This is an overview of the North Central District of the EFCA. This post commences with The Wondering Eagle writing about the EFCA in Minnesota. In addition to looking at Brian Farone who is the district superintendent I look at some of the churches in the district. There are problems with Trinity City Church, Pine City Evangelical Free and Trinity Evangelical Free in Plainview. There are also some positive developments in the North Central District which are highlighted in this post.
“Serving Pastors, Church Leaders and Churches”
From the North Central District website
“Well, in the winter, everything was still, nothing moved. Eight months of that. You can put it together. You can have some amazing hallucinogenic experiences doing nothing but looking out your window. There is also the summer, when it gets hot and sticky and the air is very metallic. There is a lot of Indian spirit. The earth there is unusual, filled with ore. So there is something happening that is hard to define. There is a magnetic attraction there. Maybe thousands and thousands of years ago, some planet bumped into the land there. There is a great spiritual quality throughout the Midwest. Very subtle, very strong, and that is where I grew up.”
How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence. 10 Night and day we pray earnestly for you, asking God to let us see you again to fill the gaps in your faith.
1 Thessalonians 3:9-10 NLT
Brian Farone of the North Central District is on the left. Picture from Facebook.
Nathan Fahlin of Anchor Point Community Church in Duluth
The Gathering Church om Rochester
Wayzata Evangelical Free
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 also have to acknowledge there are a number of good stories to tell about the EFCA as well. I used to be involved in the Evangelical Free, I actually was baptized in one in 2000. I wrote about Fresno Evangelical Free (Today as The Bridge Fresno) in this post here. Today due to a host of issues I would deeply avoid it. Recently they put in the pulpit a controversial pastor who was involved in covering up a dark scandal that included the manufacturer of child pornography in an Acts 29 church in Memphis, Tennessee. Why they would do that just astounds me. While there are some good EFCA churches the reality is that there are a number that have challenges as well. 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 hopefully 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 to discuss the EFCA denomination. This blog looks at the issues from the 10,000 foot level and does analysis of the organization. There are 17 districts to work through and today I am looking at the North Central District. This is the eleventh district that I have analyzed.
Three Aspects Driving this Post and Blog: D.A. Carson’s Corruption, Andrew White and Redeemer Arlington in the D.C. Area 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 has some serious problems, that said there are also pockets that are good. I have learned about this as I write about the organization. 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 at the time 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 the ethically challenged 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, and ability to earn income. 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 dark and painful to where you had a 38 year old man at the time 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. The situation remained unresolved and dragged on for three years. When my Mom was ill and dealing with the illness in 2017 which would take her life this issue popped up in a hospital room. It leaves me to ask a question…do evangelicals believe that a loved one can deal with an illness in peace? Can a loved one die in peace? Or must that be violated as well? To this day 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 148 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, and monitor. 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 North Central 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 North Central District practices in-appropriate church discipline (Side-note I am not talking about adultery or something similar) they will be written up about. For example if a church disciplines an alleged rape victim, or someone who ends their marriage because they were domestically abused. This blog will write about those situations. 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.
- 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 Brian Farone 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. Some of you guys just saw him at EFCA One. 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 157 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 North Central 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 Minnesota that can be contacted. 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. I wish that were not the case but too many people are getting hurt today in church, some of the emails I have received are heartbreaking.
The North Central District Under Brian Farone
Let’s look at EFCA District Superintendent of the North Central District, Brian Farone. Before I continue into Brian’s biography the North Central District is headquartered in Minneapolis. From my perspective it has one of the best websites in the EFCA also. Brian obtained his B.A. at Arizona Christian University in 1999. His degree is in Christian Ministry, he also attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and earned a Masters of Divinity. It appears as if his first ministry experience is with Young Life in Phoenix, Arizona from 1993 until 1999. His first job upon completion of college was as the Pastor of Student Ministries at North Ridge Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona until 2001. In 2002 he relocated to Southern California and became the Associate Pastor for Families/Pastor of Student Ministries at Grace Bible Church in Arroyo Grande. Grace Bible is how Brian Farone became involved in the EFCA. He served in this capacity from 2002 until 2004. In 2005 he was a Masters of Divinity Student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He returned to Grace Bible Church and became the Associate Pastor of Adults and Families from 2007 until 2013. He then became an Elder at Grace Bible and moved into the EFCA West District Leadership position. The EFCA West includes central and southern California, southern Nevada, southern Idaho, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas. I have written about EFCA West in the following posts. “Analyzing the Growth of Reformed Theology/Neo Calvinism in the Evangelical Free Church of America: EFCA West” and “Analysis of EFCA West of the Evangelical Free Church of America.” In EFCA West Brian became the Director of Biblical Theology and Credentialing. He held that job until he became the District Superintendent of the North Central District in June of 2017. The search for Brian Farone was handled by a consulting group called NL Moore and Associates which handles pastoral successions and transitions. On the blog of NL Moore and Associates they did a post announcing Brian Farone as the new district superintendent in April of 2017 which you can read here . The national EFCA announced that Brian was becoming the North Central District superintendent in a blog post. You can read that post in, “Wisdom, Depth and a Mature Heart to Serve.” Today he lives in Cottage Grove Minnesota and calls Rockpoint Church in the northeast Twin Cities his EFCA church home. In the North Central District Brian Farone has been focusing on four areas.
- Building trust with NCD pastors, church leaders, and churches.
- Clarifying and renewing the mission as a District.
- Refining what we “count and celebrate.”
- Being “churches first,” which means we prioritize service to NCD pastors, church leaders, and churches over new projects and initiatives.
Brian is responsible for 156 EFCA churches in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin I believe. If that number is incorrect Its challenging becomes of the limits of congregational government. At the North Central website they have a fascinating overview of the district in an infographic. You can see that information in. 2017-18NCDInfographic Unlike some of the other EFCA districts like Hawaii or EFCA Southeast I do not know what this district’s missionary emphasis is. Hawaii is focused on Burma, and EFCA Southeast on Haiti.
EFCA Corporate Being Located in Minneapolis
EFCA national headquarters is located also in Minneapolis. It is at a different location than the North Central District. In the future I plan to do another post exploring the culture and national headquarters, but I felt that I should touch on this as I am in Minnesota. At this point I do not know how many employees are in the national EFCA headquarters. These are some of the offices that you can find in Minneapolis.
- EFCA National Office
- Accounting Services
- Administration & Finance
- Bible & Theology
- Brand Communications
- African-American Ministries
- Bridging Urban Ministries Project (BUMP)
- EFCA Challenge Conference
- Church Health & Transformation
- Church Planting International
- Church Planting National
- Community Impact
- Donor Services
- EFCA Copy Center
- EFCA One
- EFCA Foundation
- EFCA Start
- EFCA Today magazine
- Human Resources
- Global Fingerprints
- Office of the President
- Pastoral Care Ministries
- ReachGlobal Engage Team
- ReachGlobal Recruitment
- Reach National
- Reach Students
Now before I proceed further that is the breakdown according to 2016 and the internet archive which I lean upon here as I write. There could be a reorganization or more in some of these offices. If someone out there could get me a breakdown of the current corporate structure I would deeply appreciate that. In time I would like to write about many of those offices in detail. If possible I would love to explore mission, budget, strategy,culture and more. This blog has written about Greg Strand in, “Publishing a Comment that was Not Approved on Greg Strand’s EFCA Post on the “Significance of Silence” Greg Strand is the EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing. Greg is a member of Northfield Evangelical Free. EFCA President Kevin Kompelien who is based in the Minneapolis area is also most likely a member of one of the EFCA churches in the area. Former EFCA President William Hamel is a member of Trinity Church in Lakeville, Minnesota. Bill was written about when I was going through the situation Matt Boedy faced at EFCA/Acts 29 Riverside Community Church in Columbia, South Carolina. You can read about that in, “Who Would Jesus Sue? Did Former Evangelical Free (EFCA) President William Hamel Allegedly Threaten Legal Action Against a Spiritual Abuse Victim in Glen Schrieber’s District?” By the way I also read about Bill’s current medical situation. This blog wishes him well and is pulling for him.
What Happened with the Church Split at Pine City Evangelical Free? Plus the Theological Hijacking of Trinity Evangelical Free in Plainview
There are two ongoing issues inside the North Central District that I am aware of in writing this blog. Let’s look at both and hopefully we can get more information out in both situations . Something dark happened at Pine City Evangelical Free Church in Pine City, Minnesota. The tip off is what was found at the 9 Marks Church Search. “We are a small church coming out of a split where the pastor left to plant a purpose driven church one mile down the road. We are now in a healthy place, rallied around the gospel. The pastor also serves as an instructor at the Bethlehem Institute in Minneapolis. He is also connected with the Gospel Coalition.” The other EFCA Church in Pine City is called Our Journey North, and is led by Tim Adams. Today Pine City Evangelical Free is led by Joel Preston. According to what I found Tim Adams appears to have come from Pine City Evangelical Free. You can see his picture on the older church website here. Between 2006 and 2007 this church went through a split. Tim proceeded to start Our Journey North in the 2006 and 2007 time frame. Pine City Evangelical Free appears as if it was flipped. In 2008 Pine City was looking for a new pastor, which you can see in this announcement. Then, two years later they were looking for a senior pastor. Meanwhile it appears as if this EFCA church took a sharp Neo-Calvinist turn. Stop and consider the recommended material in 2009. You see lots of John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Bruce Ware, D.A. Carson. So my question is what happened?
- Were there a couple of pastors who were Neo-Calvinist and Tim Adams saw the writing on the wall and left?
- Was the Elder Board tipped and was this church intentionally moved into a Neo-Calvinist direction?
- Was this church struggling and did Joel Peterson withhold his theology from the church and did it move from Neo-Calvinist and plunge into 9 Marks dogma?
- Did members resign in mass and flee to Our Journey North?
- Was this a sudden theological hijacking or gradual?
- What was said in Elder Board meetings at Pine City Evangelical Free?
- How is “Purpose Driven” defined by Joel Preston?
I have no idea if the search was still continuing or if a new senior pastor came on board and it didn’t work out. Eventually Joel came on board Pine City Evangelical Free in 2010. Joel grew up in southern New Jersey and attended Trinity Baptist College. After Joel came on board it appears as if this church became 9 Marks. This blog would like to seek out former members of this EFCA Church and find out what happened. I would very much like to write and explore this situation in depth and write about any spiritual abuse that took place here. However, Pine City Evangelical Free is not the only church that was theologically flipped. This blog has been writing about what happened in Trinity Evangelical Free in Plainview, Minnesota.
Trinity Evangelical Free is led by Ty Spenst, and Nick Wilson. Ty came on board in 2002. He received his B.S. in Pastoral Studies from Northwestern College. Later on he received his Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The Associate Pastor is Nick Wilson. Nick who calls Minnesota home went to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) SBTS is one of nine SBC seminaries that the Neo-Calvinists control, out of eleven in the denomination. He came on staff in 2014 and he helped further tip this church in a Neo-Calvinist direction. You can read more about Trinity Evangelical Free in “A Neo-Calvinist Hijacking at an EFCA Church in Minnesota That Took Place in the Shadow of John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist.” There have been a number of people who have left Trinity. I would like to speak to people who have left and hear their story about what happened. This blog would like to write about Trinity in depth, especially in the context of the North Central District’s theological problems.
Faith Community Nurses in North Central District
There is an interesting program that I find to be a positive development to the North Central District. I discovered it when I was going church by church. The amount of individual faith community nurses that help with medical issues such as blood pressure, simple medical guidance and more is deeply encouraging. The last time I encountered this issue is when I worked through Arizona in EFCA West. Due to the amount of retires I found a number of faith community nurses that helped with medical issues and more. So far it appears as if the most active and robust faith based nursing programs are in the North Central District. If I were Brian Farone I would be proud of that development. Below are the faith based nursing programs I came across. In 2012 the EFCA wrote an article about the program which gives a good historical overview of faith based nursing.
- Calvary Church in Walker, program led by Cynthia Dainsberg.
- Brooklyn Park Church in Brooklyn program led by Judy Peterson.
- First Free Church in Minneapolis program is led by Delores Huanca. The other two faith community nurses are Jeanine Bruen and Maureen Juarez.
- Milaca Evangelical Free Church in Milaca, program led by Alison Jergens.
- Coon Rapids Free Church in Coon Rapids, program led by Michele Schwalbe.
Other Developments Learned While Researching and Studying the North Central District
As I did a deep dive of this EFCA district I found a number of issues and some encouraging aspects as well. Let’s start by looking at the problems I came across in the North Central District. The pastoral resident at Trinity City Church is Trent Senske. Trent is in the process of planting a new Acts 29 church called Immanuel Fellowship in south Minneapolis. He also completed a church planting residency at Fellowship Associates. Fellowship Associates teaches Authentic Manhood and is linked to John Bryson of Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis in Tennessee. So what does it mean to be man in Acts 29? Well according to Fellowship Memphis it means you cover up the manufacture of child pornography by your worship pastor inside a church. You work with a lawyer to hide evidence when that worship pastor is illicitly recording women in the church restroom. Then you force the women who were video raped to meet with and forgive their perpetrator and quietly let him go so he can go onto another church where he can engage in voyeurism of an estimated 700 to 800 women over a three year period. Being a man means that when the story erupts you hire a public relations firm to try and bully the victims to be quiet. That is what being a man is about. I deeply hope Trent Senske will not be trained in that way. What I briefly described is the story of Rick Trotter, Bryan Loritts and John Bryson of Fellowship Memphis. So its troubling to know that an Acts 29/EFCA Trinity City Church is training people in questionable and ethically bankrupt programs. After all Trent Senske has been trained up on manhood, “sound doctrine” and being “Gospel-Centered.” If you want to read more about Fellowship Memphis and Authentic Manhood you can do so in “The Sordid Tale of Rick Trotter, Bryan Loritts, John Bryson and Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Presbyterian Church“,”Exploring the Role that Bryan and Crawford Loritts Played in Covering up Rick Trotter’s Voyeurism at Fellowship Memphis. Plus How Rick Trotter Got Off Easy Because of the Loritts Family Behavior” and “Fellowship Memphis Hires a PR Firm; Is this John Bryson’s Effort to Establish an Equivalent of Richard Nixon’s “White House Plumbers?” Speaking of Neo-Calvinism I studied the library at South Suburban Evangelical Free and discovered they had Mark Dever. Tragically he is in my neck of the woods here in Washington, D.C. This blog remains concerned with polity issues from 9 Marks and hopes South Suburban Evangelical Free does not go down that path. Honestly I do not want to write about them in that context.
There is another aspect that troubles me. Lake Free Church in Lindstorm is using Ravi Zacharias in an adult Bible study program. I find that troubling given the allegations of embellishing credentials, sexting, and ethics issues that follow Zacharias. One of the people who has been writing about this scandal with Zacharias is Warren Throckmorton. For those who do not know Throckmorton is also responsible for writing about Mark Driscoll and dragging out the Mars Hill scandal in Seattle which you can access at his blog. You can read his posts about Zacharias here. But there is another person evangelical Christians should be grateful for. He’s an atheist in San Francisco, California who has been writing about the problems with Zacharias and verified them with Oxford and more. His name is Steve Baughman. You can read his blog called RaviWatch and his statement as to why he cares about this issue. The evangelical Christian church owes this atheist a debt of gratitude for his work in this area. Jason Carlson at Lakes Free needs to be aware of these issues with Zacharias as does the North Central District. Honestly, why is Village Church in Maple Plain, Minnesota using Mark Driscoll and C.J. Mahaney in their recommended reading list? When Mark Driscoll claimed that women are penis homes and that a repentant woman gets down on her knees and performs a “Gospel Centered” blow job, does pastor Tim Huff agree with that? What about when C.J. Mahaney practiced blackmail and was involved in the alleged child sex abuse cover up of Sovereign Grace Ministries? Or how about when Mahaney boasted of demanding sex from his wife Carolyn when she had morning sickness and was vomiting? Is this someone that should be used, especially when he is a wolf and should not be in ministry? Come on Village Church show some discernment and critical thinking skills.
Now for the problems I encountered lets step back and look at the positives in the North Central District. I remain impressed that Crosslake Evangelical Free in Crosslake offers a mental health survey that appears to be well grounded. I am a firm believer in science and regular mental health, so I am grateful that this EFCA church is contributing to its community. Here is another EFCA Church that has a good program for mental health. Its called Calvary Evangelical Free in Rochester. They partner with Journey of Hope which appears to work with the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI). NAMI is a solid organization that helps families who have loved ones dealing with schizophrenia, bi-polar and other mental health issues. This blog has a deep amount of respect for Calvary Evangelical Free for taking that action. That is encouraging to know about.
Another example that stood out for me is the prayer page at Paynesville Evangelical Free in Paynesville. This church understands privacy it appears and breaks down requests which is healthy. For many evangelicals prayers can be like gossip. You turn around and pass something on to the next person and pretty soon the community can know something they should not. This blog gives kudos to this EFCA chruch. There is a neat hiking ministry at Crosspoint Church in Bloomington which you can access here. Speaking of Crosspoint there is one other ministry that is encouraging. They do a refugee ministry in Minneapolis and work with Somalis. Its an outside ministry that this church partners with. In a time of American history with xenophobia and nationalism being pushed, this program at Crosspoint is neat. Honestly this blog hopes it goes far and that they continue to help those who need help and stand with them, especially if others in the community respond by fear. This blog looks forward to hearing about developments in this ministry. And while we are discussing refugee ministries Calvary Evangelical Free in Rochester also has an active refugee program. I already mentioned them earlier on, but hopefully they will continue this program and carry it forward in the community. Cornerstone Evangelical Free in Rochester has one of the best webpages I came across in the EFCA with different Bible reading plans which you can access here. Also this blog which contains deep concerns about Acts 29 was encouraged with EFCA/Acts 29 Park Community Church had an active senior ministry. Sadly in many parts of evangelicalism seniors can be disposable. So to see that webpage is a step in the right direction. South Suburban Evangelical Free assists and helps the Lakota Indian tribe in South Dakota. They have been doing this since 2002. Meanwhile First Evangelical Free in Maplewood has a car repair ministry. I have not seen that too often in other churches, so that is good for the community. Watertown Evangelical Free is doing oil changes in two weekends if you are interested. Also this blog wants to give a shout out to Becker Evangelical Free and Cornerstone Church of Blaine for making their financial information public and open. That is transparency that helps create honesty.
The oldest church in the North Central District appears to be Kost Evangelical Free. It also claims to be the second oldest in the denomination. Having stated that on its website it doesn’t say when it was founded. Other churches that I came across are as follows. Swan Lake Church was founded in 1872, First Evangelical Free in Minneapolis came about in 1884. where as Lake Euncie came about in 1893, along with Milaca Evangelical Free. In 1894 Wyanett Evangelical Free began in Princeton, Minnesota. Thief River Falls start was in 1900. Plus in examining history this blog is deeply impressed with the historical record that is maintained at Riverside Evangelical Free in Minneapolis. Its historical record which is presented in detail from 1910 until 2007 is comprehensive. Its record of pastors is also encouraging. My hope is that they will maintain it and that other EFCA churches will remember their history and embrace it as well. As I wind this down I want to welcome a new senior pastor to the North Central District. At Hope Church in Osceola, Wisconsin Nate Roschen is coming on board. His installation service is scheduled in July. This blog welcomes him on board and wishes him well. I look forward to writing about this key EFCA district. Take care and know that you are loved.