Search This Site




 Subscribe by Email


Paul Buckley, Chairman of the SGM Board & Other Top Level Leaders Secretly Plotted C.J. Mahaney’s Removal as President

Paul Buckley was first seated on the SGM Board of Directors as Vice Chairman in March 2012.  He was promoted to Chairman when John Loftness resigned that position in February 2013.   

In June 2012, Buckley tried to prevent C.J. Mahaney from becoming the long term President.  I wrote about this in “A Divided Board Makes C.J. Mahaney Long Term President.”   

Later in September 2012, he secretly worked with Dave Harvey, Pete Greasley and other Board Members in pushing for Mahaney’s resignation as President.  I had this in mind when I wrote, “SGM Board Covers Up Request for Resignation from C.J. Mahaney and John Loftness” and “C.J. Mahaney’s ‘Transition’ Out of Sovereign Grace Ministries.”   

After becoming Chairman, Buckley had Board Member Mickey Connolly write up an extraordinarily deceptive letter sent to all the SGM pastors that covered up these past attempts to prevent and remove Mahaney as President.  Buckley remains the Chairman of the Board. 

To date, I’ve not been able to expose the events of September 2012 for lack of documentation.  That changed last week when I received copies of two emails from Paul Buckley to Dave Harvey, one email from Harvey to Buckley, one email from Buckley to other Board Members, and the confidential letter from Mickey Connolly to SGM pastors.  I will come to these briefly; but first, I must revisit the events of June 2012.  That was the occasion when Buckley and other Board Members tried to prevent Mahaney from becoming the long term President.  A little background is necessary. 

There have been four different SGM Boards over the last three years (I’ll spare you the details).  The second or interim Board was formed in July 2011 when Mahaney took a “leave of absence” and stepped down as President because he knew I might send out incriminating documents to the SGM pastors.  It was an insincere attempt to appease me.  When Mahaney stepped down, Dave Harvey was made the Interim President in his place.  The Board functioned for nine months and had the following Directors.

Interim Board
July 7, 2011-Mar 21, 2012 

  1. Dave Harvey – Interim President
  2. Jeff Purswell
  3. Craig Cabaniss
  4. Mickey Connolly
  5. Rick Gamache
  6. Pete Greasley
  7. John Loftness
  8. Aron Osborne
  9. Mark Prater
  10. Steve Shank 

Seven months after its installation, this Board determined Mahaney was fit for ministry and returned him to be the short term and temporary SGM President in January 2012. 

In March 2012, the interim Board was replaced by a new Board.  In June 2012, the new Board decided to keep Mahaney as the long term President but not without internal dissent.  This disagreement was deceitfully covered up in the press release put out about Mahaney’s return.

New Board
March 21, 2012 to Dec 31, 2013 

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

The new Board had a retreat in Annapolis, Maryland on June 11-14, 2012.  During that time they debated whether or not to extend Mahaney’s Presidency.  The Board was sharply divided.  The Mahaney hard liners (e.g., Loftness, Connolly, Mellinger, and Sasser) were pushing to make him the long term President.  Others like Buckley and McConnell wanted to see him step down and be replaced.

This matter was being discussed with some SGM pastors by Paul Buckley and other Board Members.  For example, Buckley met with the pastors and leaders of Sovereign Grace Church in Cleveland, Ohio. 

From: Grover, Eric
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 3:43 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: RE: CLC FM 

So Paul came to visit Cleveland the weekend before the Board retreat [on June 11-14 in Annapolis].  A small group of us grilled him for almost 3 hours on Sat. night.  He invited us to send him questions at any time, so I e-mailed him a direct question regarding the Board’s decision and why they hadn’t announced anything yet. … He has been very forthright with us at least in describing the dynamics of the new board. 

By the way, Eric Grover was a well-liked and well-respected leader.  He graduated from the Pastors College, wrote songs with Bob Kauflin and Mark Altrogge, was an acqantance of Dave Harvey and Mark Prater, served on staff at Trinity Fellowship Church in Toms River, NJ, etc.  That’s why Buckley was happy to talk to him. 

After this meeting, Grover sent Buckley an email which resulted in a phone conversation.  Grover wrote me about the conversation. 

From: Grover, Eric
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 3:20 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: RE: CLC FM 

There was a Board meeting a couple weeks ago [i.e., the retreat in Annapolis] in which apparently they voted to establish C.J. as the permanent president, however Paul Buckley told me today that the decision wasn’t final yet.  Apparently there is a lot of disagreement on the Board right now about it and when they went to announce their decision, they attempted to say that the decision was unanimous, but Paul and others objected because it was far from unanimous.  We shall see. 

Two days later I wrote the following letter and posted it on my blog.  Here is an excerpt. 

A Divided Board Makes C.J. Mahaney Long Term President
Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 3:19 PM
Brent Detwiler 

To the SGM Board of Directors: 

John Loftness (Chairman)
Paul Buckley (Vice Chairman)
Ron Boomsma
Craig Cabaniss
Ian McConnell
Mickey Connolly
Ken Mellinger
Al Pino
Phil Sasser 

You need to be honest with the SGM pastors and churches regarding your vote in Annapolis last month to return C.J. as the permanent President of SGM.  You made this decision without their input or knowledge.  You must also tell them a majority were in favor but a minority were opposed like Paul and Ian.  

Furthermore, you must make known that the majority [Loftness, Connolly, Mellinger, Sasser] prepared a false statement for public release saying there was unanimity on C.J.’s return but this did not occur because the minority [at least Buckley and McConnell] opposed such a deceitful statement pledging to go public and correct the misinformation if released. 

This is not a new occurrence.  The same kind of deceitful activity occurred with the interim Board when they presented decisions as unanimous when in fact it was not the case.  Craig [Cabaniss] and former Board Members like Aron Osborne and Pete Greasley will tell you so if they are honest.  Contact them. …

Please let me know you will address all these matters in a forthright way.  In particular when will you inform SGM that you have already voted to reinstall C.J. as the permanent President of SGM and deceitfully planned to put out a public relations message that was untrue. …



Post Script

I literally finished writing my last sentence when I received your post, Board Update: Defining Sovereign Grace Leadership; Positioning C.J. Mahaney as President.  …

You also continue to lie.  You know there was not unanimous support for C.J.’s return as President when you voted at the June 11-14 retreat in Annapolis!  You conceal that in this communique instead of being honest and telling everyone the Board was divided.  Instead, you followed through on your deceitful presentation that the Board was united in this decision.  The hardline majority persuaded the soft minority to go along with the ruse even though men like Paul [Buckley] and Ian [McConnell] promised to expose it.  Unbelievable!  No one should trust any of you.  This is just more SGM spin and deceit.

This letter did not deter the Board one iota.  Here is an excerpt from the extraordinary deceptive press release written by John Loftness who was Chairman of the Board at the time.  It was posted on the SGM website just two days after Buckley told Grover that there was “a lot of disagreement” and “it [Mahaney’s Presidency] was far from unanimous.”  

Loftness and his hardliners demanded the minority submit to their pretensions.  I especially hate the ironfisted control of Loftness, Connolly, Mellinger, and Sasser but I also hate the cowardice of Buckley, McConnell and the others for not exposing the deceitful claim of unanimity in the press release like they promised to do.    There was strong disagreement about Mahaney continuing as the President and it did not abate.  This was a ruse. 

Board Update: Defining Sovereign Grace Leadership; Positioning C.J. Mahaney as President
June 28, 2012 by John Loftness 

The Sovereign Grace Ministries governing Board met this past June 11–14 in Annapolis, Maryland. … We had to address a statement that C.J. made in a January blog post in which he said that he intended to resume his duties as President only temporarily while this Board sought to identify his replacement.  … What we do know is that in our estimation and at this time in our history, C.J. is best suited to continue to lead our ministry through a process of defining and implementing a new governance.  Therefore, we have asked him to remain as President at least until we establish our new polity. … We agreed that if this current Board is in place at that time, we would like to have C.J. on our list of candidates to consider. … As we take these steps, it is important for you to know of the Board’s strong endorsement of C.J. to continue in this role of President. … We know of no one who is better suited for the office of President at this transitional time in our history.

John Loftness
On behalf of the Sovereign Grace Ministries Board 

This is the kind of corruption that has destroyed Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Soon after I wrote a two part series on the top 50 lies by its leaders in “The Ethical Demise of Sovereign Grace Ministries (Part 1)” and “The Ethical Demise of Sovereign Grace Ministries (Part 2).”  This lie about a united Board asking Mahaney to continue as President made it to #4 on the charts.   

Let me review some basics before I proceed.

  • Mahaney stepped down as President on July 6, 2011.
  • The interim Board of Directors returned him as the temporary or short term President on January 25, 2012.
  • The new Board of Directors made him the long term President on June 28, 2012. 
  • Mahaney continued as President until he “transitioned” (i.e., stepped down) on April 12, 2013.
  • In summary, he was the President of SGM from January 25, 2012 until April 12, 2013.  A period of 15 months.

During this period of time, Mahaney’s Presidency was continuously presented to the public as the unified desire of the interim Board and the new Board.  Nothing could have been further from the truth. 

I’ve already pointed out how the new Board was divided over retaining Mahaney as the ongoing President in June 2012.  This division continued and intensified over the next three months.  It came to a head in September 2012 when Paul Buckley and other top level leaders in SGM pushed for Mahaney’s resignation.  The following emails are authentic.  I will deal with them one by one. 

From: Paul Buckley
Sent: Saturday, September 22, 2012 12:18 PM


Thanks for taking time to talk with me this week. 

As is probably your assumption, I wanted to appeal that our discussions of CJ’s possible resignation be kept extremely and completely confidential. 

In my opinion it will be best for everyone, if CJ agrees, that he be the initiator in this and not the board or anyone else.  If our discussion falls into the wrong hands it could be twisted and used for great harm. 

It seems that this idea is gaining some key traction. 

Let me know if you have any questions. 

There are many things to point out in this email.  It is from Paul Buckley.  He is the Vice Chairman of the Board.  John Loftness is the Chairman of the Board.  It was sent to office@kingofgrace.  That was Buckley’s email address.  In other word, he blind copied the recipients so as to protect their identities.  The subject matter was “CONFIDENTIAL.”

The recipients are referred to as the “Guys” which is a reference to those men on the Board of Directors friendly to Buckley’s proposition.  It was sent to them on Saturday, September 22, 2012.  Buckley starts off with “Thanks for taking the time to talk with me this week.”  The conversation was initiated by him.

Buckley is following up for three reasons.  One, to express security concerns.  Two, to report progress since their last discussion earlier in the week.  Three, to invite further dialogue.

Notice, this particular discussion is not the first discussion.  Buckley refers to “our discussions [plural] of CJ’s possible resignation.”  He has been building a secretive coalition of Board Members willing to work for Mahaney’s resignation.  Therefore, these on-gong discussions must “be kept extremely and completely confidential” and if the most recent “discussion falls the wrong hands it could be twisted and used for great harm.”  I am reminded of Jesus’ words to the hypocritical Pharisees.  They fit Buckley and the Board perfectly. 

Luke 12:1-3 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made know.   What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inners rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

This passage perfectly describes what is happening now.  The deceitful plans of hypocritical leaders made in secret are being openly revealed.  Another Scripture is being fulfilled. 

Proverbs 10:9 He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.

Buckley feared being exposed if the plan for Mahaney’s resignation fell into “the wrong hands.”  Of course, he had my hands primarily in mind.  Therefore he requests extreme and complete confidentiality.  This is a well-worn path in SGM.  Confidentiality has been used to cover up all manner of evil in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  

If the word got out, Buckley would suffer the greatest harm for helping to build a coalition pressing for Mahaney’s resignation.  I very much doubt Mahaney ever learned about his attempts.  These emails were buried.  They never got into Mahaney’s hands. 

Buckley also wanted complete secrecy for another reason.  Remember, he and other Board Members agreed under pressure to remain silent about their opposition to Mahaney continuing as the President just three months earlier.  They allowed Loftness to boldly assert on June 28, “It is important for you to know of the Board’s strong endorsement of C.J. to continue in this role of President. … We know of no one who is better suited for the office of President.”  If this email reached the public, he’d be shown to be a coward and compromiser for not speaking up against this hoax. 

In the email above, Buckley is working on a crafty plan to remove Mahaney.  Instead of asking for Mahaney’s resignation, convince him to “be the initiator in” his resignation.  In other words, he doesn’t want a formal request to be made by “the board or anyone else” like Dave Harvey or Pete Greasley.  Rather, give Mahaney a way out whereby he can appear humble and “voluntarily” step down even though he is being pressured to step down.  The SGM pastors will never know.  The SGM members will never know.  The Board of Directors will cover it all up!  Everyone will be deceived into thinking Mahaney initiated his resignation.     

And take note that since their conversation earlier in the week, “this idea is gaining some key traction.”  What idea?  That “it will be best for everyone, if CJ agrees, that he be the initiator in” resigning.  

This plan shows how extremely corrupt Buckley and the entire Board of Directors really were.  These men were hatching a plan to get rid of Mahaney while making him look like he humbly resigned on his own initiative.  There is nothing new under the sun.  This kind of deceit has been employed time and time again by SGM leaders. The leaders of SGM have no qualms about lying and deceiving in order to protect their self-interests.  

Buckley further says, “It seems that this idea is gaining some key traction.”  In other words, some of the key Board Members (e.g. Mahaney, Loftness, Connolly, Mellinger) not involved in the secret discussions with Buckley are open to the idea.    

After his discussion with the “Guys” earlier in the week, Buckley emails Dave Harvey asking for an update on Mahaney’s willingness to initiate his own resignation.  At this point in time, Harvey was no longer on the Board of Directors but he was still the Director of Church Planting and Church Care.  He had responsibility for the planting and care of all churches in SGM. 

From: Paul Buckley
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2012 11:08 AM
To: Dave Harvey
Subject: Confidential


Any update on where CJ is regarding remaining president?


Paul Buckley
Lead Pastor
King of Grace Church
28 Chadwick St.
Haverhill, MA 01835 

Negotiations with Mahaney and his hardliners were already underway.  Buckley’s goal was removing Mahaney as President.  Harvey was heavily involved in the effort.  In his email, Buckley assumes Harvey has already talked to Mahaney about “remaining president.”  He would like an update.  Harvey quickly responds 

From: Dave Harvey []  
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2012 11:26 AM
To: Paul Buckley
Subject: RE: Confidential

No.  But we had our meeting with me, John, Mickey, Jeff and CJ this past week.  It went well from the standpoint of me putting forward my thoughts and them raising their perspective, questions and concerns.  Emails are flying right now and I’m also flying to Louisville on Thursday to meet with CJ.  So, we are engaged.  But I wasn’t able to get all the way to the presidency question because I’m needing to answer the questions and concerns about my perspective in other areas first while trying to use the opportunity to establish my position on certain things for them.

When do you talk to Pete [Greasley]?

The same week Paul Buckley is discussing his plan with other Board Members, Dave Harvey is meeting with C.J. Mahaney (President), John Loftness (Chairman of the Board), Mickey Connolly (Board Member) and Jeff Purswell (Dean of the Pastors College).  All Mahaney loyalists.  I’ve written about Purswell recently.   

The fact of the meeting underscores the importance of the meeting.  Getting everyone together was not easy.  Harvey lived near Philadelphia.  Loftness near D.C.  Connolly in Charlotte.  Mahaney and Purswell in Louisville.  Furthermore, Mahaney and Purswell were getting ready for their first public meeting of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville on September 30.

Harvey had no update for Buckley on “where CJ is regarding remaining president” because he “wasn’t able to get all the way to the presidency question.”  That was his goal but Harvey stopped short.  Instead he “put forward” his “perspective in other areas first” in order “to establish my position on certain things for them.”  This resulted in “them raising their perspective, questions and concerns.” 

Harvey doesn’t tell Buckley what the “other areas” and “position on certain things” encompasses.   He is keeping his cards close to the vest even with Buckley and doesn’t want to leave an email trail.  Nevertheless, Harvey is building his case for Mahaney’s resignation.  He is able to bring up far more reasons than Buckley based upon his intimate knowledge of Mahaney’s serious and long term patterns of sins. 

The meeting “went well from the standpoint of me putting forward my thoughts and them raising their perspective, questions and concerns.”  It did not go well from the standpoint of agreeing with Harvey on his assessment of Mahaney.  That never goes well.  As a result, “Emails are flying right now and I’m also flying to Louisville on Thursday to meet with CJ.”  

Seven to ten days after his meeting with Mahaney, Loftness, Connolly, and Purswell, Harvey is on a plane to meet with Mahaney.  That was three days before the start of the new church.  I don’t imagine Mahaney told people in his first official sermon that he just had a follow up meeting with Harvey in order to talk about “the presidency question” and concerns for his character! 

In his meeting, I’m sure Harvey was following his own advice and approaching “C.J. like a teenager” (see A Final Appeal, p. 92) but that guarantees nothing.  Things were extremely tense but Harvey is not dropping the matter because he knows he has the support of Vice Chairman Buckley, other Board Members and Pete Greasley.  It is a calculated gamble so he is proceeding.  

Harvey closed his email with a question.  “When do you talk to Pete?”  This is a reference to Pete Greasley who was on the Interim Board, senior pastor of Chirstchurch in Wales, headed up most of SGM’s worldwide operations and a close friend of Mahaney.  This excerpt comes from an article on the SGM website 

What happened to the apostolic team?
January 18, 2011  

Pete Greasley, Christchurch (Newport, Wales)

Pete’s region is enormous—with the help of others, he serves churches in Europe, Australia, and parts of Africa and Asia. 

Harvey knew Buckley was planning to talk with Greasley.  Here is Buckley’s response. 

From: Paul Buckley
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2012 12:31 PM
To: Dave Harvey
Subject: RE: Confidential

I talked to him [Pete Greasley] this morning.  It was a good conversation and very helpful.

I asked him to press his call for CJ’s resignation/repositioning to the board.


Earlier in the morning before Buckley emailed Harvey, he had a “good” and “very helpful” conversation with Greasley.  From this email, we learn that Greasley has already called for Mahaney’s resignation in the past.  A lot of water has gone under the dam but now the dam is about to break.  Buckley goes much farther. 

In the context of this conversation, the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for Sovereign Grace Ministries asks Peter Greasley to “press his call” for “CJ’s resignation/repositioning” to the entire Board of Directors.  “Repositioning” is another term for removal.  In no uncertain terms, Buckley wants Mahaney out and he wants Greasley to ardently and urgently press the Board to take this action by making his case.  

This is astounding information!  The Vice Chairman, Dave Harvey, Pete Greasley and the “Guys” on the Board are all calling for Mahaney’s removal as President.  They don’t want him to continue in this role.  They don’t care how it is presented to the public (it can look like Mahaney voluntarily resigned) but they want him out.  Unfortunately, they lost the fight and heads rolled.  

Three months later in December 2012, Pete Greasley and Christchurch in Wales left Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Greasley was effectively the Director of Global Missions but he received no “Note of Thanks” on the SGM website for his unbelievable efforts in Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia.  Today, nineteen months later, SGM has still not found a replacement for him.  The role of Director of Global Missions remains unfilled.  Greasley was dearly beloved throughout Sovereign Grace Ministries.  By the way, I’ve not heard from him in over five years.  The same month Greasley left, Dave Harvey stepped down from all responsibilities in Sovereign Grace Ministry.  More on this later. 

Because of the demand for extreme and complete confidentiality, this call for Mahaney’s removal was concealed from the Sovereign Grace pastors.  To this day, the rank and file pastors of SGM believe the Board was totally united in their support of Mahaney’s continuation as President because that is what they were told.  They have been told many lies.  Moving on to the fourth piece of evidence. 

From my perspective, I think Mickey Connolly is the most evil leader in SGM.  I’ve written about him extensively.  He has a proven record of lying and cult like leadership.  Six months after the events reference above, he sent out this utterly deceptive piece of propaganda.  He worked on the letter with Mike Bradshaw who is Mahaney’s son in law and was the Director of Communications for SGM at the time.  Of course, both Bradshaw and Connolly were in contact with Mahaney about its contents.  “Hey guys” is a reference to all the pastors in SGM.  

From: Mickey Connolly < >
Date: March 19, 2013, 3:45:37 PM EDT
To: Mike Bradshaw < >
Subject: response to brent 

OK, i expanded the section on John [Loftness] and Craig [Cabaniss] as you suggested - good job!

please read this over once more and then send it to our pastors.  I’m assuming you have the ability to do that. please remember to have subject line be:  confidential - for your eyes only if this gets out i want to be able to rebuke our pastors for it.



Hey guys,

As expected, Brent has sent out his take on C.J.’s recent transition note.  Just so there is no doubt in anyone’s mind as to what actually happened let us state unequivocally that CJ Mahaney was neither fired nor asked to resign by this board.  It has been CJ’s stated intention since January 2012 to only serve as president until a replacement was found.  It was this board that asked him to stay on as president until the transition to a new polity was complete believing that a transition of our senior leader during this period would be unwise.  When we met in October of this past year we took up the issue of CJ’s transition.  It was at that time that we agreed to confirm and affirm CJ’s intention to end his term as president and to not seek the new executive director position.  That decision was announced to you at our conference in November and to our churches in the note you received this past Friday.

On a related note, both John Loftness or Craig Cabaniss resigned from the board on their own volition desiring to devote more time to local church needs.  Again there is no truth whatsoever to Brent’s speculation that either was somehow removed.  While we completely understood their reasoning we wished both could have remained on the board.

Please feel free to share the essence of this information with anyone who asks but we would ask that you not copy the email to anyone.

Thanks for your ongoing support and service to your local churches and SGM.

Your brothers on the board

The first thing we notice is Connolly’s demand for absolute confidence.  Asking for “confidence” is a proper sounding request but it is habitually used by SGM to conceal and control.  If any pastor dare leaks the letter, he will rebuke him.  Connolly is head of the SGM Gestapo.  “For your eyes only” is critical to the success of his/their campaign to deceive the SGM pastors about the call for Mahaney’s resignation.  

Why is that?  The leaders of SGM are malicious gossips.  They will slander a person and make the hearer of slander swear never to tell the slandered what they have been told.  Moreover, the leaders of SGM expect people to trust them and believe their evil reports.  They then forbid the hearer from having contact with the slandered.  They cut off the possibility of the slandered knowing what is being said about them; let alone, the opportunity to defend themselves.  It is pure evil. 

That is precisely the tactic Connolly used at a closed meeting in November 2011 when he “excommunicated” me at Mahaney’s direction.  He didn’t know he was being recorded by a church member.  I didn’t know either.  You can read about it in “Ten Common Cult-Like Characteristics in Mickey Connolly’s Leadership.”   

The same basic approach has been used with national leaders.  I can’t imagine what has been said about me to men like Al Mohler, D.A. Carson, Wayne Grudem and John Piper.  That is why I’ve often asked to talk or meet with them.  They have never responded to any of my requests.     

Connolly is doing the same in his letter to the SGM pastors about me.   It is nothing new.  The words of Jesus to Nicodemus apply to Connolly and many other leaders in SGM.  They despise authentic (not pretended) honesty, openness and accountability.  In reality, they love darkness.  This has been shown time and time again.  It is evident in the conspiracy to cover up sex abuse in SGM. 

John 3:20 This is the verdict:  Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 

Countless times I have asked all the leaders and pastors in SGM for an open hearing of my charges against Mahaney and others.  Countless times I have asked all the leaders and pastors in SGM to correct anything I’ve written.  They have steadfastly refused to hear my accusations or correct my assertions.  Why?  They don’t want truth to see the light of day.  Instead of due process, they employ slander and disinformation.  

That is the case here.  The absolute last person Connolly wants to see his letter is me.  Why?  Because I will expose his audacious lies if only I know about them.  Far better I don’t know.  That is why they slander in secret. 

Okay, let’s review Connolly’s letter but first a general observation.  Nothing in the letter even remotely lets onto the fact that members of the Board were opposed to Mahaney continuing as President in June 2012 or that members of the Board asked for his resignation in September 2012.      

As expected, Brent has sent out his take on C.J.’s recent transition note.  Just so there is no doubt in anyone’s mind as to what actually happened let us state unequivocally that CJ Mahaney was neither fired nor asked to resign by this board.  

This may or may not be technically true.  When Mahaney announced his transitions from the presidency to the pastorate in March 2013, he may not have been officially fired or formally asked to resign.  The technicalities are meaningless.  We know for a fact that six months earlier, Paul Buckley, other Board Members, Dave Harvey and Pete Greasley were fervently working for his removal.  These men were very happy to see Mahaney finally “transition.”  If Connolly had any interest in telling “what actually happened” he would have included this history.  He is purposely giving a false impression.  

Furthermore, we know Buckley was willing to use unjust means to accomplish a just ends.  He embraced situational ethics and rebuffed biblical ethics.  He told other Board Members that “It will be best for everyone, if CJ agrees, that he be the initiator in this and not the board or anyone else.”  In other words, let’s ask for and press for Mahaney’s removal and if he agrees then let him appear to be the initiator in order to save face.  Honest to God, you can’t believe anything SGM leaders or pastors tell you!  I’ve been illustrating the fact for over four years.

Jenn Grover provided the following excellent insights when Mahaney “transitioned.”  She is well informed and well connected.  She was an acquantence with Dave Harvey and family, Mark Prater and family, and many other top level leaders in SGM.  

Jenn Grover 
March 18th, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Honesty involves giving a true account of what took place.  The way they postured CJ’s departure does not give an honest account. … The lack of transparency and the deception by the current board about the “transition” is another evidence that this current board is unwilling to repent. 

Paul Buckley likes to try to convince people how different he is, but he is still participating in this widespread deception.  They justify it by saying they want to preserve CJ’s dignity, but there is no justification for lying.  To justify it as such is a post-modern philosophy, one which SGM has been so critical of in the past. 

I have said this over and over, but to intentionally omit a significant part of a story is to not fully tell the truth and it is deceptive, which is wrong.  Leaders who participate in this behavior fool themselves into believing God has called them to steward this type of information.

Jenn Grover 
April 3rd, 2013 at 9:00 am 

You have to watch very closely what you are told by SGM leaders.  They are very careful to parse the words but leave out important details in their “…desire to serve you…”  The question you have to ask, almost all of the time, is, “What AREN’T” they telling me?” 

Take for example, Paul Buckley’s recent spin on CJ’s transition.  He has been pushing hard this notion that he “stands behind” the statements on the SGM website.  That is easy enough to do, because they are so vague. … 

When speaking with SGM leaders, you have to press in and ask specific, detailed questions that root out the truth.  You have to clarify again and again.  For example, I would ask Paul if there was no request, suggestion, or discussion where they asked either CJ and/or John to resign versus asking if it is true that the board forced CJ out.  It is all a matter of nuance with these guys. 

How they have convinced themselves that the way they butcher the truth constitutes being honest or transparent is beyond me.  They would never tolerate such deceit from their wives or kids.

I totally agree with Jenn Grover.  

  • “To intentionally omit a significant part of a story is to not fully tell the truth and it is deceptive, which is wrong.” 
  • “The question you have to ask, almost all of the time, is, “What AREN’T” they telling me?” 
  • “When speaking with SGM leaders, you have to press in and ask specific, detailed questions that root out the truth.” 
  • “I would ask Paul [Buckley] if there was no request, suggestion, or discussion where they asked either CJ and/or John [Loftness] to resign versus asking if it is true that the board forced CJ out.” 

I knew about Mahaney’s resignation before it happened.  I also knew in advance the Board of Directors planned to lie to the SGM pastors about the circumstances surrounding his resignation.  I wrote the Board about their deception on February 27, 2013.  The next day, I went on the Janet Mefferd Show and told her vast audience that Mahaney would be resigning.  A few days later, I posted about his upcoming resignation on my blog.  Five days later, Mahaney announced he was stepping down as President on March.  Here is an excerpt from my blog post.

SGM Board Covers Up Request for Resignation from C.J. Mahaney and John Loftness
Sunday, March 03, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Brent Detwiler 

For the last three years, I have documented in 2,500 pages of evidence the deceit of C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries over the last nine years.  It continues unabated.  The information in the following email comes from SGM pastors that talked directly to SGM Board Members.  The letter I reference regarding C.J.’s resignation was slotted to go out this past Friday, March 1.  The Board held off on its release since hearing from me.  I received no reply [to the letter below].    

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 10:40 AM
To: Al Pino; Craig Cabaniss; Ian McConnell; John Loftness; Ken Mellinger; Mickey Connolly; Paul Buckley; Phil Sasser; Ron Boomsma
Cc: C. J. Mahaney
Subject: C.J.’s Resignation
Importance: High  

When will the lying stop?  The letter you wrote the SGM pastors about John Loftness’ resignation was not truthful and now you are doing the same with the letter regarding C.J.’s upcoming resignation.  You need to stop dead in your tracks and start over!  This time write an honest letter.  

The only reason C.J. is resigning is because you asked him to resign.  He was not happy about your decision but decided not to fight it.  You should also make clear the Board was divided over his removal and spell out who was in favor and who was opposed (e.g., Mickey, Ken).  The pastors in SGM deserve to know how each Board Member voted on something of such significance.  

Even more importantly, you need to be transparent about the reasons for removing C.J. from the Leadership Team and as President of SGM – that is, the widespread loss of trust and erosion of confidence in him.  For the sake of Christ, don’t spin the explanation and try to make C.J. look good by deceitful means.  Please don’t manipulate the truth again.  Every time you do so, you do not save face, you lose face because the Lord exposes you (e.g. the announcement regarding the relocation to Louisville [Apr 19, 2012], the announcement regarding C.J.’s as President [Jun 28, 2012], the use of Philippians 2:1 [Sep 12, 2012]; the “reasoned response to six questions” [Sep 14, 2012]).  

Furthermore, you know C.J. and John are in real trouble over the lawsuit.  On January 11, you told everyone you were “carefully reviewing each allegation…working diligently in an effort to learn the truth.”  You’ve done your investigation.  You realize both of them are culpable.  Just be honest.  Tell the pastors you are concerned for how they handled the victims and protected sexual predators and that is one of the reasons you think it is necessary to remove C.J. from all leadership in SGM. …  

You’ve got 48 hours to turn the ship around and head to safe haven with truth and transparency.  If you don’t the ship will continue to sink as it takes on more water during yet another violent storm the Lord sends upon you for your duplicity.  Please don’t attempt to conceal what the Lord will certainly reveal.  You must stop destroying the Body of Christ with your lies, cover-up and disinformation.  Please be HONEST regarding C.J.’s removal for the glory of God, the good of the gospel and the well-being of God’s people.  

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  … 


Nothing Sovereign Grace leaders say or do can be trusted.  They have proven themselves untrustworthy time and again.  There is no firm commitment to honesty by the current Board.  There was none by the previous Board.  The ends have justified the means for a long time.  That is the reality.  Covering up the requests and reasons for C.J.’s and John’s resignation comes as no surprise.  Here’s what would surprise me – if they told us the whole truth and nothing but the truth for a change. 

Two weeks later, Connolly sent out his secret letter to SGM pastors which begins, “As expected, Brent has sent out his take on C.J.’s recent transition note.”  SGM has never been willing to interact with me in an open, honest and accountable fashion.  They just slander me in private and tell people not to read anything I write.  

Connolly continues. 

It has been CJ’s stated intention since January 2012 to only serve as president until a replacement was found.  It was this board that asked him to stay on as president until the transition to a new polity was complete believing that a transition of our senior leader during this period would be unwise.   

Connolly is lying.  He says “this board…asked him to stay on as president.”  He is referring back to June 2012 when Buckley, McConnell and other Board Members were opposed to Mahaney continuing as President.  He adds to his lie when he says the Board thought it “would be unwise” for anyone else to be the President “until the transition to a new polity was complete.”  In fact, the exact opposite was true.  There were several Board Members who thought it was unwise for Mahaney to continue on as President.     

Connolly doesn’t know how to be honest.  He has no qualms about lying to the SGM pastors on matters of great importance.  The majority of the Board, but not the entirety of the Board, “asked him [Mahaney] to stay on as President.”    

Connolly’s deceptive speech worsens in the next paragraph. 

When we met in October of this past year we took up the issue of CJ’s transition.  It was at that time that we agreed to confirm and affirm CJ’s intention to end his term as president and to not seek the new executive director position. That decision was announced to you at our conference in November and to our churches in the note you received this past Friday. 

He is referring to a Board of Directors retreat in October of 2012.  This was immediately after Paul Buckley told Dave Harvey in September, “I [Buckley] asked him [Pete Greasley] to press his call for CJ’s resignation/repositioning to the board.” 

The entire Board of Directors was being pressed for Mahaney’s resignation.  Buckley, McConnell and other Board Members were in favor.  That is what they talked about it at the October retreat, not “the issue of CJ’s transition.”  Connolly is a master at manipulation.  

Remember this letter is to all the pastors in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  He wants them to believe there was never any discussion about Mahaney continuation as President in June or his removal as President in September or that the subject came up at the October retreat in 2012.  No doubt the Board “took up the issue of CJ’s transition” but that is a smoke screen.  I can’t believe Buckley and the “Guys” let him get away with it.  They don’t mind being abused and controlled by evil.  

Mahaney knows Buckley, other Board Members, Harvey, and Greasley don’t want him to continue as President but their attempts to remove him fail.  Mahaney and his hardliners remain in control.  Nevertheless, they work out a deal.  Connolly says, “It was at that time that we agreed to confirm and affirm CJ’s intention to end his term as president and to not seek the new executive director position.”  This was contrary to the wishes of hardliners like Loftness, Connolly, Ken Mellinger, and Phil Sasser but they were compelled to compromise. 

Remember what Loftness said four months earlier in June 2012.  “Therefore, we have asked him to remain as President at least until we establish our new polity. … We agreed that if this current Board is in place at that time, we would like to have C.J. on our list of candidates to consider.”  

The same Board was in place when the “new polity” (i.e., Book of Church Order) was ratified in April 2013.  Loftness said the Board agreed that Mahaney would be a candidate for Executive Director – the position now held by Mark Prater.  Of course, if Mahaney is a “candidate,” that guarantees he will be the Executive Director.  Who is going to vote against him?  The pro-Mahaney hardliners take this agreement off the table but there is no mention of this important development by Connolly in his letter. 

This was a compromise.  The minority couldn’t remove Mahaney at the October 2012 retreat but they got a concession.  Mahaney agreed not to candidate for Executive Director in April 2013.  In Connolly’s words, “We agreed to confirm and affirm CJ’s intention to end his term as president and to not seek the new executive director position.”  This put Mahaney in the best possible light and presented him with the opportunity to appear humble and save face.  

I know it gets complicated.  Let’s review the basic chronology. 

  • March 2012:  The new Board is installed. 
  • June 2012:  Buckley and other Board Members argue that Mahaney should not continue as President. 
  • September 2012:  Buckley and other Board Members, along with Harvey and Greasley, press for Mahaney’s resignation.
  • October 2012:  The Board talks about his resignation on a retreat and reaches a compromise.  Mahaney withdraws his name as a consideration for Executive Director.    
  • November 2012:  Mahaney announces his “transition” to the SGM pastors at the Pastors Conference.
  • December 2012:  Greasley leaves SGM and Harvey steps down from all SGM responsibilities.
  • March 2013:  Mahaney posts his “A Word of Thanks from C.J. Mahaney” on the SGM website.  Connolly writes his deceptive and confidential letter to SGM pastors about me.  Harvey resigns as a pastor in Covenant Fellowship Church (CFC).
  • April 2013:  The Book of Church Order (SGM’s polity manual) is ratified and Mahaney officially transitions from Presidency to pastorate.
  • June 2013:  Harvey quietly and abruptly leaves CFC and SGM.   

What Mahaney told the SGM pastors at the Pastors Conference in November 2012, he told all of SGM in March 2013.  He was humbly and voluntarily withdrawing his name from consideration for the role of Executive Director because “I don’t think my gifts and sense of call are the best fit for certain aspects of this new role.”  Mahaney was one of the men who founded SGM in 1982.  He became the President and Chairman of SGM in 1991.  After 22 years, he claims to be stepping down because he is not “the best fit.”    

A Word of Thanks from C.J. Mahaney
March 8, 2013 by C.J. Mahaney 

The next chapter of SGM’s history begins April 12 when we will, Lord willing, transition to a new polity pending a vote of ratification. … As that new polity takes effect, I will be transitioning from the role of President, and the Executive Committee will recommend an individual for confirmation by the Council of Elders to serve in the newly formed role of Executive Director.  In October, I informed the Board of Sovereign Grace that I was withdrawing my name from consideration for Executive Director as I don’t think my gifts and sense of call are the best fit for certain aspects of this new role.  I then announced this to our pastors on November 1 at our annual Pastors Conference.

No one would ever know the truth if left up to these men who conceal their evil practices and advertise their phony righteousness.  Mahaney withdrew his name from consideration at the October retreat because Buckley, other Board Members, Harvey and Greasley were demanding his resignation; not because his “gifts and sense of call” were incompatible with the role of Executive Director.

Connolly ends his letter with the following.

On a related note, both John Loftness and Craig Cabaniss resigned from the board on their own volition desiring to devote more time to local church needs.  Again there is no truth whatsoever to Brent’s speculation that either was somehow removed.  While we completely understood their reasoning we wished both could have remained on the board.

Anyone who accepts this explanation at face value is a fool!  Mahaney was under huge pressure to resign and we know he was asked to resign.  That doesn’t mean the Board ever took a formal vote that was entered in the official minutes of SGM.  They are not stupid though they are crafty.  Buckley wanted it to appear as if Mahaney resigned from the Board on his own volition.  The very same thing could be going on with Loftness and Cabaniss. 

Loftness resigned in February 2013.  That is after he was named a Defendant in the Original Complaint in October 2012 and the First Amended Complaint in January 2013.  I am referring to the sex abuse lawsuit.  In both these documents, Loftness is mentioned more often than any other Defendant including Mahaney!  He was terrified and for good reason.  He needed to resign in order to focus on the ever so serious charges against him in the lawsuit.   

He also knew worse charges were coming.  A month later on March 27, the following appeared in the legal document, “Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendants’ Motions Alleging Pleading Failure” in footnote 3 on page 5.  “Plaintiffs’ are going to be amending the FAC [First Amended Complaint] to add more parties, one of whom alleges Defendant John Loftness physically and sexually abused her as a child.”  This was no surprise to Loftness.  He knew it was coming.

The Second Amended Complaint (i.e., the third version of the lawsuit) came out in May 2013.  It alleges that Loftness is a sexual sadist based on the testimony of multiple victims.  Like Mahaney, Loftness has protested his absolute innocence.  I expect he will be arrested.    See “John Loftness in Focus – Former Chairman of the SGM Board and Alleged Sexual Sadist.”

Let me ask you this question.  What Board of Directors in all of America would not discuss the future of their Chairman if he was cited as the number one criminal conspirator in an effort to cover up the widespread sexual abuse of children in his company?  But Connolly wants SGM pastors to believe the only reason Loftness resigned was to devote more time to local church needs. 

He says the same about Craig Cabaniss in Frisco, Texas.  In fact, here is the longer version.

Board Update Regarding Craig Cabaniss
February 19, 2013 

After serving the past 20 months on both the Interim Board and the current SG Board, Craig Cabaniss submitted his resignation from the Board at our recent retreat.  After such an extended time of serving on the Board, Craig and the elders of Grace Church Frisco believe that it is wise for him to resign so he can give more of his time to support their local church, and we support that decision. 

So, Cabaniss resigns because he needs more time to focus on his church.  Yet, in October 2013, he returns to take on far greater responsibilities in SGM as the Director of Church Development.  In this role he leads all the Regional Leaders in the oversight of all the SGM churches.  No one has greater responsibilities in SGM except the Executive Director, Mark Prater. 

That means in just nine months it became wise for Cabaniss to do the unwise thing.  That is give far less time to his local church who is in need of support!  Really?  What aren’t then telling us?  Of course, no explanation for this radical reversal was every given.  Here’s what I’d really like to know.  Was Cabaniss for or against Mahaney’s continuation as President in June 2012 and his removal in September 2012 and what bearing did that have on his resignation as a Board Member and return as Director of Church Development? 

Next, Connolly says, “While we completely understood their reasoning we wished both could have remained on the board.” 

Again, you have to be a complete fool to accept this at face value.  A massive lawsuit has just been filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries and John Loftness is Chairman of the Board.  But far more, he is the central figure in the lawsuit!  Here is a sampling of the factual allegations brought against him.

First Amended Complaint
January 11, 2013
Factual Allegations 75-79 

75.  The parents of Norma Noe learned of the abuse the day after it occurred.  They immediately called the police and reported the assault.  After calling the police, they contacted Defendant Loftness.  He immediately advised the parents “do not call the police.”  When the parents of Norma Noe advised Defendant Loftness that they had already called the police, he expressed his displeasure (stating “that is going to be a problem”), and explained that such matters were handled internally by the church leadership, not by secular authorities.

76.  Defendants, acting through Defendant Loftness, immediately interfered with the administration of justice by tipping off the perpetrator that the parents had reported his sexual predation to the police.  Defendant Loftness also took steps to ensure that other church members in the neighborhood were not alerted to the crime.

77.  Defendant Loftness continued to interfere with the impartial administration of justice. Defendant Loftness “obtained” a confession from the predator, and began to serve as an intermediary between the police and the predator in order to control and prevent the dissemination of information to other families whose children were at risk of predation.

78.  Defendants required the parents of Norma Noe to bring Norma Noe to a meeting to be “reconciled” with her predator.  When Norma Noe (who had just turned three) was brought into the same room with her predator, she was visibly scared and crawled under the chair.  The “reconciliation” meeting created additional damage to Norma Noe, already traumatized by the initial abuse, and traumatized the parents of Norma Noe.

79.  Defendant Loftness involved Defendants Ricucci and Layman to assist him in disseminating false and misleading information to the police and to church members.

Of course, Connolly would have you believe that everyone on the Board wished Loftness would stay on as Chairman even though he was accused of serious crimes including obstruction of justice, warning predators, interfering with police investigations and conspiring to cover up sex abuse with fellow pastors.  No problem!  I’m sure the whole Board was tearing up over Loftness’ resignation and pleading with him to come back quickly under such circumstances! 

Furthermore, Loftness was bellicose and belligerent in his campaign to make and keep Mahaney the President.  He offended a lot of people including the pastors of Covenant Life Church and Members of the Board.  Connolly saying everyone wished Loftness would continue on the Board was like Connolly saying everyone wanted Mahaney to be President.  It was a lie.

Finally, Connolly says, “Please feel free to share the essence of this information with anyone who asks but we would ask that you not copy the email to anyone.”  Of course not, if might fall into the wrong hands and cause great harm!  Just more corrupt control.  I would have responded with this passage.

Acts 5:27-29 Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest.  “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said.  ”Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”  Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!”

Now let me conclude.

Luke 16:10 Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

None of the leaders in SGM can be trusted.  They have been dishonest in little and they have been dishonest in much.  Thousands of pages of evidence over the past three years has documented the pervasive corruption that exists in Sovereign Grace Ministries. 

This newest illustration is in the “much” category.  The entire Board of Directors in conjunction with C.J. Mahaney, repeatedly deceived the SGM pastors, SGM members, and Body of Christ.  They purposely concealed the truth and actively put forth lies.  The truth be told, top level leaders did not want Mahaney to continue as President and when he did, they worked to remove him.  All this was covered up by the Board, however, as they worked out a deal for Mahaney to transition under the pretense he was not the “best fit.”

Here are the men responsible for such deceit

Board of Directors
Starting March 21, 2012

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

Here is an update on their current status.

Three of these men are on the Executive Committee which is the current “Governing Board” that started January 1, 2014.  They are:

  1. Paul Buckley
  2. Mickey Connolly
  3. Ken Mellinger

Buckley is the Chairman of the Executive Committee and senior pastor of King of Grace Church in Haverhill, MA. 

Mickey Connolly is the senior pastor of CrossWay Community Church in Charlotte, NC and one of seven Regional Leaders for SGM.  He oversees the SGM churches in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  Mahaney’s church is in Kentucky.

Ken Mellinger is senior pastor of Living Hope Church in Harrisburg, PA.

Three of these men are on the Leadership Team for SGM.  They are:

  1. Craig Cabaniss
  2. Ian McConnell
  3. Phil Sasser 

Craig Cabaniss is senior pastor of Grace Church in Frisco, TX and Director of Church Development for SGM.

Ian McConnell is senior pastor of Grace City Church of the Northeast in Philadelphia and Director of Church Planting and Mission for SGM.

Phil Sasser is senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Apex, NC and Director of Church Governance for SGM.

That leaves three more men.

  1. John Loftness
  2. Ron Boomsma 
  3. Al Pino 

John Loftness is senior pastor of Solid Rock Church in Riverdale, MD.  He resigned from the Board in February 2012.  He is under criminal investigation.

Ron Boomsma is senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Pasadena, CA.  He resigned from the Board around June 2012.  No announcement was made and no explanation was given. 

Al Pino is senior pastor of Palm Vista Community Church in Miami Lakes, FL.  He and his church left SGM in May 2014.

The Bible teaches, “To whom much is given, much is required.”  The opposite is true in SGM.  To whom much is given (leaders and pastors), little is required; and to whom little is given (church members), much is required.  What SGM leaders require of church members, they don’t require of themselves. 

What will the other members on the Executive Committee do to Buckley, Connolly and Mellinger?  Nothing!  What will the other members of the Leadership Team do to Cabaniss, McConnell, and Sasser?  Nothing! 

Other Members on Executive Committee

  1. Warren Boettcher
  2. Wayne Brooks
  3. Keith Collins
  4. Andy Farmer
  5. Jon Payne
  6. Rich Richardson 

Other Members on the Leadership Team

  1. Mark Prater
  2. Jeff Purswell
  3. Bob Kauflin
  4. Tommy Hill

I mean it when I say SGM is corrupt.  That conclusion is based on evidence.  Most of these “other members” have forcefully defended C.J. Mahaney and held him up as a man of exceptional character.  No one has stood up to him.  The only person worthy of respect in this regard appears to be Pete Greasley.

What should be done?  What would please God?  What does the Bible teach?

  • Loftness, Buckley, Boomsma, Cabaniss, Connolly, McConnell, Mellinger, Pino and Sasser should all be publicly rebuked.  Oh yea, Mahaney too! 
  • Buckley, Connolly, and Mellinger should be removed from the Executive Committee. 
  • Connolly should be removed as a Regional Leader. 
  • Cabaniss, McConnell, and Sasser should be removed from the Leadership Team. 
  • All of these men with the excpetion of Pino should be disciplined by their local church.

And here’s the kicker.  Sovereign Grace Ministries should be shut down because none of this will happened!  Buckley might conveniently resign but there will be no thorough going public confession of sin by him or the Board.  Mark Prater, the Executive Director, will take no action against these men.

No pastor or parishioner should stay in SGM one more day.  Get out!


I left Sovereign Grace Ministries five years ago this month.  Soon thereafter, I began to produce “documents” for C.J. Mahaney that I hoped would bring about reform.  That effort failed.  As a result, it was necessary to send those documents to the SGM pastors in July 2011.  Since then, I’ve continued to write.  I’ve also worked behind the scenes helping leaders and people inside and outside of SGM including victims of sexual abuse.  These endeavors have been my full time work.  

I continue to hold SGM accountable, write about lessons to be learned, work for criminal justice, seek reform in the Body of Christ, and care for those who have been harmed.  A lot of what I do is unseen.  Your financial assistance in support of these efforts would be greatly appreciated. 

Please Help - All Gifts & Tax Deductible Contributions Are Kept Strictly Confidential


SGM Pastors College on Life Support – Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Terminates Special Agreement

The Pastors College has been the pride and joy of Sovereign Grace Ministries but it is on life support and someone needs to pull the plug!     

Let me illustrate from the most recent Audited Financial Statements.  Operating expenses for the school year 2012-2013 were $743,000.  Revenues were $137,000.  That resulted in a $606,000 deficit for a ten month program.  Incredible.  But here’s the real kicker.  Only nine students graduated from the Pastors College in 2013.  And the same is true in 2014 – just nine graduates.  

This kind of spending makes the Federal Government look frugal and efficient by comparison.  And please don’t think 2012-2013 was an aberration.  Over the last four years, the Pastors College has amassed a deficit of 1.9 million.  That is incomprehensible.  If only for financial reasons, the Pastors College should be shut down.     

Of course, Jeff Purswell and Gary Ricucci are not going to be laid off even though they are the main operating expense for the Pastors College.  Compensation and benefits for 2012-2013 totaled $482,000.  I’d love to know how much Purswell was paid to part time teach nine students for ten months.  And I’d like to know how much Ricucci was paid to care for nine PC families.  His group was smaller in size than most Care Groups or Home Groups in Sovereign Grace churches.  

These are the kind of questions SGM never answers and don’t reveal in their budget or financial statements.  This kind of arrangement is only possible in a good ole boy network.  Purswell is on the SGM Leadership Team, Ricucci is Mahaney’s brother-in-law, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  What a life of ease! 

If you go to the SGM website for the Pastors College you’ll see this picture.  It is the graduating class of 2011-2012.  Dave Harvey pointed out it was “the largest ever for us” when he was looking for some good news to share about SGM in July 2011.  You will also read on the website that “usually 15-25” students attend the college every year.  That is a falsehood.  The PC has never had more than the 23 students like it did in 2011-2012.  That was a banner year.   

At the time of this photo, the Pastors College was housed in the Covennat Life Church building in Gaithersbrug, MD.  It had a top notch lecture hall, offices, library, and Starbucks like kitchenette and lounge area for students.  All this was paid for by SGM donors.  SGM also owned five townhouses free and clear for student housing.  

All of this was lost when C.J. Mahaney angrily left Covenant Life Church and impulsively moved SGM to Louisville, Kentucky in August 2012.  The real reason for moving was covered up by one of the most deceptive statements put out by SGM over the past 3 years.  It was written by Chairman of the Board and alleged sexual sadist under criminal investigation, John Loftness.  I am still astounded by the shameless dishonesty contained in his Relocation Announcement.  

As everyone now knows the move to Louisville has proven to be a disaster.  As an aside, SGM was forced to sell the five townhouses for 1.4 million and land in its possession for $627,000.  But even with the 2.0 million in proceeds from those sales, SGM ran a budget deficit of 1.2 million in 2012 and 1.6 million in 2013.  SGM is now using deceptive means to raise money.  It only figures.  That’s what corrupt organizations do.  See SGM Uses “Strategic Global Projects” to Fraudulently Raise Money

But there is more bad news for the Pastors College.  SERIOUS bad news!  In May, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) severed its “special agreement” with Sovereign Grace Ministries over “suspicions cast upon Sovereign Grace by the ongoing civil suit, and again by the recent Morales trial.”  The civil suit catalogues unimaginable sex crimes and the criminal conspiracy to cover them up in SGM. 

The “Morales trial” is a reference to Nathaniel Morales who was a member of Covenant Life Church while C.J. Mahaney was the senior pastor.  Morales abused numerous boys in the church from 1983-1991.  This was known to Mahaney and he conspired to cover up the crimes with his pastoral staff.  Grant Layman, his brother-in-law and fellow pastor, testified to this effect in two separate trials.  Morales was found guilty on eight counts of child sexual abuse and offense with a maximum sentence of 120 years.  Immediately after these trials concluded in May, SBTS ended its “articulation agreement” with the Pastors College.  This was confirmed by Bob Allen of ABPnews. 

Thereafter, this letter from Jeff Purswell was sent to the nine students in the Pastors College. 

Dear Brothers, 

I’m writing with some disappointing news.  Southern Seminary has informed me that it is discontinuing the formal relationship between Southern and Sovereign Grace.  This is a rather complex situation, and I’m unable to share all of the internal factors influencing their decision.  Suspicions cast upon Sovereign Grace by the ongoing civil suit, and again by the recent Morales case, have unfortunately produced pressures upon various friends and partners of Sovereign Grace.  Such factors appear to have played a role in this suspension. 

My conversations with Southern representatives were nonetheless encouraging—they are grateful for Sovereign Grace’s influence and for the pastors who are studying at SBTS, and they hope this continues.  This change involves only the formal degree-completion agreement between our organizations. 

Here are the main implications of this development:  

  • The key point is this: Future students from Sovereign Grace no longer qualify for automatic credit transfer or for an SBTS scholarship under the degree-completion program.
  • Fortunately, students who have already had their Pastors College credits transferred to SBTS retain those hours.
  • Students from Sovereign Grace continue to be welcome to apply to SBTS and may submit transcripts and request to have credits transferred from the Pastors College (or any other institution).  These will be treated on a case-by-case basis, just like any other student.  The status of the Pastors College as an academic institution from which SBTS will consider transfer credit has not changed.
  • Students from Sovereign Grace may apply for financial aid from SBTS.  These will also be treated on a case-by-case basis, like any other student.
  • In sum, there is no longer a special agreement between SBTS and Sovereign Grace.  Pastors College graduates may pursue degrees, credit-transfers, and financial aid like any other student, just not under the auspices of any agreement with SBTS. 

Officials at SBTS communicated that they want to do all they can to keep from penalizing current students who transferred credits from the Pastors College.  They also desire to give students as much information as possible so that they can anticipate tuition costs.  Moreover, they hope that Sovereign Grace students will continue to consider SBTS as they plan their academic futures. 

This is obviously a disappointing development.  However, we as pastors should not be deterred from continuing to grow in our biblical and doctrinal understanding, whether that be informally or formally, through SBTS or another institution.  We continue to appreciate SBTS and are grateful for the relationship we have enjoyed over the past couple of years, and it is possible that that relationship could be reestablished in the future.  Even more so, I am grateful for the blessing of the Pastors College and its unique mission to equip men for pastoral ministry within our family of churches.  In God’s mercy, the college was built without reliance upon any single institution, and it will continue to be so.

 If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or anyone on the Pastors College staff.

 Yours in Christ,



(502) 855-7704

The hope of a “degree completion program” with SBTS was a prominent reason for relocating SGM and the PC to Louisville.  

Sovereign Grace Ministries Relocation Announcement
John Loftness
April 19, 2012 

The proximity to Southern Seminary allows us to upgrade our academic offerings, including opportunities for collaboration and potential transfer credit toward a Master’s degree. … As noted above, we are excited about opportunities this will afford us to collaborate with Southern Seminary, which will only enhance our program and facilitate further training for our students and pastors.  

Moving to Louisville - A Few Thoughts from Bob Kauflin
May 24, 2012 

But Louisville has more to offer than low cost living.  It’s home to Southern Seminary.  Being close to Southern will enable us to beef up our academic offerings for the Pastors College and possibly offer credits toward a Master’s degree.  … The folks at Southern have already been incredibly welcoming. 

Church planter interview: C.J. Mahaney (Louisville, KY)
September 26, 2012 

Louisville is also strategic because we have the opportunity to benefit from and support an excellent seminary like the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have a deep appreciation for the superb leadership of Dr. Al Mohler, the president of SBTS—he is both a friend and a mentor in many ways. … The elders of SGCL [Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville] are already taking classes, building relationships, and exploring ways to support the ministry of SBTS.   

Meet the Pastors College Class of 2014
September 27, 2013

This past week, we welcomed our sixteenth Pastors College class.  This is our second class in Louisville, Kentucky.  The first year proved to be a rich one with much blessing coming from our new location, including our degree-completion program with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

In November of 2012, the hope of a degree competition program became a reality.  This was a major milestone for the Pastors College.  The arrangement made the PC much more credible and desirable.  It was put forward as a laudable achievement and used as a recruiting tool for new students.  

Pastors College announces a degree completion program through Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
November 16, 2012 

At this year’s Pastors Conference in Orlando, Jeff Purswell announced an exciting new opportunity for Pastors College graduates to pursue further studies to strengthen their pastoral ministry.  A degree completion program established between the Sovereign Grace Pastors College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) now provides a viable means for Pastors College alumni to pursue a Masters of Divinity degree from SBTS without disrupting their church ministry.  Here are the basic facts: 

  • Up to 35 credit hours transfer from the Pastors College to SBTS.  An M.Div. in Christian Ministry at SBTS requires 94 total credit hours, so hypothetically a PC graduate is over a third of the way towards an M.Div. (The briefer but more demanding Advanced M.Div program requires only 86 credit hours). Of the remaining 59 credit hours, 41 are elective hours in the Christian Ministry program. (In the Advanced M.Div program, only 21 of the remaining 51 credit hours are elective hours).  Transfer credit will depend upon the actual work completed in the PC. 
  • Flexible learning options make it possible to complete an M.Div. without moving to Louisville.  Southern offers a wide array of learning options, from on-line courses to brief intensive classes at SBTS, making it possible to further one’s education without leaving a ministry position. (For more information on distance learning options, go here). 
  • The Ministry Apprenticeship Program.  Through the Ministry Apprenticeship Program, PC graduates can earn up to 18 credit hours for doing a qualified post-graduation pastoral internship at their local church. (Pastors can also participate in this program).  For more details, go here
  • Pastors College alumni are eligible for scholarships to lessen the financial burden of pursuing their degree. (Sovereign Grace pastors who have not graduated from the Pastors College and who wish to be considered for such a scholarship should contact

Here’s the upshot.  If you graduate from the Pastors College and do the Ministry Apprenticeship Program throughout your pastoral internship the following year, you will only have 41 credit hours left to complete for an M.Div in Christian Ministry at SBTS; 23 of those remaining hours will be elective hours.  You can complete those credit hours while continuing your ministry in your local church.    

So if you’re a PC alumnus and you want to pursue this opportunity, what should you do? Complete the SBTS online application, and email Melissa Goins ( to request a transcript from the Pastors College.  

This special arrangement came about because of C.J. Mahaney’s special relationship with Al Mohler.  Mohler brought about these extraordinary benefits for students in the Pastors College! 

The Masters of Divinity is the most distinguished graduate degree for pastors.  It requires three years of study including courses in Hebrew and Greek.  Under this arrangement a PC graduate could transfer 35 credits, earn 18 more credits as a pastoral intern in his SGM church, and complete the remaining 41 credits without moving to Louisville.  He was also eligible for scholarships.  That’s a Cadillac package.  

Two other things have changed with the termination of this agreement.  First, students from the PC were automatically accepted into SBTS.  They didn’t have to apply for admission on their own merits.  A high school diploma wasn’t even required.  That has changed.  Now, I doubt anyone without a four year undergraduate degree will be accepted into their graduate level degree programs. 

Second, the tuition rate doubles for PC students.  It goes from $254 per credit hour to $508 per credit hour.  Let me explain.  The Southern Baptist Convention subsidizes the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.    

Southern Baptist Membership Verification: The purpose of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) is to train, educate and prepare ministers of the gospel for more faithful service.  SBTS is an institution of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) that is supported by the Cooperative Program (CP), a giving strategy for contribution and distribution.  CP funds support the denominational task of preparing biblically-trained Southern Baptist ministers, subsidizing approximately half of the institutional cost for all Southern Baptist students.

Under the special agreement, PC students were charged the SBC tuition rate rather than the non-SBC tuition rate.  In other words, students who were part of Mahaney’s church were treated like they were Southern Baptists.  They automatically received the reduced rate.  No longer.  The total cost of tuition for the Masters of Divinity program just went from $24,000 to $48,000. 

The unaccredited Pastors College has nine students.  The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has over 4,600 students with more than 1,700 in the Master of Divinity program.  It is considered by many to be the finest theological institution in the nation.  That’s why cutting off the Pastors College is so painful.  Purswell calls it a mere “disappointment” but it is much more.  It is devastating.

Purswell plays all of this down in his letter.  Anyway, who needs the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary when you have the “unique mission” of the Pastors College that is dependent upon no one except Purswell who runs it and teaches many of its courses? 

This is obviously a disappointing development. … Even more so, I am grateful for the blessing of the Pastors College and its unique mission to equip men for pastoral ministry within our family of churches.  In God’s mercy, the college was built without reliance upon any single institution, and it will continue to be so. 

The most important news in Purswell’s letter is none of the above however.  The most important news deals the impact of “the ongoing civil suit” and “the recent Morales case.”  

Southern Seminary has informed me that it is discontinuing the formal relationship between Southern and Sovereign Grace.  This is a rather complex situation, and I’m unable to share all of the internal factors influencing their decision.  Suspicions cast upon Sovereign Grace by the ongoing civil suit, and again by the recent Morales case, have unfortunately produced pressures upon various friends and partners of Sovereign Grace.  Such factors appear to have played a role in this suspension. 

Al Mohler is President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He is the most powerful and influential leader in evangelicalism today.  He is also C.J. Mahaney’s ally.  No one has defended Mahaney more arduously on a national scale than Mohler.  He cleared Mahaney of ALL wrong doing in the criminal conspiracy to cover up child sex abuse in May of 2013.  He also pronounced him a man of integrity.

Immediately after Mohler’s defense of Mahaney, however, the Southern Baptist Convention passed seven resolutions on the sexual abuse of children in June of 2013.  Resolution six had Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries specifically in mind.

RESOLVED, That we encourage all denominational leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and/or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse; and be it finally… 

Mohler and others totally disregarded this resolution.  He was still publicly promoting Mahaney right up until the Nathaniel Morales trial in May of 2014.  Then came the conviction of Morales based upon six days of testimony in two trials.  This testimony implicated Mahaney for his role in the criminal conspiracy.  That “produced pressures” upon the powers that be at SBTS to sever its ties with SGM.  Purswell is “unable to share all of the internal factors influencing their decision.” 

I hope this decision was based on principal and not pragmatism.  Mahaney and SGM are a liability to SBTS.  Southern Baptist pastors and churches throughout the nation don’t want money they give to the SBC Cooperative Program used to underwrite the tuition for non-Baptist students from the Pastors College.  I hope SBTS terminated the agreement with the PC because they see through C.J. Mahaney and are seriously concerned about the child sex abuse scandal in SGM.     

What may be true of SBTS is certainly not true of Jeff Purswell!  I was the person who initially recruited Purswell to SGM.  Later in 2000, I turned the Pastors College over to him.  He has made a living riding the coat tails of Mahaney and others.  

I use to respect Purswell but that began to erode in 2008 when I experienced his willingness to lie, deceive, and harm at Mahaney’s direction (cf. Response Regarding Friendship & Doctrine, pp. 120-125 and footnote 216, p. 140).  This kind of activity has continued to the present.  No one in SGM has enabled Mahaney in his sin more than Bob Kauflin and Jeff Purswell – that’s one reason they are both on the SGM Leadership Team.    

With this letter, however, I have lost ALL respect for Jeff Purswell!  Why?  For his statement, “Suspicions cast upon Sovereign Grace by the ongoing civil suit, and again by the recent Morales case…appear to have played a role in this suspension.”  This angers me and it should anger everyone reading this article! 

The civil suit (a.k.a., Second Amended Complaint) contains the real life horror stories of children who were sexual abused in Sovereign Grace Ministries in large measure because C.J. Mahaney and his pastoral team refused to report known or suspected child predators over 30 years.  As a result, the number of predators grew and victims multiplied from one generation to the next generation and beyond.  

Moreover, the Morales case produced conclusive evidence of a criminal conspiracy at Covenant Life Church in 1991, 1993 and 2007.  Because Mahaney and later his protégé, Joshua Harris did nothing, Morales went on to abuse children for 20 years in different parts of the United States. 

It is despicable that Purswell blames the civil suit and the Morales case for casting unwarranted suspicions upon Sovereign Grace and in this context “Sovereign Grace” is practically a synonym for C.J. Mahaney.  

This evil tactic has been constantly employed by the leaders of SGM over the past three years.  Church members are incessantly warned by their pastors not to read the evidence because it will create “suspicions” about Mahaney and others.  Such leadership is unquestionably cult like in its control of individual lives.  

Let’s be clear, according to Purswell all the evidence against Mahaney is spurious.  It only causes evil suspicious.  The SBTS leaders have been duped according to Purswell.  The severing of ties should never have occurred because the grounds for doing so are baseless.  Mere suspicions based upon the civil suit and Morales trial!  

Purswell is a cool-aid drinking.  No, I am wrong.  He is a cool-aid dispenser.  That is evident in this letter to his PC students.  He is willing to deceive people into thinking all the evidence contained in the Second Amendment Complaint and all the evidence that came out in the Morales trial against SGM and Mahaney is false. 

In this he is following the strategy laid out by C.J. Mahaney and his lawyers.  Deny, deceive and disparage!  After the conviction of Morales, Mahaney put out this statement

Let me be clear about this: I have never conspired to protect a child predator, and I also deny all the claims made against me in the civil suit. 

That is Mahaney’s position.  That is Purswell’s position.  That is the denomination’s position.  And that position may very well destroy what remains of Sovereign Grace Ministries and the Pastors College.  

When SGM decided to move the Pastor College to Louisville, KY it cited three reasons.  One, lower cost of living.  Two, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Three, C.J. Mahaney. 

There was no church in Louisville when the decision was made.  In his relocation announcement, John Loftness answered the question, “Don’t we want the Pastors College to be near a Sovereign Grace church?”  Here was his answer. 

The Leadership Team has wanted to plant a church in Louisville near the seminary for several years, and after speaking at a college event there in February 2011 C.J. began to consider leading the plant himself.  He made this desire known to us when we were seated as a Board, and we approved the plant this month.  Although this was by no means determinative for the Pastors College, this does mean that students will have the opportunity to participate in a church plant led by C.J.  This will both facilitate CJ.’s ongoing influence in the college, as well as provide students a smaller church experience that will more resemble their ultimate ministry context.    

Recently Purswell wrote the following and included this photo on the SGM website.  That is Mahaney on the far left with Gary Ricucci next to him.  Ricucci is accused of aiding and abetting the sexual abuse of children and participating in the criminal conspiracy with Mahaney.  Purswell is on the far right.

This past Sunday, the Class of 2014 graduated from the Sovereign Grace Pastors College. … On the diplomas the students received is 1 Timothy 4:16, “Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”  To help them “watch their doctrine,” they attended 33 weeks of class designed to provide them a biblical and theological foundation for pastoral ministry. 

The program is also designed to cultivate godly character. … And they experienced all of this with an intimate connection to the local church at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville—which is of critical importance.  Their training took specific account of the local church precisely because they are being equipped to serve in a local church context.

Even more egregious is this statement on the SGM website about the Pastors College and it connection to Mahaney’s church.  

Students live in Louisville, Kentucky, during the ten-month program so they can observe and participate in the life of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville.  Frequent small groups, along with pastoral care from Sovereign Grace Church pastors, provide an environment that facilitates growth in humility and Christlike character.

Small groups and pastoral care from Mahaney, Purswell, Kauflin, Ricucci and Brian Chesemore (C.J.’s son-in-law) are the keys to “growth in humility and Christlike character.”  Purswell is not shy about holding up this fiefdom of five and their church as the “environment” “designed to cultivate godly character…which is of critical importance.”  

This is so foul.  Yet this charade of godliness has been used to recruit students to the Pastors College where you learn to “pay close attention to your life” by following the example of C.J. Mahaney and the staff that has covered up for him. 

In November 2012, Joshua Harris asked the members of Covenant Life Church to vote in favor of leaving Sovereign Grace Ministries over its ungodly leadership culture as exemplified by these five men.  In that context, he explained why they could not send “future pastors for training in the Pastors College.”

One of the most significant examples of this relates to the decision to move the SGM headquarters and Pastors College to Louisville. … Our perspective is that this was by far the most far reaching of the decisions made over the past year.  We didn’t immediately understand all the implications when the decision was first announced.  But the location of the Pastors College has a significant impact on how future pastors in our movement will be trained and what model of ministry they will observe.  And yet this decision was not one that the pastors of SGM were invited to participate in at all. … While we’re talking about the Pastors College, I want to acknowledge that because of our differences with SGM regarding leadership practice and culture, we would not feel comfortable sending future pastors for training in the Pastors College.  All of the men leading the college have expressed strong disagreement with our leadership.  I’m sad to say this, but obviously this has significant ramifications for future partnership in SGM. 

At that time, I provided the following commentary in response to Harris’ statement. 

Joshua, the CLC pastors, and many other pastors in SGM, don’t want men going to the Pastors College to be “trained” by a “leadership culture” that is abusive.  Nor do they want these future pastors to be immersed in C.J.’s “model of ministry” in his Louisville church. … C.J., Jeff Purswell and Gary Ricucci lead the Pastors College.  The CLC pastors aren’t “comfortable” sending anyone to the PC because of the “leadership practice and culture” these men represent.  They don’t want the future pastors of CLC immersed in a leadership culture that is unethical and abusive in its practices. 

Joshua Harris is right.  C.J. Mahaney, Jeff Purswell, Bob Kauflin, Gary Ricucci, and Brian Chesemore are not about “humility and Christ like character.”  They are about hypocrisy, leadership abuses and protecting Mahaney no matter what it takes out of pure self-interest.  

These men acted corruptly when they opposed the Covenant Life pastors for trying to bring a small degree of correction into Mahaney’s life for fleeing the church and relocating SGM without ever talking to them.  These four men have also been covering up for Mahaney and the criminal conspiracy he led at Covenant Life Church and managed in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  In fact, Ricucci and Chesemore were part of the CLC conspiracy and the same is likely true of Purswell and Kauflin.    

That’s why it is no surprise to find Purswell disparaging the civil suit and the Morales trial for casting unfounded “suspicions” upon SGM and Mahaney.  The SBTS was wise for cutting off its ties with the PC because of the evidence, not suspicions.  And let me add, no one in their right mind should attend the PC in 2014-2015. 

The Pastors College is on life support.  Millions in debt.  No ties to the SBTS.  An average enrollment of nine in recent years.  Hosted by a church with corrupt pastors.  Led by a dean who thinks the victims in the civil suit are liars and the sworn testimony of Grant Layman at the Morales trial was fallacious.  And a senior pastor who is under criminal investigation. 

Mark Prater, the Executive Committee, the Leadership Team, and the national Council of Elders are nuts if they don’t shut down the school and that’s why they won’t do so.  As Purswell said in his letter, “The college was built without reliance upon any single institution, and it will continue to be so.” 

Bad things lie ahead for C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries.  If they don’t close the Pastors College in Louisville they are just postponing the inevitable.


Please Help - All Gifts & Tax Deductible Contributions Are Kept Strictly Confidential