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Friday
Apr172015

The Lesser to Greater Argument: A Classic Example of C.J. Mahaney’s Abusive Leadership

Paul the apostle argues from the greater to the lesser in Romans 8:32.  “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” 

The greatest thing God the Father could possibly do was give up his beloved Son on the Cross to be the substitutionary and propitiatory sacrifice for our sins.  We had no greater need.  He had no greater gift.  Therefore, arguing from the greater to the lesser, the apostle assures us the Father, along with the Son, will most certainty meet all our lesser needs.  What a remarkable promise! 

I’ve been writing this blog since July 2011.  Initially, my readership was almost exclusively made up of people in Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM).  That has changed over the past four years as the audience has grown.  Today, the greater percentage of readers are from outside of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  They don’t have a personal history with C.J. Mahaney though they are familiar with him through books, conferences, and associations.  These people have sought to understand the fall of Mahaney and demise of SGM.  

In this regard, I’m often asked about Mahaney’s abusive leadership style.  Inevitably, I point people to an illustration found in A Final Appeal under the subheadings, “The Request for Chad & Vacation Days” (pp. 15-43) and “C.J.’s Superior Discernment” (pp. 43-45).     

Chad is C.J. Mahaney’s son.  Mahaney asked if SGM could pay for Chad’s plane fare so he could accompany his parents who were speakers at an upcoming retreat.  This was the first time anyone on the leadership team made such a request for their children.  It was not part of our policy.  I offered a gracious solution. 

In the process of evaluating the request, I noticed Mahaney had taken 30 days of vacation when he only had 20 days of vacation according to our policy.  I graciously brought this to his attention and sought to remedy the situation.  

I knew about these things because I did all the master planning for SGM and the men on the leadership team.  That involved coordinating and scheduling our vacations, teaching weeks in the Pastors College, ministry travel including international trips, leadership team meetings, retreats of various kinds, and numerous conferences.  We had to plan 2-3 years in advance.   I was also extensively involved in developing policies and procedures for SGM. 

I did not think C.J. was acting without integrity in taking 10 more days of vacation than allotted.   I was simply bringing up what I thought was an oversight on his part and/or misunderstanding of our vacation policy.  I now believe he intentionally took more time than allotted. 

I simply pointed out the discrepancy as a friend and as part of my job.  What followed was spiritual abuse of the worse kind by Mahaney and Bob Kauflin. That is another reason for using this illustration.  It shows how Mahaney used other willing surrogates to carry out his abusive leadership.     

I concluded with the following statement when I wrote up this illustration for C.J. in A Final Appeal. 

“I hope this vacation illustration helps you see how difficult it is to raise concerns about the simplest matters when your pride is offended.  It is a risky and exhausting enterprise.” 

In this example of spiritual abuse, I was arguing from the “lesser” to the “greater” for Mahaney.  I corrected him on a minor issue.  It resulted in a major response that was horribly abusive.  Imagine correcting him on something serious.      

Dave Harvey, a former President of SGM, put it this way. 

“To correct C.J., or to challenge his own self-perception, was to experience a reaction through e-mails, consistent disagreement (without seeking to sufficiently understand), a lack of sufficient follow-up and occasionally, relational withdrawal.  Along with this, C.J. was poor in volunteering areas of sin, temptation or weakness in himself.”

Harvey puts it mildly.  To really understand the seriousness of the matter, you’ll have to read “The Request for Chad and Vacation Days” and “C.J.’s Superior Discernment” on pages 15-45 in A Final Appeal.  It’s a classic.

Friday
Apr102015

The Attempt to Silence Me with Severance

I left Sovereign Grace Ministries in August 2009 having been betrayed in a diabolical manner that leaders from SGM and Grace Community Church desperately tried to cover up.  You can read about it in The Untold Story.  These leaders worked hard to cover up the unscrupulous conspiracy to remove me from ministry using all means possible including the promise of a severance payment provided I remained silent and agreed not to sue them.  I emphatically rejected their attempt to silence me with severance.     

The general terms of the severance agreement were provided to Tommy Hill by Chip Grange from the law firm of Gammon and Grange, P.C.  Hill is the Director of Finance and Administration for SGM.  Grange has been SGM’s lawyer from its inception in 1982 and a prominent member of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD.  I worked with both of these men and considered them friends during my 25 years on the SGM Board of Directors. 

Hill made some changes and added specific details to the severance agreement in conjunction with others.  His worked was reviewed and approved by Gene Emerson and Mickey Connolly who worked directly for C.J. Mahaney.  Emerson and Connolly in turn were directing the local lay leaders of Grace Community Church who also reviewed and approved the agreement.  This editorial review process took place over a period of 3 ½ months from August 4 to November 13 in 2009.  I knew absolutely nothing about this document until it was finalized and sent to me.  I was stunned and horrified its contents.  

Here is my response to C.J. Mahaney, Mickey Connolly, Roger Layman (no relation to Grant Layman), et al.  The severance agreement was titled “Employment Conclusion Agreement and Release of All Claims.”  Release of all claims means releasing Sovereign Grace Ministries and Grace Community Church of all harms done to me by its leaders in exchange for money. 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 11:29 AM
To: C. J. Mahaney; Mickey Connolly; Roger Layman
Cc: Friends
Subject: Severance for Silence

C.J., Mickey, Roger, et al,

I received in the mail the “Employment Conclusion Agreement and Release of All Claims” (ECA&RAC) document on November 13, 2009.  It is attached for your convenience.  I also received correspondence via email from David Moore regarding the ECA&RAC on November 10, 2009 (see below).  I have been praying for the last 7 days about how to proceed.  I never expected to receive anything of this nature.

There are so many things I love about Sovereign Grace Ministries.  I never thought I’d be in this position.  That is, attempting to bring reform from without instead of from within. 

For your information, I never contemplated a lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), CrossWay Community Church (CW) or Grace Community Church (Grace), though grounds for such an action exist; and, I have already returned all equipment belonging to Grace except for those items the leadership team authorized for me to keep.  Otherwise, I do not have in my possession any “personal computers, laptop computers, overhead projectors, calculators, cellular phones, fax machines, personal digital assistants…and all other electronic equipment and/or property” belonging to the church.

I cannot sign this agreement in good conscience.  If I did, I’d being compromising my integrity for the sake of sordid gain.  To be honest, I think this collective stratagem by SGM, CW, and Grace is displeasing to the Lord.  Nothing like this has ever been done in the history of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  It is an attempt to secure my “silence for severance” and the destruction of all documentation substantiating the concerns I have raised over many years and in recent months.  This includes information I asked be shared with Grace Community Church but was intentionally withheld from them. 

Let me site a few implications if I signed the ECA&RAC.  Under the agreement, I am forever forbidden from sharing anything I have walked through the past two years with a friend caring for my soul without fear of a lawsuit.  Under this agreement, I cannot tell my grandchildren when they grow up what Grandpa experienced and learned.  Under the agreement, I can never use any of the sermon material I created while employed.  Under this agreement I cannot seek to bring reform.           

The decision not to sign this document will result in considerable hardship and likely result in foreclosure on our home.  Nevertheless, I cannot sign a document that seeks to suppress and conceal the ways some leaders in SGM, CW and Grace have lied, deceived, sinfully judged, libeled, defamed, acted hypocritically, shown favoritism, and failed to act justly as prescribed by Scripture.  I have repeatedly raised these issues with all concerned in private.  There has been little to no acknowledgment of wrong doing by these persons.   

I have always sought to protect the reputations of others.  This has been true even when [I was] sinned against, slandered or taken advantage of.  I have acted this way for the good of the gospel, the good of Sovereign Grace Ministries, and the good of individuals who have done wrong.  I do not regret this approach.  I believe it represents the teaching of Scripture [e.g. 1 Cor 6:7].  I am convicted, however, for allowing some situations to continue without “tell[ing] it to the church” (Matt 18:17), providing people adequate information to make just decisions, or alerting people to spiritual danger or abuse.  In this regard, I have been neglectful. 

This ECA&RAC and the approach you are taking have now convinced me for the first time that some communication with Grace Community Church is biblically necessary and appropriate.  Therefore, I have copied this correspondence to the former members and regular attendees.  This has been an agonizing decision to make.  By God’s grace, I hoped never to do this.  I am now convinced some action needs to be taken for the good of SGM, CW and Grace.

Though I anticipate a denial that this document represents an effort to buy my silence, you would never require me to sign a legally binding covenant of this nature unless you were trying to prevent a lawsuit or the sharing of true and convicting information.  This is lamentable.  This approach may be common in the “gentile” world but it should not be used in the church.  It is an expression of “lording” which is forbidden in Scripture.

Though promised severance for a year to help us transition, I am genuinely grateful for the monies I have received to date [for three months].  Please let me know when these payments will end.  I also remain grateful to God for all the years I was privileged to serve in SGM.  In so many respects, it was a great joy and honor.  I applaud your commitment to the gospel and pray for your success in planting churches for the glory of God.  There are many outstanding people and pastors in the movement.

Sincerely,

Brent

I decided to write this post for a few reasons.  One, Joshua Harris is resigning as the senior pastor of Covenant Life Church this Sunday, April 15.  People are asking whether or not he will receive any kind of “severance” payment and whether or not he will be required to sign any kind of binding agreement.  The members of CLC should ask their pastors to make known the amount and conditions of any payout whether it be called a “severance payment,” “bonus,” “gift of appreciation” or whatever.  When C.J. Mahaney resigned as senior pastor of CLC in 2004, Joshua Harris and the other pastors gave him a gift of $25,000 from church funds.  

Two, the use of confidentiality agreements is growing.  

When Brian Chesmore and Mike Bradshaw (two of Mahaney’s sons in law) abruptly quit as CLC pastors in August 2011, they nevertheless received severance.  This angered many members in CLC when it was discovered.  I don’t know if they were required to sign any kind of agreement.  

When Dave Harvey, former Interim President for SGM, fled the disciplinary process he was under and left Covenant Fellowship Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries in June 2013, he must have signed an “Employment Conclusion Agreement and Release of All Claims” document.  No one will discuss the terms or the circumstances of his departure.  

Most recently, I wrote about the use of a “hush fund” and a “legally binding agreement” by top SGM leaders in order to prevent a SGM pastor, whose son was sexually abused by the son of another SGM pastor in the same church, from jointing the lawsuit against C.J. Mahaney, SGM and others.

Non-disclosure agreements at the beginning of employment and severance agreements at the end of employment are increasingly being used by unscrupulous church leaders in order to prevent faithful Christian employees from obeying Matthew 18:17 and 1 Timothy 5:20 if required by persistent sin of a serious nature in the life of an elder or eldership.  

Here is the agreement I was initially pressured to sign.  It is detailed and technical.  I’ve underlined important conditions for ease of reading and understanding.   

 

GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH
EMPLOYMENT CONCLUSION AGREEMENT AND RELEASE OF ALL CLAIMS 

1.         PARTIES AND RECITALS.  This Employment Conclusion Agreement and Release of all Claims (“Agreement”) is made as of the Execution Date between A. BRENT DETWILER (hereafter “You”), AND GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH (hereafter “GCC”). 

            1.1  WHEREAS, You are the founding pastor of GCC and prior to that have served with God-glorifying sacrifice for a quarter century with Sovereign Grace Ministries and related churches; 

            1.2  WHEREAS, on July 28, 2009 following a process of pastoral and leadership assessment by your friends and fellow pastors, Wayne Brooks, Bob Kauflin, and Phil Sasser You resigned from your positions as Senior Pastor and board member and President of GCC;. 

             1.3 WHEREAS, in view of God’s mercies, our desire to serve You and your family during this time of transition, and our mutual desire to resolve differences in pursuing the full unity of the Spirit in the bond peace, GCC is offering to pay You the conclusion payments described below to which You would not otherwise be entitled; and 

            1.4  WHEREAS, the Parties desire to conclude the employment relationship in an orderly and amicable manner; to compromise and settle any and all claims of any kind that You now might have arising out of your employment with GCC or your employment termination; and to include all terms and conditions of this compromise and settlement in this Agreement. 

2.         RELEASE/WAIVER OF ANY AND ALL CLAIMSIn consideration of the terms of this Agreement and the conclusion of employment payments to be paid to You as provided in Paragraph 3 below, which includes significant benefits beyond those to which You would be legally entitled, the sufficiency of which You acknowledge, You hereby release, acquit, and forever discharge GCC, the leadership team and its organizational entity known as Sovereign Grace Ministries, the local churches associated with Sovereign Grace Ministries, and their respective officers, directors, agents, employees, servants, attorneys, insurers, predecessor and successor corporations, subsidiaries and affiliates, other successors in interest of any kind, assigns, and/or all persons, natural and corporate, in privity with it or any of them, (collectively “Released Parties,” all of whom are intended beneficiaries of this Agreement with enforceable waiver/release rights hereunder), from any and all claims, causes of action, liabilities, costs, expenses, demands, fines, penalties, duties, or obligations of any kind whatsoever, whether statutory, constitutional, at common law, or otherwise (including, without limitation, any claims or rights under federal employment discrimination laws, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the various Civil Rights Acts, any similar state or local laws, and every other federal, state, and/or local law and/or regulation governing or relating to employment), which You now have or may have, as of the Execution Date, known or unknown, directly or indirectly attributable to your employment and service on the Board of Directors of GCC, and/or your termination therefrom.  Any claims relating in any way to your employment or conclusion thereof which You may have against Parties not named and released herein are hereby assigned to the Released Parties. 

3.         CONCLUSION OF EMPLOYMENT PAY / CONSIDERATION.  You understand that your status as President, Board Member, and employee of GCC, and any leadership roles and responsibilities whether compensated or as a volunteer in connection with GCC, and/or Sovereign Grace Ministries, and/or the local churches associated with Sovereign Grace Ministries ended with your July 29, 2009 resignation letter, and that all employee rights and benefits that have not been earlier terminated, terminated at that time, unless otherwise expressly provided in this Agreement.  You understand that You are not entitled to the conclusion payment unless You execute and faithfully comply with this Agreement, and that the conclusion payment is in addition to any other payments or benefits that You may already be entitled to receive on account of your employment.  This conclusion payment is the primary consideration for this Agreement and your release [of any and all claims], and consists of the following: (1) the continuation of base salary and housing allowance monthly payments of $6,666.68 per month for the twelve month period from August 1, 2009 through July 31, 2010, and (2) payments in support of your health insurance premium costs consisting of monthly payments on your behalf to the carrier (or directly to you) of $937.02 per month for the same twelve month period. 

4.         BINDING CONTRACT; PURPOSE; NO LIABILITY.  It is expressly understood and agreed that all terms of this Agreement are contractual and binding; that all such terms and consideration are to help provide for You and your family an orderly and amicable transition and to compromise any and all doubtful and disputed claims, avoid litigation, and pursue peace; and that no payments made hereunder, or releases or other consideration given, will be construed as an admission of fault or liability by any of the Parties, all fault or liability being expressly denied

5.         LEGAL COMPETENCY.  You warrant and assure GCC that You have read this Agreement and fully understand it to be a compromise and release of any and all claims that You have or might have against the Released Parties as of the Execution Date of this Agreement.  You warrant that You are of legal age and are legally competent to execute this Agreement, and that You do so of your own free will, without relying on any terms, promises, assurances, expectations, or commitments except those that are expressly set forth in this Agreement. 

6.         COVENANT NOT TO SUE.  You covenant and agree that You will not sue or bring legal action or claims of any kind against GCC, or any person or entity included within the Released Parties as defined above, regarding any matter released in this Agreement.  You further represent and warrant that You have made no assignment of any claim, cause of action, or right arising from your employment and board membership with GCC, and You further warrant that You are the only person who may be entitled to assert any claim arising out of your GCC employment and board membership. 

7.         CONFIDENTIALITY OF THIS AGREEMENT.  You agree that You, nor any person acting with or for You, will publicize or make known the terms of this Agreement to any other person, except to the extent necessary for You to consult with legal counsel and/or to provide true and complete information in answer to lawful inquiries from a governmental entity or as otherwise required or provided by law.  Specifically, You agree to refrain from disclosing the terms of the Agreement, except as set forth in this paragraph, and will avoid direct or indirect references, whether by your actions and/or words, to the terms of the Agreement.  Except as otherwise required by law, You will not show the Agreement to, nor discuss its contents with, any person other than your attorneys or accountants, and You must insure that these individuals keep the terms of this Agreement confidential. 

8.         RETURN OF GCC PROPERTY; CONFIDENTIALITY.  Consistent with GCC policies, You agree to immediately return to GCC any property of GCC in your possession, custody, or control, including but not limited to personal computers, laptop computers, overhead projectors, calculators, cellular phones, fax machines, personal digital assistants (also known as P.D.A.s), and all other electronic equipment and/or property, unless otherwise provided in this Agreement.  In addition, You agree to immediately return and immediately cease and desist from all use of all works that You developed and/or created (and/or assisted in developing or creating) for the purposes of or in conjunction with your employment at GCC, whether in print, electronic, and/or any other form.  You also agree to immediately return to GCC and to forever cease and desist from all use of all GCC human resources, payroll, accounting, business and financial information (including but not limited to member and donor lists, reports, memos, data, and databases containing such information), any GCC trade secrets, vendor lists, and donor lists, any information concerning programs, employees, finances, strategic plans, grantees, donors, the Released Parties, any information concerning GCC’s relationships and transactions with such grantees, donors and the Released Parties, any information concerning GCC and/or GCC-related personnel matters, and all other confidential or proprietary information belonging and/or related to GCC and/or and the Released Parties that came into your possession, custody, or control during and/or in connection with your employment with GCC, whether in print, electronic, or any other form (collectively “Confidential Information”). You agree to keep confidential forever all such Confidential Information.  You shall purge all Confidential Information from your personal files, devices, and other storage mechanisms, and shall not take nor henceforth use and/or disclose any Confidential Information, in any form, for any purpose not previously authorized by GCC in writing.  If You have any question whether an item or information is subject to this paragraph, please promptly contact Roger Layman to identify such item or information and to obtain further guidance. 

9.         CRISTIAN CONCILIATION DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESS.  The Parties hereby agree to promptly submit any grievance, dispute, or claim (hereafter “claim”) arising from or connected with the subject matter of this Agreement to mediation, and if not successful then to binding arbitration in accordance with the Rules of Procedure For Christian Conciliation of the Institute For Christian Conciliation.  Judgment upon an arbitration award may be entered by any court having competent jurisdiction, in conformity with the laws of the State of North Carolina.  Each party shall bear its own costs and attorneys fees incurred in any such Christian Conciliation process, and shall contribute equally to the direct costs of such process (e.g., arbiter’s fee), which process may proceed at any place and time mutually convenient and agreeable to the Parties.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the event of actual or threatened violation of sections 7, 8, or 9 of this Agreement, the Parties may obtain from any court of competent jurisdiction such injunctive relief as may be appropriate to compel compliance with or prevent violation of such sections, including to compel process in accordance with the terms of this section. 

11.       SEVERABILITY.  If any provision of this Agreement is determined to be invalid, void, unenforceable, and/or inoperative by any tribunal or officer having jurisdiction hereof, or by operation of applicable law, the remaining provisions of this Agreement shall not be affected and shall continue in full effect as though the invalid or unenforceable parts had never been included in this Agreement, and the invalid provision shall be deemed modified to the least degree necessary to remedy such invalidity. 

13.       EXECUTION DATE; DELIVERY OF SIGNED AGREEMENT.  The Execution Date of this Agreement shall be the date it is signed by You (if signed by the Parties on different dates).  Please return a signed original of this Agreement to Attn: Roger Layman, Grace Community Church, 6400 Prosperity Church Road Charlotte, NC 28269 by first class mail, postage prepaid, or by overnight delivery service.  Once your signed original Agreement is signed by GCC, a copy of the fully executed Agreement will be provided to You for your records. 

14.       GOVERNING LAW.  This Agreement shall be construed and governed by the laws of the State of North Carolina without regard to its choice of law rules.  If either party ignores, forgives, and/or otherwise fails to enforce the terms of this Agreement with respect to any particular breach, this shall not operate as a waiver of the right to enforce any future breach.  It is the intention of the Parties that the terms and provisions of this Agreement be construed to be separable and severable.  

15.       ENTIRE AGREEMENT.  The Parties hereby agree that this Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between You and GCC with respect to the subject matter hereof, and that it supersedes any and all other communications or negotiations. No amendment or change to this Agreement shall be effective unless made in writing and signed by an authorized representative of each named party. 

You understand that this Agreement, and the general waivers and releases it contains, will not be final until seven days after You sign it, and that, at any time before these seven days have passed, You have the right to change your mind and decide not to agree to its terms.  You also acknowledge by signing this Agreement that You have had the opportunity to seek legal counsel, You have been advised by GCC to do so, and have been given sufficient time to consider this Agreement which You now knowingly and voluntarily enter into. 

ACCEPTED AND AGREED (please sign name, date, and print name as indicated): 

BRENT DETWILER                                                ____________________________________

                                                                                    WITNESS (print name above)

 

____________________________________            ____________________________________

EMPLOYEE (signature above)      Date               WITNESS (signature above)            Date 

GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH        

                         

By: _________________________________                                  

        Roger Layman, President-Board of Directors                                            ND: 4817-2382-7972, v. 1 

0633-1 Grace Community Church:  Brent Detwiler     Employment Conclusion Agreement     8/4/2009

[END]

My November 17, 2009 letter above sent the leaders of Sovereign Grace Ministries and Grace Community Church into a panic.  C.J. Mahaney and Dave Harvey immediately denied all knowledge of the agreement.  Tommy Hill claimed it was all a misunderstanding.  I don’t believe them.  A little background is necessary. 

I resigned as senior pastor of Grace Community Church on July 25, 2009.  At that time, I was told I’d received severance but I was not told the amount.  Soon after, SGM closed the church on August 30, 2009.  I still didn’t know the amount of my severance and I had no idea I’d be required to sign “The Employment Conclusion Agreement and Release of all Claims” document which was already finished.  Notice the August 4, 2009 completion date on the document at the bottom.  That requirement was hidden from me for nearly 4 months.    

I wrote Tommy Hill to try and find out what was going on. 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 9:25 AM
To: Tommy Hill
Subject: Severance
Importance: High

Hi Tommy, 

I called last week Wednesday and found out you were gone for the remainder of the week.  Hope you enjoyed a couple days off. 

Are you available for a phone call?  Are there any updates?  It is impossible to make some pressing and major decisions for our future until we hear about severance arrangements.  Yesterday we shut the church down.  Please know, I am very confident you are doing all you can to wrap things up.     

Thanks for your help.

Brent 

Tommy wrote back that Gene Emerson, Regional Leader for SGM, would be contacting me. 

From: Tommy Hill
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 11:10 AM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: RE: Severance

Brent, Gene should be contacting you by the end of day tomorrow with the general direction of how SGM is trying to help GCC and what your package should look like.  Please let me know if this doesn’t happen. 

Tommy 

Emerson responded.

From: Gene Emerson
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 12:33 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Re: Severance

I’m waiting for the Grace Leadership Team [Board of Directors] to finalize their specifics, Brent.  I know it will be helpful for you to know, and will get it to you as soon as I know which I anticipate will be by tomorrow.  Can I call you tomorrow at 4:30 pm?

At this point, I thought it best to have something simple in writing regarding the severance package that Gene Emerson outlined for me over the phone.  I wrote the five man Board of Directors for Grace Community Church.

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Friday, September 04, 2009 5:57 PM
To: Roger Layman; Michael Lukavsky
Cc: Jim Aldridge; Andy Elseman; Eric Kircher
Subject: Severance

Would you please send me the severance arrangement in writing that Gene outlined on your behalf?

Thanks

Brent

Mike Lukavsky wrote back me on behalf of the Board of Directors, Tommy Hill, and Gene Emerson.  They made it clear the continuation of any severance beyond September was conditioned on me signing the Employment Conclusion Agreement and Release of All Claims (i.e., the ECA&RAC).  I had no idea what this document contained.  My health insurance was about to be terminated due to non-payment if I didn’t sign the ECA&RAC immediately. 

From: Michael Lukavsky
Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2009 5:15 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Cc: Roger Layman; Andy Elseman; Eric Kircher; Jim Aldridge; Tommy Hill; Gene Emerson
Subject: Miscellaneous Items

Brent,

The Board met on Monday 9/14 night.  From the meeting we are able to respond to all of your questions below…

Now that we have finalized the severance amount we will need for you to sign the Grace Community Church Employment Conclusion Agreement and Release of All Claims document.  This will need to be signed before anymore payments [for my health insurance] are made for coverage beyond Oct 1, 2009. 

The GCC Board would not pay for my health insurance until the ECA&RAC document was signed.  They were intentionally using the impending termination of coverage in order to pressure me into signing it.  This was well known to Hill and I have no doubt Emerson was the one directing the GCC Board to put the pressure on me in this manner.  These local leaders would not have acted without the support of SGM. 

It was Emerson who also directed these same men to overthrow my leadership in Grace Community Church in June 2009 by means of a conspiracy and trumped up charges.  This is no exaggeration.  Emerson had a lot to lose if I ever went public with the true story about his role.  The ECA&RAC was critical to him silencing me. 

Well, my health insurance policy was about to be terminated and I didn’t have any money to cover the premium.  I wrote the GCC Board about my dilemma. 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 2:13 PM
To: Brent Detwiler; Michael Lukavsky
Cc: Roger Layman; Andy Elseman; Eric Kircher; Jim Aldridge; Tommy Hill; Gene Emerson
Subject: RE: Miscellaneous Items

I just drained my home equity today to pay Dr. Paul ($489.24) and pay Grace for the increased premium for Sep.-Dec. ($658.96).  I don’t have any money [left] to pay the [monthly] health insurance [premium] of $800.91.  Until now the bill paying has been the responsibility of Grace …

That didn’t matter.  An hour later, Roger Layman, President of the Board, reinforced what Mike Lukavsky, Treasurer of the Board, already said.  I must sign the ECA&RAC agreement in order to receive health insurance coverage for October.  There would be no severance package (including health insurance) until I agreed to terms.  Ironically, I had not yet been provided any such document.  

From: Roger Layman
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 3:11 PM
To: Brent Detwiler; Lukavsky, Michael
Cc: Andy Elseman; Eric Kircher; Jim Aldridge; Tommy Hill; Gene Emerson
Subject: RE: Miscellaneous Items

 …Mike indicated in his email that BlueCross BlueShield [my health insurance] would be paid upon receipt of “Now that we have finalized the severance amount we will need for you to sign the Grace Community Church Employment Conclusion Agreement and Release of All Claims document.  This will need to be signed before anymore payments are made for coverage beyond Oct 1, 2009.”  

Tommy, do you have this for Brent?

Even though the church had been paying my health insurance premium, the Board refused to continue paying it until I signed the ECA&RAC which I had not received.  I wrote back.

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 4:42 PM
To: Roger Layman; Michael Lukavsky
Cc: Andy Elseman; Eric Kircher; Jim Aldridge; Tommy Hill; Gene Emerson
Subject: RE: Miscellaneous Items

I haven’t seen any ECA&RAC document. …

Things continued to drag on and I began to wonder if the document would contain conditions like the ones actually contained in the agreement.  I wrote Hill.

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, October 16, 2009 12:10 PM
To: Tommy Hill
Subject: Agreement

Hi Tommy,

Any update on the ever evasive severance agreement?  Seems like a simple matter.  Are they planning to include elements beyond severance that I am not aware of and that is why it is taking so much time?

Thanks

Brent

Finally, Mickey Connolly’s administrator, David Moore, send me the legally binding contract which was drawn up 3 ½ months earlier.  I was horrified by its contents.  

From: David Moore
Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 3:56 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Conclusion agreement

Brent,

As we work on winding things down for Grace, one of the few remaining pieces yet to be done is to finalize the attached employment conclusion agreement.  We would like to get this signed off on so that contributions statements can be sent along with a letter detailing how the assets of the church were disbursed.  The desire is to go ahead and get that done as soon as possible.

If you can please sign and return, I will make sure you get a copy after Roger signs on this end.  If you have any questions on anything, please feel free to contact Tommy Hill or me.  I understand it is a pretty standard agreement.  Tommy did the work of drafting the document, so he would be the most intimately aware of what is included and why.

Praying for you and Jenny.

In response, I wrote the November 17 letter above to C.J. Mahaney, Mickey Connolly and Roger Layman regarding my refusal to sign the EAC&RAC document and thereby forfeit my severance.  I didn’t hear back from Connolly and Layman so I wrote them again. 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2009 8:57 AM
To: Mickey Connolly; Roger Layman
Subject: Any Response to ECA&RAC Letter?

Dear Mickey and Roger,

It has been several days and I haven’t heard back from either of you.  I don’t know what you are thinking or how you plan to proceed.  I’d appreciate a response as soon as you’re able. …

Would you please answer a few questions for me?  Mickey, I am unclear on what involvement, if any, you and Gene had in the matter.  Did either of you know about the ECA&RAC?  Did you read the document, review the document, discuss the contents of document with anyone, or provide any counsel to Roger regarding the document? 

Roger, which of the men on the leadership team read or reviewed the document?  Did Eric, Mike, Jim and Andy?  Was there any discussion regarding the document?  Who finally approved sending me the document?  Thanks for providing me some clarification.

I hope to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Brent

I never heard from Connolly or Emerson.  I now know both of these SGM leaders were involved, especially Emerson, in directing Layman, Lukavsky and the GCC Board to demand my signature on the ECA&RAC before they provided my remaining severance or covered my health insurance premiums.   

I did, however, receive this unbelievably deceptive response from Layman.  He actually claimed that no one from SGM – not Mahaney, Harvey, Hill, Connolly, or Emerson; and no one from the GCC Board – not himself, Eric Kircher, Mike Lukavsky, Jim Aldridge, and Andy Elseman wanted “any conditions” whatsoever attached to my severance package.  He refers to the ECA&RAC document as a letter.  Of course, it wasn’t a letter.  It was a legally binding contract.

From: Roger Layman
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2009 1:37 PM
To: Brent Detwiler; Mickey Connolly; CJ Mahaney
Cc: Tommy Hill; Gene Emerson; Eric Kircher; Jim Aldridge; Andy Elseman; Michael Lukavsky; John Schaaf; John Sutton; Jim Hawkins
Subject: RE: Any Response to ECA&RAC Letter?

Brent,

I believe the intention was just a letter of employment termination per Tommy’s email.  No-one desired any conditions.  I do apologize for the tone of the letter [i.e. ECA&RAC], we thought it was standard language.     

I did not have any discussions with Mickey [Connolly] about the content of the letter, nor did John Sutton and John Schaaf who were part of the compensation committee.  I believe Tommy, myself and Mike L. [Lukavsky] from the GCC board were the only ones that had anything to do with it; again, we believed it was a standard document and reviewed it as such for names, amounts, etc... 

I hope this helps to clarify your questions.  As both CJ and Tommy have stated, please just throw it away.  No-one desired any conditions. 

Layman claims he did not have any “discussions with Mickey about the content of the letter.”  That may or may not be true.  Nor does it preclude the exchange of emails or discussions about other relevant matters. 

Emerson was also in constant contact with Connolly and no doubt discussed the content of the legally binding contract (not letter). 

And typical of SGM, Layman makes no mention of Emerson.  He refuses to answer my questions about his involvement.  Emerson was the SGM Regional Leader primarily involved.  He reported directly to Mahaney. 

Layman goes on to say that only he, Hill and Lukavsky discussed the contents.  That may or may not be true.  What is clear, Kircher, Aldridge and Elseman were fully aware of its contents, approved the use of contract, and approved the leveraging of me to sign it.

I am amazed by the lack of truthfulness on Layman’s part.  He refers to this detailed, threatening, and binding agreement as a letter and claims ignorance for its use by saying “we thought it was standard language.”  Layman is a professional.  He and everyone else including Hill knew exactly what they were demanding of me.  They can’t claim stupidity. 

And they also knew the use of such a contract was clearly contrary to the Bible.  Furthermore, they knew it was wrong to pressure (or extort) someone into signing such a legally binding contract.  But worst of all, Layman absolutely lied when he said “no-one wanted conditions.”  Not true.  Everyone wanted conditions!  This was an attempt to silence me with severance. 

Three days after I received Layman’s letter, I had major surgery on my shoulder.  I couldn’t write him back until January 15.  I sent him a nicely worded letter.  I never heard back from him. 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Friday, January 15, 2010 11:24 AM
To: Roger Layman
Subject: “No-One Desire Any Conditions”

Hi Roger,

Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of our Savior!  I hope you are well and experiencing God’s grace. 

I was perplexed by your recent comment that “no one desired any conditions” in the Employment Conclusion Agreement and Release of All Claims (ECA&RAC) document, so I thought it best to share some observations for your consideration.  I’d genuinely like to believe not a single person at any time desired any conditions whatsoever attached to my severance agreement.  The last 4 months, however, have left me with a different impression.

First, I am confused because it should have been immediately apparent to everyone who reviewed the ECA&RAC document that it was loaded with conditions and therefore should not have been used.  In fact, the entire document as titled and composed had only one purpose.  That was to lay out conditions for receiving severance.  I don’t know how that can be missed if no one desired anything of the kind.

One of the conditions involved you directly and must have been considered by you.  It says, “You [Brent] agree to keep confidential forever all such Confidential Information.  You shall purge all Confidential Information from your personal files, devices, and other storage mechanisms, and shall not take nor henceforth use and/or disclose any Confidential Information, in any form, for any purpose not previously authorized by GCC in writing.  If You have any question whether an item or information is subject to this paragraph, please promptly contact Roger Layman to identify such item or information and to obtain further guidance.”  It is hard to believe this requirement to get approval from you was just “standard language” in a “standard document.”  In any case, it appears to show purposeful thought regarding the conditions.  Specifically in this paragraph, the condition to contact you regarding confidential information. 

I also find it hard to reconcile your comment with statements like “Now that we [the GCC Board of Directors] have finalized the severance amount we will need for you to sign the Grace Community Church Employment Conclusion Agreement and Release of All Claims document.  This will need to be signed before anymore payments [for my health insurance] are made for coverage beyond Oct 1, 2009” (from email below).  This approach was not new to me.  I was accustomed to conditions being used in order to press demands.  For instance, “The GCC board has approved a severance package, however, we are still trying to determine the exact dollar amount based on “salary/housing” and health insurance.  We should have this available soon.  The board will not authorize the final severance package until the above items are received” (from e-mail below).  That is why I can’t harmonize this kind of approach with your recent statement to “please just throw it away.”  For several months, you’ve been intent on having me sign the document.

You apologize “for the tone of the letter” but don’t appear to take any real responsibility when you say “we thought it was standard language.”  I’d submit that most Christians reading this document would take note of the tone and object to its use.  It may be “standard language” for the world but it is clearly contrary to a biblical approach in content and attitude.       

From beginning to end, it took nearly 4 months for you, Mike, etc. to put the document together.  During this time, I did not know what conditions would be required and therefore whether I could sign it.  That proved a challenge to my faith.  I realized my severance could be immediately cut off if I did not agree with the conditions in the document once it was finished.  The e-mails below give you a fresh feel for the process.  You may want to read them in chronological order and start from the bottom.  I have added some comments in brackets [ ] to help in understanding.  I’ve also underlined certain statements for focus.

Roger, I don’t know your heart or motives but this example raises questions for me regarding your integrity in the matter.  I’ve not come to any conclusions.  I submit these observations for your consideration however.

Love in Christ,

Brent

This happened five years ago.  Since then I’ve been able to do much more research and come to some conclusions.  In this matter, there is no doubt leaders in Grace Community Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries wanted to silence me in November 2009.  They never expected I’d flatly refuse to sign their altogether corrupt “Employment Conclusion Agreement and Release of All Claims” document.  Their plan back fired. 

In the end, I received severance that covered our living expenses for eight months (Aug 2009-Mar 2010).  In March 2010, I cancelled my health insurance policy because I could no longer afford it.  Six months later, I was able to find and qualify for a federal health insurance program subsidize by the government. 

In March 2010, I also sent C.J. Mahaney my first major document entitled Response Regarding Friendship & Doctrine.  No severance agreement.  No silence.

The story about my severance is only a small part of a much larger story of lies, abuse, threats, and betrayal going on at the time.  It is unbelievable story told in The Untold Story.  Take the time to read it.  You’ll be shocked.

Two final points.  One, church members everywhere should ask their pastors if “non-disclosure agreements” or “severance agreements” are used by their church.  If so, dig deeper.  Two, church pastors everywhere should refuse to sign “non-disclosure agreements” even if it means you don’t get the job or “severance agreements” even if it means you don’t get severance. 

Christ commands us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt 6:33)