Am update on the situation with CEFC in Elverson, Pennsylvania. Brick Lane Community Church is announced in January. Yet even though CEFC voted to separate from the EFCA and change their name, Brick Lane is going to rejoin the EFCA for a month, and then plans to separate again from the EFCA. Its my belief that this rogue EFCA church is experiencing incredible financial difficulty. That said I still have many questions and some gaps. Perhaps those from the Elverson area can fill in the gaps and flush out what is happening.
“Habitual liars invent falsehoods not to gain any end or even to deceive their hearers, but to amuse themselves. It is partly practice and partly habit. It requires an effort in them to speak truth.”
“We never deceive for a good purpose; knavery adds malice to falsehood.”
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV
While I am taking a break there are some developments with Steve Estes’ Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania that need to be addressed. Early in January Brick Lane Community Church announced itself to the community of Elverson. You can see the announcement below.
Brick Lane Community Church is planning on joining The Gospel Coalition. Steve Estes who practiced church discipline on an alleged rape victim, while defending the alleged rapist (his son Brock Estes) will find himself in good company in The Gospel Coalition. D.A. Carson, who teaches at the EFCA’s Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, issued a statement through The Gospel Coalition that attacked a rape victim while defending C.J. Mahaney. You can read more about The Gospel Coalition in “From D.A. Carson to Steve Estes the Following Question Must be Asked: Is the Evangelical Free Church of America a Safe Place for Sexual Assault Victims?“
When Steve Estes Preaches on Gossip…
On January 21, 2018, Steve Estes gave the following sermon at CEFC – Elverson called “I Don’t Gossip . . . But Did You Know That So and So Does?” Now back in 2014 early in the year Steve Estes gave another sermon about gossip that is called “The Tongues Project.” You can listen to that sermon right here. That sermon came shortly after Steve’s former daughter-in-law filed for divorce against Brock. Steve in January had to tell the elders that his son’s marriage was ending. Steve used the pulpit to try and stop “gossip” about his son. Some believe that Steve Estes knew what he was doing when he coached Hurit’s church discipline situation in December of 2014. That he used The Tongues Project to control discussion of the situation in the time frame of 2014. When Steve Estes preaches on gossip its because he is about to make a major change, or shift theologically. In the process Steve is trying to control the narrative. When Steve preaches on gossip one should be wary. The sermon about gossip in January 21, also has a rational behind it. Steve was setting up the church for some incredible gymnastics.
Brick Lane Community Church Votes to Rejoin the EFCA for One Month, and Plans to Separate Again.
On the June 12, 2017 congregational meeting CEFC voted to separate from the EFCA. I wrote about that issue in, “What the EFCA Wanted Steve Estes’s Community Evangelical Free Church to do to Rectify a Difficult Situation.” Before the vote this rogue EFCA church used its community group program to lobby and push people to vote to separate. Those who disagreed with this were basically told that if they don’t like it they can leave. During that campaign people were also encouraged to adopt the new name Brick Lane Community Church. After all since CEFC is planning on separating they need change their name, documents, etc… as they no longer will be a part of the EFCA.
Christian Investors Financial, (CIF) which partners with the EFCA has called in the loan that was made to CEFC – Elverson. CIF partners with the EFCA and does lending for the denomination. CEFC, I believe had to find another source to pay back the loan that has been called. Steve Estes I believe told the congregation that the church needs to rejoin the EFCA once again, and in order to do that must change their name from Brick Lane Community Church back to Community Evangelical Free Church. The goal as I understand it is to rejoin the EFCA for a month, and then for the church to separate from the EFCA. Keep in mind that the EFCA is congregational, but in the case of CEFC it is elder ruled and not elder led. CEFC needs to meet the qualifications I believe on the lending. In chewing on this behavior I believe that CEFC is having a problem getting a loan funded. They are probably shopping around and being declined by differing banks or lending agencies. Actually I would also wager that CEFC’s financial condition is much more dire than I previously thought. Recently John Barber left, I wrote about that in “Why did John Barber Leave Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania?” Today in re-thinking the situation after hearing of the other developments perhaps John Barber left CEFC because they could no longer pay him. When CEFC does meet the qualifications for their mortgage then the church plans to separate again from the EFCA.
I have a lot of questions that are related to this situation, and as time passes I have more. These are some of them.
- Has CEFC staff had their salaries cut due to these financial issues?
- Where have they applied for lending? Who has turned down CEFC?
- Where are they going to get the money to settle CIF?
- Are people expected to tithe more under these circumstances? Are people giving money under duress?
If there are people in the Elverson and Morgantown area that are in the know please comment below and share what you know. If they plan to separate again from the EFCA I take it that will be in late February. Its also my understanding that this news didn’t go over well inside CEFC. Some people were angry and it appears that more people are in the process of leaving. The total amount of people who have walked away from CEFC is now at 200. Expect that to rise. Back in 2014 the Stoltzfus clan was about 15 to 20% of the church population. If I had to take an educated guess, today I would wager that may at least 40% of the church is a part of the Stoltzfus clan.
I am taking a break but when I get back at it full speed there is still a lot to write about CEFC. These are some of the posts I have in mind.
- An open letter to Merle Stoltzfus.
- Why Brick Lane Community Church will be far more dangerous than Community Evangelical Free.
- A comprehensive overview of what the EFCA can learn from CEFC situation.
- Why the EFCA should plant a church in Morgantown, PA.
That is it Elverson, please know that I love you.