Pastor Bruce Hollen of Calvary Chapel of The Woodlands (TX), Is Accused of Distributing Child Pornography. It Appears the Church Has Folded.

Uranus has rings. esawebb

“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words — to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory.

(It is my hope that, even in the midst of pain and suffering, we can remember that beauty, sometimes hard to see, is still present)


I plan to write a number of posts surrounding abuse, sexual and otherwise, in the church over the next couple of weeks. I will also be following the SBC convention, especially the Law amendment. Stay tuned for an explosive post on Friday.


Pastor Bruce Hollen,  the pastor of Calvary Chapel of the Woodlands, was found by an Internet Crime Division of law enforcement to have distributed nude pictures of girls 9-12 years old. The photographs showed the girls naked from the waist down, and some showed the girls posing as if engaged in sexual activities. ABC13 reported the following:

According to ABC 13, the wife refused to comment.

I attempted to contact the church. The website was removed except for this statement.


The church’s Facebook page has disappeared as well.


It seemed apparent that the church had closed. I called McCullough Junior High School, where the church met each Sunday. According to the school, the church no longer meets at their facility. The church does not appear to have been on Instagram or Twitter.

According to ABC 13:

All Calvary Church leadership told ABC13 via a statement that they are doing the best they can to keep things running, and they “don’t have all of the information.”

According to MinistryWatch, which carried this story on May 20, 2024:

(The cached page in the following is no longer available.)

The Woodlands Calvary Chapel is part of an evangelical church association born out of Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel in southern California. Jesus Revolution, the 2023 movie starring Kelsey Grammer and Jonathan Roumie, depicts the Calvary Chapel movement in its 1960s counter-cultural beginnings. Calvary Chapels have since been known for their expository teaching, contemporary worship music, and emphasis on evangelism.

Calvary Chapel congregations operate independently, with self-government, although pastors must adhere to “Calvary Church Distinctives.”

Although Calvary Chapel Woodland’s website has been largely disabled, a cached page outlining the church’s beliefs mirrors those of many other nondenominational churches: belief in inspired scripture, the trinity, the divinity of Jesus, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the ministry of the Holy Spirit through exercised Biblical gifts and believers’ baptism.

According to Wikipedia, the Calvary Church Distinctives include:

As a result of what he saw as micromanaging church elders and board members, Chuck Smith used “an independent board of elders” when he took the senior pastor role at Calvary Chapel. Smith subsequently wrote that “senior pastors should be answerable to God, not to a denominational hierarchy or board of elders”. Christianity Today says that Smith’s “Moses Model”, in which senior pastors do not permit their authority to be challenged, can lead to churches that are often resistant to accountability. In response, Smith says he is following the authority structure that God used when Israel was under the rule of Moses.[61]

According to one article, “Smith’s book Calvary Chapel Distinctives teaches that senior pastors should be answerable to God, not to a denominational hierarchy or board of elders.” Critics say this ‘Moses model’ produces pastors who do not permit their authority be challenged. Calvary Chapel suggests that some churches are led astray by the management of their boards and that a biblical board of elders should aid the ministry and give wise counsel, not control the affairs of the church.

For those who are weird like me and read many church documents, here is a link to Calvary Church Distinctives, straight from the horse’s mouth, aka Chuck Smith.

According to the Roys Report:

According to public records, Calvary Chapel of The Woodlands was founded as a tax-exempt organization in April 2002, with Bruce Hollen listed as the sole organizational officer.

On Saturday, the church replaced its website with a static page displaying only the board’s response statement.

According to an archived version of the church website, as of early May, Hollen’s wife, Toni, served as women’s ministry director at the Calvary Chapel congregation and his son, Danny, was on staff as worship leader.

It is particularly revealing that, according to the Roys Report, several abuse stories have been reported in the Calvary Chapel churches. Could it be that the distinctive of the Moses leadership model protected deviant pastors from being asked uncomfortable questions? In 2011, I had already identified the Moses leadership model as a cause for concern. I have yet to change my mind.


Comments

Pastor Bruce Hollen of Calvary Chapel of The Woodlands (TX), Is Accused of Distributing Child Pornography. It Appears the Church Has Folded. — 43 Comments

  1. “Then He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what the elders … do in the dark, each man in his secret room …? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us’ … Therefore, I indeed will deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor will I spare them; and though they cry loudly in My ears, yet I will not listen to them.” (Ezekiel 8)

    God takes perversion by church leaders seriously.

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  2. To answer the question, oould it be that the distinctive of the Moses leadership model protected deviant pastors from being asked uncomfortable questions? The answer is OF COURSE IT DID. But then the apple does not fall from the tree when it comes to Calvary Chapel. Quite a number of their star pastors have had moral failings (aka affairs) from David Hocking to Bob Coy and others. Some have been restored to ministry leadership as well. But then so did Chuck Smith have his moral failings and the first generation of Jesus People pastors knew it.

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  3. jojo:
    In frequently sharing my honest faith over the years with unbelieving friends, it is because of “crap” like this that gives them a good reason to reject Christ. They see through it.

    It is because of crap like that, people see that the so-called “transformative power of the Gospel”, “getting saved”, etc. is a crock of **** that does nothing. In many ways, Christians seem to become even bigger a****les and bullies once they have their come to Jesus moment. When the Godless secular world and atheists demonstrate better character, ethics, and show less hypocrisy that the so-called “Christians”, that should tell you something. It also shows that God is really a puny God who doesn’t care that his followers are besmirching the name and character of God, doesn’t know, or is perfectly fine with it.

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  4. jojo: In frequently sharing my honest faith over the years with unbelieving friends, it is because of “crap” like this that gives them a good reason to reject Christ. They see through it.

    Indeed. Things like this give a lost world yet another reason to say “See, there’s nothing to it!”

    Evidently there’s not much fear of God within 21st century church leadership … or they don’t believe Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7 applies to them:

    “In ‘that day’ many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we preach in your name, didn’t we cast out devils in your name, and do many great things in your name?’ Then I shall tell them plainly, ‘I have never known you. Go away from me, you have worked on the side of evil!’”

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  5. R’as al Ghul: But then the apple does not fall from the tree when it comes to Calvary Chapel. Quite a number of their star pastors have had moral failings (aka affairs) from David Hocking to Bob Coy and others.

    I’ve lived near Ground Zero of Calvary Chapel. Where Calvary Chapel dominated local Christianese AM Radio. Where there were as many Calvary Chapels as Starbucks in Seattle. Where there could be NO Salvation outside of Calvary Chapel.

    And Calvary Chapel always struck me as distilling down and concentrating all the ways a church can go sour.

    Some have been restored to ministry leadership as well.

    With Standing Ovations, of course.
    So what else is new?

    But then so did Chuck Smith have his moral failings and the first generation of Jesus People pastors knew it.

    PastorChuckSmithCalvaryChapelCostaMesa (all one word).
    And his legacy lives on in Calvary Chapel after Calvary Chapel after Calvary Chapel and hordes of Bible-quoting Chuckbots.
    Just like Fueherprizip, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!

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  6. Chuck Smith used “an independent board of elders” when he took the senior pastor role at Calvary Chapel. Smith subsequently wrote that “senior pastors should be answerable to God, not to a denominational hierarchy or board of elders”.

    “He shall rule above the Law,
    Calling on The LORD…”
    — Rudyard Kipling, “The Old Issue”, 1899

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  7. Headless Unicorn Guy: I’ve lived near Ground Zero of Calvary Chapel. Where Calvary Chapel dominated local Christianese AM Radio. Where there were as many Calvary Chapels as Starbucks in Seattle. Where there could be NO Salvation outside of Calvary Chapel.

    And Calvary Chapel always struck me as distilling down and concentrating all the ways a church can go sour.

    With Standing Ovations, of course.
    So what else is new?

    PastorChuckSmithCalvaryChapelCostaMesa (all one word).
    And his legacy lives on in Calvary Chapel after Calvary Chapel after Calvary Chapel and hordes of Bible-quoting Chuckbots.
    Just like Fueherprizip, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!

    Don’t forget that the big draw to Calvary Chapel and the big player in Jesus People movement was a charismatic hippie by the name of Lonnie Frisbee. Lonnie conveniently disappeared from official CC history after his struggles with homosexuality became too much of a hot potato. He was erased just like some of the loyal Communists who rubbed Stalin the wrong way.

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  8. I got reeled into the Calvary Chapel cult (Costa Mesa) as a young Army vet just outta’ the Long Beach VA hospital back during the wind-down of Vietnam.
    Chuck Smith had a magnetic draw and was a gifted speaker.
    I spent 10 years there, and towards the end, I just couldn’t rationalize the brand with real life anymore.

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  9. I avoided the local Calvary Chapel when I was in college, but I did like their music (it was used in most churches back then). However, there always seemed to be a lot drama with the church near my college. Fast forward 45 years, and the Calvary Chapel a mile from my home is always in turmoil, with ups and downs in attendance-at one time dissolving the board, and made the papers in my area for refusing to shut down during COVID, mask or do anything as it was part of THE GREAT GOVERNMENT PLOT to deny our civil rights. I wouldn’t step foot in that place if you paid me.

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  10. R’as al Ghul: Don’t forget that the big draw to Calvary Chapel and the big player in Jesus People movement was a charismatic hippie by the name of Lonnie Frisbee.

    I know about Comrade Lonnie Frisbee, doubleplusunperson who never existed, LONG LIVE PAPA CHUCK!

    The only difference between that End-of-the-World Christian Fellowship(TM) that messed up my head in the Seventies and Calvary Chapel was Calvary Chapel demonstrated much more staying power. As far as I can tell some 50 years later, both were descended from the Jesus People Movement of the late Sixties. Just one (Calvary Chapel) took a lot longer to decay.

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  11. Dave A A: Not exactly a consensual moral failing, but rather clergy sex abuse.

    Which is a Protected Privilege of Pastoral Rank.
    Especially under the Moses Model of Fuehrerprinzip. “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED!” and all that.
    ANd the secretary had a slot so it wasn’t HOMOSEXUAL(TM) and that’s all that matters!
    The Alpha Male has to “PENETRATE! COLONIZE! CONQUER! PLANT!” as Privilege of Rank.

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  12. R’as al Ghul,

    And in the Jesus Revolution movie, NOTHING was mentioned about Frisbee’s homosexuality. Not just in the movie itself (you would not have expected that), but at the end when they mentioned what happened to all the major players, Frisbee’s story was highly sanitized; all that was mentioned was that he and Chuck Smith reconciled before Frisbee died.

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  13. Mark R:
    R’as al Ghul,

    And in the Jesus Revolution movie, NOTHING was mentioned about Frisbee’s homosexuality.Not just in the movie itself (you would not have expected that), but at the end when they mentioned what happened to all the major players, Frisbee’s story was highly sanitized; all that was mentioned was that he and Chuck Smith reconciled before Frisbee died.

    I am not surprised. I am sure Calvary Chapel and the cardinals running the show after the Pope of Costa Mecca Chuck Smith after he died did their best to minimize the role of Lonnie Frisbee, his contributions, and his struggles. Chuck Smith’s ego would not allow the spotlight and credit to be shared.

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  14. R’as al Ghul,

    Locally “Costa Mecca” is known as “Costa Lotta” as it’s one of the highest-rent cities in the county. Only pricier areas are the beach cities themselves (like Dana Point, location of Sean Feucht’s mansion and Man Cave).

    Like Dallas Megas, God seems to always lead His Anointed Prophets to Plant Churches in the Priciest parts of town.

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  15. R’as al Ghul: It is because of crap like that, people see that the so-called “transformative power of the Gospel”, “getting saved”, etc. is a crock of **** that does nothing.

    That is because (unlike older churches with a track record), they have placed 11% of everything on the Moment of Salvation Experience, the more spectacular (and dopamine-surging) the Godlier. And dopamine surges wear off. Big dopamine surges wear off with a craving for the next surge, which keeps the pewpeons going back for more hits. Any Addiction process is a Bug to the Users but a lucrative Feature to the Dealer.

    Older churches (Liturgicals and Mainlines) instead view the initial “getting saved” as the start of a learning process of Sanctification, the beginning of a new type of life.

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  16. Headless Unicorn Guy:
    R’as al Ghul,

    Locally “Costa Mecca” is known as “Costa Lotta” as it’s one of the highest-rent cities in the county. Only pricier areas are the beach cities themselves (like Dana Point, location of Sean Feucht’s mansion and Man Cave).

    Like Dallas Megas, God seems to always lead His Anointed Prophets to Plant Churches in the Priciest parts of town.

    Though nearby is Fountain Valley, Santa Ana, and Westminster with their very large Vietnamese populations. Isn’t Knotts Berry Farm near there? Of course, all the old whites there are not happy as 22% of the population of Orange County is Asian and 34% Latino, and the whites are only 38% (per the 2020 census).

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  17. Headless Unicorn Guy: Which is a Protected Privilege of Pastoral Rank.
    Especially under the Moses Model of Fuehrerprinzip. “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED!” and all that.
    ANd the secretary had a slot so it wasn’t HOMOSEXUAL(TM) and that’s all that matters!
    The Alpha Male has to “PENETRATE! COLONIZE! CONQUER! PLANT!” as Privilege of Rank.

    Given the privilege of rank, why just call it “Jus Primae Noctis” or “Droit du seigneur”? At least they would be honest about it.

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  18. Max: … has millions in bondage to ministers and ministries across America … if manipulation doesn’t work, they turn up the heat with intimidation …

    The threat of Eternal Hell is quite a motivator to shut up and stay in line.
    With the added feature of arresting moral development at the toddler stage:
    AVOID PUNISHMENT AT ALL COSTS.
    Never mind “milk instead of meat”, this is a permanent placenta and umbilical cord instead of meat.
    “Just like a BoyMom and Son-Husband, except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

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  19. Ava Aaronson,

    I listened to the whole devastating, tragic story.
    These guys seem to have something from (not “for” everyone. Start with a base of Moses Model from Papa Chuck and church discipline/shunning covenants from 9Marx ™.
    Add some real “get your wife under control” marriage from Park Fiscal and child rearing from Larry and Chuckles. Sprinkle a dash of a little red book from Chairman Mao and Voila! Is it soup yet? Noooo! (Apologies to Keith Green)

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  20. Maybe if Chuck Smith parted the waters of the Red Sea or made manna fall from heaven, then the Moses Model would be acceptable I suppose. But he didn’t. Of course, the whole reason Chuck Smith started it was because at his previous church as a Foursquare Gospel church pastor, he was pissed because the elder board didn’t let him do everything he wanted. The bottom line is that Calvary Chapel ecclesiology and polity is completely unbiblical. PERIOD.

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