Written by Tina Jenkins
I started attending Calvary Chapel Visalia in the fall of 1988. What appealed to me at that time was the very relaxed style, the jeans, shorts and flip-flops. I was born Catholic and married a man who was Methodist, so we had to find a church we both agreed upon. I had a wonderful friend who attended CCV at the time and she encouraged me to come check it out.
The first year or so, I volunteered in the Children’s Ministry where I taught third and fourth grade. It was there I met Paul Grenier, he was in my class. Those were good memories for me. Paul was both smart and funny. He always held a special place in my heart along with a handful of other students. I was newly married with no kids of my own, probably about 21 or 22.
As a new Christian, I was eager to serve and learn. The first interesting thing I remember was, the name changed to Immanuel Christian Fellowship. If my memory serves me right, Bob told the congregation it was so he could teach freely. I never questioned it, I trusted Bob. I also noticed during that time, that many really good people left. I was too young to question anything, I loved this new church I found. I trusted Bob and had no idea he had a sinister side to him. Knowing what I do now, I wish I would have left like the rest of them.
Years, had gone by and I had four children and I was busy with them. I only attended church and was not involved. As the kids began to get a little older around 2002, I was approached by a pastor on staff and asked if I would be interested in the Children’s Ministry. That was something I had never considered and didn’t think I could run three services. After some thought, I decided that I would give it a try. I loved it! Working with the children and awesome teachers that we had, blessed me so much!
I served with my whole heart as unto the Lord. I even set my family aside many times to serve, which I shouldn’t have. I did notice from time to time there was an over emphasis on the building, café and church grounds at the expense of the people. The children’s ministry and the youth ministry struggled while the main sanctuary and anything that had to do with the adults was deluxe. It made my heart ache. But I did what I could to make the children’s ministry the best it could be.
During that time Bob hired a good friend of mine who worked hard, from sun up to sun down. I never and I mean never saw him sitting around being lazy. This man was a brand new believer and was eager to serve the Lord. Bob capitalized on that and began to work him relentlessly. It was almost disgusting the way that Bob had this gentleman cater to him, like Bob was the president and he was his slave. But this guy loved Bob and would have done anything for him. Something happened that Bob decided to let him go. Bob said that he wasn’t performing his job. Ok that’s fine, but there are ways to let people go especially in the church. I believe that it should have been handled in a way that didn’t crush his spirit. When he was let go, I was very disturbed by it because I knew he did work hard and I couldn’t understand it.
Something about this whole situation didn’t make sense. When it was announced in a staff meeting, they asked if everyone was OK with that or something to that manner. I remember saying, “No.” As I can recall, I was the only one that had anything to really say. Everyone was just quiet. I looked around and thought what is wrong with you people, you’re all ok with it? (Now I know why they were silent, they knew Bob better than I did apparently.) I left that meeting shaking my head, but I didn’t know that I would be continually harassed by Bob from that point on. He was always asking me how I was doing and not in a concerned way, more like trying to find out what side of the fence I was on. One afternoon while I was working in one of the classrooms, the church secretary came in and said, “Bob wants to talk to you.” I told her that I didn’t want to talk to him. She left and then came back and said, “Right now.” At this point I was crying and I walked out to the hallway and Bob and Greg Dowds quickly rushed me to Bob’s back office behind the church where no one would be. Bob sat me down and began to try to explain why he had fired this guy. I just looked at him, finally he got frustrated and began to proceed to raise his voice at me telling me how lazy and blah, blah, blah my friend was. After he vented his anger out, he then said, “And if you repeat that, then you can leave to!” I was in shock! I looked over at Greg who stared at the floor and didn’t even make eye contact and I just thought this guy isn’t who I thought he was at all.
He can’t kick me out of the church? Can he? This man isn’t a pastor at all, he just basically told me to hit the door if I repeated what HE just vomited all over me. It was at that instance that I knew there was something wrong Bob. He was now trying to bully me into submission. I felt such a demonic feeling that it made me sick to my stomach. I went home that night and I thought how could this be… the church that I loved so much and raised my kids in and now I’m being bullied around by my pastor? I really couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I felt as if my soul was molested. Greg Dowds called me that night to tell me what a wonderful person I was and how much I did for the children’s ministry. I think it was Bob’s way of doing a little damage control. There was never an apology from Bob.
Many might wonder why I stayed after that. It was very complicated in my mind. My children were born and raised in this church and this was our social life. I also loved the people there like family and I didn’t want to “disturb the church.” So I decided to stay which continued the abuse.
Anyway, I stayed and kept my mouth shut so my children would not have to leave the church they loved. Shortly after that meeting with Bob and Greg, I went into pastor Jim’s office and told him that I never wanted to be left alone with Bob again and if he could please be present if Bob ever needed to talk to me. Jim’s words were something like, “Did he say something to you?” I just shook my head no because I didn’t want to disclose what Bob had said and risk being kicked out of the church. I continued to serve as the Children’s Ministry Director but I had a plan to get out of leadership quietly. I was not going to be a part of a corrupt leadership. The weeks following this harassment I just about had a nervous break down. I tried to hide the pain but it was showing and the people who knew me began to ask if I was ok. I just shook my head “no” but I didn’t say a word. There is nothing worse than seeing the man who is bullying you around with intimidating stares, and a threat hanging over your head, then speak about the love of God from the pulpit. It was the most disturbing thing in the world. Being the type of person who wears my emotions on my sleeve, my face showed the grief I was feeling. I was told that I couldn’t go around looking like that and I needed to basically plaster a smile on. This was even more abuse and every time I pulled up at the church I would just start shaking and crying. I finally went in and told Assistant Pastor Jim that I couldn’t work like this anymore. I had to step out of the ministry.
Just about the time I stepped out of ministry, they hired a new pastor for the youth. He was a breath of fresh air and had a genuine love for God and the youth. He asked me if I would help in the youth department and I told him I would assist but I wouldn’t get back into a position where I was being paid. I didn’t want to be a part of leadership there, I saw the arrogance and mean spirit of Bob firsthand. Well as I helped in the youth, I ended up loving it as well. I was still very gun-shy and tried to keep my distance. I don’t know exactly what happened but Bob let him go too. I venture to say because he wasn’t a yes man. He would speak up when he needed to and that is just not acceptable to Bob. Bob runs the show with an iron fist. He basically told him on a Wednesday night that he was to perform worship and someone else would teach. I was called aside and told that he quit to pursue his music career. My first thought was, “What?” Then I thought, “I know him and he wouldn’t just leave the kids he loves, that’s not like him.” The look on his face that night was hurt beyond measure and I knew something was wrong. It all came back to me again, how they treated my friend a year prior and how Bob bullied me around and I thought I’m not going through this again.
Because this youth pastor was let go so suddenly, we decided to have a going away party for him at my friend Deanna house. We invited the youth group and anyone else who wanted to say good-bye and good luck. After that evening, it was decided that we would start a Bible study there and he could lead it. Anyone was invited to come, even those who didn’t attend Calvary Chapel. My husband and I intended to purchase Deanna’s home and continue to have the study. Pastor Mike called me to ask me how the move was going and I told him fine. He then proceeded to ask me if I was going to continue having that Bible study in my home after I bought the house and I said, “Yes, is that a problem?” His reply was, “Well…not for me.” I knew exactly who had the problem with that, the man who needs to control everything. It was then that I decided to leave. I thought to myself, I will never go to a church that feels they have the authority to tell me I cannot have a Bible study in my home. Prior to that call from Mike, Bob glared at me in the foyer of the church with his arms folded. My husband walked right up to him and said, “Hi Bob how are you this morning?” Later Russ said, “Wow did you see him staring you down?” I said I was aware he was trying to intimidate me into submission again. He continued to pick apart the Bible study in my home until everyone finally quit coming. In my opinion, he is relentless and ruthless.
I first stayed because I didn’t want to remove my children from the church they loved and then I left so Bob could never harm my children spiritually. I had suffered enough under his leadership and in the end my children were indeed effected by all of this….they should have been able to have a wonderful church to attend all their lives, with wonderful memories and now all they have is the memories of a pastor who bullied around their mother. We attend church now but it is very few and far between and my children just sit with us and they don’t get involved and neither do I. My heart and soul are still damaged.
After I left, I began to wonder about a few things…
Why was the name changed from CCV to Immanual Christian Fellowship?
Why did all those good people leave around this time?
What was Glick going to bring forward to the church?
How come I never saw a church budget the entire time I was there? Didn’t even know there was such a thing until after I left and noticed other churches were completely transparent with the financial records.
Where is all the tithe money going exactly?
Why wasn’t it ever made known who the board was? I guess it wouldn’t have mattered anyway if they really weren’t able to make a difference if you had a complaint.
Who actually owns that church property? Who is on the deed?
Then the blogs began to roll and new info was coming out….what happened to the Grenier boys? Paul? It was then I knew I needed to take a stand to give these boys some credibility to their accusations. After experiencing what I had personally, I could see those things happening to them.
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