I’ll get to these soon but first, I anticipate John Loftness will replace C.J. as Chairman of the Board. John is the senior pastor of Solid Rock Church in Riverdale, MD. C.J. fled Covenant Life Church in August 2011 for a 5 month hiatus at Capitol Hill Baptist with Mark Dever. Then in January 20112, he left Capitol Hill and transferred his membership from Covenant Life to Solid Rock.
Favors and Favorites
John will be handsomely rewarded by C.J. for his devotion to C.J. That’s the way it works. You become a favorite of C.J.’s by showing C.J. favoritism. Here is how John famously introduced C.J. at the Pastors Conference in November, 2011.
“I am here right now to give some context before CJ comes to give an update from his leave of absence. More than four months ago CJ volunteered to take this leave. The board decided to expand the board of three men by having all of the regional leaders in SG – I am one of those leaders – and so suddenly in a day I was transformed into a board member. I’ve known CJ for 33 years.
“Since leaving CLC and moving to Solid Rock four years ago our friendship has only deepened though we don’t see each other as much as we once did. I give you that background because of our history because the board asked me to serve as a liaison with CJ so he could get appropriate updates of our work and developments that might affect him. The board also thought it was wise and helpful if CJ could receive pastoral care from someone who knew him well and was familiar with all that was going on in Sovereign Grace. I consider it a great privilege to stand with my friend during this most trying time. We’ve met often, we’ve talked extensively about his soul, his leadership, and how to evaluate Sovereign Grace. So what you are about to hear reflects the content of many, many conversations over the last four months.” (John Loftness, Pastors’ Conference, November 9, 2011)
After this, John sat down and C.J. stood up. What followed was a complete disaster by all accounts. The four months of innumerable conversations produced no contrition or confession of any kind. See “The Transcript of C.J. Mahaney’s Remarks at 2011 Sovereign Grace Ministries’ Pastors Conference” and “C.J.’s State of His Heart Message – Reflection on Personal Sins.” John’s pastoral care was totally ineffective. In fact, if C.J.’s approach to all the pastors and wives was indicative of John’s counsel, then John’s input was downright harmful. John refuses to answer inquiries regarding his input and C.J.’s comments. No surprise, so does C.J. The SGM Board refuses to release C.J.’s message though requested by the CLC pastors and many others. A transcript exists in the public domain but not the audio. The Board doesn’t want people to hear C.J.’s sinful attitudes and tone more distinctly.
John’s church is also growing thanks to C.J. Riverdale, MD is 35 minutes from Gaithersburg, MD. Nora Earles (C.J.’s secretary), Paul Medler (the SGM event planner), Dave Mays (SGM Information Technology), Gary Riccuci (Dean of Students at the Pastors College), and Steve Whitacre (son in law and former pastor in Fairfax, VA) all attend along with others. Mike Bradshaw (son in law and former CLC pastor) and Brian Chesemore (son in law and former CLC pastor) attend Capitol Hill Baptist where they are doing internships. Some of these people will move with C.J. to Louisville. Some will continue working for SGM and remain but work remotely. Others will stay to help John as Chairman (if I’m correct) and the church.
Lastly, read “Silencing a Voice for the Gospel” where John compares C.J. to Paul the apostle and points out I am a servant of Satan.
New Officers and Leadership Team
Well now, who will be the next President of Sovereign Grace Ministries? C.J. has sworn it won’t be him! But C.J. has sworn many things and broken his word. He could come back as President. If he doesn’t, it seems certain the new President put forth by C.J. as his successor will move to Louisville so C.J. is his pastor and tutor. That person could be a well-known and high powered outsider to SGM. Or more likely, a handpick insider who’d give up his sr. pastor responsibilities (e.g. Jared Mellinger).
If either of these scenarios occur, what happens to Dave Harvey? Dave is recovering after “the demands of the last eight months” and attending to “the emergence of some family matters” but per the SGM website he continues to be “responsible for church care, church planting, and international expansion for Sovereign Grace Ministries.” I don’t see that changing. Dave could be given a new designation like Vice President.
So what happens to Waldo if we have Chairman Loftness, President Insider/Outsider, and Vice President Harvey. How does C.J. fit into the picture? Well, he’s the puppet master or puppeteer. From behind the curtain, he pulls the strings and Loftness, Insider/Outsider and Harvey perform. Of course, there is one small problem, if anything like this happens it is illegal and unethical! Per the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, C.J. can have no influence upon the SGM Board or SGM Leadership Team greater than that of any other pastor. So how do C.J. and the Board circumvent these ethical obstacles. Easy, create a new position. Make C.J. President Emeritus. Then the three marionettes of Chairman, President, and Vice President can all be directed by President Emeritus. It will be like a three ring circus. Start the cavalcade and strike up the band! Let the show begin.
So where does this leave us? Someone other than C.J. will be the new Chairman and likely the new President but C.J. will functionally remain in charge as President Emeritus. And what about the new Leadership Team? Well, it is not going to be very new; but first, let me reiterate a couple things. In this structure some things have changed. The Chairman is no longer the President and the Board is no longer the Leadership (Apostolic) Team. They have been separated although some overlap will continue.
Old Board and Leadership (Apostolic) Team:
- Cabaniss, Craig
- Connolly, Mickey
- Gamache, Rick
- Greasley, Pete
- Harvey, Dave
- Loftness, John
- Mahaney, C.J.
- Osborne, Aron
- Prater, Mark
- Purswell, Jeff
- Shank, Steve
- Osborne, Aron
- Boomsma, Ron
- Buckley, Pau
- Cabaniss, Craig (carry over)
- Connolly, Mickey (carry over)
- Loftness, John (carry over, Chairman?)
- McConnell, Ian
- Mellinger, Ken
- Pino, Al
- Sasser, Phil
New Leadership (Apostolic) Team – same as old plus a few additions
- Cabaniss, Craig (also on Board)
- Connolly, Mickey (also on Board)
- Gamache, Rick
- Greasley, Pete
- Harvey, Dave (Vice President?)
- Mahaney, C.J. (President Emeritus)
- Osborne, Aron
- Prater, Mark
- Purswell, Jeff
- Shank, Steve
- Hill, Tommy
- Kauflin, Bob
- Mellinger, Jared (President?)
- Sasser, Nathan
During their 9 month tenure (Jul 2011-Mar 2012), the ten men on the old Board- Leadership Team took three critical votes. Each was unanimously in C.J.’s favor. There was no dissent. By so doing they secured a happy and prosperous future in Sovereign Grace Ministries. Their promotions and positions are secure. C.J. rewards favoritism and favorites. He punishes critics.
Here are those occasions.
Yes Men and No Men
Vote One: Board Unanimously Finds No Reason for Disqualification - July 13, 2011
“The board of Sovereign Grace Ministries has reviewed Brent Detwiler’s documents accusing C.J. Mahaney of sinful practices in the conduct of his ministry and finds no reason at this time to deem him unfit for ministry…. C.J. Mahaney is a qualified minister of the gospel and this board approves his pastoral and teaching ministry in Sovereign Grace and the wider body of Christ.”
This vote occurred six days after their selection as Board Members. See The Five Resolutions - July 13, 2011. Except for Joshua Harris who resigned over this issue, no one on the SGM Board had any misgivings that C.J. might not be “above reproach” after reading 600 pages of carefully documented charges.
Vote Two: C.J. Unanimously Returned to Office of President - January 25, 2012
“After examining the reports of these three review panels, we find nothing in them that would disqualify C.J. from his role as President, nor do they in any way call into question his fitness for gospel ministry. Therefore the Board has decided unanimously to return C.J. to the office of President, effective immediately.”
Vote Three: C.J. Unanimously Nominated to New Board – February 27, 2012
“Some of you are surely wondering why C.J. Mahaney, Dave Harvey, and Jeff Purswell aren’t on the list. C.J. and Jeff were both unanimously nominated for the Board but asked to have their names removed from consideration. Both thought they would be able to better serve SGM at present if they were able to specialize in particular areas of their calling. Dave Harvey was also unanimously nominated for Board membership, but after considering the demands of the last eight months, the emergence of some family matters, and the care and counsel of his local eldership, Dave became convinced that Board membership was an unwise commitment right now.”
Here’s the conclusion of it all. Cabaniss, Connolly, Gamache, Greasley, Harvey, Loftness, Prater, Purswell, Shank, and Osborne proved their “loyalty” to C.J. They were “yes men” on every strategic vote. Furthermore, they have willingly lied, deceived and covered up in order to protect C.J. over the last 9 months.
You must understand, “no men” are not tolerated in C.J.’s world. Any “no” votes would have resulted in their removal. Real dissent is not permitted. Job security and advancement are predicated upon an idolatrous devotion to C.J. So too salary increases and bonuses. That is why you don’t find a single person on the new Board who has challenged, confronted or disagreed with C.J. in any meaningful way. The same will be true of the not so new Leadership (Apostolic) Team. The last person to differ with C.J. was Joshua Harris. See “The Cardinal Sins of Joshua Harris.” Until then Joshua was the President-in-training of Sovereign Grace Ministries. When C.J. turned 60 in 2014, he planned to turn SGM over to Joshua. Well, the heir apparent has been removed from C.J.’s will. He won’t be getting a penny. Sovereign Grace Ministries is C.J.’s ministry.
The New Partnership Agreement
This document used to be called the Membership Agreement. The name has been changed to make it sound nicer. The pastors and churches are partners now, not members, even though they don’t have any say in the governance and direction of the ministry. But “partners” sounds more participatory and mutually affirming. You know, we’re in this together. Friends forever.
The Board referenced this soon to be revealed document in its February 27, 2012 letter to all the SGM pastors.
“There are other measures meant to help SGM benefit from accountability to local churches that we expect will be reflected in the new Partnership Agreement. These include providing recourse for elders in the form of a grievance policy, the requirement that changes in the Statement of Faith be voted on by ordained elders, and the requirement that SGM executive staff serve on the staff of a local church.”
These three measures amount to very little and exclude all the critical issues being addressed by the 62 pastors who signed the March 7 “Stop and Listen” response to the Board of Directors. Furthermore, the old and new Boards are finalizing the content of the Partnership Agreement without the involvement of all the SGM pastors.
People often ask me when I think churches will begin to leave SGM. That’s not too hard to answer. They will leave after the new Partnership Agreement comes out because their pastors won’t be able to sign it with a clear conscience. On the other hand, some wishy washy pastors/churches may sign it under protest (which can’t be done with clear conscience) and then wait to see how the Board responds to the Ambassador of Reconciliation report, the recommendations from the Panel Reports, and the dissenting voices of pastors in the movement before making a decision to leave.
Ethics First, Polity Second
All of these reasons for leaving, however, badly miss the point. Sure, churches can leave over polity differences but they should be leaving over the corruption that is so systemic and evident! Theoretically, the new Board could radically change SGM polity but if they don’t deal with C.J., Dave, Steve, Mickey, Bob, Gene and the old Board; they are accomplices who continue covering up serious occasions and patterns of sin. All the churches in SGM should leave if these matters are left unattended to by the new Board. Innumerable ethics violations are by far the most compelling reasons to leave. That is why I’ve repeatedly and strenuously appealed to Ted Kober, President of Ambassadors of Reconciliation, to include charges of corruption in his report.
The old Board has confessed to absolutely nothing and C.J. to practically nothing. Here is the extent of C.J.’s confession to the movement. One single sentence appearing in “A note to those in Sovereign Grace Ministries” on January 25, 2012. “I deeply regret where my mistakes, leadership deficiencies, and sins contributed to the relational conflicts detailed in these [three panel] reports.” That’s it and all you’ll ever hear! It is so hypocritical! See “What Andy Pettitte and C.J. Mahaney Share in Common.” Neither the Board or C.J. have ever asked forgiveness of the pastors or the churches for anything. They never will.
You must understand what is going on. C.J. is cleaning house. Joshua Harris is out. Mark Mullery is out. So is everyone else who signed the “Stop and Listen” letter or stood up to C.J., Dave or the old Board in any meaningful way. Such people have been silenced, marginalized and marked. They won’t be put in positions of leadership in SGM. It has always been that way. Disagree with C.J. and you’re gone. You’re blacklisted. Align yourself with C.J. and your rewarded. That’s why you won’t find anyone on the new Board or new Leadership (Apostolic) Team who has raised concerns for ethical misconduct, questioned C.J.’s qualifications, or challenged heavy handed practice and polity. I suspect 20% of the churches will be forced out of Sovereign Grace with the new Partnership Agreement. That is C.J.’s way of weeding out the undesirables. He won’t lose any sleep or shed any tears with their departure.