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Pastor Graziano


I have been hesitating about posting on this forum for several reasons.

The first is that it has been my desire to leave the door open for response to letters and miscellaneous communications that have taken place between myself and others. Many of us have received no response at all to our letters. Not even a phone call. That does not offend me, that saddens me.

I have done my best to operate in the spirit and letter of Matt 18:15-17. I am sure there are many who are reading these post who believe that this forum violates scripture and that bringing these issues out in public is not scriptural. I understand somebody feeling that way. It is true only when other means have not been exhausted; they have.

There are numerous examples of a public rebuke in the Bible. The teaching used to defend against this includes Noah’s son exposing his dad’s failure and being cursed. However, these sins are public, they’ve been committed publicly, they’ve been defended publicly and the leadership has publicly identified the affiliates who have gone privately.... Publicly as ‘evil’. Did you follow that? There have also been numerous witnesses brought to the elders in accordance with 1 Timothy 5:19. Yes, it’s ok to receive an accusation against an elder as long as there are witnesses and there have been bunches!

One of the objections being raised is Pastor’s age.

Some are being told that we are just plain unkind for addressing the issues that involve him at this stage in his life. The problem with that kind of thinking is that those who really care about him and love him, want to see this mess cleaned up before the curtain closes. We have not attacked him, we’ve asked questions and would have been satisfied with the answers come from the elders of the Church!

The goal is and all along has been reconciliation. Scores of pastors and friends have gone one on one to the leaders to try to get answers and resolve the current conflicts in Baltimore.

Many times, reconciliation hinges on the doors of repentance – one party or both may need to exercise the necessary humility to deal with the root issues at hand. This includes everyone!

In addition and on the other hand, Gal 6:1 has been a glaring warning that those who wish to correct others must be extremely cautious because they may enter into the same or a similar sin as those they are trying to help or correct. I have been very fearful of this. I have also been a witness of this on both sides of this dispute.

Matt 18:17 contains a small phrase that has continued to haunt me...”tell it to the church”. When it gets to the point that there is no response and an unavailability to even discuss issues, the next step is this.

I am also concerned for those missionaries who are reading these posts. I am afraid that they may feel their support system is crumbling. To be overseas and not be able to personally participate in problem solving must be very difficult. Many of you (dear missionaries) have wonderful healthy works in your perspective locations, and we are all proud of you!

The same is true for those affiliates stateside that are reading along as well.
Our intention is not to tear apart your home church. Our desire is for their blessing and benefit. We must also cover and guard our own churches. Please consider our predicament as well.

I am especially concerned with the MBC&S Bible college students who I know first hand are not hearing both sides of the story, or stories. Certain teachers are telling them in classrooms that the affiliates are deceived. Some students are calling affiliate churches and warning them that their own sending pastors are “off’”.

You are students of the Bible and need to check things out for yourselves. It is not evil to ask questions, it is evil to forbid others from asking questions or to imply that they are wrong for doing so! Acts 17:11

The term evil report is used in Numbers to describe the testimony of the ten spies, neutralizing the faith of the nation of Israel just before entering the Promised Land. Yes, there were giants in the land, but it was considered evil because it was communication that lacked obedience to God and faith in His promises. It has nothing to do with avoiding matters of polity. It has nothing to do with questioning leadership when there are apparent contradictions. This interpretation is basically a ‘don’t ask us to be accountable to you or anyone else” fabrication.

I think it is important to post only the facts. No speculations or attacks against motives, just the facts.

Fact #1. For several years, individuals have been ‘marked’ for leaving the church. The leadership has publicly identified them and maligned them. This is not a mystery, it is a doctrine that has been taught openly! “...this thing was not done in a corner”. (Acts 26:26 with my apologies to Paul). Not only by things said but by what was not said. “How is so-and-so doing?” “Well, know, his loyalty is, well...” Seeds of dishonest suspicion sown in small groups.

Those maligned were never given the opportunity to communicate their reasons for leaving or departing. If anyone asked why they left, they were told the TBS/GGWO side of the story. This is absolutely wrong. If you communicated amicably with those who left or asked them any questions you were marked along with them. ‘The Doctrine of Conspiracy’ deals with what happens when others tell their side without the leaderships! It has to work both ways.

In addition, many men who continue to slander and rail the affiliates are those who were at and signed the Sandy Cove Declaration.

Here’s a suggestion; next time someone is ‘marked’ or named or whatever it’s called now in your presence, pull out the Sandy Cove declaration, read it and see if they signed it. I would also go to the Tacoma site, and retrieve the downloads available. E-mail me, I will gladly send you any docs from the affiliates that have been made public due to the spin about them that is an attempt to keep people in an information void.

Every member of our churches should have access to those documents. They describe what our concerns were and are, doctrinally speaking.

Fact #2 One of the staple books used in our ministry regarding the relationship of the pastor to the church was Watchmen Nee’s book called “Spiritual Authority”. An immensely imbalanced view of the office of the pastor being unquestionable. This book was used to promote the teaching that one must follow the leadership even if they are in sin or wrong.

Here are some quotes from the book:
"Authority being the most central thing in the whole Bible, reviling against it constitutes the gravest sin. Our mouth should not talk inadvertently. As soon as we meet God our mouth will be under restraint; we will not dare rail at authorities" (SA, p.91).

Certainly one of the most poignant statements of the book is found on page 71:
If God dares to entrust His authority to man, then we can dare to obey. Whether the one in authority is right or wrong does not concern us. The obedient one needs only to obey. The Lord will not hold us responsible for any mistaken obedience, rather He will hold the delegated authority responsible for his erroneous act.
These quotes really show where this whole line of thinking comes from.

Fact #3 Anyone who asks the elders of the church how long, how often, what manner and in what spirit the affiliates came to address the issues should be hearing this:
They came alone, they came together in twos. They came to the Grace Hour Banquet, they came at Convention. They wrote letters, they made phone calls for two years. They came concerned and often times, with tears, with much patience and honor. We've spent hundreds of dollars and hours traveling looking for an answer.

For TWO years this has been going on! This has not been a whimsical departure of a few afilliates who don’t want the Cross. We have serious issues with the leadership, including Pastor Stevens that he refuses to answer. There are serious doctrinal concerns that were addressed at Sandy Cove that are now being pushed aside.

Amos 5:13 was quoted repeatedly at Convention ‘04 to avoid answering questions. “Therefore the prudent shall keep silent in that time; for it is an evil time”. I suggest reading verses 10-15!

10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.
11 Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them.
12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.
13 Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.
14 Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.
15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.

The real issue is NOT that anyone wants to control who is the pastor of the church in Baltimore. They are a local, autonomous church that is entitled to run its own affairs. And as long as those affairs are handled legally, morally and ethically their brothers and sisters will sit by quietly and allow them to do so. But we share their name.

GGCF in Seneca Falls, has been profoundly affected by the behavior of the leadership in Baltimore. It is NOT just a local issue. They have made it international.

The issue is that concerns have been brought to the leadership of the church and those who’ve brought them have been “marked” and/or ignored. The leaders refuse to deal with the sins being brought to their attention. THAT is the issue.

I continue to plead with the current leadership for repentance. I am tempted to settle for dialogue! Yet the deafening silence continues.

Fact #4 Hundreds of solid, serving, long-time veterans and fellow believers have left the church. Yet, the leadership says there is revival in Baltimore. This is a cutting-edge revival. For the first time in church history, it is revival to hurt, slander and distance church members and divide families.

What is being said at raps? “The tares are leaving.” No, those that do not reflect a spirit of 2 Cor 5:18 (a ministry of reconciliation) or posses the litmus and proof of real faith – 1 Jn 3:14 (you know you’ve passed from death to life because you love the brethren), are tares.

Perhaps the ‘tares’ are staying.

My intent is to avoid deepening the divide by building a bridge. Just not monkey bridge.

I will let these thoughts settle and invite any comments.

Please do not e-mail any congratulatory comments. I am ashamed of myself for allowing these things to go on for so long.

E-mail me if you disagree.

I will not disclose who e-mails me to this forum.

Resting in Him,

Pastor Gerald Graziano
Seneca Falls, NY