George Harrington is the former senior pastor of the Sovereign Grace church in Jacksonville, Florida. Recently he began Cross Central Church in Jacksonville.
George's insights and his appeal to the SGM Board mirrors those of many others. In Dave Harvey's October 28 blog post he focused all his attention on me as if I were the only one with farfetched concerns for C.J. and SGM. He also twists the truth about my attitude and actions beyond recognition.
This is an attempt to draw attention away from the long list of men like George Harrington who are expressing the same concerns as me. As I've said from the very beginning (see RRF&D, p. 128), the concerns I've raised are not limited to me and C.J. Joshua Harris said the same thing last night at a members meeting for Covenant Life Church. C.J.'s sins have impacted the entire movement and adversely effected many leaders and people. I am just one part of the story.
George's correspondence is used with permission
October 21, 2011
Dear SGM Board,
I’m writing you to appeal for a context where those who have serious concerns for SGM as a whole, and accusations against key individuals can be voiced before an agreed upon third party. Brothers, for this to linger on indefinitely only drags the glory of the Savior down. It also makes it much more difficult for SGM to address critical issues and move into the future better positioned to promote the gospel of Christ. There would seem to be no way to avoid this crisis continuing unless there is such an event.
It is becoming increasingly perplexing that there hasn’t been movement on your part to expedite such measures to draw this crisis to a conclusion. Measures that have been implemented thus far have not been such that a majority of your most serious accusers have agreed to. Not only that, but these men should be regarded as once having held strategic roles within SGM for decades. The longer you wait, the more speculation will arise in the general public that you have something to hide, or best case, managing this crisis. There doesn’t seem to be any way around this issue. I don’t believe that the Lord will be satisfied until you do open the door to objective analysis and judgments. I think that you men should begin to realize that not only does there need to be significant philosophical changes in authority and polity, but potentially to key leaders and their roles. While I am not making any assertions as to who and what, I think you should be willing now to open up a process where you can discover what these changes would be as events unfold.
Another part of such an event taking place is that there surely will be judgments that vindicate key leaders in SGM as well. Why hold men up any longer if they are being falsely accused? Why delay God’s discipline to others who are bringing these accusations if they are deemed to be ungodly and unfounded? Why not serve those of us who have spoken out? I know I would not shy away from the Lord’s correction and rebuke, if I need to be corrected and disciplined. EVERYONE involved can be judged and evaluated as to their culpability. I personally would be open to a public statement made by an objective agreed upon mediator/group to pronounce any culpability and correction directed toward me. I don’t believe any of us are afraid of that, neither should you.
It appears that the major issue in there being a lack of agreement is not on who will be the actual mediator and judges, but how will these judgments and information be handled after the process is over. What kind of role and authority will be vested in their conclusions? How will these conclusions be communicated? This is where you cannot position yourself to control the process or the information disseminated. Even if you have solicited a third party, (AOR), the process, authority vested in their judgments, and final communication of conclusions is not acceptable to many. Especially since a large part of the accusations currently being brought asserts there is a history of spinning information favorably and shifting the blame to discredit the messengers. While I am personally not charging this, other significant men have.
Ultimately, I suggest that an objective body that can be agreed to by everyone involved, make their judgments and recommendations publicly, and then you can decide what you will or will not do to implement their conclusions. You can always feel free to disagree, but neither of the parties involved can change, spin, or alter the panels conclusions. It seems insincere to solicit participation to learn where “mistakes and practices” need addressing, when you have basically determined who will arbitrate, and then allow this third party to set the rules. This looks too much like SGM setting the stage to communicate publicly that, “Well, we tried, but…” and then move on without real input and course corrections.
Recently, I read a letter from Dave to Brent. I think this letter contains the essence of the concern that many men have, and why there is such shrewdness in negotiating the terms of reconciliation. Let’s assume that everything Dave writes in his letter to and about Brent is true. Let’s assume that Brent has been totally bogus in his assertions and has sinned grievously against you. Why would this then make you timid about moving forward with a forum that everyone can agree to? Why not have Brent’s head displayed for all to see what it really is? Why not be vindicated and absolved from all that is mentioned in the letter? Why continue to make multiple appeals to men who don’t think that the current process is acceptable? (Which seem more like strong arm tactics to some of us.) Why are you forcing your subjective version of what is fair and objective? My conclusion is that if you are correct in your charges against Brent, it will come out. The problem may lie with, what if you are wrong?
I know that those of us who are speaking up represent thousands of good people who will not have a voice to speak. They need to be able to draw some kind of consolation and closure from years of hurt and confusion. You need to respond for their sake as much as you do those of us who are the squeaky wheels. Most importantly, you need to respond for the glory of God and to serve your constituent churches into the future.
Brothers, I still count you as my friends and still dearly love SGM. Please remember, SGM is not yours, it belongs to God. He will be the reason why the ministry sinks or swims. Please release this to the Lord so that other objective men who love the Savior just as much as we do can bring clarity to these complex issues. My fear is that if this is not resolved soon, there will be irreparable damage done to the group of churches I love so much. Please, please, let go of the grip you have on your positions, the rest of us did.
Thank you for loving the Savior. I know that this is a painful time for you. I honestly wouldn’t want to be in your shoes right now, but, there is a way out! Please consider my appeal with heartfelt prayer and consideration. My love and concern go before me as you read this. May God be glorified both in the process, and the conclusion of these difficult times. I hope you still consider me your friend.
From: George Harrington
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2011 4:32 PM
To: Dave Harvey; Brent Detwiler; SGM Board; CLC Pastors
Subject: RE: Hello
Thanks for your kind words. May I suggest that you not evaluate any one's assertions or, in Brent's case documents if the material you are evaluating isn't accompanied by the one bringing the concerns? Especially if that individual/individuals has already communicated to you that they do not see this process as objective? It would seem like an exercise of going through the motions to satisfy subjectively your own stated desire to "learn and see all that God has for us." And my question would be, is that a reliable evaluation?
While I applaud your stated desire, it seems like that if any particular individual doesn't acquiesce and walk according to the process SGM had laid down, then you will evaluate these concerns without due process. This will only lead to more suspicion and speculation that there may be further spinning and altering the disseminating of information that seems to be a primary allegation from a number of individuals. Listen Dave, I'm not trying to be contentious, just trying to bring a perspective for your good and the overall good of SGM. I love you brothers dearly and it hurts me to see the crisis you are enduring. But I must confess, I see a large part of these concerns not only having merit, but having been my experience. Please reconsider evaluating any one's written or spoken concerns at the AOR proceedings without a "Yes and amen" by the parties involved. Thanks for your consideration.