Last Friday on Covenant Life Church’s blog Mark Mitchell released a post claiming about how Covenant Life is concerned with the safety of children, and that they have been concerned for years. I read this post and knew it needed a response. Here at The Wondering Eagle, Mark Mitchell will be known as Covenant Life’s “Church Lady” since he claimed that Satan is attacking the church.
“The ability to represent failure as success would become an agency tradition.”
Tom Weiner “Legacy of Ashes”
“Don’t trust people’s words, trust their actions.”
Follow the steps of good men instead, and stay on the paths of the righteous. For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it. But the wicked will be removed from the land, and the treacherous will be uprooted.
Proverbs 2:20-22 NLT
Covenant Life Church has its own Church Lady!
You know I need to obtain life insurance when it comes to fundamentalism. It seems as if I have a knack for reading the right stuff at the right time. Normally when I am grabbing lunch or dinner and checking out my Android. I have come close to choking and think a “Fundamentalism Insurance Policy” is long overdue. Something that will protect you from fundamentalism 🙂 Before continuing I have to say something. How many of you know what the Church Lady is? The Church Lady was created by Dana Carvey who hosts her own show called “Church Chat.” She was probably one of the more memorable characters of Saturday Night Live. Here is what I am going to do…and I feel its only appropriate. When I write about certain individuals I associate them with a character. For example when I write about Jonathan Leeman expect to see Cartman from South Park say, “Respect my Authoritah!” (One day I would love to see Jonathan Leeman impersonate Cartman…) Anyhow Mark Mitchell made the headlines when in a meeting at Covenant Life Church he claimed that Satan was attacking the church in the form of a Washingtonian article. I wrote about that in this article here which is actually doing quite strong. So here is what I am going to do…every time I write about Mark Mitchell “The Church Lady” is going to make an appearance. The Eagle is going to designate Mark Mitchell “The Church Lady” of Covenant Life Church. One of these days I hope to meet him and I would love to hear him say… Couuuuuuuuuuuuld it be Satan?”
The other day on the Covenant Life Church blog Mark Mitchell posted an article. I read it during dinner, nearly choked and decided this needed a response. From here on out my comments will be in red.
Covenant Life Church has been a part of the Montgomery County community for nearly 40 years. Since our earliest gatherings in 1977, our aim has been to nurture the spiritual life of our members and work for the good of our neighbors.
Like our city and county, we’ve gone through many changes, but the foundation of our faith and message has remained the same: In Jesus Christ there is forgiveness, freedom and hope. At Covenant Life, we endeavor to help one another and the community around us find life in Him.
You may be reading this because you’ve seen or heard media reports that paint a different picture, one that suggests our church is insensitive to victims of child abuse. Such coverage has omitted crucial information, perpetuated distortions and false allegations, and mischaracterized Covenant Life Church.
This paragraph above is telling. It shows how in the end Mark Mitchell is more consumed with image than substance. You know what is also revealing? How this post was published. CLC decided to publish it on a Friday with the goal hoping that it wouldn’t get any attention. That they could say, “Yup…we’re serious…look at it!” Then at the same time they try and sneak it in on a Friday hoping that no one will catch it. After all on Friday many people’s mind is focused on the weekend. They are thinking of getting out of work, kicking back, seeing friends, playing with the kids, etc… In the world of politics bad news is released on a Friday. Its released hoping that people will not know or if they do that by Monday they will forget about it. I get that same vibe in this posting as well. But you know the other thing it shows…Sovereign Grace and former SGM churches are sensitive about image. Image is what they care about…I mean you can have a theological system rotten to the core but as long as you have image that is all that matters. That is one of the many reasons why Sovereign Grace is so rotten. For Mark Mitchell its all about image and this post is an attempt to buffer his image and make it known. Its a public relations campaign that is a part of a DNA of a former SGM church. Expect to see it at many other former SGM churches.
Our society instinctively knows child abuse is abhorrent and our laws rightly reflect its grievous nature and devastating effects. Covenant Life shares this abhorrence and condemns child abuse in all its forms. Our hearts ache for those who have experienced abuse, and we strive to be a community where victims of child abuse and all injustice find healing and hope.
My BS detector is screaming when I read this propaganda by Mark Mitchell. Does CLC condemn child abuse in all forms? If so why was Nate Morales given a pass, why was he roaming free as late as 2007, especially when many of the CLC pastors knew of his crimes? This goes back to Mark Mitchell but what did he know about Nate Morales? We’re not just talking about going back a couple of decades…were talking much more recent. And does CLC honestly ache for victims of abuse? If so why haven’t they repented? Why haven’t they sought them out and asked for forgiveness? Why haven’t they offered to buy them counseling? Why haven’t they offered to meet with people? Why haven’t they taken any initiative? After all words are cheap, anyone can say anything at all. Why not put some effort into the situation and do the right thing? Tackling injustice takes work, and it takes commitment. Like I said anyone can say anything at all. But the current obsession with image at any and all costs highlights that this is not a community that is about healing and hope. Instead the image will trump people every single time. Mark Mitchell’s post speaks volumes about the health of Covenant Life.
Like the educational community and our broader society, we have learned much over the past four decades about how to respond to reports of abuse and provide the best possible care and counsel to victims and their families.
The past four decades? Why was there a lawsuit? Why was child sex abuse covered up at CLC if they knew how to respond? Here is another thing…why try and minimalize the church’s behavior by saying, “like the educational community and broader society…” What gets me is why does the church try and explain away their behavior? Shouldn’t the church have a higher standard than society? Shouldn’t it be more ethical, contain more integrity, and higher standards? Why can’t the church when it screws up come out and say, “We were wrong, and this is why…” Can Mark Mitchell ever admit that Covenant Life was wrong in this area? And if he can’t admit that the next question I have is which God is he following and which Bible is he reading? The other thing that stuns me is that I am observing this from a distance and seeing this come forward. P.J. Smyth remains silent about all this which means two factors. Either Mark made this post without his consent and knowledge. Or P.J. lacks the strength to guide the church. I don’t want to be too harsh on P.J. I mean gosh his family isn’t even over here yet from South Africa. But if this continues to go on and on…then it means that Covenant Life Church will not repent or own its mistakes. And that means an incredible opportunity will be lost. I don’t want that to happen, it’s like I said in my open letter I do want to see the church do well, but to get to that stage it needs to confront its past. That is the only way forward.
In this regard, Covenant Life has benefited from working with local law enforcement and social services on matters of safety, security and sexual abuse awareness. Our interaction with civil authorities has been instrumental in shaping our policies and procedures for the protection and care of children.
I don’t want to sound like a broken letter but some of this I have a hard time buying. What I sense in the above paragraph is spin.
Simply put, when a pastor, staff member or volunteer has reason to believe a child is the victim of abuse or neglect, our policy requires those individuals to report it immediately to civil authorities.
Has that always been the case? If so how do you explain Nate Morales? How do you explain the stories that came out on SGM Survivors? This probably all came about after Nate Morales was convicted I believe. If I am wrong someone from CLC please correct me, Mark Mitchell please correct me. I am not image conscious and I will admit that I am wrong.
Every Sunday, hundreds of families participate in our church services and entrust their children to the care of our staff and volunteers. We will continue to work hard to ensure our church is a place of safety for children and a place of healing for victims.
I find this statement incredibly misleading. This implies that this has been the policy all along. That CLC has been a re-affirming church and safe one from the get go. Nope my BS detector is screaming. Mark Mitchell is trying to hide over 3 decades of problems and sweep it under the bed. A place to heal for victims? If its a place for healing why does this continue to string along. You know what I would actually encourage is to invite law enforcement or a third party organization that is neutral to the faith to create, draw up and implant a plan. There are lots of child sex abuse organizations out there why not turn the entire policy over to them and have them implement it and let them govern it. If you do something like that it will mean business and that your word is true and gold. Right now I just don’t accept that…this statement is driven by public relations and trying to control the narrative.
We believe anyone who visits our church will find a welcoming environment to explore faith in Jesus Christ. We look forward to continuing to serve Montgomery County and the greater Washington, D.C., region for decades to come.
Mark if you really want to serve Jesus repent, get your church house in order and do the right thing. It’s that simple. Its not complicated.
Executive Pastor, Covenant Life Church
February 7, 2016
Now I know I can be pretty sarcastic at times but in the end here is what I want to see. I just want to see a church act like a church. Not act like a PR machine with spin. But do the right thing…shouldn’t a church lead by example? Shouldn’t a church and the Pastor lead in exclaiming they were wrong? All of this talk about following God and yet they can’t cover the basics. Why? If they want to serve the Washington, D.C. area repenting and showing humility is a way forward and will go a long way in a city that is steeped in pride. People don’t admit their mistakes here because they are so image focused and driven. But that is all I want to see, a church actually do the right thing. Why can’t Mark write a post and say, “We screwed up…we were wrong, we did the wrong thing in regards to handling child abuse for decades” Why haven’t they done that? Are they following “Gospel Centered Counsel” from an attorney? The situation is incredibly sad and it breaks me to keep seeing this. I am sitting here in the D.C. area watching and waiting for what P.J. Smyth is going to do. I want to see him do the right thing and I want to give him time. But he has to engage in this area. Part of the reason why you face your problems is because they don’t go away…they just get worse with the passing of time. If I am wrong then correct me, if you are a member of CLC and think I am being too harsh leave a comment below. I have no concerns with push back and if you attend CLC and think I am right then please state it. Either way I love you guys. 🙂