The Park Street Five: Already Sidelined, Will They Be Fired? Will Mark Booker Become Known as “The Firing Pastor?”

“The soul has no secret that the behavior does not reveal.” Lao Tsu


Here is a link to all of my PSC posts.


Will five pastors be fired momentarily?

Ben Rey planted the Church of the Cross. When Mark Booker (MB) was appointed pastor, it appears he fired Ben Rey. He seemed to claim he planted that church instead. Then MB came to PSC. There were a couple of pastors fired, which flew under the radar. Then, he fired Michael Balboni, who attempted to discuss his concerns in a 17-page memo he wrote when asked to outline his issues with MB. The Boston Globe noted that letter when they discussed PSC. (BTW, that article did not do MB or PSC any favors. So much for witnessing to the heathens.)

Then, some suck-up started a “Sign this rag if you love our pastor and the elders. How excruciatingly amateurish. (Who wrote that “open letter?” Don’t let them write more letters…) But members and pastors jumped on the bandwagon and signed this nonsensical posting. What good does it do to hear pastors’ affirmations if job security is at risk?

Five pastors did not sign it. They did not “affirm” MB. Last week, on the eve of Easter, they were banned from participating in the Easter service as pastors and from speaking about what happened. However, for outsiders, there is no need for them to speak. The elders and MB exhibited cruelty on the most holy of Christian observances. I’m sure that others see it for what it is. How could MB and the leaders do something like this?

It is theorized that the Vicinage Council will meet today with the “Park Street Five “(as they have come to be known.” Also, there is a meeting for the church leaders tonight. Many have expressed to me that these dear pastors will be fired. No wonder they think that. After all, MB has fired before. When people show you who they are, believe them.

If they are fired, MB and church leaders will have fired 8 (eight) pastors. For the rest of the ones who “affirmed” under duress, be careful. Things are looking rather grim for employment longevity at the moment unless one holds an “Oxford degree.”

A Change.Org petition appeared today.

Two readers pointed this out to me. Please feel free to sign and share it.

Former Park Street Church Attendees Call for 3rd Party Investigation & Non-Retaliation

The Vicinage Council

Finally, let’s see if this council is worth it. This historical church is falling apart. Attendance at the Easter service was nothing to get excited about. There is a shortage of income from the pewsitters. Are people subtly expressing their concerns?

I will watch to see if these outside church leaders can target the main issues. They seem rather apparent to me.

There is more to come.


Comments

The Park Street Five: Already Sidelined, Will They Be Fired? Will Mark Booker Become Known as “The Firing Pastor?” — 285 Comments

  1. “Five pastors did not sign it. They did not “affirm” MB. Last week, on the eve of Easter, they were banned from participating in the Easter service …”

    While the crowd shouted “Away with the Park Street Five! Give us Booker!!”

    Doesn’t the crowd see it? They are the ones on trial.

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  2. So sad what is happening to this church.

    However, I don’t feel free to sign the petition because of the wording of the first sentence: “ We, the undersigned, represent concerned previous regular attendees and members of Park Street Church.”

    I don’t feel that I represent either previous regular attendees or members of this church.

    I do, however, represent a part of the concerned body of Christ as a whole who thinks this whole thing is shameful and ought not to be happening. I will continue to pray for this whole mess, that righteousness will prevail, although considering all the other church implosions of the past decade, I am not that sanguine.

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  3. Firing five ministers tonight is not going to solve any of the issues at PSC. The most heart wrenching issue for me is that these five ministers have done nothing wrong other then saying that they can not support MB. I had one parishers tell me that he respects the elders decisions and it is somewhere in the Bible that we are suppose to do the same. I can not respect the elders/moderator who have caused so much paine and suffering on many of including me, the 33% of the congregation that does not support MB and the fired ministers and there families.

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  4. > How could MB and the leaders do something like this?

    The thinking might be similar to the idea, advocated by some, that one shouldn’t bring Communion to shut-ins since Communion is an expression of the unity of the local congregation and should only be performed under conditions that express the unity of the gathered group.

    One could imagine that the unwillingness of The Five to “affirm” the senior minister could be interpreted by the leadership to be a kind of transgression against the unity of the local body (of which the senior minister is the “head”), and that it would in some invisible spiritual way impair the group observance if The Five were to participate.

    (Not defending, just trying to imagine what might be going on in senior leadership thinking about what to do and how to justify it.)

    But it’s hard to imagine that this decision would not further damage the unity of the group.

    It has been said of the neoconservative approach to foreign policy that “they don’t have a reverse gear.” It looks kind of similar in this situation. If there is a cliff ahead, there may not be a way to avoid going over it.

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  5. Samuel Conner: The thinking might be similar to the idea, advocated by some, that one shouldn’t bring Communion to shut-ins since Communion is an expression of the unity of the local congregation and should only be performed under conditions that express the unity of the gathered group.

    Which is similar to the idea “WE MUST HAVE UNITY, COMRADES!”

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  6. Like Martin Luther, the Park Street Five wrestled with their difficult decision to not sign the demanded loyalty pledge. “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience would be neither right nor safe. God help me. Here I stand, I can do no other.” Like Leo X, if MB and JA hold on to their power, honesty, integrity, and morality are irrelevant.

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  7. janiceg:
    Firing five ministers tonight is not going to solve any of the issues at PSC. The most heart wrenching issue for me is that these five ministers have done nothing wrong other then saying that they can not support MB. I had one parishers tell me that he respects the elders decisions and it is somewhere in the Bible that we are suppose to do the same.I can not respect the elders/moderator who have caused so much paine and suffering on many of including me, the 33% of the congregation that does not support MB and the fired ministers and there families.

    I certainly hope and pray that The Park Street Five did not get fired this evening. We will soon see…

    I am so terribly sorry for what you & the faithful remnant are going through.

    I am so thankful for Christian sisters like you, who are shining the light of truth in a dark place.

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  8. janiceg,

    “I had one parishers tell me that he respects the elders decisions and it is somewhere in the Bible that we are suppose to do the same.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    just cuz they’re elders?? huh.

    well, if they’re all going to be this pedantic over blindly following rules for rules’ sake, then i wish they’d go the whole way and emasculate themselves. that’s in the bible, too.

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  9. He will be known as “The lying, firing pastor.”

    All the firings have required deceptions to keep the congregation at bay.

    But it is not just they lying-firing pastor.

    It is also the lying-enabling moderator.

    The unjust-clever moderator-elect.

    And the false elder protectors: A.Z., D.M., K.P.

    And then there is a group of 25+ on a few key committees. They all need to take a long, silent retreat. They all need a fresh Jesus moment and a few years off from leadership.

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  10. janiceg: I had one parishioners tell me that he respects the elders decisions and it is somewhere in the Bible that we are suppose to do the same.

    This Scripture is more applicable: “They are blind guides leading blind followers. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)

    The current PSC is a pit, if I’ve ever seen one!

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  11. janiceg: I had one parishioner tell me that he respects the elders’ decisions, and it is somewhere in the Bible that we are supposed to do the same.

    Did he provide a specific citation for his “somewhere in the Bible”? Often, when one reads what is actually in the Bible, one finds that claims about what is “Biblical” or “Scriptural” (in a normative sense) don’t hold up to what the text actually says.

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  12. janiceg: I had one parishers tell me that he respects the elders decisions and it is somewhere in the Bible that we are suppose to do the same.

    This is what happens when one takes a Bible verse out of context and runs with it. The verse assumes that the elders must be functioning properly and not showing favorites. That is not the case here. The church leadership is in disrepair, and the members must rally to repair the damage.

    Context is everything. “A text without context is a pretext for a proof text.”

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  13. I give my all to the church to which I’m committed. But twice in my adult life, it became very obvious that my staying wasn’t going to help, but that leaving would be much better for my spiritual health. I left . One of those churches is still struggling 35 years later, while the other shut down. I think it may be time for congregants to leave this church and go elsewhere.

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  14. Molly245:
    So sad what is happening to this church.

    However, I don’t feel free to sign the petition because of the wording of the first sentence: “ We, the undersigned, represent concerned previous regular attendees and members of Park Street Church.”

    I don’t feel that I represent either previous regular attendees or members of this church.

    I do, however,represent a part of the concerned body of Christ as a whole who thinks this whole thing is shameful and ought not to be happening. I will continue to pray for this whole mess, that righteousness will prevail, althoughconsidering all the other church implosions of the past decade, I am not that sanguine.

    Thank you so much for this. As someone who was part of getting this petition off the ground (3 of us worked on it), we really DO care how you think & feel about this Park St. mess, as our sister in Christ!

    We made a strategic choice to limit the signatories to former PSC members & current attendees, only because 100 signatures from the broader PSC community may have more impact than 100 signatures from the broader body of Christ in this situation.

    We do, really and truly, appreciate your prayers. Ultimately nothing will change, unless God changes and softens a lot of hearts.

    As Dr. Diane Langberg has said, whatever does not bear the character of God, is not of God. And I’m getting such a “bodies behind the bus” vibe from PSC these past several months.

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  15. Lowlandseer,

    1 Peter 5:5, “Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ ”

    ** That doesn’t say “respect the elders’ decisions.”

    Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

    ** That doesn’t say “respect the elders’ decisions.”

    Our assistant pastor told us – a group of the older Hispanic ladies – that we weren’t allowed to gather for prayer at our church on Good Friday morning. Not in the church building, not in the office/classroom building, not outdoors on the property. We submitted and did not do any of those.

    We didn’t respect his decision, though: we went to another church and did our prayers.

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  16. Cynthia W.: Our assistant pastor told us – a group of the older Hispanic ladies – that we weren’t allowed to gather for prayer at our church on Good Friday morning. Not in the church building, not in the office/classroom building, not outdoors on the property. We submitted and did not do any of those.

    That decision (his, not your) totally deserves a side-eye. Did he explain his reasoning?

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  17. Lowlandseer:
    Cynthia W.,

    Hebrews 13:17 for example, also 1 Peter 5:5.
    But there are alsoverses regarding elder qualities and obligations.

    Really? Do you honestly believe these passages apply to the current situation at Park Steeet?

    You are in essence saying that Jesus was wrong for turning over the tables or when he called out the religious leaders who were hypocritical in condemning the woman caught in adultry.

    When religious systems are corrupt and leaders are misusing their power to cause harm – it is not only the right thing to do but is the Christ like thing to do to expose these systems for the evil they are.

    I pray that the Holy Spirit opens your eyes and see the amount of evil that has occurred by people who use these passages in the way you are. A good place to start are the Spotlight articles exposing the Catholic sec abuse.

    May God have mercy.

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  18. Sarah (aka Wild Honey): Did he explain his reasoning?

    No. A series of excuses was passed through the secretary: that nobody would attend (we’ve been doing this devotion for more than 10 years); that it wasn’t on the church calendar (because they wouldn’t allow us to put it on the calendar; that the office/classroom building wouldn’t be open (several of us have keys). It was all garbage.

    Then he told Miss Nilda that if she didn’t stop asking, maybe he would just cancel the Spanish service on Sunday, which is attended by 800 to 1,000 people weekly.

    So no, we don’t respect his decisions. In our more charitable moments, we figure he has dementia.

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  19. If the Park Street Five are fired, it will be because their church has become a cult of a personality. A situation where “loyalty to the group, and obedience to the leader becomes more important than more established values.” Identity fusion with a personality cult can result in ties to the group that are even stronger than rational thought. The only real justification for their dismissal would be “disloyalty to our dear leader” rather than “they told the truth, the whole truth and nothng but the truth and our tribe calls that demonic activtiy.”

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  20. People who have been attending PSC for awhile may have noticed a difference in the midday Lenten services this year. You may know that Tammy McLeod has a son who is severely disabled due to a traumatic brain injury. He is now in his 30s and lives in assisted living due to his physical, mental, and cognitive needs. Tammy and Pat have spoken extensively about this experience and wrote a book about ambiguous loss.

    For years, Tammy and Zach have played music together for the Lenten services. It was such a sweet opportunity for them to serve the church. This year, Mark took this away from Tammy and Zach. If you’ve encountered Zach you’ll know that how important he is to the fabric of PSC: he is devoted, encouraging, and enthusiastic in his worship. I think that Zach is, of whom I have met, a person who best demonstrates God’s unconditional and unrestrained love. Additionally, Tammy and her family were unable to be a part of the Easter processional for the first time. I don’t know how she explained this to Zach, but it must have been incredibly difficult. Mark Booker’s ego has taken something precious away from one of the most innocent and pure sheep of his flock.

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  21. Mark Booker’s ego has taken something precious away from one of the most innocent and pure sheep of his flock

    Mark did not do this alone The elders, JA the personal committee all played a part.

    Observant Outsider:
    People who have been attending PSC for awhile may have noticed a difference in the midday Lenten services this year. You may know that Tammy McLeod has a son who is severely disabled due to a traumatic brain injury. He is now in his 30s and lives in assisted living due to his physical, mental, and cognitive needs. Tammy and Pat have spoken extensively about this experience and wrote a book about ambiguous loss.

    For years, Tammy and Zach have played music together for the Lenten services. It was such a sweet opportunity for them to serve the church. This year, Mark took this away from Tammy and Zach. If you’ve encountered Zach you’ll know that how important he is to the fabric of PSC: he is devoted, encouraging, and enthusiastic in his worship. I think that Zach is, of whom I have met, a person who best demonstrates God’s unconditional and unrestrained love. Additionally, Tammy and her family were unable to be a part of the Easter processional for the first time. I don’t know how she explained this to Zach, but it must have been incredibly difficult. Mark Booker’s ego has taken something precious away from one of the most innocent and pure sheep of his flock.

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  22. Observant Outsider:
    People who have been attending PSC for awhile may have noticed a difference in the midday Lenten services this year. You may know that Tammy McLeod has a son who is severely disabled due to a traumatic brain injury. He is now in his 30s and lives in assisted living due to his physical, mental, and cognitive needs. Tammy and Pat have spoken extensively about this experience and wrote a book about ambiguous loss.

    For years, Tammy and Zach have played music together for the Lenten services. It was such a sweet opportunity for them to serve the church. This year, Mark took this away from Tammy and Zach. If you’ve encountered Zach you’ll know that how important he is to the fabric of PSC: he is devoted, encouraging, and enthusiastic in his worship. I think that Zach is, of whom I have met, a person who best demonstrates God’s unconditional and unrestrained love. Additionally, Tammy and her family were unable to be a part of the Easter processional for the first time. I don’t know how she explained this to Zach, but it must have been incredibly difficult. Mark Booker’s ego has taken something precious away from one of the most innocent and pure sheep of his flock.

    Wow. This is truly sick.

    I just read Tammy & Pat McLeod’s book, Hard Hit, a couple weeks ago. What an incredible story of faith in & love for God – and especially from Zach himself.

    Tammy & Zach worshipping together is such a poignant part of the book, and also such a profound witness.

    I’m so sorry, Tammy & Zach.

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  23. Linn: I give my all to the church to which I’m committed. But twice in my adult life, it became very obvious that my staying wasn’t going to help, but that leaving would be much better for my spiritual health.

    Linn, you identify with several who comment regularly on The Wartburg Watch. It’s painful to leave a fellowship of believers you have served with because church leaders are not ministering and leading as they ought. When a place that was once spiritually refreshing becomes exhausting to attend, one has to make a decision to stay or leave. When staying does not provide relief to spiritual drought, it’s time to leave and seek water elsewhere. During such times, it’s helpful to remember that the Body of Christ is larger than the local church.

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  24. Christine,

    That’s not what I said. The original commenter said there’s “something in the Bible….”. You questioned that. I pointed out relevant verses. I also pointed out that there were other verses that applied to the qualifications and responsibilities of elders. One balances out the other.

    And for the record, Jesus was right to do what he did. But feel free to go off on another rant.

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  25. “ For the qualifications of pastors we must consult Paul, (1 Tim. 3, etc.,) as also for the obedience, honour, and love, which the people owe to them, (Heb. 13:7, 17.) Here, however, be it observed, that they must not be listened to, when they depart from the doctrine of Christ; nay, Paul pronounces them “accursed,” when so departing. (Gal. 1:8, 9.) The faithful must not be united with pastors, except in Christ and for Christ; as often therefore as the latter are separated from Christ, the former must separate from them.”
    (Benedict Pictet: Christian Theology)

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  26. Observant Outsider,

    We are still waiting for the Moderator to announce the results of the 4Cs interviews, and what the PSC leadership will do based on their findings. No idea how long we need to wait.

    2 weeks ago, I emailed 4C’s adm. saying: Thank you for coming to assess the situation at PSC. May I ask: after you have conducted interviews and written a report to our Board of Elders, will a lay PSC member like myself be able to get a copy from the BoE, or I may directly request a copy from you? ——- This email was never answered.

    Please pray especially for Tammy and family– she is simply the most courageous, patient, gentle and professional minister I have ever met
    Dear Lord, we do hope it is your will to keep her in PSC to be a role model for the spiritual growth of every family in PSC.

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  27. Cynthia W.: Our assistant pastor told us – a group of the older Hispanic ladies – that we weren’t allowed to gather for prayer at our church on Good Friday morning. Not in the church building, not in the office/classroom building, not outdoors on the property. We submitted and did not do any of those.
    We didn’t respect his decision, though: we went to another church and did our prayers.

    Oh, good night! These guys are making things worse with stupid decisions. I guess that;s not respecting them either. However, they are not my elders so have an out.

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  28. Max,

    Anyone that was at the annual meeting would know that one member of the so-called Park Street Five (which is way too serious a name for this group) acted like a petulant teenager at the microphone… and would have been fired on the spot in any regular job.

    Pretty ironic becuase I think the claim is that Mark is “quarrelsome.”

    Doesn’t apply to all members of that group… but certainly applies to one.

    Also, what’s up with y’all claiming that Easter attendance wasn’t good? It was packed.

    Finally, why are you referring to elders by their initials? It’s not like their names aren’t available on the internet.

    Seriously folks…

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  29. dee,

    With due respect for every minister appointed to the 4C Vicinage council, I cannot help wondering why it takes $ 100,000 to request the interviews. In any case, these funds are derived from the sacrificial donations of PSC members—which include many students or low income people such as elderly or disabled. PSC members have the right to SEE what we paid for— even if the leadership is not ‘required’ to follow all their advice.

    The VOCA report allegedly cost a similar amount, and the real report is still hidden from the congregation. It’s about time for doves to switch into serpent mode.

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  30. BTA: And all the VOCA report said was that there isn’t enough conclusive evidence to label Mark’s behavior as “abusive” according to their definition…no comments about honesty, integrity, interpersonal, administrative, or leadership skills.

    They obviously didn’t consider the holy standards set by Scripture for the office of pastor.

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  31. Cynthia W.: Our assistant pastor told us – a group of the older Hispanic ladies – that we weren’t allowed to gather for prayer at our church on Good Friday morning. Not in the church building, not in the office/classroom building, not outdoors on the property. We submitted and did not do any of those.

    When you discourage prayer, you cease to be a church.

    Jesus said “My house shall be called a House of Prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17).

    Speaking of … it’s extremely hard to see the hand of Jesus moving in the PSC mess.

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  32. Max:

    Speaking of … it’s extremely hard to see the hand of Jesus moving in the PSC mess.

    I see it in the holy boldness, love and grace of the Balbonis, the petitioners, The Park Street Five, in elders who resigned, etc. I saw it in an Easter sunrise service with some of these folks this past Sunday. So much love and joy, even under heartbreaking circumstances.

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  33. PGWood,

    I am sure this situation is frustrating to you and others who support the pastor and elders. It is obvious there is a serious divide. I highly doubt you would like to lose 1/3 of your membership. So, it is up to you and others to figure out a way to bridge the divide. If this is not accomplished, there will be difficult days ahead. Thank you for your comment.

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  34. Observant Outsider:
    People who have been attending PSC for awhile may have noticed a difference in the midday Lenten services this year. You may know that Tammy McLeod has a son who is severely disabled due to a traumatic brain injury. He is now in his 30s and lives in assisted living due to his physical, mental, and cognitive needs. Tammy and Pat have spoken extensively about this experience and wrote a book about ambiguous loss.

    Tammy and Zach have played music together for the Lenten services for years. It was such a sweet opportunity for them to serve the church. This year, Mark took this away from Tammy and Zach. If you’ve encountered Zach you’ll know that how important he is to the fabric of PSC: he is devoted, encouraging, and enthusiastic in his worship. I think that Zach is, of whom I have met, a person who best demonstrates God’s unconditional and unrestrained love. Additionally, Tammy and her family were unable to be a part of the Easter processional for the first time. I don’t know how she explained this to Zach, but it must have been incredibly difficult. Mark Booker’s ego has taken something precious away from one of his flock’s most innocent and pure sheep.

    I am dismayed that Booker would do such a thing. I have seen this sort of response by thin skinned pastors who are involved in taking over or changing a church. It is disturbing, and I need to think of a way not to let this comment get swallowed up.

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  35. dee: I have seen this sort of response by thin skinned pastors who are involved in taking over or changing a church.

    I wonder what Mr. Booker would say if he were asked what great cusp of vision of God-working yadda-yammer was served by depriving a handicapped man and his mother of the opportunity to serve and depriving attendees of the opportunity to be served.

    Our current and future (as of July 1) Parish Council chairladies have a meeting later this month with our pastor. One of the questions they intend to ask is, “What goal is served by forbidding some old people to pray at our own church?” I’d love to be a fly on the wall … and also, I’m going to suggest that they record the conversation, and afterward I plan to give them wine until they dish.

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  36. PGWood: acted like a petulant teenager at the microphone… and would have been fired on the spot in any regular job.

    Thank you, PGWood, for showing us in your comment why Park Street is so broken at this time. You could have responded to the concerns of the dissenting ministers and other concerned congregants with love and a desire to understand their concerns. Instead, you have decided to call them names and say the minister who spoke out at the annual meeting ought to be fired.

    Where is the love of Christ in your statement? I ask you this in all sincerity, and with the knowledge that I too fall short in my ways of speaking. Such an attitude has no place in Christ’s church. You may find such an attitude in any “regular job,” but why is that the standard you are applying? Shouldn’t the church bear witness to a better way, and show that the hard path of true love and reconciliation is the way of God?

    I do not know all you have experienced in these past six months at Park Street. I do know that no one has come out of this time unscathed, and I’m sure the hurt runs deep in you and all your fellow congregants. But I plead with you to not let that hurt turn to bitterness and hatred toward one another. And to the extent it already has, seek forgiveness from those you have wronged, and offer it to those who seek it from you.

    And don’t forget that those five ministers you speak of so dismissively love the church just as much as you do. Together, they have served the church faithfully for decades. If they are fired, you may have a church without them, but it will be a far diminished church that acts more like the world around it than the Bride of Christ.

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  37. PGWood:
    Max,

    Anyone that was at the annual meeting would know that one member of the so-called Park Street Five (which is way too serious a name for this group) acted like a petulant teenager at the microphone… and would have been fired on the spot in any regular job.

    I really admire The Park Street Five. It’s taken an immense amount of courage for these godly, faithful, longterm ministers to risk their livelihoods & beloved vocations in taking a stand against desperately unhealthy, domineering & secretive leadership at PSC.

    That is why they are called “The Park Street Five.” It doesn’t cost anyone anything to remain silent and/or approve the status quo.

    Does anyone at TWW have the transcript of what Tim Leary actually said at the Annual Meeting? I’d love to see it.

    PSC leaders’ current vision of the church is the eye saying to the hand, “I don’t need you.”

    How is this even ministry?

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  38. Observant Outsider: People who have been attending PSC for awhile may have noticed a difference in the midday Lenten services this year. You may know that Tammy McLeod has a son who is severely disabled due to a traumatic brain injury. He is now in his 30s and lives in assisted living due to his physical, mental, and cognitive needs. Tammy and Pat have spoken extensively about this experience and wrote a book about ambiguous loss.

    For years, Tammy and Zach have played music together for the Lenten services. It was such a sweet opportunity for them to serve the church. This year, Mark took this away from Tammy and Zach. If you’ve encountered Zach you’ll know that how important he is to the fabric of PSC: he is devoted, encouraging, and enthusiastic in his worship. I think that Zach is, of whom I have met, a person who best demonstrates God’s unconditional and unrestrained love. Additionally, Tammy and her family were unable to be a part of the Easter processional for the first time. I don’t know how she explained this to Zach, but it must have been incredibly difficult. Mark Booker’s ego has taken something precious away from one of the most innocent and pure sheep of his flock.

    I’m so sorry for what happened to Tammy and Zach….

    And some of the PSC people STILL support and believe in Mark Booker?????

    No offence or hurt intended to those who are trying to fix the PSC mess — and I’m not talking about Mark Booker and his intentional or unintentional allies: And people are STILL attending PSC?????

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  39. PGWood,

    Elizabeth Klein,

    To: PGWood and to all TWW bloggers interested in the PSC debacle
    May I take this opportunity to post the original letter of 2/21/24 which all PSC staff, elders and deacons received from FIVE PSC ministers viz. J. Linnell, R. Kam, D. Long, T. Leary and T. McLeod; in which they reported that, during the VOCA team interviews, all five ministers expressed serious concerns, therefore could NOT in good conscience affirm their support of the senior minister.

    Despite the crude/ungodly GAG order imposed on them for several years at work, they all signed this letter on 2/21/24 BEFORE the annual meeting 2/25/24). Furthermore, Pastor Tim Leary, PSC Director of Graduate Education for 13 years, personally spoke in truth with love to the attendees of the meeting. Therefore I propose to honor them with the title COURAGEOUS FIVE MINISTERS (CFM).

    A few days ago we all watched the horrible news video, taken from a helicopter, of a teenagers running out of a car on the highway and shot dead. If you ignore the context, you may say this kid must be on drugs, highjacked a car, chased by police, tried to run away and got killed.

    Pastor Leary appears youthful –(may be flattered to be called a teenager)—but each of us need to prayerfully, honestly and patiently contemplate what he said, where, when and why.

    ***************************************************************
    From: Julian Linnell

    Date: Wed, Feb 21, 2024 at 9:18 AM

    Subject: Letter of Concern

    To: Staff-All , Elders-PSC , Deacons , Selwyn Jayakar(personal)

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    To our fellow congregants at Park Street Church, in love and care, and with pastoral concern—

    We are writing today in response to the elders’ video this past Thursday (2/15) that mentioned the VOCA report. On the video, one of the elders states: “Though VOCA did not conduct an investigation, they interviewed all our ministers and did not find evidence of any behavior rising to the level of spiritual abuse.” This carefully worded statement implied that there were no serious concerns revealed by VOCA, leading the elder to then add, “Our board supports Mark… and is sincerely committed to linking arms together with him in leadership.”

    While we desire true unity and peace within the staff and congregation, we feel strongly that this statement misrepresented our voices, and we do not wish the congregation to be misled by this communication. The truth is, all the signatories of this letter, representing 70+ years of pastoral service at PSC, have serious concerns about the leadership, and we all shared that clearly with the VOCA team. Last week, when many on staff were asked to support the senior minister in writing, the majority of the ministerial staff, including us, could not in good conscience sign a letter of affirmation.

    We feel that to remain silent at this time could be understood as agreement with the implication that there are no serious concerns. We feel it important that we communicate clearly and honestly, that we as ministers of this congregation are deeply distressed by the direction that the church has taken, and by the leadership style that has been adopted, under which we are also subject.

    With love and blessing and in His care,

    Julian Linnell, Minister of Missions, 2014 – present
    Raymond Kam, Minister of Internationals, 2015 – present
    Damian Long, Staff Missionary, Minister of Community, 2002 – present

    Tim Leary, Director of Graduate Student Ministry, 2011 – present

    Tammy McLeod, Director of College Ministry, 1999 – present

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  40. PGWood,

    It’s a very contentious time at the church, can you understand that some people might get emotional? The way Jason Abraham was running that meeting I think he was justified. And what about Nathan Skinner’s inappropriate behavior? What he did was worse than Tim Leary and I am sure he faced no consequences. And a church should (almost) never just fire someone on the spot.

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  41. Seeking Truth,

    Let’s be clear – I’m not calling anyone names. I’m simply describing how somone acted. If you want to call it “yelling, pouting, interrupting, sighing, rolling the eyes”… that’s your choice.

    The fact that someone else is asking for a transcript of what that person said… when I didn’t name them… should indicate something to you.

    For those of you that are like, “the Park Street Five are so brave”, how many of you have seen Damien’s email to the congregation… where he breaks rank with the other 4? Might change your opinion.

    Dee, would you like to publish it?

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  42. PGWood,

    I don’t care what you call it, your comments are a perfect example of the “root of bitterness” Mark preached against the day of the annual meeting. It applies to his defenders just as much as his detractors.

    Would you care to make a substantive argument in favor of how Mark and the Elders have governed the church for the past year? Can you defend stripping five ministers of their duties for not signing a letter defending the senior minister? How does this advance the Gospel in any way?

    Rather than making vague insinuations, can you make a rational argument for your point of view? Or are you just here to troll? So far it’s looking a lot like the latter, but I would welcome evidence to the contrary.

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  43. PGWood:
    For those of you that are like, “the Park Street Five are so brave”, how many of you have seen Damien’s email to the congregation… where he breaks rank with the other 4? Might change your opinion.

    You mean the one he wrote before the annual meeting and his suspension?

    It didn’t seem to change Mark’s opinion. Why would it change ours?

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  44. PGWood,

    I am not trying to be difficult, but I truly do not know what you are talking about. I do not see how you have “pointed out the other side of the narrative”. What is the other side? All I see is you trying to poke holes, but with no positive statement of what the other side actually is.

    Again, if you’re not trying to make a case for Mark, what exactly are you doing? It just feels like a very pointless exchange if all you’re trying to do is “poke holes.”

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  45. PGWood:
    And if you’re about to answer, “reading from the confidential VOCA report”… why don’t you let the other people in this thread know what was said?

    Warning – it might not fit neatly into the prevailing narrative here…

    Are you suggesting that the report paid for by the leadership (with a dangled carrot of further work for VOCA) didn’t lay all the blame on Mark and instead said all the ministers need VOCA’s help?

    I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked.

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  46. PGWood,

    What email are you referring to? I’ve asked some others, there doesn’t seem to be an email from Damian sent out to the general body.

    And you seem to have a better idea of what’s in the VOCA report, why don’t you share what is so indicative instead of vaguely referencing to things.

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  47. Grieving,

    Haha…

    But Grieving, let me ask you – what evidence would it take for you to change your mind on this? Who would have to investigate it and what evidence would you need for you to say, “yep I was wrong?”

    I suspsect that for most people on this forum (and at PSC) nothing is really going to change their minds now.

    The best course of action is for the petitioners to leave. If they don’t think Mark is qualified to be a minister/the elders are corrupt, then they should go to a church where there is a proper minister etc.

    If Park Street is really so corrupt / bad / awful… then why are they still going there?!

    Wish them nothing but the best… but please leave the majority of us who are happy at PSC in peace.

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  48. PGWood,

    On the contrary, I am all too familiar with the other side. I was only asking for you to state it clearly and support it with facts, which I see you are unwilling to do. In light of that, I too wish you the best, and dearly hope you can come to see why you should care about your fellow congregants who are hurting.

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  49. Observant Outsider,
    My understanding of the other side is simple. We don’t care if Mark lied on his resume, we don’t care if he is unqualified to even be an assistant pastor, we don’t care that he demands that his staff break confidence, we don’t care that he has no leadership skills, we don’t care how many times he has lied to the staff and congregation, we don’t care that he has alienated his most experienced pastors. He is the pastor so he must be right.

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  50. Seeking Truth: Thank you, PGWood, for showing us in your comment why Park Street is so broken at this time. You could have responded to the concerns of the dissenting ministers and other concerned congregants with love and a desire to understand their concerns. Instead, you have decided to call them names and say the minister who spoke out at the annual meeting ought to be fired.

    But if he shows how Loyal He Is (and does it LOUD), Pastor may let him join the Inner Ring.
    “ANOINTED BOOKER! REMEMBER MINE LOYALTY WHEN THOU COMEST INTO THY KINGDOM!”

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  51. I got to be in the same small group with Zach McLeod for a couple of years! It was a joy to pray with him and to see God’s miracles unfold in his life as he regains speech and mobility. We got to meet many caregivers who accompanied Zach to church on Tuesday evenings and Sunday mornings. It was a blessing to see who God brought into contact with followers of Jesus through Zach’s residential community.

    I got to visit his residence and was blessed to see those often overlooked by busy and achievement-oriented people (including me, regrettably) having a good time together. The image of God in each person (residents and caregivers) was a healthy dose of medicine to my weary soul that gets mixed up priorities too quickly… especially in this college town and education destination region.

    I never knew the previous Zach… the new Zach is quick to share a laugh, eager to pray, filled with joy, and a bit mischievous in a kind and gentle way. In short, his life is a constant reminder of both our frailty and God’s loving kindness in using what the world and Jesus’ disciples saw as marginal (the boy’s lunch of fish a bread) to feed many and encourage countless others.

    If you haven’t read “Hit Hard,” or studied or experienced “ambiguous loss” I expect you will be strengthened and moved by Pat and Tammy’s words.

    As an aside, Zach’s conversation with his dad prior to his traumatic brain injury is such an interesting part of his family’s journey.

    They have been a blessing and example to so many in the Boston area through various opportunities… before, during, and after Zach’s life-changing brain injury.

    For more reading and listening opportunities, see these spots online:

    Zach McLeod’a testimony at Park Street Church, August 2008
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AUk6I9GLv-c

    Pat and Tammy McLeod’a website
    https://patandtammymcleod.com/zach-mcleod/

    Boston Globe’s article (behind a paywall): “Zack McLeod an inspiration to his BB&N peers” Nov 16, 2018 — Strength made perfect through weakness. Ten years after…
    https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/high-schools/2018/11/16/zack-mcleod-inspiration-his-peers/EGqetcWI6O5ulVjGCRnbiK/story.html

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  52. PGWood: Anyone that was at the annual meeting would know that one member of the so-called Park Street Five (which is way too serious a name for this group) acted like a petulant teenager at the microphone… and would have been fired on the spot in any regular job.
    Pretty ironic becuase I think the claim is that Mark is “quarrelsome.”

    Hi, PGWood. Welcome to TWW. I’m a bit new here, but wanted to mention that this blog is dedicated to those who have survived various forms of abuse within church communities. I know you mentioned that some claim Mark Booker is quarrelsome. The concern is not that he has a penchant for being argumentative. The concern is that he has engaged in abusive behavior: bullying, intimidation, spiritual abuse, and coercive control. He is also accused of intentionally misleading statements, dishonesty, hiding the truth, and lying.

    Abusive people walk among us and are often charming and respected members of society. It is hard and painful to find out a person you like, respect, and trust is abusive. It is hard to reconcile learning profound life-changing lessons, especially spiritual ones, from a person who is also revealed to be an abusive person.

    It is hard to grasp because they are often not abusive TO YOU or in a way you can see. For example, unless you are a minister at Park Street Church who reports to Mark Booker as your supervisor, you may not have been in close proximity to become a target of his coercive control. Fortunately* for everyone, there are some survivors of his abuse who have decided to speak out about patterns they have seen over four years. Others who have experienced his abuse, though not because he is their supervisor, have also spoken out.

    (*It is fortunate for Mark Booker as well as for those who have experienced his coercive control. If he wants help to change, there are many support groups and resources for abusers who have decided to walk in the light and freedom that confession affords. One local organization, DOVE (Domestic Violence Ended) runs a virtual group for abusers who are working to change, The definition of domestic violence includes coercive control… specifically relevant from the annual meeting, Mark doesn’t need to shout to be abusive to someone.)

    One starting point for interacting with abuse survivors is to choose to believe them. Stories of abuse are incredibly stressful to share with others, let alone the public. There is a long history of bias against those who come forward to report abuse. As a result, survivors can take years to even name behaviors as abusive. There is a grief that lays heavy on survivors (or victims… let them choose the vocabulary, by the way) to come to terms with the reality. No one wants to be a victim / survivor or to have a parent, sibling, relative, partner, boss, child, or friend be an abusive person. We don’t WANT to believe it… but over time (and four years isn’t that long for those at Park Street Church) the patterns become undeniable. At some point one has to call abuse by its name.

    What you are seeing at your church, as survivors disclose the abuse, is the end result of a long process. As Leslie Liu mentioned (if my memory is correct that it was her… I don’t have my notes from that day in front of me) at the annual meeting, in order to get treatment for an aliment, one needs an accurate diagnosis first. This is that diagnosis. It’s not a quarrelsome or argumentative nature or general division. It’s abuse.

    The great news for everyone is that abusers are not without a Physician of the soul, mind, or body! Jesus is eager to bring healing to abusers too: miraculous, wonderful, unexpected healing… it will take hard work, lots of time, and honesty. It’s the healing of the addiction to power over others. Like any addiction, it will be a long road. But it can begin now. Park Street Church can become a place Jesus brings healing and change to Mark Booker and Jason Abraham and others.

    For the victim-survivors, which (speaking of being honest) now includes the members and regular attendees: may Psalm 57 and Exodus 2 bring comfort and clarity. These verses in Exodus have often comforted me, especially the verbs in verses 24 and 25. God hears, remembers, sees, and knows the abuse going on.

    Exodus 2:23-25
    [23] During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. [24] And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. [25] God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

    Perhaps with Passover starting on April 22nd, we can all be asking for an Exodus from this situation. I continue to long for our future permanent Exodus, purchased by The Lamb of God, from our own sins and the sins of others… that will be an amazing day when we get to be fully free from the pain, suffering, and evil currently prevalent in our own hearts, in the hearts of everyone around us, in our churches, and in the world.

    “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

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  53. Janiceg: Is it true that the church sent Susan lane a “your not welcome anymore letter” and has withdrawn her fellowship?….

    Yes. We can let her share the details when she is ready. It’s particularly egregious… more coercive control. In writing. Perhaps on church letterhead.

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  54. Thank you for confirming this. I also received a nastygram on churchletter head (not psc) I am not a saint, but the degree that the Sr Pastor used to convience her inner circle that I was the problem instead of admitting she was the real problem was sounds frightenly similiar. Later on I was told that she/inner cirle did this to a least five other members. On my part I had to learn what the word forgiveness truely means. It has taken years of counseling to heal the damage. In regards to SL – congregationalists have attendency to revolt against the system – i.e Samuel Adams and the Boston tea party. When the dust settles hopefully she will repent and be forgiven by the congregation.

    Friend of Park Street Church: It’s particularly egregious… more coercive control.

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  55. Friend of Park Street Church,

    A great summary for the issues at hand. It’s unfortunate that church elders and pew-supporters of Mr. Booker don’t see what you and so many others see. The underlying mission of TWW is to inform and warn about church abuse in various forms. Many who comment here have been victims of abuse, including spiritual abuse by authoritarian church leaders. They see the red flags at PSC because they have been there, whether they’ve been ‘there’ or not. They are members of the greater Body of Christ and agonize to see other Christians exposed to abusive ministers and ministries.

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  56. I would just like to state publicly that my pastor had nothing to do with this petition: https://www.change.org/p/park-street-church-community-calls-for-3rd-party-investigation-non-retaliation?signed=true

    That petition was written by two very concerned siblings in Christ, and myself. I will not reveal the names of the other two who were part of getting this effort off the ground, so that they are protected from PSC retaliation.

    My pastor had no idea that our petition even existed until yesterday, when he got a truly bizarre phone call from someone at PSC, who was somehow convinced – without a single shred of evidence – that my pastor was the mind behind the petition (what??!), and that he’s some kind of ringleader getting me to get our church to gang up on poor PSC. Or something like that.

    I don’t know who the phone caller was, so FTR:

    – Please leave my pastor alone. Again, he had nothing whatsoever to do with this. He already has too much on his plate.

    – This incident speaks volumes as to what today’s PSC leaders think ministry actually is, that a pastor would actually fill adoringly loyal heads with his or her own agendas, so that congregants or subordinates jump when he or she says jump. (Projecting much?) That assumption itself is just thoroughly creepy.

    Also, whatever happened to the Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers??? I have a mind of my own. I also have a relationship with God. Read my Twitter bio; it’s all public. I hate abuse & abuse coverups.

    If PSC leaders don’t want the broader public to associate PSC with phrases like “spiritual abuse,” then perhaps they might try harder to refrain from imitating the abuse coverup playbook so predictably?

    Obviously, the above petition touched a nerve, and someone at PSC wants me to be silenced.

    I don’t see any ultimate vision for church from PSC leaders except for the eye saying to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Which isn’t ministry at all.

    Imagine if you would instead, humbly learn from your worst critics? A whole vista of understanding would be opened to you.

    That’s ministry.

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  57. PGWood: The best course of action is for the petitioners to leave. If they don’t think Mark is qualified to be a minister/the elders are corrupt, then they should go to a church where there is a proper minister etc.

    If Park Street is really so corrupt / bad / awful… then why are they still going there?!

    Wish them nothing but the best… but please leave the majority of us who are happy at PSC in peace.

    =======

    Why do the petitioners still care about Park Street and want to keep attending? Why don’t we all just find another church that suits us? One good reason is this: as Boston is known as the “hub city of New England”, so Park Street has long been known as a core / lighthouse / solid / established / reliable / evangelical church in the hub of New England. It has historic ties to Gordon College, a substantial budget supporting missionaries locally and around the world, a long line of solid, evangelical pastors, deeply caring about the poor and social issues, etc… It has always been a church one can rely on to “be there”. To be a place you can recommend a new believer or someone who is open and might attend and hear the gospel. If the current train wreck proceeds, everyone will lose that. Everyone. Not just the current members and regular attenders.

    Dearest Lord Jesus, please shine your light in the dark places and expose the darkness. May your light and truth prevail!

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  58. Janiceg: the church sent Susan Lane a “your not welcome anymore letter”

    When the blind man stood up in church to give testimony of being healed by Jesus, the church leaders told him that he wasn’t welcome anymore: “How dare you lecture us! And they threw him out” (John 9:34). When Jesus heard about it, He went looking for him (John 9:35).

    It’s better to be outside with Jesus than inside with church leaders who refuse to listen to the cries of His people.

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  59. dee: 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. “

    =======

    Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but this post from dee back on Jan 30 is highly troubling. It could explain why Mark Booker doesn’t seem concerned about retaining a staff of experienced, competent pastors. If his end game is to transfer the property to the ACNA or some other organization, loss of current “key” staff could be minor collateral damage. There could be a new team on deck preparing to take control.

    Whether or not this is the case, how can the Board of Elders be complicit in allowing Mark’s controlling, unkind, abusive behavior to not only persist, but ramp up in intensity. Why all of the cover-ups, secret meetings and retribution? Either the Elders are “in” with whatever Mark plans to do, or they have objections, but Mark has found something to “hold over them” and potentially reveal to be public if they don’t toe the line…? [e.g. From Michael Balboni’s letter: “There are at least nine different people in our church regarding whom Mark, in multiple attempts, demanded and pushed that I give him information that I received within protected spiritual care conversations. . . . Mark has attempted on multiple occasions after this reminder to extract information from discussions in which I provided the promise of pastoral confidentiality. As Mark knows, when someone comes to a pastor, this confidentiality is assumed whenever it pertains to their needs for spiritual advice, confession, comfort, or prayer, and it covers both what is said to the pastor and what the pastor says to the congregant.”]

    In any case, here is another small clue that troubles me. For years, Park Street’s logo has been a nice shadow image of a church steeple with the words in all CAPS: “PARK STREET CHURCH”. Underneath, in smaller letters has been “Evangelical. Congregational. International.” Wow, what a succinct “elevator speech”. Park Street in three words. “Evangelical. Congregational. International.” What a superb logo for the church!!

    During 2023, the logo was modified, removing the words ““Evangelical. Congregational. International.” Was this done in secret, hoping nobody would notice? If the goal is to govern the church by means other than the present structure, the change to the logo could be warranted. Otherwise, why the change???

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  60. Aaaaand, here is the latest from sycophant and co-abuser, Park Street Church moderator Jason Abraham.

    https://mailchi.mp/parkstreet.org/reflections_2024_04_06?e=c91934db67

    April 6, 2024

    Dear Park Street Community,

    I hope that this letter finds you encouraged with resurrection hope. How wonderful it was to gather on Easter with so many to worship the risen Savior! Our prayer is that this resurrection season would be characterized by our joyful celebration of the God who makes the lame walk, the blind see, and the deaf hear. We worship a God who brings joy from sorrow, and life from death.

    [… church upcoming events mentioned…]

    Amidst these joys, we know that there are still challenges we face as a body. The disruption that was caused by one of our members at the 11:00 AM Easter service was a painful example. While there are appropriate times for discussion and even vigorous questioning, this conduct was unconscionable and cannot be tolerated. Given its public nature, we think it is appropriate to let you know that we have communicated this to our sister and have expressed our hope for her repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. We want to assure you of our love for her and our desire for her restoration, and we are hoping to meet with her when she is ready. We ask for your prayers for this process.

    We also ask for your prayers for our ministerial staff and leadership. Many of you are aware that five of our ministers were not leading public worship during our Holy Week and Easter services. Their significant conflict and disunity with the Senior Minister and the Board of Elders was made public in the lead-up to the Annual Meeting, and we need to acknowledge that we have not yet reached resolution. The church is to be a body of believers at peace with one another, and that is especially critical when we gather on the Lord’s Day for worship. We diminish our ability to honor God and bear effective witness to others if those who assist in leading our corporate worship are in such an open and active conflict with the leadership of the church. For that reason, the Board of Elders made the decision that these ministers would not serve in public worship for the time being, though they are continuing to serve in all other dimensions of their roles. Our hope is that this will be short-lived, and that our Lord will quickly bring a resolution to this conflict.

    We know that the process of healing and restoration can be difficult. But our Lord is the Great Physician. He has been faithful to us for more than 200 years, and He continues to do great things through our body for His name. In this Easter season, may we seek to live together in the power of His resurrection, modeling His sacrificial love to each other and breaking free from the bondage of sin that divides. For it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. He has overcome the agony of sin and death. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God that we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. Alleluia! Christ is risen!

    In His Service,

    Jason Abraham, Moderator

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  61. Their “significant conflict and disunity” comes directly from Matthew 18. “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” If they signed the loyalty pledge they would have been hypocrites and collaborators.

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  62. Susan Lane was brave and she has nothing to repent over. She should stand outside the church and hold up a sign calling for that leadership “wolf pack” to repent (especially Mark, Jason, David Murgatroyd, Andrew Ziegler, Geoff Roux). They are the ones who need to repent, not Susan Lane (God bless her). Maybe it is time for picket lines and megaphones? Jesus turned over tables and they murdered Him, for He was indeed a great disruptor! Maybe Susan Lane is on to something?

    Jason Abraham’s foolish email is full of pious, self-righteousness. When is disrupting a Christian worship service that displeases God acceptable? The leaders never like the disruption, but Susan called it out. They worship the resurrected Jesus meanwhile Mark and Jason are “murdering” the five. The “five” have been removed from leading public worship, but it is Mark Booker and Jason Abraham who should be removed from leading public worship. Andrew Ziegler is now leading a Sunday School class this Sunday. This is obviously some set up for him to join the Park Street minister team. This group of leaders are so off course, so unwilling to look at themselves. They need to be removed. They are Pharisees, full of self-righteousness. They kill the prophets only to puff up their own ambitions.

    I cry for mercy. But I also cry out for justice. Their leadership is a stench, and it makes me sick to my stomach. The worship of Park Street Church is a stench, and remains so until Mark, Jason, Geoff, and these other elders are replaced by actual shepherds who care for rather than deceive the sheep.

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  63. Friend of Park Street Church: We diminish our ability to honor God and bear effective witness to others if those who assist in leading our corporate worship are in such an open and active conflict with the leadership of the church.

    Reading Jason’s letter, it appears the common source of the “open and active conflict” is not the Park St. Five, nor Susan Lane, nor multiple others who are questioning the spiritual abuse that has been taking place.

    The common denominator in nearly all of the conflicts appears to be Mark Booker. Mark plus (someone else who isn’t doing something exactly his way).

    It would make much more sense for the “…five of our ministers (who) were not leading public worship…” to actually BE the ones leading the worship from now on until all of the conflicts coming from Mr. Booker’s side of the equation are resolved. Why does his title of “Senior Minister” trump the steady, honest, reliable, consistent work demonstrated by the “five ministers” over decades of service to Park Street Church?

    Mark works for all of us who are members. He was hired by a Congregational Meeting. He needs to answer to us and ultimately if he is the cause of most of the trouble we’ve been having, he is the one who should be considered for termination.

    And as to Susan Lane and her “…conduct (that) was unconscionable and cannot be tolerated…” This seems like an expected result when – repeatedly – people called for a congregational meeting to discuss Michael Balboni’s termination and related spiritual abuse allegations. So far, each meeting request has been met with lame excuses as roadblocks and no meeting has yet taken place. Susan finally had the courage to speak openly in public in the only forum available; she is sadly paying the price rather than being listened to and understood.

    How long will it be before another official request is made for a Congregational Meeting and, it is predictably shot down once again? What if this time the meeting remains in place, but is moved to an offsite location (presuming the senior leadership will absolutely not allow it to take place inside the church facility)? If a quorum of members is present at a properly called meeting – regardless of the location – it would make sense that any votes made in accordance with Church Bylaws would be binding! If this is the only way we can get control of our church back, it should be seriously considered!!!

    Sounds like a modern-day Boston Tea Party!

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  64. BTA: On what basis do they defend him?

    Many of them were on the search committee that hired him. Others were longtime friends. Others are longtime friends of the above two categories. This is their primary friend group. It’s terrifying to contemplate that there might actually be a genuine problem.

    And Nathan has told the choir that he’ll leave if Mark goes, so that’s yet another demographic whose personal loyalty is being exploited.

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  65. Observant Outsider,

    Friend of Park Street Church,

    Be careful. When you share the PSC newsletter MailChimp links, make sure to delete the end portion of the link that begins with “?e=”. That part of the link is the ID number of the subscriber in MailChimp. Dear Leader and his yes men will no doubt be checking MailChimp to identify who you are and target you. You can still share the email if you cut off the ? part like so: https://mailchi.mp/parkstreet.org/reflections_2024_04_06

    PGWood: The best course of action is for the petitioners to leave. If they don’t think Mark is qualified to be a minister/the elders are corrupt, then they should go to a church where there is a proper minister etc.

    If Park Street is really so corrupt / bad / awful… then why are they still going there?!

    Wish them nothing but the best… but please leave the majority of us who are happy at PSC in peace.

    I thought church was where believers come together to worship and be, as Mark put it in his audition sermon, “a community of love.” We are told to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4:2-3). You’re basically saying, if you don’t like it here, get out. Your attitude shows you completely lack love and any intention to listen, reconcile, and bear with your fellow believers at PSC. Even Dear Leader preached that we should “strive for peace,” not exterminate those who disagree.

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  66. Friend of Park Street Church: Aaaaand, here is the latest from sycophant and co-abuser, Park Street Church moderator Jason Abraham.
    https://mailchi.mp/parkstreet.org/reflections_2024_04_06

    April 6, 2024
    Dear Park Street Community,

    Hi, Dee.

    Please could you help me avoid being targeted by any Mark-Booker-loyaltist-trolls reading this blog? I didn’t realize the link I shared included my user ID in mailchimp! Maybe you could use this new link or just remove the link from my post with most of the text of Jason Abraham’s email… if I’m going to be a target, I’d rather it be because I stood outside church with a poster than shared an email URL on a blog.

    Thanks so much Sardis for pointing this out! I need to go review my others posts to make sure I didn’t make that mistake elsewhere!

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  67. Sardis:
    Observant Outsider,

    Friend of Park Street Church,

    Be careful. When you share the PSC newsletter MailChimp links, make sure to delete the end portion of the link that begins with “?e=”. That part of the link is the ID number of the subscriber in MailChimp. Dear Leader and his yes men will no doubt be checking MailChimp to identify who you are and target you.

    Thanks for that information. I took some time to research it, and while it is true that the end of the link is the subscriber ID there is no way for anyone at PSC church to access subscriber ID information. To be on the safe side, please edit my comment as well to take that off.

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  68. Friend of Park Street Church: help me avoid being targeted by any Mark-Booker-loyaltist-trolls

    Another indication of the sad state of the union of the Inner Ring and their followers at PSC. Targeting believers for stating their concerns about the condition of their church is not something which should be done in the Body of Christ. If PSC moves forward with this bunch in control, there will be be more difficult days ahead.

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  69. Friend of Park Street Church: It is hard to grasp because they are often not abusive TO YOU or in a way you can see. For example, unless you are a minister at Park Street Church who reports to Mark Booker as your supervisor, you may not have been in close proximity to become a target of his coercive control.

    I just want to clarify something that may be important to people’s understanding because some may say, “Well other staff members support him and they are in close proximity.”

    I cannot speak to what is happening at Park Church specifically. In the absence of an impartial 3rd party investigation by an organization trained to discern abuse, it’s possible that there are other explanations, despite patterns that raise suspicions. So I will limit my comments to a common pattern that may or may not be present at PSC.

    You said, “It is hard to grasp because they are often not abusive TO YOU or in a way you can see.” This is the core truth. However, it applies to every group in the church including staff.

    If the staff person charged with supervision is abusive, the typical pattern would be for him to cultivate really positive relationships with some staff members and begin a whisper campaign against others. To be effective, the whisper campaign would require that he “confide” in them his “concerns” with other staff in a pastoral tone, planting seeds of distrust wrapped in a sugar-coating of concern, until he gradually draws them in. Those staff members could say truthfully, “Well he hasn’t been abusive to me!”

    The whisper campaign method is highly effective. It sows division and serves to split off the targeted sheep from the rest of the herd. It’s what animals of prey do.

    To go to a different metaphor, this is an effective strategy that sows the belief in some shepherds that other shepherds may be the wolves in shepherd’s clothing and that they will need to defend the church against those wolves in shepherd’s clothing.

    It is surprising how easily people can distrust others they have known for years in the face of an effective whisper campaign.

    Friend of Park Street Church: God hears, remembers, sees, and knows the abuse going on.

    Exodus 2:23-25
    [23] During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. [24] And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. [25] God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

    Beautiful.

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  70. This sort of personal loyalty oath demand is reminiscent of the “100% for Hyles” buttons distributed to congregants of First Baptist, Hammond, to pin to their lapels after Pastor Jack Hyles’ misdeeds were exposed. Missionaries the church supported were asked to affirm they were “100% for Hyles”, and were dropped if they declined to do so.

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  71. Or when in 2016, Pastor David Janney, the son of Fundamentalist Baptist bigwig Al Janney, and son-in-law of Sword of the Lord editor Curtis Hutson, was set to mark the foreheads of those protesting his misdeeds, with a Sharpie:

    https://centralfloridapost.com/2016/02/14/before-resigning-orlando-baptist-pastor-blamed-satan-for-lewd-behavior/

    “Janney began a rambling speech that included his deacons confiscating cell phones…Janney then informed attendees that God had told him to bring a sharpie for the purpose of marking his enemies, who he believed to be agents of Satan…Ultimately, Pastor Janney said that God had just told him the forehead marking was a bad idea…that his son Dusty would be taking over and that he would be tendering his resignation, effective immediately”.

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  72. dee,

    Most people can’t figure out who these commenters are based on the ?e= link, but any PSC staff with access to PSC’s MailChimp account would be able to figure it out. I am pretty sure this is how MailChimp can report metrics to any administrator, like who opened the email, who clicked on a link, etc. This is helpful for marketing purposes (e.g. which type of customers responded to which kinds of campaigns). Why does a church need this level of tracking? Not sure. But PSC increasingly resembles an Orwellian surveillance state. Better to be safe and remove that part of the link.

    https://mailchimp.com/help/create-unique-urls-for-subscribers/

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  73. Elizabeth Klein: Thank you so very much for explaining what abuse is, and how it works, to PGWood.
    Spot on.

    Thanks so much, Elizabeth! I’ve really appreciated your comments here!

    I know the topic of abuse could fill (does fill!) books and books. I was just at a symposium about domestic violence as part of my job working with survivors. There are so many assumptions made about what abuse is, who does it, how they do it, and who the victims are. It seems many of these assumptions are alive and well at Park Street Church. They are part of a large number of people who have the opportunity to grow by learning what constitutes abuse, who does it, and who it affects.

    Survivors of abuse within a church community know charming, joyful, theologically educated, good-looking, financially stable, well-read, athletic, well-traveled, articulate, stylish… add your own descriptors… can be abusers.

    As long as people at Park Street Church broadly misunderstand (choose to misunderstand?) abuse, they will be vulnerable to abusers and dismissive of the victims-survivors. It’s time to grow up into full maturity, call abuse what it is, and start to walk the path towards becoming a refuge for victims and survivors… instead of a haven for abusers to hide in plain sight.

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  74. janiceg,

    The Park Street Five have proven his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The elders are ignoring the facts…the truth. Their only argument has been that these are all demon-inspired rebels and they paid $100,000 for a company to say there are no grounds for abuse…fine. What about the dishonest CV, all of the ethical violations, the misrepresentations, the manipulation, the pressure to force the staff to keep quiet, and the pressure to get the pastors to break confidentiality? None of these issues have been addressed…just swept under the rug. I just hope the vicinage council doesn’t do the elder’s bidding.

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  75. Sardis: Most people can’t figure out who these commenters are based on the ?e= link, but any PSC staff with access to PSC’s MailChimp account would be able to figure it out. I am pretty sure this is how MailChimp can report metrics to any administrator, like who opened the email, who clicked on a link, etc. This is helpful for marketing purposes (e.g. which type of customers responded to which kinds of campaigns). Why does a church need this level of tracking? Not sure. But PSC increasingly resembles an Orwellian surveillance state. Better to be safe and remove that part of the link.

    https://mailchimp.com/help/create-unique-urls-for-subscribers/

    Creating unique ids for the mailchimp customer to easily track does, I think, use ?userID=… not ?e=…. The ?e= may be for mailchimp to track stuff but which subscriber is linked to which code might not be directly accessible to their customers (though customers might be able to make an educated guess using hit counts). Note Mailchimp is big enough that it has to be concerned about European Union laws on data privacy. Still a good idea to strip before distributing.

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  76. BTA are you on the personal committee or Elders? They have not released the information about the vicinage council findings to the congregation. Other then the letter of the minister five sent we have no way of knowing what they told the VC.

    Below are rumors that have heard through time…..
    Can anyone confirm that the personal department has already voted to fire the 5 minister?. and are just waiting for the VC to say they did not find anything?

    Can anyone confirm that Mark told the elders he would quit if any independent review happens.

    Can anyone confirm what the reasons were for telling Maria she could not come to Morning Prayers. This is ruin by Nathan Skinner

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  77. PARK STREET CHURCH

    Evangelical. Congregational. International.

    April 4, 2024

    Dear Susan,

    We, the Board of Elders, write to you, our sister in Christ, as your brothers and sisters in Christ. We care for you and want you to turn to a place of joy and peace with God and with all of us, even as we navigate this present conflict. With that hope and desire, we implore you to recognize the wrongs you have done and to repent.

    When you joined the Church, you signed the Park Street Confession of faith, and in so doing you pledged to “cheerfuly submit… to the instruction and government of this church, and (to] promise to promote its purity, peace and welfare,” a commitment based, in part, on Hebrews 13:17 and Titus 3:10. In our judgment, you have violated this pledge, and the related biblical commands. While critique and even respectful disagreement with the leadership of the church may, at times, be required, you have consistently acted in a disrespectful and divisive manner. Your outburst during the Easter service was an offense against the entire Park Street Community, including our visitors, and against the Lord. We had gathered to worship and celebrate Christ’s resurrection, and instead of joining in worship, you were intent on shouting during the service to demand a hearing for your perceived grievances. This was wrong, and dishonoring to God and his people.

    This is not the first time we have admonished you regarding your behavior in recent weeks. It is our loving duty in Christ to care for you in this way, and we implore you to repent and seek forgiveness. And we stand ready to help you in this. None of us are without sin, and we are sinners calling another sinner to repentance. Please do not ignore our plea. As God freely forgives us, we know that he stands ready to forgive you. We likewise are ready to forgive, and we are confident that the entire congregation will extend forgiveness to you.

    We ask that you would meet with Mary, Andrew, and Julie to discuss these matters and to discuss how you might repent and make restitution, as well as ways that we can support you in doing so. Also, due to the gravity of the offense and the harm you inflicted on the community, until you have repented, you will not be permitted anywhere within the Park Street Church buildings, nor will you be permitted to participate in any Park Street Church activities. Please understand that we intend these restrictions to be taken seriously so long as they remain in effect. However, we sincerely hope to see public repentance and public restoration, along with a change of heart and a commitment to living at peace within the Church, and to speaking with grace and charity.

    While this situation is very grave, we hope for healing, repentance and restored fellowship, and we are praying for you. Mary, Andrew, and Julie will reach out to seek an opportunity to speak with you further.

    In His Service,

    The Board of Elders

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  78. One thing I know for sure, the Park Street Five told the unbiased, totally accurate facts. The only question to me is, will the VC believe their one opportunity to tell the truth, or will they accept the distorted, dishonest misinformation that the leadership has been feeding them for the last 7 months?

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  79. Friend of Park Street Church,

    Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Gal. 6:1 What horrible sin has Susan committed that she deserves excommunication and a restraining order? Oh yes, she spoke her mind publically…she disrupted a church service. But someone who gets divorced and remarried can serve in leadership.

    46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

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  80. Friend of Park Street Church,

    And to all friends of Park Street Church – all those who long to see PSC leaders truly embracing the freedom in Christ that Jason Abraham proclaimed in his post-Easter message – and who are concerned current & previous regular attendees & members of PSC:

    Please feel free to sign this petition, if your conscience compels you to do so: https://www.change.org/p/park-street-church-community-calls-for-3rd-party-investigation-non-retaliation.

    Only God can ultimately change hearts. But this is a way that you can make your voice heard, and stand by those who have been truly wounded and traumatized by PSC leaders’ actions.

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  81. Friend of Park Street Church: When you joined the Church, you signed the Park Street Confession of faith, and in so doing you pledged to “cheerfully submit …

    TWW has been warning believers for years to NEVER sign a church membership agreement. They are legal unbiblical documents which can be used against you. They are one-sided, favoring the pulpit over the pew … and are too often used by authoritarian church leaders to manipulate, intimidate and dominate church members into “cheerfully” submitting to their control. The only covenant a Christian needs to enter into is the one written in red by Jesus.

    for more information on Church Membership Covenants, see: https://thewartburgwatch.com/permpage-church-membership-covenants-legal-contracts-that-are-not-biblical/

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  82. Max: TWW has been warning believers for years to NEVER sign a church membership agreement. They are legal unbiblical documents which can be used against you.They are one-sided, favoring the pulpit over the pew … and are too often used by authoritarian church leaders to manipulate, intimidate and dominate church members into “cheerfully” submitting to their control.The only covenant a Christian needs to enter into is the one written in red by Jesus.

    for more information on Church Membership Covenants, see: https://thewartburgwatch.com/permpage-church-membership-covenants-legal-contracts-that-are-not-biblical/

    I wonder what I signed when I became a member of PSC back in 1997. It never would have occurred to me back then that there could be anything ominous about church covenants, or that the church discipline process can be so easily abused.

    Thing is, what are church members supposed to do when their leaders continue in unrepentant sin?

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  83. Friend of Park Street Church,

    “We, the Board of Elders, write to you, our sister in Christ, as your brothers and sisters in Christ. We care for you and want you to turn to a place of joy and peace with God and with all of us, even as we navigate this present conflict. With that hope and desire, we implore you to recognize the wrongs you have done and to repent.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    i don’t believe a word of this.

    institutions simply are not brothers and sisters. institutions don’t care for you. despite the sweet talk, institutions don’t give a rip about someone turning ‘to a place of joy and peace with God’.

    institutions care about money, power, and compliance of the plebes so they don’t interfere.

    (and one family is complicated enough. no one needs another one – a fake one, at that)
    —————

    “When you joined the Church, you signed the Park Street Confession of faith, and in so doing you pledged to “cheerfuly submit… to the instruction and government of this church, and (to] promise to promote its purity, peace and welfare,” a commitment based, in part, on Hebrews 13:17 and Titus 3:10.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    ah. exploiting the bible to force compliance to a totalitarian regime.

    ———————————-
    “In our judgment, you have violated this pledge, and the related biblical commands. While critique and even respectful disagreement with the leadership of the church may, at times, be required, you have consistently acted in a disrespectful and divisive manner.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    when the pushback is too inconvenient and threatening, the totalitarian regime plays the “disrespectful” and “divisive” cards.
    ———————–

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  84. How is this at all grounds for firing? It wasn’t even public, unlike the letter of “support”/intimidation that got passed around to the entire church. I pray that some of the remaining elders can see the that firing them will cause more discontent and add fuel to the fire.

    —-

    “While we desire true unity and peace within the staff and congregation, we feel strongly that this statement misrepresented our voices, and we do not wish the congregation to be misled by this communication. The truth is, all the signatories of this letter, representing 70+ years of pastoral service at PSC, have serious concerns about the leadership, and we all shared that clearly with the VOCA team. Last week, when many on staff were asked to support the senior minister in writing, the majority of the ministerial staff, including us, could not in good conscience sign a letter of affirmation.”

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  85. Friend of Park Street Church,

    “It is our loving duty in Christ to care for you in this way,”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    i think Dolores Umbridge wrote this.
    —————

    “and we implore you to repent and seek forgiveness…..

    how you might repent and make restitution…

    due to the gravity of the offense and the harm you inflicted on the community,

    until you have repented, you will not be permitted anywhere within the Park Street Church buildings, nor will you be permitted to participate in any Park Street Church activities…..
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    what horrible, immoral, unethical, criminal sin from the darkness of the heart was this??

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  86. Friend of Park Street Church:

    Dear Susan,

    We, the Board of Elders….
    we implore you to recognize the wrongs you have done and to repent.

    Your outburst during the Easter service was an offense against the entire Park Street Community, including our visitors, and against the Lord….

    In His Service,
    The Board of Elders

    Susan,
    as someone in the PSC Community, your actions were not an offense against me. The BoE doesn’t speak for me.

    I did watch the unedited segment on vimeo before it was taken down. I could be wrong, but I think Mark prayed for Susan’s sins and for his own sins. So, now I’m curious if the BoE also sent him a similar letter…

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  87. elastigirl: what horrible, immoral, unethical, criminal sin from the darkness of the heart was this??

    Speaking out during the Easter service. Making Mark uncomfortable. Disrupting the false peace of the church.

    Can someone explain to me the NT precedent in asking for a church asking for “restitution” in response to sin? Maybe there are too many lawyers on the board and they forgot about a little known theology called forgiveness.

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  88. mle bire,

    Hi mle bire

    Yes, I definitely heard the SE say these words in our SM’s PRAYER on Easter Sunday (after Susan’s ‘shouting’ incident)— e asked God for praying for forgiveness. Prior to that I have heard the SM say the same prayer on at least on 2 different Sundays this year. But I have never heard him ask for forgiveness from human beings or offer tangible compensation to the people he offended. If someone robbed your wallet and repent, he must return your wallet, whether or not he says sorry.

    If the BoE cares about and loves our SM as much as they do Susan Lane, they should offer counselling to the SM by spiritual leaders, in order to restore his privilege to attend and serve at PSC.

    Nowadays we hear too often in politics: Nobody is above the law;

    Did the Elders admonished him for lying (even though without shouting) to the PSC community and for offending the Lord? Did they assign spiritual leaders to help him repent? Did they restrict his liturgical duties until further notice?. If the answers to these questions are no, it means our elders do not love him and do not want to help him repent, as much as they love Susan and seek her renewal.

    PEOPLE MAY NOT BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU SAY
    BUT THEY WILL ALWAYS BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU DO.

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  89. Elizabeth Klein: what are church members supposed to do when their leaders continue in unrepentant sin?

    This is a difficult question, particularly for folks who have been long-time members of a church, a place where family and friends are, where one has invested blood, sweat, tears and money. We are all built differently and must filter such decisions through the grid at hand. Some would stay, others would leave, a few may even go back.

    But, as for me, I could not serve and support church leaders who will not humble themselves and repent of their sins. Such behavior is not pleasing to God or honoring Christ. They would see my backside exiting the church, looking for Jesus elsewhere.

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  90. Max: This is a difficult question, particularly for folks who have been long-time members of a church, a place where family and friends are, where one has invested blood, sweat, tears and money.

    This is called “The Sunk Cost Fallacy”, the con man’s best friend. Get the marks to invest so much of their being – blood, treasure, tears, and money – that they CAN’T pull out. Because pulling out would mean admitting to themselves that they got taken.

    The “place where family and friends are” is especially insidious. High-commitment churches make sure you have NO friends or family outside their four Thomas Kincade-decorated walls. “Come out from among The Heathen” (into our CHRISTIAN cult compound, forever). Because on the outside there is only SATAN and His Minions. Until you end up like Kirk Cameron on the set of Left Behind, hiding in his trailer to avoid losing his salvation to Heathen cooties when he heard there were Heathens on the set.

    The only reason I was able to detach from that End-of-the-World “Fellowship” that was love-bombing me to leave my HEATHEN family and move into their compound with all the other Brothers and Sisters in Christ was that I had discovered SF litfandom and Dungeons & Dragons. I had an anchor outside that “Fellowship”. You do the math.

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  91. Friend of Park Street Church,

    TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM

    Orthodox. Sacrificial. Rabinnic.

    April 4, 33

    Dear Jesus,

    We, the leaders of the temple of Jerusalem, write to you, our fellow Israelite, as your brothers in Moses. We care for you and want you to turn to a place of joy and peace with God and with all of us, even as we navigate this present conflict. With that hope and desire, we implore you to recognize the wrongs you have done and to repent.

    When you were circumcised at seven days, you joined the covenant of Abraham. In doing so, you pledged to submit to the instruction and government of this temple, and to promote its purity, peace, and welfare, a commitment based, in part, on Psalm 122:6 and 2 Chronicles 18:12. In our judgment, you have violated this covenant and the related Torah commands. While critique and even respectful disagreement with the leadership of the church may, at times, be required, you have consistently acted in a disrespectful and divisive manner. Your actions in the temple courts were an offense against the entire temple community, including our visitors, and against God. We had gathered to worship and celebrate God’s Passover, and instead of joining in worship, you were intent on turning over the tables and driving out the sheep and oxen. This was wrong, and dishonoring to God and his people.

    This is not the first time we have admonished you regarding your behavior in recent weeks. It is our loving duty in Moses to care for you in this way, and we implore you to repent and seek forgiveness. And we stand ready to help you in this. None of us are without sin, and we are sinners calling another sinner to repentance. Please do not ignore our plea. As God forgives us, we know that he stands ready to forgive you. We likewise are ready to forgive, and we are confident that the entire synagogue will extend forgiveness to you.

    We ask that you would meet with Annas, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander to discuss these matters and to discuss how you might repent and make restitution, as well as ways that we can support you in doing so. Also, due to the gravity of the offense and the harm you inflicted on the community, until you have repented, you will not be permitted anywhere within the temple grounds, nor will you be permitted to participate in any temple activities. Please understand that we intend these restrictions to be taken seriously so long as they remain in effect. However, we sincerely hope to see public repentance and public restoration, along with a change of heart and a commitment to living at peace within the temple, and to speaking with grace and charity.

    While this situation is very grave, we hope for healing, repentance and restored fellowship, and we are praying for you. Annas, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander will reach out to seek an opportunity to speak with you further.

    In His Service,

    The High Priest, Scribes, and Pharisees

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  92. Striving:
    How is this at all grounds for firing? It wasn’t even public, unlike the letter of “support”/intimidation that got passed around to the entire church. I pray that some of the remaining elders can see the that firing them will cause more discontent and add fuel to the fire.

    —-

    “While we desire true unity and peace within the staff and congregation, we feel strongly that this statement misrepresented our voices, and we do not wish the congregation to be misled by this communication. The truth is, all the signatories of this letter, representing 70+ years of pastoral service at PSC, have serious concerns about the leadership, and we all shared that clearly with the VOCA team. Last week, when many on staff were asked to support the senior minister in writing, the majority of the ministerial staff, including us, could not in good conscience sign a letter of affirmation.”

    For PSC leaders to accuse The Park Street Five of “disunity” is so bizarre.

    Since their involvement in the VOCA interview process was misrepresented to the congregation, what choice did they have??

    Or do PSC leaders prefer dishonesty for “unity’s” sake?

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  93. Elizabeth Klein: For PSC leaders to accuse The Park Street Five of “disunity” is so bizarre.
    Since their involvement in the VOCA interview process was misrepresented to the congregation, what choice did they have??
    Or do PSC leaders prefer dishonesty for “unity’s” sake?

    Excellent points and questions!

    I think they have a commercial view of community: if it looks good from the outside, people will be drawn to it. (And join, and bring their wallets too.). This is what, if I understand the passage below a bit, Jesus was lamenting about and warning to* the spiritual leaders of His day. Instead, we are to be remade into “tov”, BY HIM, and HE draws people to Himself through watching those recreation miracles. We want it to be about us, but it’s ABOUT HIM!

    Matthew 23:27-28
    [27] “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. [28] So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

    *Jesus rebukes those He loves in ways they need to hear. I’ve experienced many types of His parental redirection and correction. GOOD parenting… not abusive parenting, just to be super clear… abusive parenting is decay and death-while-living and all rottenness and makes one long for an Exodus… God’s parenting of me has brought life, peace, joy, and winsome kindness, like the first smells of spring or the woods after a good rainfall.

    Matthew 12:13-21
    [13] Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. [14] But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

    [15] Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all [16] and ordered them not to make him known. [17] This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

    [18] “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
    my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
    I will put my Spirit upon him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
    [19] He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
    [20] a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
    until he brings justice to victory;
    [21] and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

    In closing, I wanted to find the passage about not breaking a bruised reed or snuffing out a smoldering wick…. And wouldn’t it be the case that it is related to the Pharisees! I’m going to need some time to figure this one out, but I was already writing a separate comment about how Jesus loves the Pharisees enough to correct them. If he didn’t love them, He would ignore their sin and let them run toward the cliff to which their path leads. Instead, He calls them to turn aside to walk in His Way, His Truth, His Life… He died and was buried in a tomb that we might be cleansed from the dead bones and decay inside…

    I write this as a card-carrying Pharisee (it’s not mentioned by name, but my CV fits the description a bit too well). Jesus has called even a Pharisee like me to follow Him… truly He loves everyone!

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  94. Headless Unicorn Guy: The only reason I was able to detach from that End-of-the-World “Fellowship” that was love-bombing me to leave my HEATHEN family and move into their compound with all the other Brothers and Sisters in Christ was that I had discovered SF litfandom and Dungeons & Dragons. I had an anchor outside that “Fellowship”.

    That sounds so awful and terrifying! I’m sorry you went through that! Thanks so much for sharing this part of your story!

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  95. Grieving: TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM
    Orthodox. Sacrificial. Rabinnic.
    April 4, 33
    Dear Jesus,
    We, the leaders of the temple of Jerusalem, write to you, our fellow Israelite, as your brothers in Moses.

    So. Wonderfully. Brilliant.

    So many thoughts… trying to organize them… will post more later! But just couldn’t go to sleep without acknowledging this insight comment.

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  96. From the Park Street Board Moderator’s letter to the church on 4/6/24:

    “The church is to be a body of believers at peace with one another, and that is especially critical when we gather on the Lord’s Day for worship. We diminish our ability to honor God and bear effective witness to others if those who assist in leading our corporate worship are in such an open and active conflict with the leadership of the church. For that reason, the Board of Elders made the decision that these ministers would not serve in public worship for the time being, though they are continuing to serve in all other dimensions of their roles. Our hope is that this will be short-lived, and that our Lord will quickly bring a resolution to this conflict.

    We know that the process of healing and restoration can be difficult. But our Lord is the Great Physician. He has been faithful to us for more than 200 years, and He continues to do great things through our body for His name. In this Easter season, may we seek to live together in the power of His resurrection, modeling His sacrificial love to each other and breaking free from the bondage of sin that divides. For it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. He has overcome the agony of sin and death. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God that we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. Alleluia! Christ is risen!

    In His Service,
    J.A.”

    *** We diminish our “ability” to honor God and bear effective witness to others if those who [currently] assist in leading our corporate worship are in such open and active conflict with ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶l̶e̶a̶d̶e̶r̶s̶h̶i̶p̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶h̶u̶r̶c̶h̶ ̶ the congregation and with the word of God, which says to feed and tend Jesus’ sheep (John 21:16-17).

    *** We know that the process of healing and restoration can be difficult [nay, near impossible, if past wrongs are neither addressed nor confessed, but rather allowed to escalate and continue, without submitting to God].

    But our Lord is the Great Physician. He has been faithful to us ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶m̶o̶r̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶n̶ ̶2̶0̶0̶ ̶y̶e̶a̶r̶s̶ ̶ always, and He continues to do great things through ̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶ ̶b̶o̶d̶y̶ ̶ His body [the church] for His name[‘s sake].

    There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God that we have in Christ Jesus our Lord [neither termination nor employment, nor elders nor minister, nor gag orders nor censorship, nor trampled bylaws nor anti-congregationalism, nor spiritual abuse nor “brokenness”, nor a reign of terror nor the hard-hearted proud, nor authoritarianism nor flowery speech, nor ballots nor committees, nor being cast out nor tacit enabling, nor tight secrecy nor headline news, nor abuse of power nor feeling helpless, nor worldly influence nor storied traditions, nor Park Street Church nor another…]

    “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

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  97. Dear Mark,

    Please find attached a letter to you from the Board of Saints. We are praying for you and we hope for the restoration of peace and fellowship between you and our congregation. The Paraclete will reach out to you and I hope that you will be willing to meet with Him when you are ready.

    Blessings,

    The Park Street Congregation

    PARK STREET CONGREGATION

    Evangelical. Congregational. International.

    April 4, 2024

    Dear Mark,

    We, the Board of Saints, write to you, our brother in Christ, as your brothers and sisters in Christ. We care for you and want you to turn to a place of joy and peace with God and with all of us, even as we navigate this present conflict. With that hope and desire, we implore you to recognize the wrongs you have done and to repent.

    When you joined the Church, you signed the Park Street Confession of faith, and in so doing you pledged to “cheerfuly submit… to the instruction and [congregational] government of this church, and (to] promise to promote its purity, peace and welfare,” a commitment based, in part, on Hebrews 13:17 and Titus 3:10. In our judgment, you have violated this pledge, and the related biblical commands. While critique and even respectful disagreement with the congregation of the church may, at times, be required, you have consistently acted in a disrespectful and divisive manner. Your abusive “prayer”during the Easter service was an offense against the entire Park Street Community, including our visitors, and against the Lord. We had gathered to worship and celebrate Christ’s resurrection, and instead of joining in worship, you were intent on performing during the service to demand a hearing for your perceived “greatness.” This was wrong, and dishonoring to God and his people.

    This is not the first time we have admonished you regarding your behavior in recent months. It is our loving duty in Christ to care for you in this way, and we implore you to repent and seek forgiveness. And we stand ready to help you in this. None of us are without sin, and we are sinners calling another sinner to repentance. Please do not ignore our plea. As God freely forgives us, we know that he stands ready to forgive you. We likewise are ready to forgive, and we are confident that the entire congregation will extend forgiveness to you.

    We ask that you would meet with the Paraclete, to discuss these matters and to discuss how you might repent and make restitution, as well as ways that we can support you in doing so. Also, due to the gravity of the offense and the harm you inflicted on the community, until you have repented, you will not be permitted anywhere near the pulpit of Park Street Church, nor will you be permitted to participate in any Park Street Church activities. Please understand that we intend these restrictions to be taken seriously so long as they remain in effect. However, we sincerely hope to see public repentance and public restoration, along with a change of heart and a commitment to living at peace within the Church, and to speaking with grace and charity.

    While this situation is very grave, we hope for healing, repentance and restored fellowship, and we are praying for you. The Paraclete will reach out to seek an opportunity to speak with you further.

    In His Service,

    The Board of Saints

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  98. Hope in God!,

    Is attempting to convince the senior pastor to stop pressuring his staff to act unethically, to stop lying to the staff and congregation, and to lead with integrity an act of rebellion? Under this leadership it is. Submission obviously means, “We love you and care about you so much. So grab the broom as we sweep all of this under the rug, my dear brothers and sisters. Or you will pay the price for the process of our healing.”

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  99. Friend of Park Street Church,

    HI, Friend of Park Street Church (and our supportive siblings in Christ):

    I wish to know ASAP: Are your blog at 11:43 am today in the form of a letter and other lengthy blogs w/ sincere, scriptural advice to the SM and/or BoE actually sent to them by email and/or postal mail?

    If not, we may be wasting time talking to ourselves. Even if the PSC leadership do peek at TWW blogs, they may deny that, but simply laugh and jeer at their blind sheep and innocent doves venting emotions online among themselves.

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  100. April 6, 2024

    Dear Park Street Community,

    I hope that this letter finds you encouraged with resurrection hope. How wonderful it was to gather on Easter with so many to worship the risen Savior! Our prayer is that this resurrection season would be characterized by our joyful celebration of the God who makes the proud humble, the liars honest, and abusers weapon-less. We worship a God who brings joy from sorrow, and life from death, and brings things done in secret into the light.

    [… news about upcoming events…]

    Amidst these joys, we know that there are still challenges we face as a body. The disruption that was caused by Moderator Jason Abraham by putting his hands on one of our members at the 11:00 AM Easter service and Mark Booker’s subsequent abusive “prayer” were painful examples. While there are appropriate times for discussion and even vigorous questioning, this assault and verbally abusive conduct were unconscionable and cannot be tolerated. Given its public nature, we think it is appropriate to let you know that we have communicated this to our brothers and have expressed our hope for their repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. We want to assure you of our love for them and our desire for their restoration, and we are hoping to meet with them when they are ready. We ask for your prayers for this process.

    We also ask for your prayers for our ministerial staff and leadership. Many of you are aware that five of our ministers were not leading public worship during our Holy Week and Easter services. Their insistence on following the Holy Spirit and continuing in disunity with the Senior Minister and the Board of Elders was made public in the lead-up to the Annual Meeting, and we need to acknowledge that we have not yet reached resolution. The church is to be a body of believers at peace with the Holy Spirit, and that is especially critical when we gather on the Lord’s Day for worship. We diminish our ability to honor God and bear effective witness to others if those who assist the Holy Spirit in leading our corporate worship are in such an open and active conflict with the congregation of the church. For that reason, the Board of Elders made the decision that these ministers would not serve in public worship for the time being, though they are continuing to serve in all other dimensions of their roles. Our hope is that this will be short-lived, and that our Lord will quickly bring a resolution to this conflict between the Board of Elders and the Holy Spirit.

    We know that the process of healing and restoration can be difficult. But our Lord is the Great Physician. He has been faithful to us for more than 2000 years, and He continues to do great things through our body for His name. In this Easter season, may we seek to live together in the power of His resurrection, modeling His sacrificial love to each other and breaking free from the bondages of sin that divides and abuse that wounds. For it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. He has overcome the agony of sin and death. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God that we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. Alleluia! Christ is risen!

    In His Service,

    The Board of Saints

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  101. Friend of Park Street Church,

    Dear Friend of PSC;
    Your letter to Mark certainly represents what many siblings in Christ, whether current or ex- or non-PSC members, sincerely wish to say to Rev. Mark Booker, in truth with love. Are we supposed to sign it ? — if so, the term ‘Board of Saints’ would need adjustment. We trust in and look forward to eternal life– promised but not yet.

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  102. not an action hero: Dear Friend of PSC;
    Your letter to Mark certainly represents what many siblings in Christ, whether current or ex- or non-PSC members, sincerely wish to say to Rev. Mark Booker, in truth with love. Are we supposed to sign it ? — if so, the term ‘Board of Saints’ would need adjustment. We trust in and look forward to eternal life– promised but not yet.

    Hi, hi, Not An Action Hero! Thanks so much for your insightful comment.

    It’s an edited version of one of the abusive and outrageous letters sent out by the Board of Elders. I thought about using “the Board of the Elect” to keep the BoE acronym, but felt that was too specific to a Calvinist view. By “saints” I mean those who will join the “great cloud of witnesses” we read about in Hebrews. But I also understand that we aren’t “saints” either in the various Catholic views of sainthood or in that we are “good people.” God is making us to become “tov” over time! He will carry on the good work

    Hebrews 12:1-2
    [1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, [2] looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

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  103. Who is a SAINT? my crude understanding is (not certified)—-
    (1) protestant terminology: any human being who believes in Jesus Christ before he/she dies on planet earth will gain eternal life, and will be called a saint
    (2) Catholic— Now and then, the Pope decides that a Catholic believer who died on Earth some time ago should be designated as a ‘Saint’. A ceremony confirms the Sainthood. Any Catholic believer on earth may choose one of these saints to be his/her intercessor to pray to God; may be like a guardian angel?. Is that exclusive of or in addition to Virgin Mary?. I dont know—please consult your Catholic friends.

    Dee
    You must read C.S. Lewis’ “Great Divorce”— his dream vacation to the edges of heaven.
    His hypothesis is: your pet is somehow incorporated into your soul and follows you wherever you end up. I guess the Hound of the Baskervilles may not be allowed to roam in heaven.

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  104. Excerpts from “Would Jesus Overturn Your Board Table?” by Stacy Kassulke, former member of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) board, reflecting on the painful lessons she learned from that epic failure. (My comments in parentheses.)

    https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2024/april-web-only/ravi-jesus-overturn-your-board-table-organizational-lesson.html

    Many valuable lessons here for PSC & congregants alike.

    *****************

    … My experience as an RZIM board member would completely change the way I view ministry today. I believe many ministry boards are broken — or at least deeply unprepared for the challenges they may face—and my aim is to start a conversation on how that can be remedied.

    The hard lessons I learned will be applicable to almost any kind of group leadership arrangement, especially in ministry contexts… I’m sharing my lessons as questions that Christians in board leadership should seriously ask themselves and their colleagues.

    1. Should board members be required to engage in continuing education?

    Not only was I ill-equipped to be a board member, I was unprepared for the onslaught of crises that would engulf the ministry throughout my short tenure. From what I observed, even the longtime board members were unprepared for what seemed like “unprecedented times” — the catch phrase during those years.

    Looking back, one problem was that those were not, in fact, unprecedented times. Ministry leaders fail. Red flags aren’t noticed — or worse, they’re willfully ignored. Understanding theories of institutional betrayal and how abusers often confuse and verbally attack their victims while deflecting responsibility has been helpful in my quest to make sense of RZIM’s trajectory. But it would have been much more helpful to have known all of this before the crises occurred.

    If you’re serving on a board, consider what knowledge gaps you may have that could limit your ability to serve well… What other perspectives might you need to understand?

    2. Whom do you choose as board members?

    The RZIM board was overwhelmingly comprised of Ravi Zacharias’s family and friends. They were all highly invested in the ministry and the man; they donated their time, their expertise, their money, and their contacts because of that personal relationship… Loyalty was highly prized.

    I was an unexpected addition to this group and the first woman to ever sit on the governance committee. I had no relationship with Ravi, and I didn’t lead a successful company or have an impressive contact list. This put me at a tremendous disadvantage when voicing concerns. The skills that other board members saw as helpful when I was in agreement with them — my willingness to learn new things, my eagerness to listen, and my ability to be vocal about things I believed in — became liabilities when I disagreed.

    On your board, how are members chosen? I don’t only mean the procedures, which are certainly important but are often established by by-laws… I also mean what qualities and skills are preferred at a cultural level… Are you looking for unexpected people that may offer a unique perspective?

    3. How do you think about giving?

    For many nonprofits, it’s a given that most board members are chosen for their ability to donate and raise funds. After my time with RZIM, I see this as a dangerous pairing of power and money…

    (EK: my guess would be that donation amounts aren’t an issue in weighing who serves in PSC leadership. However, professional success – specifically experience in the law, business, or PR, etc. may be seen as a leadership advantage over spiritual maturity.)

    4. How does your board communicate?

    Truth and transparency have always been important to me, but never more than they are post-RZIM.

    The organization had an executive committee that met separately and privately, away from the full board. That committee made all the important decisions… The committee would send recommendations to the rest of the board, and our votes were strongly encouraged to be unanimous.

    (EK: wasn’t there an Inner Ring of Booker-loyal elders who “investigated” Michael Balboni’s charges, while key witnesses were conveniently never interviewed? Why were 3 specific elders out of the 12 chosen to meet with Susan Lane? Isn’t there some kind of “one voice” policy in PSC’s elder board these days?)

    … Does your board have a similar secret oligarchy? Is secrecy the default or the exceptional measure at your organization? Is it necessary to invoke legal danger to force board members to do the right thing? Does fiscal protection of the institution always take precedence? Are board members adapting the world’s “spin” for ministry use? Are you willing to tell the full truth to yourselves and others, even if it’s potentially disruptive?

    5. What does accountability look like?

    Board members are supposed to provide institutional accountability for the ministries they govern. But who provides accountability for the board?

    As the RZIM saga unfolded, we heard multiple calls for the board to resign… The board did not want to resign. I heard excuses such as, “We should be the ones to fix this” or, “If we resign, who would lead?” This board failed to take a sexual predator out of ministry but continued to reject calls for transparency…

    Before a crisis comes your way, it is vital to establish answers to the following questions: Is there a point at which a board has shown itself incapable of self-correction? What would need to occur to disqualify board members from serving? Does a grave public failure require public repentance? How will your board self-assess or subject itself to external assessment? Concretely, what does accountability look like for you?

    6. Who do you think you are?

    Being on the board of a global multimillion-dollar ministry is a status symbol. Once people found out I sat on the RZIM board, they were impressed, curious, and fascinated by the power they perceived me to hold.

    (EK: not exactly the same as PSC; however, many at PSC like to think of themselves as the “it” church that has a great history & leads American evangelical culture in significant ways.)

    Does your board comprehend the kind of servant leadership that must come with so much responsibility? How much of their identity do members find in their board role? How do we make sure power is always paired with responsibility, not only in our formal rules and procedures but in our hearts?

    RZIM’s unofficial motto said no question was off limits. But as a board member, it became clear to me that this was not true. I encountered institutional failure firsthand. I failed — at first, to even believe the victims, and then, in my attempts to reform a broken system.

    (EK: kinda makes me wonder how many inconvenient questions Cindy Cutlip or Jon Knight asked…)

    But failure doesn’t have to be defining; rather, it should be refining. For me, it has fueled a passion to help members of other boards forestall the kind of dysfunction and abuse we did not prevent at RZIM. Instead of hiding and deflecting responsibility, Christians in leadership roles must freely admit and correct institutional and personal failure alike. We should be the first to recognize that every one of our failures can be redeemed by a God who has offered us full and complete forgiveness.

    The stakes are high, but ministry boards can and should be a place where the best examples of servant leadership are found. So ask yourself: Would Jesus overturn your board table?
    *********************

    PSC congregants: did the VOCA consultants give PSC’s board of elders similar advice? If not, why not?

    And how much did VOCA cost PSC?

    It’s not only your right, but also your responsibility, to know this. You vote on PSC’s budget.

    You should know what your elders are doing with the Lord’s $$$$.

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  105. Cynthia W.: I’m confused by this. You don’t believe that “we” – you and some additional people – ‘will join the “great cloud of witnesses” we read about in Hebrews.’? If not, why did you just say that?

    Hi, Cynthia. I was writing that we ARE going to join the great cloud of witnesses… just that we aren’t currently part of that great cloud YET. Does that clarify what I wrote? If not, please let me know and I’ll write more… :o)

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  106. Friend of Park Street Church,

    Friend of Park Street Church,

    Cynthia W.,

    Hi Cynthia and Friend of PSC

    Maybe the simple answer is:

    People still alive on planet Earth cannot at the same time be in heaven

    People who, before they die on Earth, believe in and accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord will. after they die, join the believers who died in the past and reached heaven

    They are SYMBOLIZED as a crowd in the clouds—— all will be called ‘saints’, just as a manner of speech

    I am actually looking forward to see my parents and siblngs, and Christian friends, and members of my previous churches etc. — happy reunion !

    Read Chronicles of Narnia— a series of 7 books –
    It is called ‘fiction’— but the author is inspired by the Holy Spirit to give us hope by trusting in our Lord, based on the Word (the Bible).
    The first book is based on Genesis, the 7th (last) based on Revelation.
    And if you love animals, there is extra joy—-the ‘righteous’ animals are able to talk !
    You can order used books at Amazon— enjoy !

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  107. BTA,

    Friend of Park Street Church,

    Friend of Park Street Church,

    This is amazing, although I don’t recall JA touching me, he did call the police when I refused to leave the building when we got downstairs and he screamed at Steve McGaff that he wanted a no trespass order put on me. He wouldn’t dare touch me. I’m a full head taller than him and I think I’ve got at least a solid 75 pounds on him. Amy Murgatroyd did grab my hands, but I pulled away. No one else asked me to leave nor made a move toward me. I finally left the building before the police came, but not before I told Jason Abraham that it was “disgraceful” (a word he shouted at me no short of 10 times) that he never apologized to the congregation for calling people who speak out against the current leadership “divisive” when all they were doing was exercising their rights for the well-being of our church. So much for an objective, unbiased elder board.

    Someone also sent me a reprisal of the letter that the elder sent me, and I’m assuming it was you who wrote it. That was phenomenal and brought tears to my eyes, honestly. To be treated like an outlaw, when I’m simply fighting for the careers of five ministers who have earned the respect and loyalty of this church, unlike the present leadership, is infuriating, but I maintain, just like you said, that Jesus was an outlaw for overturning tables in the temple. AND he was a lot more aggressive about it. I’m going to follow his example and not worry about whether the elder board and senior minister think my behavior is “impolite.“

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  108. Elizabeth Klein: Excerpts from “Would Jesus Overturn Your Board Table?” by Stacy Kassulke, former member of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) board, reflecting on the painful lessons she learned from that epic failure. (My comments in parentheses.)

    https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2024/april-web-only/ravi-jesus-overturn-your-board-table-organizational-lesson.html

    Many valuable lessons

    (The bold was done by me.)

    That.

    And thank you for the link to the article. 🙂

    Perhaps it would help other PSC members, former-members, etc. to read what your comments in parentheses….

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  109. NAAH: (2) Catholic— Now and then, the Pope decides that a Catholic believer who died on Earth some time ago should be designated as a ‘Saint’. A ceremony confirms the Sainthood.

    Canonized Saints began as officially recognized Heroes of the Faith.

    Besides all the multiple Saints’ Days scattered around the liturgical calendar, November 1 is All Saints Day, the day for all those Saints who were never officially recognized/canonized.

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  110. Elizabeth Klein: Here’s more great advice, about how churches can protect whistleblowers:

    https://julieroys.com/five-things-whistleblowers-have-prove-but-shouldnt-be-heard/

    Elizabet Klein,

    Thank you for the link to the The Roys Report article, 5 Things Whistleblowers Have to Prove (But Shouldn’t) To Be Heard, by Rebecca Hopkins. 🙂

    The title of her article pretty much says it all. 🙂

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  111. Lowlandseer,

    In all fairness to Christine, Lowlandeer, I didn’t get your comment either. Since there was no context given it was hard to understand who you were sympathizing with. I’ve read some of your other posts though and I know that you do feel for the five ministers so I figured there was something missing in the translation and that’s why I said nothing. Everyone’s emotions are rubbed a bit raw by all of this.

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  112. <
    janiceg,

    strong>Headless Unicorn Guy,

    I have serious concerns about both CP and KP in leadership positions. After one of the congregational meetings, CP and I had a discussion about women in leadership, and he stated that there really was no sexism and never was. “If a position didn’t allow females, it wasn’t discrimination, it simply wasn’t available.” He said the same was true when it came to racism, and that he didn’t believe in the Black Lives Matter movement. I told him, “it wasn’t available because the company is discriminating against female candidates (or persons of color) by refusing to consider them.” I tried to give him some grace because he’s of the generation where this kind of thinking was considered acceptable, and he, too, has to unlearn some of his thinking. He strikes me as a sweet man although in this way, he’s quite misguided. I gave him a deeper explanation of the BLM movement, and he did seem to understand and empathize a bit better.

    However, when we discussed the unwritten rule that the board previously had about not having more than four women on the board so that they couldn’t form a majority, he was very nervous about the church being driven in a more egalitarian path, God-forbid, even potentially allowing a female senior minister candidate to be seriously considered at some point down the road. He literally looked like he saw a ghost as we talked about it. I realized then, there is a segment of the church that has a real irrational fear of women in leadership. I was saddened to see it really, because it betrays how much the church protects excessive male pride. Lording over women was never God’s intent, it was a product of the fall, and don’t they think that if God truly intended men to lead in the church, that if a woman happened to sneak in somehow, lol, do they not think that God could lead through her imperfectness just like any other imperfect male leader before her? I’m pretty sure God wouldn’t be handicapped by her gender, not that I subscribe to the complementarian philosophy. It’s just so laughable to me how intimidated they are by confident women.

    Yet, I also think this is where the problem started. I think there was a contingent of complementarian men (and the women who support them) who were rattled by the thought of women being truly in a place to affect change at Park Street, and I think Mark Booker came in, saw this happening and took the ball and ran with it. I think he very much plays to their fears, and has gained support of the wealthy traditionalist members by doing so. That’s why we’re seeing Park Street truly move backwards in time in terms of its commitment to diversity. We are the least urban, “urban church” you’ll find anywhere in the city of Boston.

    At any rate, I did express my concerns about CP to the moderator at the time, but I have similar concerns about KP, especially listening to her at the annual meeting, quoting scripture about being “obedient to leaders” when abuses are being called out. That’s a time to listen to facts being presented, not to thump someone with obedience scriptures, which only paralyzes the people calling out abuse. It’s not healthy, and it made me very uncomfortable. In psychology there’s a term known as “conflicting truth” where a victim is paralyzed by conflicting facts about an abuser. If their father has abused them, that is truth, but they also know they’re supposed to love and obey their father, and that is also truth (although defending oneself against abuse is healthy disobedience.) It’s made 1000 times worse when they report then abuse and they are told, “Your father is a loving person. You need to respect him.“ It literally can cause a person’s mind to break (not to mention their heart.) it was so irresponsible of KP to say that at the annual meeting as a board member. For all of those reasons, I am very uncomfortable with either of them being in leadership at the church.

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  113. Observant Outsider,

    This is hideous! I’ll skip past Mark – does this elder board and congregation who have watched Zach grow up in this church not have a heart anymore? How can people not care about what’s happening to these families who are precious to us?

    I feel like it’s something out of Kirk Cameron‘s “Left Behind” movies, where Satan tells people hideous plans and they questioned it at first, but Satan clouds their mind and they go along with it anyway.

    It’s kind of eerie actually. I feel like Satan has Park Street tied up in a box with a little red bow. A friend of mine recommended not just prayer, but fasting as the petitioners also recommended. I think the situation requires that level of gravity.

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  114. Elizabeth Klein,

    Friend of Park Street Church,

    This was the actual letter I received from JA and the Board of Elders, FYI. I allowed another congregant to post it as I didn’t have time to go online. I wanted you to see the sanctimonious air of this letter, and how they pretend that there is absolutely no reason that their actions, nor Mark Booker’s, would be questioned, nor that a congregant would be so frustrated by the process and so concerned for five people who have become her family being about to lose their jobs to a SM who won’t back down on a vision that is clearly so incongruous with what Park Street is. It is the air of a leadership who thinks they’re completely above the reproach of the congregation, and apparently, even their own ministers.

    Thank you to the many who have offered support and encouragement.

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  115. PGWood,

    Yeah, you don’t wish them the best. How much evidence do you need to be presented before you recognize that this leadership has been remiss, spiritually, ethically, even in terms of straight up HR protocol. I have 12 years of experience in human resources and I find it mind blowing that this church has not been sued. And by the way, your small majority cannot finance this church, which requires $2 million plus to function annually. As it is right now, you’re using the endowment to subsidize pastor Booker’s leadership to the tune of $300,000 – a deficit I have never seen in the 15 years I’ve been here. I suggest you start listening objectively to your fellow congregants who have concerns. I am as protective as a lioness over my church, and I’ll be darned if a snotty little contingent of arrogant people are going to ruin my church.

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  116. Susan Lane: And by the way, your small majority cannot finance this church, which requires $2 million plus to function annually. As it is right now, you’re using the endowment to subsidize pastor Booker’s leadership to the tune of $300,000 – a deficit I have never seen in the 15 years I’ve been here.

    There is no question that the church’s income will decline even if some of the 1/3 stay at the church. It is very easy to send money elsewhere which is what we did when we began to see the implosion of CHBC.

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  117. PGWood: what evidence would it take for you to change your mind on this?

    We want to see Booker’s credentials, not be told what they are. There is a problem here, and you know it. Pull on the big boy shorts and get transparent. It is hard, and some will be miffed, but it is “WWJD.” Eventually, it will all come out, and the BOE will look foolish for playing mind games.

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  118. dee,

    The sad part is that the BoE knows that Mark is only academically qualified to be a “manager” …not an associate or the entry level position of assistant pastor….let alone the senior pastor. If he had been honest on his CV he wouldn’t had even been considered, let alone interviewed. You can tell my his very basic sermons that he has never taken a course in exposition or homiletics.

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  119. Susan Lane,

    Hi Susan, just want to let you know that you have full respect and support from me and my family, who left PSC in 2021. I wish the leaders can read the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation, so that they can have at least some fear of God.

    As a side note from our own experience, leaving PSC might not even be a bad thing. We left in 2021 and our spiritual life has grown so much since then. We begin to realize that the bride of Jesus is not any small letter “c” church (no matter how famous it is), but the “Church” which consists of all faithful Christians who obey God and did not bow down to Baal.

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  120. Susan Lane:
    <
    janiceg;
    <strong>Headless Unicorn Guy,

    … However, when we discussed the unwritten rule that the board previously had about not having more than four women on the board so that they couldn’t form a majority, he was very nervous about the church being driven in a more egalitarian path, God-forbid, even potentially allowing a female senior minister candidate to be seriously considered at some point down the road. He literally looked like he saw a ghost as we talked about it. I realized then, there is a segment of the church that has a real irrational fear of women in leadership. I was saddened to see it really, because it betrays how much the church protects excessive male pride… It’s just so laughable to me how intimidated they are by confident women.

    It’s a written rule, but my guess is that most of the congregation doesn’t even know about it. And if the congregation doesn’t know about this extra rule for the Nominating Committee, then that is not at all ok.

    PSC’s September 20, 2019 Statement of Policy for the Nominating Committee says:

    “… The Nominating Committee has never put before the Congregation a slate of elder nominees that would lead to the election of a majority of women elders. The current Board of Elders believes this practice should continue until such time as the leadership comes to a different understanding and the congregation approves a different policy.”

    But how many in the PSC congregation are even aware that this “practice” was even codified by this statement? How many would agree, if they knew about it?

    “Park Street Church is committed to demonstrating the same spirit of love and unity within the local church that the CCCC has shown between its churches regarding the ordination of women and their leadership in the church. We have agreed to disagree with charity on these matters under the authority of Jesus Christ and His Word, and to find forms of church polity which enable us to honor each other’s convictions without compromising our own, as much as possible…”

    The problem with “unity” like that within a local church body, is that women always pay the price.

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  121. Lake Bu: the bride of Jesus is not any small letter “c” church (no matter how famous it is), but the “Church” which consists of all faithful Christians who obey God and did not bow down to Baal

    AMEN! Unfortunately, it takes a “c” crisis for most church folks to realize that! The Kingdom of God (on earth in the here & now) is so much bigger than “c” church. It’s OK, even spiritually healthy, if a believer has to be done with doing “c” church to be the Church.

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  122. BTA: You can tell my his very basic sermons that he has never taken a course in exposition or homiletics.

    Let me get this straight. The man has been documented to display arrogant behavior, has questionable ministry credentials, abusive to staff and (as you say) a poor expository preacher … then why in the heck is he still at PSC?! Why does the multitude like the guy?! Perhaps the problem at hand is more about the spiritual condition of the congregation than its poor leadership.

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  123. Elizabeth Klein:
    PSC’s September 20, 2019 Statement of Policy for the Nominating Committee says:

    “… The Nominating Committee has never put before the Congregation a slate of elder nominees that would lead to the election of a majority of women elders. The current Board of Elders believes this practice should continue until such time as the leadership comes to a different understanding and the congregation approves a different policy.”

    But how many in the PSC congregation are even aware that this “practice” was even codified by this statement? How many would agree, if they knew about it?

    Also, how many at PSC knew that “this practice” (of not having a majority of women on the elder board) even existed?

    Was it, in fact, a “practice?”

    Or was it just an assumed tradition by default? “This is how it’s always been, so let’s make sure it stays this way” mentality at work?

    But if the elders made it a policy in black & white that the Nominating Committee is to obey from September 2019 onwards, then secretively running roughshod over the consciences of egalitarians isn’t exactly charitable, no?

    I say “if.”

    Current Park Streeters, did you know about this key statement affecting your church’s governance? Did you vote on it?

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  124. What makes a church great? Let’s look at PSC and analyze how Mark’s leadership has affected the church.

    1. The community.

    The most important part of church is the community. They are the body by definition the church. At the annual meeting, more than 1/3 of the members did not vote in support of their embattled minister. Jason was quoted in the CT article that Mark has the support of “the vast majority” of the congregation. Obviously the vote disproved that, though they still use it to say that most want Mark leading PSC. Many “yes” votes were tenuous from people who weren’t sure and did not have enough information. If the vote was held today, I’m not sure if even half of the people would vote to affirm Mark. As things are developing, Mark is losing more and more people. I have heard this from many at PSC.

    2. Missions

    The Great Commission says “Go out and make disciples of all nations.” This is what church is for, to develop inward and reach outward. PSC has been known for their missionaries and global missions. The witness to Boston was not as great until recently, but then Kimberley Morrison had to go. All of these five ministers make up the majority of missional staff. They witness to college and graduate students, international, and young adults. Julian manages the global missionaries. Who is the most supportive of Mark? Family Ministry, Music Ministry. No offense to them, but is Sunday school or the choir the most important to the church? You should notice who Mark’s “allies” and “enemies” are (the five ministers of course would never consider themselves to be enemies and neither do I). If they all leave, the missional part of PSC will languish. The City Engagement position is still not filled, either.

    3. Preaching

    I don’t have as much to say about this since I don’t necessarily believe a superstar preacher is integral to a successful church. But many have commented on Mark’s blase sermons and I would think there is so merit to these criticisms.

    So what has Mark done for PSC? The community is in turmoil, the missions are in jeopardy, and his preaching isn’t even that good. I don’t know what Mark even brings to the table at this point.

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  125. Max:
    “Five pastors did not sign it. They did not “affirm” MB. Last week, on the eve of Easter, they were banned from participating in the Easter service …”

    While the crowd shouted “Away with the Park Street Five!Give us Booker!!”

    Doesn’t the crowd see it?They are the ones on trial.

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  126. Max:
    “Five pastors did not sign it. They did not “affirm” MB. Last week, on the eve of Easter, they were banned from participating in the Easter service …”

    While the crowd shouted “Away with the Park Street Five!Give us Booker!!”

    Doesn’t the crowd see it?They are the ones on trial.

    I just wanted to post a point of clarification. While I am sure it did not help the 5 ministers that they did not sign the (confusingly worded and lengthy) open letter, I believe they became the “Park Street 5” / “Courageous 5” by another way:
    In advance of the Annual Meeting, a video of David Murgatroyd and John Liu was sent out to the congregation. In this video, the views of the 5 ministers were misrepresented. I believe these were views originally shared in the context of the VOCA investigation. The ministers were then put in a tough spot – if they don’t say anything – then they will be misleading (in essence, lying) to the congregation. That is when the five signed their own letter to the congregation clarifying their views.

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  127. Hello, Max and all outsiders/insiders who seek the truth:

    Again, may I post the actual letter signed by the Courageous Five Ministers (CFM) on 2/21/24, before the 2/25/24 annual meeting. The CFM clearly reported what they said to the VOCA interviewers– and it was the OPPOSITE of what the elders in the video “said they said”. East is not West, Black is not White. The CFM declared the truth by writing and signing this letter in unity. Please read the letter carefully— it is a proactive proclamation. Not just a timid/quiet refusal to sign a letter which someone else wrote and
    coerced them to sign.

    not an action hero:
    PGWood,

    Elizabeth Klein,

    ***************************************************************
    From: Julian Linnell

    Date: Wed, Feb 21, 2024 at 9:18 AM

    Subject: Letter of Concern

    To: Staff-All , Elders-PSC , Deacons , Selwyn Jayakar(personal)

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    To our fellow congregants at Park Street Church, in love and care, and with pastoral concern—

    We are writing today in response to the elders’ video this past Thursday (2/15) that mentioned the VOCA report. On the video, one of the elders states: “Though VOCA did not conduct an investigation, they interviewed all our ministers and did not find evidence of any behavior rising to the level of spiritual abuse.” This carefully worded statement implied that there were no serious concerns revealed by VOCA, leading the elder to then add, “Our board supports Mark… and is sincerely committed to linking arms together with him in leadership.”

    While we desire true unity and peace within the staff and congregation, we feel strongly that this statement misrepresented our voices, and we do not wish the congregation to be misled by this communication. The truth is, all the signatories of this letter, representing 70+ years of pastoral service at PSC, have serious concerns about the leadership, and we all shared that clearly with the VOCA team. Last week, when many on staff were asked to support the senior minister in writing, the majority of the ministerial staff, including us, could not in good conscience sign a letter of affirmation.

    We feel that to remain silent at this time could be understood as agreement with the implication that there are no serious concerns. We feel it important that we communicate clearly and honestly, that we as ministers of this congregation are deeply distressed by the direction that the church has taken, and by the leadership style that has been adopted, under which we are also subject.

    With love and blessing and in His care,

    Julian Linnell, Minister of Missions, 2014 – present
    Raymond Kam, Minister of Internationals, 2015 – present
    Damian Long, Staff Missionary, Minister of Community, 2002 – present

    Tim Leary, Director of Graduate Student Ministry, 2011 – present

    Tammy McLeod, Director of College Ministry, 1999 – present

    Remember the Dissenters,

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  128. Observant Outsider:
    2. Missions

    The Great Commission says “Go out and make disciples of all nations.” This is what church is for, to develop inward and reach outward. PSC has been known for their missionaries and global missions. The witness to Boston was not as great until recently, but then Kimberley Morrison had to go. All of these five ministers make up the majority of missional staff. They witness to college and graduate students, international, and young adults. Julian manages the global missionaries. Who is the most supportive of Mark? Family Ministry, Music Ministry. No offense to them, but is Sunday school or the choir the most important to the church? You should notice who Mark’s “allies” and “enemies” are (the five ministers of course would never consider themselves to be enemies and neither do I). If they all leave, the missional part of PSC will languish. The City Engagement position is still not filled,

    100%

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  129. Remember the Dissenters:
    In advance of the Annual Meeting, a video of David Murgatroyd and John Liu was sent out to the congregation. In this video, the views of the 5 ministers were misrepresented. I believe these were views originally shared in the context of the VOCA investigation. The ministers were then put in a tough spot – if they don’t say anything – then they will be misleading (in essence, lying) to the congregation. That is when the five signed their own letter to the congregation clarifying their views.

    Exactly. They really didn’t have a choice here.

    Or would PSC leaders prefer that their ministers knowingly allow the congregation to be misled? All for “unity” or “the greater good?”

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  130. Susan Lane,

    Moderator Jason Abraham said the following in his post-Easter message to the congregation:

    “… In this Easter season, may we seek to live together in the power of His resurrection, modeling His sacrificial love to each other and breaking free from the bondage of sin that divides. For it is for freedom that Christ has set us free… Alleluia! Christ is risen!”

    PSC elders, Mark Booker:

    Christ is risen, indeed!

    And I so long to see you church leaders living in the power of Jesus’ resurrection, modeling His sacrificial love for His beloved bride, the church. I so long to see you breaking free from the bondage of sin that divides. I so long to see that you’re joyfully embracing and living out this good news.

    I’ve been praying for this. Many of us have.

    Aren’t you leaders supposed to model the good news that you can break free from the bondage of your own sin?

    That, for instance, you can break free from your lust to control other people as the world’s leaders do (Matthew 20:25-26)?

    (Which btw, in abusive and authoritarian churches, most often comes in the form of controlling the narrative & information flow – which the petitioners sounded the alarm about seven months ago, even before Balboni was fired – as well as abusing church disciplinary procedures.)

    If you were really embracing your freedom in Christ, then you wouldn’t need to resort to blame-shifting, church discipline, and firing to address the deep woundedness at PSC, which has been your automatic response in recent months.

    (Which is also very Genesis 3:12-13, btw. It’s the woman’s fault. It’s God’s fault for giving me that woman. It’s the serpent’s fault. Etc.)

    Examples I’ve seen:

    It’s Michael Balboni’s fault.

    It’s the fault of that bad person(s) who leaked Michael Balboni’s memo.

    It’s the fault of that shadowy group that’s threatening to expose Mark Booker’s educational credentials.

    It’s the fault of those rogue PSC petitioners and their website.

    It’s the fault of those 5 PSC ministers who won’t take the party line.

    It’s the fault of those bad Christians airing our dirty laundry to TWW, CT and the Globe.

    It’s the fault of everyone at PSC who isn’t automatically trusting us God-anointed leaders.

    It’s Susan Lane’s fault.

    It’s Elizabeth Klein’s fault (and/or Klein’s pastor’s fault).

    See anything missing here??

    Do Booker & the elders realize just how freeing it would be, to take a break from blaming everyone else and desperately seeking to contain your “enemies,” and to instead lay your burdens at Jesus’ feet?

    How freeing it would be, to not have to be right all the time?

    How freeing it would be, to not just give lip service to the idea that you PSC leaders are sinners as well, but to actually confess specific sins that you’ve committed, that have terribly wounded your congregants and ministers?

    How freeing your confessions would be, in empowering you to reconcile to your wounded congregation and ministers, and to really worship in the Spirit and in truth (Matthew 5:23-24, John 4:23-24)?

    How freeing it would be if, instead of viewing congregants and staff as objects – as pawns, only useful to serve your agendas, and as expendable pests if they do not – you would instead see these humans as God’s precious image-bearers, and invaluable members of Christ’s own body (1 Corinthians 12:4-27)?

    How freeing would it be if, instead of constantly labeling whistleblowers as “divisive,” you were to instead see the exposure of hard and unflattering truths that they reveal as a gift which is essential to ultimately nurse PSC back to health?

    How freeing would it be, if you were to realize that God’s kindness leads you PSC leaders to repentance (Romans 2:4)?

    PSC’s Bylaws IV.1.C. list a number of Scripture passages that you elders are supposed to exemplify.

    Since we humans are all deceived by sin (Jeremiah 17:9-10), how freeing would it be, a la Philippians 2:3-4, for you elders to humbly face your worst critics with those Scripture passages, and ask them to show you specific ways that you’ve sinned and fallen short of obedience to Christ?

    How freeing would it be, to see the church as the body of Christ that can help you to see what you are not currently able or willing to see?

    Those Scripture passages that PSC elders are supposed to exemplify are:

    Acts 20:28
    Romans 12:1-2
    1 John 3:16-18
    Psalm 15
    2 Corinthians 5:17
    Galatians 5:13-16
    Ephesians 4:22-32
    Ephesians 5:1-33
    Philippians 2:1-8
    Colossians 3:5-11
    1 Peter 3:8-12
    1 Peter 5:2-3
    1 Timothy 3:2-7
    Titus

    May God grant you this freedom in Christ!

    And may you genuinely seek it. “The one who seeks, finds…” (Matthew 7:8).

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  131. Max,

    People are duped by his pseudo-charisma, others…I think most….respect the position more than the man..like, Adam the ROTC, will stand behind the authority figure no matter what, a lot of them don’t want to go through another pastoral search process, and there are the hyper-spiritual and semi-superstitious who turn everything into spiritual warfare, so anything that creates friction must be demonic, others can’t tolerate tension in the air and just want it to go away. The elders are just protecting their power and authority. I think very little of the reasoning is clear, rational, or biblical. It’s more emotional, partisan, and ego-centric.

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  132. Given all of what has come out, it is clear that Mark Booker is probably not Biblically qualified, nor is he secularly qualified to be the Senior Minister of Park Street Church. Mark Booker has become too full of himself. The consultants the Elders choose to hire are telling the Elders what they want to hear, not what they need to hear–which demonstrates their questionable commitment to professionalism in consulting.

    I think Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy along with serious Bible study would do the elders (both lay and ordained) a world of good. An important part of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is to examine your errors in thinking–cognitive biases. In this case, the elders are engaging in the sunk cost fallacy.

    From The Decision Lab: (https://thedecisionlab.com/biases/the-sunk-cost-fallacy)

    The Sunk Cost Fallacy describes our tendency to follow through on an endeavor if we have already invested time, effort, or money into it, whether or not the current costs outweigh the benefits.

    In economic terms, sunk costs are costs that have already been incurred and cannot be recovered.

    The sunk cost fallacy means that we are making irrational decisions because we are factoring in influences other than the current alternatives. The fallacy affects many different areas of our lives, leading to suboptimal outcomes.

    These outcomes range from deciding to stay with a partner even if we are unhappy because we’ve already invested years of our lives with them, to continuing to spend money renovating an old house, even if it would be cheaper to buy a new one. After all, we’ve already invested money into it.

    The sunk cost fallacy occurs because we are not purely rational decision-makers, and we are often influenced by our emotions. When we have previously invested in a choice, we will likely feel guilty or regretful if we do not follow through. The sunk cost fallacy is associated with commitment bias, where we continue to support our past decisions despite new evidence suggesting that it isn’t the best course of action.

    We fail to consider that whatever time, effort, or money we have already expended will not be recovered. We end up making decisions based on past costs instead of present and future costs and benefits, which are the only ones that rationally make a difference.

    Onward in the Faith has an article discussing the sunk cost fallacy from an evangelical Christian perspective, “Beware the Sunk-Cost Fallacy”https://onwardinthefaith.com/beware-the-sunk-cost-fallacy/

    From “Beware the Sunk-Cost Fallacy :

    “There are people in our lives that we’ve known for years. As time goes on, however, we often find ourselves traveling in very different directions. This is especially true for Christians as we are made more and more like Jesus Christ, while others continue embracing a world that hates Him. Yet when we’ve invested time into cultivating a friendship, it can be so hard to let it go. We know a friend, family member, or even a romantic relationship is harmful to our relationship with Christ, yet we still allow them to remain close enough to influence and affect us because we don’t want all those years to go to waste.

    The Truth

    Those years we’ve invested in a relationship are gone. That leaves us with a very simple choice: Do we give more time and potential heartache to the relationship, or do we cut something harmful from our lives today?

    Obviously, this one is much more difficult for anyone to consider, especially for those who want to see that person come to Christ. However, many of us are afraid of being honest and admitting that they influence us considerably more than we influence them. Each situation is different, and not all harmful relationships need to end in a complete separation. However, our current and future spiritual growth is far more important than the fear of wasting our previous years.

    Why Should We Care

    The sunk-cost fallacy can infest so many areas of our lives. It makes us stick with a TV show or music concert that we don’t enjoy, yet we waste more time by sticking with it so we don’t “waste” whatever we’ve already invested. We stay in a job far longer than we should because it’s where we’ve always been. On and on the lists could go, and there’s no doubt that many of you have thought of areas where the sunk-cost fallacy has led to your own poor decisions.

    We want to honor God with our decisions. We want to use wisdom not just because it benefits us, but because pursuing it means that we are loving what God loves.

    There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up. (Proverbs 21:20)

    If we believe that God has given us everything we own, then we want to be good caretakers of it. Thus it’s humorous that the fear of wasting our money actually leads us to waste more money. We will spend money in an effort to somehow recover what was already spent, yet in the end our bank accounts are often poorer for it, and we still have nothing to show in the long run.

    The fallacy is often rooted in fear, pride, or shame (IMHO, this describes what is going on amongst the Elders / Leadership of Park Street Church)

    He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. (Proverbs 28:13)

    When we give in to the sunk-cost fallacy, there’s always something we tell ourselves to give a logical reason for our behavior. Often, our reasoning breaks down into three areas:

    We fear losing something we’ve invested in, so we engage in harmful (and arguably irrational) behavior rather than face loss.

    We’re too proud to admit that we’ve made a mistake and used our resources poorly, preferring to trudge ahead and cause further damage rather than cut our losses.

    We’re ashamed of the money we’ve spent or the time we’ve already invested, convincing ourselves that we can somehow make it right by just investing a little more.

    Everyone falls victim to this fallacy in one way or another. It’s one of those things that is so subtle that it makes perfect sense until it’s clearly pointed out. Don’t lose heart when mistakes are made. Instead, let us all continue to see the areas where our own wisdom fails us so that we can see even more areas where we need the grace and wisdom we need from our Heavenly Father.

    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)

    Considering how long and contentious the process of searching for a new senior minister for Park Street Church (nearly four years, requiring the dissolution of one senior minister search committee and replacing it with another), it is certainly understandable why members of the Board of Elders would be susceptible to the Sunk Cost Fallacy. Moreover, it’s understandable why the Board of Elders continues to support Mark Booker, even though there is plenty of evidence that he is neither Biblically qualified nor secularly qualified to hold the position of Senior Minister.

    Mark Booker, along with serious dysfunction within the leadership of Park Street Church has done a tremendous amount of damage. Unfortunately, if Park Street Church Elders continue down the path they have chosen, things are unlikely to improve.

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  133. A Former Member of PSC: Considering how long and contentious the process of searching for a new senior minister for Park Street Church (nearly four years, requiring the dissolution of one senior minister search committee and replacing it with another), it is certainly understandable why members of the Board of Elders would be susceptible to the Sunk Cost Fallacy. Moreover, it’s understandable why the Board of Elders continues to support Mark Booker, even though there is plenty of evidence that he is neither Biblically qualified nor secularly qualified to hold the position of Senior Minister.

    Understandable, but with a big caveat. The good people at PSC need to take a serious look at this possibility and make some tough decisions regarding pastor/elder leadership before the sunk cost fallacy runs its course and PSC becomes sunk itself. “Stand by your man no matter what” is not the way the BoE should be handling this! This is a Church of the Living God in a strategic place in America that should be pursuing the Great Commission, not fussing and fighting with each other. PSC needs to get it’s outward focus back rather than on its inward dilemma. The sooner this is fixed, the sooner the children of God can get back to its real purpose for existing in Boston.

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  134. Elizabeth Klein:
    Susan Lane,

    PSC’s Bylaws IV.1.C. list a number of Scripture passages that you elders are supposed to exemplify:

    Acts 20:28
    Romans 12:1-2
    1 John 3:16-18
    Psalm 15
    2 Corinthians 5:17
    Galatians 5:13-16
    Ephesians 4:22-32
    Ephesians 5:1-33
    Philippians 2:1-8
    Colossians 3:5-11
    1 Peter 3:8-12
    1 Peter 5:2-3
    1 Timothy 3:2-7
    Titus

    By the way, I’d love it if some of you sharp theologians with pastoral hearts could comment on the charge of “divisiveness” and how it’s actually used in the NT.

    TWW regulars are all too familiar with the way church abuse whistleblowers are accused of being “divisive.” Happens all the time. True to form, that’s how PSC leaders are describing whistleblowers, too.

    (An aside about PSC’s PR rep: it’s pretty much an epic fail if you’re following the abuse coverup playbook.)

    Anyway, so I looked up all the passages that PSC’s list as qualities elders are supposed to exemplify, and it seems to me like “divisiveness” is a very specific charge that has to do with leading believers away from the truth of the gospel. The circumcision party comes to mind here, as does Paul’s open, very public rebuke of Peter for not eating with the Gentiles. Specifically, Paul tells Peter, not only is your behavior anti-gospel, but as a leader, other believers are now following your anti-gospel behavior.

    In other words, it’s important to realize what divisiveness is NOT.

    Divisiveness is NOT speaking out about your church leaders’ unrepentant sins (Ephesians 5:11, 1 Timothy 5:20).

    It’s NOT about failing to submit to your church leaders no matter what they do, as if they were your Savior.

    “Unity” is not uniformity, which is why there are different parts of the body of Christ that need each other (1 Cor 12).

    Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” but that’s not the same as being peacekeepers (which could mean being pleasantly silent in the midst of evil).

    Anyway, these are just my off-the-cuff thoughts. I haven’t done a deep dive on the word “divisive” in the NT, but would love for a wise, Christlike theologian to weigh in on this.

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  135. I’m deeply concerned that some (or perhaps even many) of the 1/3rd of Park Streeters not going along with the party line are genuinely experiencing trauma at PSC.

    Here are the symptoms of trauma response, according to the National Center for PTSD: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/isitptsd/common_reactions.asp

    If some of you Park Streeters are experiencing some of these common trauma symptoms in your own souls, spirits and bodies, then don’t dismiss them. They matter, even if they’re never validated as trauma by the elders or VOCA, or even the Vicinage Council.

    YOU matter.

    Don’t ever feel obligated to worship in an unsafe place. Don’t associate forgiveness (or even potential reconciliation, down the line) with a need to worship in an unsafe place.

    I heard a great GRACE webinar recently called “Care in the Absence of Justice.” https://www.netgrace.org/resources/care-in-the-absence-of-justice

    Lots of good, wise nuggets in there that may be useful for the traumatized within the PSC community. Here are some:

    *********

    — When justice is not forthcoming from a church, the harm comes in the form of lost relationships, lost safety and trust, and a sense of identity that comes from being a part of a church (or denom, or from being a Christian). The relationships we once trusted now DARVO (deny, attack, reverse victim & offender).

    — Faith communities have a lot of family language: “our church family, brothers and sisters,” etc., so betrayal causes immense confusion. You can even doubt your own experiences and not know how to relate to others.

    — More than anything else, when justice is not forthcoming from a church, there is an incredible amount of grief. And it is not short-lived.

    — If you’re walking alongside a survivor who has been harmed by not receiving justice from the church, then be able to sit alongside the survivor’s anger. Churches want to shut down anger. Don’t shame survivors for having anger.

    — For the survivor going through this: this is a storm you’re going through. Do what you need to do, to take care of yourself. That is self-sustaining, not selfish. Church mess is an extended mess. Get enough sleep, exercise, eat well. Do things that you enjoy doing.

    — Trust yourself, that abuses of power are happening. Educate yourself (you & survivors’ friends) about the abuse of power.

    — Seek out support. Trauma isolates.

    — Also think about the good in your lives (NOT spiritual bypassing or shutting down your emotions), but what also genuinely brings you gratitude and joy? How do you fill up the loss in your life? What do you do on Sunday mornings if you don’t go to church anymore (or go to your own church anymore)?

    — If you’re walking alongside a survivor, anger is an appropriate response as well. Just acknowledging points of pain, longterm.

    — Find resources for professional help, therapy, advocacy.

    — Understand that grief is a loss. We can heal, but the loss will always remain a loss. Accept that our lives have changed forever. We can’t unsee what we’ve seen.

    — How do you stay engaged with a faith community that doesn’t see or care what justice is? (I think this was a question from someone in the audience.)

    — GRACE’s answer:

    Continue speaking the truth if things aren’t handled well, trusting yourself in speaking out if you think it’s right.

    Evaluate the reasons why I think that I have to stay? Bounce these off of someone objective, outside of your faith community.

    If repentance isn’t on the table, you won’t see progress made. You’re not going to get people to see what they’re not willing to see.

    **********

    PSC survivors, I am so terribly sorry for what you’re going through. Love and prayers for you all.

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  136. Max: Understandable, but with a big caveat.The good people at PSC need to take a serious look at this possibility and make some tough decisions regarding pastor/elder leadership before the sunk cost fallacy runs its course and PSC becomes sunk itself.“Stand by your man no matter what” is not the way the BoE should be handling this!This is a Church of the Living God in a strategic place in America that should be pursuing the Great Commission, not fussing and fighting with each other.PSC needs to get it’s outward focus back rather than on its inward dilemma.The sooner this is fixed, the sooner the children of God can get back to its real purpose for existing in Boston.

    Max, thank you. You did a better job than I did explaining why I wrote about the Sunk Cost Fallacy and how it applies to what’s going on at PSC. I sincerely hope and pray that the sunk cost fallacy does not run its course, that PSC can return to its real purpose. Park Street Church needs our prayers.

    I know that there are other former members of PSC who, like me, were active in the life of this church, who would like to return if this crisis in leadership is resolved. In order for this to happen, Mark Booker must be terminated (the damage done is too great–and he needs to be accountable) and his staunchest supporters resign from their leadership positions. Then, PSC leadership demonstrate, not with words, but with deeds that they are truly repentant for what has happened.

    I ask that Park Street Church hire GRACE or similar organization, who is skilled at helping a church that has gone through a crisis as serious as this, heal. The leadership of Park Street Church has a long history of hiring consultants that will tell the leadership what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. I think GRACE has the expertise, the integrity, the generosity of spirit and commitment to sound Biblical teaching needed to guide Park Street Church back to health.

    I left PSC because of Mark Booker and dysfunctional church leadership.

    I was one of the early members of PSC to express concerns regarding Mark Booker’s fitness and the Senior Minister Search Committee’s evaluation. I took my duties as a member of Park Street Church seriously when evaluating Mark Booker’s candidacy. I voted NO because Mark Booker was not forthright with the congregation regarding his qualifications for this position–he did not post his CV online, which is expected of someone in his position. I could not perform a Due Diligence background check. I had been a member of a small personal development cult out of NYC in the late 1980s. I found that Mark Booker’s personality had an eerily resemblance to that of this cult leader–which was a concern. I randomly sampled Mark Booker’s sermons online and found them to be Biblically correct, but shallow. Given the history of Park Street Church and its commitment to excellence in preaching and teaching, I felt that that Mark Booker was not qualified, on many grounds, to serve as Senior Minister. (In fact, I didn’t think Mark Booker was qualified to serve in ANY ministerial role at Park Street Church.)

    I continued being a member of PSC, even though I had deep concerns about Mark Booker’s fitness to serve. I left because of my volunteer work within Park Street Church allowed me to witness some of the internal politics of PSC. I saw that PSC leadership, both lay and paid, was becoming more authoritarian and less open and communicative. I saw that PSC’s leadership was bearing a strong resemblance to the personal development cult that I had left decades ago. I had to leave.

    I have found the advise GRACE has provided to be invaluable. I am deeply saddened to have lost friends because of what happened. For me, leaving Park Street Church was the right thing to do.

    Again, please pray for Park Street Church. May God’s will be done. Please pray for the survivors.

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  137. A Former Member of PSC: I saw that PSC’s leadership was bearing a strong resemblance to the personal development cult that I had left decades ago. I had to leave.

    Typical of most church consulting firms, IMO … consultants are paid by leadership, not the congregation, even though the bank account holds funds given by the congregation. As long as church leaders hear what they want to hear, they will never have ears to what the Spirit is saying to PSC.

    A Former Member of PSC: I saw that PSC’s leadership was bearing a strong resemblance to the personal development cult that I had left decades ago. I had to leave.

    Given what has been reported by multiple current & ex-PSC members, PSC has become a cult of personality. After awhile the whole of PSC will take on the personality of its leadership. IMO, a believer has no other option than to look for Jesus elsewhere when their church has chosen to focus on a man rather than the person of Christ.

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  138. A Former Member of PSC: The leadership of Park Street Church has a long history of hiring consultants that will tell the leadership what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

    Typical of most church consulting firms, IMO … consultants are paid by leadership, not the congregation, even though the bank account holds funds given by the congregation. As long as church leaders hear what they want to hear, they will never have ears to what the Spirit is saying to PSC.

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  139. Elizabeth Klein: I’m deeply concerned

    Elizabeth Klein,

    I’ve only read this far in the comments….I wanted to take the time to say:

    a) that — and I know I’m taking what I quoted of yours out of context 🙂 — it’s obvious you’re deeply concerned 🙂 and

    b) that your comment is excellent and contains a lot of really good and helpful information. I’ve only take a quick look at some of the links you provided, and — including what you quoted from them — they appear to contain some very helpful information. 🙂

    Now back to reading the comments…. 🙂

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  140. janiceg: Does anyone recall who was on sub committee that hired MB when the search committee for sr pastor could not agree on anyone?………..Please just use initials!!!!

    In the “Search_Committee_Report.pdf” document, dated January 26, 2020, it is signed by (initials as you requested):

    The Senior Minister Search Committee

    DWR, Moderator
    JA, Elder
    JDB
    LH, Elder
    RI
    LL
    MS, Elder

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  141. researcher,

    Many thanks for your kind words. I have learned SO much from abuse victim advocates in evangelical spaces, like Dee. Good people like her have really been in the trenches, and have a lot of wisdom to offer. There are a lot of commenters on TWW who have a lot of life wisdom to offer, too.

    There really are some great resources out there, for education about & healing from trauma. The material GRACE puts out is fantastic.

    I also heard Sheila Wray Gregoire interviewing Susannah Griffith about her book, Forgiveness after Trauma https://baremarriage.com/2024/03/podcast-what-does-healthy-forgiveness-after-trauma-look-like/. Griffith is a domestic abuse survivor, and her insights here are invaluable. I heard Scriptural insights from her about forgiveness that I’d never heard before.

    The 1/3rd of Park Streeters not taking the pro-Booker party line have to do what’s right for them, vis-a-vis where they worship these days, whether to stay or go, where they sense God leading, etc.

    I just would hate for any of them to feel any pressure to stay at PSC as the only true Christian option, as if staying at PSC = godly forgiveness and/or reconciliation, to the point of ignoring their own trauma symptoms.

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  142. A Former Member of PSC:

    I was one of the early members of PSC to express concerns regarding Mark Booker’s fitness and the Senior Minister Search Committee’s evaluation. I took my duties as a member of Park Street Church seriously when evaluating Mark Booker’s candidacy. I voted NO… I felt that that Mark Booker was not qualified, on many grounds, to serve as Senior Minister. (In fact, I didn’t think Mark Booker was qualified to serve in ANY ministerial role at Park Street Church.)

    Wow. Thank you for your wisdom and insight in voting “no!”

    I’m so terribly sorry that you’ve lost friends over this. I know that other Park Streeters are similarly conflicted and grieving.

    I’ll definitely keep praying for the survivors.

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  143. For additional reading for Park Streeters, I would recommend “When Narcissism Comes to Church”. It’s actually eerie how some parts describe this situation so well. Also, “Talking with Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell discusses how misplaced trust allows people to get away with abuse. Many people advocating for Mark aren’t necessarily doing it for nefarious reasons, but just cannot reconcile the way Mark’s abusiveness is so different from the way he interacts with them. They base their judgement on their personal interactions with him, but we judge other people really poorly and people like Mark capitalize on our trusting nature.

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  144. Observant Outsider: people like Mark capitalize on our trusting nature

    Frequent visitors to TWW know that it’s unwise to trust ‘any’ pulpit … until you know that you know you can trust “Pastor” … there’s just too many horror stories out there of church leaders taking advantage of a trusting pew. What you see on Sunday morning is not necessarily the way it is through the week.

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  145. Thank you all of those who are posting resources for survivors! I’m not a member of Park Street Church… but these are so, so helpful! For many reasons I have been super stressed by this turn of events at PSC. It’s just so triggering and I appreciate the reminders to practice good self-care during this time.

    With resources on the mind: I’m currently working through this pre-service free course for those working with survivors of domestic violence. It has so many useful resources already I thought I’d share it even before I complete it. I think it could be helpful for survivors as well!

    New Hope Education Program

    https://new-hope-education.thinkific.com/collections

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  146. Friend of Park Street Church:
    Found a free PDF of the first chapter of:

    Chuck DeGroat, When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse

    https://www.ivpress.com/Media/Default/Downloads/Excerpts-and-Samples/4159-excerpt.pdf

    Thank you so much for sharing this valuable resource. I haven’t read the whole book, but have skimmed parts of it, and follow Chuck DeGroat on Twitter.

    As a therapist, he is both wide-eyed, realistic and also compassionate towards narcissistic pastors, and genuinely wants to help them to heal the deepest parts of their hidden selves in Christ.

    Leadership & platform is not the loving way.

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  147. Elizabeth Klein: I also heard Sheila Wray Gregoire interviewing Susannah Griffith about her book, Forgiveness after Trauma https://baremarriage.com/2024/03/podcast-what-does-healthy-forgiveness-after-trauma-look-like/. Griffith is a domestic abuse survivor, and her insights here are invaluable. I heard Scriptural insights from her about forgiveness that I’d never heard before.

    Elizabeth Klein,

    Thank you for the podcast link and the information about Susannah Griffiths and her book…. 🙂

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  148. Watcher on the Wall: If the armed police presence was intended to make people feel safer, it definitely had the opposite effect.

    I’d be surprised if PSC didn’t already have church members (or private security) stationed around the church with concealed weapons, considering all the bad-boys roaming around Boston. That’s quite common in my area, to protect the congregation (just in case).

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  149. NAAH,

    The Boston Marathon was the next day, with the route and finish line far from PSC. If someone wanted to attack a large group of people, a local church the day before the Marathon at 8:30 in the morning isn’t a good target.

    It has been many years since the bombings and there has never been an armed security guard so obviously hanging around PSC on the Sunday before the Marathon. The guard (and his gun) was positioned so all attending could see him. Think it’s safe to say the motivation was not related to the Marathon.

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  150. The upside is: Perhaps the police officer can hear and believe the good news of salvation from a Christian in the congregation!

    “And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.” (Acts 16:29-34)

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  151. Emails to Jason Abraham and the Board of Elders continue to go unanswered. No answer to an email from a week ago nor a month ago. Meanwhile, the logo and very identity of the church has been altered WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE CONGREGATION and WITHOUT INFORMING THE CONGREGATION. Instead of “Park Street Church: Evangelical Congregational International” we are just “Park Street Church” or “Park Street Church: Jesus Above All.” The Jesus Above All part is deceptive because instead of placing Jesus Above All, the church has placed Mark Booker and Jason Abraham above all.
    Once again, it seems the church will really become “Mark Street Church” founded in 2020 by Mark Booker…rather than the historic church of Park Street Church, founded in 1809 by 26 dissenters rallying against the ultimate “one voice” policy – that of God in One Person!

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  152. Remember the Dissenters,

    Hence, the term, cult of a personality… “where loyalty to the group, and obedience to the leader becomes more important than established values…ties that are even stronger than rational thought.”

    One of the most consistent issues has been the lack of concern for individual issues. When someone is summoned to appear we find long tedious, pompous, religious, excuses for the harsh treatment. But when an individual asks a legitimate question…silence. “While it is better to be loved than hated, it is also far better to be hated than ignored.”

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  153. BTA: One of the most consistent issues has been the lack of concern for individual issues. When someone is summoned to appear we find long tedious, pompous, religious, excuses for the harsh treatment. But when an individual asks a legitimate question…silence. “While it is better to be loved than hated, it is also far better to be hated than ignored.”

    BTA, well put. PSC has become a cult of personality. How to justify sidelining 5 kind, well-educated, competent and beloved ministers? How to justify isolating and excommunicating members who dare raise questions? How to justify interrogating visitors and hiring a security guard for morning services (when apparently we cannot afford to keep tenured staff?!) Our Sr Minister Above All.

    I recall my 8th Grade History teacher who kept repeating in a delightful British accent, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” While the (nearly all hand-picked) Board of Elders may feel invincible – NO ONE is safe in an authoritarian structure. Useful to the authoritarian leader one day…tossed aside by him the next.

    Also, BTA…you are spot on about the lack of concern for issues raised by congregants. When someone is summoned, they are told by the BoE the circumstances under which the meeting will occur (where, when, with whom). The congregant or staff member may be treated harshly…and then that treatment is justified – the congregant or staff member is made into an example for the congregation. And yet JA/the Elders/MB are JUST CAREFUL ENOUGH to avoid lawsuits. For example, notice the 4/6/2024 letter from JA to the congregation – the letter doesn’t mention names! Just “our sister” and “five of our ministers.” I wonder whether a damaging letter like that going out to HUNDREDS of people could command $$$$ in a lawsuit for libel if names had been used.

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  154. Sardis: It has been many years since the bombings and there has never been an armed security guard so obviously hanging around PSC on the Sunday before the Marathon. The guard (and his gun) was positioned so all attending could see him. Think it’s safe to say the motivation was not related to the Marathon.

    I think we can assume the police presence was a follow up to JA’s 4/6/2024 letter to the congregation about the “public nature” of “disruptions.” Just commented on this at 12:58pm today (4/19).

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  155. Observant Outsider: For additional reading for Park Streeters, I would recommend “When Narcissism Comes to Church”. It’s actually eerie how some parts describe this situation so well. Also, “Talking with Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell discusses how misplaced trust allows people to get away with abuse. Many people advocating for Mark aren’t necessarily doing it for nefarious reasons, but just cannot reconcile the way Mark’s abusiveness is so different from the way he interacts with them. They base their judgement on their personal interactions with him, but we judge other people really poorly and people like Mark capitalize on our trusting nature.

    Thank you for this recommendation. I also read in the Atlantic an interesting article that some 7% of the world’s population are sociopaths https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/10/dark-triads-toxic-personalities/675683/

    MB has traits consistent with other narcissists I’ve encountered. Extremely charming and winsome to those who dote on him. But can flip on a dime if he is not entirely in control. I’ve known people who have experienced his anger in private. If he were either ugly or female or Asian/Black/Latino, I’m pretty sure few would be putting up with his sweeping changes of the church. Few would be believing his false postures of humility. And few would not be seeing his “shepherding” for what it is…a misuse of the Bible to control others, while never selecting passages which might be applicable to his own actions. The congregation has become convinced of their identity as sheep, too dumb to know better and too easily swayed. I think this is also known as gaslighting.

    I am not a psychiatrist but believe MB requires a full psychological evaluation. As for those who have fallen under his spell…the world is full of people who have been swayed by cult leaders, only to have their bubble burst sooner or later.

    Not sure if anyone has posted about this before…but with respect to MB’s wife standing up in the annual meeting on his behalf…she was put up to it. That was not her idea.

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  156. Solomon Pond: In the “Search_Committee_Report.pdf” document, dated January 26, 2020, it is signed by (initials as you requested):

    The Senior Minister Search Committee

    DWR, Moderator
    JA, Elder
    JDB
    LH, Elder
    RI
    LL
    MS, Elder

    That’s the second search committee, the one the hired Mark. I think Janice was asking about the first one that was disbanded.

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  157. PGWood,

    OK, Mr. Wood. Don’t just give me part of the vocal report, then give me all of it. Nathan took a snippet out of context, and intentionally, and kept going after an elder demanded that he stopped reading from a legal document. He kept going, and Jason Abraham never shut him down until congregants started yelling at him. Then did you notice that when Saarah Luna got up to read a document that brought negative evidence against Mark, that he shut her down in a few words. There was clear bias shown in JA’s actions, and you are just defending them out of your own bias. And you keep slamming Tim Leary. Tim Leary isn’t stiff like some of the people you’re defending. He actually has a personality, and people love him for it. He was courageous enough to get up to the microphone and explain some of the reasons the five ministers were standing up in solidarity against him. You also need to look up the law surrounding protection against whistleblowers and anti-retaliation laws. You’re dead wrong about being fired for voicing your opinion against management.

    But let me tell you something that is illegal, making someone’s employment contingent upon signing a loyalty document to one’s manager. It’s an absolutely absurd that Mark and some of the members of the elder board would even try it. Sincerely, I hope they get sued because at this point, they deserve it. They deserve to learn a hard lesson that unethical employment practices are a crime.

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  158. Lake Bu,

    Thank you Lake! The toughest thing for me is that I would be leaving a lot of friends behind in the chaos. The other issue for me is allowing some sinister people to get their way. I don’t tend to back down to confrontation, when I see others being mistreated. For now, I’m keeping an eye from a distance because the elders have prohibited me from coming on the premises until I repent. I have no intention of repenting until they do of the complaints the congregation and 5 ministers has brought against them.

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  159. Ok, good people of TWW! I’m feeling the need to DO something! I’ve had some less positive ideas in my angry moments (picketing with signs), but think this idea might be constructive and, hopefully, maybe, possibly even healing.

    I think each member of the leadership at Park Street Church AND the CCCC council running a bizarrely friendly “investigation” should get a copy of “When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse.”

    I just read the first chapter for free online here (also linked above in a previous post):
    https://www.ivpress.com/Media/Default/Downloads/Excerpts-and-Samples/4159-excerpt.pdf

    If I had the funds, I would buy each person in leadership a copy and send them a letter along with it. Right now, I can’t afford this. However, perhaps each person here who is interested, could choose an elder or staff member or CCCC council member and mail them a copy! No need to get their home mailing addresses (unless you know them and want to send a copy there); you can have it mailed to them care of Park Street Church.

    Park Street Church
    1 Park Street
    Boston, MA 02108

    I’d also love to send copies to the five ministers removed from participating in leading public worship as well. I think they will need the support and encouragement this author offers in his book.

    It should be a church-wide book club, but that cost will be even more expensive.

    +++++++++++++++++++

    Thanks for letting me know if you want to join me in this! Just post the name or names of the people you want to mail a copy of the book to. That way we won’t duplicate efforts!

    +++++++++++++++++++

    “When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse”

    By Chuck DeGroat

    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    Foreword by Richard Mouw
    Introduction
    1. When Narcissism Comes to Church
    2. Understanding Narcissism
    3. The Nine Faces of Narcissism
    4. Characteristics of the Narcissistic Pastor
    5. The Inner Life of a Narcissistic Pastor
    6. Understanding Narcissistic Systems
    7. The Gaslight Is On: Spiritual and Emotional Abuse
    8. Healing Ourselves, Healing the Church
    9. Transformation for Narcissists (Is Possible)
    Epilogue: He Humbled Himself . . .
    Acknowledgments
    Appendix: Engaging the Nine Faces of Narcissism—Strategies for Therapists, Pastors, and Friends Who Care
    Notes

    +++++++++++++++++++

    Author Biography
    https://www.ivpress.com/chuck-degroat

    +++++++++++++++++++
    Buy it online

    InterVarsity Press Link:
    https://www.ivpress.com/when-narcissism-comes-to-church

    Amazon link:
    https://a.co/d/c52sKaF

    +++++++++++++++++++

    Park Street Church Leadership

    Staff
    https://www.parkstreet.org/about-us/staff/

    Elders & Officers
    https://www.parkstreet.org/about-us/elders/

    Deacons
    https://www.parkstreet.org/about-us/deacons/

    +++++++++++++++++++

    CCCC Council working on the “investigation”

    Ronald (Ron) E. Hamilton

    Paul N. McPheeters

    Nicholas (Nick) R. Granitsas

    Jonathan (Jon) Paul

    Terry H. Shanahan

    Thomas (Tom) Petter

    Peter (Pete) Balentine

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  160. Susan Lane:
    Elizabeth Klein,

    Wow. I can’t believe they actually put it in writing. Thanks for digging this up. It is women who get hurt by this because we’ve been socialized to be placating, especially within the church and men have come to expect it.

    I mean, whether your church is complementarian, or egalitarian (or grudgingly egalitarian, like PSC these days), that’s a pretty big theological statement that affects the church culture of the whole congregation.

    So the whole congregation should absolutely know and vote on a statement like PSC’s 2019 elders’ statement to the Nominating Committee, prohibiting a majority of women to serve on the elder board.

    Just be open about it!!!

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  161. Remember the Dissenters: but with respect to MB’s wife standing up in the annual meeting on his behalf…she was put up to it. That was not her idea.

    Please do not take the pastor’s spouses nor there children and put them as part of this mess.
    Facts: TB wrote sent an email to the psc community after MB firing
    MB spoke at the annuual meeting

    Wwhether MB was put up to is or was it was not her ideas are just awful rumors. Rumors hurt people.

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  162. janiceg: Please do not take the pastor’s spouses nor there children and put them as part of this mess.

    Hi, Janice.
    With all of the initials you used, I’m not sure who you are talking about, sorry. Mark, Mandy, and Michael are all MB by their initials. I think it’s ok to write out names… none of this is secret.

    To everyone,
    For me the concern is that Mark’s wife, Mandy, spoke about him not being abusive because he has never raised his voice to her. This is NOT what constitutes abuse and shows a very concerning lack of understanding: by her, by Mark, and by anyone who thought (or still thinks) what she said was evidence Mark is not an abusive person.

    It matters if she asked to speak, if she was on the fence, if she was asked to speak, or if she was coerced to speak. However, we won’t know this unless she can figure it out and if she chooses to share that part of her story.

    I have been thinking of Mandy since she spoke. My heart breaks for her in how painful it is to have a loved one, especially a spouse, go through such an unhealthy period (and in Christ, I know it is a period: Mark will be healed… either in this life or in Heaven!). My heart also breaks for Mandy in seeing her as another victim-survivor in Mark’s orbit.

    The reality is abusive people, like Mark, are rarely abusive at work and then healthy at home. The unhealthy behavior Mark exhibits in public shows HE has the problem. It could manifest itself differently in different relationships, but abuse (contrary to popular belief and unconscious bias) is not a problem between two people. It is a problem the abusive person has.

    The book I mentioned above, in my marathon post, contains hope for healing for those who exhibit abusive behavior because of narcissism. God is MORE than able to do His miraculous healing of our inner problems and diseases of the soul… just the way He heals the paralytics and raises the dead to life!

    The great news is that God sees Mandy’s situation, see everyone’s situations around Mark, and is in the business of both healing and providing an exodus from terrible situations! This Passover, starting soon, let’s seek and ask God for an exodus from this painful mess.

    My hope and prayer is for humility, for truth telling, for unmasking, for deep healing… to start with Mark and for it to spread to those he has used and those who are co-abusers, like Jason Abraham, Nathan Skinner, the elders (past and present), staff loyalists, and lay people of the church community. God is eager to show His re-creating work in the lives of these people in the same way He is displaying it in Zach McLeod’s life physically… re-creating him in a miraculous healing over time.

    Please also see the post above about helping get this book sent to those who need God’s unmasking and healing.

    +++++++++++++++++++

    “When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse”

    By Chuck DeGroat

    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    Foreword by Richard Mouw
    Introduction
    1. When Narcissism Comes to Church
    2. Understanding Narcissism
    3. The Nine Faces of Narcissism
    4. Characteristics of the Narcissistic Pastor
    5. The Inner Life of a Narcissistic Pastor
    6. Understanding Narcissistic Systems
    7. The Gaslight Is On: Spiritual and Emotional Abuse
    8. Healing Ourselves, Healing the Church
    9. Transformation for Narcissists (Is Possible)
    Epilogue: He Humbled Himself . . .
    Acknowledgments
    Appendix: Engaging the Nine Faces of Narcissism—Strategies for Therapists, Pastors, and Friends Who Care
    Notes

    +++++++++++++++++++

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  163. janiceg,

    Janice, Mandy is an intelligent woman and she made her choice. Just because someone asked her to do it, even her husband, doesn’t mean that she had to comply. Andrew Ziegler did encourage Mark to have Mandy speak, and their whole strategy (not that anyone would admit it) was to look make Mark look like a victim. Mandy should’ve known that it was inappropriate for Mark not to defend his positions and his actions at all, but for her to step up and give a fluffy emotional speech. We needed facts, not a syrupy sweet speech about what a great husband and father he was, especially if we were supposed to vote on whether we thought he should continue with the church or not. She should be held accountable for her actions just as much as anyone else. She’s capable of making her own decisions. I agree that Mark put her up to it, and he is the most to blame, of course, because he was avoiding having to confront the congregation directly, but she’s not innocent. She can see what’s going on the church better than any of us can, and a good wife confronts her husband’s sin, she doesn’t cover for it.

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  164. Elizabeth Klein,

    About your statement about putting it to a vote either keep or get rid of the rule to not allow a majority of females on the elder board, I’ll tell you, Elizabeth they’ll never do it. The influential über conservatives (tempted to name some names here, but I won’t) know there aren’t enough complementarians to prevent women from having a majority. They’re scared out of their minds to let the church represent what the congregation truly believes in terms of its interpretation of the Bible, and frankly, I think a lot of egalitarians are leaving and that’s exactly the way they want it.

    When I brought up the issue of about it being an unwritten rule, I was told by a female elder in front of the congregation, (I don’t remember her name) that the rule was kept in place, whether or not there was an egalitarian majority, to allow for the fact that people do different takes on the issue and that we have to love each other regardless. The egalitarians would be willing to accept a predominance of male leadership, but complementarians won’t do the same for a female leadership. That’s just a fact, she said, and to keep the peace that’s why they had the rule.

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  165. Susan Lane:
    Elizabeth Klein,

    About your statement about putting it to a vote either keep or get rid of the rule to not allow a majority of females on the elder board, I’ll tell you, Elizabeth they’ll never do it. The influential über conservatives (tempted to name some names here, but I won’t)know there aren’t enough complementarians to prevent women from having a majority. They’re scared out of their minds to let the church represent what the congregation truly believes in terms of its interpretation of the Bible, and frankly, I think a lot of egalitarians are leaving and that’s exactly the way they want it.

    When I brought up the issue of about it being an unwritten rule, I was told by a female elder in front of the congregation, (I don’t remember her name) that the rule was kept in place, whether or not there was an egalitarian majority, to allow for the fact that people do different takes on the issue and that we have to love each other regardless. The egalitarians would be willing to accept a predominance of male leadership, but complementarians won’t do the same for a female leadership. That’s just a fact, she said, and to keep the peace that’s why they had the rule.

    FWIW, I consider PSC to be a complementarian church.

    Any church that can point to any rule or policy that proves that their women have less of a voice, less decision-making agency, less Scripture-interpreting and church-governing authority, etc. than men in their church do, is IMO a complementarian church.

    In fact, some soft comp churches that openly call themselves “complementarian” have women preach on occasion (as long as the women preachers are “under” the authority of a male Senior Minister).

    I get wanting to be charitable and honoring others’ positions on the comp/egal question. But practically speaking, as a church, you do have to determine what your policies are, one way or another.

    PSC has made such a determination, and it is complementarian. They just have to be honest about it.

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  166. Elizabeth Klein:

    I get wanting to be charitable and honoring others’ positions on the comp/egal question. But practically speaking, as a church, you do have to determine what your policies are, one way or another.

    I mean, at the end of the day, either your church allows anyone to serve in whatever role or office that the Holy Spirit has gifted & called them for, regardless of gender – or it does not. It’s one or the other. It can’t be both.

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