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Author Topic: What's Missing?  (Read 5284 times)
Linda
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« on: March 18, 2019, 01:43:16 pm »

As many of you are aware, last Spring, Bill Hybels was faced with charges of inappropriate words and actions with multiple women. Bill denied the charges, the women were vilified, board members who found the charges credible had their motives questioned, Bill decided to retire early, got a standing O and a hug from Bob Goff, the new leaders supported him, more info came to light and Bill's successors both resigned. It was a sorry mess.

The church appointed an independent advisory board. The independent advisory board was to review the allegations related to Bill. You can read about their conclusions here.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/february/willow-creek-bill-hybels-investigation-iag-report.html

You can read the actual report here.

https://www.willowcreek.org/-/media/images/7-0-about/elders2019/iagreport-022819.pdf?la=en

The independent advisory board was made up of JoAnne Lyon (general superintendent emerita of the Wesleyan Church), Leith Anderson (president of the NAE and "best buds" with John Hopler now that John is on the board of the NAE Wink ), Margaret Diadems (provost of Wheaton College), and Gary Walter (president of the Evangelical Covenant Church).

Bottom line of the investigation from the article in CT:

"After fielding calls, conducting interviews, and reviewing forensics IT findings, the four-person Independent Advisory Group (IAG) investigating Hybels and Willow Creek found that the “collective testimony” of “allegations of sexually inappropriate words and actions” by the now-retired megachurch pastor proved reliable and would have been sufficient reason for church discipline had Hybels not left the church."

One of the women on the receiving end of Bill's inappropriate behavior was Nancy Beach. She read the report of the IAG and offered comments. Here is a link to her comments.

http://www.nancylbeach.com/blog/2019/3/4/rightwrongconfusedmissing-my-response-to-the-iag-report

Nancy offers some good insight, but what caught my eye was the last section where she mentions what is missing. Recently, I listened to the "apology" sermon and read over the statements that were made in light of the findings of the BoT and Mark's subsequent resignation. It occurred to me that much of what Nancy said is missing in the Willow Creek/Bill Hybels mess is missing in the Evergreen/Darling mess.

So, I offer my insight into what is missing from Evergreen and Darling using Nancy's outline as well as some of her phrasing because she stated things so well.

OUTRAGE

The BoT report states:

"From the investigator’s report: “the investigation does support the fact that Mark Darling, while holding a position of authority, engaged in inappropriate conduct. . . .” Specifically, this conduct included spending time alone with women in private settings and inappropriate conversations with women of a sexual nature."

Where is the outrage? Where is the acknowledgement from leadership that this behavior grieves the heard of God? Where is the outrage over the many lives that were broken and affected by this sin? Where is the outrage over the lack of strong leadership from the leaders of the church who knew about these things? Where is the outrage over the loss of reputation of the church because of the sin and the mishandling of the sin?

LAMENT

Where is the lament? Is it just back to business as usual for ECC? And how about GCC? This man was on the board of GCC and they have not said one word. Crickets from Hopler.  Is anyone sorry that a so called shepherd engaged in inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature in private settings with women (plural, according to the report)?

As far as I know, only one ECC pastor has shown actual concern for the women. Andy Gray said:

"To the women that were involved in this, I’ve lamented that they’ve experienced confusion, pain, and spiritual distortion from conversations that were inappropriate with their pastor. I’ve lamented that it’s impacted their marriages and families and left questions of how to trust leadership in church. I’ve lamented that women have felt unheard and marginalized in a place that should affirm dignity at every possible turn. And I’ve lamented that social media was the platform that many women in our society have had to use just to be heard."

And, Andy, was not the one accused, nor was he one of the ones who mishandled the situations. He didn't drop the ball, but he did see the damage done to the women, to their families, and to their faith and he expressed that with tears.

GREATER TRANSPARENCY

As it stands now, because there wasn't a truly independent investigation with transparency, those on the Darling side maintain his innocence and people are still questioning whether or not the women were "over reacting". Details matter.

SPECIFIC APOLOGIES

As far as I know, true apologies, made personally and sincerely to the women have not been made.

This is not an apology:

"He had a blind spot that I did not engage far enough and had I, in that key moment, it’s possible that we would not be here doing this today. So I want to apologize to you as a church. Had I engaged more actively, more thoroughly, more completely, especially 18 years ago, we might not be at this place today.

And this has resulted in affecting a woman and perhaps others which I regret, and to her also, I apologize."

First, it was not made to the women. It was made to the church.
Second, a "blind spot" and "sin" are two different things.
Third, not taking action to correct sin on the part of an elder for 18 years is not a "blind spot" it is a cover up.
 
REPARATIONS

How do you begin to make reparations? Well, for one, some of these women have gone to years of counseling to process this trauma. Maybe they should be compensated. In the case of Hybels that is happening. Also, it should be noted that the reason the van Dykes returned from Berlin was because the leadership at ECC didn't "push the ball far enough". The church chose to keep Mark Darling and let the van Dykes leave rather than to follow through on their promised discipline of Mark. Mark kept his source of income. The van Dykes lost theirs.

In addition, a number of sermons were preached suggesting Suzanne and the women were "throwing stones at David", and at one point prior to the conclusion of the investigation, Brent said Mark was a great guy and Suzanne was being "unfair" and "unjust". She deserves a personal and a public apology for tarnishing her reputation in such a vile way when he knew exactly what she was talking about and he was the one who had gotten the church in this pickle by "not pushing the ball far enough".

And what about the rude, threatening, and vile things said by Jeromy Darling, an ECC employee at the time of his commenting. Maybe some sort of apology is in order for allowing an employee to continue calling the women liars and using vulgar and threatening language to those supporting her.

REPENTANCE
Finally, the biggest thing missing is any sense of repentance and apology from Mark.




« Last Edit: March 19, 2019, 10:11:39 am by Linda » Logged

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margaret
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2019, 01:15:40 am »

Well said.

Crickets from the whole damn lot.

Don't have time to post more.
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Linda
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2019, 08:14:14 am »

In light of the fact that the report showed that Mark Darling had engaged in inappropriate behavior with several women, one thing missing (in addition to a sincere and personal apology that made amends) is an acknowledgement that there could be other women who experienced the similar behavior.

I am aware of the fact that some women did not come forward because they were intimidated by the personal attacks made by ECC pastors in sermons, as well as Jeromy and his posse on this forum and Suzanne's Facebook timeline.

Willow Creek investigators provided a hotline for people to call or email their concerns. ECC would have been wise to do the same.

The Willow Creek report states:

"The availability of an anonymous email and voicemail hotline to the IAG was broadly announced. All messages were received and reviewed by all IAG members."

So, what is missing is a desire to make sure no other women were treated inappropriately, but were so intimidated that they did not wish to come forward.
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Huldah
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2019, 11:36:22 am »

I am aware of the fact that some women did not come forward because they were intimidated by the personal attacks made by ECC pastors in sermons, as well as Jeromy and his posse on this forum and Suzanne's Facebook timeline.

That, in my opinion, was their primary objective here: not to defend Mark, but to intimidate the victims. They actually had very little to say in defense of Mark, except for what a great father he was (which was irrelevant to the accusations) and how great all four of his kids turned out due to his terrific parenting (which I accepted at face value until I saw Jeromy in action).

As for the GCC leadership, they've made their support of Mark clear, and not just by their silence. Message #98 on the Pastor Mark Darling site is from Thelma Clark, talking about what a blessing Mark has been to her and Dennis all these years.
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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2019, 08:41:52 pm »

Your insight and comparison is so right on!  How very crucial is what you have stated that ‘IS MISSING’!

Thank you for reporting this, and keeping it in this public forum eye.  It is truth that must be reckoned with.



« Last Edit: March 20, 2019, 08:32:08 am by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

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Ned_Flanders
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« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2019, 07:58:50 am »

Wasn't John Hopler an elder in GCx years ago? 
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Huldah
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« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2019, 08:24:12 am »

He was a deacon in the Columbus church while I was there, back when the Columbus group was known as Solid Rock. I believe he did eventually become an elder there.

Update: The GCC website says that John Hopler became a pastor (AKA elder) in 1979, which was shortly after I left Solid Rock. http://gccweb.org/about/gcc-board/
« Last Edit: March 20, 2019, 09:06:23 am by Huldah » Logged
Linda
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« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2019, 08:46:34 am »

"So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23, 24

I think the essence of what is missing in the aftermath of the atrocious handling of the events of 2018 (that were caused by sin that dates back to the 1980's and the mishandling of that sin over a couple decades), is understanding these verses in Matthew. ECC leaders seem to be trying to carry on normally by getting back to "church business as usual" and in doing so are forgetting that reconciliation with a fellow believer who has something against you comes before worship.

I honestly don't see how they can succeed as a church until they recognize that saying, "We sincerely apologize to all who have been affected negatively and offended. And we mourn your hurt," is not an adequate apology. "Affected negatively and offended"? Really? Yeah, imagine if you were minimally verbally sexually abused, you lost your church, your family was uprooted, and you lost your source of income and the people responsible issue an online statement (not even personally delivered) that says, "Oops, sorry our actions affected you negatively and offended you." Then, imagine that those responsible for the sin/mishandling of sin stated that a group (the BOT) who had nothing to do with the sin and knew nothing about it would work on reconciliation. No, the person who commits the offense is the one who is responsible to reconcile. It's astonishing that elders in a church don't have the slightest idea about what a sincere apology looks like. ECC, you can do better.

Each ECC leader who sinned, or sinned by "not pushing the ball far enough" or "having a teeny tiny little blind spot" or having an enneagram number that was responsible for their failure in leadership would be wise to leave their gift at the altar and go to each one who was harmed by Mark's abusive behavior and work on reconciliation. It will take time. They state that they are mourning with the victims. They would show they were sincerely mourning if they made a public effort to make sure no other women "were affected negatively and offended"  and that the ones they are aware of are cared for. Until they do that, they are in violation of Matthew 5: 23, 24.
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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2019, 02:56:00 pm »

Amen, Linda!  That is the call that seems to line up with the heart of God that I know.

Their whitewashing this tragic and deep offense is pure folly!
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For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2019, 01:09:00 pm »

Someone on here mentioned John Hopler.  It’s my understanding that JH has displayed abusive behavior recently in the form of group bullying that happens behind closed doors. It was my experience and I believe the experience of others I know that in recent years pastors abuse and bully people in groups and they do it privately so the general congregation doesn’t see it.  In my opinion this is where and how gas lighting and mind control become powerfully effective. When you have multiple pastors gas lighten you and using mind control techniques against you it gets be pretty ugly to say the least.
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Linda
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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2019, 12:18:00 pm »

As I've been pondering what is missing regarding ECCs reaction to the investigation, I keep coming back to lament.

Lament is missing.

I am in no position to analyze people's motives. I obviously can't read minds. I can only observe reactions and combine it with my knowledge and experience.

People who are genuinely sorry for sinful things they did that harmed others:

1. Don't blame others for their sin. They own their sin.
2. Don't rationalize or explain away their sin by calling it a mistake, or a blind spot, or a consequence of their personality type.
3. Do weep over the pain they have caused and don't minimize it.
4. Do try to think of ways they can help the ones they've harmed. They put others first.
5. Don't try to brush over the consequences of the sin and the damage done and move on quickly with their life.
6. Don't resort to spiritual abuse by proof texting to minimize their sin by demanding that those sinned against are wrong if they don't "absorb" the sin like Jesus did.

I'm sure there are dozens of reasons why people react inappropriately. Here are a few:

1. They may not actually be sorry.
2. They may think the person they sinned against is over-reacting.
3. They may not think what they did was a sin. Or, it's not that big a deal.
4. They may be lacking in knowledge of what an apology is and involves.

Whatever the reason, it is clear that ECC is choosing to "move on" and focus on "mission" while overlooking the damage done and the consequences of sin.

Last week, I said to my husband, "I wonder how long it will be before we here about Tobiah? They always go for Nehemiah in times like this." Well, guess what. This week, it would appear as if 3 of the 4 locations preached on Nehemiah 4. Tobiah. Sanballat. Opposition. Complaining. How sad that they landed there. It's telling.

Wouldn't it be amazing, if just once, these groups would be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger? What if someone in the group determined to listen to the perceived "opposition"? What if the "opposition" wasn't opposition at all? What if the key to moving forward is to take a step back, listen, weep with those who weep, and make amends? I am praying they do.
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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2019, 08:21:42 pm »

Well said, Linda.  I very much agree.

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For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
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