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Wednesday
Jul252012

News Alert - Redeemer Church of Charlottesville VA First to Leave Sovereign Grace Ministries!

The following joint statement was sent out yesterday to all the SGM pastors. 

July 24, 2012 

A Joint Statement: Redeemer Church of Charlottesville, VA and Sovereign Grace Ministries 

We want to let you know that Redeemer Church of Charlottesville has decided to end their association with Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Though saddened by this news, we are supportive of their decision. We are very grateful for the humble and careful way they have worked through this and the peaceable and respectful way we have been able to discuss our differences.  But mostly, we are grateful for the long relationship we have had with Keith Breault.  He continues to be a man whom we love and respect. We wish him, his leadership team, and Redeemer Church great blessings and success in the future. Though separating in formal association, we are not separated in mutual affection, mutual respect, and mutual passion to see God glorified through gospel-centered local churches.

Below is a letter from Keith explaining this separation from their perspective.

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I’m writing on behalf of Redeemer Church of Charlottesville to inform you that on July 9th we separated from SGM.

As you can imagine, this decision was difficult for every member of our leadership team and for many in our church -- who have a long history with SGM.  We have enjoyed a rich partnership with SGM and thank God for the ways in which we have been trained, strengthened and fed through this wonderful group of believers.  The relationships we’ve forged within SGM over the years are some of the dearest we possess, and we hope changing our affiliation won’t alter the deep fellowship God has wrought and nurtured.

Over the past year, we have been watching events unfold while simultaneously planting this new church in Charlottesville.  Naturally, we have been evaluating SGM’s leadership in light of how it corresponds with our own priorities and values.  “Consistent divergence” describes the dynamic between SGM’s leadership and our own instincts and convictions.  We love the people of SGM and we love the leaders of SGM, but differences in some key areas make peaceful departure our best option.

This decision and its rationale were expressed in detail to SGM by letter on July 9, with our commitment to uphold respect and goodwill.  In phone calls the following day with C.J. Mahaney, Dave Harvey, and Mickey Connolly -- and a conference call Thursday between Mickey and our leadership team -- we exchanged expressions of mutual encouragement and respect for our varied perspectives.  We also exchanged commitments to conduct this transition peaceably, with the Gospel in mind, wishing each other maximum joy and fruitfulness as we all continue to follow Jesus.

Thank you for your friendship and support throughout our years of SGM partnership.  We invite your prayers as we continue spreading the Gospel in Charlottesville.

With our brotherly love, in Christ

Keith Breault

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Five Observations

1.  It Took Courage to Separate 

  • “I’m writing on behalf of Redeemer Church of Charlottesville to inform you that on July 9th we separated from SGM.” (Keith Breault)
  • This took courage and it is a big deal especially since Keith has been a poster boy for SGM for a long time.  Furthermore, he wrote this letter to the SGM pastors.  There are serious relational implications (or ramifications).  Keith and the men around him have little idea what life is like outside of SGM.  Others churches will leave SGM and join them but it is still a frightful prospect.  What’s best about the decision is it was based upon principle.  Keith, Steve Patterson, the other leaders and church are to be commended. 

2.  The Only Way to Get C.J.’s Attention 

  • “In phone calls the following day with C.J. Mahaney, Dave Harvey, and Mickey Connolly -- and a conference call Thursday between Mickey and our leadership team -- we exchanged expressions of mutual encouragement and respect for our varied perspectives.” (Keith Breault)
  • Drastic action is the only way to get C.J.’s, Dave’s and Mickey’s attention.  They are unresponsive to correction or criticism until there are negative consequences that affect them.  Then you get immediate attention.  That’s the way it was with me.  Only when I indicated that I planned to share my documents with the SGM pastors did C.J. promise to confess his sins, address my charges of deceit, and provide a thorough response to my writings.  That’s the way it’s been in countless situations.  You are ignored or rebuffed like Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Church Fairfax until there are negative repercussions for SGM.  Then they will negotiate with you.  The day after C.J., Dave and Mickey received Keith’s letter they were on the phone.  Damage control began immediately.  They did not want the details of Keith’s July 9th letter getting out!  Last Thursday, Mickey expressed “mutual encouragement and respect for our varied perspectives” because Keith and the leadership team agreed those “varied perspectives” would not be aired in public.    

3.  They Evaluated SGM’s Leadership 

  • “Over the past year, we have been watching events unfold while simultaneously planting this new church in Charlottesville.  Naturally, we have been evaluating SGM’s leadership in light of how it corresponds with our own priorities and values.  “Consistent divergence” describes the dynamic between SGM’s leadership and our own instincts and convictions.  We love the people of SGM and we love the leaders of SGM, but differences in some key areas make peaceful departure our best option.  We love the people of SGM and we love the leaders of SGM, but differences in some key areas make peaceful departure our best option.” (Keith Breault)
  • This is the most important paragraph.  Keith and the leadership team have been evaluating [i.e. doing some godly judging] the actions and decisions of SGM leaders for a year.  Thank God!  Based upon this evaluation they observed a “consistent divergence” between their “priorities and values” and those of C.J., Dave, Mickey and other SGM leaders.  Also between their “instincts and convictions” and those of C.J., Dave, Mickey and other SGM leaders.  They should openly define these priorities, values, instincts, convictions and differences in key areas instead of remaining silent. 

4.  SGM Supportive of Decision to Leave 

  • “Though saddened by this news, we are supportive of their decision.  We are very grateful for the humble and careful way they have worked through this and the peaceable and respectful way we have been able to discuss our differences…. He continues to be a man whom we love and respect.”  (C.J., Dave, Mickey, et. al)
  • The only reason SGM is “supportive of their decision” to leave is because of the confidentiality agreement agreed to by Keith and the leadership team.  As a result, Keith “continues to be a man whom we love and respect.”  If Keith exposed SGM this positive assessment would change immediately!  If you want the commendation of SGM you must be willing to conceal their faults and agree to their terms.  If you speak openly and honestly about the serious problems that exist in SGM you will be hammered. 

5.  Exchanging Commitments 

  • “This decision and its rationale were expressed in detail to SGM by letter on July 9, with our commitment to uphold respect and goodwill…. We also exchanged commitments to conduct this transition peaceably, with the Gospel in mind, wishing each other maximum joy and fruitfulness as we all continue to follow Jesus.” (Keith Breault)
  • I’m glad Keith and his leadership team expressed their rationale for leaving in detail to SGM but they should also be willing to do the same in public.  They need to disturb the peace (not keep an ungodly peace) and call for C.J.’s, Dave’s and Mickey’s repentance “with the Gospel in mind.”  That is the only thing that will result in “maximum joy and fruitfulness” for them as individuals and for SGM as an organization.  This capitulation won them the support of SGM but lost them favor in the sight of God.  I hope other churches follow the example of Redeemer Church of Charlottesville in leaving SGM.  I hope no one follows their example in not openly calling for repentance, confession, and restitution like we find throughout the Bible.  Keith and the leadership team should post the detailed letter they sent C.J., Dave and Mickey on July 9.  That would do far greater good then simply separating from SGM in silence!  

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