Some additional thoughts on the situation at Fairfax Community Church. Pam Palmer’s thoughts on having a sex offender in a church environment, and my reaction to my former Senior Pastor’s statement on Eric Nickle. BTW…Andy Gingrich and Rod Stafford…hope this didn’t interrupt your mancation in Kenya.
“Life isn’t meant to be easy. It’s hard to take being on the top – or the bottom. I guess I’m something of a fatalist. You have to have a sense of history, I think, to survive some of these things…Life is one crisis after another.”
I have a question to pose to pastors…..it seems whenever hell erupts they are always out of town. For example in Dee Parson’s case a Sunday school teacher was in the midst of a scandal at Providence Baptist in Raleigh while the Senior Pastor David Horner was out of town. When the situation with Karen Hinkley at Matt Chandler’s The Village Church came to light Matt Chandler was out of the country when that happened. In that case The Village Church tried to discipline a female who annulled her marriage to her husband because he was a pedophile and addicted to child pornography. If you want to learn more about it I wrote it up here, here, and here. (BTW..the posts on Matt Chandler are the most popular posts I have written at this blog) Then there is Andy Gingrich and Rod Stafford who I believe were out in Kenya. Yes I know about the seminary there, I heard you speak about it Rod when I used to call FCC home. But I hope that text, email or phone call about what happened here in Fairfax didn’t come in the midst of any festivities. How was the nature preserve Rod and Andy? Sorry this issue interrupted your mancation.
Again here’s Dee Parson’s post on FCC. Plus for the record here is the original post I wrote about Eric Nickle last week. I finally got this information off my chest having been troubled to know this information for two years. On a quick side note I also wrote two other posts about FCC to include an epic fail to how FCC responded to the Navy Yard shootings and a questionable growth campaign called “A Better $tory.” Oh and Rod no this is not me writing as a Sanballet, this is me being concerned about the direction Christianity has gone in the last few years. I’m just a guy who sits in the pew who has been through a lot that saw more circus that substance at times and the little guy fall through the cracks. Writing all this has been a labor of love and what I appreciate the most are the few emails I get behind the scenes by people who don’t go to church any more or those who have lost their faith and will never darken the door or another one. I honestly can relate to many of them given my journey in fudangelicalism. I love and care for each one of them.
Pam Palmer on Fairfax Community Church
Rod Stafford, Andy Gingrich and the rest of the leadership at FCC. If you don’t know Pam Palmer I’d like to introduce Pam to you. You can see her on the video up above. She was one of the plaintiffs in the largest lawsuit in evangelical Christian history. The statute of limitations became an issue and part of the lawsuit was thrown out on a technicality. She is currently lobbying the state of Maryland to change the statute of limitation laws. Pam because of her awareness in dealing and lobbying on child sex crimes sent me her thoughts in an email and I am going to repost them below.
Here are several points I’d like to make:
*All members of a church should be involved in deciding if they are willing to allow an apparent repentant pedophile in their midst.
*The policies involved in protecting children from pedophiles in church families should be designed and monitored by more than just a few males in leadership.
*Women, mothers and fathers, and adult survivors of sex abuse should be involved in the decision-making regarding policies about child protection from sex abuse.
*Multiple professionals: psychologists, experts in caring for child abuse victims and those knowledgeable about the care of pedophiles, and child abuse law enforcement experts must be consulted in this policy-making.
*According to U.S. Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website, “Many states have laws that restrict residency within a certain number of feet of a school or day care; however, these laws vary from state to state. Most states’ sex offender registries provide information regarding state registry laws. NSOPW provides a list of state public registry sites.”
This is the legal code for Virginia, in reference to known violent sex offenders and schools or daycares:
§ 18.2-370.5. Sex offenses prohibiting entry onto school or other property; penalty.
A. Every adult who is convicted of a sexually violent offense, as defined in § 9.1-902, shall be prohibited from entering or being present (i) during school hours, and during school-related or school-sponsored activities upon any property he knows or has reason to know is a public or private elementary or secondary school or child day center property; (ii) on any school bus as defined in § 46.2-100; or (iii) upon any property, public or private, during hours when such property is solely being used by a public or private elementary or secondary school for a school-related or school-sponsored activity.
Cited from: http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/18.2-370.5/
Why do church leaders think that allowing convicted sex offenders into their buildings, at any time, is safe for children who come to church activities, walk around innocently (in and out of bathrooms and other areas alone in the buildings, etc.) with convicted sex offenders present? This is an grievous example of the “world” being more shrewd in dealing with those around them than the “children of light” Luke 16:8b
“And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.” New Living Translation Lk 16:8b
*I agree with you that God can redeem anyone and that the Church should minister care and love to sex offenders, but NOT at the expense of our children! Ministry to sex offenders can easily happen exclusively in homes and other buildings where children are not present. Period. Public worship that includes sex offenders can occur in other venues like homes or adult-only congregations. Perhaps a congregation of older individuals (seniors or middle-aged adults only) may choose to be a congregation that ministers to sex offenders. This would be a great solution. And would protect children.
*Also of grave importance, since Fairfax Community Church has a thriving sex addiction/sex offender ministry headed by a registered sex offender, then that means within that church community many more sex offenders and/or pedophiles will be congregating in that building, alongside the many unwitting families with multiple children jostling about innocently. What is wrong with this picture?!
*And lastly my thoughts on FCC’s actual statement: “Life challenge”? “personal history”? “his story”? “his struggle”? “addiction”? I am so sick of church leadership minimizing pedophilia and sexual crimes. Ministry to pedophiles and sex offenders must occur away from children. Otherwise it is like a sober crack addict socializing in a crack house, where the crack itself is a living, breathing innocent being hanging out in and around the addict.
*My primary take away thought, is that all church families need to evaluate and make decisions on how they as a church family are going to handle the issue of sex abuse. However, to establish or reform their policies, they need to take into consideration current statistics and psychological and criminal research about pedophilia. Currently, most churches and denominations have very faulty policies to protect children from sex offenders. This conversation needs to really start happening.
Rod Stafford’s Statement on Eric Nickle
Rod you emailed Dee Parsons (my East Coast Mom) your statement on the issue regarding Eric Nickle. I thought about it and the more I read it and the more I processed it the more frustrated I became. Rod though I have long removed myself from FCC I remain deeply concerned. FCC was the first church I got involved with after spending half my thirties being involved in agnosticism/atheism. I honestly gave it a good shot but I ran into authority issues and saw other things that reared their ugly head. But Rod I don’t know if you know how much courage it takes to walk through the doors of another church when you have been burned or harmed by one. By my 40th year Rod I processed through more denominations and movements (yes to include Mormonism) than more people do in their lifetime. The dones and the nones are the largest growing segment in the country today. Part of the reason why is that people are getting hurt in churches today. So Rod I wanted to re-run here what I wrote at Dee Parsons blog in response to what you released. It was a heavy burden to stumble into that information regarding Eric Nickle online. And it was an issue I had to contend with while dealing with a difficult situation from someone I knew in Sovereign Grace. But Rod…I really feel like you deceived the congregation and you were dishonest. Here’s what I wrote late last night at Dee Parson’s blog.
This is addressed to the leadership of Fairfax Community Church. Yes Rod Stafford this includes you.
The other day someone I know told me about something that upset them greatly. They are in the process of retiring and spoke with a financial adviser. This financial advisor actually worked in the DC Navy Yard before their current job. They were also one of the survivors of the Navy Yard shooting with Aaron Alexis. They were in a room with 3 co-workers when they took cover. She hid into a ball under her desk trying to become as small as possible. Before her eyes she watched a mentally ill gunman shoot two of her co-workers. When she crawled out she saw her co-worker gasping for breath and watching blood spurt out of her body. Both co-workers died. She had a stress heart attack and has been trying to move forward from that day in September 2013. When the Navy Yard shooting happened I was attending FCC. Actually I was going to be baptized in a month. When the Navy Yard shooting happened FCC largely went on like life was normal. No break from the series schedule. No talk about where was God at the Naval Sea System Command amidst a massacre. No talk about pain and suffering or the problem of evil. No diversion from the schedule to handle something that happened in FCC’s own backyard. The ringmaster of the circus that Sunday morning was John Falke. I couldn’t believe it! I walked away wondering what good is a church that ignores pain in its own backyard? Why does Fairfax Community Church exist? Now what would have happened if that woman who survived showed up? Would FCC been able to help her?
I wondered why the church was so naïve and so out of it. I think I got my answer in that statement above.
Rod Stafford some of that above is un-true. The members and people who attend the congregation at FCC do not know this information. Its been kept from them. I was an attender, I went to the small group at 7:00 on Friday nights briefly and this information wasn’t released. I stumbled across this information online during the depths of managing a false accusation from someone in Sovereign Grace, and I was trying to get through that because my name, my ability to earn income and so much more were threatened. This was a burden to keep Rod Stafford. When I attended FCC I spent times paying more attention to Eric Nickle to make sure that no one would get hurt. That nothing would happen. It was something that weighed on me when I attended. Rod Stafford FCC was disingenuous as this information was kept from people. It was hidden, reserved and kept silent.
It begs the question if FCC is so forthcoming why did FCC purge the comment on Google/Yelp review a couple of years ago? Why not leave a statement that is open and saying “Yes we have a sex offender in a position of authority and here’s why?” Why not be transparent? Why not be open? Better yet…why not be honest from the very beginning? When I stumbled across this news I realized that this was going to be the third evangelical Christian church that I was going to be involved in that had this problem. And this was going to be the fourth time in evangelicalism that this issue thrust its ugly head.
Rod why be disingenuous? You’re down the street from Sovereign Grace Fairfax. You just take a right out of the church parking lot on Braddock Road and when you hit 123 take a right again and your basically there. Rod Stafford do you know the hell some people went through at Sovereign Grace? I don’t think so…I remember the one time I met with you and I told you about my history and you didn’t know about the issues in the Evangelical Free movement. I was kind of stunned because I mentioned that to other pastors at a couple of other places and they knew. So you obviously didn’t know the history of story of Sovereign Grace Fairfax. How can you help these people when they are at your doorstep broken, bruised and shattered. And then your going to be disingenuous and not forth coming? Do you think that lack of honesty will help those people build trust again?
Rod Stafford do you know how hard it can be to walk through the doors of a church when you’ve dealt with spiritual abuse or manipulation? Rod Stafford do you know how hard it can be to walk through the doors of a church when you’ve dealt with overhanded authority? I don’t think you do.
You know Rod I thought FCC was going to be the place I’d settle into but over time many issues happened that bothered me. I wrestled with this information about Eric Nickle for a long time when I was at FCC. I was up to my eye balls in another mess courtesy of someone I knew from a Sovereign Grace church. What bothered me deeply is if something would have happened and I knew that information myself and kept it to myself. That would be an awful thing to live with. So Rod I’m sorry I have to call you out on that statement. It was incredibly naïve.
Rod I think the problem is that as FCC has grown you’ve become more removed from the population. This is one of the reasons why even though I was long gone I was concerned when I heard your “A Better $tory” campaign. You want to grow… Why? You can’t even manage what you have now? Why grow? That’s only going to make the problems worse Rod. So Rod I am sorry but that statement above has issues. Its incredibly naïve. Its risky.
Rod have you ever been in a church that has reeled from a sex abuse situation? Many people have…I showed up at one in Milwaukee that was reeling from a similar situation. So Rod I have to disagree. The more I thought about this the more disgusted I became.
Rod Stafford you kept this information from the congregation.
And that was wrong and deceitful.
Former attender of Fairfax Community Church
Is it Wise to have a Sex Offender in a Position of Trust?
Recently in the city of Plano, Texas which I believe is a suburb of Dallas there was a neurosurgeon who was arrested for assault and injury charges. You can read the story in the Dallas Morning News here. This neurosurgeon , Christopher Duntsch performed a number of spinal surgeries at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano and was accused of maiming several patients and causing the death of at least two between July 2012 and June 2013. In June of 2013 his medical license was suspended.
Now here is a question I have for you Rod Stafford. After this former neurosurgeon is processed by the legal system and serves his time in prison, do you honestly think that when released the medical board of Texas is going to re-issue another license to Christopher Duntsch? Do you think he can resume his medical practice at Baylor?
Let me pose some other questions along the same line of thought….
- Would a pharmacist who has a drug addiction be allowed to keep his license and practice?
- Would a teacher who committed a sex crime against a child be allowed to keep their teaching certificate?
- Would any of the four branches of the US military allow into their ranks someone who committed a felony and let that person be in a position of trust?
- If Bernie Madoff could be released from prison tomorrow (he’s doing life BTW…) do you think he’d be allowed to practice financial investments again and obtain his financial licensees?
- Do you think any of the major transportation companies from United Airlines to Norfolk Southern would allow and hire someone who committed a felony or who was addicted to narcotics be in a position of trust? Would they allow someone who is addicted to drugs to fly a plane or drive a train?
So why do so many churches act and believe that a sex offender can be in a position of trust? Why is the church behind the times in this area? Where is the common sense? I do want to be clear Rod I am not saying that Eric Nickle cannot go to church. I want to be crystal clear that I believe a sex offender belongs in the church. What I am questioning Rod is the discernment that is taking place. This issue bothers me and other people.
Another thing that was troubling Rod is that you showed no compassion or concern for Eric’s victim or potential victims. By how you responded you also showed a lack of concern for people at FCC who came from Sovereign Grace Fairfax who are detoxing from a church many people believe to be a cult. Their trust is damaged and as a Senior Pastor you didn’t do anything that helps to repair or build trust. That is disappointing Rod. Now I believe Eric Nickles is forgiven by God, but since when does redeemed mean trust again? I don’t think any of us are saying Eric Nickle doesn’t belong in the church but putting him in a position of authority just stuns me. But what is also disturbing Rod is that much of this information was kept from families. It was hidden from people who attended FCC. I want to repost one of the Yelp reviews that I stumbled across when researching FCC in 2013.
Not sure if people who are attending this church are aware that Eric Nickle is on the sexual registry list for taking liberties with a minor. Since I am a mother of four children who have interacted with Eric I have notified the church staff several times. They wrote me off. I think the church has a responsibility to let its members know that Eric Nickles is on the sexual registry list. Look up the zip code of the church 22030 on the fairfax sexual offenders list and you will see a picture of him.
I will no longer take my family to this church
Rod Stafford this situation stuns me. I think this shows how as FCC grew you grew out of touch. Since FCC won’t tell families, teenagers or children of this situation then I guess I will blast it out over the internet so that they do know. Well the Eagle is signing off now. Remember Rod the SNAP conference starts in a couple of days. Maybe we can see you there. There’s probably going to be coffee! We know how much you talk about coffee, plus I remember the times coffee was burned in the Great Room. Hope to see you there at the SNAP conference. Andy Gingrich you to are also invited to SNAP. According to Google Maps its 17 miles from FCC on Braddock Road to 400 the Westin in Alexandria. So maybe you can also get some running in to! 😉