Joshua Harris has wisely postponed reconciliation meetings with C.J. Mahaney over differences regarding confidentiality. That is the very reason I only agreed to consider arbitration with Sovereign Grace Ministries. Arbitration and mediation are different processes. Under arbitration you are not sworn to silence. Under mediation, discussions remain confidential including vital information that should be made public or told to a church. Typically, “necessary interest” (see below) is defined narrowly and must also be agreed upon by both parties. As a result, information is withheld when one party disagrees that other leaders or the church has a “necessary interest” and should be informed.
Therefore, “mediation” can be used to cover up important issues and muzzle critics. This is what happened in Richmond with Gene Emerson at Kingsway Community Church. Bob Dixon, Steve Whitman, and Bud Moreland were not permitted to discuss with the church the dire issues they covered with Gene and the pastors. This prohibition did not serve Gene or the church.
Now C.J. is taking the same approach with Joshua and the pastors of Covenant Life Church. From my perspective, this constitutes an effort to cover up important issues, questions, and illustrations that should be disclosed. Of course, there is a legitimate place for confidentiality when seeking to reconcile relationships between two people. But “confidentiality” can also be abused and used to conceal information that should be made available to others. That will be the case in C.J. versus Joshua unless C.J. changes his mind and is willing to be open and honest about the issues that divide them.
The following was posted yesterday.
September 14 2011 at 11:55 am
At the August 17 Members Meeting [for CLC], I shared that C.J. had concerns with how we had been leading through this crisis. C.J. communicated that he wants to pursue reconciliation with us with the help of a mediator. What some of you might not know is that this week we met as a first step. The following is a joint statement that we prepared to explain the status of the process. Thank you for your prayers! —Joshua
We are grateful for all the people who have expressed support in prayer as C.J. Mahaney and Joshua Harris pursue reconciliation with the assistance of Ted Kober from Ambassadors of Reconciliation. Joshua was accompanied by his advisor Grant Layman. C.J. was accompanied by his advisor Phil Sasser.
While we both desire the mediation to occur, Joshua asked for the meetings to be postponed because of a difference on how matters of confidentiality will be handled. Normal mediation agreements involve a commitment not to share details of the mediation with anyone that does not have “necessary interest.” Both parties acknowledge that certain outcomes of the mediation need to be shared with others, but we have different viewpoints on when and how that occurs.
Nevertheless, C.J. and his advisor shared documents they had prepared outlining the categories of concern for Joshua and the pastors of Covenant Life.
Both parties agreed to share these documents only with the pastoral team of Covenant Life and the Board of Directors of Sovereign Grace. We have agreed to only share these documents with others with the permission of each other. We anticipate that there will be a time after some reflection and possible changes that these documents will be shared more broadly.
The next step in the process will be for the Covenant Life pastoral team to read, consider and pray over the documents C.J. has prepared in writing. We will then work on the next appropriate step for moving the mediation forward.
We ask for people’s prayers as we continue to work together toward resolution of our substantive issues and reconciliation of our personal relationships.