Are Park Street Church Leaders Attempting to Destroy the Reputations of Those Who Aren’t Yes Men/Women?

Park Street Church 2014

“Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.” Mark Twain


01.30.24 I have removed the names of the spouses and children of the candidates.


TWW has advocated for church elders chosen for their thoughtfulness, lovingkindness, and other Christlike behaviors for years. Elders should not be selected because they are “yes” men to the senior pastor. As we have repeatedly demonstrated throughout the years, appointing all “yes” men/women to the elder board will eventually lead to church turmoil and disunity.

There is a reason for this. Every pastor, no matter their perceived character and adept practice of the pastor’s role, will eventually screw up, often quite badly. They should have a variety of individuals who love the church but will speak the truth, even if it disagrees with the pastor’s thoughts and wishes. The pastor needs loving and strong brothers and sisters who speak honestly and in a trustworthy manner. Sadly, many churches now look for advisors to put their pastors on a pedestal. This is often at a cost to the church, which will slowly devolve into one more ho-hum church with a pastor who rules the roost, bolstered by those who have failed to understand that they are coordinating a church body, not running Chick-fil-A.

Christianity Today recently posted Above Reproach? Fewer Americans See Pastors as Ethical.

The country’s perception of clergy hit a new low in recent Gallup polling, with fewer than a third of Americans rating clergy as highly honest and ethical.

…The continued drop in pastors’ reputation—down from 40 percent to 32 percent over the past four years—corresponds with more skepticism toward professions (and institutions) across the board.

Americans are also less likely than ever to know a pastor, with fewer than half belonging to a church and a growing cohort who don’t identify with a faith at all.

I’m sure the numbers are even lower in Boston. Here is the article’s “ouch” statement.

“It may be that people are thinking, ‘I trust my pastor but not the ones I see on social media.’ However, sooner or later this drop will influence local decisions. For example, if a senior pastor has a conflict with the governing board, people may more quickly say, ‘Well, our pastor is just like those other pastors,’” said David Fletcher, founder of XPastor, a resource for executive pastors.

“Changes in societal views can influence church members and leaders beneath the surface—it is like the tide, carrying us along for quite some time before we realize we have moved.”

For the sake of transparency, Pastor Booker should post his diplomas.

This means that it is vital for a church to deal transparently with those looking on and with great love for ALL brothers and sisters who are members of “the Body of Christ at Park Street Church.” Is it any wonder that questions are raised when Pastor Booker refuses to take pictures of his diplomas and post them for the members? Pastors no longer get a pass, expecting the membership to “believe it because I said it.” Those days are long gone.

I can think of only two reasons not to post the evidence to end the debate. Either of these options are not optimal.

  1. The pastor is playing a game. “Who really trusts me. I know. I’ll prove it.I’ll take names of all who ask me this question. They are examples of those who are ‘problems.’ Eventually, I’ll post them, prove it, and have a good laugh at their discomfort.”
  2. There is something questionable.

The following is proof that PSC no longer practices lovingkindness to their church family.

When I read this over the weekend, I became discouraged. My beloved PSC appears to be going down the “yes men/women” road. They are the ones to be loved. Those who have questions or simple disagreements are the enemy. They are the ones to be rejected and despised.

Do you think I’m kidding? What I will post here has caused me much turmoil and depression. I have joyfully remembered my time at PSC because of the consistent love and care given to me and my many friends through the years. I assumed that such love was part of the church’s DNA.

I believe the document I was given is truthful and will illuminate my fear of inviting anyone with intelligence and faith to become a church member.

Please stick with me. I promise you will be pretty upset with the outcome of this post.

The Nominating Committee demonstrates the alarming church tactic of denigrating those who disagree.

I will link to the document I received, which the PSC Nominating Committee apparently drew up. In February, there will be an election to the Board of Elders, Moderator (kind of the big cheese), etc. My understanding is that the petitioners submitted, as is allowed, an alternative slate of candidates.

2024-PSC-Candidate-Slate-with-Petition-updated-Jan-29-2024

I have left two short comments under each resume. In the first part of the document, it lists the “Nominating Committee’s slate. Here are two folks.

(p.8-9) Geoffrey Raux, Moderator-Elect (2025)
I made a personal commitment to Christ at an early age. I moved to Bos-
ton in 2003, where I met my wife and best friend We have been
attending Park Street Church since 2008 and have been blessed with two
wonderful daughters. My relationship with the Lord
is central to every aspect of my life. I believe that life—in its fullest sense—
can only be realized through union with Him. I have had the opportunity to
share that message through personal relationships and on missions trips to
East Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. During college, I was involved with
CRU and served as president of my campus chapter. In law school, I was in-
volved with Intervarsity and served on the leadership team. Since becoming
a member of Park Street Church, I have served as a deacon for communion,
co-captain of our softball team, on the Nominating Committee, and on
the Interim Senior Minister Search Committee (which hired Dr. Thorne). I
am currently serving on the Board of Elders. Outside of the church, I am
aTrustee to Park Street School and am on the Board of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Professionally, I am a partner at the law firm Foley & Lardner LLP.
Moderator-Elect is not a position that I was seeking, but I have tried to be
faithful to God’s leading throughout the nominating process. I love Park
Street Church and see so much good in her. While this has been a difficult
season for us, I firmly believe that the Lord is working to strengthen and re-
fine us for His glory. I am excited about what He has in store for our future.
Passion Statement*

My desire is to see Park Street Church remain committed to the truth as
revealed in Scripture while effectively and lovingly engaging with a culture
that is often at odds with it. In a time of so much confusion and uncertainty,
I pray that Park Street Church will be a place where those who are lost can
find answers spoken with conviction and humility. My heart is that we would
be a community united in Christ, and that Park Street Church would be a
place where the gospel is lived, not just preached.

Moderator-Elect
The Moderator-Elect shall be a member of the Board of Elders and shall assist
the Moderator. Individuals may serve as either Moderator or Moderator-elect
without regard to previous service as an elected Elder.
*Because the Moderator-Elect role leads the Board of Elders, we asked Geoffrey
(along with the other elder candidates) to provide a “passion statement.”

(Dee says: He is talented and is an attorney, but he has only served one year on the BOE, according to my understanding. All boards need attorneys. Have you ever noticed how they never pick plumbers or postal workers to help lead churches?)

(p.12) Joshua Wang, Elder
I was born in southwest Virginia and blessed to grow up in a Christian family.
I met my wife,, in high school, and we are blessed with two amazing
daughters,  We came to Massachusetts in 2009 and start-
ed attending Park Street soon thereafter. I have led a small group in the West
Region for 13 years, where God has been faithful to reform my heart through
the pursuit of His Word in community. At Park Street, I am grateful to study
and worship with deeply committed Christians from different traditions and
perspectives. I am humbled to learn how God is at work through this church,
and it would be an honor to support His work by serving as an elder.
Passion Statement

At Park Street, the nations proclaim His works together every Sunday in
a foretaste of our ultimate purpose: to enjoy God forever. God gave us an
expansive vision for life together – celebrating our Savior’s infinite glory by
denying ourselves and embracing our neighbors in humility. We can be con-
fident that God is faithful to deepen our understanding of Him through this
body. When this vision seems challenging to reconcile with reality, may we
lift our eyes to the stump of Jesse, pursue godly rebuke and counsel, and, in
repentance, delight in God’s commandments to labor faithfully in His boun-
teous harvest.

(Dee-In this reseume, his service seems to be leading a small group. He sounds like a nice sort, though.)

The Alternative Slate by Petition is submitted, and the Nominating Committee rears up and goes for the knockout blow, proving, in my opinion, that this church insults and denigrates those who love and serve them but might have a disagreement.

(Dee highlights a few impt things)

Brian Winey, Moderator-Elect (2025; by petition)* *
The Lord blessed me with a Christian heritage. I actively partici-
pated in church youth group, but it was not until college that my faith was
stretched. God used hardships to reveal Himself and deepen my walk with
Him. It yielded wonderful fruit –  my wife, who has been my faithful,
encouraging partner in Christ. We have labored together, depended on the
Lord, and relied on our church community to raise our three children. Our
heart is that (names of children) would know, honor, and love Jesus as
Lord and Savior all the days of their lives. We desire this godly heritage for all
families at PSC.

God led us to Boston and PSC in 2007. We were captivated by
PSC’s strong missions emphasis and solid Biblical preaching. I set about serv-
ing where God placed me. I am in my 6th year of chairing the Missions Com-
mittee. We opened our home to medical students and scholars by living in the
Longwood Christian Community for the past decade. I previously served on
the Board of Elders for 6 years over 2 terms, the first Senior Minister Search
Committee, and over 14 years on the Missions Committee. Professionally,
I work as an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and a Medical
Physicist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

My leadership style is to gently shepherd, listen, and understand oth-

ers before speaking, skills which I would apply frequently as moderator-elect.
I value different opinions and believe the Holy Spirit speaks through the
members of His body. In my professional and church leadership experience, I
have led many committees and discussions through challenging and complex
issues, ensuring that each person has opportunity and feels empowered to
contribute.

I pray that our church will grow in both the knowledge and person-
al experience of God’s long-suffering and patient love, filled with grace and
kindness that leads us to repentance. May we abide in Christ’s love, so that
we serve in the grace and humility of Christ. As the body of Christ, we are
built into the priesthood of all believers, beautifully demonstrated in our
congregational church, where the Holy Spirit, being the chief gift, can equip
each with gifts to form a diverse, yet united congregation (Ephesians 4:1-7),
fulfilling the Great Commission in Boston and to the ends of the Earth.

* * The Nominating Committee interviewed this candidate and found this person did not best exemplify the qualities of Moderator-Elect.

And ramming the point home…

Nick Dedeke, Elder Candidate for re-election by
petition * *
I grew up in Africa and made a commitment to follow Christ at age
13. After doctoral training in Germany, I moved to the US. I have been a
member of Park Street Church (PSC) for over twenty years. I was drawn to
PSC because of its commitment to the faithful interpretation of scriptures,
its vibrant small group communities, and a culture that empowers volunteers
to lead and grow in Christ. Education classes and serving as a small group
leader, worship team members, deacon, usher, and Kids Week helper, I’ve
also had the honor of serving on the Board of Elders. I met my wife  at
PSC, and we have two children. I am a professor at a local
university. It would be an honor to serve God and you again as an Elder.

By God’s graciousness to our church, the name “Park Street Church”
is connected with revival, faithfulness, spiritual leadership, and missions. El-
ders are called to serve the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our church by
feeding, protecting and encouraging the congregation. I desire, by God’s en-
abling, to serve our congregation in this manner. I pray for humility to repent
of my sins, courage to do the right thing, and the faith to entrust God with
the consequences. My favorite verse if, “Not by might nor by power but by
my Sprit says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).

* * The Nominating Committee interviewed this candidate and found this person did not best exemplify the qualities of Elder.

These four examples summarize the disturbing and unChristlike turn of events from the loving church, which taught me to read my Bible and love my brothers and sisters.

The two men of the Nominating Committee.

Both were typical. Atty Raux does the social scene by serving on the BSO board and ensuring everyone knows this was not a position he sought, hinting at his humility. Joshua Wang’s bio was a little slim, but he seems to be concerned about “this body.” He should be. It’s a mess. Are these guys change agents, or do they enforce the status quo? I hope they realize this is a time to “pivot” and love. Neither man spoke of love, and Atty Raux spoke about the “refining” of PSC for God’s glory.”  Watch out for this one. It could mean something good, or it could mean that the “Puritan thwack over the head” is coming.

The two men, former elders from the Alternative Slate, are judged unable to exemplify an elder’s qualities. Say wut?

So get this. Dr. Winey had already been an elder for six years at PSC. Suddenly, he no longer exemplifies the qualities of an elder. What in the world did this man do to get dinged as an elder? What was his disqualifying sin? Did it have something to do with supporting Dr Michael Balboni? Could it be that he listens to alternative thoughts and solutions?

Dr. Dedeke was also an elder at PSC in the past. He is a professor at Northeastern University and has served as an elder for at least two prior terms.  He prayed for humility, something I would love to hear from elder groups around the US and abroad more often. What was his disqualifying sin? Did he listen to different voices not accepted by the current ruling class? Was he not a “yes” man, which is not allowed in the new PSC?

I understand that both men were considered respected members of the BOE in the past. So, what is going on in that Committee in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ?

  • These men have served well on the BOE in the past. Why treat them in this way now?
  • Are the leaders saying these men are disreputable? If so, what did they do?
  • Did these men merely decline to follow the status quo regarding a whistleblower?
  • Is this being done to destroy the reputation of these brothers in Christ to make the Nominating Committee choices look more polished?
  • Did Pastor Booker approve of this presentation, which appears to destroy the reputation of good men?
  • Are the people on the Nominating Committee sure this is a way to show the lovingkindness of Jesus to their fellow members?

The story of the rabbi and a pillow of many feathers.

A man goes throughout his community slandering his Rabbi. He starts to feel bad. He wants to do anything that he can to make up his wrongdoing to the Rabbi. The Rabbi tells the man that he can get feathered pillows, cut them open, and let the wind take the feathers. The man goes back to the Rabbi, pleased that he did as he was told. Then, a direct quote from the book, the Rabbi says, “Now go and gather all the feathers. Though you may be sincerely remorseful and truly desire to correct the evil which you have done, it is about as possible to repair the damage done by your words as it will be to recover the feathers.”

Is there a way to retreat from this foolish attempt to what appears to be empire-building and, instead, start collecting the feathers?

  • Repent of this action in public: Pastor Booker, the Committee, and the people hiding behind the curtain.
  • Withdraw the nasty one-liner and agree that these men are qualified.
  • Those who thought it was a good idea to hurt these men must resign and be replaced by people who can portray humility.

A final question brought up by a well-versed reader

Is the church pivoting away from congregationalism and leaning into Anglicanism, perhaps in practice if not in name? If so, let me refer you to a post regarding an ACNA church with which Dr Booker was previously associated. The grass is not greener for all, only for those who like to be in charge. Anglicans say leaders botched response to allegations against DC priest.

PSC brothers and sisters, I am looking at you from North Carolina. When I visited the church this summer, the worship looked good. Everyone had their robes on and looked spit spot. From the outside, it looked like the church was carrying on traditions. Yet, it appears this was merely a front. I look forward to visiting again shortly to see if I can sense the pain behind the vestments. In the meantime, I will warn people about the church’s leadership crisis. I’m sure there are nicer, more loving pastors to be found elsewhere.


 


Comments

Are Park Street Church Leaders Attempting to Destroy the Reputations of Those Who Aren’t Yes Men/Women? — 146 Comments

  1. First! Do we still get a cookie for this?

    Grieving. Just discovered First Baptist on the 9Marks Church Search page. No notification in any weekly email, and my wife is still more or less active there, and nobody told her either.

    I’ll read this post tomorrow. Dee, I lived in Beverly, Mass for three years, just across the bridge from where you were in Salem, and I have indirect ties to Park Street Church too–most notably through Dr. Harold Ockenga/Gordon College, and my brother-in-law who went to Park St for a while. We visited there once or twice. Park St was considered the standard.

    Can’t people behave?

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  2. Ted,

    Did you ever eat at Stromberg’s on the Beverly Bridge? Great chowder. They also did corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick’s Day. I just found out they deliver popcorn from Hobbes at the Willows-the tricolored stuff. My daughter got it for me for my birthday. Also, Lena’s Subs in Beverly are the gold standard!
    Loved Dr Ockenga and then Dr Toms. Do they still make them like that anymore?

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  3. Dee: “Pastor Booker refuses to take pictures of his diplomas and post them for the members? Pastors no longer get a pass, expecting the membership to “believe it because I said it.””

    I was once in Pastor Mark’s office and noticed that he did not have any diplomas on the wall. Maybe he is just being humble since he graduated from Rhodes College and has two masters degrees from Oxford (that’s what was sent out to everyone when he was a candidate). He had to be carefully vetted when he got the job so this must be just an issue being raised by those who want to stir problems. Can Pastor Mark please prove his three degrees so that this does not linger? Seeing the diplomas and/or university transcripts will silence the naysayers. The church has enough problems and it would be really good to settle this issue immediately.

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  4. The thought occurs that the language “did not best exemplify …” is kind of vague.

    In the context of the preferred slate of candidates, it may simply mean “was not
    considered by the interviewers to be as suitable as the preferred candidate.”

    I do think it would be better to say, “we think our preferred candidates are superior (for these reasons),” but I don’t think the actual language, at least in terms of its denotation, is destructive of the reputations of the alternative candidates. As the OP notes, they have a history of honorable service. The commentary does not mention this, but does not deny it either.

    OTOH, it may be that some will interpret “did not best exemplify” to imply simply “did not exemplify”. I do think that the language could be interpreted to have derogatory implications. Why pick that language rather than something more irenic?

    During the terminal decline of the little OPC I attended in the late ’00s into the mid ’10s, the eldest elder was philosophical about the bleak prospects. He reckoned that congregations have a life-span, and that decline and dissolution are normal.

    There may be something to that. Perhaps there’s also an analogy to B. Franklin’s famous answer that they had made, “a republic, if you can keep it.”

    I suspect that congregational governance is harder to maintain through time than more authoritarian forms of polity. Governance is hard work; perhaps a critical mass of elders and/or congregants actually prefers that the congregation become more hierarchical. If not, they may still have the power to select leaders who are still committed to PSC’s historic approach to congregational governance. Getting back to that might involve struggle and conflict, which might be distressing.

    Corinth had many gifts, but also a surprising amount of disorder and turmoil. Perhaps we should not be surprised that, two millennia later, we still have lots of problems.

    Perhaps Paul would recognize modern churches after all.

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  5. “For the sake of transparency, Pastor Booker should post his diplomas.”

    Oxford University has a different definition of “diploma” and he probably doesn’t have one (Oxford diplomas are different than Oxford degrees). It might be best to just request his full CV.

    He seems to have been ordained a deacon in 2005 at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Madison, MS, by Bishop T.J. Johnston
    https://www.htacms.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Parish-Profile-1.pdf

    And to the priesthood on
    “Mark Booker was ordained to the Priesthood in the Anglican Mission on Sunday, April 2, [2006] at Church of the Resurrection in Washington, DC, by Bishop Thad Barnum.” https://anglicansablaze.blogspot.com/2006/04/new-amia-pastor-ordained.html

    I’m still baffled by Master of Arts. It might make sense if he got a Bachelors at Oxford and got it upgraded to Master after 7 years, but, his undergraduate work was at Rhodes College in Memphis. Oxford does allow taking a second undergraduate degree with a degree elsewhere perhaps exempting from the first year of the program (so doing it in 2 years not 3). I’m not sure whether this was offered back when he was at Oxford. In which case he might have gotten a Bachelor of Arts, theology then gotten the upgrade.

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  6. Samuel Conner: The thought occurs that the language “did not best exemplify …” is kind of vague.

    It appears to be purposely vague to carry two different meanings.
    1. The first meaning is that they determined that another candidate (the one they nominated) better exemplified the qualities of elder/moderator. It does not mean that Brian is disqualified, but that Geoff was considered best. This will be their response to this blog. They will say that Dee interpreted their words nefariously because she is trying to find fault.

    2. The second meaning, is that “not best exemplify” means that the person is not qualified. Most normal people will read it this way. “My husband does not best exemplify the qualities of cook” means he is a terrible cook… not that I as his spouse is just a bit better in the kitchen.

    Beware of certain leaders at PSC who are masters of double meanings.

    It is obvious that the letter intends to give readers the impression that the two people put up by petition (who were interviewed) are not qualified and the membership should not vote for them. But to be clear, the letter does not exactly say it. It is a masterful deception and more propaganda.

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  7. I attend psc. I have also been horrifed at the mocking of Brain and Nick for leadership positions in the church. I am also discourage that someone within the commmunity felt it was best to post the church’s laundry so publicly on social media here.

    Some of us our very concerned on what has happened at this church since the fall. There are processes in the by-laws that allow for dissent. Allow that process to evolve. Right now psc is in the eye of the hurricane and hitting rock bottom could be the best thing for the church (in my opnion it has already). God assures us that we will get to the other side and will do great things.

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  8. dee,

    I don’t remember Stromberg’s. I don’t think we ate out much, but I remember an Italian restaurant, Romagnoli’s Table in Salem; also The Beverly Depot; and a clam place out in Essex: Woodman’s “Eat in the Rough.” Also Nick’s Roast Beef. And Dick and June’s Ice Cream. But we spent a lot of evenings watching classic films at the Cabot Cinema.

    Dr. Ockenga spoke a few times at Gordon, and I met him when he preached at a friend’s church in Swampscott. My friend Jeff was the pastor and had been one of Dr Ockenga’s students at Gordon-Conwell. Jeff asked him if he would preach Easter Sunday, and he thought, “Well, matter of fact, I’m free that day.” So preach he did.

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  9. Watching: The first meaning is that they determined that another candidate (the one they nominated) better exemplified the qualities of elder/moderat

    If they say that, then they are not worthy of being called Christian leaders. I am grateful to have found some Christian leaders who are straightforward. They are not flashy, and they don’t play word games. After spending years in the postevangelical wilderness, I have found a place, not perfect by any means, but honest. I can assure you that the pastors would never, ever play this game with beloved church members.

    Thank you for helping us to see what is going on.
    It is sad to see PSC taken over by a band of tedious leaders who have turned the church into one more corporation instead of the Body.

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  10. JaniceG,

    I’m a former PSCer. I was a member there for 20 years, and left in 2017. I was disturbed by the culture of leadership even back then.

    The PSC petition was brought to my attention this fall, even before Michael Balboni was fired. I was immediately struck by the fact that I didn’t know who any of the players were anymore, but the patterns of secretive control were identical.

    Dr. Diane Langberg says, “The act or coverup of abuse kills. It kills hope, trust, safety, dignity, and love. Exposing such things gives life. It births hope, trust, safety, dignity, and love.”

    I am ever so grateful to Dee for exposing the alleged spiritual abuse at PSC. It is incredibly serious and warrants a truly independent, 3rd party, thorough investigation.

    Yes, going through church channels to handle painful messes is ideal—but this has already been tried. Multiple times. However, when church leadership culture has become so calcified in its ways, as PSC has, then the leaders have become impervious to serious critique & anything that threatens their power & control. My hope and prayer for PSC is that this exposure will finally get through to leadership (and be a wake-up call to the congregation at large) as no prior attempts have, and will lead to transparency, honesty, repentance, renewal and flourishing for this badly wounded church.

    Speaking of spiritual abuse, I agree with you that the ** “The Nominating Committee… found this person did not best exemplify the qualities of Moderator-Elect,” is so gross. Why even say such a thing??? The Nominating Committee has their slate of candidates & the petitioners have theirs. Just let the people decide, and stop trashing former elders who’ve served PSC faithfully in the past!!

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  11. JaniceG: I am also discourage that someone within the commmunity felt it was best to post the church’s laundry so publicly on social media here.

    Welcome, Janice. Things have changed in the broader evangelical church. Churches are now known for circling the wagons. Churches are hiding abuse, be it sexual, physical, emotional, or spiritual. If you read the linked article above, you might understand that the view of pastors is declining. They are ranked somewhere in the vicinity of used car dealers.

    It used to be said, “Don’t air dirty laundry. Present only the good face of the church.” However, when Christ said to be a light on the hill, He did not say that people will only see the good things- the things you want them to see. That is true in this case. I learned this from someone who attends the church but is not part of the goings-on. They were sad and worried. PSC does not seem to care about people like them. They are the forgotten Body amid a mess. The leaders are too wrapped up in themselves to care for the quiet ones.

    Will PSC do great things in the future? I don’t know. I have been writing for 15 years and have seen the church split and cease existing. I’m not talking about little churches. I am speaking of megachurches. Pray for them to do great things that will glorify God and promote love amongst the Body. But be careful. God doesn’t guarantee anything. His Word will continue whether or not PSC survives. I sure hope it does, and I sure hope it survives as a beautiful church body, not the ugliness I see now.

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  12. Watching: they determined that another candidate (the one they nominated) better exemplified the qualities of elder/moderator

    So do the current elders exemplify the qualifications outlined for them in Scripture to hold that sacred office? (1 Timothy & Titus)

    Above reproach?
    Self-controlled?
    Sober-minded?
    Respectable?
    Able to teach?
    Gentle?
    Kind?
    Not divisive?
    Not greedy?
    Manage own family well?
    Children under control?
    Children who are believers?
    Not a recent convert?
    Good reputation in the community?
    Blameless?
    Not arrogant?
    Not quick-tempered?
    Does not drink intoxicating liquors?
    Love what is good?
    Upright and righteous?
    Live according to the Word?
    Holy?

    Or simply yes-men in the Inner Ring?

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  13. dee: Many people are baffled, and Pastor Booker is doing nothing to clarify it.

    “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” ― Aristotle

    And from that great theologian Tina Fey: “Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.”

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  14. dee: Erp:
    I’m still baffled by Master of Arts.

    Many people are baffled, and Pastor Booker is doing nothing to clarify it.

    Thinking over it overnight, the only way he is not lying is if got a bachelor of arts, theology and got a first in it (which means he did very well) and then did a Master of Studies, Theology (Distinction). The Bachelor of Arts becomes a Master of Arts after 7 years and a nominal payment. It is puffing things up a bit to say MA instead of BA though whether he is directly responsible or people further up in the ACNA suggested it is a question. I note neither degree seems to be on the standard path for ordination in the Church of England (though they probably shorten the path for someone who later goes for ordination).
    It doesn’t look good now that he isn’t being clear about when and what his academic career was even if explaining how Oxford degrees work is necessary.

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  15. These are comments from someone intimately involved in churches in the Boston area. I decided to post it for him since he must stay anonymous.

    “Here’s what the coup represents for ACNA generally: they desperately want a name-brand location for a cathedral, and Amesbury simply doesn’t cut it.”

    “Watch this one, Dee. This is not a red herring – it’s a fire burning in the basement, weakening the foundations of this unique and august church.”

    “So I know what an ACNA target church looks like, and I suspect there are crosshairs on the map at the corner of Park and Tremont streets. The real question: is this fait accompli? Is it too late? Stealing churches as a business model – and it is a business, an ugly one – is not something I wish to see succeed. ”

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  16. dee: Stealing churches as a business model – and it is a business, an ugly one – is not something I wish to see succeed.

    Reminiscent of the New Calvinist takeover of numerous SBC traditional (non-Calvinist) churches by stealth and deception. The new reformers have been in the business of capturing church properties for the NeoCal movement and sending longtime non-Calvinist Southern Baptist members packing. An ugly business model, indeed.

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  17. I can’t comment on anything in the post. I have no frame of reference.

    I will say that the church building in the picture looks like a nice place.

    I know I am snarky when it comes to church, god, Jesus and the rest of it, but the reality is I take no joy in seeing another church repurposed to a condominium.

    It’s happening a lot in our city.

    Just sad to see but maybe it needs to happen.

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  18. Sandy Williams: If anyone in the ACNA wants or is working toward a takeover of PSC, that is deplorable. Likewise, if this suggestion is totally false and has no basis in fact, that is also deplorable.

    I have been doing this for fifteen years. I allow comments from all who have something to say so long as it doesn’t cause pain to an abuse victim. Through the years, the observations on this blog have proven to be true in many instances. In some situations, it has prewarned individuals before the change. To wit: TWW predicted that CJ Mahaney would become Baptist. We were roundly criticized, but the signs were there. About a year later, Mahaney became Baptist and moved his SGM church in Louisville into the arms of SBTS, who would later regret that decision. See Al Mohler…

    In 2015, I accused Ravi Zacharias of lying on his resume and asked, in a post, what else he was lying about. Well, the world got its answer, and it was dismayed.

    The real problem lies with church leaders who play games without telling the truth. Eventually, things change, and those in the pew feel left behind. This is one reason people are deserting the church. The games being played include church takeovers. Actually, lots of them are happening.

    Two years ago, I got a call from a small church pastor with an incredible infrastructure outside of Boston. A group of people appeared on their doorstep, asking to “help out” the church. This pastor was a reader of TWW and told them to get lost. This group of 20 people was a vanguard from a covert SBC church startup who saw a way to join and gradually take over the church. She saw the signs.

    I never say that “x” takeover is going to happen. I say I believe it might happen, or it appears to have the signs of a takeover. There is nothing wrong with this. It helps those in a particular church understand how their “city on a hill” looks to outsiders. We are to be as wise as serpents and meek as lambs. The problem comes from deciding when to be one or the other.

    As I usually say, “Caveat Emptor.”

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  19. Elizabeth Klein,

    ““The Nominating Committee… found this person did not best exemplify the qualities of Moderator-Elect,” is so gross. Why even say such a thing???”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    doubling down into control mode.

    with all the communication and social skills of a potato.

    allowing people a voice in nominating and voting but then manipulating the whole process to take away their voice/vote is deeply unethical, insulting and dehumanizing.

    well, a potato wouldn’t be aware of this either.

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  20. Sandy Williams: What is the reference to First Baptist referring to?

    It’s my former church here in Maine, where I am still a member but am down to about once a year attendance, usually when a missionary friend visits, or a funeral.

    There was a struggle starting 10 years ago to change by-laws to male-only elders, which failed then but has since succeeded; Sunday school classes promoting what they call Calvinism, and use of 9Marks material.

    Recently First Baptist, it seems, has become a 9Marks-affiliated church, with apparently no discussion among the membership. My wife still attends occasionally, and we read weekly material, meeting agendas, etc. No mention anywhere. And I suspect that most have never heard of 9Marks, as it is never mentioned in sermons (we watch online).

    It’s the stealth part of this movement that ends up ticking people off. At least they were up-front and had lots of discussion about changing the by-laws. Well, they had to, to stay legal. And First Baptist’s pattern seems identical to the path taken by many other churches.

    This comment probably is more pertinent to Dee’s post on Friday, Jan 26, 2024.

    I will say that 9Marks is probably the least-worst of the various patriarchal new-calvinist interdenominational networks, but it ain’t over yet.

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  21. Sandy Williams,

    No problem. This isn’t personal, but I want to explore this because it’s important to me and to my own integrity. I suggested that CJ Mahaney would become Baptist and move his church into the SBC. I based that purely on my observations and on my experience. I wouldn’t say it was based on any “hard” fact, only on many “coincidences.” Was that deplorable? When did it move from being conjecture and deplorable to “How in the world did she figure this one out?” I often lie awake at night and think about this stuff.

    Also, I know the anonymous person who commented about the Anglican church. They are uniquely qualified to do so due to their years-long interest and involvement in the subject. They know more about it than I do. Is their observation deplorable, or could it be a learned guess? When does it move from one to the other?

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  22. dee: This group of 20 people was a vanguard from a covert SBC church startup who saw a way to join and gradually take over the church. She saw the signs.

    I have yet to see this kind of horse-poo-poo in Lutheranism.
    They (Lutherans) have a strong central government which does not allow the independent-alpha-male-strong-man maneuvering room to establish a dictatorship.

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  23. dee: So I know what an ACNA target church looks like, and I suspect there are crosshairs on the map at the corner of Park and Tremont streets

    Dee, what other examples exist of the ACNA covertly taking over a church of a different denomination? If this has happened before, pray tell…

    It is very clear that Rev. Booker is inviting people to leave (many appear to have obliged in silence) and he is also willing to remove services (4pm contemporary) for no better explanation other than for “unity,” which was the curious reason put forward last summer before the elders realized how much disunity they introduced with their secret, top-down, non-sensical decision. Even so, shrinking the congregation from a desire for loyalty is one thing, but isn’t it a big leap to suspect that the secret plan is to turn PSC Anglican? Conspiracy theories are not going to help us get to the truth.

    One clear evidence to the contrary is that Mark joined the Conservative Christian Congregational Conference. This means that he must have resigned his vow of obedience to Bishop Breedlove. I’m sure the elders of PSC received this resignation letter and the bishop’s certificate acknowledging it (see page 24 of https://anglicanchurch.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/CURRENT-C-and-C-2019.pdf).

    Anyway, this whole matter seems far more likely of a case of a narcissistic pastor who desires power and control… Ockham’s razor.

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  24. Dear JaniceG
    As a fellow PSC member, I share the same feeling/opinion as what you wrote yesterday AM. Although I rarely participate in social media (for fear of the unknown, such as the headless bald eagle guy). However, last Sunday during Barnabas group zoom meeting, our PSC missionary couple in another continent alerted us about the PSC post at TWW. I reviewed it Most of the posts were in response to the SM’s recent letter saying “a threat has been made that unless I resign, the group (of PSC members) will publish (false) accusations about my ‘insufficient’ academic credentials.” When I received that SM letter, immediately I checked with a very reliable source– no PSC member or group has ever made such a threat. Therefore, I sent a message to the Moderator w/ c.c. to SM that such a threat did not and does not exist, and quoting the reliable source whom I consulted. This was my (very feeble) attempt to promote peace and eliminate misunderstanding. But, like the rabbi’s slit feather pillow, the SM’s letter already attracted and continues to attract many TWW posts from academia, not surprising in our elite city. The real/serious concern is why PSC has lost 4 faithful ministers in the past 3 years. We do need an independent agency like 4C’s to investigate our infrastructure and advise how to rejuvenate our mission to glorify the Lord.

    As for the recent saga of footnotes on elder candidates— words full of sound and fury signifying nothing. It will not affect the mindset of undecided voters– or may even bring more votes to the ‘defamed’ candidates……. Sorry! I should stop right here. Must not talk like politicians. Our absolute loyalty is to our Savior and best friend Jesus Christ, omnipotent and omniscient, whose bride is the Church, whose mercy for us (all sinners) endures forever. Amen

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  25. dee,

    You pose some good questions. We agree that some things are deplorable. It would take the wisdom of Solomon to know when a learned guess crosses the line into deplorable false accusation and slander. I don’t fault you for wondering if this is what is going on in this case. Perhaps the recommendation of your anonymous contact is where it should have been left: “Watch this one, Dee”. There’s a time to be silent and a time to speak. “I wish I had said something sooner” and “I wish I had kept my mouth shut” are things I know well. Keep up the good work.

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  26. I wrote this email below to the entire board of elders…On 1/8/2024…I did get a response.

    “I write this with much love in my heart.

    I agree 100% with the …. letter in December. The church has to do an independent review of any spirit abuse claim. Even if it does come from Michael an employee.

    It sets a precendant if the church does not. That any future claims will not be taken seriously. As someone who has experienced spirit abuse from a Sr Minister you can not get this wrong. The risk is to high”

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  27. Sandy Williams: There’s a time to be silent and a time to speak. “I wish I had said something sooner”

    This has been my struggle for many years. I focus on helping folks navigate the increasingly choppy waters of the postevangelical church. So many people say, “If only I had known.”

    Another former church of mine, Chapel Hill Bible Church, is where I have heard this. When we left years ago, we warned some people that the church had changed. They disagreed with us, which is fine. It hit the fan a couple of years ago as we knew it would. I heard from some of those folks saying they wished they had listened.

    So, I feel an obligation to let people know. I do this day in and day out. I know the signs. I try to use my experience to help others. But I still struggle. I think I get it mostly right. And when I don’t, well, Jesus forgives.

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  28. skehopeful: Most of the posts were in response to the SM’s recent letter saying “a threat has been made that unless I resign, the group (of PSC members) will publish (false) accusations about my ‘insufficient’ academic credentials.” When I received that SM letter, immediately I checked with a very reliable source– no PSC member or group has ever made such a threat. Therefore, I sent a message to the Moderator w/ c.c. to SM that such a threat did not and does not exist, and quoting the reliable source whom I consulted.

    I still cannot understand why this issue is not dealt with transparently. Release the diplomas, certificates, whatever, and be done with it.

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  29. Hi Dee

    Maybe the entire topic was brought up as a subtle attempt to deflect public opinion from the REAL and CRITICAL concern of the congregation — transparency regarding the loss of 4 faithful employees, resulting in reduction or distortion of PSC’s function to reflect God’s glory in this dark and broken world.

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  30. Muff Potter: I have yet to see this kind of horse-poo-poo in Lutheranism.
    They (Lutherans) have a strong central government which does not allow the independent-alpha-male-strong-man maneuvering room to establish a dictatorship.

    I have seen it in Lutheranism. One tiny Colorado Lutheran church we were part of was targeted by a group with a political agenda. It didn’t gain traction, but the attempt was made.

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  31. Saskia,

    It is less contemporary than before. The band leader at 4pm left (oh the way she was let go is a whole story on its own) and the organist took over as the band leader for the 4pm service. Their idea of contemporary worship is to play hymns in a contemporary style (i.e. piano, guitar and the occasional bass).

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  32. Sandy Williams,

    There is, unfortuantely, a long list, some of which is discribed on various posts on the TWW, where “non-transparent/non-congregational vote” actions were taken by leadership that is VERY dishonest, in my humble opionion.

    In fact, years ago as a undergraduate, and a graduate student, I saw campus minstiries do things that were, IMHO, very dishonest just to get “butts in the seats”.. What really bugged me is that the leadership was “proud” of their dishonesty… I remember walking away shaking my head, thinking, is my faith dependent on people using deception/dishonesty to “grow the brand”????

    Then of course, you have the whole Ravi Zacharia thing… as a academic for 36 years, LIYING about your degrees is a BIG DEAL.. but to much of Evangelicalism it was “no big deal”…. triple sigh…

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  33. skehopeful: We must speak the truth in love

    I’ve read and commented on TWW posts for several years. I know that speaking the truth in love is at the core of what Dee, Todd and occasional others post as blog topics. They are on a mission to inform and warn the Body of Christ. Many commenters add to the blog, speaking from direct experiences of abuse and deception they have encountered in churches. If they didn’t love, they wouldn’t bother to add their voices to warn others about the red flags they see … what you see, you can’t unsee. Believers who have been through the valley of experience, who were betrayed by trusted church leaders … will always shout a warning in love to brothers and sisters in Christ.

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  34. dee: I feel an obligation to let people know. I do this day in and day out. I know the signs. I try to use my experience to help others. But I still struggle. I think I get it mostly right. And when I don’t, well, Jesus forgives.

    I truly believe that is the heart of the “Wartburgers” who frequent this blog. What you know, you can’t unknow … it’s in your knower.

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  35. The problem with Pastor Booker and the degree issue isn’t his actual credentials. It is his sin. He has either lied, and he doesn’t have any degrees whatsoever, or he has deceived people as to his actual education, or he is playing a perverse control game in not submitting the documents. Either he has sinned, or else he has sinned, or maybe he is just sinning. And the only way out now is confession and repentance, in which it appears he has no interest.

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  36. Max: skehopeful: We must speak the truth in love

    I’ve [Max] read and commented on TWW posts for several years. I know that speaking the truth in love is at the core of what Dee, Todd and occasional others post as blog topics. They are on a mission to inform and warn the Body of Christ. Many commenters add to the blog, speaking from direct experiences of abuse and deception they have encountered in churches. If they didn’t love, they wouldn’t bother to add their voices to warn others about the red flags they see … what you see, you can’t unsee [even if what’s seen is only during flashbacks]. Believers who have been through the valley of experience, who were betrayed by trusted church leaders….

    That.

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  37. dee: This has been my struggle for many years. I focus on helping folks navigate the increasingly choppy waters of the postevangelical church. So many people say, “If only I had known.”

    Another former church of mine, Chapel Hill Bible Church, is where I have heard this. When we left years ago, we warned some people that the church had changed. They disagreed with us, which is fine. It hit the fan a couple of years ago as we knew it would. I heard from some of those folks saying they wished they had listened.

    So, I feel an obligation to let people know. I do this day in and day out. I know the signs. I try to use my experience to help others. But I still struggle. I think I get it mostly right. And when I don’t, well, Jesus forgives.

    Dee,

    I think you’re almost always right, not mostly. 🙂 And in all the time I’ve been reading TWW (which is longer than I’ve been commenting on TWW 🙂 ), I’ve watched your struggles….your willingness to learn….your willingness to admit when you’ve been wrong….your willingness to change….your willingness to grow….your becoming more Christ-like…. I’ve learned so much from you…. 🙂

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  38. Watchman: The headless unicorn comment’s are painful to read as sarcasm, etc. only add to the pain that many of us are experiencing.We need truth and love, not more pain with silly comments that make our experience feel whimsical.

    Yet another commenter we have never heard before, with a CHRISTIAN-sounding handle.
    Until he can establish his credibility with a track record, another probable drive-by Defender of the Faith (and corrupt ManaGAWD). This and other church corruption blogs get them all the time. The software consultant ads on morning drive-time radio call them “Reputation Management Consultants”.

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  39. I’m wondering if he is in over his head. On the academic credentials he may be telling the truth just not the full truth. This being an issue may be a decoy. One thing he does seem to be lacking is formal seminarian training; not on the theology side but things like clinical pastoral education, running a church, church music, etc. Now these might have been learned on the job while working as a deacon and junior minister.

    On the ministry side he has been a deacon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Madison, MS, around 2005. The church had been around for less than 5 years and probably small. He then went to the Church of the Resurrection in Washington, DC, started in 2002, again as a junior minister in a church unlikely to have conflicting entrenched interests and probably still relatively small at that time. Then starting a new church in Boston in 2009. All of these churches were young and probably fairly flexible with him as a member of the likely only power group within the church. Then he moves onto Park Street Church with its long history, large congregation, and probably many invested groups who may have been around for decades. Add he started February 2020, just in time for the Covid pandemic and the resulting extra strain on everyone (including clergy burnout).

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  40. dee,

    Hi Dee: Ever since I was introduced to TWW (by a PSC missionary couple) less than 2 weeks ago, I am impressed that you w/ your friends are genuinely trying to help people in distress— that you are not some kind of trivial pursuit/gossip column/cynical journalism. Since you are seriously dedicated to seek the truth, you must be very busy to screen a huge range of info. Therefore I hope you will not waste more time about the academic qualifications of our SM. May I simplify the situation as follows:
    There are only 3 possible scenarios:
    (1) all the academic data when he applied to PSC are real and can be verified
    (2) all data are false, cannot be verified
    (3) some are real and some are false
    In any case, in 2020 our SM was legally hired— selected by the Board of Elders and voted by a majority of the congregation. Thereafter he functioned legally as the SM, fully authorized to hire or fire PSC staff, just as any CEO is normally authorized to do.
    However, since PSC is a congregational church, not a secular business entity, we expect more info about the hiring/firing. At this stage (3 yr. after he became SM), whatever academic degree(s) our SM had or did not have is no longer relevant to the congregation, or to the people he fired, or to the staff still working. Of the 4 ministers fired, the first 3 have found new jobs. The 4th person (ex-associate minister) is still available. Regardless of academic degrees, most of us respect him as well as our SM: Both have authentic faith, gifts of preaching, teaching and serving. We pray they will reconcile any admin. and personal issues and work together again, with eyes fixed on Jesus our Lord and Savior. I am hoping, by the grace of God, that somehow TWW will contribute to this peace making process.

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  41. skehopeful,

    “At this stage (3 yr. after he became SM), whatever academic degree(s) our SM had or did not have is no longer relevant to the congregation, or to the people he fired, or to the staff still working.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    lying is a big deal.

    (having said that, we all lie throughout the week to protect people’s feelings:

    “How do you like my new haircut?!”, she said with excitement. “I love it!! You look great!”, he replied.

    “What an interesting tie! It’s great!”, he said after opening the specially-wrapped gift and admiring the orange and green polka dot silk wonder.)
    .
    .
    however, both of these scenarios are lying of a different kind:

    (2) all data are false, cannot be verified
    (3) some are real and some are false

    when someone lies, they are no longer able to be trusted. their trustworthiness simply burned up and is no more.

    partial trust means zero trust.

    trust can be rebuilt, but it takes a long time and the terms of the relationship change in the process.

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  42. skehopeful,

    “We do need an independent agency like 4C’s to investigate our infrastructure and advise how to rejuvenate our mission to glorify the Lord.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    if christian entities would raise their integrity/honesty/transparency/kindness standards to that of my agnostic and atheist friends and family, that would be a start.

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  43. skehopeful: At this stage (3 yr. after he became SM), whatever academic degree(s) our SM had or did not have is no longer relevant to the congregation, or to the people he fired, or to the staff still working.

    If Booker misrepresented his academic credentials, it is a BIG deal and remains highly relevant. First, when our kids are told to never lie on their CV, they are going to wonder why not, if our own senior minister can do it?

    Second, at the most holy moment of calling as a pastor, the guy was freaking lying. Sacred vows taken under the guise of a lie are a stench in God’s nostrils. In the ‘Athens’ of America, we have a pastor who lies about his academic degrees, and we expect college and graduate students to respect and attend our church? No, they won’t come because that church “on a hill” has a lying pastor in the pulpit. This story is going to grow like a cancer.

    Third, there is a pattern of lying. The 17-page memo makes clear that there are many lies. Just like it was claimed in the memo, Booker is double-tongued. He has been lying, and he was lying even from the very beginning.

    Mark Booker needs to show everyone his diplomas. Lay open his academic transcripts, and prove that he holds the degrees claimed on his CV. After he can’t, it will simply prove that he is not the person that he has so piously presented himself to be.

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  44. skehopeful: Tax season is here—–Who wish to throw the first stone ?

    So are you saying that we should look the other way at Booker’s deceptions on his CV, because we all lie on our taxes? You give him a pass so that you get a pass? For the record, I do not mislead on my CV and I have not cheated on my taxes (to the best of my ability in doing them honestly).

    Christian leaders who follow Jesus should be truthful. If we fail, we should repent ASAP and repair the damage immediately, come what may. The ones who cover up should be held accountable for misleading statements, lying on their CV, or cheating on their taxes (which is lying and stealing). Repeat offenders are disqualified. Those who do not own their sins immediately and repair them, are disqualified from leadership. The Bible is clear.

    The evidence is building that he has lied about his CV, and he is covering up by crying foul. That is exactly the last kind of person who should be leading a church.

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  45. skehopeful: After he can’t, it will simply prove that he is not the person that he has so piously presented himself to be.

    Remember:
    THE MORE PIOUS, THE MORE PERVERSION.

    “RIGHTEOUS and PIOUS are WE, NOT THEE!
    The Moral Majority…”
    — only non-Punk “Moral Majority” song I could find in a search for one I heard on Dr Demento years ago

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  46. Watching,
    Dear Watching Friend:

    Excuse me: I did NOT say we should look the other way if he could NOT show his degrees.
    My remark was: AFTER HE BECAME SM, WHATEVER DEGREES HE DID OR DID NOT HAVE IS NO LONGER RELEVANT. My rationale is: those degrees represent his achievement as a student, as judged by his teachers. But now we have his professional track record for 3 years, partially reported by one colleague in a 17-page email, documenting progressive stress among PSC staff due to admin. issues. We need to consult an authentic Christian organizations (e.g. 4C’s) to discern God’s will how to resolve this problem.

    God is omniscient and judges our every thought, word and deed. How did Jesus treat the adulterous women brought to Him? He did NOT “look the other way” but asked any spectator who judged himself as sinless to do the stoning. Jesus himself was the only person qualified, yet he did not pick up a stone. He showed amazing grace, told her to leave but sin no more. He warned against self-righteousness but taught us to show mercy to others.

    I am absolutely NOT qualified to give myself or anyone a pass to lie on taxes or resumes or anything. I had told numerous black and white lies throughout my life. But I Have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, who loves me and died on the Cross for ALL my sins (not just my lies). I trust and thank Him for the grace of forgiveness 70x7xN. I depend on the power of the Holy Spirit to resist the Devil, but always fix my eyes on Jesus: He is the Way and the Truth, and is leading us to Life everlasting in the house of our Heavenly Father.

    May the Lord bless all the TWW bloggers with Joy, Peace and Love 24/7

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  47. elastigirl: Erp,

    “On the academic credentials he may be telling the truth just not the full truth.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    which is lying.

    Skipping some stuff is allowed. We don’t usually need to know what high school much less elementary school when he has a college degree. Note also we have yet to see the CV the nominating committee presumably saw which should have included years and maybe some incidental education (e.g., took a course on Anglican liturgy at XYZ seminary) as well as explicit about when ordained as deacon and priest. It may have been posted on the Park Street Church website at one time (there was a link to it according to the wayback machine when his appointment was first announced but the link page was never archived). Instead we’ve seen a summary where the Oxford MA without an accompanying Oxford BA sticks out to anyone who knows about Oxford degrees. Now it is entirely possible the summary was written by a third party (e.g., someone on the search committee) who is not familiar with Oxford degrees and they cut the wrong bits (dropping for instance a more important Oxford BA and keeping the far less important Oxford MA). With the start of his new job and the crunch of the pandemic, Booker let it slide and might not have even noticed right away (reading web pages about oneself does seem a bit prideful). Note this is giving the most generous interpretation and assuming no intention to mislead. It would also be easily cleared up by releasing a more complete CV.
    If he actually lied about credentials to the search committee that would be a different matter.

    The other item on the scales is whether he has been doing a good job (just, competent, and merciful) as a pastor since being appointed.

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  48. I was an active member of Park Street Church. I was known for my work in support of Park Street Church missionaries. Even though I was never in a leadership position at Park Street Church or any of its subsidiary groups, the nature of my work meant that I was exposed to the internal politics and dysfunction within Park Street Church.

    I left Park Street Church for all the reasons documented in this blog.

    I questioned whether Mark Booker was qualified to be the next Senior Minister of Park Street Church. I did not think the Senior Pastor Search Committee had properly performed Due Diligence; I was upset that I (as a member) were not provided enough information to perform my own Due Diligence (other than reference checks). I found his preaching to be solid, but shallow. I had concerns about Mark Booker’s character, brought on by his unwillingness to share relevant information with the congregation, questions that could have been answered had Park Street Church ordered Mark Booker to attend a three day pastoral suitability examination that included extensive psychological testing administered by a clinical psychologist. It is estimated that about 30% of all pastors suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This evaluation is critical for a candidate who is described as being ‘very charismatic’, as Mark Booker is, because this personality characteristic is associated with high narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (both should be disqualifying). I think members deserved to know if this had been done and an appropriate summary of the results, including concerns (in order to protect the privacy of the Booker family).

    I think people are so focused on Mark Booker’s academic credentials that they are missing another potential problem: Mark Booker’s employment at the whitewater rafting company in Colorado, run by his friends that he joined fresh out of college. According to Mark Booker, this company had 14 full-time (non-seasonal) employees. The ministerial search committee considered Mark Booker’s experience at this company to meet the requirement that a senior ministerial candidate needed to have administrative / personnel / budget management experience. The Outdoor Experience Industry has a long history of inflating job titles and responsibilities. He was employed by friends, so can professional references given by the owners of this company (if it still exists) be trusted–regarding the nature of Mark Booker’s employment and his job performance?

    Who becomes an elder of Park Street Church has been controversial.

    A church the size of Park Street Church should NEVER have nepotism within the Board of Elders.

    Doug May, Chris May’s husband, served on the Board of Elders while Chris May was serving as Minister to Women (an ordained, paid, part-time position). One of their children was serving as a Park Street Church supported missionary to South Africa while Doug May was an elder. Chris May has always been a controversial figure, for she is a mystic, promotes ‘spiritual formation’ that includes extra-Biblical practices such as Lectio Divina, Prayer Walking, meditation (a practice Jesus did not explicitly teach) etc. She will teach people whom she does not know well these practices. If these practices are taught, it must be done in an established small group of mature Christians, because these practices do incur some risk (the research done on the risks of meditation practices involved those taught for ‘stress management’ Here are some links: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5353526/ https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jan/23/is-mindfulness-making-us-ill
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/mindfulness-insights/202107/the-potential-dangers-mindfulness
    The only spiritual practice promoted in the Bible that I am aware of that can be risky is fasting–but that is for a minority of people. Other than that, the practices taught by Jesus are generally safe and appropriate for all Christians.

    Needless to say, to have Doug May serve as Elder while Chris May was a minister is nepotism; it made it practically impossible for members (like me) to approach an elder about providing counsel and perhaps disciplining Chris May.

    Currently, there is a married couple serving together as PSC elders. This is nepotism. Ling Yi Liu and Lesley Liu are married. Ling Yi Liu is the Missions Treasurer. This is nepotism and both Ling Yi Liu and Lesley Liu must agree to never serve in any leadership role in Park Street Church.

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  49. Cynthia W.,

    Dear Cynthia W,

    Good question. But I do not have any degree in divinity, verified or not. But since my retirement from a secular career, I decided to study (not just read) the Bible everyday. Here are two references about tax and stone-throwing. For godly interpretation, please ask your pastor.

    Verbatim (from the New Living Translation of the Bible)

    Gospel of Mark 12:15-17
    Jesus said, “Show me a Roman coin.. Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

    Gospel of John 8:7-11
    They kept demanding an answer, so Jesus stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord, “she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

    Happy Spring (almost here according to Mr. P. Phil)

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  50. A Former Member of PSC: I was an active member of Park Street Church. I was known for my work in support of Park Street Church missionaries. Even though I was never in a leadership position at Park Street Church or any of its subsidiary groups, the nature of my work meant that I was exposed to the internal politics and dysfunction within Park Street Church.

    A Former Member of PSC,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment, 🙂 and for including so many details. 🙂 And thank you for including the links to articles on mindfulness that discuss the potential downsides of mindfulness — so many of the discussions on mindfulness focus (pardon the unintentional pun 🙂 ) only on the positives.

    Of the three articles you linked to, the article I appreciated the most was the one from Psychology Today, titled The Potential Dangers of Mindfulness: The facts about mindfulness no one’s talking about., by Jason N. Linder, PsyD, July 12, 2021.

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  51. My apologies if my comment appears twice….this time I didn’t check (very big sigh) before I closed the tab on my screen to see if my comment might have gotten held up in customs….this comment might be a bit different. Usually I make a copy, but this time I didn’t. Very big sigh.

    A Former Member of PSC: I was an active member of Park Street Church. I was known for my work in support of Park Street Church missionaries. Even though I was never in a leadership position at Park Street Church or any of its subsidiary groups, the nature of my work meant that I was exposed to the internal politics and dysfunction within Park Street Church.

    A Former Member of PSC,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment, 🙂 and including so many details. 🙂 And thank you for including the links to the articles on mindfulness that include the downsides of mindfulness. So many articles focus (pardon the unintentional pun 🙂 ) only on the positives.

    The article I appreciated the most was the one from Psychology Today, titled The Potential Dangers of Mindfulness: The facts about mindfulness no one’s talking about., by Jason N. Linder, PsyD, July 12, 2021.

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  52. I couldn’t understand why I heard Mark preach 5 sermons in a row with the common theme: “Valuing academic credentials is a form of idolatry.” Was it because he knew that his true academic credentials were about to be revealed? That Master of Arts in Theology does not exist as a degree program at Oxford. It is much more likely that he completed a Bachelor of Arts in Theology (a two-year program for those already having a BA), and then paid a fee to “upgrade” that BA to an MA. This out-of-date Oxford tradition grants an “MA” that requires no additional academic work.

    As for the MS, there is no indication of the curriculum for this degree. But we have been reassured that this one-year program is the equivalent to a M.Div.; a three-year degree which includes in depth exegetical courses in Greek and Hebrew. I’m not clear what the practices are at Oxford, but Masters degrees in some academic institutions can be given as a ‘consolation’ prize for those who drop out of a PhD program.

    I have two questions. How could anyone honestly list an MA degree on their CV knowing that they didn’t take a single class or write one paper to earn it? Secondly, when the leadership became aware of the dishonesty and lack of qualification how is it possible that they continue to affirm his ethical and academic reliability?

    A reply to Dee’s comments: “For the sake of transparency, Pastor Booker should post his diplomas.”

    Degrees are a secondary issue here. The primary concern is adequate preparation for developing an in depth understanding of Scripture. We need to see the transcripts themselves.

    “If Michael’s words are valid, the PSC has a problem.” Mark has agreed that everything in Dr. Balboni’s document is “true.”

    Precilla’s comment:
    “Many, many attempts at reconciliation were made between the complainant minister and the new senior minister.”

    There is a long trail of mistreated and angry pastors and staff. If they were honest, you would know that perhaps 20% are satisfied with the current leadership. As Dr. Balboni made clear, the rest are too intimidated to tell the truth.

    “There have been a small but vocal minority of voices staunchly opposed to Mark Booker since he was first called.”

    Having seen how this whole process is being handled, I think that small minority has grown to nearly 50%. What we need is a vote of no confidence to find the actual number.

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  53. Cynthia W.,

    Dear Cynthia:
    My apology for the confusion. It is difficult to keep track of comments to and from every blogger because this is the first time I have ever participated in social media. When I am not sure how to respond, I pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit who is the witness for Jesus Christ. In this case, I simply quoted what Jesus said about taxes and forgiveness, rather than voice my own opinion. ……. I am no fan of AI.
    Praying for TWW and all the bloggers,
    skehopeful

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  54. skehopeful,

    I appreciate your honesty.

    in the greater context of this comment thread, this is what seems to me:

    -every day, all day long, we are exposed to data (what we see, what we hear, what we feel, what we experience, what we sense)

    -in response, every day, all day long, the following processes kick in: assessing, appraising, making judgements, and drawing conclusions)

    -no one has pure and perfect motives on any given day

    -it is impossible to plumb the depths of our motives, let alone merely having time for indulging in such things

    *(if we were to try, our brains would turn inside-out like a paper cup, and the
    paranoia dial start turning up)

    -to refuse to make assessments (a less religious way of saying “to judge) is a fool’s errand

    *it brings in hypocritical double-standards since we are already doing it
    (subconciously and conciously).

    *It’s what alerts us to danger and better choices in looking out for our kids,
    our loved ones, our co-worked, our jobs, our businesses, ourselves.

    *to refuse to ‘judge’ (which ends up being a very circumstantial event) means we
    become passive and compliant in the face of wrongdoing.

    *someone(s) somewhere is being harmed when there is wrongdoing; but that becomes
    a non-priority

    Summary statement:

    When we refuse to ‘judge’, it means we are more interested in ourselves, our progress, our status, our ability to make God happy, and the degree to which God is pleased with us,

    than we are in the welfare of our neighbor and what is right, honest, moral/ethical.

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  55. elastigirl,

    Dear elastigirl

    Thank you for your advice and explanation regarding judgment and ‘our ability to make God happy’. Again I confess I am not a theologian. I can only rely on and obey what Jesus taught us through the Bible
    * Luke 6:36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged. Condemn not, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
    41 why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? … first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck from your brother’s eye.
    John 3: 17 God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
    * John 5: 30 I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.

    Praying for peace, wisdom and love in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ,
    skehopeful

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  56. elastigirl: in response, every day, all day long, the following processes kick in: assessing, appraising, making judgements, and drawing conclusions)
    -no one has pure and perfect motives on any given day
    -it is impossible to plumb the depths of our motives, let alone merely having time for indulging in such things
    *(if we were to try, our brains would turn inside-out like a paper cup, and the
    paranoia dial start turning up)

    Love this.

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  57. skehopeful: am not sure how to respond, I pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit who is the witness for Jesus Christ. In this case, I simply quoted what Jesus said about taxes and forgiveness, rather than voice my own opinion. …….

    I havde been spending many years out here in the evangelical wilderness. I am glad you quote Scripture. So does everyone on all sides. One can pic the Scripture that bends towards one’s position.

    People on all side, who are Christian or bend that way, can find Scripture to back up their cause. I call this Bible war. The hard part of all of this is this is that no one gets it right. Look at the issues: denominational differences (all of them think they’ve got it right.) Lets add the age of the earth, how to baptize, who get communion and it goes on and on. Many people look for that one verse that is the “gotcha” verse.

    By the way, all of these people pray the Holy Spirit shows. them the right verse. What happens when the Holy Spirit seems to give competing verses? Everyone walks away “knowing” that they are right.

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  58. BTA: I couldn’t understand why I heard Mark preach 5 sermons in a row with the common theme: “Valuing academic credentials is a form of idolatry.” Was it because he knew that his true academic credentials were about to be revealed?

    Could you refer me to any one of those sermons? I am still interested in following this online and another post will surely come.

    BTA: That Master of Arts in Theology does not exist as a degree program at Oxford. It is much more likely that he completed a Bachelor of Arts in Theology (a two-year program for those already having a BA), and then paid a fee to “upgrade” that BA to an MA. This out-of-date Oxford tradition grants an “MA” that requires no additional academic work.

    Thank you for this concise explanation. If Oxford does this then shame on them.

    BTA: A reply to Dee’s comments: “For the sake of transparency, Pastor Booker should post his diplomas.”
    Degrees are a secondary issue here. The primary concern is adequate preparation for developing an in depth understanding of Scripture. We need to see the transcripts themselves.

    I agree with you. Was he adequately prepared? I can only judge by seeing where PSC is at. I would guess, “No.” but I’m willing to be proved wrong.

    BTA: There is a long trail of mistreated and angry pastors and staff. If they were honest, you would know that perhaps 20% are satisfied with the current leadership. As Dr. Balboni made clear, the rest are too intimidated to tell the truth.

    I believe Michael Balboni. His concerns have not been adequately addressed. Instead it appears that there is a game going on “Mark is good and Michael is bad.”

    BTA: Having seen how this whole process is being handled, I think that small minority has grown to nearly 50%. What we need is a vote of no confidence to find the actual number.

    What an interesting idea!

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  59. skehopeful,

    I really don’t like to play “My verses show I’m right.” I know you think you are following God but I could write verse after verse showing you something different. We all tend to search for verses that prove our point. When we do, we end up more divided than ever.

    True story: Years ago, I set up to prove, via Bible verses, if the Calvinist or Arinian perspective was correct. I listed the verses that support it and I listed the verses that support a more Arminianesque (my word) point of view. This went on for months.

    My notebook was filled with verses. Guess what? The Calvinist point of view won by about 20%. Does this mean Calvinism is correct? Of course not. We humans like to make lists and do counts. What this told me was that I was right to have concerns about Calvinism.

    Each verse we quote as a proof text means that it is a context for no text at all. (Thanks to my old pastor, Pete Brice.) Everything must be given in context. What comes before. What comes after. etc.

    So, today I am not a Calvinist but still don’t know what to call myself. I came up with the term Arminianesque. Sort of but not quite…

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  60. A Former Member of PSC: I questioned whether Mark Booker was qualified to be the next Senior Minister of Park Street Church. I did not think the Senior Pastor Search Committee had properly performed Due Diligence; I was upset that I (as a member) were not provided enough information to perform my own Due Diligence (other than reference checks). I found his preaching to be solid, but shallow.

    I find your assessment interesting and insightful.

    A Former Member of PSC: I had concerns about Mark Booker’s character, brought on by his unwillingness to share relevant information with the congregation, questions that could have been answered had Park Street Church ordered Mark Booker to attend a three day pastoral suitability examination that included extensive psychological testing administered by a clinical psychologist. It is estimated that about 30% of all pastors suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    You are ahead of your time. This testing for pastors is being discussed online. You are correct about the problem with NPD in pastors. The office itself encourages such behaviors. These guys often become admirals in rowboats, threatening to throw everyone overboard unless they do it his way. That is dangerous for the church.

    A Former Member of PSC: The Outdoor Experience Industry has a long history of inflating job titles and responsibilities. He was employed by friends, so can professional references given by the owners of this company (if it still exists) be trusted–regarding the nature of Mark Booker’s employment and his job performance?

    I never thought about this. Thank you.

    A Former Member of PSC: Doug May, Chris May’s husband, served on the Board of Elders while Chris May was serving as Minister to Women (an ordained, paid, part-time position). One of their children was serving as a Park Street Church supported missionary to South Africa while Doug May was an elder. Chris May has always been a controversial figure, for she is a mystic, promotes ‘spiritual formation’ that includes extra-Biblical practices such as Lectio Divina, Prayer Walking, meditation (a practice Jesus did not explicitly teach) etc.

    Fascinating. I am concerned that an elder is chosen when his wife is a staff member. Has Booker ever spoken about Chris’s ministry? Or is she too influential and he knows which side his bread is buttered on?

    A Former Member of PSC: Currently, there is a married couple serving together as PSC elders.

    Yikes!

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  61. skehopeful,

    “Again I confess I am not a theologian. I can only rely on and obey what Jesus taught us through the Bible”
    ++++++++++++

    well, might as well continue the conversation.

    i guess we’re all theologians at one level or another.

    professional theologians disagree.

    their thoughts and conclusions can be interesting.

    doesn’t mean they’re necessarily any closer to the truest of true truth.

    doesn’t mean they don’t resort to magical thinking – literary, historical and textual criticism be darned, let alone logic. let alone what is kind and moral and wise.

    some go so far as to say that everything in the NT is Jesus talking and is his command. even when Paul clearly says it’s his opinion.

    the fact of the matter is we all pick and choose what information in the bible to focus on and what to keep in the blur which we ignore. out of habit, convenience, to conform and be accepted, to get what we want.

    in my own wrestling with the bible & all this, I’ve made ‘loving my neighbor as myself’ / treating others the way I would want to be treated as the plumb line of my theology.

    i could no longer accept the bible being used for cruelty, self-centeredness, manipulation, and general foolish stupidity.

    and seems to me that was Jesus’ priority, too.

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  62. BTA,

    ““Valuing academic credentials is a form of idolatry.””
    +++++++++++++++++

    well, that’s a first. spiritualizing academic achievement.

    what nonsense.

    people spiritualize things to feed their own felt-needs. and to manipulate people when they feel threatened or aren’t getting what they want.

    doing it when you’re wearing the influencer hat in a God context is reprehensible.

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  63. dee: Each verse we quote as a proof text means that it is a context for no text at all. (Thanks to my old pastor, Pete Brice.) Everything must be given in context. What comes before. What comes after. etc.

    Exactly.

    The New Calvinists love to camp out in the Pauline epistles, while avoiding the Gospels. If you read Paul first, you might read Jesus wrong. But if you read Jesus first, the writings of Paul come into perspective. Genuine faith depends on being exposed to genuine Truth and you can only find that in the whole of Scripture, which puts the context into all text.

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  64. dee: today I am not a Calvinist but still don’t know what to call myself. I came up with the term Arminianesque. Sort of but not quite…

    Eons ago, I did some lay-preaching in SBC churches. When the New Calvinist movement began to rear its head in SBC life, I was asked by a pastor who invited me to speak at his church “What side are you on?” My reply “I’m on Jesus’ side.” That didn’t satisfy him so he disinvited me to speak.

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  65. dee: I was right to have concerns about Calvinism

    I’m not anti-Calvinist, but I am anti-New Calvinist. During my long tenure in Southern Baptist churches as a non-Calvinist, I worshiped alongside classical “Old” Calvinists. I counted some as friends. I found them to be civil in their discourse and respectful of other expressions of faith. But this “New” Calvinism is a totally different beast. The new reformers are militant in their takeover of non-Calvinist churches. Their modus operandi is stealth & deception. They are authoritarian and spiritually abusive. They believe they hold the one true gospel and have come into the world for such a time as this to restore it to the church (gospel = Calvinism to them). As we’ve seen countless times, it is not beyond them to lie to pastor search committees about their theological leaning in order to gain control of a church. I comment on TWW to help paint a picture of who these folks really are … to add my voice to others who inform and warn the church to beware of ministers, churches, and denominations aligned with the NeoCal movement.

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  66. elastigirl,

    Dear Elastigirl, and all TWW friends commenting on the scriptures I quoted:
    May I reiterate that I have no theological training, but is a ‘lay’ Christian saved by grace, grace sufficient for all my sins including pride, envy, self-righteuosness– you name it. Therefore I take pains to always go back to the basics—– What did Jesus say? What Jesus said can be interpreted very differently by both Christians and non-Christians. So I simply meditate silently and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me how to apply the Word in each situation…. trusting ‘the truth shall make me free.’
    I enjoy reading the interpretation from every blogger, and pray the Lord will help each seeker dig deeper each day, to discern and practice what Jesus wants us to be– more and more like Him.

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  67. A Former Member of PSC: Doug May, Chris May’s husband, served on the Board of Elders while Chris May was serving as Minister to Women (an ordained, paid, part-time position). One of their children was serving as a Park Street Church supported missionary to South Africa while Doug May was an elder. Chris May has always been a controversial figure….

    This is the first I’ve heard of Chris May being controversial. She and Doug are two of the gentlest, most soft-spoken people you will ever meet.

    A Former Member of PSC:Needless to say, to have Doug May serve as Elder while Chris May was a minister is nepotism; it made it practically impossible for members (like me) to approach an elder about providing counsel and perhaps disciplining Chris May.

    “Nepotism” is when someone is selected because they’re family, not simply their presence. As far as I know, that’s not the case here, though I agree with you and Dee that the potential conflict of interest is best avoided altogether.

    What made it “practically impossible” for you to approach another elder with your concerns and ask that Doug recuse himself from any discussions of Chris? What would you have done if you had concerns about an elder?

    A Former Member of PSC:
    Currently, there is a married couple serving together as PSC elders. This is nepotism. Ling Yi Liu and Lesley Liu are married. Ling Yi Liu is the Missions Treasurer.

    The Missions Treasurer is not an elder and is not on the board. And again, it’s not nepotism unless either one of them wasn’t qualified or was preferentially selected over someone better qualified.

    Frankly, I find it interesting that you attack two families who are not in the “inner ring” and have paid the price for it. It’s giving me DARVO vibes, especially when any supposed nepotism will cease in 3 weeks when a new Missions Treasurer is elected.

    Now having elders’ family members on the Nominating Committee strikes me as more problematic, as does having spouses swap elder seats when one has reached their term limit…

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  68. Max,

    Hi Max:
    Thank you for this remarkable insight. Yes, Jesus is the CONTEXT on which all scripture is based– both OT and NT; and the Holy Spirit continues to bear witness of everything Jesus said.

    John 14: 15-27. “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–The Spirit of Truth. ..You know Him for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you….. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you…. The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.”

    Amen

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  69. Main-line protestant denominations in the USA have requirements for ordination. Most require a M.Div, field-education site, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) – basically hospital chaplaincy and individual psychological counseling and testing.

    Plus a lengthy ordination paper – that they have to defend before other ministers in that particular denomination. Ministers then send their profiles to churches searching for a pastor. Then there are in person-meetings with a search committee. Once they receive their first call they can be ordained.

    Three distinct religious communities have each played a part in the on-going conflict at PSC. They are the ACNA, 4Cs and PSC leadership. So if none of the three groups verified SM educational degree, blame part of it on them.

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  70. dee: Thank you for this verse.

    The Living Bible translation puts it this way:

    “It isn’t our job to judge outsiders. But it certainly is our job to judge and deal strongly with those who are members of the church and who are sinning in these ways” (1 Corinthians 5:12 TLB)

    The preceding verse included “in these ways” transgressions of concern:

    “You are not to keep company with anyone who claims to be a brother Christian but indulges in sexual sins, or is greedy, or is a swindler, or worships idols, or is a drunkard, or abusive. Don’t even eat lunch with such a person.” (1 Corinthians 5:11 TLB)

    I believe the overall point that Paul was trying to make was that the Body of Christ should not leave sin in the camp unconfronted. If the Church of the Living God is to remain pure and holy, sin should be called out … it should be “judged”, even if it is in the pulpit. A pastor who sins does not do so under Holy Spirit anointing … “Touch not my anointed” doesn’t apply.

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  71. Max: Eons ago, I did some lay-preaching in SBC churches.When the New Calvinist movement began to rear its head in SBC life, I was asked by a pastor who invited me to speak at his church “What side are you on?”My reply “I’m on Jesus’ side.”That didn’t satisfy him so he disinvited me to speak.

    Wasn’t the Big Fight between Calvin and Arminius almost FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AGO?

    “Tell me, which side are you on, boys?
    Which side are you on?
    Tell me, which side are you on, boys?
    Which side are you on?”
    — Pete Seeger

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  72. Max: Headless Unicorn Guy: Wasn’t the Big Fight between Calvin and Arminius almost FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AGO?

    The big fight never stopped … the Calvinists and Arminians will continue to squabble ’til Jesus comes and sets us all straight.

    Like the Shia & Sunni in Islam – a 1400-year-old inheritance blood feud.

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  73. Grieving,

    It’s obvious that you haven’t looked at the Park Street Church web page that lists the elders. Ling Yi Liu has the title “Missions Treasurer” That doesn’t bother me as long as he’s not a paid employee of Park Street Church. What bothers me is that Ling Yi Liu and his wife, Lesle Liu are serving together as elders. A church the size of Park Street Church should be able to find 12 qualified members who are not related to each other and who are not related to staff members to serve as elders. Link to elders page: https://www.parkstreet.org/about-us/elders/

    Chris May is controversial because not everyone who goes to Park Street Church is a mystic or interested in learning about extra-Buiblical mystical practices. There are some people who attend Park Street Church who consider these practices to be heretical.

    Chris May is also controversial, because she has a long history of promoting non-Biblical spiritual exercises / spiritual formation to people she does not know well. I explained why, from a purely secular perspective, I find this problematic–that these practices are very similar to practices taught in mindfulness stress reduction classes, practices that have been shown to do harm to a minority of people. This is why I firmly believe that if these practices are taught, it must be in an established small group or individually, that the teacher has to know the student. This is the way these practices were traditionally taught in religious communities. There is another way to look at it–There are evangelical pastors who think that these practices are heretical Here are links to some articles critical of these practices. I’ve shared links to two articles and one web site that goes into greater depth on this topic:

    Teaching the Word Ministries gives a quick summary: http://www.teachingtheword.org/apps/articles/?articleid=224878&view=post&blogid=5449

    Critical Issues Commentary: The Dangers of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Discipline. https://cicministry.org/commentary/issue91.htm

    Lighthouse Trails website gives much more detailed explanations of why certain practices associated with spiritual formation might be questionable: https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/

    There are many conservative pastors who condemn these practices, including John McCarth

    Chris May has a Spiritual Director who appears to be promoting questionable, if not occult practices. Chris May, in her October 21, 2021 Women to Women newsletter, acknowledges that her Spiritual Director is Adele Calhoun. From the newsletter, “On the recommendation of my spiritual director, Adele Calhoun, I’ve begun reading…”

    Here is a link to the part of Ms Calhoun’s web site I will be talking about: https://www.calhounministries.org/enneagram

    Adele Calhoun has written three books on the Enneagram. The Enneagram originates from the Centeral Asian mystic and occultist Georges Gurdjieff (who did not think well of Christians). The strain that Adele Calhoun teaches contains the additions made by Oscar Ichazio and his student Claudiao Naranjo, which spread into various Roman Catholic communities and then into Evangelical Christianity. The Gospel Coalition has posted a good article on the Enneagram and explains its origins:https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-faqs-what-christians-should-know-about-the-enneagram/

    The Gospel Coalition article’s last two paragraphs are in error. The Enneagram has not gone away. In fact, major Christian publishers, including InterVarsity Press, are still publishing books advocating use of the enneagram.

    All Enneagram Personality Tests are considered “pseudoscientific at best” Link:https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/enneagram-personality-test-experts-explain

    Psychology Today: Your Favorite Personality Test is Probably Bogus: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/people-are-strange/201909/your-favorite-personality-test-is-probably-bogus

    Adele Calhoun is not someone a pastor of a Biblically solid church should turn to for pastoral advice and counsel, yet Chris May does just that.

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  74. A Former Member of PSC,

    FYI: Doug and Chris May, both PSC ministers, are the parents of Andrew May, who (w/ wife Anne and 3 kids) are PSC missionaries serving prisoners in S. Africa for at least 5 years. Last year they took over the prison fellowship programs of the later Rev. David Bliss (PSC missionary 1979-2015) There is no doubt his compassion for prisoners and prison guards is a heritage of grace from their devout parents.

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  75. A Former Member of PSC: Adele Calhoun has written three books on the Enneagram. The Enneagram originates from the Centeral Asian mystic and occultist Georges Gurdjieff (who did not think well of Christians).

    Gurdijeff.
    I’ve heard about him. One WEIRD Dude.

    And the solution to a 45-year-old personal mystery. Back in the late Seventies I was working in North Hollywood and cashing my paychecks at a bank branch in Universal City. A phrase was tagged on a freeway retaining wall next to the bank; I must have driven past it every two weeks:
    FOOD FOR THE MOON.
    I remember it because it was just so off-the-wall WEIRD.

    It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I learned it was also a phrase associated with Gurdijeff. Still don’t know what it means, but like I said, One Weird Dude.

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  76. skehopeful,

    I don’t see how the May’s son’s missionary work is relevant here. If the May’s leadership is in question than that needs to be addressed absent discussion of their son.

    People who do good things can also do really bad things. Church history is full of such people.

    Personally, I had traumatic experiences with Chris May. I’ve had to go to a therapist to undo the terrible teachings and the treatment of me when I began to push back on her manipulative practices.

    There are few people at Park Street who are willing to listen to experiences like mine and other women when it comes to their experiences with Chris. We are often told – it’s simply a misunderstanding. That’s why we leave.

    Many people in leadership at Park Street receive the same treatment: Mark Booker, Geoff Raux, the Murgatroyds, Mike Ahearn, Jason Abraham, Kathie Lindemann. “They are our friends. They do good work. How can they be abusive?”

    Thankfully Michael Balboni has seen through this as well as the petitioners. They are presenting clear evidence. If only the congregation would listen. Maybe the were be less hurt people.

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  77. Dee:

    Fascinating. I am concerned that an elder is chosen when his wife is a staff member. Has Booker ever spoken about Chris’s ministry? Or is she too influential and he knows which side his bread is buttered on?

    I had been attending Park Street Church on and off, for years before I decided to become a regular attendee and actually join PSC.

    I rejected Park Street Church initially because of Chris May. I found her to be breathless “Oh So Spiritual” sort of person, that her behavior reminded me too much of the New Age spiritual teachers, the Eastern gurus, etc. I came across while living near the Berkshires. I found her behavior to be both offensive and unseemly.

    I joined Park Street Church because I appreciated the rock solid Biblical teaching and preaching. I joined Park Street Church because of the members who walked the walk as Christians. I joined Park Street Church because of its New England Congregationalist heritage. For various reasons, I did not want to be exposed to extra-Biblical Christian practices–I found them to resemble what was taught in the Berkshire County cults. The pastor who lead the membership class, who was definitely NOT a Christian mystic, gave me a map of the landscape of PSC, a good idea of where I might fit in and how to avoid the mysticism that was becoming popular within PSC. I joined Park Street Church because Chris May and her ilk were avoidable (and this is a large church… there are going to be people you are probably going to choose to be polite to, whose work you might support, but you avoid whenever possible.)

    I left Park Street Church for the reasons you have aptly documented in this blog. I left because I did not want to attend an Anglican church. I left because pastors were promoting Charismatic Christianity (“God told me to…”, “God said…”) and extra-Biblical practices from the pulpit. That included Michael Balboni, someone I would not have thought would have preached a “God Said” sermon. (He preached a sermon where he told a story from his life. He said that God ordered him to keep a spiritual diary and had done it for quite some time… and had saved it. Then, he lost his current diary in the Denver Airport. He was afraid of the wrath of God because he lost his diary.. and then recovering it. This was a classic “God Said” sermon, which I find offensive.)

    I left because elders gave lip service when members and staff brought legitimate concerns to their attention. This included concerns about Chris May’s conduct and teachings (such as her involvement with Adele Calhoun, openly teaching extra-Biblical practices to people she does not know, nepotism, promotion of controversial authors/books/music, having an occultist as one’s Spiritual Director, etc.). You can see just in the comments section that there are PSC members who are quick to defend Chris May because they like her, like her promotion of extra-Biblical Christian mysticism and think she is “Oh so spiritual”.

    I think Mark Booker knows what side his bread is buttered on–and that is with the Mays and their supporters.

    I have shed a lakeful of tears over what has happened at PSC. I am heartbroken. I pray for PSC; I pray for healing.

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  78. Christine: Personally, I had traumatic experiences with Chris May. I’ve had to go to a therapist to undo the terrible teachings and the treatment of me when I began to push back on her manipulative practices.

    There are few people at Park Street who are willing to listen to experiences like mine and other women when it comes to their experiences with Chris. We are often told – it’s simply a misunderstanding.

    Christine, I am truly sorry to hear that you had this experience.

    I would like to listen and to understand. Would you be willing to share more about what was traumatic or manipulative? I’m having trouble imagining her doing anything like that, but I recognize that that is only based on my own experience, and in no way does it mean that I doubt yours. I simply need help to understand.

    If recounting your experiences would be too traumatic, then I will simply grieve with you. Please know that I hear you and I believe you, even if I don’t understand.

    A Former Member of PSC: It’s obvious that you haven’t looked at the Park Street Church web page that lists the elders. Ling Yi Liu has the title “Missions Treasurer”…. What bothers me is that Ling Yi Liu and his wife, Lesle Liu are serving together as elders.
    Actually, I have looked at that page. You’ll notice that it says “Elders and Officers.” There is a difference. Among other things, there are scriptural qualifications for elders, they have term limits, and they are vested with broad responsibilities.

    If you look at the church’s bylaws on their web site, you’ll see that the Missions Treasurer has a very limited role. He is not a member of the board of elders and has no vote on the board. Perhaps you were thinking of the church Treasurer, who apparently has been participating and voting at board meetings recently?

    Once again, the Lius are not both elders, and, even if they were, this complaint would be moot in two weeks, which makes me puzzled by the apparent outrage.

    A Former Member of PSC: I left because elders gave lip service when members and staff brought legitimate concerns to their attention.

    I thought you said it was “practically impossible” to approach the elders?

    A Former Member of PSC: You can see just in the comments section that there are PSC members who are quick to defend Chris May because they like her, like her promotion of extra-Biblical Christian mysticism and think she is “Oh so spiritual”.

    That’s attributing a lot of motives to others. I defended Chris because your accusations did not align with my experiences. As you might see above, I am willing to hear others’ experiences.

    Some of your misinformed rhetoric made me suspect that you were a sock puppet creating a side show to distract people from PSC’s actual problems right now.

    If I am mistaken, then I apologize. There have been a lot of clandestine efforts to sow confusion.

    A Former Member of PSC: I think Mark Booker knows what side his bread is buttered on–and that is with the Mays and their supporters.

    I doubt that. Perhaps you were unaware that Doug May was purged from the Board last year?

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  79. Christine,

    Dear Christine
    My deep sympathy for your painful experience from your counselor @ PSC. May our Lord Jesus who is the ultimate great physician grant you healing and restoration as you depend on His Omnipotent and Everlasting Arm.
    I agree 100% that people can do both good and bad things; Good parents/teachers can end up with bad children/students, and VICE VERSA. Only God is good, and His love endures forever.
    This series of blogs started as a response to the PSC ex-associate pastor’s specific report about the senior minister’s track record in the past 3 years, for which he wish for an independent reviewer in order for PSC to be revived to continue her long-established mission to spread the gospel— which is what I hope for as a PSC member
    However, the TWW blogs have imperceptibly transformed into a diverse platform of blanket statements referring to any staff or volunteer at PSC. This is too complicated and time consuming for me to follow. But I do trust God’s grace is sufficient for all believers. Bye !

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  80. dee,

    In my church row with the most press coverage, I counted seven factions, none of which represented me. That was 27 years ago.

    It took another 17 years after the press lost interest before some more of the bad part of the train skipped the tracks. I am glad for everybody who escaped earlier than I did, and I have ceased to care about the hard core of recidivists (real losers).

    But a larger scale recurrence is now looming in disguised form (some influential elements are inventive) despite the best efforts of our official regional leader in that particular denomination.

    skehopeful: diverse platform of blanket statements

    Some comments which are interleaved are about our longer term observations across a range of churches. As for people with first hand attendance at Park Street they will all have perceived different details and interpreted them in their own way. One has to become a kremlinologist / vis a vis every single person that goes to such a church: that’s a natural effect of trauma. Moreover it is hugely difficult to articulate such issues.

    I note a melt-in-mouth, high handed element on staff are using pseudospiritual means to perpetuate feelings of self-disgust among many, instead of encouragement.

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  81. I have lost faith in the board of elders and Mark Booker leadership. When they refuse to fully investigate Michael Balboni’s spirit abuse. The subcommittee that interviewed Michael did not know the difference between the truth and being Mark’s yes-sir henchman.

    MOD: In case you don’t know, you keep changing your name in ways that trip you into moderation. Please pick a name and stick with it. Thanks. GBTC

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  82. Grieving,

    Doug May was not purged from the board. Park Street Church does place term limits on elders; Doug May was not eligible to run. He was not ‘purged’.

    Park Street Church has a married couple serving as elders, which is clearly stated on the web site.

    I see that many people commenting here are so focused on minor details that the most serious problems are not being addressed.

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