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Tuesday
Sep252018

Did ARBCA Officials Illegally Divert Money from Mission Fund to Support the Legal Defense of Convicted Felon Tom Chantry?

Todd Wilhelm at Thou Art the Man has a posted an article titled, Who’s Funding Chantry’s Defense?  He is referring to Tom Chanty, a noted pastor in the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA), who was recently found guilty of physically assaulting two children.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday [delayed to Oct.19] 

Two more trials (one if combined) are forthcoming to prosecute him on 8 counts of sexual molestation, 4 counts of aggravated assault, and 1 count of child abuse.  The Judge imposed a bond of 1 million dollars in cash.  It has not been paid.  Chantry is in the Yavapai County Jail in Camp Verde, AZ.  He should be going to prison for life. 

Chantry learned he was being investigated in February 2016.  That is when he sought legal counsel.  He was arrested in July 2016.  John Sears has been his lawyer from the time of his arrest 26 months ago.  He is an accomplished criminal defense lawyer.  His hourly fee is at least $300-$400 per hour.  More when lawyering in the courtroom and at trial.  That doesn’t include the cost of his investigator and support staff.  

I conservatively estimate the following.  26 months x 4 weeks = 104 weeks.  104 weeks x 15 hrs. per week = 1,560 hours.  1,560 hours x $600/hr. = $936,000.  Total legal fees could easily be over a million dollars and there is no end in sight. 

And then there are countless court fees and the exorbitant fee paid for an “expert” witness.  In addition, there are expenses for flights, meals, and accommodations related to multiple trips to Arizona from Illinois for hearings, the trial, jailing, etc.  All the while, the Chantry’s and other top ARBCA pastors have been telling people to help him out financially because he is innocent.  But there is more.  

In July 2017, I was contacted by “Cypher2017.”  He provided me information about monies allegedly being taken from the ARBCA mission fund and diverted to Chantry’s legal defense.  This must be investigated by pastors and members who remain in ARBCA and are concerned for the truth.  There has been a lot of corruption surrounding the protection of Tom Chanty going back to 2000.  It continues to this day. 

Therefore, I am making this evidence public regarding the diverting of ARBCA funds to Chantry's legal defense.  It is altogether conceivable.  This material also sheds light on what was happening behind the scenes in relation to Chantry's church acceptance into ARBCA, the motivation to exonerate Chantry of criminal charges, the real issues behind the impassibility controversy (i.e. God is without passions per the 1689 Baptist Confession), and sinful characteristics of top leaders.               

Yesterday, Cypher posted this comment on Thou Art the Man. 

Cypher
September 24, 2018

The questions to be asked involve the correspondence between the Chantry controversy and the “Impassibility” doctrinal controversy, both within ARBCA, both coming to a head at similar times.  The doctrinal controversy resulted in nearly 1/3 of ARBCA churches either being disfellowshipped or leaving the association.  Along with this, a large number of missionaries suddenly became orphaned and defunded.  Yet the missions fund continued to collect money – and disburse it.

I wish I had copies of records to show.  Unfortunately, I’m one of those who was forced out and those records are sealed.  But the head of the AC [Administrative Council] at the time [Douglas VanderMeulen] when both these controversies were converging not only knows, but was instrumental in key decisions to redirect certain funds for legal defense, intended to protect the association from exposure.

Let’s all hope and pray that providence will provide for them to be fully exposed anyway.

As a result, I decided to post my correspondence with Cypher from 2017.  It is much more detailed.  I’ve added notes in brackets [ ] . 

## 

From: Cypher2017
Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2017 11:03 PM
To: abrentdetwiler@gmail.com
Subject: Chantry/ARBCA

I don’t desire my identity to become known in this matter.  But I do desire for truth to become known, and justice to be done.  I’ve stayed in ARBCA despite the recent doctrinal and political controversies, mainly in order to help insure that truth doesn’t become buried.  To this end I write you now. 

The ARBCA AC (Administrative Council), headed at the time [2014-2015] by Douglas VanderMeulen (Fargo, ND), was then, and is currently supplying funding for the legal defense of Tom Chantry.  This includes bail funds, as well as payments to the Lawyer in charge of Chantry’s defense.  Such use of ARBCA funds is highly irregular and is being held a close secret.  VanderMeulen no longer serves on the AC, but continues to oversee the usage of ARBCA funds toward the exoneration of Chantry.  He is central to this matter, but being kept in the shadows to protect the real power-brokers ([Jim] Renihan, [Earl] Blackburn, et al)...

By VanderMeulen’s background work, Chantry is currently out on bail (provided by ARBCA funding, though unbeknownst to the ARBCA churches who contribute these monies).  Chantry’s lawyer is being paid and advised to prolong proceedings as long as possible. 

This is a closely guarded secret, and entirely politically motivated.  The AC approved Chantry’s church for membership, has overlooked his crimes, and continues to defend his reputation and approve funding for his defense - but only because his reputation is inextricably tied to that of ARBCA.  They are willing to overlook crimes against children to preserve their association and personal reputations. 

From within I can attest that this organization is corrupt at the highest levels. 

Please pass this information along to existing ARBCA churches, as I already have, that all may understand the corruption that they are passively involved with. 

 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Friday, July 14, 2017 5:55 PM
To: Cypher2017
Subject: RE: Chantry/ARBCA 

Hello “Cypher,”

Thanks for contacting me with this information.  It is very important and I want to get the word out as best I can.  Could you answer some questions for me?  They are probing questions – some of which you may not care to answer.  If so, I understand.  I just want to take the opportunity to learn as much from you as you are able or willing to share.  See below.  [I responded to Cypher’s email with comments and questions that are in bold italic print.] 


From: Cypher2017
Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2017 11:03 PM
To: abrentdetwiler@gmail.com
Subject: Chantry/ARBCA

I don’t desire my identity to become known in this matter.  But I do desire for truth to become known, and justice to be done.  I’ve stayed in ARBCA despite the recent doctrinal and political controversies, mainly in order to help insure that truth doesn’t become buried.  To this end I write you now. 

That is fine regarding your desire for anonymity.  Can you tell me, are you a pastor in ARBCA?  I’ll keep your answer confidential.  How long have you been in ARBCA?  Do you care to comment on “the recent doctrinal and political controversies”? 

Does your main concern for truth and justice concern the funding issue?  Do you think Tom is guilty of sexual molestation and aggravated assault?  Do you think all the power brokers realize he is guilty but are covering up for him?  Do know if a trial date has been set?

Regarding the alleged crimes, do most of the pastors at large in ARBCA think he is innocent?  There is no question, top ARBCA leaders have put him forward as the victim, not victimizer.  They have compared him to Jesus, Joseph, etc.  Tom is suffering for righteousness [according to them].

The ARBCA AC (Administrative Council), headed at the time by Douglas VanderMeulen (Fargo, ND), was then, and is currently supplying funding for the legal defense of Tom Chantry.  This includes bail funds, as well as payments to the Lawyer in charge of Chantry’s defense.  Such use of ARBCA funds is highly irregular and is being held a close secret.  VanderMeulen no longer serves on the AC, but continues to oversee the usage of ARBCA funds toward the exoneration of Chantry.  He is central to this matter, but being kept in the shadows to protect the real power-brokers (Renihan, Blackburn, et al)...

I sent VanderMeulen a friend request today and he accepted.  He is now following me on Facebook.  I suppose he would respond to me if I wrote him.  I have not done so at this point. 

Do you know how much money ARBCA has contributed to the defense fund?  How did you find this out?  Do you have, or can you get, any physical evidence for me?

Do you know the total in bail funds and lawyer fees to date?  I was told about the defense fund in May [2017] when members at Christ Reformed Baptist Church were asked to contribute.  That was two months ago.  The lawyer’s fees had reached 100k and were expected to double. 

Can you clarify for me how things are set up?  I assume it is a personal defense fund and ARBCA contributes to it from money given to ARBCA by members intended to fund the collective mission?  Do churches give to this fund also?  Do the pastors know ARBCA monies are going to Tom’s defense?   

From my perspective, using ARBCA monies to defend a pastor in a criminal case is likely illegal because it is not in keeping with the mission of ARBCA.  Non-profit contributions cannot be used to defend an alleged sexual sadist who is well connected to the ARBCA elite. 

What else can you tell me about “the real power-brokers (Renihan, Blackburn, et al)”?  Who is on the AC currently?  I know Steve Martin is the current ARBCA Coordinator.   He was on the AC when they investigated Tom in 2000-2001.  He must be part of the coverup.  What is your opinion of him?  

By the way, can you get me the report that was written by the mediating committee [i.e., the Informal Council] that investigated Tom in 2001 [correction: December 2000].  The committee wanted it shared with the ARBCA churches but were stopped by the administrative committee [correction: not true].

What do you think of Walt and Joey [Joie]?  They must know Tom is guilty.  The same with Karen.  And yet they defend him as completely innocent.  That is so corrupt. 

By VanderMeulen’s background work, Chantry is currently out on bail (provided by ARBCA funding, though unbeknownst to the ARBCA churches who contribute these monies).  Chantry’s lawyer is being paid and advised to prolong proceedings as long as possible. 

What does “By VanderMeulen’s background work” mean?  Looks like a typo. 

Can you send me a link to the fund? 

What is the reason for prolonging the proceedings?  I assume to give Tom more time with his wife and children before going to prison.

This is a closely guarded secret, and entirely politically motivated.  The AC approved Chantry’s church for membership, has overlooked his crimes, and continues to defend his reputation and approve funding for his defense - but only because his reputation is inextricably tied to that of ARBCA.  They are willing to overlook crimes against children to preserve their association and personal reputations. 

You are exactly right!  How did you discover this “closely guarded secret”?  Who are the main culprits?  Can you provide any internal correspondence from ARBCA officials defending Tom’s “innocence” or about the defense fund or anything else incriminating?

From within I can attest that this organization is corrupt at the highest levels. 

What other evidences of corruption have you seen?

Please pass this information along to existing ARBCA churches, as I already have, that all may understand the corruption that they are passively involved with. 

I have all the pastors’ email addresses.  I can pass this information on to them and I can post it on my Facebook page and on BrentDetwiler.com and put out via Tweeter.  I can also pass it on to other bloggers.  Are there other ways I can get it to ordinary church members?  Do you have a list of email addresses you would like me to send the information to?

Well, that’s enough for now.  Thanks so much for being willing to get the truth out.  Internal corruption in so many ministries has brought so much harm to God’s people.  I hope through our efforts the “bad guys” are exposed and replaced for the sake of Christ. 

I look forward to hearing from you again.

Brent


From: Cypher2017
Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 2:06 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: RE: Chantry/ARBCA

I’ve been in ARBCA long enough to know that this is often how things happen in this organization.  There are a few men of influence who work, often behind the scenes, to push an agenda.  Sometimes the agenda is doctrinal, and always its political.  Jim Renihan is, in my perspective, the ring leader.  Like The Godfather... not on the AC [Administrative Council], but behind the scenes wielding influence through shame, intimidation, and coercion.  VanderMeulen is his right hand lackey.  Recently nearly 1/3 of ARBCA churches resigned over a forced doctrinal issue that was incredibly divisive.  We all understood that more important to Renihan, et.al than the actual doctrinal position (Divine Impassibility) was using it as an opportunity to disfellowship certain undesirable men from the association.  Tom Chantry was also a major player in this, arguing for the exclusion of any and all who would not agree in full with this hair-splitting position.  Many who left did, in fact agree with the doctrinal formulation, but not with making it a point of fellowship or disfellowship.  They too were forced out. 

As to whether I think Chantry is guilty of sexual crimes, I suppose on the one hand, I want the legal process to run its course before concluding anything definitively.  On the other hand, the evidence seems serious, and the multiple witnesses are compelling.  I think we all understand that something seriously sinful went on with Tom, and that it was never adequately investigated or dealt with in our circle.  To ignore the appeals of Prescott [the Miller Valley Baptist Church elders – Chris J. Marley, Chris L. Marley, Rich Howe, Eric Owens ] and allow the Hales Corner church [Christ Reformed Baptist Church] to officially join ARBCA was foolish at best.  But the allegations and issues in Tom were overlooked in favor of his doctrinal acumen, his popularity as a blogger and author, and his outspoken support of the Renihan doctrine and political agenda.  He was useful, and so the sin was overlooked. 

Now it’s come to haunt them, and they’re scrambling to do damage control.  Why do you think that VanderMeulen left the AC so quickly? [VanderMeulen was chairman of the AC in 2014-2015.  He left and was not on the AC in 2015-2016.]  He was on just in time to ram the Impassibility doctrine through and enforce the removal of the undesirable men and churches.  Then soon as the Chantry debacle went public, he was off the AC.  Because he was a defender of Chantry, and had worked to get Hales Corner installed in time to be an official vote in favor of the agenda. 

I don’t have access to bookkeeping records to supply you proof, but it is true that ARBCA funds that are supposed to be designated to missions, the IRBC [Institute for Reformed Baptist Studies Theological Seminary, Mansfield, TX], school, and other projects are being siphoned from to provide funds to Tom’s legal expenses.  Bail (I think 25% of the total bail was needed to pay the bondsman in order to secure the bond loan to get Tom out).  He has the most expensive lawyer [John Sears] in AZ.  How does a pastor from Wisconsin afford that?  He gets by with a little help from his friends, that’s how.  If questions are asked about whether funds are being directed to Tom’s legal expenses, it’s simply denied, but the books are kept hidden and secret.  They’re not available publicly or to the general association.  I believe monies are being diverted from the missions fund, because there is a lot of money available there since a number of churches were forced out recently, leaving their missionaries stranded without ARBCA support.  Now that money can be used for Tom.  I’ve been told this by people who can see it for themselves.           

I’m sorry I can’t prove it definitively with actual documentation.  But I don’t have access. … I wanted to pass this information along to someone who has a public voice and might be able to do something about it.  

Thank you, sincerely. 

 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 5:12 PM
To: Cypher2017
Subject: RE: Chantry/ARBCA 

Do the monies contributed to ARBCA come from individuals or from the churches or from both?  More to follow. 

 

From: Cypher2017
Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 6:55 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: RE: Chantry/ARBCA 

Both.  

My concern is twofold: there is a designated fund (known) to help Tom, which I have misgivings about.  But more importantly (and insidiously) is that monies are being directed to Tom from other funds such as missions, and this is being done secretively.  I know that Doug VanderMeulen had a hand in this, and is working in various ways to provide aRBCA resources to Tom’s legal defense.  I can only assume that this is because of the great embarrassment Tom’s conviction would be to ARBCA, and to those like VanderMeulen who lobbied for his membership in ARBCA in spite of the known allegations and protests (from Prescott).  

So, yes, I do believe that those in positions of influence in ARBCA are knowingly engaged in coverup.  Most pastors in ARBCA would say (as I have) “innocent until proven guilty” in a court of law, technically.  But most all of us recognize the seriousness of the evidence and corroborating testimonies against him (from multiple people, in multiple locations, across multiple years... hard to imagine a conspiracy there...)  

The current AC is comprised of Earl Blackburn (Chair), Jeff Massey (vice), Brandon Smith (secretary) and Rob Cosby (treasurer).  I honestly don’t know about Walt or the rest of Tom’s family.  I believe that they desperately want him to be found not-guilty, but that they all know, deep down, that he is guilty.  I have high regard for Walt, and believe he must understand this objectively, and not be involved in any coverup.  

The 2001 [2000] report is not accessible, which I find quite troubling.  If it contains information substantiating Tom’s innocence, why conceal it?  And yet, subsequent to that report, Hales Corner was admitted into membership with Tom at the helm.  THAT seems a reason to conceal the report (as it likely contains embarrassing findings about Tom’s past behavior which they thought would remain in the past.  When it didn’t, they couldn’t afford to admit it.)  That seems to me to be the real motivation behind the funding and secrecy.  Trying to conceal truth for the sake of preserving the association and the reputations of those who helped Tom.  Meanwhile, truth is being suppressed, and victims are left without justice.  Shameful!  ARBCA should be the first to censure Tom publicly, and reach out to the victims with compassion and apology.  

 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 5:28 PM
To: Cypher2017
Subject: RE: Chantry/ARBCA

Cypher, 

I hope you are sitting down! 

I just had this exchange with Doug [Douglas VanderMeulen] on Facebook.  Is there any proof (like correspondence) showing ARBCA pastors know about the defense fund or have been told about the defense fund?  He denies all knowledge of any such fund.  And further, Doug denies all knowledge of any ARBCA money going into the defense fund.  I find his answers preposterous.  Even I know there is a legal defense fund.  

A few questions.  Do you know when Doug went on the AC and when he went off the AC?  Second.  You wrote, “The 2001 report is not accessible, which I find quite troubling.”  So do I.  Have ARBCA pastors asked to see the report [written by Tedd Tripp, Mike McKnight, & Rich Jensen re: Tom Chantry] and been denied access?  If so, on what basis? 

This exchange with Doug is very troubling in light of what you have shared with me.  I hope it can be used to show he is lying especially about having no knowledge of the defense fund. 

Brent 

Douglas VanderMeulen
Messenger

 Douglas VanderMeulen
You’re friends on Facebook
Went to Wilbert Tucker Woodson High School
Lives in Fargo, North Dakota 

July 19, 2017 at 3:35 PM
Brent:
Hello Doug.  Thanks for accepting my friend request.  I was recently told monies from the ARBCA mission fund are being given to Tom Chantry’s legal defense fund.  Do you know if that is true or not?  If true, do the pastors and members of ARBCA churches know that is the case?  Thanks for answering.  Brent  

Doug:
No I am not and have no knowledge of such a fund.  The ARBCA church in Rockford, IL is where Tom is attending.  They could tell you if such a fund is available. 

Brent:
I’m sorry, I’m a little confused.  Do you mean you don’t know if a legal defense fund has been set up for Tom?  Or do you mean you don’t know whether ARBCA monies have been contributed to the defense fund?  Thanks for your help.

Doug:
I’m unaware of any defense fund.  Also, I’m unaware of any ARBCA specific fund. 

Brent:
I was referring to the ARBCA general fund not any ARBCA specific fund for Tom. Cf. “Commit to make sacrificial contributions to the general fund, as the Lord prospers, for the well-being of the Association.” http://www.arbca.com/frequently-asked-questions.  So you have no knowledge of any general funds being used to help pay Tom’s legal expenses, correct? 

Doug:
Correct 

Brent:
Thanks for answering.

 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 5:38 PM
To: Cypher2017
Subject: RE: Chantry/ARBCA 

Just after I sent this to you I received this message from Doug on FB. 

5:33PM
Doug

Contact Al Huber at the Rockford church.  He’ll know whatever is going on or needed.

 

From: Cypher2017
Sent: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 11:50 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: RE: Chantry/ARBCA 

He’s lying, but I’m frankly not surprised in the least.  It’s what he does to get what he needs.  He sees the cause of ARBCA as so important as to justify dishonesty, slander, and duplicity. 

He’s a narcissist, in the technical sense, and quite possibly a sociopath.  He has no remorse for people who get hurt while he’s defending the cause.  I say that dispassionately.  I have no personal feelings toward the man.  But it’s the observation of a number of people that Vandermeulen lacks Christian character and compassion, and is an autocratic man capable of ruthlessness.  Seek the perspective of some of those who were run out of ARBCA in 2015, and they will corroborate about Vandermeulen’s character.  

I don’t know if Al Huber knows anything or not, but Vandermeulen surely does.  You’re right that is preposterous for him to deny it.  It’s also quite telling.  Passing the buck on to Rockford only makes sense if he’s got something to hide. 

Unfortunately I have no written correspondence to share as evidence.  It exists, I assure you.  But I don’t have access to emails or letters, especially from anyone on the AC.  They’re pretty careful about that.  And I’m not in a position in ARBCA to be privy.  Most of what I know is through conversations with a number of men who are either concerned (a few), or defensive of Chantry (more typical of current ARBCA men).  

Vandermeulen was on the AC for all of 2015, starting as secretary, and then (remarkably) as chairman right when the doctrinal controversy was about to be voted on.  He continued for part of 2016, and then dropped off the AC entirely.  Again, the timing coinciding with the Chantry affair was no accident.  

There are a number of men in ARBCA who have asked to see the 2001 [2000] report and been denied “for the sake of the privacy of the Chantry family.”  Honestly, a good number of the men in ARBCA are quite content to let this kind of thing go on.  It’s cultural in this association.  The ones who remain after the 2015 purge are far more interested in preserving a doctrinal legacy at all costs than they are protecting people.  Whole churches were cut off in 2015.  Missionaries in the field were left without support, and scrambled to figure out how to survive.  Some missionaries had to come back to the US, and suddenly find jobs.  ARBCA didn’t care about them.  Only about doctrinal precisionism.  The ones who are left are largely of the same mind and spirit.  Some have voiced concerns, but everyone knows not to get on the bad side of men like [Jim] Renihan, [Douglas] Vandermeulen and [Earl] Blackburn.  Being disfellowshipped and slandered is unpleasant.  

I think I’ve shared all that I have to share.  Maybe nothing can come of it since I’m not close enough to provide more tangible evidence.  But in my own conscience, I had to at least raise my voice. 

Thanks for listening and caring.  

 

From: Brent Detwiler  
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2017 4:56 PM
To: Cypher2017
Subject: RE: Chantry/ARBCA

Sorry for the delay.  Due to various demands, not indifference.  I have no doubt you are right.  These men have demonstrated they are untrustworthy beginning with the pronouncement that Tom was entirely innocent from the day he was arrested until the present.  That is the main reason they are asking people to give money to the defense fund.  No one wants to give to a sadistic pedophile. 

All your thoughts and information are valuable.  I appreciate the time you have taken to communicate.  I’m not sure how I will proceed but I will continue to cover this story.  Please feel free to write again if you become aware of additional information.  The Lord bless you.  May the Sovereign of heaven and earth bring about justice.     

## 

Conclusion

Cypher claims Douglas VanderMeulen “not only knows, but was instrumental in key decisions to redirect certain funds for legal defense, intended to protect the association from exposure.” 

VanderMeulen should be investigated along with those who allegedly decided to redirect the funds in an illegal manner.  If true, ARBCA should be reported to the IRS and law enforcement and VanderMeulen and his associates removed from ministry.

"Let’s all hope and pray that providence will provide for them to be fully exposed anyway."

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