How does Cross Walk view Psychology?
For us to have an understanding of how child abuse can be overlooked in this church which stresses ACBC counseling, we must first understand their position on Psychology. The church says this on its *hot button” page.
Psychology has no place in counseling within the church.
In that section, there is a link to their *position paper* on psychology and counseling. Warning: this is a disturbing look at psychology and one has to imagine that ACBC endorses their perspective since the church is an ACBC training center.
- We believe that the Bible is sufficient to address every behavior of man produced by desires.
- The DSM-IV (the diagnostic manual for psychology) describes depression in great detail without any proof that it is caused by a medical condition.
- It is our firm belief that behavior problems can and must be addressed with the Bible since its answers are far superior to anything that psychology can offer.
Cross Walk is listed as a member of 9 Marks.
It is obvious that this church is into pastor-centric authority and we would expect the abusive response of the church
As a neophyte *certified* ACBC counselor, Julie was confronted with a distressing situation that appears to be child abuse.
Julie gave a statement to the police in the child abuse case. The following is from that letter.
I met Lisa and Gabe Gutenberger when they started attending Cross Walk around the beginning of 2018 I believe. One of the first interactions I had with Lisa was regarding my daughter’s birthday party in May, 2018. She had invited Lisa’s daughter, Lori and Lisa asked me if Ellie and Ann were invited as well. I said they of course could come too. Lisa communicated that Ann was not allowed to come to the party because of her behavior, but the other two girls could.
Lisa left her husband and married Gabe not long after. Lisa adopted Ann and Matt. She had 4 children from her first marriage.
Julie describes her initial meeting with the Gutenbergers.
Later that year, Lisa and Gabe wanted to talk at least partly because of the issues they were having with Ann. Ann was about 12 at this time. Matt was about 14 I believe. I had recently become a biblical counselor at the church (certified with ACBC). My husband and I invited them over for dinner at our house. This took place on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. During our talk that evening. They told me that Ann lied a lot, stole things (an example was a piece of gum), and that she ate animal feed. That concerned me because they told me that she had “parasites from eating animal feed.” They said they had no idea why she would eat animal feed, but this seemed to be one of the biggest issues. They explained some of how their household operated and I remember saying that they have way too many rules, causing unnecessary power struggles.
Matt, who was older than Ann, was sent away to a Christian boarding school.
Julie did not know the reason for this. However, it appears to me that Lisa G. was not particularly enthralled with caring for Gabe G’s children. Can you imagine their sadness in losing their mother? However, it appears that Ann’s expression of this sorrow was not acceptable. Here is when knowledge of psychology would have been of help.
Anne and urination
They told Julie:
Ann had been urinating in inappropriate places.
Julie learned that both parents were glad the former wife died.
We also discussed Ann and Matt’s mother that evening and how she had died in a car accident. One or both of them said how much of a good thing it was that she died. I don’t remember the exact words they used, but it was shocking to me how emphatic they were in explaining how she was evil and that it was “the best thing that happened to him” or a “blessing” or something of that nature that she died.
Julie was told by the parents that they had been confronted by their former church over their treatment of Ann.
Lisa and Gabe told me about how it came to be that they left the old church in Shawano. The details were confusing, but they said that the pastors there confronted them about how they were treating Ann. They said that their church in Shawano threatened to take Ann away from them and that is why they sent her to live with family out of state in Iowa.
An escalation of concerning behavior by the Gutenbergers.
According to Julie:
I got a text from Lisa in the morning of Dec. 19, 2018 in which Lisa stated Ann had “escaped from her room” and was found in the root cellar “gorging” on food. Lisa told me that they had tied the door shut with a rope to keep her in her room and Ann got out. Lisa said, “I know that sounds extreme…” Lisa went on to explain what Ann was eating and she described a large amount of food including some sweets. Her focus was on how rebellious Ann was for escaping her room and eating all this food that she shouldn’t have been eating. Lisa was not asking for any advice from me regarding this matter. The tone of the conversation was one of “what else are we going to do, she’s so bad that we have to do this.”
I asked Julie if Ann was a heavy child. Julie said she was very thin and small.
Julie reported this to Pastor Pat and was told to not report this to the authorities.
Julie, clearly needing some support, went to Pastor Pat and reported what was going on. Pat should have known that it was his responsibility to report this to the authorities. Shame on him. Instead, according to Julie:
I called the senior pastor at Cross Walk Church, Patrick Ryan, right away to express my concern for Ann having been locked in her room like this. He said “we will keep our ear to the ground” but he said not to call CPS because we don’t want to scare them away and have them leave the church. He said they were skittish because of their experience at their previous church.
Julie continued in her relationship with the Gutenbergers whose behavior grew more concerning.
During one of our sessions Lisa said, “I don’t want to be told I’m Ann’s problem”. She also said she was tired of everyone (people from the other church I assumed) feeling bad for Ann just because her mom is dead. Lisa also said she didn’t want to keep hearing that Ann just needs more love. For homework at one point, I told Lisa to show Ann love in a tangible way a certain number of times that week. I gave examples of playing a game with just her, or even just touching her on the shoulder. Lisa literally shuddered and shook her head at that point and explained that that would not be something she could see herself doing.
Julie observed or learned of some concerning issues.
- Ann could not use the bathroom at home without a sibling monitoring her.
- She wasn’t allowed to go to birthday parties.
- When she did go to other gatherings, the parents or siblings would hand her food to eat,. She was not allowed to make her own selections.
- Her chores were restricted to things that don’t involve animal feed so she doesn’t eat it.
- They would not allow her to be counseled, with or without them
- They were treating Ann for *parasites,* seemingly without medical oversight or even proof she had parasites.
Pastor Pat did not appear to do much for Ann or the Gutenbergers. Julie reported the following:
- He reportedly said to Julie “I know they are mistreating her”…and then went on to say that we are not going to call because we don’t want them to leave the church.
- He said he would mandate counseling for Ann alone (without her parents) with him and another female counselor, but he never followed through
- To my knowledge, Pat never confronted Gabe or Lisa about roping Ann in her room at all.
- Pat said at an earlier time to me regarding my own personal situation, “the church is to protect people from the law.”
The Gutenbergers were arrested for child abuse in July 2020. A trial is to be held on February 4, 2021.
From First Alert WBAY: Parents, brother charged in Shawano County child abuse case
According to the criminal complaints, Child Protective Services was investigating serious allegations of child neglect and requested a deputy to be on-hand while she interviewed two children, a boy and a girl, in late June. The boy cried as he told them he was required to perform outdoor chores including cutting the lawn by hand and given little water. He said he was given punishments if he did something wrong, such as not being allowed to eat, his dad spanking him with a belt if he bent his knees while weeding the lawn.
The boy also said he was required to sleep on the floor of his bedroom even though it has a bed, and his parents installed a camera and alarm so they would know if he tried to leave his room. He wasn’t allowed to eat with the rest of the family. He says his family can’t stand him because of all his punishments.
…The health services worker described the boy as “skin and bones.
…The deputy said the girl wasn’t willing to be interviewed because she was afraid she would be punished for saying anything. In regards to punishments, she would only say that’s what happens when you live a sinful life, that sins need punishment.
… the camera in the boy’s room was still recording when the health worker and deputy came to the Gutenberger’s house.
News Break reported: Shawano Mother In Court For Alleged Child Abuse
According to the criminal complaint, two children, a 15-year-old male, and a 13-year-old female were not receiving enough food, were neglected and the boy received physical abuse as a form of discipline.
…Doctors labeled the children as malnourished and their eating abilities have been impacted. According to the report, police on the scene labeled the children as skin and bones.
…They also told police they could only use the restroom at certain times in the day and when they did, they had to go at the same time with one waiting outside the door to ensure that they went before flushing.
…All six children have been removed from the home.
Julie went to the police investigator and reported what happened while she was at Cross Walk.
I admire Julie. She takes some of the blame for this situation although I don’t believe she was properly trained by the church or the ACBC program.
I was hysterical when I first saw the news articles about the arrest. I ended up going to the police investigator in Shawano county and told them everything I knew, including how horrible it was of me to not have called CPS sooner.
People in the church reacted to the Gutenberger arrest and Pastor Pat sent out a devotional to the church on…you guessed it…slander.
Several families left the church. Here are some excerpts from Pat’s devotional on July 17, 2020. Looks like someone might be feeling the heat…
- We live in a day of instant information. We have the latest news at the tip of our fingers. It doesn’t even matter if that news is true or not, it’s available and we seem to lust for it and for more. The dissemination of information, factual or not, is an unfortunate part of our American society. We can even give the salivating world information about our own lives, sometimes in way too much detail. Very little thought is given as to the outcome or consequence of this information. Sometimes there is a great deal of thought given for the destruction of others.
- Have you ever thought about what it is that drives you to want to hear and pass on to others some juicy information about someone else? We are given to this by the corruption of the nature within us. Slander and gossip are always meant to diminish and tarnish the reputation of the person we’re talking about.
- …what is the godly response to information that we receive from others. First, cut it off before it gets told. It’s okay to be rude and cut the slanderer off. It will keep you from becoming party to the sin that accompanies their loose lips. Second, if you are witness to something that is done or said which must be addressed, go to the person yourself. Don’t go to others with the information unless you’re asking for help from a pastor on how to address this (don’t expect the pastor to do your work for you since you’re the one who witnessed it). Third, never go to the one being slandered with third hand information. Confront the one who witnessed it so that they will address it. Fourth, if you are not part of the solution, stay out of it. It doesn’t concern you
- Aren’t you thankful that God doesn’t tell others all that you’ve done? Think about how shameful you would feel if you thought that God had revealed your sin to others, and that they were telling others about your sin. God is merciful and forgiving.
I wrote a post on this subject titled Slander or an Inconvenient Truth? I believe that Pastor Pat needs to read his Bible a little more carefully. Slander is a lie, not an inconvenient or personally embarrassing truth. I believe that Julie is telling the truth and that she is telling the truth in order to bring a godly change in the church. Child abuse should always be reported to the authorities. Always…
Julie reported the 2 pastors at Cross Walk to ACBC’s Scott Stuart
She filed a formal complaint to ACBC against Pastors Pat and Tim in September 2020. She began an email correspondence with Stuart Scott at that time,
Who is Stuart Scott?
According to ACBC’s website
ACBC’s Director of Membership Services and a professor of biblical counseling at The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA.
Uh oh…given his affiliation, his response would likely be pastor-centric and it was.
Here is Julie’s report of the process
My complaint addressed the dangerous counsel I had received regarding the oppressive things happening in my marriage and how I was told not to go to authorities for violent incidents with my husband. However, my biggest concern was that Pastor Pat had told me on multiple occasions not to report to CPS the fact that we knew Ann was locked in her room with a rope tying the door shut and our other concerns about her mistreatment. I sent Stuart Scott all of the information and evidence I had to prove my case. I including emails from Pastor Tim telling me that all sin is to be dealt with within the church, phone records of when I called Pat with the information about Ann being roped in her room and more.
In early November, I hadn’t heard anything so I emailed Stuart. He told me he received a response from Pat and Tim and that they “deemed it unwise” to send it to me at that time. I guess that means it’s a secret.
Stuart said he needed more information from them.
Another month went by, and finally, Stuart emailed and told me that a committee including board representation and an ACBC lawyer established their evidence. Basically, since Cross Walk Church had it in their policies that they report to the authorities, they were not going to hold them accountable for anything. The email said this:
-“At this time, there is no viewable evidence or collaborating testimony by witnesses that can clearly establish negligence in the 2 cases brought by the complainant.”
There is more to it, but for the sake of brevity, suffice it to say that I responded to that with a lot of questions and clarifying facts. They seemed to be making light of the amount of time that had gone by before I involved CPS. So I stressed that I did not report this to CPS until TEN MONTHS LATER when I left the church in September, 2019. Ten months!
(Julie) I closed my email with this,
“Where is the concern for the ones who have been harmed in all of this? Is there no humility at all? Is there no remorse at all? Not even now that the truth of what was happening to those children has come to light? Is everyone just going to lawyer up to protect themselves? Can no one accept any responsibility at all without pushing the blame on CPS or on anyone else that they can? Because that’s all I see happening here. As Christians, isn’t it out job to protect the weak? And to expose sin? Instead, people who are hurting are silenced or not given a voice at all. People are shunned who tell the truth. They are further victimized by the very people who claim to have been placed in their position by God to help them. What a horrible representation of Jesus.
Then I sent the email to not only Stuart, but in an effort to be completely transparent, I sent it to the pastors at Cross Walk as well as the deacons and other counselors.
ACBC’s Stuart Scott blames Julie, not the pastors!
Of course I didn’t hear back from anyone from Cross Walk, but here is Stuart’s response…it’s quite interesting.
First, he quoted a bunch of their standards and policies and told me how much they represent Jesus.
Then, came this quote from their ACBC standards that Stuart included:
“If there is a claim of, the observance of, or clear reasonable cause to suspect the emotional, physical or sexual abuse of a child with whom Counselor comes into contact *or who is associated with someone to whom Counselor is in contact with,* reasonable measures may be taken to ensure the child’s protection and to fulfill the legal mandate to report such harm to the appropriate governmental protection agencies.”
This right here shows that Pastor Pat had a DIRECT responsibility to report the abuse of Ann G. to authorities according to ACBC’s own standards. I was being used as a scapegoat. They are clearly blame shifting his responsibility.
This sounds very much like a threat from ACBC’s Scott. Is this how they *support* their *certified* counselors.
Then Stuart said this in the same email:
“I think that I should also take the opportunity to be sure you are clear about reporting. You said: “I did not report this to CPS until TEN MONTHS LATER when I left the church in September, 2019.”
The underlined portion of our Standard of Conduct IX indicates that your reasoning for not reporting does go against Scripture and our Standards, which require that if any authority is telling one to go against what God requires, he or she are to “…obey God rather than man.” (Acts 5:29). Since the law requires that a counselor report a concern immediately, you were not in compliance with the laws of the state nor ACBC Standards during your time of not reporting. *I thought this would be information you would want to know for discreetness going forward.* Hopefully, (and we rather assume) this has since been clearer to you, for your protection and that of others.
I immediately felt threatened. To me, that said, “you better be silent or you will be the one in trouble.” Was Stuart really intimidating me into shutting up? Yes, I think so.
I replied one more time. I told him that I was glad he agreed that this was something that should be reported. I said I wasn’t hiding from my responsibility here and that I was looking forward to him answering the rest of my questions. There has been no reply.
There is absolutely no way that Julie received any training that would have helped her to understand the complexity of the abuse that was occurring. ACBC’s Scott should have supported Julie, not threaten her. This is deeply disturbing to me.
- Pastor Pat didn’t want to report the Gutenbergers and Scott is covering for the pastors.
- ACBC will not support their *counselors.*
- ACBC training is inadequate as I have discussed before
- ACBC does not believe in confidentiality and pastors are to be alert when there is recurrent sin which Julie did. (See the list of posts on the matter in Part 1.)
- ACBC should apologize to Julie who did her best with the poor training she received.
- The pastors would apologize to Julie for not doing their job in reporting the abuse.
- Is the media aware that this church may have covered up abuse?
- Is ACBC aware that they may also be covering up the pastors who failed to report? is the media aware of this?
- I believe that ACBC counselors are not *competent to counsel* and churches should be aware that they are delving into a murky area.
- ACBC, Master University, and 9 Marks are authority driven organizations.
- Cross Walk’s rejection of psychology is dangerous and this situation is indicative of that.
- People should not expect that ACBC training will be adequate. Never forget. ACBC has lawyers. I think their counselors should have them as well.
Let’s let Julie sum this up.
I am no longer an ACBC certified counselor. I can no longer be partners with them. (Eph. 5:7) “Therefore do not be partners with them.”
I heartily agree with her actions and the sentiment expressed.