Matt Boedy resigned from Riverside Community Church on January 15, 2014. His resignation letter is below. This week at The Wondering Eagle we are going to look at how the Evangelical Free Church of America and Acts 29 network responded. The documentation and correspondence is going to be published this week.
“Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes. I’m afraid is time for goodbye again.”
If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.
Matthew 10:14 NLT
Matt Boedy was a founding member of Riverside Community Church in Columbia, South Carolina. He served on the missions committee I believe. When his marriage disintegrated his counselor James Walden was not qualified to help as he was not properly trained. He received professional counseling from a licensed therapist and during that time James Walden contacted the therapist and in the process violated the ethics rules. Matt Boedy wanted James Walden held accountable for violating an ethics breach. Riverside Community Church tried to pull the Hebrews 13:17 crap and attempted to impose church discipline and eventually attempted to excommunicate him. In the process he resigned. Below is his resignation letter to the elders at Riverside Community Church. If you would like to read the narrative of what happened, you can do so in this post called, “Disturbing Allegations of Spiritual Abuse at James Walden’s Acts 29 Riverside Community Church in Columbia, South Carolina.“
This week we are going to look at how the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) and the Acts 29 network responded to this situation. Matt’s situation illustrates the failed polity of both organizations. In the EFCA this issue went up to the Southeast District Superintendent Glen Schrieber and ultimately to the EFCA President at the time. Both of their responses deserve to be analyzed in detail. The next post is going to look at Glen Schrieber and ask the following question…does the SE District Superintendent understand ethics? That’s it guys as always I love you!
I am writing to end my membership at Riverside Community Church. For the record, this letter was written some days ago but I took the interim period to seek wise counsel and prayer and feel after that this is the only right thing to do. Second, I would have mailed this letter to give it more formaility but with the deliverance of your last communication I wanted to quickly make clear this move is one I do willingly and sadly, but also of my own accord.
I do so in sad protest of the unethical conduct of the interim leadership team and its planting pastor James Walden. Without my consent James contacted my therapist and the leadership team supported this improper action. Such an action aimed to manipulate the sacrosanct relationship which values confidentiality with the utmost bond. As an outside to the therapeutic relationship, you had no authority or right to communicate without my permission.
This action also violated commonly accepted pastoral counseling and church oversight boundaries. In short, it went beyond the line of ethical and appropriate behavior. It was wrong. I make this charge based on the code of ethics of the American Association of Christian Counselors, a group perhaps James is not a member of, but one I would think he would respect. Its code states that “apart from consented to, regulatory, mandatory or legally required disclosure, counselors shall not break confidentially regarding client communications without first discussing the intended disclosure and secure written consent from the client or the client representative.” This is seconded by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. Its code of ethics state: “We do not disclose client confidences to anyone, except…by previously obtained written permission. In cases involving more than one person (as client) written permission must be obtained from all legally accountable persons who have been present during the counseling before any disclosure can be made.” That is, as a counselor, you broke confidentiality without first discussing it with me and not receiving my permission.
Secondly, as an elder it is an overreach of biblical authority for you to demand to speak to my therapist. Therapy certainly recognizes church administration, but it also recognizes the sacrosanct relationship between the client and the therapist. If a church leader believes he can insert himself in that relationship by threat of ex-communication to the client (which is what you have done), he is abusing his power. Furthermore the letter also shows little respect to the therapist and is a profound mistrust to me.
While certainly the above are debatable, this action is a major issue that it is clear both sides disagree on and I cannot in good conscious cannot continue under the leadership of a church which I believe acted on and supports such recklessness. The letter and the non-communication from leadership about its deliverance to the therapist shows a profound error in judgment and a profound lack of interest in rebuilding the trust I had suggested. In short, the error is the letter and that you did not inform me, either before or after. It was wrong.
And sadly, I also leave knowing that I have done all I can to rebuild a relationship broken by mistrust, sin, and pride on both sides, especially with James. Yet even with forgiveness of seen and unseen issues offered and accepted by both sides, sadly James explicit denials of issues I have brought to him signifies to me that he does not trust my ability to be insightful into his life, a key component of brotherhood, friendship and community, but also key in building trust in nay relationship. I certainly listened to his insights into my life, as I should to any elder, but his credibility further eroded as long as he refused to be open about his life. Instead of treating me like a brother first, and so share with me issue in his life that might be akin to mine and so help us both grow, he treated me like a child who cannot question his father. This is poor leadership.
He at times clearly aimed to have more than a “counselor” role and times said anything other than that was not needed. It was never clear who/what I was talking to. In short, his boundary issues caused mammoth problem and misjudgments on his part (including the letter to the therapist). And sadly, he refused to admit their impact directly on our relationship, sufficing only to admit he would make better choices in general. It is also disappointing that other leaders agree with me and recognize these blind spots in his life, yet I am seen as one who is out of reality or that “this is just who he is.” Sadly also he admitted at times he has been emotionally not present (ie distant) and then revoked that admission. This only furthers mistrust.
I have tried on multiple occasions and with multiple indicators to become reconciled on a basis of equality, trust, and brotherhood, foundations for any relationship. Sadly, nothing has come from the other side, other than denials, revocations, and refusals to share life. I cite here Paul’s desire to share not just the gospel but his life with the Thessalonians.
If in the future the church leadership becomes convinced that this action (letter to therapist) was wrong, apologizes to me and to the church body, the two entities whose trust was betrayed; and disciplines the pastor and those who supported the letter, I will be open to continuing my membership. I pray that comes, I appreciate the vision and desires of the church, its aim, its theology, and as a founding member I take this action in all sadness and with the utmost concern for the health of its body. This church deserves better than this action.