An open letter to the EFCA SE District Superintendent Glen Schrieber. John Secrest was once a part of the EFCA in Northern Illinois years ago. It is this blog’s hope that the district staff that work with Glen Schrieber can work with John Secrest and help him get on his feet and give him the support that he needs. John, would be a strong asset to the EFCA SE District, and this blog that writes about the EFCA hopes that Glen Schrieber understands this point.
“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8 ESV
EFCA SE District Superintendent Glen Schrieber
***For those who are not familiar, Glen Schrieber is the EFCA District Superintendent for the SE District. He is a the foot solider that oversees the EFCA in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico. The EFCA practices congregationalism. In Glen’s district there are about 90 EFCA churches. This is a very active district inside the EFCA. The EFCA is a denomination that was created in the 1950’s that is Scandinavian in its roots. Its headquartered in Minneapolis and contains about 1,500 churches in the United States. The Wondering Eagle writes about the EFCA. John Secrest was at one point a long standing EFCA pastor in The Orchard in northern Illinois. ***
I hope all is going well down in Jacksonville, Florida. This blog would like to bring an issue to your attention and it is hoping that the EFCA could help out a former EFCA pastor that has a long history with the denomination. What happened is that Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago is imploding. Its becoming the Mars Hill of Chicago. The issues stem from the abuse, and culture that James MacDonald has created. MacDonald who is close to Mark Driscoll has created a church network that has become a cult. The issues stemming out of Chicago are troubling. When James MacDonald went after a journalist and a blog called The Elephant’s Debt in a lawsuit I stepped up and have been dedicating a lot of time and resources to writing about the issues inside Harvest Bible Chapel. The problems coming out of the organization are troubling. I have a number of stories and situations that are in the pipeline that will come out slowly when people are ready to tell their story.
John Secrest became a pastor with Harvest Bible Fellowship which James MacDonald later blew in a rage from what I heard. Secrest has a long history with the EFCA. He served as a pastor at The Orchard in northern Illinois for seven years. If my research is correct he is credentialed inside the EFCA. So given Greg Strand’s push for credentialing John Secrest will fit in with that. Here is what happened, James MacDonald at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago dropped a lawsuit against journalist Julie Roys and The Elephant’s Debt blog. MacDonald was trying to prevent an expose article in World magazine from being published. You can read that article right here. In the ongoing controversary the Neo-Calvinist organization claimed that they were going to be committed to peace and reconciliation and that James MacDonald will suspend preaching. The door was open for him teaching at Harvest Bible Chapel Naples. When John Secrest who was a Harvest pastor learned of the issues he challenged the denomination. When he was shut down he tried to take his church outside from the denomination. He put his name, job, and reputation on the line for his congregation. He risked everything and for that he was fired shortly after trying his request to be removed from the network. In the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal this has caused rage by many former people who used to be involved.
So here is the situation, you have this former EFCA pastor who is out of a job after he went to bat for his church and fought hard for it. He stood up for his congregation and did the right thing. Wouldn’t the EFCA like to have such a man involved in the SE District? Wouldn’t the EFCA like a man like that to participate in district conferences, cluster events (as they have in some districts) and other situations? Wouldn’t the EFCA like to have a man of character and integrity who sees the bigger picture and who values people and does the right thing. Glen, John Secrest would be a boon to the EFCA. Another thing to consider is this, how the EFCA takes care of its own and those who once associated with it will speak quite a bit about the organization. What is faith to the EFCA and is it practiced? The EFCA has an opportunity to be on the right side of history and show that it is opposed to spiritual abuse – in this case the abuse of a pastor. The EFCA can send a powerful message just in addressing the topic. The risk that exists will be the following Glen. If you go and visit a church such as Oakwood Community in Tampa, or Cast Member Church in Orlando, or Fort Myers Evangelical Free and speak of the sermon of the Good Samaritan parable, and ignore the spiritual abuse of a long standing former EFCA pastor; will the EFCA lose credibility? Will it show that it is more talk and less action? Will the EFCA SE District leadership be like the person walking by the wounded person on the side of the road consumed with EFCA events while they ignore someone who was once their own?
There is another aspect to all this that I think would go along well with the EFCA SE District objectives. Helping John Secrest could result in a church plant and the growth of a new congregation. People I imagine will slowly leave Harvest Naples and if John Secrest works with the EFCA to plant a church nearby that could be a refuge from Harvest Bible Church which some people are calling a cult today. This I would think would be a win/win for all parties. John Secrest would get another job and be supported. The EFCA would pick up a phenomenal pastor. They could get a church out of this which would fall in line with the district vision. This would help the community and it would give a home to those who are caught up in an abusive church culture that James MacDonald has created.
I hope this letter will give you something to contemplate. I hope if you decide not to do any of this that your district staff will reach out to John Secrest and offer to help or befriend him in this difficult time. In writing this blog I very much would like to see common sense solutions to the problems that exist in evangelicalism. This is one such situation that deserves an examination and some careful thought.
I think I made my point in this letter, so with that I will move on to my next post about Harvest Bible Chapel. You know Glen when I get a break I am going to look forward writing about the EFCA again. I miss that and that is my background in many ways. Okay well I wish you well.