismissed from membership and/or fellowship in the church at a regularly scheduled worship service. If the erring individual, after such dismissal, heeds the warning, demonstrates repentance, and requests reinstatement before the Elders, then he or she shall be publicly restored to all the rights, duties, privileges, and responsibilities of membership and/or fellowship (2 Cor. 2:6-8).
(d) The elders, at their discretion, may proceed directly to the third stage of church discipline (i.e. the informing of the church and the congregation at a regularly scheduled worship service in order that the church may call the erring individual to repentance) and then to the fourth stage of church discipline, (i.e. the dismissal from membership and/or fellowship in the church) when one or more of the following have occurred;
(i) Where the transgression and the refusal to repent have become a public offense to the whole church (1 Cor. 5:1-5).
(ii) Where the first and second stages of church discipline have effectively occurred simultaneously.
(iii) Where the disciplined party has taught or otherwise disseminated doctrine deemed false or erroneous by the Elders, then chosen to disregard the direction and reproof of the Elders (Romans 16:17).
(iv) Where the disciplined party has been warned twice by the Elders to cease from factious and divisive conduct and has chosen to disregard that warning (Titus 3:10-11).
(e) The members of the church, and all other professing Christians who regularly attend or fellowship with the church, agree that there shall be no appeal to any court because of the dismissal or because of public statements to the congregation at the third or fourth stages of church discipline. Members under discipline who chose to resign their membership may still be lovingly pursued to restore them to fellowship.
Shauna and Billy were long time members of Lakeside Bible Church prior to the rape.
One point that Shauna made to me is that Ken Ramey and the Elders knew Billy for many years prior to the rape. They wrote a letter to a Christian camp that Billy wished to attend in which they spelled out that Billy was developmentally delayed and had trouble with socialization. So, in the aftermath of the rape, they knew about Billy's situation yet they treated Shauna and Billy poorly. (Even they admit that as you will see in the letter at the end.)
The weekend of the rape
Billy was raped on 5/18/13. On Sunday. Ken Ramey gave a sermon on church discipline.
Shauna is allegedly given stern warnings and even *discipline* from Ramey
Billy and Shauna returned to church the weekend after the rape. Shauna assured Billy that Joe could not be on the premises at the same time Billy was present. However, he saw Joe coming out of the Youth Ministry area. During church, Joe gave Billy a threatening look which caused Billy to want to leave the church. Even though Joe was not supposed to at church when Billy was there, it appears that the church and his parents overlooked this issue.
Shauna was asked to speak with Ramey privately. He told her that she was to stay quiet about what had happened to Billy. He said that if she said anything, it would be considered slander. Shauna questioned this since she was an eyewitness to what had happened to Billy. She said that slander implies a lie. Ken told her that slander didn't mean a lie. I do not know what they teach at The Masters Seminary, but I wrote a post called Slander or an Inconvenient Truth looking at the Biblical definition of the word, and it most definitely means a lie told in order to cause harm to another.
He then went on to tell her that Billy was also to remain quiet about what had happened to him. Please keep in mind that Billy had been treated at the Emergency Room and would continue to need medical treatment and counseling. It seems like Ken was not interested in Billy's feelings. He forcefully stated that this sort of incident could divide the church. Note that he is placing this burden for a hypothetical church division on the backs of the rape victim and his mother.
Ramey then told her that the police investigators would not look at this situation *biblically* like the church would. Ramey believed that BOTH families should be seeking forgiveness and restoration with one another. Shauna did not understand why she and Billy had to seek forgiveness because they had done nothing wrong. Also, one week after a violent rape is not the time to bring up reconciliation. What do they teach at the seminary??
Ramey told Shauna that she needed to ask Billy if he was lying about what happened and to find out if Billy felt guilty for causing any part of the incident. Shauna felt like Ramey was trying to make this into a consensual act in spite of the fact that Shauna had walked in when it was occurring. Also, Joe had threatened Billy with harm if he said anything about what happened prior to his mom arriving. Shauna became agitated by Ramey's suggestions, denying that her son had done anything wrong.
Then, Ramey issued the following orders. Since he wanted both boys and families to attend the church, he decided to have Shauna attend the first service and the other family would come to the second service. He did not give her a choice. He then said that Billy had to stay at Shauna's side at all times while at church, which meant he would not be able to attend the Youth Ministry program that he had always enjoyed. Shauna asked why her son had to stay by her side and in her sight, and Ramey said that is what he had decided and would not bend on this.
Shauna called the DA to report that Joe had come to church when her son was there and appeared to look at him threateningly. Joe's family was brought into see the judge who said that they were in violation of the Bond agreement. The church was also notified that Joe was not to be present when Billy was there. The following Sunday, Shauna was once again called into Ken's office and told to stay out of the investigation and to stop talking about this incident to others.
Shortly thereafter, Shauna was assigned a church counselor who was to support her during this time. Ramey claimed that this was Shauna's "shepherd". I plan to do a separate post on the Nouthetic counseling that Shauna received. Shauna kept a number of the notes from these sessions, and I found them quite disturbing.
A reconciliation meeting goes wrong
Billy went to California for much of the summer to attend camp with Shauna's extended family. During this time, Shauna asked Ken to set up a meeting with Joe's family to see if they could try to get along since they attended the same church. During the meeting Joe's parents berated Shauna, calling her son a liar, and saying that Billy had ruined Joe's life. Apparently, Joe wanted to be an FBI agent and now would not be able to join with this in his record.
Shauna was shocked. She responded that Billy's life had been ruined as well since he had to take medications that made him sick after the rape and that he now had frequent nightmares and needed counseling. Ken interrupted and told her to be quiet. He claimed that listening to her was not what they were here for. The meeting rapidly broke up after Ken left the room.
Shauna is ordered by the church to put Billy back into public school
What happened at this next meeting was confirmed to me by an eyewitness who for good reason must be kept anonymous. He said he was appalled at the way Shauna was treated by those present. She was in the room by herself, surrounded by the Elders. leaders and Ramey. They told her they disagreed with her decision to homeschool Billy, and they felt he should go back to public school. Shauna tried to explain that Billy was still having difficulty with excessive fear after his rape. One of the
Elders leaders (ed) told her that if he were her, he would tremble if he disobeyed the leaders. She was told that they had special insight from God.
He then threatened her by claiming that "We won't support you unless you do what we say." Shauna, fearing the loss of support from the church (many attendees had her clean their houses), decided to put Billy back in public school.
Another problem for Billy and Shauna in school
Billy was in middle school and Joe was in high school. Shauna discovered that Billy's class was brought on a field trip to the local high school that Joe attended. Billy had been fearful that he might encounter Joe since he knew this was his school. Shauna then alerted both the middle school and high school that Joe could not be on the same premises as Billy, and that was never to happen again. Shauna also notified the DA about the incident.
During this time, unbeknownst to Shauna, the school district was in the middle of an investigation as to whether it was safe to have Joe attend the high school since he could be a danger to other kids. Joe's family emailed the district that their son had been falsely accused. This was after Joe had pled guilty in court. This email was in violation of the plea deal in which Joe had to agree that he was guilty of raping Billy. The school district decided that Joe should not attend the school and, instead, a home tutor would be provided for him.
Joe's family then accused Shauna of getting their son expelled, and this false accusation made its way around the church.
More warnings and retaliation
During this time, the church hired a new youth minister. Billy was distraught that he was not allowed to attend the Youth Ministry. Shauna asked the minister if he could figure out a way to reach out to Billy since Billy was so lonely at church. Apparently, someone overheard her speaking to this minister and reported it to Ramey. Ramey confronted her and told her, point blank, to stop talking about it.
At this point, Shauna had few people to talk to at church. Her counselor, as you will see next time, was useless, spewing platitudes like "trust God".
Shauna was then removed, without notice, from her volunteer work with the Children's ministry. Her name suddenly disappeared from the assignment list. At a final meeting called by Ramey, she was accused of continuing to talk about the incident and was told that she was disobeying the leadership. In the midst of her grief, only a few months after the incident that changed their lives, Shauna resigned from the church. She was shunned by many of her former friends and slowly began to lose her clients.
An email from Ken Ramey
Do you want to understand what kind of a man Ramey is? Here is an email that Ramey sent Shauna. Thankfully, she saved much of their correspondence. I believe this email says all that I need to know about Ken Ramey. Based on this email, I would warn other to be very, very careful of associating with a church and a pastor that thinks, acts and speaks like this. If your pastor ever writes you an email to like this one, get the heck out of there. Better yet, Do. Not. Ever. Sign. A. Membership. Contract.
Ken Ramey <email@example.com> wrote:
I'm sorry I wasn't able to answer your calls or texts yesterday. I had counseling sessions all afternoon/evening. I trust you realize that you are not the only person in our church dealing with a major life crisis right now.
Based on your multiple calls and texts and this lengthy email, it appears that your thoughts and emotions are completely consumed with this crisis rather than with Christ (cf. Phil. 4:6-8; Col. 3:1-4).
You need to stop striving to fix this thing in your own strength and give it to God and let Him work it out in His way and in His time. You need to ask God for grace to rest in Him and move on (cf. Mt. 11:28-30).
I highly recommend you get a copy of the book our ladies are going through in Bible Study called Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. If you don't have a copy, I would love to provide you with one.
As for being under our authority, until you join another church, we will continue to pursue you and seek to shepherd your soul whether you want us to or not.
We love you and … [her son’s name] and while we have not handled your situation perfectly, we are doing our best to try to walk with you through this horrific trial.
Unfortunately, at this point, it seems that whatever we say and do is not enough for you.
After I spend multiple hours in person and over the phone trying to offer you help and hope, you immediately feel the need to reengage in conversation with a flurry of texts or phone calls and rehash, question, defend, correct and/or rebut everything we've just discussed. You also continue to make demands and put conditions on whether or not you will meet with me.
It's not me or our church or even the Coopers that you have an issue with. It's God and I'm praying that He will help you see that!
I would still like the opportunity to stop by and see … [her son] next week if possible.
Could you please resend me the phone number of … [her son’s] counselor? I can't find it in any of our prior texts or emails. I'd like to talk with her before I meet with … [her son].
Grace & Truth,
Lakeside Bible Church