Tullian Tchividjian Follow-Up and Plans for Additional Posts

Tullian Tchividjian, Clergy Sex Abuse

As you can see in the screenshot above, Tullian Tchividjian continues to make the Christian news headlines; but in the meantime, I wanted to share a few thoughts and give a brief update on what Brad and I’ve got cookin’ on the back burners.

Survivor bloggers don’t always have a good reputation with church leaders. Sometimes we step on toes when we are saying, “Yo, there’s a problem going on here.”  Because of this wall between us and church leaders in general, bloggers are often times dismissed, and consequently, victims’ voices are not heard. I don’t want to speak for other bloggers, but I know that I personally (Julie Anne) would like to build bridges with church leaders so that if I am told multiple survivors’ stories about the same pastor/church and blog about it, other leaders will take note and dig deeper instead of automatically disregarding our articles as from “those whiny complaint bloggers.”

Another stumbling block I face is that people sometimes dismiss me because they have me labeled in a way that does not reflect who they are doctrinally. Church leaders do not have to agree with me doctrinally on issues. That’s not what this blog is about. But I think we can have a common goal of doing what we can do to help the many sheep who have been battered and bruised by their shepherd.

We’ve had some excellent feedback on Rachel’s story. Her story, plus the timeline and real evidence that was provided, has made a real kink in Tullian Tchividjian’s narrative. People close to Tullian were not able to dismiss Rachel’s story along with her timeline. Finally, (and for the first time since I’ve been blogging), leaders have made a public stand for the survivors, based on Rachel’s testimony here at Spiritual Sounding Board. People are realizing that Tullian’s narrative has not been truthful, and his words and actions have not only harmed the ladies involved, but the church at large.

But this situation is not done, as the interconnections among various individuals and organizations keep unraveling. We are working on more posts for next week. I am working on a post with additional survivor information that has not yet been made public. Brad is working on case study that lays out various systems of accountability that were available in this situation, and what happened with them. We’re working on some posts about language usage in talking with/about victims. And some of the women who are survivors in this situation may have messages to share.

We realize that the ongoing unfolding of this situation could easily dissolve into a soap-opera-type story, but our goal is to to look at what went wrong and what went right. There are lessons to be learned, and Brad and I believe that presenting these issues for your discussion will benefit the larger church, so that Tullian’s story does not repeat in other churches with other pastors and other women. We hope you’ll continue reading and learning along with us.

GRACE Releases Statement Regarding Tullian Tchividjian – Supports Victims, Challenges Churches with Constructive Changes

This morning, GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) released a thoughtful, clear statement of empathetic support for victims and constructive solutions for changing Church systems that perpetuate abuse. The five-page statement from the Board of Directors addresses key systemic needs in four areas:

  1. Seminary education of pastors about maintaining appropriate boundaries.
  2. Rigorous screening and selection of pastors or other church leaders who provide counseling.
  3. Implement checks and balances to minimize abusive situations.
  4. Implementing clear policies for responding to abusive conduct, including reporting abuse to the appropriate authorities, removing abusive pastors from any leadership role and, most importantly, supporting survivors.

Please see the full statement below, download the document, and like/share the links on social media!

Links: Facebook. Squarespace. Twitter.

Thank you, GRACE, for taking the lead on specific remedies to toxic situations, flawed theologies, and harmful practices that contribute to all kinds of abuse within the Church!

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Statement Regarding Tullian Tchividjian

Statement from the GRACE Board of Directors

The GRACE board is deeply disturbed about the revelations of sexual misconduct by Tullian Tchividjian. As an organization that deals with the abuse of God’s lambs and the damage silence causes we feel compelled to speak. We believe that no material institution is more sacred to God  than His lambs – be it church or mission or family. Institutions ordained by God were destroyed at His hand when they became corrupt. Given that we must be what He calls His people to be or we too will have chosen silence and darkness over truth and light.

Dear victims – and you are indeed victims. You have suffered and we do not want to add our silence to that suffering. Once again, one of God’s shepherds used his position of authority, his gift of words, his intellect and personality to draw you in when you were vulnerable and in need of care. All power belongs to Christ. Any power we have is derivative and sacred and to be used  only for His glory and the good of His people. Anything less is an abuse of that power. You have been victims of the gross misuse of power God intended for your good. We grieve with you. We stand with you in the light. You have with courage exposed the deeds of darkness. Thank you, for we as the Body of Christ need your voices but now that the light shines a failure to respond on our part means we have turned from the light you turned on. We pray for you, knowing full well that each and every one of you has a hard road ahead as you seek newness of life, healing and a restoring of your souls. We pray that the failure of a shepherd will not lead you to forsake the Good and Great Shepherd who turns tables over and cracks whips when those in His church rob His sheep and distort the truth of who God is. We also pray that God will multiply the fruit of your hard labor to step into light to cause the greater body to examine itself regarding the many silenced victims that live in its midst.

Dear church of Jesus Christ, our God feeds and folds His sheep. He speaks truth and does not deceive. He protects us from wolves both inside and outside the fold. He does so by laying His own down at the gate. We fear that we have often helped wolves deceive others and hide themselves in sheep’s clothing for our own gain and comfort. In doing so we have not loved those who prey on God’s sheep for we have left them in their darkness and bondage. There are many untended, discarded victims in our midst. We are called by God to stand in the light they have brought, tend their wounds, lift the fallen and tenderly carry those who cannot stand. We are nothing like our Lord if we fail to do so. May the fruit of this grievous sin bring a sweeping of God’s refining fire through the lives of His people across the globe.

At a minimum, God’s “refining fire” requires the Christian community to put in place long overdue reforms that will limit the possibility of continuing transgressions against the vulnerable. These reforms include:

1. Seminary education of pastors about maintaining appropriate boundaries. Every seminary must provide education on maintaining appropriate boundaries between a pastor and the children or adults he or she may counsel. This training should include instruction on understanding the impact of trauma1 and when and how to refer survivors of abuse to professional mental health providers. If a church is hiring or has hired a pastor who has not received this sort of training, it can and should be conducted after the fact.

2. Rigorous screening and selection of pastors or other church leaders who provide counseling. The Centers for Disease Control has promulgated guidelines for screening and selecting those who will supervise, counsel or exercise a leadership role over children. These guidelines include background checks, social media checks, reference checks and formalized interviews about child protection guidelines.2 We believe the CDC guidelines are a solid foundation for churches to use in the screening and selection of pastors.

3. Implement checks and balances to minimize abusive situations. Those who provide pastoral counseling must read and agree to adhere to an appropriate Code of Ethics such as that promulgated by the American Association of Christian Counselors which strictly prohibits sexual contact between pastors and those they are counseling. This includes not only prohibitions on sexual contact but sexual innuendo, sexual “humor,” comments on attractiveness, etc.3 Pastoral counselors must receive oversight from other pastors, elders or others who can hold them accountable to the highest possible standard of ethics. If at all possible, pastoral counseling should be conducted in a church office with windows.

Clergy and other church leaders should also adhere to appropriate policies pertaining to texting and the use of social media.4

4. Implementing clear policies for responding to abusive conduct, including reporting abuse to the appropriate authorities, removing abusive pastors from any leadership role and, most importantly, supporting survivors.

a. Reporting abuse to the authorities. It is a crime for any pastor to engage in sexual conduct with a child and, in many states, it is a crime for a pastor to engage in sexual conduct with an adult he or she is providing pastoral care to.5 Every church must have in place a mechanism to ensure that any criminal conduct committed by a pastor or other called worker will be immediately reported to law enforcement and that the church will fully comply with any subsequent investigation.

b. Removing abusive pastors. Although Christ died for all sinners and paid the penalty for all sins, this doesn’t mean a pastor who has violated one or more of his or her parishioners should continue to hold a leadership role in the church. Christ instructed us to be as “wise as serpents” (Mt. 10:16) and common sense compels us to remove abusive leaders so they cannot harm others. These leaders can and should be ministered to6 but this does not mean they should be given a second chance to violate the vulnerable. If Moses was denied entry to the promised land because he struck a rock the wrong way (Nu 20:12), clergy who violate the children or adults entrusted to them should be denied the pulpit.

c. Educating parishioners about what they can expect during pastoral counseling and where to report if they believe a pastor has exceeded his or her appropriate roles. Patients at a hospital have explained to them various procedures and routinely receive a patient’s bill of rights. Similarly, children or adults receiving pastoral counseling should be aware of guidelines for the counseling and what they can do should a pastor or other counselor engage in inappropriate conduct.

d. Supporting survivors of clergy abuse. When a congregation discovers a pastor has abused a child or adult in his or her care, the church has a responsibility to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual damage. This includes assuming the financial cost of medical and mental health expenses or any other reasonable requests made by a victim. If the victim remains in the congregation, the abusive pastor should not be allowed to remain in the same church. Although we must continue to speak against abuse within the church, speech without action is a hollow reminder the church has done too little for too long to protect the vulnerable. In the midst of this most recent scandal, we pray the church’s future will be better than our past.

GRACE Board of Directors
December 7, 2016


Footnotes

1. See e.g., Vincent J. Felitti & Robert F. Anda, The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Medical Disease, Psychiatric Disorders and Sexual Behavior: Implications for Healthcare, in RUTH A. LANIUS, ERIC VERMETTEN, AND CLARE PAIN, THE IMPACT OF EARLY LIFE TRAUMA ON HEALTH AND DISEASE: THE HIDDEN EPIDEMIC (CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS 2010).
2. Saul & NC Audage, Preventing Child Sexual Abuse within Youth-Serving Organizations: Getting Started on Policies and Procedures, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION (2007).
3. AACC Code of Ethics, p. 16.Clergy and other church leaders should also adhere to appropriate policies pertaining to texting and the use of social media.
4. As one example of a social media policy pertaining to interactions with youth, see these recommendations from the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center: http://www.gundersenhealth.org/app/files/public/2113/NCPTC-Social- Networking-Policy.pdf
5. In Minnesota, for example, it is a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison for a pastor to have sex with someone he or she is providing “religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort…” MINN. STAT. SECTION 609.344, SUBD. 1(k)(1)(ii).
6. For appropriate guidelines in ministering to sex offenders, see generally, Victor Vieth, Ministering to Sex Offenders: Ten Lessons from Henry Gerecke, 112 WISCONSIN LUTHERAN QUARTERLY 209 (2015).

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Significant Reposts and Responses

Various blogs among abuse survivor communities have different readerships, so we’ve linked to posts on other blogs so you can read the comments there. Some of the best insights for our community as a whole come from synthesizing the range of comments on such blogs.

Warren Throckmorton: Child Abuse Prevention Group Issues Strong Statement Against Tullian Tchividjian and “Sexual Misconduct.” (Includes a list of GRACE board members, some of whom are relatives of Tullian Tchividjian.) QUOTE: Given the family connections and visibility of GRACE, this is a remarkable development. I suspect the pressure will now increase on the mainstream Christian media to report on these developments as well as on David C. Cook to pull back on their publication schedule.”

The Wartburg Watch: GRACE Issues Statement of the Tullian Tchvidjian Scandal.

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 5

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story: Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

Editors’ Note: This is Rachel’s story, and she is sharing what she recalls of her relationship with Tullian Tchividjian. She is sharing her facts, opinions, and what she believes to be true. Tullian is a public figure of interest. It is not defamatory to share opinions, beliefs, and personal stories publicly. In order to prove that she is being defamatory, it would need to be shown that she knowingly told lies, and did so with malice. Continue reading

Breaking News: Nine Associates of Tullian Tchividjian Issue “Call to Repentance”

The following has been posted at on the websites of those signing the call to a repentance process for Tullian Tchividjian, and shared on social media. It was posted approximately 11 a.m. (Eastern time). Twitter handle links and blog posts of the “Call” after the names were not in the original statement. They have been added for reference purposes, for those who may want to track comments and responses. Continue reading

SSB Gathering – December 4, 2016

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

-by Kathi

benson-bridge

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Today is the second Sunday of Advent. Advent is observed by many denominations as a way to prepare for Christ’s coming or arrival. Advent is a time to be mindful that Christ has come, that he is with us and that he will come again.

The Sunday Gathering during Advent will have readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. Music will be selected based upon common songs used during the Advent season. Advent can be celebrated at home as well. The Christian Resource Institute has good information on the meaning behind Advent and ways to celebrate.

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Isaiah 11: 1 – 10 Continue reading

Breaking News: Former Church Says Tullian Tchividjian Should Not Be in Ministry – via Warren Throckmorton

The following notice from Willow Creek Church was posted at approximately 8:30 PM (PDT) Thursday, December 1st, on Warren Throckmorton’s blog: Statement: Former Church Says Tullian Tchividjian Should Not Be in Ministry. Continue reading

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 1

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story:  Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

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An Introduction, from Julie Anne Smith and Brad Sargent

Several of those who have alleged victimization by Tullian Tchividjian have contacted me (Julie Anne) over the past year and a half. Rachel (which is her real first name) was one of them. She is the survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s clergy sexual misconduct in the spring and summer of 2015. She’s also named as “Woman #2” in our recent Partial Timeline post. Discovery of their sexual relationship by staff at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) led to Tchividjian being asked to resign as Senior Pastor there, and his being “deposed” by the South Florida presbytery (i.e., having his ministry credentials removed).

Rachel’s story is critically important to consider, in part because she tried to inform multiple Christian leaders – mostly men who were supposedly responsible for overseeing or counseling Tchividjian – about what she experienced as his patterns of lies, seduction, and spiritual abuse. She herself admits, she didn’t always do this in the best way, with rants and emotional comments on posts. But she and her family had been harmed, and she was also trying to get Tchividjian to follow through in repaying over $11,000 he had borrowed from Rachel and her husband to hire a private investigator.

So, it turns out that her personal story intersects with the three main ministries that have been parts of Tchividjian’s platform during the past several years: Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (Fort Lauderdale, FL), Willow Creek (Presbyterian) Church (Winter Springs, FL), and the Liberate Network. At this point, we know of no other survivor whose actions connect with all three. We are grateful she has agreed to share her story so that others can be warned about wolves in the Body of Christ, and also learn about what real repentance and recovery can look like. Continue reading

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 2

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story:  Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

Editors’ note: This is Part 2, a continuation of Rachel’s story which began here. The remaining parts of the series will be posted soon.

Edited to add 11/30/16: This is Rachel’s story, and she is sharing what she recalls of her relationship with Tullian Tchividjian. She is sharing her facts, opinions, and what she believes to be true. Tullian is a public figure of interest. It is not defamatory to share opinions, beliefs, and personal stories publicly. In order to prove that she is being defamatory, it would need to be shown that she knowingly told lies, and did so with malice.  ~ja Continue reading

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 3

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story:  Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

Editors’ Note: This is Rachel’s story, and she is sharing what she recalls of her relationship with Tullian Tchividjian. She is sharing her facts, opinions, and what she believes to be true. Tullian is a public figure of interest. It is not defamatory to share opinions, beliefs, and personal stories publicly. In order to prove that she is being defamatory, it would need to be shown that she knowingly told lies, and did so with malice. Continue reading

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 4

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story: Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

Editors’ Note: This is Rachel’s story, and she is sharing what she recalls of her relationship with Tullian Tchividjian. She is sharing her facts, opinions, and what she believes to be true. Tullian is a public figure of interest. It is not defamatory to share opinions, beliefs, and personal stories publicly. In order to prove that she is being defamatory, it would need to be shown that she knowingly told lies, and did so with malice. Continue reading

SSB Gathering – November 27, 2016

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

-by Kathi

23687899232_d477e45bf6

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Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is observed by many denominations as a way to prepare for Christ’s coming or arrival. Advent is a time to be mindful that Christ has come, that he is with us and that he will come again.

These next four Sundays will have readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. Music will be selected based upon common songs used during the Advent season. Advent can be celebrated at home as well. The Christian Resource Institute has good information on the meaning behind Advent and ways to celebrate.

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Isaiah 2: 1 – 5 Continue reading

Tullian Tchividjian – Partial Timeline of Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse and Spiritual Abuse

Tullian Tchividjian, Clergy Sex Abuse, Spiritual Abuse

Tullian Tchividjian, Clergy Sex Abuse, scandal, spiritual abuse

Facebook profile photo

This is a partial timeline of the situation involving Tullian Tchividjian. It focuses on his various publications since 2007 (if a book title appears twice, the first is a hardcover version and the second is paperback), his church ministry roles since 2009, and his publicly revealed illicit sexual involvements. We’re limiting the timeline to these topics and key events, to help focus attention on the overlaps between his ministries and publication writing periods that were paralleled by emotional and sexual grooming of women who were in some way within his sphere of influence. Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book,”God’s Design” – Examples of Complementarian Manhood and More Doublespeak

Complementarian, Egalitarian, Teaching Children, Children Desiring God, John Piper


Paul & Jesus: Examples of Complementarian Manhood

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African boy – Image from Pixabay

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

Today, boy children will learn about biblical complementarian manhood from two godly examples that were not even married. Girls, it would be wise for you to listen up, too, so you are aware of what husband material godly manhood looks like. Continue reading

How has this election affected you as a Christian?

Christianity, Presidential Election, Evangelical Leaders Influence

 

 

How has this election affected you as a Christian? This has been the most difficult election I’ve ever seen in my life. As a Christian, I found it difficult to support either Republican or Democratic candidate for a variety of reasons. There were certain issues that greatly concerned me about both candidates, yet I felt compelled to do my civic duty and vote for the person whom I believed could best do the job of President — but even then, I still was not 100% settled with my vote.

My best friend and I were at odds. We got in many heated debates by phone, text, messaging, but neither one convinced the other to vote for the other side. Thankfully, this friend and I go back many years and we disagree on a lot of topics, but our love and respect for each other allows us to remain close friends.

But on Facebook, I have seen people lose friendships because of this kind of heated debating. It’s very sad. Continue reading

Doug Phillips Releases Statement Attempting to Appear Innocent of All Sexual Allegations Against Him after Lawsuit Settlement

Doug Phillips, Vision Forum, Sex Abuse Lawsuit, Lourdes Torres, Clergy Sex Abuse, David C. Gibbs III

didnothave

On October 30, 2013, Doug Phillips, President of Vision Forum Ministries, stepped down from his position and issued this public statement:

In June of 2016, I posted about the conclusion of the lawsuit: it was dismissed and settled: Doug Phillips: The Sex Abuse Lawsuit Conclusion and Epilogue of His Vision Forum Shipwreck

Interestingly, exactly three years and one day later after Doug Phillips’ resignation, whoever mans the Vision Forum page on Facebook has posted their version of an update about the sex abuse lawsuit brought on by Plaintiff Lourdes Torres. Continue reading

1-1/2 years Later, Bethlehem Baptist Church Doesn’t Seem to get Domestic Violence: A Personal Story

Bethlehem Baptist Church, Pastor Jason Meyer, Domestic Violence, Emotional Abuse, Spiritual Abuse

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.49.07 AM

Pastor Jason Meyer, Bethlehem Baptist Church

Almost exactly 1-1/2 years ago, I wrote an article about John Piper’s former church, Bethlehem Baptist Church (BBC) regarding domestic violence, Encouraging Shift from Bethlehem Baptist Church Regarding Domestic Abuse and Care for Abused Women. Around that time, BBC pastor, Jason Meyer, preached a sermon and humbly expressed how he and his church had not handled domestic violence appropriately.

You can listen to the sermon or read the transcript here: Fooled by False Leadership

The following is the opening paragraph of the Elders’ Statement which was also released at the same time:

Elders’ Statement on Domestic Abuse
We, the council of elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church, are resolved to root out all forms of domestic abuse (mental, emotional, physical, and sexual) in our midst. This destructive way of relating to a spouse is a satanic distortion of Christ-like male leadership because it defaces the depiction of Christ’s love for his bride. The shepherds of Bethlehem stand at the ready to protect the abused, call abusers to repentance, discipline the unrepentant, and hold up high the stunning picture of how much Christ loves his church.

I was cautiously optimistic about the steps Bethlehem Baptist seemed to be taking. They brought in professionals to help them learn and understand domestic violence signs. They professed to want a heart to empathize with women who were harmed by domestic violence.

One domestic violence case was ongoing at that time. Natalie had reached out to the Bethlehem Baptist leaders for help years earlier. But now, the church leadership was doing a complete overhaul in how they were going to counsel when there was abuse involved . . . . or so they implied. Continue reading