An Open Letter to the Grace Church Body, from Zach C.

What do you want? Are you seeking an apology, trying to “destroy” the church, or spark a third-party investigation?

No. No. And no.

What I want is completely irrelevant. I don’t attend Grace Church nor do I ever plan to do so again. The far more pressing and more challenging question is, “What do YOU want?” What do YOU, the current members of Grace Church, want for yourselves after becoming aware of what has been happening and continues to happen. 

A clear, compelling, and established pattern of burdened, broken, and bewildered people and families continue to emerge from the church under Barry Flanders’ leadership. This is not a past problem, but a present one. Persons will be going on record with the press who left as recently as 2015 with gut-wrenching stories to share. Other persons who desire to remain anonymous have left as recently as 2018 and sought out our motley group for support. They affirm that the very serious problems of the past stubbornly persist into the present.

I do want to acknowledge that Barry Flanders has offered a very public apology addressed to me and three friends of mine for the negative experiences we experienced at that church and to that I say thank you. As far as I’m concerned, apology accepted and let’s move on to the more pressing matters. An apology alone is woefully insufficient to meaningfully address the scope and scale of the systemic challenges facing the Grace Church Body.

As someone who has taken a public voice on the challenges of Grace, I acknowledge that many people remain curious about what I want to see happen. My answer is pretty simple and straightforward: I desire for you to have life and to have it in abundance. You are my friends and I’m not some random online troll. I’ve babysat your kids. I’ve sat in your homes and we’ve broken bread together. Of course I don’t want to see the church “destroyed!” A church is not a structure, old theater, old restaurant, or otherwise: it is its people. I want you to flourish and thrive in the truest expression of your God given self. I won’t pretend to know what that looks like for you and your families. Beyond this, I also desire potential new parishioners to be fully aware of the troubling issues at Grace Church before making a decision to enter its doors.

So, members of Grace Church, what do YOU want for yourselves? What actions are you prepared to take to secure it? I would be absolutely shocked if everyone attending Grace agrees on what they should do for themselves, and if they choose to remain, what reforms are needed in the church. My wife and I hardly ever agree on everything in the course of 24 hours. It is a minor miracle if you are able to achieve 100% consensus on next steps in light of the recent revelations.

I encourage you to deliberately consider what is best for you and your loved ones. Remember that there is no love without freedom. LOVE is not the animating force that compels you to keep your concerns private and confidential to the senior pastor alone, LOVE does not see competing ideas as dangerous, LOVE does not react defensively, deflect, or otherwise seek to minimize the concerns of any church member, past or present.

LOVE bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

LOVE compelled myself and others to speak publicly. Grace Church members, this is now YOUR moment.

What will you do with it?

Zach C.

All comments and opinions expressed are my own and mine alone. They are not meant to be representative of a larger whole.