An open letter, a blunt one really challenging Matt Carter on his behavior and how he treated Hurit. How does a man go from admitting that Hurit is a victim of an alleged sexual assault to presiding over her ex-communication? Especially in about a week of each other? This is David in his challenging style calling Matt Carter out on his treatment of Hurit. This is my call for Matt Carter to stop, repent, and admit that he is in the wrong. If he is going to be a man, he will stop and admit his error. He will make that phone call and meet with Hurit and say he’s sorry and repair the damage.
“Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.”
“Why are you here? My city is in chaos because of you.”
Unknown Chinese Man to the PLA in the Tiananmen Square Protests June 4, 1989
“Hurit, I would consider that rape…”
Matt Carter December 3, 2014 Bakers Table
This is going to be a very blunt letter, and I am not going to hold back some strong words. In your case you need to hear them, and I intend to speak my mind. I’ve poured a lot of time into these posts and writing about the theological dictatorship of Steve Estes. If you detect slight anger in this letter its because that anger comes from within my soul. My anger is directed toward injustice and the way you treated an alleged rape victim. But let me go back to a conversation that I can’t get out of my mind.
About a week before Hurit’s excommunication service you sat with her and her friend I believe in Baker’s Table in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. At the table you told Hurit in response to hearing about Brock Estes’s alleged sexual assault of his wife the following:
“I would consider that rape…”
Stop and let that sink in for a minute. “I would consider that rape…” Do you realize the situation? The Senior Pastor’s son Brock Estes allegedly raped his wife. He forced himself on her when he was drunk, and inebriated. One of the allegations is that he sexually assaulted Hurit. Now here’s my question to you Matt Carter…why aren’t you outraged? Why aren’t you incensed? Why aren’t you livid over such injustice?
As a father you are close to your children. What bothers me in this situation is where is your ability to empathize? Let me ask you his question….suppose the tables were turned and it was your daughter who was the victim of a sexual assault. What would you do? How would you feel? Would you want your daughter to face church discipline? Would you want her to be turned over to Satan? Would you want your daughter to repent? Repent of what? Good God she would be the victim of a crime!
I find it sickening that a little over a week later after you admitted that Hurit was the victim of a crime, that you presided over her excommunication. So the Senior Pastor’s son who allegedly raped his wife and pointed a gun at her was given a pass. Yet the victim of the crime was tried and ex-communicated. Let me ask you this Matt…is rape a “Gospel Centered value” at Community Evangelical Free Church? I mean this entire situation reveals that rank hath its privileges. That is especially true given that Brock had the benefit of being the Senior Pastor’s son. If he were an ordinary bloke (as the British would say…) he would not be given a pass. Here’s the problem I would suggest Matt Carter. You presided over the wrong ex-communication service. If anyone should have been ex-communicated it really should have been Brock Estes. He should have been ex-communicated for his alleged rape and allegedly pointing a gun at his wife. The fact that those activities are downplayed, and dismissed I find incredible. Here’s another question I have….it’s my understanding that Brock Estes is seeing another person. If he gets engaged and married again are we going to have another marriage full of domestic abuse, mishandling of a loaded gun and alcoholism? When the second wife files for divorce because of similar problems are you going to preside over another ex-communication service? Here’s a question I have….how many ex-communication services are going to occur where the wife of the Senior Pastor’s son is going to be thrown under the bus?
Where is the compassion, the sympathy and concern for Hurit? She was the victim of a crime at the hands of a corrupt Senior Pastor. Where is your sympathy and concern for her? Have you wept over how you treated her? Have you stopped to consider what you put her through? Another bewildering aspect is this fact. I understand at the very beginning of this church discipline process that early on you believed that the entire discipline process against Hurit should be tossed out. You believed that it was wrong, and unjust! What happened to you? Since when do you go from a concern for justice to engaging in wrongful injustice and in the process protecting someone who has allegedly engaged in a sexual assault? I love blogging Matt….social media has redefined things and is a game changer. If you doubt the power of social media stop and consider what happened when a merchant self-immolated himself in Tunisia in 2009. It was shared on social media through Twitter, blogs, and Facebook. It led to an uprising in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria. It has forced changes in the Middle East. Now I am not here to discuss those changes, I raise this only to point out what happens because of social media. You helped drag a crime victim through the mud Matt. In social media this horrific injustice will be exposed. Community Evangelical Free Church and the way it treated an alleged victim of sexual assault will be contested. The greater Christian church will not be silent and men like me will not turn the other way. There are times when you draw a line in the sand, take a stand, and challenge the status quo. And this letter to you is a part of it. You told people as they left Community Evangelical Free not to discuss the situation or to shun Hurit. Let me ask you how well did that work? I mean you have a Christian blogger in the Washington, D.C. pushing back hard and writing intensely about the situation. Or you also have Dee Parsons writing about this from Raleigh. I’m here to push back, and I’m here to challenge this situation. When one person in the body of Christ suffers…all suffer. When Hurit and other families who are shunned are suffering all suffer. And the repercussions of this dastardly deed that took place on December 14, 2014 are being strongly contested.
Anger is an appropriate emotion…after all Jesus turned over the tables in the Temple. If Jesus were at Community Evangelical Free Church he would have stormed in and turned over the table or podium that was used in this mockery of justice on December 14, 2014. I write this to pushback …there are a lot of people in Elverson, and the area that are livid over this situation. My hope and goal is to encourage more people to challenge the Elder board, and to not accept the status quo. I hope more people will stand up and defy the totalitarian rule of this Elder board. History is rich with examples of protest, and I would like to present a few. You had a black female who challenged Montgomery’s segregation in 1955. You have a British suffragette, Emily Davison , who challenged the status quo by trying to attach a flag to a horse in the 1913 Epsom Derby, she gave her life for that effort. You also have Tommie Smith and Juan Carlos who protested racial injustice in the 1968 Mexico City, Olympics. And then you have what I consider one of the most powerful statements in the form of protest that is burned in the mind of many who witnessed the horrific put down of the Tiananmen Square protests in China in 1989. A lone man stood before a series of tanks and asked, “Why are you here? My city is in chaos because of you.” I would flip that around and ask something similar in regards to the situation with Hurit. “What did you do? The church and the community is in chaos because of you?” What are you going to do about it Matt?
Here’s one other thing to consider…when I undertook this situation I listened to a lot of people, and heard a lot of feedback. Since this blog was published I have heard from more concerned people. I heard that many people once loved and thought highly of you. I heard that many people lost all respect for you Matt. That is sad, and if you are not weeping over that you most certainly should be. I am writing this to jar, and challenge you in the end, but I also write in a very blunt style. You should know that I learned that the woman in the center of the The Village Church scandal who faced discipline for annulling her marriage to a child pornography addict liked to read me during the ordeal. If you want to read any of those posts you can do so here, here, and here.
Matt Carter…it doesn’t have to be like this. The story doesn’t have to end like this at all. You can change course and admit you’re wrong. People can and do make mistakes and will make mistakes. You know what this entire situation reveals Matt? It reveals how much of a sinner you, Steve Estes, Al Kimball, Matt Lambert and others are. It shows how off kilter you are…the fact that you would discipline a rape victim who has been subject to alleged domestic abuse…and then let the alleged abuser and rapist off the hook is horrific! But the situation can change and be very different.
I wrote the first part of this letter in a very hard hitting style that is how I do things. However, I would like to use the second part of this note to appeal to what Abraham Lincoln once called “the better angels of our nature…” If you and Al Kimball and others care about the Gospel you will reverse course and publically admit that you made a mistake. You will repent, change course and reach out to the wounded and hurt people from this situation. You will repent in person to Hurit and the others who have been hurt.
There’s another reason why you and Community Evangelical Free Church need to repent Matt. I don’t think your church is going to survive this situation. You have the perfect storm going into this discipline situation, and all the factors are there for this implosion. Community is only digging itself into a bigger hole by not repenting. Here’s the problem…the church can’t afford the building project you are undertaking. Then against that…people are leaving. Those who you anticipated to be around, and give money and support Community are walking away. The financial situation is going to make the church collapse in the course of time. It takes time for things to collapse, and in this case Community’s collapse is well under way. The church’s repentance is the only way Community Evangelical Free Church is going to survive. The more people that leave the more dire the situation is going to become. You and others have no option….you need to repent.Here is the other problem…your reputation is stained in Pennsylvania, no one in ministry will hire you. You will be known as the pastor who led the Ex-Communication service of an alleged rape victim.
Here’s what I highly recommend that you do…you need to fix things. You need to go on the record and say, “I was wrong.” You need to go public and admit your mistake. You need to reach out to Hurit and her family and get on your knees and ask to be forgiven. You need to admit to Hurit that you were wrong in your action and behavior.
Make that phone call…
Send that email…
Reach out to Hurit and have one of the shunned families there as well.
You need to initiate this Matt…it rises and falls with you alone. Your actions will scream if you are going to repent and if its going to be sincere. One other thing…many people can sense and see through faulty repentance. So if you initiate it, it better good. Having said all that let me offer this…if you need help repenting I will be happy to help you. I have done that before in my life and will make mistakes in the future and will have to repent in that time frame.
If Community Evangelical Free Church repents and owns this mess they will preach the Gospel very boldly and broadly. After all…one of the problems today in Christianity is that Christians don’t admit that they are wrong. They don’t own their mistakes. They don’t care about people that they hurt, and it often happens when “precious doctrine” is made an idol. That is what the Pharisee’s did Matt…they focused more on the doctrine than the people, and as a result people got hurt. Steve Estes is a sinner, and a Pharisee, but he can repent. There is another open letter I have for him as well. Christians today are looked on as being arrogant and condescending because they don’t admit they are wrong. They often and needlessly create their own enemies and problems. If you don’t repent and own things then Community Evangelical Free Church is probably going to close its doors. It will be the Mars Hill of Pennsylvania, a church that went down in history for disciplining a rape victim, and giving her alleged rapist a pass, all because he is the son of the Senior Pastor Steve Estes. That alone could be an example for other churches drunk on authority, and if Community Evangelical Free is a lesson to be used so that this doesn’t happen in Morgantown, Lancaster, Reading, York, Harrisburg, Allentown, Hershey and others; then so be it.
But here is another aspect I propose to you Matt. People are precious and valuable both on this side of heaven and in heaven itself. People aren’t disposable and thrown away. Life is short, and you never know what will come tomorrow. Do you want to still be stuck in this situation later in life and have one or two of the people involved deceased or gone, and live with the regret that you were not able to work things out? You realized that you are wrong, and your behavior hurt someone but you can’t reach out to them and ask for their forgiveness because they passed away. Do you want to live in that condition? That is not a position you want to be in Matt. No one does….life is short and a visit to the doctor or a million other situations can change it for the worse. We’re temporal, weak, and life is fragile. I think this is part of the reason why Christians are called to repent. If Steve Estes repents for this mess and what he guided Community Evangelical Free Church through, then he will have done more for the Gospel in that one act, than 30 years of expository preaching and teaching at Westminster and elsewhere combined.
So I am challenging you make the call, send that email. Listen to your heart. A mistake isn’t the end, in the economy of the Lord its the beginning. It’s the beginning of life, freedom, and new birth. I learned that from my faith crisis. I approached about 140 people and sought forgiveness. I know what that is like and that is why I am writing this passionate letter to you. If you want to read how I did it, you can do so right here. But wouldn’t it be beautiful if you repented of your role in this mess, if the Elder board repented of their mistake? Think of the relationships that can be healed. Think of the healing that can come from such behavior. If you guys repented and held a special service with all the Elders apologizing and publically rescind that ex-communication for Hurit, I would drive up from D.C. to witness that myself. Think of how that would heal a community, and restore brokenness. What the locusts have eaten has been restored.
So much is hanging on the line in this mess as so many families has been hurt and wounded. While Hurit has been hurt the deepest by Community all the families who resigned and still resigning and walking away are hurting too. The only way forward is go backward and own your mistake. Have the Elder board rescind Hurit’s ex-communication. Hold a special service and rescind Hurit’s ex-communication publically. There is life for the Prodigal Son…and I suggest that is what you are right now. But there is life and the local community and churches would help you Matt. The Gospel would be glorified and healing would take place. Elverson could be whole again….and at peace.
Do the right thing Matt…
This is the only option you have….repent and find a new and amazing life.
The choice is yours…what will it be?