This page outlines steps either taken or planned by the Board to review allegations made against C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM). It is intended to give Sovereign Grace churches an overview of our plans and an easy means to check on our progress. We will update the page as decisions are made, milestones are reached, or other information can be added. If you have questions or suggestions to improve this page, please leave them in the comments.
Outline of the evaluation process
In July we began working with Ambassadors of Reconciliation (AOR), an independent conflict-resolution ministry, to facilitate an evaluation and help to answer these questions:
- What are the primary allegations against C.J. Mahaney and/or SGM?
- Which allegations are true?
- What should be done about those allegations which are true?
The details of this evaluation process have not all been established yet, but we do know it will take several months. The table below outlines the steps we have taken or planned so far.
| ||Steps in the evaluation process||Status|
||AOR begins to review documented allegations and initiates contact with Brent Detwiler
||AOR conducts initial interviews with SGM Board and explains the options available for adjudication and mediation
||After consulting with AOR, SGM forms a preliminary panel to review C.J.'s confessed sins and advise on whether he should be considered qualified for ministry in the interim before the full independent evaluation is completed (more details below and at their report)
||AOR proposes a specific process and scope for an evaluation (read their proposal)
||Group reconciliation process begins as outlined in AOR proposal. Participation was offered during our Pastors Conference in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and was available through November 30 via the web and telephone; details here.
||Adjudication panels for C.J. Mahaney; panel report and recommendations published here.
||AOR finishes their assessment and recommendations for SGM following Group Reconciliation process, which SGM will publish on its website for churches to review. Subsequent steps TBD.
||Expected in the spring of 2012
Questions and answers
Why did C.J. take a leave of absence as president and board member?
The primary reason why C.J. volunteered to take a leave from his leadership roles was to remove his influence over the evaluation process. The leave was not intended to remove him from ministry entirely. He is on leave from his roles of president and board member, but remains employed by SGM and works at the direction of the Board. During his leave he will, as we said in our original announcement, "continue to examine his heart and consider the various charges and offenses, as well as to fully cooperate with an independent panel." Those commitments don’t require his full-time attention, however, and do not keep him from fulfilling other ministry responsibilities that the Board deems appropriate.
It is important that C.J.'s leave not be misconstrued as disciplinary. Discipline for any Christian should only be administered after due process has taken place, and to frame C.J.’s leave as disciplinary sets a bad precedent for any pastors who, in the future, face charges against them.
Why did we form a preliminary evaluation panel?
It’s helpful to divide the allegations against C.J. into two categories: those to which C.J. has confessed, and those with which he disagrees and must be adjudicated with the help of AOR. The purpose of the preliminary panel was to advise the SGM Board as to whether or not C.J. is disqualified from ministry based on the first category—that is, even without considering the other allegations which remain disputed. (Their assessment was that C.J. remains qualified. You can see their report on our blog.)
The Board needed to answer this question with confidence in order to appropriately frame C.J.’s responsibilities during the evaluation. C.J. is currently on leave as president and board member but is able to work for SGM in other capacities, such as preaching at churches to which he is invited. If he had been found to be disqualified from ministry based on his confessed sins, however, the Board would have had to remove him from ministry entirely.
Several people have asked if the preliminary panel undercuts AOR's role in the evaluation process, so it is worth noting that the format of this panel originated with them. Our initial assessment was that C.J. was not disqualified by his confessed sins, but we wanted to have that assessment wisely cross-examined in order to be as thorough and careful as possible. We consulted with AOR about how to accomplish that, and they suggested forming a preliminary panel of respected leaders outside of SGM to evaluate C.J. in light of the sins he had confessed.