This is an overview of the Forest Lakes District of the Evangelical Free Church of America. The Forest Lakes District is led by Jon Payne and consists of Wisconsin and 1 church in Carney, Michigan. This is a look at some of the issues ongoing in this EFCA District in the Upper Midwest.
“I love the Midwest. I think about it every day. I wonder if I would rather have a little farm in the Midwest, in Illinois or Wisconsin, or would I rather have like a little getaway up in the mountains of Colorado.“
“Wisconsin’s a special place.”
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29 NIV
Spring Lake Church in Green Bay, Wisconsin
Acts 29 Redeemer City Church in Madison, Wisconsin
Highland Community Church in Wausau, Wisconsin
First Free Church in Onalaska, Wisconsin
In December 2015 I wrote the following post that put out a call for stories of corruption and polity problems in the Evangelical Free Church of America. There have been a number of people who have responded to that post. However, in that post I also explore the breakdown of all the districts and the history of the denomination. I decided to take this issue on because no blog out there has undertaken issues related to the Evangelical Free denomination and there are a number of problems that exist. I used to be involved in the Evangelical Free, I actually was baptized in one in 2000. I wrote about Fresno Evangelical Free (The Bridge Fresno) in this post here. Today due to a host of issues I would deeply avoid it, nor would I explore faith in an Evangelical Free church. Just living in the D.C. area and observing the Evangelical Free denomination from a distance has been heartbreaking. There are a lot of issues from abuse of authority, to legalism, to the penetration of Reformed theology/Neo-Calvinism that befall the denomination and this blog is going to write and illustrate them in an effort to bring about change. Change will come with time, but it will come with each painful story that is published. The stories will reveal the problems in the polity. As SGM Survivors was a thorn in the Sovereign Grace denomination, it is my goal to make The Wondering Eagle a blog that allows for discussions about issues in the Evangelical Free Church of America. The goal is not to be difficult for the sake of being difficult but in the course of time to help bring change to the denomination. I have 17 districts to work through over the next year. Today I am looking at the Forest Lakes District. This is the ninth district that I have analyzed.
Three Aspects Driving this Post and Blog: D.A Carson’s Corruption, Andrew White and Redeemer Arlington and Atheism
This blog – The Wondering Eagle – is going to hold the Evangelical Free denomination accountable. It is going to write, report and reveal problems and issues with their polity. The Evangelical Free is not a healthy denomination and it needs reform. There are three key things I want to communicate to the Evangelical Free Church so they can understand what drives this project and this blog.
1. In February of 2013 at the blog SGM Survivors which has documented and written about corruption and problems in the Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) denomination the following occurred. A person called “Anonymous” wrote about how she was sexually assaulted when she was 13 at a prominent SGM member’s house. She also wrote about how she hoped the denomination would be held accountable. Shortly thereafter the largest lawsuit in evangelical Christian history against SGM was dismissed on a technicality and statute of limitations reasons. On May 24, 2013 D.A. Carson who is a prominent professor at the Evangelical Free Church’s flagship seminary Trinity Evangelical Divinity School issued a statement in support of C.J. Mahaney (along with Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung). In that bastardized statement D.A. Carson went after and verbally attacked that rape victim from SGM Survivors. I consider this to be one of the lowest points in modern evangelical Christianity. When this behavior occurred from a prominent professor in the Evangelical Free Church’s flagship seminary the response by the denomination was also telling. No one challenged Don Carson, no one publicly rebuked him. No one said, “Now wait a minute Don you are out of line…”
No one did a damn thing. The Evangelical Free Church’s silence on this issue screams volumes about its health. I wonder if the denomination is familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan. You see the lesson of that story is that you help the broken, the wounded, the person hurt alongside the road. In contrast the Evangelical Free has been committed to growth, church planting all while one of its prominent professor’s at its main seminary attacks a rape victim. In the process I would propose that many parts of the Evangelical Free denomination are acting like the high priest consumed with going to the temple who ignore the wounded person along the side of the road in the process.
Gentlemen…D.A. Carson’s behavior is a disgrace to the denomination and it needs to be challenged. But there is another question that needs to be asked…why would Don Carson behave that way? Over at the blog The Wartburg Watch it was revealed that C.J. Mahaney gave at least $200,000 to Al Mohler at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I put a link to that post in the previous sentence. All together now can we say a “Gospel Centered Bribe.” It has also came out over at the blog SGM Survivors that C.J. Mahaney allegedly gave a lot of cash to Wayne Grudem to help finish the ESV translation. You can read about that in this comment below:
That money given to Wayne Grudem was actually certified by Grudem’s own writing which you can read about in this post here. Plus it was revealed the C.J. Mahaney gave money to Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. So having said all that if we follow the money it is well within reason to ask the following question. Did C.J. Mahaney give money to D.A. Carson and is that why Carson felt obligated to attack a rape victim? To read more about the Sovereign Grace scandal the Washingtonian and Time magazine has written about it. Plus there is my analysis of the Washingtonian article as well.
2. There is another aspect I want the Evangelical Free denomination to know. Shortly before D.A Carson attacked a rape victim I was thrust into the darkest season of my life, and it happened when I was coming out of a prolonged faith crisis that consumed half my thirties. An Air Force Captain I knew who was a Care Group Leader at Eric Simmons and Jordan Kauflin’s Redeemer Arlington (a former SGM Church plant in the Washington, D.C. area) gave birth to a false accusation that took aim at my name, reputation, employment and future employment. An attorney who looked over the situation believed I was sitting on a defamation of character lawsuit against Andrew. When I saw how a military officer can abuse his power the situation taught me as to why rape and sexual assault is a very serious issue in the United States military. This situation was the darkest season of my life. The situation was so painful to where you had a 38 year old man crying in his bed in the middle of the night in emotional pain. After I was unsuccessfully recruited into Redeemer Arlington and as I slowly picked up the pieces of my life and tried to find a way forward Andrew White focused on recruiting another person. Andrew has not repented, or expressed sorrow for the pain he caused. It actually goes to another issue in modern evangelicalism today. Christians don’t say they are sorry...they don’t repent when they hurt other people. They are often indifferent and apathetic to those who they wound. Its what makes many parts of the Christian faith laughable and a joke. It makes Christianity in the United States downright ugly. All I longed for is a deep, sincere apology with Andrew understanding what he did. If he would have taken the initiative and approached me and sought forgiveness I would have released him. So that situation with an Air Force Captain and the pain I endured drives me and often keeps me up to 2:00 a.m. to make sure that not another soul is harmed by fundamentalism, that no one endures the hell I walked through. There is something deeply wrong when the fruit of your faith is hubris, psychological trauma, false accusations, and pain.
3. Finally this blog also writes about atheism as well. To date I have written 114 articles about atheism, and there are a lot more to write. The reason why I write about atheism in the context of evangelicalism is for the following reason. Corruption in evangelicalism is one of the factors that fuels atheism. I think many evangelicals would be surprised to learn as to how many people have rejected Christianity due to the corruption hemorrhaging out of the Christian faith today. Don Carson’s corruption along with The Gospel Coalition is a prime example. When I was in my faith crisis walking into an Evangelical Free Church in Manassas, Virginia and learning that it was helping to launch an Acts 29 church (in this case Redemption Hill in DC) – even with all the garbage pouring out of Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill – after all the corruption and issues was stunning for me at the time. Its not every day that one stands in a church lobby and explains when asked “Who is Mark Driscoll?” “He’s that Pastor in Seattle that speaks about the Biblical basis for blow jobs!” You can read about that interaction in the lobby of Crossway Fellowship of Manassas, Virginia right here. It is my contention that the single greatest threat to the Christian faith today is not gay marriage or the secularization of society. Instead its internal corruption which is corrosive and destroying the church. Like I said the Evangelical Free Church denomination has a lot of issues and this blog will write about, monitor and be a deep thorn in the side of the Evangelical Free Church of America. It will do that for the people caught up in this troubled denomination. This blog will be the voice for those in the pews.
Making the Forest Lakes District of the Evangelical Free Church Aware
Having explained all that I want the Evangelical Free church denomination to be aware of what I will report and write on.
- This blog will write about church members who are caught up in membership covenant issues where they can’t resign or walk away. I should also note that I have deep reservations and concerns about membership covenants. My views are summed up in this post right here called. “Neo-Calvinist Membership Covenants: the New Berlin Wall Amidst a Theological Cold War.” In that post I draw similarities between membership covenants being a modern version of the Berlin Wall, a symbol of oppression throughout the Cold War until it fell in November 1989.
- In-appropriate church discipline will be hammered here at The Wondering Eagle. If an Evangelical Free church in the Forest Lakes District practices in-appropriate church discipline (Side-note I am not talking about adultery) they will be written up about. For example if a church disciplines a rape victim, or someone who ends their marriage because they were domestically abused. This blog will intervene in those situations for the people in question, and this blog will hammer that church. If you want to see an example of this look at Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania headed up by Steve Estes. Steve and his Elder board disciplined and excommunicated an alleged rape victim. The Senior Pastor’s son allegedly raped his wife while intoxicated and allegedly pointed a loaded gun at her. In this story the woman knows she could be dead. At the time the Evangelical Free church ignored the pleas of members and former members to get involved. I am continuing to write about it as the situation develops.
- Abusive and questionable church authority issues will be written about extensively as well. Church discipline and membership issues are but one factor. You can have pastors who usurp their authority and force their will. They are often surrounded by yes men who lack any objectivity from outside parties. Nepotism is a major problem in evangelicalism and this issue reveals itself in these situations.
- Theological church hijackings will also be written about. If a Neo-Calvinist pastor comes in under the radar and hijacks an Evangelical Free church and turns it into a hardcore 9 Marks, or The Gospel Coalition church they will be written about. Its in situations like these where members face discipline for things that never were issues previously. Its divisive and forces people away from their congregations. I will have no sympathy for a pastor who hijacks a church and takes it in a direction that was not its prior theology. Hijackings split congregations and drive people from their theological homes for years. I plan to tell the stories of a few church hijackings at this blog.
- Child sex abuse along with domestic abuse cover up will be written about as well.
- Following the laws in regards to sex offenders will be researched and emphasized. What I will do is randomly take an Evangelical Free Church and run its staff through the sex offender database in the appropriate state to see if its being compliant, open and transparent with the congregation. If not expect to see a post similar to this one written about Fairfax Community Church (which is actually in the Church of God Anderson, Indiana denomination) in the Washington, D.C. area.
- Financial issues are another aspect that will be written about and covered. Lack of financial transparency, building campaigns that are questionable will be covered in great detail. Church growth is an idol that is worshiped in the modern evangelical Christian church.
Now if the denomination does not like that and District Superintendent Jon Payne or individual pastors are displeased that a blog has popped up that will write about denominational issues there are two things you can do. One is you can express your personal displeasure to D.A Carson and thank him for attacking a rape victim. Second, in honor of D.A Carson The Wondering Eagle celebrates “Festivus” on Don’s birthday on December 21. As part of the annual “airing of grievances” you can read this post I wrote and participate in your own “airing of grievances” at your computer. Or wait until the next Festivus and complain, and grieve about Don Carson or even the existence of this blog. After all according to the calendar Festivus is now only 195 days away! I have no problem with pushback and allow differing points of view. I am not a dictator. I also want to go on record to state that this post has been emailed to the Forest Lakes District leadership of the Evangelical Free Church of America as well as all the churches and as many Senior Pastors and pastoral teams in the denomination in Wisconsin and upper Michigan. So they are now noted and have been made aware that there is a blog that will write about this denomination and their potential church. This blog will have a bite to it, and that bite exists for a reason. It’s to protect and go to bat for the person standing in the pew. There are too many wolves and far too much corruption that exists in modern evangelicalism, but especially the Evangelical Free denomination. Too many people are getting hurt today in church, some of the emails I get are heartbreaking.
From left to right, Dave Kallenbach from EFCA Reach; Mike Deckman from Faith Evangelical Free Church in Fall Creek, Wisconsin; Jerry Cellan; Jon Payne Forest Lakes District Superintendent; and Rob Weise Forest Lakes Director of Student and Family Ministries. (From Forest Lakes Facebook page)
Forest Lakes District Under Jon Payne
The Forest Lakes District is led by EFCA District Superintendent Jon Payne. Jon hails from Des Moines, Iowa and his father Bernie Payne also was a pastor. It appears as if ministry is a family tradition in the Payne family. Jon went to Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary and graduated in 1991 with a B.S. in Pastoral Studies/Counseling. At one point in his career Jon was a youth pastor and associate pastor. Jon worked with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes from July 2005 to January 2008. In 2008 he also became the Senior Pastor of Good News Church in Wausau, Wisconsin. In the course of time Jon left Good News to dedicate all his time to become District Superintendent Forest Lakes District in 2016. In personal information Jon Payne has also spent about 20 years officiating athletic events, you can read about his views on officiating sports events here. Jon also appears to be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Forest Lakes District consists of 115 churches in Wisconsin and Comey, Michigan. The district office is based in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. While Jon Payne is the District Superintendent there are three other key individuals who run this district. Scott Sterner is the Director of Church Multiplication. Scott is from Acts 29 The Vine in Madison, Wisconsin. Rob Weise is the Director of Student and Family Ministries. Ron came from the Evangelical Free in Wausau and he started working for the Forest Lakes District in 2003. Scott Roen is the Director of Church Health. In the Forest Lakes District the EFCA uses and I believe owns Arrowhead Bible Camp in New Auburn, Wisconsin. Another camp that the EFCA uses is Timber Lee in East Troy, Wisconsin. One thing that strikes me from my research is that the Forest Lakes District does not appear to have a focus or goal in some external sense. For example Glen Schrieber’s EFCA Southeast is involved in church planting and ministry work in Haiti. Meanwhile the Hawaii District under Bruce Campbell is deeply involved in ministry work in the nation-state of Burma. But the Forest Lakes District doesn’t seem to have much of a focus in that context. But in examining all the EFCA churches I found some unique situations that I would like to explore next.
Community Evangelical Free Church in Platteville is Looking for a New Senior Pastor…
There is a major problem in the EFCA and I want to use Community Evangelical Free Church in Platteville as an example to illustrate this issue. CEFC – Platteville is looking for a new senior pastor. They are looking for a new shepherd to lead their flock. My question is this…is Platteville prepared to know what they are getting? Can they wisely engage and analyze the candidate that they will ultimately select? Or will they have a Neo-Calvinist who will come in under the radar and hijack this church? If that happens how many families will be driven away? How many people will be made spiritually homeless? How many people will be displaced and become refugees and part of the dones? How many indeed? The emergence of Neo-Calvinism is a major problem. Last year I wrote about two situations that Platteville might want to read as their pastoral search team moves forward. It deals with an Evangelical Free church outside Los Angeles, California that I believe was theologically mugged. You can read about that in “Did Tim Sherreitt Theologically Hijack The Bridge of Newbury Park (Formerly Evangelical Free of Conejo Valley) When Steve Larson Left?” Then there was an interesting situation in an Evangelical Free in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. The church was in the midst of a looking for a new senior pastor in which they stated that they did not want to be theologically hijacked in its job description. I found it quite interesting and wrote the following post about it. “What Fellowship Bible Church of Fort Gibson, Oklahoma can Learn from The Bridge of Newbury Park, California.” Community Evangelical Free in Platteville is a church that I would be deeply interested in following and writing about as their pastoral search continues.
Finding Trinity Evangelical Free in The Gospel Coalition
The Wondering Eagle Wants to Know…Did Problems Exist at Trinity Evangelical Free in Ripon?
When I work district by district I research, read and feed all the churches through the directories, and church locators of Acts 29, The Gospel Coalition and 9 Marks. In the process of feeding 115 churches from The Forest Lakes District through The Gospel Coalition Church Directory I found something that made me wonder. When I studied Trinity Evangelical Free Church in Ripon, Wisconsin I didn’t think it was Neo-Calvinist. But then I saw their listing in The Gospel Coalition. That gave me pause. I did a quick search for Jeremy Vander Galien and found that he moved from Trinity Evangelical Free Church to Pine Grove Church in Rhinelander, Wisconsin according to the local press. Jeremy was installed as the pastor of Pine Grove in January of 2016. Now when I look at the Pine Grove Church I see some indicators of Neo-Calvinist theology. And that makes me ask this question. Was Jeremy a good fit for Trinity Evangelical Free? Or were there problems and he was forced out? To bounce around like Jeremy did makes me curious in many ways. This is one of the many reasons why I study church directories and use them as tools. They can be goldmines for information, and indicators of problems and looming issues, If there were problems at Trinity Evangelical Free at Ripon I would be happy to write about it. The reason why one writes about possible issues like this or other EFCA church situations in the Forest Lakes District is to prevent other churches from being harmed.
Finding The Gospel Project in Several EFCA Churches, as Well as Support for Gospel for Asia
When I was studying 115 websites and going church by church I noticed that Hope Community and Faith Church in Manitowoc, and Appleton Community Evangelical Free in Appleton use The Gospel Project. I remain quite amazed that The Gospel Project is being used in Sunday schools and curriculum for young students. To take material from Jonathan Leeman, Matt Chandler, and like minded individuals and indoctrinate young students in Neo-Calvinism is quite disturbing. The level of indoctrination that is being used would make even Joseph Goebbels smile with glee. Goebbels was a master of indoctrination so I am quite sure he would be impressed. To learn more about The Gospel Project I would recommend this post.
There is another situation in The Forest Lakes District that I have noted and I plan on monitoring it until hopefully the problem is corrected. I noticed that Cornerstone Community Church in Marshland, Wisconsin is supporting Gospel for Asia. You can see it listed on their missions page. Gospel for Asia is a ministry that is deeply mired in corruption and financial scandal. Currently over a 100 former staff members of Gospel for Asia are pleading for churches not to support this corrupt ministry. That is on a webpage that they have set up and which you can read here. Also a federal class action lawsuit as been filed against Gospel for Asia and its leader K.P Yohananan. You can read the details in this Daily Beast article. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (which has its own problems as exhibited by the Mars Hill fiasco) has pulled its ranking for Gospel for Asia. Below you can read what is said about missing money and it being redirected from that same Daily Beast article.
In 2013, the complaint claims, GFA collected $118 million in donations but allegedly sent less than $15 million to support the poor in India. Instead of sending money “to the field,” it poured cash back into its own organization— for administration, and to GFA affiliates. Almost $43 million, the complaint claims, just went missing.
In 2010, the complaint alleges, $20 million went to the construction of a $45-million Texas compound—money the nonprofit claimed in financial forms had come from an anonymous donor, but really had come from itself.
The complaint goes on to say that GFA misdirected its money intended for poor children, orphans and widows, and “Jesus Wells,” a project to provide clean water to poor villages.
So having explained all that here is the question I have for Lynn Kent who currently leads Cornerstone Community Church. Do you honestly believe the Lord is honored when money is given to an organization that is allegedly diverting it from widows and orphans into its own coffers? Can Cornerstone and other Evangelical Free be part of the solution and not enable the problem? Can Lynn Kent practice discernment about other ministries that might also have problems as well. So many of these problems and issues that I write about could be easily solved if evangelicals did their homework and research. There is way too much to write about Gospel for Asia here. The person who has taken on the issue is Warren Throckmorton, who has quite a bit at his own blog.
Why is Bethany Evangelical Free in La Crosse Promoting Mark Driscoll?
I love it when churches put their libraries online. I study them in depth. When this blog takes me around the East Coast or recently the Midwest I love to go into some of the churches I am writing about and study their libraries. One can find the theological influences and what fads the church is engrossed in. Its with that in mind that I searched the library for Bethany Evangelical Free in La Crosse, Wisconsin. In the library of Bethany I found that they were still using and recommending Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage. So I have some questions to ask Senior Pastor Corey Sateren and Young Adults Pastor David Baxley. When Mark Driscoll taught that women are penis homes, does Bethany concur? When Mark Driscoll taught that a repentant women who just came to the Lord gets down on her knees and performs a blow job on her husband, does Bethany agree with that theology? When Mark Driscoll proclaimed that Queen Esther was a slut…does Bethany agree with his teaching? When it came out that Mark Driscoll heavily plagiarized at least seven books, including Real Marriage which Bethany promotes in their library, why are evangelicals still promoting him? Let me ask Bethany Evangelical Free Church this question. What would happen to a grad or college student at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse if they plagiarized a major paper or several? This all leads me to ask the following question. Why do so many evangelicals struggle with discernment and critical thinking skills? Why are evangelical Christians so poor on the topic of ethics?
Concerns About Faith Evangelical Free in Dunn County Supporting Franklin Graham
There is another major issue in evangelical Christianity that makes parts of it quite toxic. That issue is nepotism. Nepotism poisons churches and ministries. When jobs are arranged to go to family members, instead of the most qualified for the position, organizations suffer because judgement is clouded. When a family has a lock on a church or ministry it can turn a family function into a business meeting without the congregation’s consent or knowledge. There is no greater illustration to use in showing the pure toxicity of nepotism then that of Franklin Graham. Why people even respect him is beyond me. For years he has profited from ministry and was making over a million dollars when the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina broke the story. Franklin took a massive pay cut, then a few years later his salary went up considerably to nearly $900,000. When the media in the Carolinas started to report on the issue in time Franklin Graham allegedly started to re-arrange his 501(c)(3) to hide his finances. It is absolutely outrageous that Franklin Graham is not transparent about his finances and that they are being hidden. I wrote about it in “Franklin Graham’s Salary, the IRS Change to Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Should Churches be Supporting “Operation Christmas Child?” That article which I researched and wrote is one of the most read posts I have written. There is a lot more about Franklin Graham that I hope to publish. Right now I am working on a post exploring Franklin Graham’s affection for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. When a representative for “Christianity” embraces someone who has passed the strictest religious suppression laws since the days of the Soviet Union – that should trouble many people. The fact that many are embracing and supporting Graham while Baptists are being driven from Russia under Putin’s leadership is deeply disturbing. Franklin Graham is an indicator of why evangelical Christianity is all jacked up.
So why am I writing all this? For this one reason alone. When I was working through the Forest Lakes District I noticed something troubling about Faith Evangelical Free Church in Dunn County, Wisconsin. Faith had assembled a number of people on a bus and traveled over 3 hours to attend a Franklin Graham prayer rally in Madison, Wisconsin. That is profoundly sad. To support someone who excuses and defends someone who boasts of alleged sexual assault is astonishing. Then you have Franklin Graham who leads Samaritan’s Purse which helps refugees who simultaneously attacking them. That is something that I have wondered about myself these past few months. This is an Evangelical Free that I would avoid, its a great example of the blind leading the blind.
Some Encouraging Aspects I was Thrilled to See in Several EFCA Churches
Much of what I wrote above was hard hitting but something that needed to be said. However, there is also a lot going on in the Forest Lakes District that I believe is amazing and should be highlighted. And that is the goal of this section. It would be neat if other EFCA churches pick up on these issues and learn from these churches. I want to give a shout out at First Evangelical Free in Racine that has an active Senior Program called One Day Closer. Its my concern that many churches are often too focused on the youth and neglect the elderly. To see an EFCA Church that spends time and resources on the elderly is really neat. Another neat program takes place in Redeemer Evangelical Free in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Redeemer has a regular program called Breathe which helps take care of special needs kids, and gives parents a respite and a time to rest. To have an active program like that and help those with special need kids really is to be commended. So to David Lynden I would like to say well done, and keep it up. For the record let me also state that when I was attending Marquette I went to Redeemer frequently back in 2000 and I have many fond memories of Redeemer. I was also thrilled to see that East Troy Bible has launched a new ministry that helps young kids out in a nearby hospital. That is to be commended as well. Its my hope that East Troy will expand that and help out more people in the local hospital.
Some Forest Lakes District History and a Welcome to Kit Bogan at Carney Evangelical Free in Carney, Michigan
There is a lot of history in a number of EFCA churches in this district. I honestly expected that given the Scandinavian roots of this denomination. Many Scandinavian immigrants settled in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. So I know that as I work though those districts I will find some interesting and fascinating information. I am taking notes on all these churches and when I am done working through the EFCA I plan to do a post about what the oldest churches are in the denomination. To the best of my ability it appears as if the oldest EFCA Church in the Forest Lakes District is River Shores/Terrace Shores which was started in 1863. I need to double check but I believe that is older than the EFCA churches the denomination likes to promote in regards to their history in Boone, Iowa; Tacoma, Washington and Boston, Massachusetts. The second oldest EFCA Church in the Forest Lakes District appears to be Bethel Church on Washington Island. Bethel goes back to 1865. Trade River Evangelical Free in Granstburg goes back to 1887. That is followed by Apple River Community Church in Armey which was founded in 1888. Then there is Carney Evangelical Free in Carney, Michigan which traces its roots back to 1885.
As I close this post out I want to extend a warm welcome to one of the newest pastors in the Forest Lakes District. That of Kit Bogan at Carney Evangelical Free in Carney, Michigan. Kit just began on staff at Carney on March 1, and taught his first service on March 5. If its available on podcast I will have to down load it. To Kit I want to wish him well and I hope he has an effective ministry. I also have to say this to Kit (and indirectly to many other EFCA pastors). I don’t want to write about scandal or problems. Its not something I enjoy doing. In the past year I have spent hours and hours on the phone hearing deeply disturbing stories at times. So my hope is that you will do the right thing. If a child is sexually abused go right to the police and don’t try and cover it up. If there is a financial scandal please be transparent and remember the people who gave. Don’t use membership covenants and stay away from aggressive church discipline. Build ministries that helps the broken, those in hospitals or nursing homes. Develop intellectual depth so you can engage everyone from the doubter to the atheist. Think of different ways to talk about issues like the problem of evil. But I want you to succeed and not fail. But I also don’t want Carney to become a bastion of fundamentalism. I see you are 9 Marks so I hope you will change. I hear enough horror stories about Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist here in Washington, D.C. But I wish you the best. Any of the people who read this are free to engage or reach out. I have met a lot of interesting people in doing this project. That’s it Wisconsin, I love you guys, my heart bleeds blue and gold from Marquette and Milwaukee is an adopted home town with a lot of memories and connections.