Monday, June 29, 2015

Steven Furtick and Elevation Church publicly support, celebrate, and elevate a convicted child sex offender before, during and after federal prison: registered sex offender Norman Vigue now leads Elevation Church Bible study

This is a post in collaboration with Dee Parsons at The Wartburg Watch.

Elevation Church, with lead pastor Steven Furtick, is a Southern Baptist mega-church in Charlotte, North Carolina. According to the The Charlotte Observer, "in nine years, Charlotte’s Elevation Church has grown from the 121 worshippers at its first service to the more than 17,000 who now show up every weekend at its 13 locations." 
Overall, the magazine also said, Elevation is the country’s 15th largest Protestant church – and the youngest church on the “largest” list.
“These young clergy (like Furtick) are learning from the experiences of their elders and are often being directly mentored by them,” Thumma said.
Elevation is governed not by a board of church members, but by Furtick and a group of four out-of-town pastors who lead their own megachurches. Some of them, including Perry Noble of 15-year-old NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C., have been among Furtick’s mentors.
Experts have said this lack of oversight by those who attend the church, and the transparency that usually comes with that, sets Elevation apart from other Southern Baptist churches and even other megachurches. But there are few signs that this has become an issue with most of those who attend Elevation.

In a November 2013 post Numbers, not souls: a culture ripe for abuse I wrote:

One of the megachurch leaders that serves on the Elevation Church board of elders is Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. Graham is accused of covering up child sex abuse by a former staff minister, John Langworthy, now a convicted child sex offender in Mississippi. According to this story in the Christian Post, Graham, along with 4 other megachurch pastors on the elder board, helps decide Furtick's salary and influences his ministry. 

What kind of influence is Jack Graham passing along to Steven Furtick? From what I have personally experienced in speaking out about abuse at Prestonwood, the message seems to be that people are numbers, not souls. And the more numbers these megachurch pastors have to brag about, the less value each individual has. The perceived greater good of protecting the image of the institution becomes paramount. 

  • Ed Young Jr: Fellowship Church, Dallas/Grapevine, TX
  • Perry Noble: NewSpring Church, Anderson, SC
  • Stovall Weems : Celebration Church, Jacksonville, FL
  • Kevin Gerald : Champions Center, Seattle, WA
  • Jack Graham Prestonwood Baptist, Dallas/Plano,TX
Megachurch pastor tells his congregation his newly built 16,000-square-foot house is gift from God

Norman W. Vigue 

Norman Wilfred Vigue- registered sex offender in North Carolina

Over two months after Norman's arrest on federal charges of possession of child pornography, Steven Furtick, lead pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, dedicated a blog post to Norm. (The archived link is here, just in case.)

December 29th, 2006
My hero of the day is in the office right now, working in the conference room.
His name is Norm Vigue.
In a bizarre twist, I can’t tell you right now why he’s my hero of the day just yet.
Because I’m going to bring him up on the stage and share a part of his story on Sunday morning, and you’ll all get to meet him for yourselves.
Then he will be signing autographs in the back, at the resource table, where he works every single week.
Love ya Norm!
See you Sunday!

Norm pleaded guilty on October 25, 2006.  His sentencing is dated June 19, 2007. Furtick dedicated another blog post to Norm on July 2, 2007 in which Furtick refers to Norm as a key volunteer and would probably win the award for “most loved Elevator.” (The archived link is here , just in case.)
 July 2nd, 2007
One of my favorite people at Elevation Church is a guy named Norm.
He gave his life to Christ during our first month as a church. We baptized him a few weeks later. Now he’s a key volunteer and would probably win the award for “most loved Elevator”, if there were such an award. Lori, work on that.
A few months ago, Norm came into my office and asked me if we were going to kick him out of the church. It turns out that before he received Christ, Norm committed some crimes and he was facing at least a few years in jail.
The hearings would take a few months, and in the meantime his question was:
Is this the kind of church that can forgive a guy like me?
When I told him that not only were we going to forgive him, we were going to have the entire church pray for him, support him, and prepare him for whatever may happen to him during the sentencing, he cried like a baby.
 I called him up on stage in January and told his story.
He said that if he hadn’t given his life to Christ at Elevation a year ago, he wouldn’t have been able to survive the pressure of these charges. He would have killed himself. But now, with Christ, his small group, and his volunteer team behind him, he was ready to follow Christ no matter what happened next.
Because thousands of people watch and listen to our messages online, people all over the country have been asking me: “Whatever happened to Norm? Is he going to have to go to jail?”
Here’s the email Norm sent me a week and a half ago. Sadly, it’s not good news. But Norm’s response will challenge and bless you. He said I could share it.
Good Morning Pastor,
Well the case is finished, I will begin serving my sentence in approx. 3 months. In the meantime, I will continue to serve Elevation Church and with the leadership’s help, prepare to serve God in my new journey. Elevation Church has changed my life immensely and the outpouring of support from all corners has been of great comfort and allowed me to face my punishment with great strength. I owe God and Elevation my life and will strive to represent both with dignity and spirituality. Your leadership and example along with the awesome staff will make a difference in Charlotte and NC and I hope to remain a part of that growth even while serving my sentence. I look forward to returning in 4 years with a buff bod that will challenge yours, Chunks’ and Larry’s and a deeper understanding of Jesus Christ in our lives. In the meantime I will continue to be available to you to use my experience as you need. God bless you and your family, Norm.
And here’s the email that Norm’s attorney sent about all the emails that were flooding her inbox the morning of Norm’s sentencing, and how you guys supported him through it all:
These are blowing me away… the fax machine has not stopped all morning. The support and admiration people have for you is such a testament to what a wonderful human being you are. I have never seen anything like this.
Thank you, Elevation, for being that kind of church. The kind of church where a guy like Norm can find hope, forgiveness, and purpose in Jesus Christ, even in the face of five years in prison for a crime he admits that he committed.
I asked Norm just before his sentencing what he wanted me to pray for him.
He didn’t ask that I pray that he wouldn’t go to jail.
Just that God would place him where he could tell the most people about Christ.
If that was prison, so be it.
Elevation, pray for Norm.
And keep being that kind of church.

In his 2010 book Sun Stand Still, Steven Furtick writes an entire chapter on Norman titled, "Mistake into Miracle.In 2010, Norman was still in prison. He was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison in Texas on June 18, 2007. He was released from prison on July 20, 2011 and returned to North Carolina. Norman Vigue registered as a sex offender upon his release from prison on July 20, 2011 and must register for a minimum of 10 years.

One week after Norm Vigue was released from prison, Steven Furtick dedicated another blog post to him which includes a video from the Elevation Church worship service that Vigue attended just a few days after his release from prison. Furtick forgoes the planned message to praise Norm and bring him up on the stage to the applause of the congregation. This blog post is archived here in case the live link somehow disappears.
 July 27th, 2011
 I wrote about Norm in Sun Stand Still. A lot of you have been asking about him. How he’s doing. What became of him.
 If you have forgotten some of the details of Norm’s story or haven’t read the book, Norm is one of the greatest examples I’ve ever seen of how God can turn our mistakes into miracles. Before Norm came to Elevation, he had been involved in some illegal activities and his life was a wreck. But then he accepted Christ and everything changed.
Still, eventually Norm’s past legal mistakes caught up with him. When they did, Norm refused to lie about what he’d done, so he pleaded guilty to all the charges. At the sentencing, the judge dropped the hammer on him. Norm was sentenced to serve the full forty-eight months in a federal prison.
 Norm could have been devastated and felt sorry for himself. Instead, he decided to believe there was a purpose in his prison. His response to his sentencing was inspiring:
I need this church to train me. I need you to teach me how to tell people in the prison about Jesus. I want to go in there and make a difference for God. I want to take what I’ve experienced here at Elevation and start an Elevation in the prison. Will you teach me how to do that?
 We did and we’ve been supporting Norm in every way possible ever since. And God showed up powerfully. In the four years Norm was in prison, several inmates gave their lives to Christ.
I say was, because as of this past weekend, Norm finally came home to Elevation! Here is the rest of his story that couldn’t be told in Sun Stand Still because it wasn’t finished yet. I hope it encourages you that you don’t have to let your past failures define your future. If God could turn Norm’s mistakes into a miracle, he can do the same for yours, too.
 Mistake into a Miracle
Update July 2: As of yesterday morning, this video has been removed, but it is still available here on Steven Furtick's website. This is the video of Furtick bringing Norm Vigue up on stage at the Elevation Church services immediately after Norm was released from federal prison in TX upon his return to North Carolina.

Norm's Story: March 26, 2013

The following statement appears in the court document embedded below: The video ordered by Mr. Vigue was described as follows: "This video has two young cheerleaders and two young football players, all about 12 or 13 years old." 

Note also that this document states that, "In 2004, Norman Vigue found his faith." Furtick claims that Vigue committed these crimes before he became a Christian.
A few months ago, Norm came into my office and asked me if we were going to kick him out of the church. It turns out that before he received Christ, Norm committed some crimes and he was facing at least a few years in jail.
The indictment record of Vigue states that, "Between January 14, 2005 and February 24, 2005, in the Western District of North Carolina and elsewhere, Norman Wilfred Vigue did knowingly receive, and did knowingly attempt to receive, child pornography..."

I can find no documentation that Steven Furtick and Elevation Church have ever mentioned that Vigue's "legal mistakes" are child sex crimes. Crimes are not mistakes. Vigue made a choice to commit the child sex crimes to which he pleaded guilty and for which he was sentenced to federal prison.

I found a 2007 blog post about Norm Vigue by an Elevation Church member, Learn a Lesson.
Last night I attended a “celebration” party for Norm Vigue.  He has an incredible story about how his life was changed.  
Last night was awesome.  I helped get some of the food ready at someone’s catering business and once there, had a good chance to talk to several people and have a few conversations with Norm.  He has such a good heart and is very much ready for the next step in his journey. 
It was interesting to hear him speak about where he was heading.  God is totally up to something because apparently inmates usually go to a prison within 100 miles or so of where they live.  Norm is going 1100 miles away to Texas.  In his words, “Apparently Texas is in need of something.”  He totally sees it as a mission field.  It’s incredible.  He’s going to a minimum-low security prison that tries to rehab inmates and their goal is to get them out as soon as possible.  His sentence is for 40-48 months right now, but it could drop and I don’t doubt that it will.  He said they won’t have bars on their doors or windows, it’ll be similar to dorm style living.  They have common areas with tvs (usually 10-13 he said!).  They have a game room.  Cafeteria style eating.  There is a fence around the facility, but nothing like you picture a prison in the movies.  He says state and federal prisons are very different.  Federal prisons have a goal of rehab and getting you out.  State can keep you as long as they want and are usually the ones where inmate abuse occurs.  He’ll be up around 6am and start working about 7:30am.  There are Christian ministries he can get involved in.  They can take educational courses and use the intranet to take online courses.  No INTERnet.  He can get mail, of course.  He has to make a set list of 10 visitors and that’s all he can allow in, but he CAN change who is on the list every so often.  I love that he said he wants to see if he can hook up with the chaplain or some of the Christian ministries to see if they can get the podcast or online sermons available for inmates to listen to.  He said, “The first time it might be just me and the chaplain, but that’s ok.”  He really wants to keep up with the sermons and says they might need some “hard preaching” in Texas.  That’s something he’s really been praying can work out because it might be hard due to the necessity of the internet to stream the sermons.  I’m sure it can somehow work out and it’s something I’m praying for for him and those he’ll be with.  He’s so calm and at peace about all of what is going on.  I’m incredibly proud of him and I really think something amazing is going to happen during his time there. 
If anyone wants an address to send Norm well wishes from wherever you are…I’ve got it.
I think everyone could take a lesson from Norm and how he’s dealing with something that others would cower in fear about.  Like PF says, “Feel the fear, DO IT ANYWAY.”  Norm has surely felt the fear.  He felt it when he went to the church office that day.  But he’s dealing with it and is ready to go.  We all have scary things that happen to us and the unknown is sometimes frightening.  I don’t like change, but I learn to deal with it and do what I have to do anyway.   Be open to opportunities.  Don’t look at things as if they are obligations, they are opportunities to breathe life into various places and people.

“This is the most manipulative crowd on the planet,” says Kristin Kanner, director of the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Sexually Violent Predator Program.
“Listen to what they say with a grain of salt. Most psychopaths are very charming. You want to like them.”

 The light of truth and knowledge is our greatest tool to protect kids.
People who want to support a convicted and admitted predator should do so privately, not publicly. To hold rallies for a convicted and admitted predator endangers kids by making it harder for those who see, suspect and suffer child sex crimes from speaking up. 
 Those who believe Kelley is innocent should visit him, pray for him, write to him and help his family. But they should do so in ways that do not scare other victims of other predators into staying silent.
By mounting public displays of support for a convicted and admitted predator, these misguided individuals are rubbing even more salt into the already - deep and still - fresh wounds of abuse victims and making it harder for police, prosecutors and employers to catch and oust child molesters. 
Adults must learn to accept a disturbing truth: child molesters don't have forked tongues or devil’s tails or horns on their heads. They are usually not "creepy" people who give us "the willies" or seem socially inept. They are usually charming and charismatic and outgoing. That is often how they are able to gain the trust of children and adults.
So we must overcome the dangerous temptation to believe an accused sex offender is innocent just because he's likeable or talented or devout. Discrediting victims and publicly supporting predators, especially convicted ones, not only hurts the innocent victims who have already suffered too much, but it also hurts other victims who suffer in silence and self-blame.
It creates a hostile environment and does not encourage victims to speak up and help protect other innocent people.
Baptist News Global: Evangelicals behind Catholics on abuse
Amy Smith, a SNAP representative in Houston, said the Southern Baptist Convention has a long history of ignoring abuse and enabling perpetrators by “continuing to elevate and place them in public positions of leadership and trust.”
“Predators are master manipulators and use these positions of trust, particularly spiritual trust, to groom kids and gain the trust of parents, preying upon the vulnerable,” Smith said.
In her own experience of exposing decades-old abuse that resulted in former Southern Baptist music minister John Langworthy pleading guilty in January to five felony counts of gratification of lust in Jackson, Miss., Smith said she was rejected by her own parents and chastised by a pastor in her church.
“It is the light of truth and knowledge that is our greatest tool to protect kids,” Smith said. “Silence and secrecy only help child predators. It is past time for evangelicals to open their eyes to see the evil within their midst.”
Recently Smith reported on her blog that a former staff member at several high-profile Southern Baptist mega churches investigated in 2009 for stalking a minor is now assisting in leadership in the worship ministry at a well-known Baptist church in Fort Worth, Texas.
FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Norman Vigue, registered child sex offender, is currently leading an Elevation Church men's bible study every Tuesday night from 7 pm to 9 pm. 
This eGroup exists to help us further understand God's vision for us as men of purity. This is for men who are interested in growing in their faith, whether renewing a commitment or making a commitment for the first time. The life of Nehemiah is a perfect place to start. If you are seeking the freedom from sexual immorality, this group will provide Biblically-based topical discussion & regular accountability. We are meeting weekly, but rebuilding the walls daily.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

New SNAP statement on Jordan Root, SIM and The Village Church

Victims seek help from NC group
It funded and sent missionary abroad
He was fired after admitting child pornography
Self-help organization now wants “outreach” to “others who may be hurting
A North Carolina-based non-profit fired a missionary it sent abroad after he admitted viewing child pornography. Now, a support group for child sex abuse victims is urging the organization to “aggressively reach out to others he may have hurt and perhaps help law enforcement file charges against him or others who shielded him.”
A Charlotte group called SIM (Serving in Mission), funded and sent Jordan Root to East Asia to spread Christianity in 2014. While there, Root confessed to SIM officials that he “has been sexually attracted to prepubescent female children for many years and that during his service with SIM he has been viewing nude photographs of children via the Internet to gratify this sexual desire.” The group fired Root.
But now, leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are urging SIM “to find and help others who may have seen, suspected or suffered Root’s crimes” and to help law enforcement prosecute Root and others.
“It’s possible that Root or his supervisors or colleagues might be criminally charged with violations like endangering kids, intimidating witnesses, destroying evidence, obstructing justice or failing to report suspected child sex crimes,” said Amy Smith of SNAP, a blogger who has followed the case closely and has been in touch with Root’s wife who has recently gotten her marriage annulled. “Aggressive outreach by every church official who dealt with Root could make a real difference here.”
“We believe there are kids in the US and in East Asia who have been hurt by Root and are suffering in shame, silence and self-blame,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “The question is: will SIM officials and others who gave Root access to kids now help those wounded kids.”
Jordan Root now lives in Dallas. SNAP believes he is now supported by his attorney Randall Reed, a member of The Village Church where Root also attends as a member, specifically TVC Dallas Northway campus at 3877 Walnut Hill Ln.
So now what? Well, Jordan Root’s still a TVC member in good standing and still being coddled and loved-all-up by his church elders, though at least the church has alerted its flock to the situation and is taking measures to ensure he’s never around children without serious supervision, which I’m sure is a huge relief to the parents attending there (NOT) because of course Jesus has healed him but not really but they forgive and there’s no condemnation except even they know the outrage that’d explode if they didn’t take some measures (oh my gosh I’m so glad to be away from that mindfuckery). Ms. Hinkley is very likely free of their clutches at last, and likely a lot more wary about church leaders and “covenant” contracts. The world knows about yet another sex abuse scandal erupting out of a church claiming to be a moral authority and to have divine inspiration and guidance in their behavior and thoughts. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Raising awareness at The Village Church to protect kids

SNAP DFW May 31, 2015

Yesterday, several members of the DFW chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests gathered outside The Village Church Dallas Northway campus. We stood for the protection of kids. We are very concerned that confessed pedophile Jordan Root, a member of TVC & a licensed professional counselor, may have victims in the DFW area and elsewhere, given his volunteer and work history involving vulnerable children.

A missionary from The Village Church (TVC) admitted viewing and having sexual images of children. In February, a church group corroborated this.
But, in a move that has created a firestorm of protest in Christian circles and on the Internet, church officials embraced him and disciplined his wife for moving to have their marriage annulled.
The offender is Jordan Root who did church work in East Asia. SNAP worries that Root may have hurt kids in there. His wife is Karen Hinkley. On Sunday, TVC pastor Matt Chandler has said he will apologize to her.
But SNAP says that an apology “does nothing to protect the vulnerable or heal those already hurt because of the crimes of Root and the actions of TVC staff.” The group believes “that kids are at risk now because Root walks free, living and working among unsuspecting families (and) that there are kids he has hurt who are suffering in silence, shame and self-blame.”
TVC staff should use their vast resources to alert parents, police, prosecutors and the public about Root’s crimes, SNAP says, and to aggressively seek out youngsters he has assaulted. The church has a moral and civic duty to help law enforcement investigation and prosecute Root, so that other kids may be spared devastating harm, the organization maintains.
The victims’ group is also urging anyone “who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Root or cover ups by TVC to call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing.”
SNAP is also deeply skeptical of claims by TVC officials that they have “without exception” reported suspicions and knowledge of child sex crimes to law enforcement.” The group is also “deeply grateful to Karen Hinkley, the brave woman who is exposing possible child sex crimes in the church.”
From 2011 until 2014, according to Internet sources, Jordan Root was a therapist at Timberlawn Mental Health System is at 4600 Samuell Blvd in Dallas (214-381-7181).
As best SNAP can tell, he remains a licensed professional counselor in TX.
Root also worked at the First Baptist Church’s summer camp (May-August 2008), Dolfin Swim School, (September 2008-July 2010), In Class Learning Differences Aid (September-December 2010), a practicum counselor at Dallas Life (with families and children; January-August 2011), as a private children's swim instructor (June-September 2011), a mental health technician at Timberlawn Mental Health Services, (November 2011-March 2012), and as a therapist on the child and adolescent unit at Timberlawn Mental Health Services (March 2012-May 2014).
Between roughly 2003 and 2007, he also did babysitting work and volunteer youth ministry in Cedarville OH, Albany NY and Dallas. From 2008-2011, he did informal children's ministry work with refugee children in at Vickery Meadows and lived in the Santa Fe Trails apartment complex, both in Dallas.
TVC’s public relations director is Kent Rabalais and its Campus Pastor is Steve Hardin.
In a blog post, Karen writes, “The discovery of Jordan’s pedophilia and use of child pornography triggered a thorough upheaval of every aspect of my life… What is even more disturbing than his use of child pornography is that throughout the duration of these years, Jordan sought and gained access to a large number of children, many of whom represent some of the most vulnerable populations of children in our society… [TVC’s] treatment of Jordan as the victim and me as the perpetrator is an appalling reversal that evidences its priorities are not in line…”
Though she hopes that she’s wrong, Karen says she does fear that Jordan hasn’t confessed the “full story.” That said, the FBI did do an investigation of Jordan and found no evidence of child pornography on Jordan’s computer. Still, when she considers how many times she remembers Jordan interacting with children, sometimes in situations in which he was alone with children, Karen becomes sick to her stomach.
Amy Smith, a blogger and co-leader of Dallas’s SNAPNetwork, a survivors network for those abused by priests, has, for months, been following Karen’s story and writing about it at her WatchKeep blog. Regarding the church’s response yesterday, she says it was their mention of repentance in regards to Karen that stood out to her. “What does that mean for Karen in this specific situation?” she wrote in an email to The Daily Beast. “What do they think Karen needs to repent for? Seeking an annulment? Failure to submit to the authority of the elders’ counsel on the annulment?”
To anyone who approached us outside The Village Church yesterday and asked for more information about why we were there, we handed them a leaflet
Dallas church apologizes to wife of sex offender; SNAP responds
Words are easy. Reform is hard. Progress will happen if TVC staff take tangible steps to safeguard those at risk, help those in pain and prosecute those who have committed or concealed child sex crimes.
Finally, in a letter to church members, Chandler writes of “failures” by TVC staff.
That’s disingenuous. “Failure” is when a good faith effort somehow inadvertently goes awry. There was no “failure” here. Chandler and his colleagues acted with deliberation, thought and planning. They knew exactly what they were doing with Root’s crimes and Hinkley’s feelings. It’s a cop-out for them to talk of “failure.”
We urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Root or cover ups at TVC to speak up, get help, call police, protect kids, and expose and deter future wrongdoing. Breaking your silence is the first step toward healing, justice and prevention.
If you know or suspect child sex abuse, please report to law enforcement immediately, not the church.
The Texas Family Code 261.101 requires professionals to make a report within 48 hours of first suspecting abuse, neglect or exploitation of children. The Human Resources code Chapter 48 (48.051) requires a person having cause to believe that an elderly or disabled person is in the state of abuse, neglect, or exploitation to report the information required immediately.
*National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline
The CyberTipline® receives leads and tips regarding suspected crimes of sexual exploitation committed against children. More than 4.3 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation have been made to the CyberTipline between 1998 and April 2015.
If you have information regarding possible child sexual exploitation, report it to the CyberTipline
*Child Help National Child Abuse Hotline
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the United States, its territories, and Canada, the Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance in over 200 languages. The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are confidential.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Karen Hinkley's response to The Village Church 5/23/15 email sent to 6000 "covenant members" about her and Jordan Root

Karen's full response appears below in this post. It can also be viewed here at Scribd. 

I was shocked by the email The Village Church sent to over 6,000 people on Saturday, May 23rd. When I made the decision to go public in order to expose Jordan Root and The Village Church, I knew I was taking a great deal of personal risk, but I had never imagined that TVC would go to such lengths to deceive their members, silence their critics, and defame my character.

I originally chose to speak out primarily for the sake of possible past and future victims of child sexual abuse by Jordan. Today, I choose to speak out for the sake of other past, present, and future victims of spiritual abuse by TVC and similar churches. I want you to know that what has happened, is happening, or will happen to you is not okay and is not a reflection of the nature of God’s very real love for you. I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that there are people who love Jesus who are willing to stand up for you and speak out on your behalf. I want you to know that the bullies do not always win.

In providing the following commentary on The Village Church’s email, I hope to shed light on the deceptive nature of their communications regarding this matter. You will find that there are many details TVC conveniently left out as well as what I believe to be intentional misrepresentations on their part. Much of the documentation for this commentary was posted along with Amy Smith’s original story on May 20th, ( ) while some of it I am bringing to light for the first time. As you read, I pray that you will ask yourself why the leadership of a church that preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ would resort to such despicable tactics in their communications.

In the Name of Jesus and for His sake,
Karen Hinkley

Covenant Members of The Village Church,

It is heartbreaking to send this email regarding two Covenant Members of The Village Church, former missionaries Jordan Root and Karen Hinkley (formerly Root), but our hope is set on Christ through it all.

I have not been a Covenant Member of The Village Church since February 11th, 2015 when I formally withdrew my membership. ( Interestingly, despite the claims of The Village Church that I am still a Covenant Member, I did not receive this email that went out to all of their Covenant Members.

When a public ministry leader, such as a missionary, has persisted in sin, The Village may announce their removal from ministry to the church (
1 Tim. 5:20). We typically define “the church” as our Covenant Members. In the case of Jordan and Karen, we have already communicated their situation to our church staff and all Covenant Members of the Dallas campus. However, in light of the public nature of this situation, some misinformation that we’ve seen online and questions we have been receiving from our members, we felt it was necessary to extend this communication beyond Covenant Members at the Dallas campus to all Covenant Members of The Village Church. We apologize if you are not a Covenant Member of our Dallas campus and found out about the situation from outside sources, but our intent here is to provide clarity and understanding.

Jordan and Karen have been Covenant Members of The Village Church for three years and were sent out last August by the Dallas campus as missionaries to South Asia through a missionary agency called
Serving in Mission (SIM). In December, Jordan confessed that he had viewed online pornography involving children. The Village and SIM were grieved at this news and immediately recalled the Roots from the mission field to further assess the situation and determine the best course of action. SIM, as their employer, began an investigation and notified the police in case Jordan’s actions had legal implications. At the same time, our staff and elders began walking closely with both Jordan and Karen in hopes of working toward their healing and restoration while also dealing with the seriousness of Jordan’s sin, including cooperating with all civil authorities.

This is an example of the way the leaders of The Village Church have repeatedly minimized Jordan’s issues and the nature of his “confession.” I learned that Jordan was viewing child pornography on December 16 after almost three weeks of digging. It had become increasingly clear to me over the previous several months that something was off, but I had no reason to believe that Jordan was capable of lying about something of this magnitude. On Thanksgiving I caught him in an unrelated lie, and I sensed immediately that there was more he was hiding and lying about. I pressed him, and he eventually began what I am calling his "pseudoconfession". He confessed he had masturbated and had accessed nude pictures (of adults) online a handful of times since we had arrived overseas. I felt strongly that there was more to the story and continued to press, but he assured me that there was nothing else.

This began almost three weeks of "pseudorepentance" during which Jordan gave the same "confession" to SIM leadership and The Village Church leadership. He spoke of how relieved he was that the truth was now out and even reported rededicating his life to Jesus at a retreat that weekend. Everyone involved believed in his honesty and repentance, and I so desperately wanted to myself. But I felt a strong conviction that I should keep asking questions, and I did. I persisted in asking questions almost every day over the course of the next three weeks, and on December 16th Jordan's reaction to a question I asked revealed that there was indeed much more to the story. He tried to avoid talking any further that night, but I pressed until he agreed to "tell me the whole story".

That night he admitted to almost ten years of child pornography use that began while he was in college and continued throughout his seminary studies into our dating and engagement. He said that he preferred prepubescent girls ages four and older but that he had seen child pornography involving infants and teenagers as well. He described images and videos he had used in disturbingly graphic detail. He also admitted he had returned to accessing nude pictures of children during our time overseas. When I asked whether his behavior had extended to children he knew in real life, he admitted to having masturbated to thoughts of children in his care. He also described two occasions on which he had been "tempted to molest" children but claimed to have chosen not to.

This case of sin has brought immense damage to a marriage and a ministry. Yet, in the midst of this heartbreaking situation, we have maintained a tremendous love and burden for both Jordan and Karen, for both the offender and offended. Since Jordan and Karen are Covenant Members of The Village who committed themselves to receive the care and protection of our church and elders, we have sought to minister to this brother and sister out of love and biblical commitment.

With regard to Jordan’s care and discipline, we have responded in the two ways that we believe the church should respond with regarding any sin: the blood-bought grace of Jesus for the sinner and the necessary consequences of sin.

There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (
Rom. 8:1) and, therefore, no condemnation for Jordan. He has confessed his sin, and through the finished, redemptive work of Christ, Jordan is washed clean of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), met with forgiveness and granted fellowship with the body (2 Cor. 2:5-8). With that said, grace and love sometimes take the form of discipline and consequence. Hebrews 12:5-11 reminds us that God’s intent for discipline, as a good and loving Father, is the restoration and holiness of His children. The road of discipline is difficult, but when walked faithfully, there is a good end to it. In light of this, the following are the consequences that came from Jordan’s sin:
  • Temporary Separation – Upon Jordan and Karen’s return from the mission field, we felt that it was in their best interest to encourage a temporary marital separation, allowing Karen time to heal and Jordan time to walk in repentance. Like any redemptive separation, the hope was that, after an appropriate time of healing and repentance, the married couple would eventually be able to come back together for the sake of pursuing possible reconciliation. While there may be situations that end in the dissolution of a marriage, we always hope for the power of the gospel to bring about a story of forgiveness and reconciliation.

If I had “come back together [with Jordan] for the sake of pursuing possible reconciliation”, I would not have had the option of having the fraudulent marriage annulled. I would have been forced to choose between resuming a marriage to a fraudulent pedophile and pursuing a divorce.

  • Removal from Ministry – Both SIM and The Village found Jordan disqualified from ministry. This indefinite disqualification includes all formal ministry roles at The Village, as well as SIM’s decision to terminate Jordan from employment.
  • Notification to Authorities of Sin and Struggles – Local police were notified about Jordan’s actions soon after we became aware and the local police later transferred the case to the FBI. The FBI has recently concluded their investigation, including a forensic analysis of Jordan’s laptop computer and mobile phone. The investigation resulted in no charges being filed against Jordan. Appropriate staff and security at The Village were also made aware of all necessary information in this situation at its onset. While SIM and The Village Church are unaware of any children ever being harmed by Jordan, precautions were still taken in order to maintain the safety of all who attend our campuses (see below).

SIM notified the FBI of Jordan's actions shortly after his confession, and I had several conversations with an agent myself beginning January 17th. I learned that they cannot file charges based on admission of use; they must obtain concrete evidence of possession. I completed an intake with the Dallas PD child exploitation unit on March 30th regarding the possibility that Jordan may have abused children in Dallas. They are unable to file charges without a victim who is willing to testify.

The Village Church makes it sound as though they reported Jordan’s actions to law enforcement early in the game. To my knowledge, this is not the case. I know that Jordan’s laptop was in his possession for at least several weeks after his return. I also know that his smartphone was in his possession for several days, at which point he gave it to Richard Brindley. I would be interested to see evidence as to when The Village Church actually reported to law enforcement.

In the years prior to our marriage, Jordan owned two laptops. He used the Linux OS on one of them, and he admitted on December 16th that this was the laptop that he used to access child pornography during those years. That laptop disappeared from the scene during our engagement. He told me back then that he had given it to a friend to hold on to for him, and he never spoke of it again. During our time overseas, Jordan admitted to using a VPN to access nude images of children on both his laptop and his smartphone. It does not surprise me that the FBI was unable to find the concrete evidence of possession that they need to be able to file charges.
  • Restriction from Designated Facilities of The Village Church – While grace is present for Jordan, he cannot and will not have access to designated facilities at The Village for his safety and the safety of our church. Some of the specific security protocols related to The Village include:
    • He is restricted to attending only the Dallas campus.
    • He is not permitted to enter any children’s facilities at the Dallas campus.
    • He must be accompanied by an approved Covenant Member while at the Dallas campus.
    • He must check in with staff or security before services.
  • Removal of Financial Support – As a result of Jordan’s termination, SIM automatically shifted all financial support to Karen. At this time, SIM and The Village have agreed to continue Karen’s financial support through August 31, 2015.

The story of TVC’s financial support of us, and in turn me, is worth being told. The Village Church had been providing less than 10% of our overall budget each month. They stopped their financial support altogether after the week of Jordan’s termination and my withdrawal of membership in February. I had anticipated this and communicated no desire for further support from TVC. 

But on March 25th, I received an email from a young man who is in my former home group and, up to that point, had been a very good friend of mine and a financial supporter himself. He had demonstrated greater insight than most in the home group and had expressed a lot of doubts as to how the church had handled things. He became convinced of the leadership’s good motives after a meeting with Matt Younger in March, where he was told that Younger had “lost sleep over this” and was assured that TVC was continuing my financial support. I found that interesting and watched my donor report to see if the church would resume their giving. They did not. 

I emailed the young man on April 25th to let him know that Matt Younger had misled him. I assured him that I neither wanted nor needed additional financial support from The Village Church, but thought he should know he had been lied to. At this point, TVC had not made a gift since February 10th. The young man contacted Matt Younger, who informed him that there had been an “accounting miscommunication”. Steve Hardin’s text referring to the “clerical error” regarding my support came the next morning.

TVC did resume giving at this time with their next gift arriving in my SIM ministry account a few days later on April 28th. It is interesting to note that by this time The Dallas Morning News was working on a story and, to my knowledge, TVC had recently been tipped off about it.

I have everything I need regarding financial support in my SIM ministry accounts already. I neither want nor need any additional financial support from The Village Church, nor have I requested any. In fact, not a penny of the financial support that TVC is currently sending in will go to me personally; it is excess support beyond the remaining salary I will receive from SIM that will ultimately go to other SIM ministries.

  • Church Discipline and Ongoing Care – Jordan’s sin is serious and difficult, and he has confessed, repented and appears to be submitted to the direction of his elders and pastors. This means Jordan is not in formal church discipline (Matt. 18:15). Instead, moving forward, Jordan will remain in a season of intentional pastoral care, where his role will be to remain faithful to actions in keeping with repentance (Acts 26:20), pursue holiness and purity, and continue to flee from sin.

Please Note: Prior to being at The Village, Jordan served in a number of ministries and events involving children. However, to our knowledge, Jordan has never served in any youth or children’s ministry or event in any capacity at The Village Church.

With regard to Karen, we grieve with her in knowing of the great loss and hurt she has endured over these few months. We can’t even begin to imagine the ways in which Jordan’s sin has wounded her. Many of our elders, ministers, female staff and Covenant Members have reached out to love and support her during this time, but unfortunately she has chosen not to accept our attempts to care for her and provide counsel. Instead, Karen limited her communication with The Village and has now stopped responding entirely.

This is extremely misleading. From the time I returned from overseas until I withdrew my membership, exactly one elder (Matt Younger), exactly one minister (Richard Brindley), and exactly one female staff (Erin Brindley) communicated with me in any substantial way. Steve Hardin’s communication did not begin until after I withdrew my membership.

This began less than four weeks after Karen’s return to the U.S. when she filed for an immediate annulment of her marriage to Jordan apart from the counsel of the church and requested to be placed back in the mission field. We encouraged Karen to slow down and allow us to walk with her in a season of healing before making these life-altering decisions, but she declined to take this step.

This is, again, extremely misleading. I did not file for an "immediate annulment," I filed for an annulment on Friday, February 6th after 52 days of seeking the Lord and wise counsel in the matter. I had not been counseled by the church not to file for an annulment, as I had not discussed the possibility of annulment with a single pastor or elder.

When I returned to the U.S. on January 13th, I was determined to walk with  the church in good faith despite a growing concern that they were not taking Jordan's actions seriously enough. I met with Richard Brindley and Matt Younger on January 18th. Erin Brindley, Richard's wife, was also in attendance. I addressed two primary concerns during this meeting: home group and a separation of finances. Regarding home group, I desired to return to the group we had been a part of since 2012 without fear of Jordan showing up. Prior to my return to the U.S., men from the home group had been encouraged to spend time with Jordan without being informed of the nature of what he had admitted to. Matt and Richard assured me that Jordan would be asked to start attending a men’s group so I could go back to my group. I was encouraged by this.

At this point in time all of Jordan and my savings were in joint accounts. As we were separated, I desired to separate our finances in order to have some protection in this area. I couldn’t imagine that the church would take issue with this, so I asked Matt and Richard for the church’s help in facilitating a conversation between Jordan and me as to how we could go about a separation of finances in a way that would be fair to both of us (Jordan and I were not seeing or speaking to each other at this time). Matt Younger said that this was something they could do and told me to email Richard my breakdown of what I thought would be fair.

During this meeting there were some extremely troubling things said by both Richard and Matt. I was told that as Jordan’s wife, I would have a unique role in walking alongside him during this time. At one point, Matt Younger told me that 100 out of 100 times a couple is sitting on his couch, and one of them says “this is all his fault” and the other agrees, there is much more to the story. This stung, as it seemed that Matt was suggesting that I was partly responsible for Jordan’s fraud and perversion. I acknowledged to Matt that I knew I was not without sin in my marriage, but that I would not take responsibility for our return home and separation as it was caused by Jordan’s pedophilia and use of child pornography.

I emailed Richard my proposed separation of finances (to be communicated with Jordan) the next day but did not hear back from him. I was finally able to speak with him on the phone Tuesday night, at which point I was told that the elders had decided that I was not to separate our finances after all, as that “felt too much like a step toward divorce” and they “could not approve any steps that would bring further separation to our marriage.” When I asked why the elders felt as though my choices about personal finances were within the scope of their authority, I was informed that “In a marriage separation, every aspect of your marriage is under the authority of the elders of the church.” That was a very eye-opening conversation for me. I was alarmed at the level of control the elders seemed to be attempting to exert over my life and decided to start asking questions.

I called Matt Younger the next day (January 21st) and told him what Richard had said. Matt affirmed that this was indeed the position of the elders. He said that his agreement to the separation of finances during Sunday’s meeting had been due to him not being “emotionally prepared” for the meeting ahead of time. He also went on to tell me that I could not trust myself to think clearly during a situation like this and that my job was to “let the church hold my hand and tell me what to do.” I told him that I was in the process of seeking counsel from a large number of believers who included friends, family, mentors, SIM leadership, and my Christian counselor. He told me that “they are not your spiritual authority, we are. We are the most important voice at the table, and you need to wait until we decide how you should proceed.” By the end of the conversation I knew it would not be in my best interest to continue to seek the counsel of the pastors and elders of The Village Church, and every believer I spoke with affirmed the health of this decision.

More than 2 weeks went by, during which I made the decisions to file for an annulment and withdraw my membership from The Village Church. Matt Younger emailed me to request a meeting between him, Richard and I on February 6th. I agreed to meet with them on the following Thursday, February 12th. That weekend, I sent my letter of resignation to 14 other believers and asked them to read it, pray about it, and let me know if they saw anything in the decisions I was making that was sinful or unhealthy in any way. This group was comprised of men as well as women, peers as well as people older in the faith, people who had known me a long time as well as people in more objective positions. Every person who responded affirmed that I was clearly following and honoring the Lord in my decisions. 

I sent the letter to Matt Younger, Richard Brindley, Steve Hardin, and Matt Chandler on Wednesday, February 11th. (

In my email, I said that I would still honor the meeting on February 12th if they so desired. I was willing to explain my decisions and hoped to encourage them yet again to take the possibility that Jordan had sexually abused children more seriously. In his response, after informing me that the elders did not accept my withdrawal of membership and threatening church discipline if I did not immediately revoke my petition for annulment, Matt Younger said that “We will forgo tomorrow’s meeting with you and will plan to meet with you this Sunday so we can have other elders present. Please do everything possible to be in attendance. It will likely be in the evening.” I had not agreed to a meeting between several male elders and me. This in no way felt like a safe situation to walk into in light of Matt’s aggressive response to my withdrawal of membership, so I declined the meeting.

At every turn, this has been a difficult and heartbreaking situation. We have attempted to be faithful to love and care for Karen, and in the event that we’ve failed to care for her in any way, we appealed to her through multiple Covenant Members to let us know. Yet, without response again and with much sorrow, we began the church discipline process in accordance with
Matthew 18:15-20 and our Membership Covenant and bylaws.

There was never a mention of church discipline until after I had withdrawn my membership from the church. The Village Church does not have a legal right to discipline non-members, yet they have attempted to do so to me on multiple occasions.

Karen’s decision to pursue immediate annulment, to decline any attempt of reconciliation, to disregard her
Membership Covenant and pastoral counsel, and to break fellowship with the body has led her into formal church discipline. While members in good standing are free to leave the church and seek membership elsewhere, those in the disciplinary process have covenanted to see that process through before leaving the church. Because of this, we have attempted to fulfill our biblical commitment to love and care for her according to the Membership Covenant she affirmed and subsequently renewed on multiple occasions.

Again with the “immediate annulment” line…it is worth noting here that although The Village Church claims that “We see an annulment as a subcategory of what Scripture defines as a divorce in Mark 10:9(see Q&A’s below), this cannot be found anywhere in their Membership Covenant or Bylaws. In signing their Membership Covenant shortly after my 24th birthday, I had agreed to nothing in regards to the possibility of annulment should I come to realize that my marriage had been a complete sham from the beginning. There is a vast difference between a divorce and a marriage that is voided on the grounds of fraud, and I had no way of knowing that the leadership of The Village Church would respond to it in this fashion.

In similar counsel from our elders, SIM has given Karen a gracious six-month leave to pursue healing but also required that she be reconciled to The Village Church before they would consider sending her back to the mission field. She also declined SIM’s counsel, abandoning her request to return to the mission field.

It is time to bring the truth of the relationship between The Village Church and SIM to light, as the leadership of The Village Church continues to insinuate that they have fully cooperated with SIM and that I have walked in rebellion to SIM in the decisions I have made. SIM has made every effort to partner with The Village Church from the beginning of this whole mess, as the organization highly values church-mission partnership. But there has been a great deal of conflict between SIM and The Village Church in this matter, especially in regards to child safety. The Village Church resisted or rebuffed many of SIM’s recommendations at every turn. One example of this is in their communications regarding the nature of Jordan’s sin. The Village Church did not actually inform the Covenant Members of the Dallas Campus about the nature of Jordan’s sin until March 13th, ( ) almost three months after Jordan arrived in Dallas and began attending services there. But they had already sent the following email to our list of almost 500 prayer supporters (including many members of TVC) about the situation on February 20th:

Notice that TVC avoids mentioning anything about the nature of Jordan’s sin. They also encourage people to reach out directly to Jordan without warning them of his pedophilic tendencies. This email went to many parents with children and was a major contention between TVC and SIM, who had been reminding The Village Church of their responsibility to inform people of the nature of Jordan’s confession since they released their report on February 9th. It is what prompted SIM to send their own communication on February 25th ( informing the same group of people of the outcome of their investigation. After more than two weeks of receiving many complaints via phone and email, TVC finally informed Covenant Members of the Dallas Campus on March 13th.

Another example is in regards to Jordan’s treatment. TVC dismissed recommendations from SIM that Jordan needed, at minimum, intensive therapy from someone who has experience working with these issues. I was told at one point that in-patient treatment had been recommended and that Jordan should attend a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting every day until he began that treatment. Instead, TVC had Jordan see Eric Bryant, a member of The Village Church who is a part of North Texas Christian CounselingOn his bio, Eric does not list experience treating pedophilia or sexual addiction. Jordan went to counseling once a week for the first couple of months after his return, at which point Eric felt he was doing well enough to begin going only once every other week instead. I am unsure as to whether or how often Jordan is currently going to counseling.

Regarding my decision-making process, I was in open communication with SIM leadership every step of the way. SIM knew about my decisions to file for annulment and withdraw my membership from The Village Church ahead of time and continued to affirm my good standing as a member of SIM. In fact, after withdrawing my membership from TVC, I continued to work closely with SIM leadership on a plan for my future ministry. I was going to resume work on behalf of my team in Asia from Dallas for a period of at least several months as I focused on healing and recovery from everything that had happened. I would return to Asia only after my counselor, SIM leadership, and my new sending church felt it would be healthy for all parties involved.

I had a new sending church in place and a job description approved by SIM field leadership prior to arriving at SIM USA headquarters in Charlotte for meetings beginning March 10th. There I was informed that The Village Church had threatened that if SIM kept me on active status, they would consider it a breach of the Partnership Agreement between SIM and TVC and TVC could no longer partner with SIM. This had significant implications, because there are several other SIM missionaries who are supported by The Village Church. As a result, SIM decided that I would not resume work on behalf of my team from Dallas after all. 

I would continue on financial support for a six-month period through the end of August, during which they encouraged me to focus on healing and recovery, and at the end of which I would be placed on a mandatory leave of absence. They hoped it would be safe for me to meet with TVC at some point to attempt some form of reconciliation, but made it clear that they were not asking me to return to the church and did not agree with the way the church had handled the situation. They even offered to send an SIM representative with me should a meeting happen and assured me that they did not consider reconciliation to be my responsibility if TVC continued to be unreasonable. These decisions were made in hopes of preserving the relationship between SIM and TVC, mainly for the sake of the other SIM missionaries sent by TVC. 

In the case of my ministry, issues of SIM policy and precedent regarding members who had suffered the end of a marriage began to come into play, too, and after more conversations with SIM representatives over the next several days, it became clear that I should consider a return to Asia to be a closed door for at least the next few years.

Ultimately, we know that Jordan and Karen’s situation is messy and difficult, but we also believe the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Our greatest hope in all of this, though, is that Jordan and Karen would both find healing and restoration in the Lord. We know that no sin is too grievous for the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. The cross has the power to bring forgiveness and redemption to those who have committed the deepest of sins and to those who have been affected and wounded by those sins.

Please join us in praying toward this end, asking our good and gracious God to pour out His love and grace to all those involved in this situation, specifically Jordan and Karen. We also strongly urge that you would keep all details of this situation within our church body, specifically our Covenant Membership. Please do not forward or share this with anyone who is not a Covenant Member. If you are contacted by the media, we encourage you to refer back to the
official public statement of The Village.

Surely the leaders of The Village Church knew that an email sent to over 6,000 members would get out to non-members as well.


We know that situations like these may bring up a number of good questions. In light of that, we wanted to take the time to answer some common questions.

What is the purpose of The Village Church Membership Covenant?
As we explain
on our website, the primary purpose of the covenant is to serve as a teaching document with three functions:
  • To clarify the biblical obligations and expectations for both the elders of The Village Church and the individual members of The Village Church body.
  • To establish teaching and doctrinal parameters for The Village Church body.
  • To serve as a tool for reflection and growth toward holiness.
Each of these functions is in accordance with the document’s overall vision to provide an accessible explanation of the Scriptures in hopes that The Village would grow in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.

Other churches have been in the news for hiding or trying to cover up issues of sexual sin in their congregation. How has The Village been transparent in this situation? Whom did we inform about this situation before this became broadly public?
From day one, select staff and Covenant Members of Jordan’s biblical community were informed of Jordan’s actions. We followed all legal reporting obligations and were fully available for all legal investigations. We also contacted ministry leaders in organizations with children where we knew Jordan previously served. Pastoral staff visited their Home Group to inform and minister to Jordan and Karen’s close biblical community. After Jordan's employer, SIM, concluded their investigation and we confirmed appropriate details, we informed all Covenant Members at our Dallas campus, which includes over 1,500 people. This email clearly stated Jordan's sin as well as the consequences of his sin, including the restrictions he has to adhere to while at The Village. Our public statement is brief and discloses nothing about any of our members, which comes from our legal obligation to not share details about our Covenant Members with the general public. However, we are free to share more details with you, our Covenant Members, because you are “the church.”

From day one, TVC staff encouraged secrecy in the matter (see here). I will again raise the question as to when The Village Church actually reported anything to law enforcement; to my knowledge it would have to have been pretty late in the game. And the email to Covenant Members at the Dallas Campus they are referring to was not sent until March 13th, over a month after SIM concluded their investigation on February 9th.

Why did we wait on SIM to conduct an investigation into Jordan’s sin before informing the entire Dallas membership? Why did we let Jordan stay in the church while they removed him entirely from their organization?
SIM asked us to let their child safety team conduct a full investigation before we pursued anything else on our end since they have an experienced and highly trained team in this area and they were the employer. SIM and The Village Church’s missions are completely aligned when sending a missionary into the field: making a plea to the world to be reconciled to God through the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, if a missionary falls into sin that disqualifies them from ministry, our missions no longer line up. As an employer, they must remove the missionary from their organization. As a church, we are called to minister to those who are broken (
Matt. 9:11-13), including offenders who appear to be repentant.

Jordan has confessed to looking at online pornography involving children. Although the criminal investigation ended with no charges being filed against him, isn’t it still very possible there are victims out there who haven’t come forward yet? What are we doing to help those potential victims come forward?
We have fully cooperated with the appropriate authorities in this case, followed any mandatory legal reporting obligations and informed the entire Dallas membership, which includes over 1,500 people. We also contacted ministry leaders in organizations with children where we knew Jordan previously served. Now, we have also informed our entire covenant membership, which includes over 6,000 people. At this point, the authorities have said that there are no charges that can be brought against Jordan. The Village Church does not have the civil power nor the mandate to legally prosecute the situation beyond what has taken place.

Karen says that she is no longer a member of our church. Why are we still treating her as one?
While members in good standing are free to leave the church and seek membership elsewhere, those who are in the disciplinary process have covenanted to see that process through before leaving the church. In this case, Karen immediately entered the formal church discipline process after filing for legal annulment, forgoing any attempt of reconciliation, disregarding her Membership Covenant and pastoral counsel, and breaking fellowship with the body. (We see an annulment as a subcategory of what Scripture defines as a divorce in
Mark 10:9—it ends a marriage.) To be clear, there may be times when there are biblical grounds for divorce (Matt. 5:31-32; 1 Cor. 7:15), and members can be given the support to pursue that path after attempting the steps of marriage reconciliation according to our Membership Covenant. In this case, due to the severity of Jordan’s actions, the Dallas campus elders communicated to Karen their desire to hear her side of the story in order to determine whether there were biblical grounds for divorce. Unfortunately, the Dallas elders were never given the chance to help determine whether there were grounds for divorce, as Karen declined the invitation to meet with the elders and moved forward with the annulment on her own. While Karen did send a letter attempting to withdraw her Covenant Membership in early February, she was already subject to the discipline process and therefore committed to seeing that process through. With that said, we will not pursue Karen indefinitely regarding this matter but have tried to uphold our commitment to shepherd and care for her as a Covenant Member at this time.

See my comments on the difference between divorce and annulment above.

Why is Karen in formal church discipline?
Karen is in formal church discipline because she filed for an immediate annulment of her marriage without being willing to discuss it with the elders as part of the marriage reconciliation process that is addressed in the Membership Covenant and then stopped communicating with staff or elders. She has unrepentantly denied the covenant’s call on her to make these decisions under the care of her church, and so she entered into formal church discipline that will ultimately result in her removal as a member. For those who are unrepentant, the outcome of the discipline process is not a “shunning,” but rather a removal from Covenant Membership with the hope that the individual will one day return (
Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:5; James 5:19-20).

Karen has been through a terrible experience due to Jordan’s sin and wants to heal in her own way. Why are we continuing to pursue communication with Karen or even trying to minister to her if she does not want us to do so?
This is a tragic situation, and we are grieving with Karen. While the wounds of sin may be deep, Scripture states that the best care and counsel comes from the hope and comfort of the gospel, through the ministered Word in the care and community of the saints, particularly the local church. In our Membership Covenant, we articulate this belief and covenant with our members to be there for them in any type of situation, good or bad, including dealing with the aftermath of a spouse’s sin. In signing that Membership Covenant, a member agrees with that belief and covenants with us to receive that care. In essence, by signing the
Membership Covenant, Karen asked us to minister to her in good times or bad, regardless of what might come.

I requested that the leadership of The Village Church refrain from any future harassment of me on more than one occasion, beginning with my response to Matt Younger on February 12th.

Could this ongoing attempt to pursue her be considered harassment?
We don’t believe any of the attempts we’ve made to communicate with Karen have been harassing in any way. In fact, she still requested our help in addressing some things with Jordan after she had already asked us not to communicate with her. We love her and care for her and we are trying to serve her, but we will eventually remove her from Covenant Membership and stop appealing to her based on her decision to get an immediate annulment without discussing the matter with the church, as she covenanted to do. This is consistent with our normal care and discipline process.

This, sent on April 12th, is what they are referring to as me requesting their help in addressing some things with Jordan:

At this point in time, it was clear to me that TVC was growing nervous about the possibility of a story in The Dallas Morning News. To my knowledge, Steve Hardin’s text messages to me began after TVC had been tipped off about it. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to call them out regarding Jordan and Randall’s treatment of me, wondering if their anxiety regarding the story would encourage them to act more reasonably. No one ever replied to my email, but amazingly Jordan, through his attorney, agreed to sign just a few days later, and the annulment was finalized less than a week after that.

Karen wanted The Village to support an immediate annulment of her marriage to Jordan. Karen also has a strong desire to resume her vocation as a full-time missionary. Why are we opposed to either of these?
The elders never rush into any decisions, especially those concerning the end of a marriage, and although this was an extremely difficult situation, our expectation was for Karen to follow the biblical reconciliation process in the Membership Covenant before making a final decision. Before we send out any missionaries, there is a process we walk through to evaluate the missionary and their readiness to go. At this time, we do not feel comfortable sending Karen into missionary work. In addition, her current employer, SIM, has made the same determination. With that said, both The Village and SIM have agreed to support Karen financially through August to allow her time to heal and transition away from missionary work.

I have not communicated a desire for The Village Church to have anything to do with sending me into missionary work since I withdrew my membership on February 11th.

Are we recommending or encouraging Karen to pursue reconciliation with Jordan in marriage? Why?
We asked Karen to be open to the possibility of reconciliation but also clearly communicated that the elders wanted to hear Karen’s side before helping determine whether there were biblical grounds for divorce. She, however, didn’t want to wait on making a decision and filed for an immediate annulment without ever giving us the chance to hear her side. The goal was for the Dallas campus elders to process all that has happened with Karen as a part of her Covenant Membership.

There’s that “immediate annulment” phrase again…perhaps they feel that if they repeat it enough, people will assume it must be true?

Is Jordan in church discipline?
As outlined above, Jordan is experiencing the loving discipline of God due to his sin and is dealing with several consequences of his sin. As outlined in Scripture, church discipline is for those walking in unrepentance. To the best of our knowledge, Jordan is walking in genuine repentance. Pastors and elders are continuing to walk closely with Jordan in an intentional pastoral care plan with hopes of seeing a long-term faithfulness in keeping with that repentance.

What is this “intentional pastoral care plan”? Does it include treatment appropriate for the seriousness and nature of Jordan’s issues?

Can Jordan be trusted?
While we recognize that Jordan’s sin is grievous and have not taken that lightly, we know that, at the same time, there is no sin too grievous for the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. The power of the gospel can change and transform the hearts of those who have committed the deepest of sins and those who have been wounded by those sins, which includes both Jordan and Karen. With that said, we have tried our best to be persistent and cautious in walking with Jordan through this difficult situation, knowing the deep roots of his sin and the natural tendency to drift from the gospel and keep our sin out of the light, while also trusting and hoping that he is genuinely repentant. As noted above, we have fully cooperated with the appropriate authorities in this case and have strict security restrictions in place at The Village. We informed the entire Dallas membership, which includes over 1,500 people, and also contacted ministry leaders in organizations with children where we knew Jordan previously served. We constantly live in the tension of ministering to those with dark sin and extending God’s grace to them while doing whatever we can to bring about justice.

With all of our elders being men, how have they sought to fully understand and minister to women who have been hurt by their husbands or other men? Have there been any times in the past where we have not ideally responded to women who have been hurt in any way by men?
It is our desire to love and minister to both men and women equally and by the grace of God. It is unbelievably difficult to enter into any traumatic situation perfectly, and we apologize for any way we may have added additional wounds to those who have been hurt and are seeking help. We are fallible humans and therefore have ongoing conversations with men and women in our church around this topic. Like many other topics, we have learned from those conversations and are continuing to evolve our practices in this area. In this situation, multiple women (both staff and Covenant Members) were available to Karen, and a female Dallas staff member did get a chance to meet and talk with Karen multiple times before she stopped communicating with us.

What does the care plan for Jordan look like? What are we doing to make sure others in the church are protected and safe?
Jordan’s sin is serious and comes with serious consequences. He has confessed, repented and appears to be submitted to the direction of his pastors. Jordan will remain in a season of intentional pastoral care, where his role will be to remain faithful to actions in keeping with repentance (
Acts 26:20), pursuing holiness and purity, and continuing to flee from sin. These actions include, but are not limited to, faithfully walking in biblical community, counseling, and regular time with pastors. Authorities were notified of the situation, and as outlined above, our security team and staff have strict protocols and restrictions in place for Jordan while he is at our facilities. These restrictions are designed to protect our Covenant Members, guests and their families.

Will Jordan continue to see Eric Bryant, or will he be asked to see someone who has the experience and qualifications necessary to treat a pedophile?

Are we providing housing, vehicle or legal assistance for Jordan or Karen?
The Village Church, as an organization, has not and will not provide housing, a vehicle or legal assistance for Jordan or Karen. It is, however, common practice for us to share any missionary’s needs with our congregation. Often times, Covenant Members and staff generously help meet the needs of missionaries out of their personal resources. Similarly, we made Jordan’s and Karen’s needs known when they returned from Asia, and Covenant Members of the Dallas campus offered to help both of them. Jordan accepted some help while Karen didn’t. With that said, we are continuing to financially support Karen via SIM through August 2015.

To my knowledge, Jordan was picked up from the airport by Richard Brindley and a deacon at the Dallas Campus upon his arrival. He stayed at Richard Brindley’s home for a few days before moving into the home of Randall Reed, a member of The Village Church who Jordan had no prior relationship with. This is the same Randall Reed who provided Jordan with legal counsel and representation in the annulment case free of charge, despite the fact that he does not typically practice family law. Richard Brindley gave Jordan the use of one of his vehicles from the time Jordan returned to the U.S. until shortly after The Village Church was tipped off about the possible story in The Dallas Morning News. The Village Church as an organization paid for at least six of Jordan’s counseling sessions.

The Village Church provided none of these things for me, as God had graciously provided everything I needed prior to my return to the U.S. through believers outside of The Village Church. Richard and Erin Brindley did offer me a ride from the airport shortly before my return, but I had already accepted one from a dear friend and mentor who I was to stay with for my first two nights back. I have no way of knowing what members of The Village Church would or would not have provided had other believers not already stepped forward to meet the practical needs I had. If anyone at the church offered me housing, a vehicle, or legal assistance, I am unaware of it.

We did not lead Karen and the church to a place conducive of peace, repentance and healing. 
Two brief thoughts then Dee at The Wartburg Watch will be digging into this letter in detail in a new post titled TWW Test on the Chandler Apology.

1. This was not the church's marriage. It was Karen and Jordan's.

2. Lead Karen to a place of repentance. What did Karen need to repent of?