CJ Mahaney posted a “A Word of Thanks” on the Sovereign Grace Ministries blog on March 8, 2013, in which he announced that he is stepping down as President of SGM to “once again devote my attention to pastoral ministry.” The change is effective in April 2013.

The SGM Board of Directors posted a response, also on March 8, saying in part, “As previously announced, C.J. will transition from his role as President on April 12 at the time of the polity ratification vote. Though no longer serving in this leadership capacity, we are grateful that C.J.’s influence and partnership do not end here. We share his joy in seeing him back regularly preaching and pastoring in Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, and we look forward to benefitting from C.J.’s continued investment in the mission of SGM through his service there and in the larger body of Christ. Please join us in praying for C.J. and his family during this transition.”

On March 7, 2013 (or March 8 – the blog The Tolling Bell, “Prez PR vs Lawsuit News” contains both dates), Judge Sharon Burrell of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County – Civil System held a scheduling hearing for case number: 369721V, lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries. The Tolling Bell reports, “Here’s the link to MoCo, MD case information as found by Guy at SGMSurvivors (hats off to you).  You will need to click the link twice – the 1st directs u to the main page where you need to agree to terms.  Once done, click the link again and it will bring you to case 369721V. Basically – a 20 day jury trial on 2/3/2014.”

You may recall that Sovereign Grace Ministries asked to have the lawsuit dismissed, claiming their actions were protected by the First Amendment. The results of the March 7 hearing is significant, according to Hännah of Wine and Marblebecause it means the judge rejected this argument. 

Thoughts:

  • It is good that CJ will finally be stepping down.
  • It is disturbing that CJ will continue in pastoral ministry.
  • It is concerning that CJ appears in his letter to be doing so voluntarily. When he didn’t resign when the lawsuit was first filed, the SGM Board should have removed him. The fact that so much time has elapsed and he’s still supposedly leaving of his own accord reflects very poorly on the SGM Board of Directors as well as on CJ.
  • It is significant that these two events occurred within 24 hours of one another. It appears to be an effort to direct public focus away from one news bomb (trial date set) to another (CJ’s resignation). If SGM had been conducting itself in a transparent and above-reproach manner, I’d be more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. If I trusted them, I’d be more willing to assume the best, that this finally seemed like the right time to “allow” CJ to leave. But they have obstructed and concealed the truth for so many years that I cannot trust them or give them the benefit of the doubt. That’s what happen when you violate trust. You lose the gift of “thinking the best.”
  • The Board of SGM is going to have to work very hard to rebuild trust, and their handling of CJ’s leadership has done nothing to improve my perception.

What do you make of this?