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Thursday
Jul102014

Supermajority of Florida Churches Leave Sovereign Grace Ministries  

Over the past two years, 38 churches left Sovereign Grace Ministries, one church plant decided not to join, and two churches were closed.  Now a supermajority of churches in Florida have pulled out.  The sovereign chastisement of Sovereign Grace Ministries continues unabated because its leaders are unwilling to acknowledge wronging and renounce their deceitful practices. 

In 1985, Jenny and I relocated to Daytona Beach for six weeks to help establish the first Sovereign Grace church in Florida.  Our son Jonathan was two and our daughter Carolyn was nine months.  In 1987, we relocated to Orlando for three months to help establish the second Sovereign Grace church in Florida.  During that trip Jenny found out she was pregnant with our third child, Bryan.  

In the years to follow, 12 other Florida churches were planted in St. Petersburg, Miami Lakes, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Niceville, Titusville, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Winter Park, Miami, southeast Orlando, Melbourne, and one was adopted in Fort Lauderdale.  The Tallahassee church was closed around 2008. 

Since 2012, nine of the remaining 14 churches left Sovereign Grace Ministries.  The most recent was on June 29.  Palm Vista Community Church in Miami Lakes departed what was once a family of churches but is now a bureaucratic denomination with a corrupt leadership team that has staunchly defended C.J. Mahaney in his sin and refused to address the conspiracy to commit and conceal child sex abuse.  

Al Pino is a bi-lingual, second generation, Cuba-American.  He’s the senior pastor of Palm Vista.  I’ve spent some very memorable time with Al in Cuba and with the church in Miami Lakes.  Before I left SGM, my responsibilities included overseeing our efforts in the Caribbean though Al did the vast majority of the work.  

We sent Pino to Miami in 1997 so we could reach Cuba and the other islands.  In 2002, the work in Cuba officially began and then grew.  The departure of Palm Vista Community Church is another blow to Sovereign Grace Ministries.  So too the departure of Tim Merwin and Sovereign Grace Church in Titusville this past May.  

Mark Prater, Executive Director for Sovereign Grace Ministries, wrote about these developments recently and also about the departure of Redemption Hill Church in British Columbia.  His letter is a prime example of Mark speak. 

From: Mark Prater
Date: May 24, 2014 7:04:15 PM EDT
Subject: Recent Happenings In Sovereign Grace 

May 24, 2014 

Hey Guys, 

As you prepare to preach and pastor your people tomorrow, my prayer is that you would know the Spirit’s ever present power and help. 

I wanted to give you an update regarding some recent happenings in Sovereign Grace. 

A couple of churches have informed us of their decision to end their affiliation with Sovereign Grace Churches.  Both churches have different reasons for their decision. 

The first is Redemption Hill Church in Langley, British Columbia (Western Canada).  Tony Walsh (senior pastor) sent me a letter on May 19 saying that in the last 3-4 weeks God had made it clear to him and his leadership team that they were to leave Sovereign Grace and affiliate with New Frontiers.  A part of the appeal for them is that they can connect with New Frontiers more locally.  Tony also labored to communicate that they aren’t leaving Sovereign Grace because of any differences or disagreements they have with our family of churches.  In fact, because of our rich history together this was a hard decision for Tony to make personally.  Our prayer for Tony and Redemption Hill is that the Lord would use New Frontiers to strengthen their labors for the gospel in British Columbia.  And we are grateful for the number of ways Tony served Sovereign Grace for so many years. 

The second church is Sovereign Grace Church in Titusville, FL.  In early May, Tim Merwin (senior pastor) and the other elders decided to end their affiliation with Sovereign Grace Churches.  They communicated a few reasons why they made the decision, one of them being our polity and, from their perspective, the amount of time it might require of a local eldership to participate.  Their decision to leave Sovereign Grace had nothing to do with the Morales case or the civil lawsuit as some have reported.  If you would like more information, feel free to contact Tim Merwin.  Upon receiving their letter of withdrawal from Sovereign Grace, I communicated to Tim my appreciation for the years of gospel partnership we have had together and I pray that God blesses their labors for the gospel in the Titusville area. 

Some have wrongly reported that Palm Vista Church in Miami, FL has departed from Sovereign Grace.  That simply isn’t true.  However, the elders of Palm Vista Church contacted me in early May to communicate that they as elders planned to start a process where they would recommend to their church that they end their affiliation with Sovereign Grace looking to make a decision by the end of the summer depending on the feedback they received from their congregation.  I, along with four other men on the Leadership Team, had a good conversation with Al Pino, Jim Britt and Corey Schmatjen about 10 days ago.  You should know that in that conversation we appealed they remain in Sovereign Grace.  Please pray for the elders at Palm Vista as they think through this decision. 

Lastly, Aron Osborne has decided to resign as the Regional Leader of the Southeast Region.  Aron and I spoke in early April where he communicated that he “does not have the vision or galvanizing faith to lead a region in our new polity.”  Here is an excerpt from a letter Aron sent to his region in April: “Simply, SGM needs regional leaders who do have a good measure of faith, vision and galvanizing ability to implement the polity and its corresponding committees within a region.  SGM elders should expect that a regional leader could provide the needed grace for guiding the region in the trajectory of the polity.  I need to step down so that the nominating committee can appoint an elder within the region who can do just that.  I want to help in the transition to a new regional leader.”  I’m grateful for Aron’s desire and help in seeing that the transition to a new regional leader be a smooth one.  Some have reported that Aron’s decision to resign is related to the Morales case or the civil lawsuit.  As you can see, that simply isn’t true.  Aron has served Sovereign Grace extra-locally for 12 years now.  I’m grateful for his faithful service, and I pray that God gives him grace as he continues to lead Metro Life Church. 

The reason I didn’t communicate this information to you men before now is because Aron and the Metro Life elders haven’t informed their church of Aron’s resignation yet.  Their plan is to inform their church tomorrow, Sunday, May 25.  Because of our view of the local church, we believe that local elders should communicate this kind of information to their members.  This is a value we share, and one that I have sought to honor.  It’s the reason that I’m communicating this news to you late on a Saturday so that word doesn’t reach the Metro Life membership before their pastors have had a chance to tell them.  Please join me in praying for Aron and the other Metro Life pastors, asking God to give them wisdom and skill, as they communicate this information to their church tomorrow.  And let us be men who continue to honor the value of allowing local elders to communicate important information to their churches. 

If you have any questions about these developments please let me know. 

May God bless your preaching and your Sunday service tomorrow. 

For the glory of Christ,

Mark 

There is a lot of shocking news in this letter that is down played.  First, let me address the paragraph dealing with the departure of Tony Walsh and Redemption Hill Church in Langley, British Columbia before moving on to the developments in Florida.  You never know what to believe about any info letter or press release put out by Mark Prater or Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Follow along. 

Tony Walsh was originally part of the church in Daytona Beach.  He was sent to Vancouver in 1999 to work with Pat Sczebel, a native Canadian, in order to set up a base of operations for Sovereign Grace Ministries so we could plant churches in the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada.  Walsh worked closely with Steve Shank for many years with this mission in mind.  He was being groomed by Shank to assume “apostolic responsibilities.”  That came to an end.   

Steve Shank has been the SGM Regional Leader over Walsh’s church from the beginning.  When Mark Prater says the church isn’t leaving over “any differences or disagreements they have with our family of churches” that doesn’t mean Walsh isn’t leaving over sizeable differences or disagreements with Steve Shank or other leaders in SGM.  You never know what to believe and history has proven you can’t take anything at face value. 

Furthermore, I think Walsh may be leaving over differences and disagreements with Sovereign Grace polity.  He has no problems with the “family of churches” but that may be a guise to avoid mentioning problems with SGM leadership and its polity.  

This much is certain.  It is never a good sign when someone writes a letter and says, “God…made it clear to him and his leadership team that they were to leave Sovereign Grace.”  There appears to have been little to no discussion with Steve Shank or other leaders in SGM about this radical departure.  The “God…made it clear” line conveys there is no interest in talking about the decision.      

I’ve known Tony since 1983.  I trained him in the early years.  This much is certain.  He has been Sovereign Grace through and through for the past 30 years.  You don’t leave friends, a ministry you love, leaders you esteem and memories you’ve built over three decades when there aren’t “any differences and disagreements.”  That’s not a “hard decision,” it’s an inexplicable decision.  

Prater says Walsh is leaving in order to affiliate with New Frontiers International (NFI).  According to the NFI website, they have but one new church in downtown Vancouver.  Walsh is in Langley.  That’s 45 minutes away.  Supposedly “a part of the appeal for them is that they can connect with New Frontiers more locally.”  That doesn’t amount to much.  Notice, it is only “a part of the appeal”?  What else is appealing?  Knowing Tony, I think there are at least two other reasons for leaving.  New Frontiers International is far more charismatic and far less bureaucratic than Sovereign Grace Ministries.  

Here’s the point.  You can’t believe anything these guys say.  For example, Tony Walsh and Pat Sczebel had a falling out over Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Sczebel and other leaders pulled Crossway Church out of SGM in December 2012.  Walsh left and started Redemption Hill Church.  Sovereign Grace Ministries presented it as a church plant when it was really a church split.  With Walsh’s departure nothing remains in western Canada.  

Canada aside.  Florida is my focus. 

In May of 2012, the Florida pastors requested a meeting with C.J. Mahaney to ask him some hard questions.  Mahaney refused to answer their questions.  Instead he made a self-righteous defense of himself.  It was the beginning of the end.  Soon after churches began to leave.  

Mahaney’s fierce pride in this meeting was offensive.  So was the propping up of Mahaney by Mickey Connolly and Jeff Purswell.  There was no evident humility nor any willingness to address the serious issues surrounding Mahaney’s life and leadership.  Understandably, most of the men left the meeting even more concerned for Mahaney’s entrenched pride.  I wrote about it in July 2012.  Here is an excerpt. 

Diverging Paths – Fairfax Church and Florida Pastors Contemplate Separation from Sovereign Grace Ministries
Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Brent Detwiler 

I also want to make you aware of a meeting that occurred on May 25 between all the Florida pastors and C.J., Jeff Purswell and Mickey Connolly.  There are more SGM churches in Florida than any other state in the U.S.  Thirteen churches sent their leaders to this meeting. …       

The Florida pastors requested a meeting with C.J.  In advance they sent him a long list of questions.  You’ll find them below.  The meeting did not go well.  The vast majority of men were displeased and troubled by the evening.  A large number of the pastors left planning to position their churches to leave SGM in the coming year because of C.J.’s tone, attitude, and approach and the events of the past year.  At this meeting, C.J. acknowledged no wrong doing and confessed no sin.  Jeff Purswell and Mickey Connolly were there to defend him. 

It was a repeat of the Pastors Conference in November [2011].  C.J. did not answer their questions and spent the evening justifying himself and placing the blame upon others like the Covenant Life pastors.  Many of the leaders in Florida believe everything C.J. is doing contradicts all he has preached.  In particular, they can’t begin to support C.J. until he is reconciled to the Covenant Life pastors.  I’ve encouraged these men to write up their observations from the meeting for the Board of Directors and the other pastors in the movement.  People need to be told.  We are way beyond the first and second steps of Matthew 18. … 

The bad experience of the Florida pastors with C.J. must be told to the SGM pastors and churches.  It serves as another example of C.J.’s continuation in the same sinful patterns of behavior that have been brought to his attention for over a decade.  He needs to be publicly rebuked by men from all quarters of SGM who do not fear his wrath and are willing to suffer any consequences that may follow.        

Since that meeting in May 2012, there has been a steady exodus of Florida churches.  Titusville and Miami Lakes are the most recent additions.  Florida was the state with the most churches, the most church plantings, the greatest sense of family, and the greatest zeal for the mission of SGM.  It’s all history now.  

Mark Prater became the Executive Director in May 2013.  Ever since he has worked night and day to present a positive and optimistic view of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  For example, Prater did not tell people in SGM that the Brooklyn, New York church was closed in October 2013 after 10 years or that the Middletown, Delaware church was closed in November 2013 after 9 years.  Bad news is banned news.  Reading Prater and the SGM website you’d conclude things could hardly be better in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Yes there have been some generic challenges but it’s all good. 

A spinmeister or spin doctor is “a public relations person who tries to forestall negative publicity by publicizing a favorable interpretation of the words or actions of a company or political party or famous person, ‘his title is Director of Communications but he is just a spin doctor’” (The Free Dictionary).  To “forestall negative publicity” is to prevent or obstruct it. 

It has been three years since I sent out The Documents and still not one public confession of sin to the denomination by C.J. Mahaney, Mark Prater, or anyone else.  Just vague references to leadership failures or deficiencies.  The leaders of SGM have steadfastly refused to humble themselves while they have steadfastly determined to hype themselves.  This obstinacy and self-promotion has been opposed by the Lord Jesus Christ.  The dissolution of SGM continues and will grow in the coming year.   

Mark Prater was trained in crisis management, public relations, and communications techniques while employed by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in the 1990’s.  Wyeth marketed the infamous Norplant implant.  “By 1996, more than 50,000 women had filed lawsuits, including 70 class actions, against Wyeth and/or its subsidiaries, or doctors who prescribed Norplant.”   

In that context, Mark led the initiative to train obstetricians throughout the nation in the proper insertion and removal techniques for the progestin only implantable contraceptive device that acted primarily as an abortifacient (i.e., it caused abortions) by making the endometrium hostile to the implantation of a fertilized ovum.  God knows how many preborn children lost their lives because of this product.  As a result of these efforts, Prater zoomed up the corporate ladder and was well paid for his work.  

I don’t know for certain if Mark Prater knew the progestin only drug in the Norplant device caused abortions.  It is hard to imagine he did not.  I plan to write and ask him.  I also plan to contact the Executive Committee and Leadership Team of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  This issue needs to be addressed.  I do know, Prater left Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in order to start Providence Church in Pittsburgh in 1996 at the behest of Dave Harvey. 

Prater has used his training and skill set to carry on the deceptive practices of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  He knows how to take bad news and makes it sound like good, acceptable or inconsequential news.  For instance, the departure of Tim Merwin and Sovereign Grace Church in Titusville, FL.  Notice how Prater focuses on the most favorable reason or circumstance for leaving.

In early May, Tim Merwin (senior pastor) and the other elders decided to end their affiliation with Sovereign Grace Churches.  They communicated a few reasons why they made the decision, one of them being our polity and, from their perspective, the amount of time it might require of a local eldership to participate.  Their decision to leave Sovereign Grace had nothing to do with the Morales case or the civil lawsuit as some have reported. 

He states in passing that the elders “decided to end their affiliation” for a “few reasons.”  He only gives one part of one reason – “the amount of time it might require of a local eldership to participate” in meeting the demands bound up in following the denominational polity.  Of course, Prater has to add this is “from their perspective” only.  Implication?  The only reason the elders cite is illegitimate.

If you want to know the real reasons for leaving you have to call Tim Merwin.  The SGM faithful are not going to make that call.  Lastly, Prater is worried SGM pastors might think the Titusville church is leaving over “the Morales case or the civil lawsuit.”  There are a hundred and one reasons to leave SGM but the Executive Director certainly doesn’t want these two added to the list!

Now let’s go back to Al Pino and the earth shaking news that Palm Vista Community Church has left Sovereign Grace Ministries.

First, Al Pino served on the Board of Directors for SGM from March 2012 to approximately October 2013.  He’s been a major player the past two years.  Second, he’s been the point man in Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean for a long time.  It represents a huge loss for Pino to leave.  Here again is what Prater said in his May 24 letter.

Some have wrongly reported that Palm Vista Church in Miami, FL has departed from Sovereign Grace.  That simply isn’t true.  However, the elders of Palm Vista Church contacted me in early May to communicate that they as elders planned to start a process where they would recommend to their church that they end their affiliation with Sovereign Grace looking to make a decision by the end of the summer depending on the feedback they received from their congregation.  I, along with four other men on the Leadership Team, had a good conversation with Al Pino, Jim Britt and Corey Schmatjen about 10 days ago.  You should know that in that conversation we appealed they remain in Sovereign Grace.  Please pray for the elders at Palm Vista as they think through this decision.

In addition to Prater, the SGM Leadership Team is comprised of Craig Cabaniss, Ian McConnell, Jeff Purswell, Bob Kauflin, Phil Sasser, and Tommy Hill.  All but two of these men were on the phone with Prater trying to talk Pino, Jim Britt and Corey Schmatjen out of leaving.  Prater brought in the big guns but to no avail.  Palm Vista did not wait until “the end of the summer” to make their decision.  They left June 29.

An “outsider” can’t appreciate the magnitude of the loss.  Jim Britt is also part of the mix.  No one has moved more frequently to plant churches for SGM over the years.  He also served as Dean of Students at the Pastors College for a year.  Prater gives absolutely no indication why these three pastors recommended to the church that they leave SGM.  Like Tony Walsh and Tim Merwin, they were die hard followers of SGM but no longer.     

Then Prater informs the SGM pastors that Aron Osborne has resigned as one of six Regional Leaders.  Aron oversaw SGM churches for the past 12 years.  He was Dave Harvey’s right hand man for many years and served on the SGM Board of Directors from July 2011-March 2012 when Harvey was the Interim President.  Harvey left SGM in June 2013.

Lastly, Aron Osborne has decided to resign as the Regional Leader of the Southeast Region.  Aron and I spoke in early April where he communicated that he “does not have the vision or galvanizing faith to lead a region in our new polity.”  Here is an excerpt from a letter Aron sent to his region in April: “Simply, SGM needs regional leaders who do have a good measure of faith, vision and galvanizing ability to implement the polity and its corresponding committees within a region.  SGM elders should expect that a regional leader could provide the needed grace for guiding the region in the trajectory of the polity.  I need to step down so that the nominating committee can appoint an elder within the region who can do just that.  I want to help in the transition to a new regional leader.”  I’m grateful for Aron’s desire and help in seeing that the transition to a new regional leader be a smooth one.  Some have reported that Aron’s decision to resign is related to the Morales case or the civil lawsuit.  As you can see, that simply isn’t true.  Aron has served Sovereign Grace extra-locally for 12 years now.  I’m grateful for his faithful service, and I pray that God gives him grace as he continues to lead Metro Life Church.

Osborne was announced as a Regional Leader in the newly configured SGM on January 16, 2014 (see below).  Three months later, he resigned because he did not “have a good measure of faith, vision and galvanizing ability to implement the polity” of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Praise God!  The Book of Church Order sets forth a governing structure for SGM that is totally foreign to the New Testament.  It imposes a bureaucratic system upon the churches that rivals the Roman Catholic Church for complexity.  It is at odds with the clear and authoritative teaching of the New Testament.  

There has been no announcement regarding Osborne’s replacement but “he continues to lead Metro Life Church” just north of Orlando.  There is no urgent need.  Only seven other churches remain in the southeast region.  I use to oversee 23 churches in this same region.

For over a year, the pastors at Metro Life Church have been discussing among themselves whether or not to leave SGM.  I think it is inevitable and will happen in the next month or two.  If I had to guess the pastors will recommend leaving at the upcoming Family Meeting on July 30.  SGM is beyond repair and the denominational polity is set is cement.  There is no hope for ethical reform or a recovery of church planting/oversight as biblically defined. 

Metro Life Church has been the “Antioch” of Florida.  When they leave it will be another blow to SGM and only four of the 15 Florida churches will remain.  There is a lot of bad news in SGM that is concealed and that which is presented as good news is often contrived.  Here is an example.

Two days ago, Prater wrote “Recently, Sovereign Grace has had some encouraging developments.  One of the many good things God is doing in Sovereign Grace is that a new region was recently formed.”  I don’t know of any encouraging developments, only discouraging developments.  Nevertheless, Prater goes on to describe the creation of the Middle Atlantic Region as “one of the many good things God is doing.”  Really?  This is hardly news.  It just means there will five less churches in the Northeast Region.  That’s all.  It has nothing to do with growth or expansion.  It’s about redistribution.  This is the kind of hype SGM must use to give a false impression that things are going well when in reality they continue to go badly. 

This underscores the fact that there is no transparency by Prater born out of integrity that is rooted in reality!

It is staggering that a supermajority of the churches in Florida have now left Sovereign Grace Ministries during the short span of two years.  Mark Prater does not want this information getting out.  It is disastrous news.  Doing damage control and image management are at the top of his job description. 

That’s why he and his new Communications Director, Bryan DeWire will be spinning out more hype about the goodness and greatness of Sovereign Grace Ministries in the coming days.  These men are on a marketing mission to rescue Sovereign Grace Ministries.  It is so foolish.  They refuse to acknowledge the Lord’s opposition.  Like it says in Romans 3:18, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 

The same is true of the Executive Committee, Leadership Team and national Council of Elders.  They are the ones behind the strategy of self-exaltation rather than self-humiliation.  Since their installation, none of these groups have been willing to deal with the wicked ways that characterize SGM.  None have been willing to hold C.J. Mahaney accountable.  And none have been willing to follow 2 Chronicles 7:14.  As a result, the "land" once known as Sovereign Grace Ministries is parched and desolate. 

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 

In choosing Mark Prater to replace C.J. Mahaney, they did not chose a man who would reform Sovereign Grace Ministries like King Josiah reformed Judah (2 Chron. 34-35, 2 Kings 22-23).  Instead, they chose a man who could run an ad agency. 

Here is the piece on Aron Osborne from January 16, 2014.  It has been removed from the SGM website.

Meet Our Regional Leaders: Aron Osborne
January 16, 2014

What local church do you pastor?

I serve as part of the pastoral team of Metro Life Church in Casselberry, Florida. I moved here from Souderton, Pennsylvania, in December 2010.

How long have you been a pastor?

I have been a pastor since July 1999, when I was part of a church plant to Souderton, Pennsylvania called Grace Community Church.

How long have you been a part of Sovereign Grace?

I was invited to Covenant Fellowship Church in September 1991 as a freshman in college.  I attended while I was in school but was still a member of a church back in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where I grew up.  Once I moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania after graduation in 1995, I became a member of Covenant Fellowship Church.

Which churches are in your region?

The Southeast region presently includes churches in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and parts of the Caribbean and Latin America.

What is your vision for your region?

Because of our partnership with churches in the Caribbean and Latin America, we have a region filled with opportunities to experience global mission.  That is a very important part of our local church vision, as well as for our region.  Our vision would be to partner in meaningful ways with churches (Sovereign Grace and others) in our region to support their local efforts of reaching their communities.  This past summer, we had four different missions’ trips in the region to four different countries for that very purpose.

I am also glad to see the mutual care that exists between the churches within the states that our proximity affords.  We come together for different retreats (youth camp, college age retreats, etc.) where we can learn from one another, build friendships, and simply experience different expressions of the body of Christ.  Even within our region, there is a lot of diversity from church to church, and that is a good thing!  We know we can only play a small part.  The body of Christ is very broad and diverse.  We want to be faithful to play whatever part the Lord gives to us to see more people come to Jesus through sharing his gospel, sharing our resources, and sharing our lives.

What are the pastors in your region excited about? 

Depends who you ask!  SEC football for some, ACC football for others!  Me, I’m an ice hockey fan.  Go Flyers!  But what are we excited about that actually matters?  I think I can speak for the pastors when I say that we are excited about personally growing more and more in loving Jesus and building the kind of friendships together where we can come alongside one another and our churches to support and encourage one another on in our faith.  We also want to help one another in prioritizing their local communities as the primary place of mission.  And we are excited to see local churches that can do some things together globally in partnership and in the sharing of resources.  Structure and organization are good things, but they can’t replace genuine relationships established in Jesus Christ.  That’s what we want locally and in our partnership together as a region.

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Friday
Jul042014

SGM Uses “Strategic Global Projects” to Fraudulently Raise Money

The financial demise of Sovereign Grace Ministries is obvious to anyone who has studied the audited financial statements from 2012 and 2013 and the budget for 2014.  Here are some lowlights. 

  • Contributions dropped from 4.8 million in 2011 to 3.2 million in 2012 to 1.8 million in 2013.  That’s a 63% decrease over two years. 
  • Total assets went from 6.2 million in 2011 to 4.9 million in 2012 to 3.4 million in 2013.  That’s a 45% decrease over two years. 
  • 2.0 million dollars of the remaining assets are locked up in the Sovereign Grace Ministries 17,125 square foot facility back in Gaithersburg, MD that is in the Covenant Life Church building! 
  • Ironically, Sovereign Grace Ministries paid $115,034 in 2013 for a leased facility in Louisville, KY.  Next year the rent goes up to $158,382. 
  • Product sales (books, music, etc.) dropped from $689,000 in 2011 to $467,000 in 2012 to $367,000 in 2013.  That is a 47% decrease over two years. 
  • The 2014 budget projects a deficit of $329,400. 

The vast majority of revenue comes from two sources.  Mandated giving from the SGM churches and voluntary contributions from individuals.  The 2014 budget estimates 1.2 million in giving from the churches.  That is dismal and it will decrease as more churches leave or become poorer due to declining memberships.  Thousands of people have left churches that remained in SGM. 

Furthermore, most of the wealthy and numerical large churches have left Sovereign Grace Ministries since 2012.  That’s one reason contributions are down 63% over two years.  For example, Covenant Life Church contributed $854,228 to SGM in 2011.  C.J. Mahaney’s unwillingness to reconcile cost SGM dearly.  Covenant Life Church was a huge asset in more ways than one.       

Of course, these are just numbers.  They don’t tell the whole story.  What they represent are a gargantuan loss of trust in the leadership of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  And behind that loss of trust is incalculable pain and disillusionment that has contributed to shipwrecking of many people’s faith.    

And yet everything is good to great in Sovereign Grace Ministries according to SGM management.  The accounting firm Aronson LLC has audited SGM for as long as I can remember.  I worked with them in the past.  Here’s what they said in the last paragraph in “Notes to Financial Statements” contained in the 2013 audit.  

SGM has been in a process of evaluation and reorganization, which has left the association smaller, but SGM management believes strengthened and well positioned for the future.  (Dec 20, 2013)

You will never hear any “bad news” out of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Only promises of peace and prosperity like Old Testament false prophets.

Last year, SGM did not attempt to raise funds from individuals so great the loss of trust.  This year they are back at it.  In order to do this they produced a fund raising brochure called “Hope Abounding.” 

The brochure highlights “Strategic Global Projects” in Cuba, the Philippines, South Korea, Zambia and Mexico.  Far more time and attention is given to these five projects as a motivation for giving than anything else in the brochure!  It’s a fundraising gimmick. 

Mark Prater, Tommy Hill, et al. know they can raise far more money by drawing attention to World Missions than Jeff Purswell teaching nine students in the Pastors College or Bob Kauflin making another album.  But this is a fraudulent way to raise money.

What Prater and Hill don’t tell prospective donors is the budget for World Missions has been cut from $973,285 in 2012 to $364,553 in 2013 to $173,100 in 2014.  That’s a reduction of $800,185 over two years.  In other words, SGM is investing next to nothing in World Missions this budget year and yet World Missions is hyped in the fund raising brochure.  It’s a scam. 

For example, here’s what the “Hope Abounding” brochure says about Cuba and yet the brothers and sisters in Cuba will receive very little money and assistance.  They are being taken advantage of by SGM.

Sovereign Grace has been working with pastors in Cuba since 2001.  Over the years, we have formed a key partnership with Iglesia Pentecostal Gracia Soberana, a union of churches led by Manolito Fonseca.  In partnership with Iglesia Pentecostal Gracia Soberana, we have been able to help train pastors throughout the entire island.  This training includes teaching pastors how to preach expository sermons, build churches, reach out to communities and care for other pastors.  We have also helped them to purchase a tract of land which includes a working farm and hopefully a future Bible school.  Giving to this project will enable us to continue sending theological training teams and to invest in the working farm that helps supply funds and food for our Christian brothers and sisters in Cuba. 

People should also know that Palm Vista Community Church in Miami Lakes, Florida decided to leave SGM last Sunday.   Al Pino and Jim Britt are two of the pastors there.  Al led our involvement in Cuba from the beginning in 2001.  Jim has been extensively involved also. 

The churches and pastors in Cuba are primarily joined to these men, not to SGM as an organization.  The partnership between Palm Visa and Sovereign Grace has ended.  I imagine the same is true for Iglesia Pentecostal Gracia Soberana and Sovereign Grace.  

Given this development, Mark Prater and the Executive Committee have a responsibility to inform everyone in SGM since Cuba is highlighted in the fund raising brochure.   I doubt that will happen.  As a result, people with continue giving money to SGM with outreach to Cuba in mind never knowing they are no longer affiliated with SGM.   

The World Missions budget of 178k was approved by the Executive Committee and affirmed by the national Council of Elders.  The Council of Elders is comprised of one representative from each church – typically the senior pastor.  All of these men used the misleading promotional piece in order to raise funds for the 3.5 million budget.  That is unscrupulous.

If Mark Prater, the Executive Committee, the national Council of Elders, and the Leadership Team were honest they would have made it clear in “Hope Abounding” that SGM is hardly giving any money to World Missions in 2014!  Therefore, don’t give to SGM with that misconception in mind!  Instead, give to SGM in order to the cover the estimated budget deficit of $308,000 for our practically defunct Pastors College! 

One last point.  It is a marketing ploy to refer to these international involvements as “Strategic Global Projects.”  It they were strategic global projects, Sovereign Grace Ministries would be investing strategic global money! 

Instead, Cuba, the Philippines, South Korea, Zambia and Mexico are being used to raise “global money” to fund SGM in the United States.  These five nations will receive next to nothing in aid or assistance.

SGM is desperate for cash but this is a deplorable way to raise it!

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