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Wednesday
Mar272013

Power Grab Enables SGM Board to Choose Mahaney's Replacement

Now that C.J. is out of the way, the Board of Directors (i.e., Paul Buckley, Ron Boomsma, Mickey Connolly, Ian McConnell, Ken Mellinger, Al Pino, Phil Sasser) can pick his replacement without following the procedures outlined in the Sovereign Grace Book of Church Order.  Once chosen, the Executive Director need only be confirmed by a simple majority (51%) of the “provisional” Council of Elders.  Slam dunk. 

“As that new polity takes effect, I will be transitioning from the role of President, and the Executive Committee will recommend an individual for confirmation by the Council of Elders to serve in the newly formed role of Executive Director.”  (C.J. Mahaney, Mar 8, 2013) 

In so doing, the SGM pastors will have no say in who is picked to lead the Leadership Team over the next four years.  Instead, the Board of Directors will independently choose a man that pleases them.  This is a travesty given all the hype surrounding the Book of Church Order.  Let’s call it March Madness. 

How did the Board of Directors pull off this alley oop?  First, they asked C.J. to step down because of the lawsuit, upcoming revelations related to the lawsuit, the loss of trust in him by most everyone, and the need to pick a successor now so they can try to rebuild. (Note to SGM pastors.  Don’t believe the spin put out by Paul Buckley in his recent talking points!) 

Second, the Board of Directors unilaterally resolved they are “henceforth the Executive Committee”[1] even though they did not become the Executive Committee via the process mandated in the proposed Book of Church Order!  This was a power grab.  As a result, C.J.’s replacement won’t emerge from the representational process outline in the Book of Church Order.     

I have no confidence the current Board will pick an Executive Director that will change the status quo.  It will likely be Mark Prater but that is a terrible choice if they want to reform SGM and restore a godly reputation.  Mark has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of integrity while on the Interim Board (Jul 2011-Mar 2012), on the Review Panel (Dec 2011), and during the long term cover-up of Dave Harvey’s sins to mention a few.  Mark is now embroiled in a major conflict with Dave which contributed to Dave’s resignation as an elder in their church on March 15.  

This demonstrates for the millionth time why there must be a clean break from past and current leaders in SGM.  The Polity Committee should add one more line to the Book of Church Order.  Here it is.  “If you were or are a Board of Director, Leadership Team member, Regional Overseer, Three Panel Review member, or Polity Committee member; you are prohibited from all leadership roles in SGM after April 12.”  That should do it.  Well maybe not.  The old leaders are training the young leaders and the young leaders are imitating the old leaders.  Here’s a better solution - leave Sovereign Grace Ministries and start over with a commitment to humility, integrity and transparency. 

In any case, the Executive Director will be the most important and powerful man in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  For example: 

“The Executive Director is the presiding officer of the Leadership Team who answers directly to the Executive Committee.  He is [also] a non-voting member of the Executive Committee.” (SGM RPP, p. 86) 

A detailed process is laid out in the Book of Church Order for how this key leader is supposed to be nominated, elected and confirmed.  But there will be no nomination process.  There will be no election by a newly constituted and representative Executive Committee.  There will be no confirmation by a National Council of Elders duly elected by the Regional Assemblies of Elders.  

The SGM Board is in charge.  No one is reading the Book of Church Order. 

If SGM wants to restore any credibility, there must also be a clean break between the current Board of Directors and the formation of a new Executive Committee.  The Board should not be allow to pronounce itself “henceforth the Executive Committee.”  The Executive Committee is a new entity under the Book of Church Order and it represents a “significant change in structure and responsibility” (SGM RPP, p. 40).  

Yet, the Board assumed this prerogative by declaring itself the Executive Committee without following the polity laid out in the Book of Church Order for how this altogether new representative body must be constituted.  All this is justified in the name of “continuity and stability.”  I see it as a means to control who ends up in power starting with the Executive Director.

“In an effort to maintain continuity and stability while working toward a more thoroughgoing representational Executive Committee, the plan will be implemented gradually.” (SGM RPP[2], p. 84) 

The Executive Committee is not self-appointed according to the Book of Church Order.  It is elected by the National Council of Elders which is created by the Regional Assemblies of Elders.  Here is how the Executive Director and Executive Committee are supposed to be elected according to the Book of Church Order.  It is not being followed.  

Step 1 – Regional Leaders Elected 

 

  • “The Regional Leader is recognized and elected by the elders in his region and is accountable to them. He also becomes their representative in the election of the members of the Executive Committee.” (SGM RPP, p. 78) 

 

Step 2 – Nominating Committee Formed 

 

  • “The Regional Leaders will select five of their own members to serve, the Leadership Team will select one of its own members to serve, and the Executive Committee will select one of its own members to serve on the [National] Nominating Committee.” (SGM RPP, p. 83) 

 

Step 3 – Council of Elders Formed 

 

  • “The Council of Elders is a representative body made up of one ordained elder from each church in SG.  Churches with adult memberships of over 500 are granted an additional representative elder.” (SGM RPP, p. 38) 

 

Step 4 – Nominating Committee Selects Candidates for the Executive Committee 

Step 5 – Counsel of Elders Elects Executive Committee from Candidates

 

  • “The Council of Elders will elect the [nine] members of the Executive Committee from the slate of candidates put forward by the [national] Nominating Committee.” (SGM RPP, p. 83)

 

Step 6 – The Executive Committee Elects the Executive Director

 

  • “After the Executive Committee has chosen the Executive Director candidate, he must be confirmed by a simple majority of the Council of Elders” (SGM RPP, p. 82)
  • “[The Executive Committee] determines which positions will comprise the Leadership Team, and who will fill these positions.  At a minimum, the Leadership Team must include an Executive Director.” (SGM RPP, p. 86)

 

Step 7 – The Executive Director Must be Confirmed by the Council of Elders

 

  • “After the Executive Committee has chosen the Executive Director candidate, he must be confirmed by a simple majority of the Council of Elders.” (SGM RPP, p. 82)  

 

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I know it is easier to get your Final Four picks correct than figure out the Book of Church Order but here’s the bottom line.  When the SGM Board of Directors declared itself the Executive Committee on February 25, it took over the process by which the next Executive Director is chosen.  As a result, the SGM pastors will have no say in who leads them into the future because the highly acclaimed Book of Church Order is on the shelf collecting dust. 

One final note.  Every non-profit organization like Sovereign Grace Ministries is required by law to have a Board of Directors and enumerate their powers in the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.  SGM claims to be doing away with a Board of Directors but that is impossible.  I’ve email Phil Sasser about this inconsistency.        

SGM pastors must find out who will constitute the legal Board of Directors for the corporation and how they are selected.  They have a lot of power when push comes to shove. 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 5:19 PM
To: Phil Sasser
Subject: Board of Directors 

You cannot have a 501(c)(3) corporation like SGM without a Board of Directors and their powers must be enumerated in the Bylaws.  You do not address this in the SGM Revised Polity Proposal.  Who will constitute the Board of Directors per [Kentucky] law and what will be their powers? 

For instance, who has the power to dissolve the corporation and liquidate its assets?  In Kentucky, you need a minimum of three Directors.


[1] “The terms for five members of the current Board (henceforth the Executive Committee) will end on or before December 31, 2013.  Their replacements will be elected at this year’s Council of Elders.  The terms of the remaining four current Board members will end on or before December 31, 2014, and their replacements will be elected at next year’s Council of Elders meeting.” (SGM Revised Polity Proposal, Feb 25, 2013, p. 8; cf. p. 84).  

[2] Sovereign Grace Ministries Revised Polity Proposal, February 25, 2013.

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