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Who will be the Next Chairman of the Board and President of Sovereign Grace Ministries?

Larry Tomczak was Chairman and President from 1982-1990.  C.J. took over in 1990 and held both positions until July 6, 2011 when he resigned for 7 months “in order to give time to considering these charges, examine my heart, and receive the appropriate help from others.”  He was reinstated on January 25, 2012.  He is the current Chairman and President.  That will change this week.

The first order of business for the new Board must be the election of a new Chairman.  This powerful person will preside over the Board and all of Sovereign Grace Ministries as “the spiritual leader” of the Corporation.  In keeping with the Bylaws, he must be selected from one of the nine Board Members.  That means these men will choose one man from among them.  I’d expect it to be Craig, Mickey, or John since they were  interim Board Members.  Why not keep a good thing going!  All the other guys are newbies to this kind of stuff.      

  1. Ron Boomsma
  2. Paul Buckley
  3. Craig Cabaniss
  4. Mickey Connolly
  5. John Loftness
  6. Ian McConnell
  7. Ken Mellinger
  8. Al Pino
  9. Phil Sasser

This job description of the Chairman is found in the Bylaws.

Section 6.3  The Chairman.  The Chairman shall be a member of the Board of Directors.  As the spiritual leader of the Corporation, the Chairman shall have principal responsibility to establish the Corporation’s vision, mission, and priorities.  He shall preside at meetings of the Board of Directors.  He shall make reports to the Board of Directors, and shall have such other rights, duties, and powers as are authorized by the Board of Directors from time to time.

The day C.J. returned as Chairman and President, he posted “A note to those in Sovereign Grace Ministries” in which he highlighted his two highest priorities.  Getting a new Board of his making into position and helping to identify and install his successor. 

“So my return will be temporary and with a few important intentions.  Let me briefly explain what they are.  First, I want to give immediate attention to helping the interim board transfer governance to their successors…. Second, once the new board is formed I want to assist them however I can in identifying and installing my successor as president, although that decision will be for the board to make.” (C.J. Mahaney, “A note to those in SGM,” January 25, 2012) 

C.J. is the mastermind behind all that is happening.  In predictable fashion, he shut down any interaction with the Sovereign Grace pastors and denied the appeal of 62 pastors and 16 churches.  He moved on without them in appointing a new Board.  I deal with this in my blog posts, Cotton Candy and The Coming Tsunami.  First step accomplished for C.J.  A handpicked puppet Board. 

And this week, he will get the Chairman and President of his choosing.  The two step plan will be fait accompli.  Or if you like plan English, an in your face slam dunk.  C.J. is pulling all the strings and cutting out all the SGM pastors in the process.  He has his Board.  He will get his Chairman and President.

This should not be the case for ethical and legal reasons.  Once the new Board officially started this week, C.J.’s influence legally ended!  He went back to being a Sovereign Grace pastor.  Well, once he plants a church.  Until then he is less than a pastor.  He has no right or power to help the new Board identify or install a Chairman or President.  He must recuse himself and stop all influence peddling.  So too Harvey, Purswell, Osborne, Prater, Greasley, Gamache, and Shank.  These men became mere mortals the day the new Board began.  They have no authority in SGM whatsoever. 

The new Board is legally bound to work independently of the old Board.  The ties must be severed.  If all other pastors in SGM have no say in who is Chairman or President, then neither can C.J., Dave or any previous Board Member.  Or to put it another way, if C.J. is going to  “assist” the Board in “identifying and installing” his successors, so too must everyone else.  He has no special powers or privileges.  If the new Board takes into consideration C.J.’s counsel or recommendations, they must pursue the same from every pastor in SGM.  Otherwise, they prove themselves puppets on their first day of work and continue the corruption that has characterized the previous Board.

It appears the Chairman and the President will be separate persons for the first time in SGM history.  The Chairman runs the Board.  The President runs the ministry.  The Chairman and the President will work closely together.  The Board also needs to pick the Executive Director (COO), Secretary, and Treasurer (Finance Director) for the corporation.  Except for the Chairman, these officers may, but need not be, Directors of the Corporation.  

One other order of business this week.  The Directors need to figure out how much they will pay themselves.  “Section 4.8  Compensation of Directors.  Directors shall be entitled to such reasonable compensation for their services as Directors as shall be fixed from time to time by resolution of the Board of Directors.”

Moving on.  Here is Dave Harvey’s post from yesterday.  Notice how C.J is trying to stay out of trouble by staying out of sight.  This is no reference to him yet he is the Chairman and President.  Not Dave.  C.J. should be introducing his brand new handpicked Board of Directors. 

I’ve provided commentary to the blog post in blue lettering.

Introducing Our New Board


Below is an announcement from the interim Board.


This week a new Board of Directors will be installed to replace the interim Board that has led Sovereign Grace Ministries since July 2011.  The interim Board’s purpose was largely restricted to overseeing the adjudication of charges brought by a former leader—a process that we completed in January 2012—as well as initiating a broad review of SGM. This new Board will serve by providing ongoing governance of the ministry.

“A former leader.”  I wonder who that could be.  This is the same old strategy played out over the last 8 months.  Make it appear that I am the only leader ever to bring charges against C.J.  As I’ve repeatedly documented, the interim Board promised an examination of all charges brought against C.J., Dave and others in SGM by scores of pastors and people.  It has never been about Brent and C.J.  It is about the world and C.J.

The membership of the new Board reflects certain structural changes that had been underway from 2010 but were postponed with the installment of the interim Board.  These changes are primarily designed to increase the Board’s accountability and the participation of Sovereign Grace pastors while maintaining fidelity to our bylaws.  Most notably, a majority of members of the new Board are pastors in Sovereign Grace churches rather than full- or part-time staff of SGM. They also meet other criteria: each has more than five years of pastoral experience; is endorsed by his local team for his character, gifts, and ability to work well in plurality; has a proven ability to reason biblically in various circumstances; has strategic and problem-solving gifts; and is committed to our mission to plant and care for churches. 

None of these supposed “structural changes…increase the Board’s accountability and the participation of Sovereign Grace pastors” in any meaningful sense.  Read “Cotton Candy” for a complete analysis. 

Using the phrase “while maintaining fidelity to our bylaws” is so deceptive!  I hate this kind of evil spin.  It is so wrong.  If there are going to be real structural changes, accountability and participation; then the bylaws must be changed.  We don’t need “fidelity” to the Bylaws; we need infidelity!  Loyalty and faithfulness to the Bylaws is not a virtue.  The Bylaws (and Articles of Incorporation and Membership Agreement) give absolute power to the Board of Directors and no power to the Sovereign Grace pastors or churches.

But let me point out one major infidelity committed by the interim Board.  There are others.  Section 4:1 in the Bylaws requires one member of the Board be appointed by the Covenant Life Church Board.  This same legal requirement is found in Article 6 in the Articles of Incorporation.  See “Has the SGM Board Broken the Law and Defrauded the Pastors of Covenant Life Church? Yes, by All Accounts!”

Dave Harvey and the Interim Board have stated time and again they did not change polity because that was left for a new Board.  That is a lie.  They changed Section 4:1 and Article 6.  They have also implied on numerous occasions that they can’t change the Bylaws and Articles.  Therefore, they are bound by them to do what they have done in nominating and selecting a new Board.  That is nonsense.  The Articles and Bylaws can be easily “amended, altered, or repealed by a majority vote of the members of the Board of Directors.”  That is what they did with the stipulation that Covenant Life must appoint a Director.  They just got rid of it.  So much for “fidelity to the bylaws.”  So much for not being able to change anything.  They are loyal to the Articles and Bylaws they like and secretly change those they don’t like.  God hates their duplicity.

You can read more about the new Board members, listed below, at the end of this post. 

  • Ron Boomsma, Sovereign Grace Church of Pasadena, Pasadena, CA
  • Paul Buckley, King of Grace Church, Haverhill, MA 
  • Craig Cabaniss, Grace Church, Frisco, TX
  • Mickey Connolly,CrossWay Community Church, Charlotte, NC
  • John Loftness, Solid Rock Church, Riverdale, MD
  • Ian McConnell, Grace Bible Church, Philadelphia, PA
  • Ken Mellinger, Living Hope Church, Harrisburg, PA 
  • Al Pino, Palm Vista Community Church, Miami Lakes, FL
  • Phil Sasser, Sovereign Grace Church, Apex, NC 

Each of these men was nominated by the interim Board, approved for service by their local pastoral teams, and then affirmed through a feedback process open to all ordained pastors of Sovereign Grace churches.  The interim Board also gave careful consideration to comments pastors sent to us about the process and the timing of the process chosen by the Board.  We concluded that implementing changes in our governance, including the process for choosing SGM leaders, should be the responsibility of this new Board.  

These nominees were not affirmed by at least 62 pastors and 16 churches.  Somehow that got left out of this press release.  The interim Board can say they gave “careful consideration” to comments from the pastors but none of their suggestions, recommendations or requests were acted upon.  All were turned down.  That’s the kind of careful consideration C.J., Dave and Mickey are known for.    

The new Board begins its work this week.  A top priority will be addressing changes in SGM’s governance, which will include participation from a broad spectrum of Sovereign Grace pastors. 

“Participation” – does that mean more “careful consideration” which results in absolutely no change?  Or will this participation have real teeth.  Real authority.  Real clout.  Will it include a radical overhaul of the Articles, Bylaws and Membership Agreement?  Will it mean Board Members can be selected and removed by a majority of SGM pastors?  Does it mean the pastors get to pick who is on the powerful subcommittee that  drafts “the book of church order” and then get to vote on each part for acceptance? 

Please pray for these men, the ministry, and our future.  God has blessed Sovereign Grace churches and used SGM to do much good in our short 30-year history.  Our hope and prayer is that God will use this new Board to lead us into a future of even greater fruitfulness as we seek to plant and build local churches through the gospel to the glory and praise of God.

Last thought.  Over the last eight months, Harvey, Purswell, Shank, Connolly, Loftness, Osborne, Cabaniss, Prater, Greasley, and Gamache have acknowledge no fault in C.J. and C.J. has never asked forgiveness for any fault of the pastors or the movement.  Thousands of pages of evidence and testimony by nearly 200 people has produced no meaningful confession by C.J. and nothing from the Board.  No specific sin has been renounced.  No sinful patterns have been identified.  Illustrations of lying, deceit, cover-up, manipulation, favoritism, partiality, hypocrisy, independence, pride and heavy handedness in the hundreds and backed up by evidence are totally ignored.  The interim Board has done a terrible job.  The pervasive lack of trust that exists throughout Sovereign Grace Ministries is due to their leadership.

Where does that leave us?  Here’s the plan.  The first order of business for the new Board is to pick a Chairman and President not approved by C.J.  The second order of business is the removal of Mickey, John and Craig from the new Board.  The third order of business should be a thorough investigation of the old Board for all manner of corruption.  The fourth order, a real hearing of all charges against C.J. by objective evaluators.  Fifth, add three guys to the Board like Joshua Harris or Mark Mullery who had the courage and integrity to oppose C.J.  Last, set salaries because you’re earned your keep.  If you divvy up C.J.’s and Dave’s compensation, there will be plenty to go around.   

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