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Removed From Ministry

This week the elders made the difficult decision that Mark Mitchell should no longer serve as a pastor at Covenant Life. … The change to his role on the board of elders is effective immediately and his last day on staff will be October 8.

This is a kindness from God. Mark Mitchell should have been removed from ministry several years ago. He has been the Executive Pastor at Covenant Life Church since 2013. He served in that capacity under Joshua Harris, P.J. Smyth, and recently, Kevin Rogers.

During these years, he played a central role in covering up the sexual abuse of children at Covenant Life Church. He was the one who worked closely with Lars Liebeler from the law firm Thaler-Liebeler LLP in doing the fraudulent investigation of sexual abuse. He even called four of the victims in the lawsuit against Covenant Life Church, liars. I’d suggest this article.

Mitchell also covered up for P.J. Smyth when he lied to the church in February 2017 saying he had no knowledge of his famous father’s horrific beating of young men in England and boys in Zimbabwe. Symth was Joshua Harris’s replacement. In fact, Symth sought to protect his father from criminal prosecution for his crimes in Zimbabwe. He knew all about them and even observed some of them. His lies to CLC were audacious.

Symth hid this knowledge from the Search Committee and CLC pastors when he applied for the job. He is a conniver. I exposed him as a result of my close interaction with key victims and investigators in his father’s case. Once exposed, Mitchell and the CLC pastors decided to cover up for Symth rather than expose him and fire him. But it wasn’t long until they began to have serious conflicts with Symth over other issues. They fired him in April 2018, when through months of turmoil, and finally parted ways. You can read this article for more information.

Mark Mitchell is not a man of integrity and I have been the recipient of his anger on many occasions. I am not surprised the CLC pastors were forced to remove him from ministry. This is another expression of God’s discipline. In July 2011, Covenant Life Church (C.J. Mahaney’s base) had approximately 23 full-time pastors. They are down to four and one is the school principal. They have never dealt with their compromised handling of Mahaney, corruption regarding Symth, and criminal cover-up of sexual abuse going back many years. It is no wonder they have been brought low.

Here is the letter to CLC members about Mitchell. It follows their July 26 letter about Josh Harris.

Dear Covenant Life Family,

I’m writing on behalf of the elders to make you aware of a change on our pastoral team. This week the elders made the difficult decision that Mark Mitchell should no longer serve as a pastor at Covenant Life. Mark has been involved in the process and is supportive of this decision. The change to his role on the board of elders is effective immediately and his last day on staff will be October 8. This is a very sad and sobering development for all of us - for the elders, for Mark and his family, and for those of you who’ve known and followed Mark for many years. Let me take a moment to explain what I can about how we arrived at this decision.

Last November, the elders became aware of patterns of sin in Mark’s life, primarily expressed in his home, including outbursts of anger. At that time, we reduced Mark’s responsibilities and provided a three month sabbatical, understanding Mark had been under tremendous stress for some time. We also provided biblical counseling, personal coaching, and ongoing support.

After his sabbatical, we established a transitional role for Mark which I shared about at the members meeting in July. This allowed Mark to serve in meaningful but limited ways while he worked on personal growth with ongoing counseling and support. The plan was for this arrangement to go through the end of the year when we would re-evaluate.

Since that time, we’ve seen Mark grow in many ways. And he has been responsive to our leadership and the direction of his counselors. However, certain areas of concern have persisted and, at times, increased. We have now reached the point where Mark, the elders, and others who have been involved in his care, agree that it is best for Mark, his family, and the church that he no longer continue in pastoral ministry at this time.

This is especially difficult because each and every elder on the team loves Mark dearly. And we’ve continued to enjoy strong personal relationships throughout this time. At the same time we’re sobered by Paul’s charge in 1 Timothy 5:21 to weigh a fellow elder’s fitness for ministry without partiality.

We will continue to provide counseling and other support for a time to help make this transition as smooth as we can for Mark and his family. And we will continue to do all we can to come alongside them as a church, trusting that God will continue to be at work, conforming Mark more and more into the image of Christ in the days to come.

If you have questions about this, please get in touch with any elder. We know this will be difficult to process for many of you. We’re eager to help you in any way we can. Please be praying for Mark and his family as he makes this transition.

In love,

Kevin [Rogers]


Mark Mitchell

Executive Pastor

Born in Los Angeles to Jamaican parents, Mark responded to the gospel at age 8 in Tampa, Fla., which became home after family moves that took him from the Bronx, N.Y., to Port Antonio, Jamaica.

Graduating high school as class valedictorian (two weeks after turning 16), Mark went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from University of Florida (1988) and Georgia Tech (’90). In God’s plan, he put aside a science-based career to answer the call to pastoral ministry.

In 1993, newly married and 25, Mark embarked on more than two years of evaluation by serving our Singles Ministry while working full time. “I began to realize that my ‘passion’ for my job was diminishing, and my passion for serving in the church was growing,” he recalls.

Mark joined our pastoral team in April 1996. He taught and led Singles Ministry until 2002, when he took on oversight of Mercy Ministries. He gradually became more involved in the Alpha ministry (now Introducing God), teaching sessions, eventually assuming its full leadership in 2004 and responsibility for all Outreach Ministries in 2007 as Outreach Pastor.

Mark stepped into the role of Executive Pastor in 2013, drawing from his background as an engineer, his strategic leadership gifts and his pastoral heart in supporting the lead pastor in executing the vison of the church.

Mark, his wife Terri, and their adult children (two sons and a daughter) all reside in the Gaithersburg area.

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This article was originally published on and is posted here with permission from the author Brent Detwiler. For more information, articles and to support Brent and his ministry, please visit his website.


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