Why did John Barber Leave Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania?

In late October John Barber resigned from Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania. The question The Wondering Eagle has is why? Given the history that John Barber has with Steve Estes why did he leave? Was there a massive falling out with Merle Stoltzfus? Or can CEFC no longer afford to pay John’s salary? 

“Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes. I’m afraid is time for goodbye again.”

Billy Joel 

“The minute you do any layoffs, you might as well lay off the whole joint because everybody forgets about the customer and worries about their job security. “

Steve Wynn 

He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

Psalm 15:3 KJV 

Community Evangelical Free Church sign that will soon be disappearing. 

The Gatekeeper in Ghostbusters 

There are some developments with Community Evangelical Free Church (CEFC) in Elverson, Pennsylvania that need to be updated. I would like to do a few posts about an ongoing situation that continues to drag out. CEFC Elverson voted to break away from the EFCA in late November 2017. The final day in the EFCA will be January 31, 2018. Eddie Cole and the Eastern District Office were notified by CEFC. The new name for this church will be Brick Lane Community Church. I will do some posts and transfer some of this material over so it will follow the new website. In addition I am also hearing that the loan was called in by the EFCA in Minneapolis. I am hearing conflicting news about that and need to sort it out.  If anyone can speak to this please contact me. There will be a few posts that will be worked on over the next few weeks. On the eve of CEFC breaking away from the EFCA I will write Merle Stoltzfus an open letter and ask him if it was worth it. In light of how CEFC operated – dividing the community, fracturing relationships, and then break away from the EFCA all to protect Brock’s behavior. I want to ask Merle… was it worth it? 


Who is John Barber? 

John Barber originally came from North Carolina. John Barber attended Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina. While at Columbia John Barber met Steve Estes. The word that I heard is that John Barber was very interested in Verna. But when it came down to a choice, Verna chose Steve and with that Steve married into the Stoltzfus clan. John Barber also did graduate studies at East Carolina University. Afterward John did a year long youth-pastorate. John worked in the business field for thirty plus years. He did regional and state sales management, development work for various corporations and for Columbia International University. John also did consulting work for American and European companies. Theologically his roots are as a layman and elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, specifically in the Central Carolina Presbytery. John is a firm believer in David Powell’s Christian Counseling and Education Foundation. John and his wife Sonia have five children.

At CEFC John had the title of “The Gatekeeper”. He was hired in 2009 to manage the church and work for Steve Estes. If you wanted to talk with Steve you had to speak with John Barber first, As I have researched and written about CEFC over these past two years there have been multiple people who have told me that they believe Steve Estes has  Attention-deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder. It should be noted that ADHD is common and many people have it , or varying degrees of it. Some of those same individuals believe that John Barber was hired to manage Steve, especially if Steve had difficulty with managing time or in interacting with people. This is part of the reason why the church office for Steve is in Stoltzfus Enterprises, and why Bible studies are there. After all how can you be late to a Bible study or event if its at your location? 


An Email to the Community Evangelical Free Church Regarding John Barber’s Departure

The following email I believe was sent out to the CEFC congregation in October of 2017. 

An Announcement from our Director of Ministries 

Dear CFC family, 

It is with heartfelt thanks for the opportunity to serve at CEFC that I have this week resigned my position as Director of Ministries effective October 21, 2017. 

Sonia and I have been blessed in so many different ways while part of this CEFC family. We have watched God do profound things  here and you folks have literally carried us with your prayers. Thank you. 

In this next season we will return to North Carolina and focus on our family. As God provides and directs I will identify and begin new work. Sonia and I join you in faith believing that a good season is ahead for CEFC, and our prayers will join yours to that end. 

In His grace with you, 

John Barber

Director of Ministries


When John Barber resigned many in the Elverson community were surprised. There was no banquet, meal, or send off by CEFC. John Barber left mostly in silence as he went off to North Carolina. People in the community are asking the question, why did John Barber leave?


Why Did John Barber Leave and What Will Steve Estes Do? 

There are a few possible reasons why John Barber left. Each could be plausible especially with the way the Stoltzfus family runs CEFC. The first possibility to consider is that John Barber crossed Merle Stoltzfus. I have heard that Merle can be difficult and arrogant. Merle will never admit a mistake nor do the right thing in the course of time. I have heard that some people in CEFC struggled with Merle. In this scenario John Barber crossed Merle who barked that it was time for him to go. After all look at the lengths Merle went to cover up Brock’s alleged rape and domestic abuse situation with Hurit. A second possibility is that John’s wife is ill. I have heard that John’s wife has multiple sclerosis and that this is known by a number of people inside CEFC. If this is true then The Wondering Eagle expresses its deepest sympathy and wishes the Barbers well. In this scenario John left to spend more time taking care of his wife under those circumstances. 

Another explanation is that CEFC is economically failing. The church is hemorrhaging so much financially that it cannot pay its bills. In this situation John Barber was let go because CEFC could no longer pay his salary. This is another plausible explanation as to what has occurred. Its my understanding that over 200 people have left CEFC since an alleged rape victim was the subject of church discipline. With that type of flight tithers and those who gave money were also lost. I wonder how a church can stay afloat with that type of  loss. This is something to consider especially when you look at what John Barber said in his note to the congregation. A good season is ahead for CEFC? Well if the church closes its doors so that another alleged sexual assault victim will not face discipline, then that will be good. Closing CEFC’s doors would be favorable and good for the community. 

Here is the other question that needs to be asked. If Steve Estes needed John Barber to manage his day to day affairs who is going to do that now? How will Steve function if he allegedly has such a form of ADHD? After all Steve sits on the board of directors of Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF). With blog posts like this one Ed Welch writes could someone like Steve or any person in such a position seek out medication and help for ADHD? This is one of the issues with CCEF, in many ways people like Steve Estes create their own prison for themself. Many in this stream of theology have done so. CCEF used to be joined to the hip of Sovereign Grace Ministries and SGM did not believe situations like ADHD existed, or that they should be treated with medical treatment. So how can you seek treatment for something if it doesn’t exist? Getting back to John Barber, if John managed Steve’s life who is going to do that now? Again these are questions that need to be asked. If you know why John Barber left let’s discuss it below. Have a good week Elverson! 

One thought on “Why did John Barber Leave Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania?

  1. Pingback: Brick Lane Community Church Changes its Name to Community Evangelical Free Church of Elverson; Votes to Rejoin the EFCA for a Month, and Plans to Separate Again from the EFCA | Wondering Eagle

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