C.J. Mahaney & Sovereign Church of Louisville Pulled Out of the Southern Baptist Convention When Asked About Sex Abuse Scandal but Continue to Deceive Public into Believing They Remain SBC Members in Good Standing.
J.D. Greear is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). In his first Presidential Address to the Executive Committee on February 18, 2019, he addressed the issue of child sex abuse within the SBC.
During his speech, he laid out a ten-part action plan to address it. Here is an excerpt from Part 10.
10. Our advisory group strongly believes that the governing documents of the Southern Baptist Convention should be reviewed and amended to address the definition of a cooperating church. We must take bold and decisive steps to send an unequivocal message: Churches that have a wanton disregard for sexual abuse and for caring for the survivors are not in good fellowship with this convention. “I am so thankful that the leadership of this Executive Committee has already been working on this initiative. Last night, our officers approved a proposed constitutional amendment. And tomorrow, this body will begin its consideration of this vitally important part of our response. “And based on existing constitutional authority, I am calling us to do our due diligence regarding churches among our convention who may well have already demonstrated a lack of good standing on this issue.”
Under this point he urged the following.
“I urge the bylaws workgroup of the administrative committee to take the necessary steps to determine whether the following churches meet the standards of having a faith and practice which closely identifies with the Convention’s adopted statement of faith as outlined in Article 3 of the SBC Constitution.”
Greear named ten churches for specific examination including Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville pastored by C.J. Mahaney. On February 19, he provided evidence to the Bylaws Workgroup of the Executive Committee. On February 23, the Bylaws Workgroup put out an extremely important public statement. It can be read here in entirety. The following are excerpts.
“The Bylaws Workgroup requested on February 19 that the president provide information he referenced as a ‘dossier’ containing the information upon which he based his naming of the churches, and he supplied that dossier to the workgroup on the afternoon of February 22. The workgroup immediately met on that day, and also on the next, and after lengthy and prayerful deliberation, voted to present this report in the next meeting of the Executive Committee.”
Seven of the ten churches were quickly exonerated by the Bylaws Workgroup saying, “We believe no further inquiry is warranted based on that information.” This resulted in Ken Alford resigning as Chairman of the Bylaws Workgroup on March 1 over outcries he conducted superficial reviews of the seven churches and for his past marital infidelity. He was replaced by the Vice-Chairman, Dr. Mark Ballard.
Even under these liberal circumstances, Mahaney’s church was not one of the seven churches cleared for lack of evidence. The Bylaws Workgroup wrote in their statement:
“Under the principles set out above, we make the following report with respect to the churches identified by President Greear to our Workgroup: Sovereign Grace Church, Louisville, Kentucky Information provided by the president includes the statement “two Great Commission Council member[s] went on the record about their concerns over the leadership and their previous handling of abuse cases within churches they led.” This information provides a basis upon which to believe the church may have evidenced indifference to sexual abuse. If the allegations prove to be true, the church may have violated (c) and/or (d). We believe further inquiry is warranted.”
The two Great Commission Council members were Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY and Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. I’d been sending both men evidence since January 2013 documenting the conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse of children by Mahaney and members of his staff at Covenant Life Church, Sovereign Grace Ministries, and Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville.
It was bad news indeed that Mohler and Akin “went on the record about their concerns over the leadership and their previous handling of abuse cases within churches they led.”
The Bylaws Workgroup pointed out, “If the allegations prove to be true, the church may have violated (c) and/or (d).” Here is the fuller context for that assertion taken from their public statement on February 23.
“The Convention, through its Executive Committee, should not disrupt the ministries of its churches by launching an inquiry until it has received credible information that the church has knowingly acted wrongfully in one of the four ways described in the proposed amendment: (a) employing a convicted sex offender, (b) allowing a convicted sex offender to work as a volunteer in contact with minors, (c) continuing to employ a person who unlawfully concealed from law enforcement information regarding the sexual abuse of any person by an employee or volunteer of the church, or (d) willfully disregarding compliance with mandatory child abuse reporting laws.”
Two days later the “SGCL Staff” responded on the church’s website. “SGCL” is Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. “Staff” was Mahaney, Bob Kauflin, Jeff Purswell, Gary Ricucci (C.J.’s brother-in-law), Brian Chesemore (C.J.’s son-in-law), and Steve Whitacre (C.J.’s son-in-law).
A Response to the SBC Executive Committee February 25, 2019 by SGCL Staff
On February 18-19, the Executive Committee of the SBC proposed an amendment to the SBC Constitution on sexual abuse. The amendment proposes four criteria in response to “indifference in addressing sexual abuse” in churches. We support this amendment, these criteria, and the godly impulses behind them. We believe just as strongly that Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville and its leadership are in full compliance with this proposed amendment. We are also aware of the statement by the SBC Bylaws Workgroup. Although we do not believe we should have been included on the list of churches submitted to the Bylaws Workgroup, we look forward to answering any questions the workgroup has for us.
Mahaney and his staff claimed they were “in full compliance with this proposed amendment.” That was an abject lie!
J.D. Greear responded the next day. The underlining is mine.
Statement from SBC President J.D. Greear: February 26, 2019 The Sexual Abuse Advisory Group and I are committed to continue working to foster environments of transparency, accountability and safety for all Southern Baptists. We have made several immediate recommendations and will bring forward more in the weeks to come. If mistakes were made by Southern Baptist churches in the past, they should be humbly and transparently addressed, and these churches should assure the Convention that their current policies are not only up to date, but have been implemented in ways that ensure the maximum safety of all who attend. Scripture commands that our good not be evil spoken of, which means that churches who face accusation should be eager to demonstrate that they are above reproach in their commitment to protect the vulnerable and expose abusers. While we do not presume the guilt of any, the advisory group and I believe that the public nature of these media accusations warrant a public response. In most situations in which a church’s handling of an abuse case has been challenged, we believe prudence demands dialogue not only with the churches themselves, but also victims, victim advocates, and other authorities directly involved in the documented reports to ensure that the churches have acted, and are acting, in ways consistent with the Southern Baptist Convention’s stated commitments to preventing abuse.
As I have said, faithfulness to Christ demands that we take this issue with the utmost seriousness. We serve a God who gave his life to protect the vulnerable. We dare not minimize, casually dismiss or take lightly allegations of abuse. We must never foster environments that discourage the abused from coming forward or that enables abusers to evade accountability. Wrong must never [be] swept under the rug. We must be committed to doing whatever it takes to prohibit predators from second chances to victimize the vulnerable. Local church autonomy should never be used as an excuse for a failure of accountability. Anything less belies the very gospel we are committed to proclaim. The gospel we preach is unambiguous, Christ is always on the side of the victimized, the weak, the abused. Always. Period.
Greear has Mahaney and SGCL primarily in mind. The inquiry by the Bylaws Workgroup was not to be superficial. It was to involve “dialogue” with “victims, victim advocates, and other authorities directly involved in the documented reports.” People like me. He also called for SGCL to “humbly and transparently” address their “mistakes.”
The Bylaws Workgroup made clear it “should not disrupt the ministries of its churches by launching an inquiry until it has received credible information that the church has knowingly acted wrongfully.” That is exactly what they had and that is why they launched “an inquiry.”
In March 2019, Mahaney and his staff received a letter letting them know they were under inquiry. Subsequently, they received an email on April 4 asking a few initial questions to confirm the information that was given to the Bylaws Workgroup by Greear from Mohler and Akin. They asked Mahaney, et al. to address the allegations regarding their previous handling of abuse cases.
In response, SGCL sent a letter from executive pastor Brian Chesemore on April 9 expressing a willingness to “cooperate” with the Bylaws Workgroup and provided their Policy Handbook on sexual abuse. He did not answer any of their questions, however, about the allegations or their past handling of abuse cases.
Instead, Chesemore asked that they meet with the Bylaws Workgroup to discuss their answers. That meeting never occurred. Communication between the groups ended. There was no further communication from Chesemore after April 9 expressing a willingness to meet or cooperate with the inquiry.
Instead, the Leadership Team of Sovereign Grace Churches (the denomination not Mahaney’s church), wrote a public denunciation of Greear, Mohler, Akin and the Executive Committee on April 12. They came to the defense of Mahaney and his pastoral staff at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. It was laughable. Why? Because Bob Kauflin and Jeff Purswell were on the SGC Leadership Team AND the SGCL pastoral staff. They were exonerating themselves and their boss! Here are some excerpts.
Q. Why did the President of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) recently include Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville (SGCL) on a list of churches suspected of “indifference to the crime of sexual abuse”? SGCL, like some other churches in SGC, is dually affiliated with both Sovereign Grace and the Southern Baptist Convention. SGCL took this step, with the support of the SGC Leadership Team, in order to partner with the SBC for purposes of mission and training. In the wake of recent media reports about child sexual abuse in the SBC, the President of the SBC, J.D. Greear, issued a list of ten churches that he deemed worthy of inquiry due to suspicions of “indifference to the crime of sexual abuse.” According to the President of the SBC, SGCL was included on this list solely on the basis of “concerns” expressed by two members of the SBC’s “Great Commission Council.” SGCL was constituted as a church in 2012, and, unlike other churches on this list, no pastor, staff member or even individual member has been credibly accused of, charged with, or convicted of abuse or the cover-up of abuse. SGCL agrees with, and is in full compliance with, these four criteria. In particular, no pastor of SGCL has ever “unlawfully concealed from law enforcement information regarding the sexual abuse of any person,” or has ever “willfully disregarded compliance with mandatory child abuse reporting laws.” The church should be removed from the SBC President’s list and to have its good name cleared of the public suspicion created by being placed on this list.
These paragraphs included extraordinary lies! For example, “No pastor…has been credibly accused of…abuse or the cover-up of abuse.” And “No pastor of SGCL has ever ‘unlawfully concealed from law enforcement information regarding the sexual abuse of any person,’ or has ever ‘willfully disregarded compliance with mandatory child abuse reporting laws.’”
Here are several articles exposing these audacious lies. There are plenty more. The SGC Leadership Team and the SGCL Pastoral Team have no shame.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 5:18PM
Friday, August 2, 2013 at 8:11PM
Monday, March 30, 2015 at 1:56PM
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 12:42PM
It was also stunning to see the Leadership Team comprised of Mark Prater (Executive Director), Bob Kauflin, Jeff Purswell, Mickey Connolly, Tommy Hill, Ian McConnell, and Rich Richardson trash Dr. Mohler and Dr. Akin. Of course, they did it in a way that lacked both integrity and courage. They did not use their names!
“According to the President of the SBC, SGCL was included on this list solely on the basis of ‘concerns’ expressed by two members [Mohler & Akin] of the SBC’s ‘Great Commission Council.’”
Mohler had extensive documentation including that provided by me via Rachael Denhollander. Based on that documentation, and because of Mahaney’s refusal to do an independent investigation, he severed his friendship with Mahaney and all ties with Sovereign Grace Churches in February 2018. A year later Mohler made it known. I wrote about it.
Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 4:54PM
Akin also spoke out in February 2019. Here is what he told investigative journalist Robert Downen at the Houston Chronicle.
“Do I think that Sovereign Grace handled the accusations brought against them well? No, I don’t. I think they could have been far more transparent. I think they could have been far more forthcoming. Even to this day, there’s still a lack of clarity. I absolutely think they’ve handled (the allegations) poorly and that they have not been as transparent as they should have been or could have been, and (that they) could have saved a lot of people a lot of grief.”
Nevertheless, Mahaney’s surrogates (e.g. Kauflin & Purswell) disparaged Mohler and Akin’s “concerns” and denied all wrong doing two months later on April 12.
Let me transition to my main point. Ten days earlier on April 2, Dr. Ronnie Floyd was elected President of the Southern Baptist Convention (the position now held by J.D. Greear). Things were in transition so it was suggested that no recommendation to remove Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville be made to the Executive Committee prior to their annual convention in Birmingham, AL on June 9-10, 2019.
The Bylaws Workgroup headed by Dr. Mark Ballard was doing more than a superficial review. As a result, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville removed themselves from the Sothern Baptist Convention and the inquiry stopped. The case was “closed without recommendation” meaning there was no recommendation to remove given their departure.
Of course, Mahaney and his pastoral staff have concealed this fact! Mahaney is no longer a Southern Baptist minister and SGCL is no longer a Southern Baptist church. Last month, I discovered their removal from the official list of SBC churches and began to investigate.
In the past, I wrote this article.
Friday, September 18, 2015 at 10:56AM
Mahaney was forced to become a Southern Baptist in 2014 when the special arrangement he worked out with Mohler and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary ended for students from the Sovereign Grace Pastors College. This action by the SBTS Trustees to end the arrangement was due to the sworn testimony of Grant Layman (C.J.’s brother-in-law & staff pastor) regarding the conspiracy to cover up sex crimes committed by convicted felon, Nathaniel Morales under Mahaney’s leadership.
Friday, July 18, 2014 at 5:57PM
As a result, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville joined the Southern Baptist Convention to get the reduced tuition.
“Tuition and fees are the same regardless if you are an online student or on-campus student. … Members of a Southern Baptist church still receive the half-price tuition.”
This joining is referenced above by the SGC Leadership Team in their April 12, 2019 statement.
“SGCL, like some other churches in SGC, is dually affiliated with both Sovereign Grace and the Southern Baptist Convention. SGCL took this step, with the support of the SGC Leadership Team, in order to partner with the SBC for purposes of mission and training.”
Here’s what important to understand. Mahaney and his staff want you to believe they are still a Southern Baptist church in “friendly cooperation” with the Southern Baptist Convention. In other words, they want you to think the review asked for by J.D. Greear came to nothing! The charges by Al Mohler and Danny Akin were baseless! And SGCL was never disfellowshipped!
How do I know this? Here is what they claim on their SGCL website (as of today). Sound familiar?
Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville is one of the many churches associated with Sovereign Grace Churches, a family of churches that has been around since 1981. We are passionate about God receiving the glory he alone deserves. We are committed to his Word, his gospel, his church, and his mission. In the navigation panel on the left you can find out more about our pastoral team, what we believe, and our relationship with Sovereign Grace Churches. Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville also partners with the Southern Baptist Convention for the purposes of training and gospel mission.
Notice how they are “dually affiliated with both Sovereign Grace and the Southern Baptist Convention.”
“Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville is one of the many churches associated with Sovereign Grace Churches … Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville also partners with the Southern Baptist Convention for the purposes of training and gospel mission.”
One problem, however. None of it is true! Mahaney’s church left the SBC after the SBC Convention in June 2019. Nor are they part of the Kentucky Baptist Convention or the Louisville Regional Baptist Association (see page 41 on this list where their name is omitted).
Furthermore, you cannot be “partners with the Southern Baptist Convention” unless you give to the Cooperative Program (its general fund) or other SBC entities. I’ve not been able to find any evidence of giving in 2019 or 2020.
SBC What makes a church “Southern Baptist”? Financially provides regular financial support for the Convention’s work as part of the church’s adopted budget. How can my church become “dually aligned” with the Southern Baptist Convention? … The Convention is composed of messengers from churches it recognizes as in “friendly cooperation” with the Convention which make contributions to Convention work. The Executive Committee does not encourage churches or pastors to make a token identification with the Convention if the pastor and church leadership have no long-term intention of leading the church to participate fully in Convention work and contribute systematically and regularly to support the Convention’s missions and ministries.
C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville are NOT partnering for “the purposes of training and gospel mission” with the national convention, state convention or regional association! Nor are they partnering with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in their backyard! President Mohler ended that partnership and stated so on the SBTS website in his official capacity.
Statement from R. Albert Mohler Jr. on Sovereign Grace Churches Friday, February 15, 2019 When this issue [the cover up] resurfaced a year ago [Feb. 2018], I was made painfully aware of my serious mistakes. I immediately urged that an independent investigation be conducted and agreed that CJ needed to step down from public ministry until that took place. This resulted in a severing of all personal and ministry ties, and I have had no relationship with CJ or SGC since that time.
Over the past ten years, I have documented hundreds of lies by C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches. That is not an exaggeration.
In their reprobation, they have no qualms about deceiving people into believing they partner with the Southern Baptist Convention as a Southern Baptist church in good standing. Nothing could be further from the truth!
J.D. Greear, Ronnie Floyd, Al Mohler, Danny Akin, and the Executive Committee should demand C.J. Mahaney and his staff (Bob Kauflin, Jeff Purswell, Gary Ricucci, Brian Chesemore, Steve Whitacre, & Tyson Ziegler) remove their false claim of partnership. Greear in his Presidential Address was correct.
“We must take bold and decisive steps to send an unequivocal message: Churches that have a wanton disregard for sexual abuse and for caring for the survivors are not in good fellowship with this convention.”
The “wanton disregard” in Sovereign Grace Churches and Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville continues! It includes disinformation of all kinds.
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