The Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest Makes Plans for an Independent Investigation of Their Actions Surrounding Accused Predator, Mark Rivera

The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) and companion galaxy-ESA

I am a very ordinary layman of the Church of England, not especially high nor especially low not especially anything else. CS Lewis


As I often say, churches are a magnet for offenders. Why is that? Current church teaching emphasizes that good Christians shouldn’t question church leadership. This makes today’s evangelical churches virtual candy stores for predators.

  • They come because there is a trust factor surrounding those who minister in the church.
  • They come because there is an authority factor built into any office of the church as well as the volunteers of the church.
  • There is the forgiveness factor built into the system. We are supposed to forgive and forget immediately.
  • There is the *no slander*  factor built into the church. Slander is ill-defined as anything that causes the church leaders to get mad.
  • Finally, there is the witness factor which only applies to elders. 1 Timothy 5:19.

Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.

It is not that a predator comes to the church which is the problem. Many churches have a knee-jerk reaction to finding a predator in the church. They want to protect the image of the church at all costs which often means the victims get sidelined. If only churches reacted calmly and comprehensively to the fact that there is a predator in the church. Such reactions, ala Well Done, Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church! Churches: This Is How to Handle Sex Abuse Allegations, demonstrates to the world how to handle such a situation. They were calm, comprehensive, as well as having understandable anger towards the predator.

I hope that there will be many churches like Lookout Mountain.

Julie Roys and the Midwestern Anglican Organization

I received this thoughtful letter from Julie Roys. I will reprint the open letter from the diocese after her letter. As usual, Julie is a class act in responding to this matter.

Hi friends,

One of the board members of The Roys Report, Eirik Olsen, is stepping down due to a sexual abuse case he’s helping to manage in his diocese right now. You can read about it in this open letter from Eirik’s bishop.

The victims recently reached out to me, and I am so grieved over this situation. This was our family’s diocese. And because of my proximity to the church, this is not something I would consider covering. It would definitely be considered a conflict of interest.

But I have expressed my concerns to the leadership involved and have connected the victims with advocates I’m confident can help them. Eirik and I have also discussed the issue at length. And we both decided that it would be best for him to step down from the board for the time being.

I tell you this because I believe in transparency. I don’t want you to see that someone has disappeared from the board and wonder why. I want to be as upfront as I can. But again, because I can’t report on this situation, I don’t want to publicly state an opinion on what’s transpired.

Eirik remains a dear brother to me. And I have the utmost respect for Eirik’s walk with the Lord and his love for the Bride of Christ.

Please pray for The Roys Report board as we seek to find a replacement for Eirik, and to expand our board to the desired five to seven members.

Thank you for your prayers and continued support of this ministry to report the truth and restore the church. We are so grateful for all of you.

For Christ and His glory,

Julie

Bishop Stewart reports about Christ Our Light in Big Rock, Illinois, and volunteer Catechist Mark Rivera.

Here is a link to the material below. I am bolded two parts of this letter that I found interesting.

  1. Bishop Stweart admitted he could have done better initially.
  2. They have hired an independent organization to investigate the situation.

Good for  Bishop Stewart. He now gets it and is going out of his way to do the right thing. I bolded sections in the following letters.


04 May Bishop Stewart’s Letter Regarding Devastating Situation in Diocese

May 4, 2021

Dear Upper Midwest Diocese Family:

I am writing to share with you about a devastating situation that has occurred in our diocese during the last two years. We have been working toward taking the appropriate next steps, and our diocese has now signed an agreement to begin a formal investigation. We should have done this earlier, but we signed the contract last Friday, April 30 and wanted you to know as soon as that process was officially underway.

Let me begin by saying there are those who have been horribly victimized in these events. I desire to own where we have not served them as well as we should have and to care for any potential victims who may still come forward.

Two years ago, on May 20, 2019, Mark Rivera, a volunteer lay leader (with the title of Catechist) at Christ Our Light in Big Rock, Illinois, was accused of a sexual offense against a minor. Christ Our Light was part of the Greenhouse Missionary Society, which is within our diocese. When Greenhouse leadership learned of this accusation, Mark was immediately removed from his position as Catechist. On June 10, 2019, Mark was arrested and jailed in Kane County.

The congregation, which consisted of half a dozen families and some individuals, all knew of Mark’s arrest immediately. Six months later, in late 2019, Mark’s bail was paid, and he was released and placed under the supervision of the court as he awaited trial. This trial is still pending.

In November 2020, I received an email from an adult woman who accused Mark of a sexual crime. That morning I met with diocesan leaders and attorneys. I then replied to her email and assured her that we took her accusation very seriously. I urged her to go to the proper authorities with this accusation.

The next day, I learned that a third young woman had disclosed to two pastoral leaders that very day that she and Mark had engaged in a sexual relationship for several months. Because we were not clear about her age and to exercise caution, I directed these two pastoral leaders to call DCFS and the prosecutor’s office. They did so immediately. As best as these leaders could ascertain, she was a young adult when their sexual relationship began. A couple of months later, I learned of other possible minors at risk and personally called DCFS to make an additional report.

The alleged crimes occurred in a private home or on private property not on church property or at a church event, but we still want to take an active role in learning how best to ensure that something like this never happens again.

Let me say at the start that I made regrettable errors in this process. When the original allegation came out against Mark in 2019, I mistakenly assumed that the necessary criminal investigation was a sufficient next step. I thought it best to let the county district attorney’s office lead a thorough investigation resulting in a clear ruling. I anticipated that after this process we would inform the diocese of the court’s ruling. I naively expected the trial to occur much sooner than it has. 

I have since learned otherwise, in part through conversations with one of the victims. I now understand that when an accusation of this gravity occurs, and when an arrest is made, a safe opportunity for other possible victims to come forward must be created. I apologize for this, dear family of God. We would have cared better for the victims had we hired a firm earlier. My mistake accounts for the significant gap in time between Mark being accused of an offense and this communication to you.

I have always sought the counsel of diocesan leaders and attorneys, and yet I take responsibility for these decisions. Other oversights will likely surface as we go through this process, and we as a diocese will seek to be as transparent as possible.

I have been keeping my superior, Archbishop Foley Beach, apprised of the situation. I have done the same with the Bishop’s Council of the Upper Midwest Diocese and Church of the Resurrection’s Vestry. They are highly supportive of all the decisions described in this letter.

After intensive interviewing and research of seven firms, the diocesan Bishop’s Council and I are grateful to announce that we signed a contract with a highly reputable firm with experience in such investigations, Grand River Solutions, last Friday. 

Our intent in hiring an investigator is not to protect our diocese but to help us accomplish three main goals:
1) to reach out to any other possible victims and make sure they are cared for,
2) to learn how we could have handled these allegations better, and
3) to build better systems for the future so that the diocese is as safe a place as possible.

As we work with this investigative firm, one of our first actions will be communicating how other possible victims or their parents can find help. We desire to help spur truth, justice, and healing throughout our diocese. I can appreciate that this letter may raise many questions for you; please know that we will be communicating from the diocese as we work with the investigator. We anticipate there are details that we do not know or have as inaccurate and these adaptations will be a part of future communications.

Mark attended the Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton from the mid-nineties until Christ Our Light was founded in 2013. The only information we have regarding Mark’s involvement with our children or youth was as a youth volunteer for one summer. He also served as a prayer minister. Mark has never held a paid position of any kind in our diocese. We look forward to working with the investigators to confirm or contradict these details.

If you or someone you know may have been harmed by Mark, we encourage you to contact the independent investigating firm at Reports@GrandRiverSolutions.com to make a confidential and safe inquiry. If you have general questions or concerns, please email office@midwestanglican.org.

Let me also say that I am heartbroken. Katherine and I have known all the families involved for years. Our diocese and churches have sought to provide care for the victims and their families, and moving forward, we will do our utmost to support them. We also continue to offer Mark and his family care if they desire to engage with our diocesan processes.

I ask for your prayers as we proceed. Please pray for the families involved. Please pray that justice will be done in the trial. Please pray for our independent investigation and the aforementioned goals.

May the Lord lead us in the days ahead as we seek his kingdom. Let us ask him to redeem this time to help us build a stronger Church together.

Yours in Christ,
+Stewart Upper Midwest


Bishop Stewart wrote in an update on 6/29/21

It is apparent to me that Bishop Stewart is being quite transparent. He reiterates his apology and appears to desire to do the right thing for the victims.


Beloved Upper Midwest Diocese:

I am writing to give you an update on the ongoing independent investigation that I announced to you in this pastoral letter several weeks ago about a heartbreaking situation in one of our former congregations in Big Rock, Illinois.

As some of you may be aware, one of the survivors recently spoke about this on social media, identifying herself as a victim of sexual violence and raising important questions and concerns about the diocese’s investigative process related to Mark Rivera.

Let me first say that I and our diocesan leadership continue to be deeply grieved and disturbed that anyone within our diocesan community has been victimized. This is an extremely painful, traumatic experience. We long for our diocese to be a place of true safety for all.

Not only that, but we are committed to responding to any allegations of abuse within any of our churches in a forthright, godly manner that involves the proper authorities, holds leaders accountable, and protects and honors victims. To that end, we started a process of researching independent review firms in January.

My goal in this letter is transparency: about our decisions, our processes, and my commitment to learn from my mistakes as a leader.

Let me speak to the independent review. As you know, the diocese has contracted with an independent firm, Grand River Solutions (GRS), and asked them to carry out a thorough review. After researching and interviewing seven different firms, our diocesan leadership team appointed a leader to select one of these firms. This leader chose GRS for its responsiveness, past work with victims, and professional reputation. I was asked to step aside from this important decision to avoid any conflict of interest.

I want to speak to the concerns that have been raised about the firm’s process, concerns that I can imagine some of you may share.

First, the full report will be made public and will protect victim identities. Our intention in hiring GRS has always been transparency and we plan on a full public release of the report in keeping with that intent. We seek to walk in the light.

Second, our agreement with the investigative firm is that the diocese will not assert any privilege over the report nor make any edits to it. 

Third, the scope of the investigation is diocesan-wide and will include any shortcomings of the diocese.

Brothers and sisters, the primary goal is to provide a safe opportunity for any other victims to come forward. We also desire to understand how the church made mistakes and to take responsibility. Finally, GRS will evaluate all our safety practices and make recommendations as to how those practices can be improved. 

I want to reiterate what I said several weeks ago, that I deeply apologize for not notifying the diocese earlier of the abuse that took place. I mistakenly assumed that the legal system would bring about justice much faster. I was ignorant of the additional steps we should have taken to create a safe haven for victims to come forward. I am very sorry for this.

That said, I am grateful for the immediate steps that were taken. Mark was removed from his lay leadership position at Christ Our Light Anglican in Big Rock, and the church was made aware of the accusations. Local authorities were immediately contacted on multiple occasions with new information and safety concerns. We have sought and continue to seek to care for victims.

Like many of you, I was very concerned by some of the claims made about our care. This is precisely why we think it is so important to submit ourselves to a third-party investigation.

I look forward to a broad investigation that will reveal how we can improve. We desire truth and submit ourselves to this process. We are open to the findings and their applications, striving to learn how to prevent such abuse in the future as well as the best way to provide a clear and safe process for victims to come forward.

We as a diocese will continue to provide updates on this process. Due to the current proceedings of both the criminal investigation and independent review, there may be some details that I am unable to comment upon until the final report is released, but I will strive to share as much as I am able.

If you or someone you know may have been harmed by Mark, or if you have any concerns or information connected to this investigation, we encourage you to contact the independent firm at Reports@GrandRiverSolutions.com to make a confidential and safe inquiry. If you have general questions or concerns, please email office@midwestanglican.org.

With much love,


I would like to see if you agree with me. I believe that the Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest’s Bishop Stewart appears to be doing the right thing. I also appreciate his heartfelt apology. Special thanks to Julie Roys for alerting us to this sad situation.

Comments

The Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest Makes Plans for an Independent Investigation of Their Actions Surrounding Accused Predator, Mark Rivera — 115 Comments

  1. Disclosure: I go to an ACNA church in this dioceses.

    Overall I’m happy that the report will be released, although I’m sorry it took this long and there were repeated requests for it to happen (although I guess it’s possible this was always the plan — just not communicated well). And while I’m sorry it took 2 years for the leaders to tell other churches about this abuser, I am pleased they are seemingly learning from their mistakes and want to prevent it again. I’m also pleased to see they want to be open, even if it took them awhile to get there. I’m also pleased there’s a sense that the Bishop wants to own his mistakes.

    That said, don’t just feel sorry that this happened — I’m angry. Angry a woman was raped and a child was abused by one of our Catechists. I’m angry there still isn’t a trial 2 years later. I’m angry to hear some people in our churches were in disbelief for so long. I’m angry that it appears our leaders were so naive, even if they seem to be catching on.

    I pray for healing and justice for those abused and wisdom for the leaders, and I pray the leaders own these mistakes and do not circle the wagons like so many have in the past.

  2. DavidP,

    Thank you for sharing your insights.

    If you don’t mind… would you please take a look at the list of reasons why predators are drawn to churches, shown at the top of the post, and let us know if you think it applies in ACNA? (Trust, authority, forgiveness, no slander, and witnesses.) My impression is that these are cultural attributes more associated with fundamentalist and evangelical churches than with Anglicanism. I would welcome any insights, as all congregations ought to understand their vulnerabilities.

  3. Friend,

    Excellent questions. Thx for asking. Looking forward to reading responses.

    It’s full disclosure (as opposed to NDAs) and complete transparency (as opposed to “hush, hush”, “touch not the anointed”, and “thou shalt not gossip” truth, that will send predators looking for new hunting grounds.

  4. Curious…
    I have not thought of Julie Roys as being Evangelical and the comment seems to agree that Anglicans are not Evangelical.
    So what are they?
    If Anglicanism is not Evangelical, then what is it? Would liturgical fit its cultural description?
    The analogy might be ‘Evangelical is to Protestantism as Liturgical is to Anglicanism’.

  5. I was a little surprised that the Diocese did not have a plan in place for this situation, twenty years after the Catholic Church went through it (and continues to do so) all over the national and international news. I wonder if this suggests that the leadership believed priestly celibacy was the causative factor, and that married men or men with the opportunity to marry would never be sexual abusers.

  6. DavidP,

    Why do people think anger is a good response? Humans can’t be trusted to be angry without falling into sin. In fact the only righteous anger recorded in Scripture is that of God. Read the article referred to in the next para before giving an off-the-cuff reaction.
    Grief and sadness are the appropriate responses to this and other tragedies.
    I’m fairly sure Dee doesn’t want us to link to articles, but if you look up Jeff Gibbs and The Myth of Righteous Anger (Concordia Theology), I think you will be blessed. He is a LCMS pastor and professor.

  7. Cynthia W.:
    I was a little surprised that the Diocese did not have a plan in place for this situation, twenty years after the Catholic Church went through it (and continues to do so) all over the national and international news.I wonder if this suggests that the leadership believed priestly celibacy was the causative factor, and that married men or men with the opportunity to marry would never be sexual abusers.

    If you are referring to this post, it’s not about a Roman Catholic diocese. It’s about a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America, or ACNA. This group was founded in 2009 upon splitting off from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

    ACNA priests can marry (and in some ACNA dioceses, women can be ordained). So celibacy is not an easily available excuse for abuse. The newness of ACNA might explain some things, but their founding clergy did come from an existing denomination, and should have known the need for prevention and resolution.

    Bishop Stewart Ruch is married and the father of six children.

  8. Godith: Humans can’t be trusted to be angry without falling into sin. In fact the only righteous anger recorded in Scripture is that of God. … Grief and sadness are the appropriate responses to this and other tragedies.

    This is a damaging and highly questionable viewpoint. Anger is a natural and indeed appropriate reaction to sexual abuse and many other crimes and injustices.

    Of course, people need to control their behavior and take constructive action instead of ranting and raving. But please do not suggest that a Christian who has been assaulted, robbed, or deceived is not permitted to get angry about it. The denial of anger can harm victims further. The denial of anger is also convenient for predators and for church leaders inclined to cover things up… especially if they, as “men of God,” have a monopoly on anger in the church.

  9. Godith: Why do people think anger is a good response? Humans can’t be trusted to be angry without falling into sin. In fact the only righteous anger recorded in Scripture is that of God. Read the article referred to in the next para before giving an off-the-cuff reaction.
    Grief and sadness are the appropriate responses to this and other tragedies.

    So God can get brassed a la various old testament stories and exterminate everyone in floods, plagues, incineration and genocide. Jesus can turn over tables of merchants. Heck even Noah got brassed and cursed the descendants of his son after getting drunk without clothes but no one can get angry when predators are found in church?

    I think this philosophy shines light on some causes of the problem.

    Culture of compliance.

  10. When it comes to sexual abuse in church, the legal system may drag its feet in bringing an abuser to justice but the Church of the Living God should be swift and direct to inform and protect the Body of Christ.

  11. Max,
    “The Church of the Living God” is ALWAYS on the side of the abuser.
    Just ask Boz T; in all his years as a prosecutor specializing in child sexual abuse, he NEVER saw a church side with the victim, only “RALLY ROUND THE PERV, BOYS! GOD SAITH!”

  12. Jack: I think this philosophy shines light on some causes of the problem.

    Culture of compliance.

    “Say Sweet… Stay Sweet… Stay Sweet…”

  13. Cynthia W.: I was a little surprised that the Diocese did not have a plan in place for this situation, twenty years after the Catholic Church went through it (and continues to do so) all over the national and international news.

    Like so many non-liturgical Protestants, the Anglicans probably also had the attitude “Those Were ROMISH Papists. IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE.”

  14. Friend: This is a damaging and highly questionable viewpoint. Anger is a natural and indeed appropriate reaction to sexual abuse and many other crimes and injustices.

    It’s “Godith” being Godith.

    Any handle with “God” in the name (or anything that sounds “More Godly/Devout Than Thou” should be a warning flag.

  15. Friend,

    I simply don’t agree with you. Outrage culture and anger are contagious, as are all emotions. Not buying into the human anger/outrage does nothing to lessen one’s objections to evil. Maybe you’ve read the article. If not, please do; it’s very enlightening.

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy: “The Church of the Living God” is ALWAYS on the side of the abuser.

    Well, I would like to say that I disagree … but we certainly have seen several instances where the abuser received the benefit of the doubt at the expense of victims.

  17. Kristy,

    Hey, could you do us a favor? Pick one name that you want to use. When you change your name, it gets held and we have to approve it.

  18. To answer your question:
    Anglicanism and Lutheranism does not consider itself as part of the ill-define evangelical movement. Liturgical works.

    However, we are told to tell the gospel to our neighbors and friends which means we have evangelical characteristics.

    However, let’s say I visited a church that considered itself evangelical. I do not agree and even I’m concerned that many evangelical churches preach a false gospel. Take Robert Morris or even Mark Driscoll.

    The Internet Monk used to say that we live in a post-evangelical wilderness. I concur.

  19. dee,

    The above comment is supposed to be directed at Kristy. To add to what you said, liturgical works for Lutherans. I would not be surprised that Anglicans would say the same thing.

  20. DavidP: That said, don’t just feel sorry that this happened — I’m angry. Angry a woman was raped and a child was abused by one of our Catechists. I’m angry there still isn’t a trial 2 years later. I’m angry to hear some people in our churches were in disbelief for so long. I’m angry that it appears our leaders were so naive, even if they seem to be catching on.

    This story reminds me of Paul Warren serving as a PCA pastors for years after being discovered that he had abused kids as a youth worker. Thank you.

  21. Friend,

    Great question. I would love to hear the answer. Sometimes, they just go where the kids are. Take youth sports which is dealing with their own crisis of abuse.

  22. Cynthia W.: I was a little surprised that the Diocese did not have a plan in place for this situation, twenty years after the Catholic Church went through it (and continues to do so) all over the national and international news. I wonder if this suggests that the leadership believed priestly celibacy was the causative factor, and that married men or men with the opportunity to marry would never be sexual abusers.

    Way too many Protestant churches believed that lie.

  23. Godith: I’m fairly sure Dee doesn’t want us to link to articles, but if you look up Jeff Gibbs and The Myth of Righteous Anger (Concordia Theology), I think you will be blessed. He is a LCMS pastor and professor.

    I do allow links unless…well use your imagination. Please link to that article.

  24. Friend,

    I understood that it was an Anglican Diocese with married clergy. That was why I suggested a reason why they were not fully prepared for a sexual abuse event.

    The Catholic Church now has in place nationwide mandatory procedures in the case of any accusation (clergy or laity, male or female, youth or adult), which is not the case for this Anglican Diocese, according to the Bishop.

  25. Thanks for highlighting Bishop Stewart’s letters and the diocese’s response and plan. So few handle this well, I think it’s great to point out someone who is handling it well.

    In particular it’s great to see such humility (willingness to own mistakes and confess ways they could have done better / need to improve) and transparency. So few organizations commit in advance to release the full investigative report, unedited. So few organizations pick an investigator whose focus is on the victims and uncovering the truth. He even says explicitly “Our intent in hiring an investigator is not to protect our diocese”… which is exactly how some organizations make their choice.

    Well done.

  26. Godith,

    Unfortunately I can’t read the article because you need a subscription but here’s a summary

    “It is hard not to draw the conclusion that we live in a society that is characterized by constant anger and outrage. While it may not be unique to our current age, what is new is the way in which social media has provided a megaphone for expressing our anger, often to shame others into thinking and acting in ways we find acceptable. Of course, Christians are not immune either to feelings of anger (in so far as we are shaped by original sin) or the use of social media to express our outrage (in so far as we are shaped by our culture). But Christians are perhaps more susceptible to justifying their anger as a kind of “righteous anger,” which makes it, somehow, okay. In light of hearing the phrase “righteous anger” on more than one occasion, Dr. Gibbs decided to explore whether such a concept exists in the New Testament. Thus, he examines several passages that are often used as warrants for “righteous anger,” and concludes that the notion of “righteous anger” does not exist. It is a myth.”

    From this I get the idea that Gibbs is talking about the “holier than thou” language that folks use. That Christians should be outraged by everything from same sex marriage to Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies.

    The outrage expressed by Dave and others is not “righteous” in this sense. It is a call to action within christianity to do better to support victims of abuse.

    It’s an acknowledgement of wrongness and a call to justice. Without this kind of anger then nothing gets done.

    It is this anger that drives the civil rights movement, that ended slavery, that has called totalitarian regimes to account.

    It isn’t perfect. Nothing is and without support, some victims anger leads down dark roads of self destruction.

    Abuse victims need to know that anger is ok. That we are angry with them.

    Unfortunately it is only with anger that leaders will take any action.

  27. Godith,

    “I’m pretty sure the author is more informed than you are.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    informed doesn’t mean correct or even sensible.

    a difference in perspective / viewpoint is the deal here.

  28. dee: Way too many Protestant churches believed that lie.

    It became a not-really-funny trope for Catholics: “If only (Baptist ministers, public school teachers, football coaches, doctors, yadda yadda) were allowed to get married, this would never have happened!”

    An abuser is an abuser because that is his or her nature, not because he or she doesn’t have other opportunities for sex.

  29. Cynthia W.,

    Thanks. I’ll add that every single congregation and denomination is highly aware of church abuse, and there is no excuse for any of them to lack safeguards.

  30. Jack: Abuse victims need to know that anger is ok.

    “Be angry at sin — at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior” (Ephesians 4:26 AMP)

  31. Max: “Be angry at sin — at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior” (Ephesians 4:26 AMP)

    Thanks, Max. The AMP I found was a little longer: “BE ANGRY [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], YET DO NOT SIN; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down. And do not give the devil an opportunity [to lead you into sin by holding a grudge, or nurturing anger, or harboring resentment, or cultivating bitterness].”

    The NRSV says, “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

    When a loved one was scammed out of a month’s earnings, anger came in handy as a replacement for depression, helplessness, and self loathing. The victim needed to blame the thief, not herself. Like a jolt of adrenaline, anger helped us swiftly collaborate to stop the damage and report it. We behaved politely… of course.

  32. Pingback: Anglican Diocese Now Seeks Long Delayed Transparency, Accountability for Arrested Lay Leader – Ministry Watch

  33. Friend: “BE ANGRY … YET DO NOT SIN” (Ephesians 4:26-27)

    It’s clear in the context of that whole passage that anger is a natural emotion when we or others we know and love are wronged. The emphasis at the end of the passage brings anger (of the Godly sort) into perspective by warning us against “holding a grudge, or nurturing anger, or harboring resentment, or cultivating bitterness” lest those emotions become in themselves sin. During my long church journey, I confess that I have felt like losing my Christianity just long enough to beat the snot out of certain church folks.

  34. Friend: Like a jolt of adrenaline, anger helped us swiftly collaborate to stop the damage and report it. We behaved politely… of course.

    I’m not a fan of “The Message” Bible version, but it does put an interesting spin on Ephesians 4:26-27:

    “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry — but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”

  35. Max: “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry — but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”

    I interpret this to not let anger immobilize you. Don’t turn hate inward on yourself but turn anger into meaningful action.

    Don’t let revenge be the prime mover but justice. And think out every action with coolness not heat.

  36. Jack,

    I agree with what you have written. However, high-demand churches teach people to fear their emotions; and the process toward justice will have emotional highs and lows, because evil is upsetting.

    Christians like me were taught that thoughts and feelings are even worse than actions. This is the warped teaching associated with “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” and other proof texts. In fact, God appreciates it when we don’t carry out our impulse to stone people.

    Women are doubly taught to mistrust themselves and their emotions, as in Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Our youth group was instructed that all women are deceitful and vain. We constantly questioned ourselves.

    What a sad waste of good-hearted Christians.

  37. Friend: What a sad waste of good-hearted Christians.

    Yes it is.
    And they’ll (the high demanders) turn right around and say that you have no ‘good’ in you, using Romans 7:18 as a nuclear device proof-text.

  38. Godith: Why do people think anger is a good response? Humans can’t be trusted to be angry without falling into sin. In fact the only righteous anger recorded in Scripture is that of God.

    So when Paul told the Galatians (Ch 5) that he would rather certain folks “go the whole way” and emasculate themselves rather than preach a message of circumcision he was… what, exactly? Winsomely bemused?

  39. Friend: Women are doubly taught to mistrust themselves and their emotions, as in Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Our youth group was instructed that all women are deceitful and vain.

    Probably preaching to the choir, but this kind of stuff drives me nuts, having also been on the receiving end as a teen.

    Proverbs also personifies wisdom as a WOMAN, people. And the “fool” as a man. But we don’t hear any sermons about THAT, do we?

  40. Friend,

    The ACNA (and the global Anglican church for that matter) is pretty wide and varied. Some parts are basically “free churches” (think Baptist/Vineyard), and some are very Catholic-feeling in their practice. It can depend.

    I can speak for only my small experience, and the points Dee writes at the top are good. It’d be naive to think the Anglican church is immune from this. The Catholics still have a rampant abuse problem as well, and they’re rarely fundamentalist and/or independent from oversight. As with most churches (and other organizations for that matter), some will attract one type and not another: Want to be bestowed with power over a church with zero questions asked? Probably don’t go to the Anglicans. OTOH, want to slip into a small organization looking for helpers? The ACNA might be more vulnerable there since it has many smaller churches.

    As others have said, abusers look to abuse. Pray for wisdom and maturity for leaders in our churches and justice for those who have been abused.

  41. Friend: Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Our youth group was instructed that all women are deceitful and vain. We constantly questioned ourselves.

    Basic English reading comprehension fail, on the part of whoever was interpreting Proverbs 31:30 for your youth group.

    I consider Proverbs 31 to be a “burden hard to bear” put on the shoulders of Christian women, and nobody “in authority” lifts a finger to help. Do they even realize that the woman described is a prospective mother-in-law’s fantasy of her son’s prospective bride, *not a real person who exists*?

  42. Max,

    Read the entire context, not the partial “entire context.” See Ephesians 4:31. “Let all bitterness, wrath, and anger be put away…”

  43. Godith: “Let all bitterness, wrath, and anger be put away…”

    IMO, Paul is stressing the right balance of our emotions in this passage. Christians can be angry, but “sin” not. He concludes by instructing believers that they were not to harbor those emotions in their spirit … to be angry but not live in anger. It’s hard to know that a child has been abused by a church leader without experiencing anger … but there is a time for that anger to be put away.

  44. Wild Honey: So when Paul told the Galatians (Ch 5) that he would rather certain folks “go the whole way” and emasculate themselves rather than preach a message of circumcision he was… what, exactly?

    He was demonstrating his black belt in Snrak.
    I read that passage in a “what” are these guys using for Reality?????” tone.

    This is the REAL Bible, filtered through human agency, with all that implies. NOT the stilted “Biblical” vocabulary and speech patterns of the Resurrected in Left Behind: Volume 13.

  45. Wild Honey,

    People don’t like giving up anger. It’s like giving up guns for 2nd amendment folk.
    I think we must conform our behavior to the Bible. Not the other way around.

  46. This article is misleading and inaccurate. The Diocese of the Upper Midwest is not “making plans” to launch an investigation – they hired this firm in April and the investigation is a complete sham. You are directly harming victims with this misleading blog post. Please correct this or take it down altogether. This is not a case of a church leader responding the right way – you are sadly and dangerously mistaken and are supporting another powerful church organization that is trying to avoid responsibility and accountability. Why would you not consult with the victims before publishing this post?

  47. Godith: I think we must conform our behavior to the Bible. Not the other way around

    So do we follow Leviticus to the letter? Who decides to execute whom? God told us this was “law”. Jesus said he did not come to change of the law.

    Women should be silent in church or have their heads shaved. Sounds like a lot of women in this forum should be sporting a Sinead O’Connor look!

    Open question. Anyone is free to answer. Because I’ve got a million of them!

  48. Jack,
    Assuming those are not rhetorical questions: we follow the moral law, not the ceremonial or the civil law of the Old Testament. Right, Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it. No more lambs slaughtered, Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, the One to whom the ceremonies pointed to.
    I, like C.S.Lewis, do not believe in priestesses. I believe spiritual leadership is done by qualified men (not just any men). I believe the use of head coverings for women had to do with the culture of the time. I think the underlying principle applies that men exercise spiritual leadership. I think women can speak in the church, but not teach the congregation.

  49. Bob,

    Please help me to find a victim who will speak with me. I would be more than willing to change the post if someone would speak with me and tell me what transpired.

  50. Wild Honey: Proverbs also personifies wisdom as a WOMAN, people. And the “fool” as a man. But we don’t hear any sermons about THAT, do we?

    Of course not, it would compromise their ideology about what they want to claim that the Bible ‘teaches’.

  51. dee: Please help me to find a victim who will speak with me. I would be more than willing to change the post if someone would speak with me and tell me what transpired.

    Thx, Dee.

    Victims are survivors are witnesses.
    A witness is a notary is a testifier is a corroborator.
    A corroborator gives a deposition which is presented as evidence.
    It’s how the community knows what is happening in their community.
    A witness has power.

    Victims may hesitate to come forward. However, when they do, they present evidence. Powerful. Solid. Concrete. Living testimony.

    Where there are no victims, there is no evidence. Equally powerful. Empty. Nothing.

  52. ION: Fitba’

    Italian Wartburgers will be celebrating their winning the (plague-delayed) Euro 2020 title tonight, beating Belgium 2-1 in the de facto final. Tournament formalities mean that the Italian team will be presented with the trophy in 9 days’ time at the end of what amounts to an exhibition game against whoever emerges from the other half of the draw (most likely Denmark).

    IHTIH

  53. dee:
    Bob,

    Please help me to find a victim who will speak with me. I would be more than willing to change the post if someone would speak with me and tell me what transpired.

    Dee, a victim emailed you directly two ago and you did not respond to her. She is exhausted and is too busy to talk directly right now, but she directed you to her latest twitter post that paints a very different (and more accurate) picture than you have done here.

  54. Bob,

    I received an email from someone who claims she is too tired to tell me anything at this time. I don’t know her and I feel very badly for her but I can’t get an accurate picture of what is happening from Twitter. Would she give you permission to tell her story? If she would I would be happy to do a new post about what happened.I rarely post anything from a victim with whom I haven’t spoken or exchanged emails or even Tweets.
    I am more than willing to help but this seems a bit confusing to me. Maybe you could be the go-between? Let me know and we can speak ASAP.

  55. “I feel very badly for her but I can’t get an accurate picture of what is happening from Twitter”

    Dee, this is the issue. You posted this blog without having an accurate picture of what is happening and we have told you so. The victim should not need to tell you her story directly for you to correct comments like,

    “Good for Bishop Stewart. He now gets it and is going out of his way to do the right thing.”

    I’m not sure how you expect the victim to trust you with her story when you publically applauded the bishop prematurely and have not corrected this, even after being told that the victims disagree strongly with you.

  56. Mr. Jesperson: The Boy Scouts have filed bankruptcy and their membership is shrinking fast all because of molestation charges

    Much of the American church will follow suit in coming years once the word is out about perverts finding safe haven in it.

    I was a Boy Scout in the 1950s. I never once suspected any leader of messing with scouts. I was in a rough troop of mean rag-tag boys; if a leader tried anything like that, we would have beat the living daylights out of him! (church members might consider doing the same thing)

  57. Bob,

    I don’t know what happened. I have not spoken or corresponded with a victim who will tell me their story. Now, perhaps you are a victim. If so, could you please tell me what happened. If not, can you tell me what happened. I know you are angry. I’m just trying to figure out what happened. This is the first time Ive ever been asked to tell a story without fully understanding what the story is. You are asking me to do the same thing you rail against.

    I understand that you are angry but I need to speak with a victim. If that is not sufficient, then maybe I’m not the right person to write the story.

  58. Bob,

    This is what I said.” I believe that the Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest’s Bishop Stewart appears to be doing the right thing.” Note the word *appears.* That word hedges what I am saying. I need to find out what happened.However, if the victims can’t trust me, I hope they can find someone who they can trust.

  59. dee: I don’t know what happened. I have not spoken or corresponded with a victim who will tell me their story….I know you are angry. I’m just trying to figure out what happened. This is the first time Ive ever been asked to tell a story without fully understanding what the story is. You are asking me to do the same thing you rail against.

    I understand that you are angry but I need to speak with a victim.

    That.

    dee: This is what I said.” I believe that the Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest’s Bishop Stewart appears to be doing the right thing.” Note the word *appears.*….I need to find out what happened.

    That.

  60. Hi Dee,

    Just to clarify, the victim is not asking you to tell her story, nor am I. That was never once something either of us asked for. She does not have time to talk with you to share her story right now, nor does she feel there is reason to entrust you with that story.

    I simply told you that your title is factually incorrect and that your personal comments and assertions are sadly very wrong and are harming victims.

    “Good for Bishop Stewart. He now gets it and is going out of his way to do the right thing.”

    We have told you the above assertion is false. I have asked you to amend these comments. I know you to be a strong and fierce advocate for those who have not had a voice and I wish you all the best.

  61. Bob,

    Forgive me for stepping into a tender and painful subject. (I write as someone who was victimized at church youth group.)

    As a long-term reader of TWW, I too would like to know what facts you believe are incorrect in Dee’s post. It is not enough to say Dee is “wrong” and “harming victims.”

    You might not realize this: people who side with abusive church leaders sometimes post comments that Dee doesn’t have the whole picture and is thus not qualified to write about it. Such commenters do not provide details; they simply challenge Dee’s credibility.

    You are coming from the opposite direction, attempting to protect victims. Your motives might very well be pure. Still, to tell any story, Dee really does need facts or well-founded assertions. We all do.

  62. Bob,

    Please read the comment before mine. I frequently have people telling me that something I said is wrong. I don’t want to write something that is factually incorrect I don’t know you. I don’t understand the story of the victim. I’m sure it’s horrific but I need a few facts. Who are you? How do you know this post is incorrect? You get my drift.

    I want to be of assistance to victims and I am feeling quite frustrated at this point. Please help me to do this correctly. Contact me: dee@thewartburgwatch and give me some facts. Please put the Anglican situation in the subject. I will be around during the day tomorrow. I am so sorry for those who have been harmed.

  63. Hi Dee and Bob,

    Perhaps I can be of some help? Dee, at this point have you been able to review the three main threads that victim named Joanna Laurel (@ladyjessicahaze) on Twitter has posted? There are extensive details contained there, as well as screenshots that help support her case for why and how the Bishop and the Diocese dropped the ball. I read the two letters similarly to you initially, thinking they seemed to acknowledge the grievous situation at hand as well as the errors made, and felt that (all things considered) things were being handled appropriately. After reading through her Twitter threads though, I think MUCH to the contrary.

    Once you have time to read them, please let respond if you need further particulars in order to write a new or updated post. (I mean that sincerely – I’m not sure if there are specific types of evidence you need beyond what is provided in her threads, which seem more than adequate since they include screenshots…).

    https://twitter.com/ladyjessicahaze/status/1408916453848346629
    https://twitter.com/ladyjessicahaze/status/1410310629831884801
    https://twitter.com/ladyjessicahaze/status/1411369294932287490

    I’ll also note, for context’s sake, that I attended Church of the Resurrection for 20 years before leaving.

  64. Kate: Perhaps I can be of some help? Dee, at this point have you been able to review the three main threads that victim named Joanna Laurel (@ladyjessicahaze) on Twitter has posted? There are extensive details contained there, as well as screenshots that help support her case for why and how the Bishop and the Diocese dropped the ball. I read the two letters similarly to you initially, thinking they seemed to acknowledge the grievous situation at hand as well as the errors made, and felt that (all things considered) things were being handled appropriately. After reading through her Twitter threads though, I think MUCH to the contrary.

    Once you have time to read them, please let respond if you need further particulars in order to write a new or updated post. (I mean that sincerely – I’m not sure if there are specific types of evidence you need beyond what is provided in her threads, which seem more than adequate since they include screenshots…).

    https://twitter.com/ladyjessicahaze/status/1408916453848346629
    https://twitter.com/ladyjessicahaze/status/1410310629831884801
    https://twitter.com/ladyjessicahaze/status/1411369294932287490

    I’ll also note, for context’s sake, that I attended Church of the Resurrection for 20 years before leaving.

    Kate,

    Thank you for your entire comment (which is why I quoted all of it, rather than cherry-pick). I read through the Twitter threads in the links you provided, read all the screenshots included in the threads as I read, and, using the information included in one of the screenshots, found some (what appear to be excellent) resources I plan to research further (though not because I personally need them).

    After reading through everything, all I can say is WOW….words fail me in trying to express, well, everything.

    As I read through the Twitter threads, I thought of the time, care, effort, and energy it must have taken to create the Twitter threads. I thought of all the documentation behind all the screenshots (documentation that seems to have been treated cavalierly by the “church”). I thought of how I would have printed off all the documentation and lovingly read through and researched every piece.

    (And as I read, I was reminded – in a positive sense – of the kinds of posts written by Todd Wilhelm.)

  65. Kate’s comment on July 5 is excellent, and points to some real problems with the narrative told by Stewart Ruch, Julie Roys, and Church of the Resurrection. A few key points:
    1. I have know Church of the Rez culture for more than a decade. It is an interesting hybrid of Anglican liturgy with neo-commplementarianism that teaches male headship, leadership, and that women experience full humanity and flourishing through having lots of children and homeschooling. Traditional birth control is taught against. Sermons are preached against fathers who stay home with their kids and their lack of full masculinity is proclaimed from the pulpit. (There is nothing wrong with having kids or homeschooling – I have done both! – but there is a HUGE problem with tying this to idea Christian femininity and discipleship.) The gender theology at Church of the Rez is toxic and is causing problems locally. Ruch has no trouble naming the local Christian teachers who he sees as problematic, telling the Rez college students to steer clear of female theology professors at local colleges. I see firsthand the effects of the church’s gender theology on local families. There is a certain sort of male Rez member that local evangelical women are all too familiar with (dismissive of women, members of the good ole middle aged boys club, and so on). 2. This church has a problem with how it talks about Christian masculinity and what sort of behavior it tolerates. The men are kings of their homes, rarely helping with housework, childcare, or schooling while expecting their wives to manage all that with huge families. This is causing real pain and exhaustion for Rez women and teenage girls.
    3. The disgraced former chaplain at Wheaton College, who was fired for sexual harassment, was supported by Church of the Rez and its members in really destructive ways that made clear female whistle blowers will be publicly maligned and cast out of the community. It is not surprising that they are handling this Rivera situation given their track record with how they treated those women who spoke up in the past about other mistreatment.
    4. I have a lot of questions about Julie Roys’ lack of curiousity or public accountability for Stewart Ruch, Tim Blackmon, her church. I know Julie takes very seriously her current project of revealing evangelical corruption and abuses of power in the church, and she has done some good work. Why didn’t she disclose earlier her connection to Church of the Resurrection while writitng about Blackmon’s Title IX violations last summer (she wrote multiple posts before disclosing it in a postscript sort of a way, and she relied on Ruch as an authority for Blackmon’s character)? Why hasn’t she held her own church to the same standards she has held Willow, Harvest, and others? She is strangely quiet on this matter and could assign the investigative reporting to
    5. Held to the same standard as Willow and Harvest, Stewart Ruch and Church of the Rez are egregiously mistreating victims of violent sexual acts and aiding and abetting a culture where a serial predator went unchecked for a suspiciously long time. I am saddened and sickened over this, but I am not surprised. A church with a cult-like admiration of their pastor and these teachings on women as chiefly child-bearers and keepers of the home are going to create the preconditions needed for sexual abuse. God, protect the women and children in our Christian communities from this evil. God,open our eyes to how we might look the other way when individuals create cultures ripe for abuse.
    I have always admired Dee’s willingness to go where the facts and events take her, and not pick sides blindly. So, I have hope that people like Dee will help hold Stewart Ruch, Church of the Rez, and yes, Julie Roys, accountable for censoring and filtering the truth on this.

  66. I left a comment on the culture and practices of Church of the Rez related to gender and how women are treated. Why was that comment deleted?

  67. Church of Rez neighbor

    Please click the link “Click here for our commenting rules”

    GBTC

  68. Kate,

    Thank you for all you posted. I read through the threads and certainly believe that evil deeds occurred. Admittedly I did not read deeply enough to put together a timeline. Does the diocese believe its work here is done?

    Sometimes an organization finishes an adequate process—someone gets fired or convicted, and the organization creates new safeguards—but the intense pain of victims continues unabated. In other cases, an organization has an inadequate process.

    My congregation went through a crisis about a decade ago, when a tragedy occurred (not a form of abuse). The church did try to help people heal, but the effort would have needed to last several years to mend my pain and the pain of many others. At the time, I thought the church did not do enough. Now I really don’t know. Everyone had different needs, and some people were hardly affected.

    What would justice look like in this case? What would help people heal?

    I’m asking broad questions, but these cases keep coming to light, and few responses ever lead to justice and healing.

  69. Church of Rez neighbor,

    I will write about this on Friday. I did not see the Twitter thread and that is a problem with Twitter. Too many tweets drown out voices. People need to understand that I don’t see everything on twitter and I doubt anyone does.

  70. Neighbor of Church of the Resurrection: Why was that comment deleted?

    It has emerged from being read through. When Dee (very rarely) deletes a comment, she notes that in the thread, writing something like, “One comment not allowed.”

    Comments from new folks often get read, along with those containing certain terms. This occasionally happens to me. In such instances, a notice appears in the comment box. The notice is not very big, so the comment might seem to disappear. It will probably emerge within a few hours, or overnight.

    This is a well-run blog, operated by a small number of people who work very hard for no compensation.

  71. Church of Rez neighbor: It is an interesting hybrid of Anglican liturgy with neo-commplementarianism that teaches male headship, leadership, and that women experience full humanity and flourishing through having lots of children and homeschooling.

    Thank you for your entire comment, especially this.

    The Church History page on the parish website implies that this congregation left the Episcopal Church during its schism. One bedrock principle of worldwide Anglicanism is to remember the human lives lost during the English civil wars, and to find the middle way, the via media, that respects a range of viewpoints.

    Schisms happen, and they can lead to healthy renewal through the Holy Spirit. This congregation does not appear to have found that. They kept the liturgy and jettisoned the via media in favor of uniform beliefs and practices.

    https://www.churchrez.org/about/our-story/

  72. dee,

    Dee, I absolutely understand how that can happen. (I have a Twitter account, but only jump on there every couple months – usually for a particular reason/subject, such as the one at hand). Thank you for reviewing the Twitter threads and committing to write more about this matter. I’m learning new details practically every day that sadden and anger me.

    Relatedly, I’ll add my two cents that I’ve found Julie Roys’ work to be a mixed bag. Sometimes she is a great and dogged advocate (hurrah for her work on the Harvest mess!), but other times I’ve found her to be spotty on her research (publicly critiquing a book she has yet to read, which is irresponsible journalism) and/or knee jerky and suspicious about her pet issues.

  73. Church of Rez neighbor,

    Friend and researcher, thanks for your appreciation!

    Church of Rez neighbor, just curious, have you attended Rez in the past? I agree with much of what you shared, but some of it actually struck me as *more* extreme (or maybe just more obvious?) than what I experienced in my time there…when things seemed perhaps suggested, but not as overt as what you’re describing. It’s possible things became more bold after I left (3-4 years ago). Just interested to understand if you have firsthand experience or if you have secondhand experience (close friends who attend and talk about it). Not asking to pushback, just for context’s sake :).

  74. Kate: This part of the story just broke in the last hour:

    https://twitter.com/ACNAtoo

    Devastating.

    Thank you, Kate, for adding the additional Twitter thread. Reading through the thread and the documentation included was like reading through a sad and, unfortunately, oh-so-familiar story. It’s almost like “churches” and their congregation follow a script, and the only real differences are the names and titles of the actors.

    I am so, so sorry for what CM experienced. So many empty words and broken promises….

    (Maybe, someday, the stories / examples of churches and their congregation doing the right thing will increase, but I’m not going to hold my breath…)

  75. Thanks to Dee and all the people who help run this blog (a prophetic voice and labor of sacrificial love). I am new to commenting so I apologize I was confused about the process!

    Kate, you asked if I attend Church of the Rez. I attend another local evangelical liturgical church. I am close friends with Rez staff and leaders. Many of my dear friends are lay leaders within the church, and individuals who have mentored me are key members of the church. I have known the Ruchs since the 1990s. My impression after lots of conversations and some shared ministry experiences with Rez people is that there are different ways of being a part of and experiencing Church of the Rez and its culture. Some never really bump up against their more narrow views on gender and women’s roles in particular. Others feel quite intensely the narrowly prescribed roles and the limits of what an evangelical woman should do and be.

    Rez’s teaching on gender has gotten more intense in the last 3-4 years. I think it had to do with some staff leaving and going elsewhere that had served as a balancing voice until about 2018. I would encourage Wartburg Watch readers to start by reading these threads: https://twitter.com/john__perrine/status/1413117616475054082, https://twitter.com/AaronMHarrison/status/1412130445941219328, https://twitter.com/veni_vidi_ceni/status/1412242293462081542, https://twitter.com/Wevans0987/status/1413127614311567361

    I remain alarmed and grieved that this culture of neo-complementarianism can function for many of the Rez inner circle and elites as a form of patriarchy that is perceived as trendily not falling into evangelical traps with its charismatic/Anglican practices. I do not say this lightly. I see how it plays out with their teachings on contraception and how it is sinful for women to try and prevent pregnancies, even if it would put the mother at significant health risk. Katherine Ruch frequently teaches the women of Rez, including their college students, that contraception is wrong and that women should bear many children. This has caused real crisis of faith for young college women who are not certain they want to launch their adult lives as full-time homemakers or the mothers of large families. Rez confuses certain ways of motherhood and birth control with THE ONLY biblical way to approach those things.

    Church of the Rez has a very particular view of contraception and childbearing that is becoming more public recently. The Fully Alive conference of 2019 pulled back the curtain for some, other regular attenders just don’t pay attention or pretend not to notice. See: http://fullyaliveconference.com/schedule/

    Julie Roys published a series on contraception back in 2018 that captures some of this Rez teaching (https://julieroys.com/evangelicals-need-rethink-embrace-contraception-part-one/). Julie has been influenced by Rez and hasn’t always disclosed in the past when she was repackaging Stewart Ruch’s teaching on gender or when she was “reporting” on her own bishop and fellow Rez member, Tim Blackmon. If her new standard is that she won’t publicly comment on situations where she is involved, then she needs to recuse herself from tweeting about Ed Stetzer (who was given her radio show slot), Moody (as an employee she published public criticism that led to her firing), and Harvest (where she increasingly began reporting on how Harvest or others were treating HER – valid story but it took over the narrative and remains a regular focus). It is not reasonable for Roys to maintain a group blog with many authors and not assign this topic to one of her freelancers. I would argue it is necessary to do that for transparency given her fundraising and her mission statement. Otherwise, she is picking and choosing who is held accountable to her standard, and her church is curiously given a pass with some really egregious stuff.

    The charismatic element should not be minimized in terms of the power and authority elements. Key leaders – staff and lay – rely on dreams to interpret their experiences and God’s work in the world. It is difficult if impossible to have constructive dialogue when the conversation partner has a direct word from God. That Stewart and Katherine Ruch have played this prophetic role for so long has created a strange power dynamic and following in the church. Again, many don’t encounter this first hand, but for those who do and aren’t a part of the inner circle it can have disastrous results. (See: https://twitter.com/john__perrine, https://twitter.com/weejenbug, https://twitter.com/Wevans0987, https://twitter.com/AaronMHarrison)

    I would also encourage those interested in understanding how this form of complementarianism taught by charismatic leaders with no accountability creates pre-conditions for abuse – spiritual, sexual – to search Twitter for: ACNAtoo, Stewart Ruch, ChurchRez to keep track of those coming forward with personal accounts.

    I am praying for the victims of abuse – for healing and protection. I am praying for justice. I am praying for my friends at Church of the Rez to speak up and do the right thing for the vulnerable and that their faith won’t be shaken.

  76. Church of Rez neighbor,

    Thank you for your comment. I am trying to get through all of the tweets in order to put together a coherent post for tomorrow.

    I want to focus, first, on the Mark Rivera abuse situation. However, some of the things you have discussed in your comment makes me realize that I still have a long way to go. It is pouring rain from the tropical storm around here so I’m doing lots of reading.

  77. Church of Rez neighbor: The charismatic element should not be minimized in terms of the power and authority elements. Key leaders – staff and lay – rely on dreams to interpret their experiences and God’s work in the world. It is difficult if impossible to have constructive dialogue when the conversation partner has a direct word from God. That Stewart and Katherine Ruch have played this prophetic role for so long has created a strange power dynamic and following in the church.

    No offence intended to those who genuinely receive prophetic words, etc., ….

    From Joe Navarro’s Psychology Today article titled Why Predators Are Attracted to Careers in the Clergy:

    10. Predators soon realize that the ability to invoke a deity in their defense is a powerful card to hold that trumps all other arguments. They can always say, “I was moved by the lord,” to do this or that, “I was commanded by God to,” do this or that, or “it is the will of the lord,” to do this or that. That is a tough, faith/emotionally-laden argument that is difficult to refute; especially for believers that are already vested having spent time and money in an organization. Thus the rape of children is justified merely by invoking the ostensible desire and will of a deity. And let’s be clear, predators love that they can do that. Once again, this is precisely what Warren Jeffs did with the assistance of repugnantly complicit mothers who willingly offered up their daughters for his sexual pleasure. Fugitive cult leader, Victor, Arden Barnard is alleged to have invoked the same defense, that he had a right to sexually abuse children because it was “God’s word.”

  78. researcher,

    Thank you, researcher, for including that link. It’s a terrifying article, and it also makes the point that predators can lurk in many different settings. Good practices can make an environment less inviting to predators, but in the end we all need to protect ourselves and one another with wisdom and courage.

  79. Friend:
    One bedrock principle of worldwide Anglicanism is to remember the human lives lost during the English civil wars, and to find the middle way, the via media, that respects a range of viewpoints.

    Schisms happen, and they can lead to healthy renewal through the Holy Spirit. This congregation does not appear to have found that. They kept the liturgy and jettisoned the via media in favor of uniform beliefs and practices.

    There really is no middle way between the traditional teaching of historic Christianity on Holy Matrimony, and the ever-widening circle of LGBTQQII, etc. Repeatedly within the Episcopal Church, when push came to shove, there was no real room for tolerance, from the so-called liberal side, let alone mutual flourishing. I was there and I watched it happen. The ACNA would be foolish to stray from Her Lord’s clear and beautiful teaching on marriage and a host of other issues.

  80. Amy Smith: New site ACNAtoo

    https://www.acnatoo.org/

    On the new website I found an excellent and thought-provoking letter by Heather Patton Griffin titled Why #ACNAtoo?. The letter is longer, and cherry-picking quotes would not do justice to what she has written….

    Link to the Why #ACNAtoo? letter by Heather Patton Griffin: https://kumquat-hexagon-dd9t.squarespace.com/news/why-acnatoo

    If for some reason the link to Heather Patton Griffin’s letter doesn’t work, here are two more options for accessing her letter….

    First option: Go to the new #ACNAtoo website (McAfee gave me an error message when I followed Amy Smith’s link to the new website, probably due to the newness of the website, but I chose to over-ride McAfee), choose About from the menu, then click on the Why #ACNAtoo? button.

    Second option (Internet Archive link): https://web.archive.org/web/20210709122158/https://kumquat-hexagon-dd9t.squarespace.com/news/why-acnatoo

    Thank you, Amy Smith, for providing the link to the new website, or I probably wouldn’t have found Heather Patton Griffin’s (what I found to be excellent) letter. 🙂

  81. Friend,

    Something that crossed my mind while reading your reply to me, Friend, and keeping the article in mind: Perhaps Christians (and probably “christians”, too) need to believe (and / or remember) that the people Joe Navarro was writing about probably don’t fear God (whether or not they believe in Him).

    Please don’t think I’m referring to you, Friend, in my Perhaps…..Him thought….my writing skills are sorely lacking this morning.

  82. Marmee March: Repeatedly within the Episcopal Church, when push came to shove, there was no real room for tolerance, from the so-called liberal side, let alone mutual flourishing. I was there and I watched it happen.

    It happened by me also, and the missing word—the concept entirely missing from schism—is not tolerance but reconciliation. Around here, there were fights over the very graveyards full of dead Episcopalians whose opinions about marriage were not sought, nor were they asked how they felt about the new sign at the cemetery gates.

    What’s the point of schism if it does not yield healthy renewal? The Episcopal Church is smaller but no longer in weekly tumult, Deo gratias. Meanwhile there’s some infighting in ACNA and CANA, over several of the very same issues—the role of women, the ordination of women. An abuse scandal is a tragic development.

  83. researcher: the people Joe Navarro was writing about probably don’t fear God (whether or not they believe in Him)

    Rules don’t apply to the predators among us. They care only about whether something or someone is useful to them. I’ve seen this behavior much more among corporate executives and politicians than among pastors: the appraising glance, “Do you support me or not?”

  84. bendeni,

    It’s interesting to note that in this case, as in many others, the accused are not responding in the media. We are getting one side of this situation. As is usual in such cases, until any trial happens, this will likely remain the case. I notice the encouraging response on the WW, that Bishop Stewart is acting in good faith. ACNA is Evangelical, mostly…preaching the Gospel, evangelistic. Anglicanism is a broad tent, but the ACNA was formed out of the desire to be faithful to orthodox Christian faith regarding the Gospel. I suppose one could argue that the edges of the continuum that may be labeled as liturgical, but in general, I would defend many ACNA churches as Evangelical in that they preach the Gospel. It includes charismatic, anglo-catholic, and reformed under its tent, as well as the group promoting women’s ordination.

  85. Friend,

    Marmee March, I see your responses in various places and I often cheer and wish I knew who you were. You write insightful comments 🙂 From a fellow sister in Christ who loves Alcott 🙂 and all things didactic children’s literature. JESUS IS RISEN, ALLELUIA! M

  86. Responding to Neighbor of Church of the Resurrection’s comments…
    In my opinion, this account is an incomplete and 2-dimensional account of Church of the Resurrection’s teachings regarding headship in marriage and the issue of family planning. It slants the method of teaching (a pervasive culture of teaching on roles and against family planning is implied) and distorts the content in a way that misleads outside readers. I am beginning to think that all online comments are in danger of such, so I hesitate to wade in. However, I feel that the discussion in this thread is rather honest and above-board so I feel I can make a small attempt to clarify what I believe the teaching is.

    Resurrection appreciates Catholic Theology of the Body teaching on the iconography of Christ and the Church in marriage and encourages deeper thought on gender, but does not teach that family planning is inadmissible or teach strict role definition from the pulpit. Church of the Resurrection specializes in understanding Christian symbol.

    Resurrection members encourage couples to be open to life in marriage as a sign of Holy Spirit fruitfulness, although preaching on this topic is not a thing I’ve experienced. A parish nurse is available to train couples in the use of natural family planning if that is what is referred to. It is not currently preached from the pulpit or forced on parishioners.

    I want to remind readers of the twitter accounts that in cases where a trial is pending, twitter feed commentary is one-sided. I encourage anyone to contemplate how they think an accusation ought to be handled; that is fruitful discussion. As far as forming informed opinions on church actions, I am learning we must wait until the full account emerges.

    Full disclosure: I am a one-time Resurrection member who left and returned and I have spent years of my life dissecting and interpreting Resurrection teaching. In some ways the comments of Neighbor are a caricature of issues in the church, but I believe a balanced view is more nuanced and charitable. As an abuse “victim” (how I hate the word, I am renewed in Christ Jesus my Savior, a New Creation, seated in the Heavenly realms in Christ Jesus my Savior, and not a victim) I understand the complex nature of abuse. In time the watching church will see what is to be understood, and at that time, informed judgements ought to be made.

  87. M,

    I should add, as a pro-life church, Resurrection clergy properly understand that pill birth-control is potentially abortifacient, making the womb inhospitable to implantation of fertilized eggs, which is also taught by Planned Parenthood. Randy Alcorn has a book on this subject:”Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?” NFP is not forced on parishioners, but it is available to couples who seek it out.

    As far as barrier methods, that is a symbolic discussion that has a rich theological understanding in Theology of the Body teaching of the icon of Christ and the Church, in which the Holy Spirit fruit is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and in terms of the marriage analogy would be children. This is classic JPII Theology of the Body teaching. In general, married couples ought to be open to life. I imagine that would be the church stance; it is what I believe and it is one reason I’m happy at Church of the Resurrection. Any commentary on what church members believe is a reflection of my time in personal discussion with friends and pro-life advocates. In my ten years at this church it isn’t something I’ve heard in the pulpit.

    If my husband had heard TotB teaching in the pulpit on Sundays in our ten years at Resurrection, it could have spared us heartbreak in our marriage. As it is, our reversal procedure brought us new life in fruitful ministry and family life in our current life together and I’m grateful my church friends are willing to wade into this topic in belief even if not to preach on it in this time.