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Dave Brown’s Letter of Resignation Underscores the Serious Issues Surrounding P.J. Symth & the Remaining Covenant Life Pastors

P.J. Smyth is the former lead pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  He replaced Joshua Harris, who replaced C.J. Mahaney.  I have written at length about P.J. Smyth because he repeatedly lied to Covenant Life Church in order to get the job and keep the job.  No one should trust him. 

Two days after P.J.’s installment as lead pastor on January 29, 2017, a major story broke in the United Kingdom about his father, John Smyth.  John was a well-known evangelical leader, noted barrister and Queen’s Counsel.  He was also a sexual sadist.  He violently beat 25 young men in England and 90 boys in Zimbabwe with sexual motivation.  He died on August 11, 2018 just before he was about to be prosecuted for his crimes in England. 

John Smyth was a master of manipulation.  So is his son, P.J.  When Cathy Newman at Channel 4 News UK broke the story after six month investigation, P.J. immediately denied all knowledge of all allegations of abuses against his father.  He was lying!  P.J. was well aware of the abuse in United Kingdom and knew all about the abuse in Zimbabwe.  He even observed it.  Moreover, he worked to prevent his father’s deportation and criminal conviction in Zimbabwe.  This is all documented in great detail.  There is no doubt about P.J.’s grandiose lying and deception. 

Three months ago I wrote the following post.  Here is an excerpt.  

Five Covenant Life Pastors Who Resigned Talk about Sin Issues with Lead Pastor P.J. Smyth that Led to His Firing  
Monday, July 9, 2018 at 11:30PM 

I received the document below about P.J. Smyth on Saturday night.  You can read the original here.  It was put together by a group of individuals at Covenant Life Church in conjunction with the five pastors who recently resigned in a collective effort to inform members of the sin issues related to P.J. in preparation for a members’ meeting last night (Sunday) where P.J.’s planting a church in the area was announced.   

An editor and group of compilers gathered the information from the following pastors who have resigned.  They are Bo Lotinksy (chairman of the elder board), Tim Harvey (vice-chairman of the elder board), Dave Brown, David Finch and Adam Malcolm.  They all want the truth about P.J. to be known because the remaining pastors (henceforth referred to as elders) are keeping it from the church.

One of the pastors mentioned above is Dave Brown.  Here is his old CLC biography.

Dave Brown

Dave was born in 1947 in Athens, Ohio, and raised there.  Although his grandfather was a pastor, Dave did not grow up in a Christian home.  With a largely absent father, he searched for affirmation, recognition, significance and success in the things and ways of the world. 

In a government career that began in 1969, he quickly climbed the ladder of success, title, position, and power on Capitol Hill.  By 1980 the shallowness and futility of those pursuits plunged him into a crisis of the purpose and meaning of his life. It was on an evening walk in March 1980 that his mind’s eye beheld Christ on the cross.  For the first time, Dave knew that Christ hung there taking his sins upon himself, absorbing the wrath he deserved for his rebellion.  He also realized his heart had been strangely changed as he experienced new affections for God and the things of God.  Thereafter, his new path was firmly set on a passionate, lifelong pursuit of knowing and loving God. 

Dave writes, “Later I better understood what happened to me on that evening walk and what continues to impact me every day when I first read this in John Stott’s Commentary on Galatians, “Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you.  It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’   Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross.  All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary.  It is there, at the foot of the cross that we shrink to our true size.”

Dave graduated from Ohio University in 1969 and completed the Senior Managers in Government Program at Harvard University in 1989.  He received theological training from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) and Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS).  In 1998 Dave retired from the Federal Government after a 30-year career serving in Congress, the Executive Branch and the Executive Office of the President. 

Since 1998, Dave has served as the men’s pastor in a mega-church and currently directs and pastors a non-profit, para-church ministry that equips over 700 churches across the country in their ministry to men.  Over the past 26 years Dave has often preached and led Sunday worship at Washington House in Alexandria, Va. 

Dave and his wife Susan first attended Covenant Life on several Sundays during a sabbatical in 2004 and were greatly encouraged by its worship, preaching and sense of family.  In April 2010 it became apparent that the Lord was moving them to a new home church, and they returned to visit Covenant Life.  That summer the Browns became members. 

Dave and Susan reside in Kensington, Md., and have three adult children and two granddaughters.  They lead a care group in their home and Dave serves on committees dealing with Covenant Life constitutional and organizational changes.  He has also recently been leading the creation of the new Covenant Life Men’s Community, a ministry designed for the men of the church. 

Dave describes himself as most passionate about teaching the Bible, theology, and servant leadership.  He writes, “God has enabled me to largely pursue that passion in ministering to men across the country.” 

In his spare time, Dave enjoys family gatherings, visiting his grandchildren in Colorado, vacationing at bed-and-breakfasts with Susan, reading “thick” theology, blogging, studying the Civil War, playing golf and rooting for the Nationals and Redskins.

As Dave prepares to become a non-staff elder at Covenant Life, he writes, “For some time I’ve had a strong sense and affirmation that the Lord has called me to Covenant Life and to this role.  He providentially brought Susan and me here in 2010 and has opened up many opportunities to learn and to grow and to serve.  In many ways, I believe my 70 years have been preparation for this leadership position – for such a time as this!”  Dave asks for prayer that he might boldly proclaim the gospel and that he might fight the good fight and finish strong. 

Just recently, I received a copy of Dave’s resignation letter from May 9, 2018.  It underscores the many issues related to P.J. Smyth and the CLC pastoral team.  It follows in entirety. 

May 9, 2018 

Dear Brothers, 

With sorrow and sobriety I hereby resign from the Covenant Life Board of Elders.  God called me to this noble responsibility and I’ve served with much joy, purpose and desire to be useful to this team.  It is time now for me to move on to steward other ministries and to serve in new Kingdom work.  In addition, Susan and I have grown in faith and fellowship here.  We’re grateful for these last eight years.  It is with deepest regret we’ve concluded it is best we leave this church we love and move into the next chapter the Lord has written for us. 

Twice I cast votes that PJ is not a good fit for our church and we are not a good fit for him and consequently we should part ways.  I also voted not to recant or reverse my votes.  Each time I reckoned that my vote could lead the church to split or splinter.  This has weighted heavily upon me.  Yet given what I saw to be ultimately at stake I could not go against my conscience.  For me, the significant issues relating to PJ’s fitness as Lead Elders – exegetical preaching, servant leadership, where authority resides, plurality of elders, pastoring the BOE [Board of Elders] and flock, the Advance/New Frontiers influence over the church, personal accountability, and character and integrity concerns – are critical to the future good of the church.  Several of these serious issues were discuss tangentially and left largely unproved. 

I regret my failure to help the Board better vet and communicate its decisions.  It needlessly seeded confusion, distrust and division in the congregation.  It also brought into question what I believe was the soundness of our previous decisions. It is unfortunate the reasons behind the large majority votes were never really aired to the FAC [Financial Advisory Committee], other stakeholders, and the congregation.  In time I hope the story of what happened and why will get told.  This new governance structure that is being put into place will need to address and resolve this unfinished business.  I know this for sure – one day I’ll stand before the Lord and give an account for not only my votes but also for my words and motivations. 

Throughout this lengthy process, I’ve striven for grace and truth, and tried not to put one over the other.  Tim Keller says it this way, “Truth without grace is not really truth.  And grace without truth is not really grace.”  We cannot be particularly strong on grace and weak on truth.  If we fail to be gracious or if we fail to speak truth, we fail to be like Jesus. 

It has been a distinct privilege and high honor to have served with you dear brothers.  I respect each of you and admire your many and varied gifts to the church.  I’ve been blessed and made a better man by your personal decency, humility, and friendship.  In my nearly fifty years of public service and pastoral ministry, I’ve worked with some truly great, honorable men, been on amazing teams, served on boards of directors, and have several bands of brothers, but you men have been battle buddies for this old soldier of the Cross. 

I shall continue to seek your fellowship and to pray for your fruitful ministries through His lavish generosity.  Please continue to invest in the men of this church and the community the Lord is building for them.  Prioritize the Care and Counseling Ministry that’s needed now more than ever.  Above all, unconditionally, sacrificially, love and lead your families no matter what! 

God is sovereignly building His church.  What that will look like, time will tell, but I am confident it will be for the good of His people, and the glory of His matchless honor.  

Locking Arms Together for the Sake of the Gospel, 


Dave Brown 

This is the key paragraph as it pertains to P.J. 

“Yet given what I saw to be ultimately at stake I could not go against my conscience.  For me, the significant issues relating to PJ’s fitness as Lead Elder – exegetical preaching, servant leadership, where authority resides, plurality of elders, pastoring the BOE and flock, the Advance/New Frontiers influence over the church, personal accountability, and character and integrity concerns – are critical to the future good of the church.  Several of these serious issues were discuss tangentially and left largely unprobed.” 

There were “significant issues relating to P.J.’s fitness as Lead Elder.”  He mentions eight. 

  1. Exegetical preaching – P.J. tended to preach topically and was not careful to exegete passages of Scripture.
  2. Servant leadership – this is a reference to his lack of servant leadership.
  3. Where authority resides – P.J. wanted final authority to reside in him as lead pastor
  4. Plurality of elders – P.J. often acted independently rather than in concert with the elders.
  5. Pastoring the BOE and flock – P.J promised to pastor the Board of Elders and church.  He broke his promise.  The elders thought he would be caring for them.  The church thought he would be among them.  He was uncaring and aloof.
  6. The Advance/New Frontiers influence over the church - it was always P.J.’s intent for CLC to be part of these groups.  He is the “the global leader” in Advance and a top apostle in New Frontiers.  CLC was to become the headquarters for Advance.  This was concealed from CLC.  Advance/New Frontiers leaders sought to lord it over the Covenant Life pastors and stop them when they decided to part ways with P.J. in April 2018.
  7. Personal accountability – there were serious concerns for the lack of accountability in P.J.’s life.
  8. Character and integrity concerns – this is the most important item on the list and yet the CLC pastors refused to deal with it.  For instance, they knowingly defended P.J.’s integrity when they knew, in fact, he was lying about having no knowledge his father’s criminal abuse. 

Dave concludes with this indicting observation.  “Several of these serious issues were discuss tangentially and left largely unprobed.”  The CLC pastors were more concerned with propping P.J. up.  They catered to him in order to avoid another disaster.  In so doing, they brought a disaster upon themselves. 

P.J. officially launches his new “Monument Church” in November.  He is taking hundreds of people with him.  That is bad, but what is worse, is the fact he remains in ministry and the remaining pastors at CLC don’t have the courage or conviction to stop him. 

Their corrupt and foolish enablement continues and it will only lead to more harm.  P.J. is like C.J.  Destruction follows in these men’s paths.

Related Articles in Chronological Order 

Lead Pastor P.J. Smyth Deceives Covenant Life Church About Knowledge of John Smyth’s Violent Beating of Boys
Friday, March 3, 2017 at 6:52AM
New & Indisputable Evidence Proves P.J. Smyth Knew All About Father’s Violent Beating of Boys – He & Pastors Continue to Deceive Covenant Life Church Despite My Appeals
Friday, March 2, 2018 at 2:40PM
P.J. Smyth & Mark Mitchell Refuse to Answer Question at Members’ Meeting About Reliable Witnesses Calling P.J. a Liar for Denying Knowledge of Father’s Violent Beating of Boys
Thursday, April 5, 2018 at 5:38PM
My Letters to the Apostolic Leaders of Advance and Newfrontiers Asking Them to Remove P.J. Smyth from Leadership in Their Global Ministries
Friday, April 20, 2018 at 1:47PM
Communications Director, Greg Somerville, Exalts Covenant Life Pastors but Censors Criticism in “Miracle Territory” 
Monday, May 14, 2018 at 2:34PM
Erin Hill’s Disturbing “Hate” Mail & Bad Theology Illustrates Indifference to Extraordinary Deceit of Lead Pastor P.J. Smyth by Most Covenant Life Members
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 3:10PM
P.J. Smyth to Announce this Sunday Whether He Is Leaving or Staying as Lead Pastor of Covenant Life Church
Thursday, June 7, 2018 at 12:19PM
P.J. Smyth Tells Covenant Life Church, “I Cannot Re-Engage as Your Lead Pastor” Because of Divisions & Dissensions – Will Likely Plant Church in Area with Interested Members 
Tuesday, July 3, 2018 at 7:20PM
Five Covenant Life Pastors Who Resigned Talk about Sin Issues with Lead Pastor P.J. Smyth that Led to His Firing  
Monday, July 9, 2018 at 11:30PM
The Upheaval at Covenant Life Church Is Very Concerning Especially the Six Choices to Attend P.J. Smyth’s Launch of “Monument Church”
Sunday, July 29, 2018 at 10:16PM
John Smyth, Father of P.J. Smyth, Dies of ‘Heart Attack’ Just as Criminal Prosecution Begins for Beating of Boys & Young Men  
Monday, August 13, 2018 at 7:35PM

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