FLAGSHIP CHURCHES PREPARE TO LEAVE AS LAWSUIT CHARGES SOVEREIGN GRACE MINISTRIES OF C.J. MAHANEY WITH COVERING UP CHILD SEX ABUSE
The other day Apprising Ministries brought to your attention Lawsuit Claims C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries Concealed Sex Abuse Allegations.
Now Melissa Steffan brings us Lawsuit Charges C. J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries with Covering Up Child Sex Abuse at the Christianity Today blog.
Steffan tells us:
Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), a network of Reformed church plants in 21 countries still dealing with the aftermath of an internal investigation of founder and president C. J. Mahaney’s leadership, now faces allegations that its president and board chairman, among other leaders,covered up child sex abuse by church members.
Three female plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed Wednesday “allege a conspiracy spanning more than two decades to conceal sexual abuse committed by church members” throughout the 1980s and 1990s, according to the Associated Press.
Mahaney and board president John Loftness, along with six other leaders, are named as defendants for allegedly failing to report incidents of abuse to law enforcement, encouraging parents to not report them, and “mislead[ing] law enforcement into believing the parents had ‘forgiven’ those who preyed on their children.” (source)
She also said that as the lawsuit, “which is seeking class-action status,” was brought forth “SGM stated” they weren’t ready to comment because they’d not had time to evaluate it.
Steffan informs us:
The lawsuit “singles out the church’s ‘Home Group’ structure, in which children are provided with day care so that their parents can attend services, as fostering a poorly supervised environment that enabled the abuse to occur,” reported the AP. (source)
She then reminds us SGM has been dealing with other issues as well:
SGM made headlines last year when Mahaney took a leave of absencein July 2011 for a “season of examination and evaluation” of charges against him by alienated SGM pastors, including “various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment and hypocrisy.”
Six months later, SGM reinstated Mahaney in January after vetting the charges against him. In May, SGM announced plans to relocate its headquarters from Gaithersburg, Maryland, to Louisville, Kentucky—a move that drew criticism.
And then, in similar fashion to cracks in the foundations of Harvest Bible Chapel and Acts 29 Network due to Elephant Room 2, Steffan reports that in SGM:
fallout continues. Two of the three largest churches in the SGM network—Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Sovereign Grace Church in Fairfax, Virginia—are mulling plans to separate from SGM and begin a new association of churches, according to former SGM pastor and board member Brent Detwiler, who led the 2011 charges against Mahaney.
Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press notes in his Controversy follows Calvinist group:
Sovereign Grace Ministries, which recently moved from Maryland to Kentucky to rebuild a fractured network and strengthen ties with Southern Seminary, is now in the news for allegedly covering up allegations of child sexual abuse committed by church members.
A controversial church-planting network with ties to a Southern Baptist Convention seminary has been sued in Maryland for allegedly covering up allegations of sexual abuse of children in the 1980s and 1990s.
Last year Sovereign Grace President C.J. Mahaney went on leave of absence for several months while his board investigated accusations of dictatorial conduct that estranged former members compared to cult-like behavior.One of Mahaney’s staunch defenders throughout the ordeal was Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and, alongside Mahaney, a leading figure in the new Calvinism, also known as Reformed, church movement.
As the ministry’s relationship with its former base church deteriorated, directors of Sovereign Grace Ministries decided to move to Louisville to take advantage of lower living costs and strengthen bonds with Southern Seminary. (source)
In closing this, for now, in The SGM Lawsuit, the Alleged Victims’ Attorney, Al Mohler, and Mahaney you’ll find the link to an interview with Susan Burke, the attorney who is bringing this lawsuit against SGM.
Here is a report WJLA TV Arlington, VA: