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, (http://watchkeep.blogspot.com/2015/05/she-speaks-village-church-protects.html ) 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. (https://www.scribd.com/doc/266029324/Karen-s-Withdrawal-of-TVC-Membership-Letter) 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. (https://www.scribd.com/doc/263549389/karen-root-matt-younger-emails)

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, (https://www.scribd.com/doc/265894579/TVC-email-news-about-Jordan-and-Karen-Root ) 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 (https://www.scribd.com/doc/265890317/SIM-director-of-personnel-letter) 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.

Q&As

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.

UPDATE
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?




Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Stories of The Village Church and other Abusive Church Survivors



I have received emails and comments from people reaching out to me to tell their story of spiritual abuse by The Village Church after hearing about the bravery of Karen Hinkley in telling her story. I will dedicate this post to sharing some of these stories I have received. I will add to this post as I receive any additional stories. If you would like to remain anonymous, please let me know.

In this first story, the writer's name has been changed to "John." His wife's name has been changed to "Jane."

Story 1:
I just read your blog entry about Karen Root and her situation regarding The Village Church and I must say that while this is an extremely sad and troubling situation, I am personally glad that you and a few others have made the decision to bring this kind of hierarchical treatment of a congregation to the forefront.

  My wife "Jane" was a "Covenant Member" at the Dallas Northway campus when we started dating in the fall of 2011.  I had just gone through a divorce from my first wife, with whom I served in a full-time ministry position at a smaller church in rural east Texas for 5 years prior, because she was unfaithful to our marriage. Long story short, I began attending TVC with "Jane" on a weekly basis and attempted to get involved in a men's home group over then next 6-8 months (to no avail).  I was hurting SO badly, but I had prayed about it quite a bit and I was more than ready to get back into serving in some way.  I began talking to the music minister, Isaac Wimberly, and told him of my former role as a music minister and said I was wide open and more than willing to help.  He had me go through the membership seminar/class with Steve Hardin himself. When I was filling out the literal paper application to be considered for church membership, I checked that I was divorced.  That's when it all began.

  The assistant campus pastor, Mason King, began calling and emailing me asking me to meet with him and some of the "elders" to discuss my potential involvement in the music ministry. I agreed, not knowing any better, and what followed marked the end of my time at TVC.

  I met with Mr. King, Isaac, and another young man over lunch one Sunday. It was then that they began asking me about my divorce and basically told me that I couldn't be considered for membership or serve in the band until I went through months of recovery classes, etc.  They also told me I needed to break up with "Jane" because she was a covenant member and our relationship was not what was best for her.  They recommended I reconcile with my ex-wife because even though I claimed, and she admitted, she was unfaithful, I had no proof of her wrongdoing and to remain divorced from her would be un-biblical.  I, a grown man, have not cried harder to this very day than I did as I drove home from that lunch meeting.

 "Jane" and I, who had based our relationship on Christ since it started, began praying that day about her removing herself from "fellowship" because we felt like I had been kicked while I was trying to crawl back out of my life's lowest point. 

  She met with multiple elders (at their request) who encouraged her time and time again to break up with me because of my past and my need to heal under proper guidance.  She refused each time and finally stopped attending services there.

  We got engaged on 01/01/2013 and within a week after the pictures were posted on Facebook, "Jane" received a physical letter from Steve Hardin removing her from fellowship with TVC for not submitting to the elders' and the church's discipline and guidance. "We know that you are now engaged to "John," against the church's wishes and best biblical guidance for you..." When I read the communication between Mrs. Root and Steve Hardin, it eerily took me straight back to the countless emails and the final letter from that church.

  "Jane" and I have been happily married since June 2013, we just had our first child in March 2015, and we are active "partners" at a younger, growing, and extremely forgiving church here in Dallas where I serve in the music ministry and "Jane" on the welcome team.

  Whenever we share with people our experiences at The Village Church, they all have an extremely hard time believing it.  Thank you, again, for putting this information out there.  I am glad to know there are still people who truly aspire to be like Christ in all ways possible.

Story 2:
Steve Hardin in particular is very cruel when it comes to "caring" for his flock.  While members of TVC, and attenders of the Dallas campus, my husband and I were subjected to "discipline", after Steve Hardin heard me say , "Oh hush" to my husband.  After several months of ridiculousness, we changed locations and finally severed ties after our move to [redacted].  Matt Chandler does not get involved unless it involves friends of his or friends of friends of his.  Leaving this "church" was the best thing we ever did.  It is a Mars Hill Train wreck waiting to happen. Jesus told us to be vigilant for a reason.  Our three month time out was crazy.  At our first meeting Steve asked us if we knew why we were there and both of us said uh, no.  Down hill from there.

Story 3:
Even if Karen had continued to meet with them, I highly doubt The Village would have "sided with her.” Once The Village takes a stand on something, they very rarely concede. I have been in numerous meetings with the pastors mentioned in Karen's story and I have been met with the same "let us care for you" jargon. I was told repeatedly that because of my sin I was unable to make wise decisions and I needed to rely on the church to “guide and care for me." I was placed under church discipline for a period because I “continue[d] to be a threat to [my] own safety and are unable to keep with the fruits of the spirit." 

The Village continuously uses the phrase "care for you" when they really want to control the narrative and act as a savior. Because I was not healing on their timeline or in the way they saw fit I was placed under discipline so that my "recovery" could be closely monitored and measured. When medical help was suggested I was told that someone from the church would need to come with me so they "could ask the doctor questions and figure out what the best plan is for moving forward." It is not hard to make someone believe what you want them to. I was not better, but I sure made the pastors think I was because I was sick of the meetings and check ins and follow ups.


 I am grateful to be on a path toward healing now, but don't for one minute think that Jordan Root is being honest when he claims has not abused a child physically. That would be both naive and dangerous. It seems that the phrase "its ok to not be okay" that is thrown around like confetti in Village circles is used frequently to prey upon vulnerable and broken people. The pastors and staff at the church are not the only ones with a savior mentality, it is pervasive throughout Village culture. I was their project, and I wasn't "fixed" fast enough, so CHURCH DISCIPLINE. I wasn't to be trusted with making wise decisions (or controlling the narrative of my own story) so enter stage left The Village staff to make those decisions for me. 

Story 4
I am completely wrecked by coming across the Karen Hinkley story today.  I have a similar story from 5 years ago.  I haven't gone back to that place of utter abandonment by my former church body in years, but seeing this story completely leveled me again.  Please feel free to add any of my story to your collection of abuse stories from The Village.  I haven't talked about it because I really hoped it was something they wouldn't repeat.  I hate that it has happened to her.  

Five years ago I sought council via a branch of the village church (Denton) for what to do about my ex husband who was both having an affair and was also blatantly abusive. I wanted to file for divorce - mainly for financial security as my ex husband had twice drained my bank account during out separation of a few months. We had a 6 month old at that time, and I had been left twice with no childcare money, etc.  I was told that we could stay separated- but only because my physical safety was in danger (showing they knew my husband was physically a threat) but if I filed for divorce (there is no temporary official separation in Texas) that I would basically be under church discipline. They said that they would not bless any of my future endeavors if I didn't walk according to their plan. (and yes they did use the same terms of wanting to love us both well...)  I was to wait on a process for them to determine whether or not my ex husband was truly a Christian. If he was NOT a Christian they would approve my divorce. If however they felt he was actually a Christian they would Not Ever Under Any circumstances approve my divorce. Despite the fact that he was abusive. Despite the fact that he was living with someone. Meaning if they felt he was a Christian I would have to spend the rest of my life married to him.  Even though he was a risk to my life!  Anyone who knows anything about abuser psychology should know that abusers are very charming and have a way of convincing people they are repentant when they aren't!  That is psych 101!

My mom had to help walk me through that time because I felt like I was the guilty one!  Abusers like my ex consistently make the abused feel guilty for 'causing' the abuse.  The language and stance The Village took created the same guilty feelings my ex husband did.  Looking back on the emotionally broken place I was with having been abused, had my mom not stepped in to help me stand up to the church, I would probably have been guilted back in to an abusive and extremely dangerous relationship. They literally told me I was listening to satanic advice by filing for divorce- and listening to my mom.

The ironic thing- when I did finally file for divorce officially and my ex husband was served the papers, The Village helped him land a pro bono attorney- who also happened to be a Village member!

The other sickening thing about it is I appealed multiple times to Matt Chandler and each time I was either ignored or told to discuss it with my specific church leadership.

Thank you for sharing her story- and please tell her she isn't alone, and I am so so sorry.  I know what it's like to feel completely abandoned.

Story 5
My wife and I began attending in August 2012 and at first thought it was the best church ever compared to our very traditional church backgrounds. When pursuing membership, however, the stones began to be overturned to reveal some deep problems. I'll try to keep this brief but there were 3 things that eventually drove us away. 

1) Their strict adherence to Calvinism. In our home group one time, the leader said, "God creates some people to go to hell in order to show his glory." That really raised some red flags so we talked to him about it and he encouraged us to talk to other church leaders to learn more. We went through the covenant member information class and one pastor when through the TULIP and literally pointed at people in the audience and said, "You, you, you and you will go to heaven and you, you, you, and you won't and it's not up to you, it's up to God." We had major problems with this and followed up with multiple ministers on staff and learned that if we don't affirm Calvinism we can still be members of the church but certain ministries and positions of leadership would not be available to us - being home group leaders, helping in children's ministry, etc. When asked what we could do they said you can be door greeters and/or parking lot attendants. One particular elder even went so far as to say that he wouldn't be comfortable with us sharing our faith with others as representatives of TVC if we weren't affirming of Calvinism. So not only was the belief in Calvinism itself extremely disheartening to us, but their restrictions on serving, sharing, communicating with others was just out of control. 

2) Their strict views on complementarianism gender roles. In the same covenant member information class they gave their views on this - I don't have to expand much if you're familiar with the view but it was your basic "women can't teach or lead mixed gender adult groups. They can only lead other women and children. And husbands are the spiritual head of the household, etc." Once again, they made it clear that this was an important view of the church and although we didn't push on it because we had enough to deal with the Calvinism, I imagine they would have had similar restrictions if you don't affirm this view. 

3) And this one might be the saddest. There was a member of our home group that only came to 2 meetings in the 6-7 months we were involved, so I don't know him well and don't even know his last name. One night our home group leader said that he was living in unrepentant homosexuality and the church pastors/elders had had multiple meetings with him and in our home group leaders' words, "He is refusing to repent, so he cannot come to TVC anymore, and if you see him or contact him you have to treat him like he's an unbeliever." He went on to say that he was not even allowed on any of the campuses until he repents. Now, what I don't know is whether they meant he decides to be celibate and have a life of singleness or becomes heterosexual, but either way I felt this was disgusting behavior from this church. This was about the last straw for us and if we weren't going to leave because of Calvinism or complementarianism, we would leave because of this. We pushed back and talked to people of our home group about it and they just kept saying that it's a different kind of sin than most others and that's why they had to take this measure. Incredibly heartbreaking and I feel awful at times for having not been able to reach out to him. 

Fortunately for us, we never signed the covenant membership so we told our home group leader that we would no longer be attending TVC and therefore would not be part of their group anymore. He and his wife met with us, we explained everything, we all met with one more minister who tried to push Calvinism again, and that was that. We've never been back since Feb. 2013. 


In the end, this really shaped how we view God today. We're still on a journey, but have found a much better church, and are healing from these wounds. 

Story 6
My husband and I started visiting the Village 6 years ago and we became Covenant Members a year later. We had friends there and so it seemed like a logical step. Our friends however were on their way out as stories started to seep through the cracks about church discipline. My friend sat down with us and said that a young woman who was a member of TVC had been raped by a fellow member of TVC. The church was placing this woman under church discipline for failing to offer forgiveness to her abusers. He had confessed to the crime and had also stated his remorse and need to reform from his ways. Because he was willing to toe the line and fall under authority he would not be placed under church discipline. However the woman, who for obvious reasons, could not offer forgiveness and therefore was breaking her covenant agreement would be placed under church discipline. She had also requested that her abuser be removed from the church, which this request was denied. Even though I trusted my friends at their word I could not believe this story to be true. I thought that there had to be more to this story, that somehow there were large chunks of it missing. I could not fathom a church siding with an abuser over the victim and essentially making the victim a victim for a second time. I now know that they are absolutely capable of this.

As time went on people in our home group would mention things about church discipline that they received. Most of this I dismissed as them just being angry at the time and that we weren't getting the full story. The stories were not along the lines as the above story but more of members being threatened with church discipline and having their memberships removed; one of my friends actually did lose his.

It was around this time that I really began to feel lost at TVC. There wasn't a place for me, being a woman, that I could learn and grow; women's bible studies were non-existent. Most everything was geared towards men and building men up. I started to vocalize this with no one really paying attention. I had at that point joined a women's bible training program at another church (my only option for being taught) which is two years in length, a program that I thought would be so beneficial for the starving women at TVC. Each time I would voice something I was told to not worry about it and to just go to Recovery. I had been through Recovery twice at the Village and that wasn't the place for me. Just because I wanted to learn more about the bible and have fellowship didn't mean I needed to go to Recovery. If you are not familiar with this program it goes something like this: A sermon followed by small groups. We would sit in a circle and confess or vent our frustrations but no one is allowed to comment or offer any feedback, not even a tissue. Follow up could be done by your group leader off campus. I wanted to learn... that didn't mean I was broken but at TVC it's really kind of your only option.

I was told that if I wanted to belong I could work in the nursery or answer phones maybe help teach women (teaching other women seemed pretty big to me so no issue there). However, no position that made decisions would be filled by a woman as it just isn't biblical. I understood and accepted this but also felt that women should still be a large part of the decision making process. Which, to be fair, some woman are...their last names just happen to match one of the other elders.


In mid year of 2014 I was very very late on my monthly cycle, this was very scary to me as I had already suffered a tubal pregnancy that had taken one of my tubes, nearly shut down my organs and came close to killing me. I really needed to talk with someone about what I should do if it turned out my worst fears had been realized (I had an IUD removed because it was abortive in nature). There was only one woman on staff who could speak to me and she only worked part time. I would have spoken to her had I known that she existed in the capacity. Instead I had to meet with Lan. I know you don't know Lan but he's about 6'4", broad and has a motorcycle mustache. He's a good person, no doubt, but was incredibly hard to talk about my situation with. I really could have used a woman, I really needed to talk to a woman. It was hard to cry in front of him and explain that I was scared as he towered over me. It was after this that I knew I had to find a church home where women were more valued and recognized. It was then that we decided to leave.

I turned in my request for removal of membership and then was asked to come in to do an exit interview as some of the things in my letter made TVC wonder if I was leaving in good standard. It was here that I met with Beth and as I opened up concerning my reasons for wanting to leave she shared with me that the survey that we had recently took had some surprising things on it. The survey pertained more to new service times etc but women had written in the margins that they felt like 2nd class citizens and had no voice. She told me that I was saying some of the things that women had voiced. She then asked if we would stay for a while and then asked if I would write a letter to the Elders, which I did. My letter made it up the chain to the Elder's where it fell on deaf ears. I wasn't even granted permission to speak with anyone else about it. I was told to just be patient that they would handle it. I followed up a few more times but I was always brushed off. Beth told me that she had been fighting this same battle for 11 years and that it just wasn't going to change so we left. 

We started to look at and try other churches which TVC found out about. We were emailed and asked if we were leaving and if they needed to go ahead and take us off of the member list. I explained that we were looking but we hadn't found a spot and shared that we might go back to the FloMo campus. A week later I received another email informing me that we had been brought up at a Covenant Member meeting (our names placed on the big screen) as being in transition and they were praying for us to find a new place. I'm sure they meant it well but it felt like we were being pushed out. We were told we had 6 months to decide what we were going to do...2 weeks later after another email I told them to just drop our names which they immediately did.  So now we are rogue sheep without a pasture!

Story 7
I went through the same experience with TVC leaders/elders (the HVillage campus) As I read this article and the communication btwn Karen and TVC, my heart rate very quickly increased and it threw me into a severe anxiety attack. Every bit of stress and anxiety caused that consumed me during that time came back. PRAISE be to GOD that how many women are handled at TVC is out!! There will be many who do not believe even after reading the facts, just as many did not believe me as I tried to tell them I was married to a verbally and emotionally abusive narcissistic -socio-path....but many are blind to the wolves. I feel this will bring many out from the woodwork ready to share their very eerily similar experience. I hope to meet Karen one day...we share the same twinkle of strength in our eyes. When I was asked, " Who gave you permission to file for divorce??" I answered, "Jesus." Matthew 19:9

I forgot to mention that he had been in an adulterous relationship since 2005. I found out in 2007. When the church realized he had fooled them with his tears of false repentance , only his Sponsor apologized to me.