An open letter to the Southeastern District Superintendent Glen Schrieber on the newest church added to his EFCA District. I am talking about John Secrest’s Compass Bible Church in Naples, Florida. Glen Schrieber and the Southeast District can learn a lot from John Secrest and I hope they listen to the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal. This open letter looks at John Secrest’s church from the lens of the EFCA. The EFCA can learn a lot and abuse and church corruption and it will help the denomination.
“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Romans 5:10 ESV
I thought I was done writing about John Secrest. I have spent a lot of time writing about the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal in Chicago with James MacDonald. Its actually been a detour from the EFCA! And I learned that John had planted a new church. I wrote about that in, “John Secrest Launches Compass Bible Church in Naples, Florida. And a Unique Case of Evangelical Transparency.” When I wrote that I didn’t catch the fact that John had planted an EFCA church. That was pointed out to me. So anyhow here I am writing about it again since I write heavily about the EFCA.
Glen, I think John Secrest is going to be a fine addition to the EFCA Southeast District. I hope you realize the fine contribution that can be made by him. Maybe you have not kept up with the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal in Chicago. The excessive money, the abuse of power, the stories of sexual harassment and sexual abuse with Paxton Singer (who is the tip of the ice berg). Then you also had a serious allegation that came out on a shock jock radio show. Someone who sounded like James MacDonald who talked about how he wanted to plant child pornography on the CEO’s computer of Christianity Today. MacDonald was fired by the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel. You can read about it in detail as well as links to news articles in the Chicago Tribune and other media in, “Mancow Muller Produces an Audiotape of James MacDonald Allegedly Wanting to Plant Child Pornography on a “Critic’s” Computer. Harvest Bible Chapel Elder Board Promptly Fires Him.” Glen, its been my experience through religion that if you really want to experience corruption go to religion. In those entities you can find some of the most corrupt organizations that exist.
What makes Secrest rare is how he acted in the scandal of Harvest Bible Chapel. Over and over again many people fold like a deck of cards when they should do the right thing. John Secrest did do the right thing. When appropriate he stood up to James MacDonald, he apologized to his congregation, and he fought for it. Even when wrongfully fired he still stood up and did the right thing. John Secrest is one of the bright spots in the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal. Often times I write about people who are frauds and should not be a pastor. In this case I am glad John Secrest is a pastor. Glen I hope you sit down with John Secrest and listen to the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal in a first hand account. You could learn a lot that can help you deal with spiritual abuse, corruption, faith and so much more. Honestly I hope John gets involved in your EFCA SE District Conference and regional pastor meetings. You just had your district conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina so maybe he can make the next one.
Glen, shortly I am going to tell another dark story about the EFCA in the next couple of weeks. It’s troubling. In various districts around the United States I hear stuff that bothers me. Despite that I also hear good stories and there are pockets of good people inside the EFCA. I wrote about how the EFCA should be viewed in, “How Should the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) be Viewed? Well it’s Complicated.” As you know I told the story of Matthew Boedy, James Walden, yourself and Riverside Community Church in Columbia, South Carolina. You can read that in, “Disturbing Allegations of Spiritual Abuse at James Walden’s Acts 29 Riverside Community Church in Columbia, South Carolina” and “Matt Boedy on James Walden’s Alleged Ethical Violations: The Overall Perspective on the Evangelical Free Church of America.” The other day I was contemplating this situation with Matt Boedy and how you decided Glen. In choosing to side with James Walden, you actually went against the ethical advice of many in the counseling profession who believed Riverside was in the wrong. I wonder if you sat down with another pastor who has been wronged and listened to him, would you have decided differently? Forgive me for saying this because honestly I can’t stand the “evangelical Christianese.” But I want to believe the best, and would hope that if faced with another situation that you would make a more sound decision. So I hope you can learn from others and hear their stories. But John Secrest has a lot of wisdom to give based off some rough experiences. I hope you take the time to learn from him.
That is it, I hope you have a good time in Florida and that all is well with you otherwise. Please take care of yourself,