Recently BF posted a public apology to four people who went on-the-record with the Morning Sun reporter in her first article. And while this site does not speak for those individuals, we would like to make a few observations regarding what seems to be taking place here and how this affects things moving forward.
For many of us, we are far beyond the point where the appropriate next step would be for us to sit down with BF so he can listen to us express our honest (but probably very unbalanced, in his mind) concerns about personal sins he has committed or institutional sins he is responsible for, in the hopes that he might offer an apology for what he has done. There may be some people who have personal grievances they need to talk to BF about (in some sort of very safe setting) in order for them to experience personal reconciliation, but for many of us, we’ve already tried that. Some of us have been unsuccessful while others have succeeded to some degree and hold no animosity toward BF as an individual.
However, just because many of us have forgiven his personal sins against us, that does not mean that we can or should absolve him of the institutional sins he has been and continues to be responsible for. They insist that they have tried to change, they have changed, and they are changing. We’ve heard this line many times: It’s not as bad as you think; it’s getting better; we think you’ll be encouraged to hear about how great things are going to be in the future. But the evidence on this site shows that they are failing miserably, and at some point enough is enough. We have reached that point and now it is time to accept the biblical consequences for your failures and take appropriate actions to ensure they do not happen again.
In his apology he makes it seem like he’s learning about all this for the first time. Anyone who has ever been involved in higher levels of leadership at Grace Church is fully aware that BF pretty much knows everything about everybody and he’s often actively involved behind the scenes coaching other leaders in what to do and say. And what he says on paper is often very different from what he tells other leaders in person. BF is extremely good at distancing himself from situations so he does not have to take full responsibility for what happens, and so he has a paper trail he can use in his defense if need be. He regularly uses other staff and leaders as intermediaries to accomplish his will so he can maintain a certain degree of plausible deniability. This can make it almost impossible to pin anything to him directly.
In addition, he also makes it seem like these things took place in a past so far removed from today that it’s like another world. And while some of these things did take place awhile ago, don’t be fooled into thinking that means they haven’t taken place recently or that they’re not still taking place today. Our list of supporters includes many people involved from 2014 to the present day. And we expect more initials to be added as eyes continue to be opened and distance from the organization gives people the space they need to realize just how bad things have been.
While some of you may read his apology and immediately be struck by how sincere and godly it sounds, many of us are not impressed because we have experienced lots of these well-worded apologies over the years.
We’ve forgiven and we’ve prayed over and over again, and yet we’ve failed to see any substantial changes take place for well over a decade. There has been and continues to be a lot of talk, but very little action or follow through to ensure these personal and institutional sins are not repeated on a regular basis.
Many of us are beyond the point of giving and receiving apologies, we’re now at the point of calling for accountability.
We believe that a lack of genuine accountability, especially for those in the highest levels of leadership continues to be one of the most fundamental features of this organization which has enabled it to cause so much pain in so many lives.
That accountability could happen in a number of different ways, but we have laid out the steps that we think are the most essential and necessary for the good of the leaders involved, the members of Grace Church, and those who may get involved there in the future.
Something has got to change at fundamental level. Many of us agree with the individual who wrote the following to the leaders and a large group of members:
I do not feel that in their current configuration, this group of elders/deacons and pastors is fit to lead Grace Church. Hear me out. This situation (and it is by no means unique) brings to light something that is by no means a new reality: a leadership system and culture that has been and continues to be (in spite of its own, repeated assertions to the contrary) unaccountable, self-selecting, defensive, controlling, manipulative, and, at the core, unable or unwilling to see how the decisions they make affect other people. Grace Church leadership regularly elevates the value of trust: something, it seems, one shouldn’t have to do if one’s behavior is demonstrably and historically trustworthy. I, for one, cannot and will not acknowledge their behavior as such. Because there is no process at Grace Church for bringing forward such a charge, ____ and I have voted with our feet.
We’re thankful this accountability is finally happening, but we’re truly sad that it has had to happen in this way. If the leaders and members want to keep things the way they are, then that’s up to them. However we feel that it is our responsibility to get all this information to them, and communicate our concerns very clearly so they can at least make an informed decision. And if they do not choose to make some sort of fundamental change, then we also feel it is our responsibility to share our perspective with those outside the church so they can make an informed decision as well.
For another perspective from one of the four people addressed in BF’s open apology please click here.