Jared Wellman is a pastor and member of the Executive Committee for the Southern Baptist Convention. He has been extremely helpful and represents the best in the SBC when it comes to “caring well” for the abused. This email is typical of the way he has related to me and others.
Brent, first, please forgive me in my delay to personally respond to your email. My inbox was flooded after my tweet, and I’ve been methodically working my way through each email in order to read and personally respond to each person.
Second, thank you for taking the time not just to write your email, but to write this post. Yours is not the only email I’ve received about SGC or about the need for a third party investigation, and so this is very helpful. It’s thorough and incredibly helpful to the task at hand.
Again, thank you for this email. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
I recently wrote Jared to ask about the work of the SBC Credentials Committee in relation to C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville (SGCL).
Good morning Jared,
I hope you are enjoying the beauty of God’s creation this fall season. His common grace is abundant and makes our hearts glad.
Do you have any news from the Credentials Committee? Have they made progress? I assume you gave all the evidence to Stacy Bramlett since she chairs the committee. Is that correct? Will Bill Townes have a role in the matter as chief compliance officer?
Thanks for your work and assistance.
Hello Brent. I don’t have any news from the Credentials Committee, except that they were supposed to release a statement two weeks ago, and that I know that they have your case and contact information. Yes, I did give it to Stacy Bramlett. I talked with her personally and have exchanged emails. I’m not sure why they haven’t reached out yet.
I’m also not sure the answer to the question about Bill Townes.
I know they are working on a formal process for processing accusations, but I was able to find out the person they’re using for initial contacts, so I’m going to go ahead and send an email with you and Stacy included to get the ball rolling.
Jared introduced me to Stacey Bramlett, who chairs the Credentials Committee, and to her assistant, Christy Peters, who is “processing the accusations” or “submissions” against C.J., SGCL, and Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. (SGC).
Thank you Jared for the introduction.
If possible, could I speak with you, Christy or Stacy, today or tomorrow? I know that is SHORT notice. I am not well and my phone service runs out the end of tomorrow. If I don’t hear from you, I will write.
My phone number is (704) 497-7986.
The Lord bless you for seeking to serve the interest of justice on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christy Peters kindly called me the same day. I wrote this summary for Jared as a follow-up.
I was able to talk with Christy and share an overview of my concerns and explain how C.J. and Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville are using their on-going membership/partnership with the SBC to advance the false narrative that they and the parent ministry, Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc., are innocent of the allegations made against them by J.D. Greear, Al Mohler, Rachael Denhollander, et al.
Christy asked me to forward evidence to the Credentials Committee which I will do. You have done the same. I also plan to introduce Stacey to the lead plaintiff in the former lawsuit against C.J. and SGC. She in turn, can put Stacey in contact with other survivors of abuse in the ministry.
I also explained that C.J. and those surrounding him are deceptive and pretentious. I am praying God grants the Credentials Committee discernment to see through their machinations and courage to expose them. SGCL needs to be removed from the SBC for the glory of God and as a statement that the resolutions passed by the SBC regarding abuse are applied and held inviolate.
Grace to you!
Here is the evidence I sent Stacy and the Credentials Committee.
Please pardon my brevity in this presentation. I have written close to 100 articles about the matter you will be investigating as the Credential Committee. Here is a summary. Let the titles serve as an overview.
Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at 11:05AM
Below is the first article I sent to 77 national leaders about the conspiracy to commit and cover up the sexual abuse of children in Sovereign Grace Ministries (aka Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc.). It also explains who I am.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 5:38PM
These two articles will help you understand the fact of the conspiracy in no uncertain terms.
Monday, March 30, 2015 at 1:56PM
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 12:42PM
You should talk to Heather (Thompson) Bryant. I have copied her on this email. She was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit that was dismissed on technicalities. She is a wonderful servant of the Lord and been terribly slandered by SGC. I will introduce her to you in a subsequent email.
I’d also encourage you to read the Second Amended Complaint (lawsuit) at the link below. It is horrific. C.J. and SGC have called five of the 11 plaintiffs liars including Heather. They accused them of making up their “sensational” stories. In addition, C.J. and SGC said the allegations of fact by the 11 plaintiffs concerning the conspiracy not to report were bogus.
I must also point out that the conspiracy to cover up the physical and sexual abuse of children goes well beyond the cases cited in the lawsuit. It is widespread. You should talk with Rachael Denhollander. She has studied all my material and I have put her in contact with victims and sent her evidence. She has also done her own investigation and gathered additional information. This article by her will help you.
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Lastly, you should talk with Al Mohler. He was deceived by C.J. This article will help you.
Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 4:54PM
J.D. Greear also knows the truth about C.J. (who was one of his favorite preachers) and SGC. I’m sure he would be willing to interact with you. He has been deeply troubled by the whole matter.
C.J.’s Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville is listed as an SBC church and promotes the fact on its website. See http://www.sbc.net/church/2015064333/sovereign-grace-church-of-louisville and https://www.sgclouisville.org/about. Their “good standing” with the SBC has been used to advance their supposed innocence.
SGC adamantly refuses to do an independent investigation despite the appeal of national leaders like Mark Galli at Christianity Today. This is due to their guilt. They would never survive a genuine investigation by a competent law firm or other third-party professional agency.
March 22, 2018
In addition, some of the churches in SGC are pressing for an independent investigation but being rebuffed by the Leadership Team and Executive Committee. That comes as no surprise. This is resulting in further departures from SGC.
Thursday, June 6, 2019 at 7:57PM
A Fourth Sovereign Grace Church Reproves Leadership Team for Refusing Independent Investigation. Denhollander Responds. I Put Focus Back on SGC Leader John Loftness for Alleged Sexual Sadism of Children.
Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 6:45PM
The conspiracy to commit and cover up the sexual abuse of children in SGC is real and well-documented. This has been aggressively covered up by C.J., his fellow elders, SGC leaders, and their lawyers.
I recently wrote this article. It exposes their latest tactics and arguments.
Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 3:26PM
You and the Credentials Committee are in my prayers. Your assignment to investigate C.J. and SGCL is a very important one (see my email to Jared Wellman below). If they remain in the SBC that sends a terrible message to the Body of Christ and all the victims. If they are removed, it sends a loud message that the SBC is serious about compliance and stands with the many victims of abuse.
The corruption and abusive leadership surrounding SGC has been the leading news story in evangelicalism since July 2011 when I sent out The Documents and C.J. was forced to take a leave of absence. For years, top evangelical leaders protected C.J. and refused to study the evidence. That has largely come to an end. Now it is time for the SBC to take a stand and remove SGCL from the convention.
One final thought. C.J. and his inner circle know how to present themselves in a “humble” and winsome manner. Take care not to be deceived by their pretentions.
May his kingdom come and his will be done.
P.S. I have copied Jared, Heather, and Christy. Please forward to the Credentials Committee. Thank you.
Dear Stacey and Heather,
It is my hope the two of you will be able to speak with each other in the near future. Heather will be extremely helpful to you Stacey in your investigation. Please reach out to her.
Stacey wrote me back.
Thank you so much for sending us all the information and the conversation you had with Christy Peters. I want to make sure that you know what the Credentials Committee is tasked with:
Credentials Committee is tasked with determining whether a church is in “friendly cooperation” with the Convention as described in the SBC Constitution, Article III. The Credentials Committee may make inquiries of a church, but shall never attempt to exercise any authority over a church through an investigation or other process that should violate Article IV of the SBC Constitution.
Again thank you so much for sharing this information with the Credentials Committee.
Stacey’s response concerned me. Normally, I would write her back with additional questions and comments but that is not possible due to personal circumstances. Therefore, I make the following observations and hope that J.D. Greear (President of the SBC), Ronnie Floyd (President & CEO of the SBC Executive Committee), Russell Moore (President of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission), Phillip Bethancourt (Executive Vice President of the SBC ERLC), Al Mohler (President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Rachael Denhollander (member of the SBC Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group), and others get involved in this process. It is a great reproach to the Southern Baptist Convention that Mahaney is still accepted as a member in “friendly cooperation.”
Six years ago, a resolution was passed at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston, Texas. It had Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries (now Sovereign Grace Ministries, Inc.) specifically in mind. Southern Baptist leaders like Al Mohler and Mark Dever totally disregarded the resolution.
Houston, TX - 2013
RESOLVED, That we encourage all denominational leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse; and be it finally
I wrote about it in this article.
Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 11:26AM
Six years later, Mahaney remains a Southern Baptist in good standing. This past April, I once again appealed to J.D. Greear and Russell Moore via Phillip Bethancourt to remove him from the SBC. Here is an excerpt.
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Conference with Top Speakers Plans to Confront the Abuse Crisis. My Suggestions for J.D. Greear & Russell Moore and Appeal to Remove C.J. Mahaney from Southern Baptist Convention.
Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 3:58PM
Phillip Bethancourt is the vice president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) under the leadership of Russell Moore and assistant professor of Christian theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) under the leadership of Al Mohler. He wrote me to tell me about a change in plans for the ERLC Conference this October. Those revised plans have now been announced.
I took the occasion to write him back with some suggestions for J.D. Greear (President of the Southern Baptist Convention) and Russell Moore including the need to follow-through on the removal of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville (C.J. Mahaney) from the Southern Baptist Convention. …
I hope some of the speakers will address the sinful cravings of the heart that are at work when pastors or ministries cover up the abuse of children via internal “investigations” and the like. Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. is a prime example. My old friends have been willing to lie and deceive at great length in an attempt to preserve their reputation, numerical growth and financial well-being. It is shocking.
In this regard, I hope Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville is soon removed from the SBC. That action would send a loud message to entire Body of Christ that the SBC, Executive Committee, ERLC, etc. will not tolerate association by churches who lie, deceive, and refuse to acknowledge a long history of not reporting abuse to law enforcement.
I am sure the “Caring Well” conference will be excellent. In that context, I’d encourage J.D. and Russell to state clearly what is necessary for a church to be associated with the SBC as it pertains to hiring abusers, reporting abuse, protecting against abuse, etc. Similarly, they should clearly state the SBC is committed to removing churches who are not in compliance. Otherwise, it like teaching on the qualifications of overseers (1 Tim. 3) without teaching on the discipline of overseers (1 Tim. 5).
That is why disassociation with SGCL is so important. The case cannot be left open-ended or unresolved. They need to be removed based upon an investigation by the SBC. I am willing to help in any way. Teaching and resolutions are important but without enforcement no one will “fearing sinning.” (cf. 1 Tim 5:20).
Lastly, caring well for victims includes standing against those who covered up the crimes against them. I’ve counseled many victims of sexual abuse. They often tell me the betrayal of pastors is equal to, or greater than, the pain of abuse. That is certainly true in Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. One cannot imagine the trauma of being abused, and then have C.J. and the SGC Leadership Team, tell the world you a liar who made up the story for money. No one should be associated with them.
Give my greeting to J.D. and Russell. I am praying all will stand strong against any temptation to forgo righteous judgement or be silent in public about C.J., SGCL, and SGC, Inc. Please continue to press the case.
Two months later, the Southern Baptist Convention met for their annual meeting in Birmingham, AL. Ironically, Joe Carter reported on the action taken by the messengers (i.e. voting delegates) to the convention. Carter has been a staunch supporter of Mahaney and resolute adversary of me. For example, read Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition Says “Detwiler Is Making Up” Admission by Joshua Harris (May 19, 2014). Maybe Carter has finally seen the light. That aside, he provided good coverage.
By Joe Carter
June 14, 2019
During the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting this week in Birmingham, Alabama, Southern Baptists took several significant actions to address the crisis of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches.
Representatives at the convention, known as “messengers,” voted to adopt one resolution and approve two changes to SBC governing documents that deal with sexual abuse.
The first vote changed the SBC bylaws to make the Credentials Committee a standing committee with the authority to address allegations of sexual misconduct made against SBC-affiliated churches. The committee will conduct inquiries about whether churches are acting in accordance with Southern Baptist beliefs on sexual abuse, racism, or other issues, and make recommendations to the Executive Committee on whether an offending church should be deemed as “not in friendly cooperation” with the convention.
The Credentials Committee will consist of nine members: the chairman of the Executive Committee; the SBC registration secretary; three members nominated by the Executive Committee; and four members nominated by the SBC Committee on Nominations.
In response to the vote, ERLC President Russell Moore wrote on Twitter, “Milestone moment as #SBC19 approves overwhelmingly the executive committee recommendation to form a standing credentials committee. This is a key piece in combatting sexual abuse.”
The second vote approved an amendment to the SBC constitution that would explicitly state that addressing sexual abuse and racism is a part of what it means to be a Southern Baptist church. Since amending the constitution requires a two-thirds vote by messengers at two consecutive annual meetings, this change will need to be approved again at the annual convention in Orlando, Florida in 2020.
“May this world know that the Southern Baptist Convention stands against all forms of sexual abuse,” said Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee. “May this world know that this convention of churches—47,000 churches, plus a few thousand congregations, just under 52,000 churches and congregations—has given a clear signal not only about what we believe about sexual abuse, but we also stand against all ethnic discrimination in the United States and around the world.”
The SBC also adopted a new resolution, “On The Evil Of Sexual Abuse.” The resolution includes a call for civil authorities to review sex abuse laws, including statute of limitations that allow predators to avoid prosecution because their victims did not come forward in the required timeframe. The new resolution also implores “all persons to act decisively on matters of abuse, to immediately report allegations of sexual abuse to civil authorities according to the laws of their state, to intervene on behalf of the abused, to do everything possible to ensure their safety, and to exercise appropriate church discipline upon abusers.” (The SBC had previously adopted resolutions related to child sexual abuse in 2007 and 2013.)
The SBC also launched Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused, a new training curriculum produced by LifeWay Christian Resources, ERLC and the Sexual Abuse Advisory Group that includes a handbook, an introductory video, and 12 lesson videos to “help leaders understand and implement the best practices for handling the variety of abuse scenarios at church, school, or ministry.” Every messenger at the convention received a free copy of the Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused handbook.
SBC President J.D. Greear encouraged every SBC church to also take the “Caring Well Challenge ,” a new initiative launched by the ERLC and the SBC’s Sexual Abuse Advisory Group (appointed last year by JD. Greear) that is designed to confront church sexual abuse. According to the Advisory Group the initiative “provides churches with an adaptable, and attainable pathway to immediately enhance their efforts to prevent abuse and care for abuse survivors.”
While the changes at the annual convention are important steps toward addressing sexual abuse in our churches, SBC leaders made it clear that more still needs to be done.
“It’s going to take ongoing reform, and that’s the case at the local church level as well,” said Moore. “Congregations have to not only have good policies and procedures in place, but they have to constantly be evaluating, reevaluating, updating those policies and procedures as well.”
“This has to be at least a 20-year project that’s constantly reevaluated,” Moore added. “I hope that 20 years from now that we can look back and see sexual abuse in churches as something unthinkable and a long-buried horror of the past. We’re a long way from that.”
In a press conference hosted at the close of the annual meeting, Greear said that “bold resolutions and sweeping statements are not sufficient” to tackle the crisis of sex abuse.
“We’ve tried to be very clear that this is not something to put on a list and check off and say, OK, we dealt with that in 2019,” said Greear. “This is a milestone in something that will go on for the rest of our lives. It is the inculcation of certain values, and the inculcation of an awareness in a way of approaching things that will not just shape 2019, but will shape future generations.”
The ERLC is also hosting its National Conference in October around the theme of sexual abuse in churches: “Caring Well, Equipping Churches to Confront the Sexual Abuse Crisis”
All of the above is excellent but it has not made any difference in relation to Mahaney or anyone else to my knowledge. In addition to the tweet cited above by Carter, Russell Moore also put out this one.
Very, very grateful for #SBC19 voting overwhelming to amend the constitution to explicitly define a cooperating church as it applies to sexual abuse and racism.
8:12 PM - 11 Jun 2019
I responded to him.
Replying to @drmoore
That is an important first step. Congratulations. The second step is much harder. Applying it to churches. For example, C.J. Mahaney & Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville are still in the Southern Baptist Convention. That can’t continue if the amended constitution is applied.
8:41 PM - 11 Jun 2019
But it has continued! Nothing has changed the past six years. Mahaney and his church are still Southern Baptists in good standing. This is a story that needs to be followed. I have little confidence the Credentials Committee will do anything but a superficial inquiry. I have in mind the words of chairwoman, Stacey Bramlett.
“I want to make sure that you know what the Credentials Committee is tasked with:
“Credentials Committee is tasked with determining whether a church is in ‘friendly cooperation’ with the Convention as described in the SBC Constitution, Article III. The Credentials Committee may make inquiries of a church, but shall never attempt to exercise any authority over a church through an investigation or other process that should violate Article IV of the SBC Constitution.”
Taken at face value, I don’t think the Credentials Committee will talk to victims, study the overwhelming evidence, ask hard questions of Mahaney, challenge his answers, dig deeper, interact with me, or recommend removal of his church to the Executive Committee. Of course, I hope I am wrong.
People must also bear in mind that several pastors on his staff have likewise covered up sexual abuse and his fellow pastor and brother-in-law, Gary Ricucci, is alleged to have aided and abetted it. Read Gary Ricucci & the Conspiracy Surrounding Convicted Felon, David Adams (Aug 2, 2013).
I don’t write this article to leverage the Credentials Committee. I write this article so people can know what is going on in relation to how the case with Mahaney and his church is being handled by the SBC. People across the nation have been asking. I hope other bloggers and journalists will follow this story and provide coverage in the days ahead.
The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the country. What they do, or don’t do, matters and sets an example, good or bad, for others to follow. Therefore, will a man and ministry that has covered up sexual assault and sexual abuse since 1980 be allowed to stay in the SBC while they continue to cover up the past with deceptive tactics and adamantly refuse to allow an independent investigation? God forbid!
Most importantly, the handling of Mahaney is about “caring well” for the victims of abuse throughout Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. Several of them have told me the betrayal by Mahaney and their pastors is more painful and harder to deal with than their actual abuse. They matter most in sight of God; not protecting a deceitful and pretentious con artist!
If the Credential Committee does not act, there is a glimmer of hope action will be taken against Mahaney after Al Mohler becomes the President of the Southern Baptist Convention next June. His election and installation are a given! H.B. Charles Jr. has already announced plans to nominate him and Mohler has already said "I will accept the nomination" as SBC President. Anyone who votes against Mohler will immediately lose standing in the SBC. He is a lock.
Al Mohler has opposed and spoken ill of me since I sent out The Documents in July 2011. He did the same when I wrote about the conspiracy to commit and cover up the sexual abuse of children by Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. I could recommend many articles in that regard but one will suffice. He has never returned to ask my forgiveness.
Saturday, February 16, 2019 at 12:04PM
I have multiple concerns for Al Mohler but I thank God for his change of mind about C.J. Mahaney. I hope he has learned from his grievous sins and will be far more concerned about protecting the abused than leaders and pastors in the SBC who have abused, mistreated the abused, or covered up abuse.
This article was originally published at brentdetwiler.com and is reposted with permission from the author, Brent Detwiler. His efforts are designed to help Christians judge righteously, think biblically, and live courageously. Your financial support makes that possible. Please consider a gift today at BrentDetwiler.com. Thank you!