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Pastor Lutz (2)


On May 17, 2004, my wife and I left GGWO. My only regret at the time was that the date of our departure wasn’t at least May of 2002. My point here is that the past is gone and there is nothing we can do to change it. In fact, I’ve come to realize that tinkering with the past would be the worst thing God could allow us to do. If we could change the past, we’d be so busy reliving it that we’d have no future. Which brings me to why I am again writing to you as I did in May a year ago. Also, as then, I write to you as an outsider with no personal agenda or thought of gain in any GGWO or Sandy Chicago affiliations. Quite frankly, Kathy and I are absolutely thrilled with our local Calvary Chapel and we have no intention of going anywhere else.

At the risk of alienating you all, I’m going to say some hard things right now, but please understand that there is a reason for me doing so. Personally, I believe that you are on the verge of doing a great thing in Chicago and my wish is to pass on some thoughts that I pray will add to your success there. A year ago I sent a plea to those affiliated pastors for whom I had an email address. I asked you to demand answers to hard questions in hopes of averting the danger of events leading to “major, irreparable, permanent damage in Baltimore” [I quote myself]. I was told by one who was there that an attempt was made to ask the tough questions during the 2004 MBC&S graduation weekend. Those questions were ultimately silenced by a snarl from Pastor Carl H. Stevens II (CHS) with words to the effect that there was nothing wrong with the ministry in Baltimore. After that everyone dutifully showed up at Convention in June and lined up for their shot at the microphone to praise up the leadership, the ministry, and then Jesus. Sorry, guys, that’s the way it was. The true theme of the convention was “Everything’s Fine at Home Base” (subtitle: Don’t Make Waves). Am I being too harsh? Not when you consider that there actually was a defense mounted in the rap and after-raps for the indefensible Friday night CHS message. There was, however, real (and in my opinion, heroic) courage and conviction displayed by Bill Reed and Mark Schollaert at Convention and immediately thereafter in the public decisions they made to leave after being refused in their reasonable attempts at reform.

OK, enough said. You get my point. The past is done, the moment was missed, and nothing can be done about it now. So, why bring these things up now? Simply for this reason: don’t let the things that stopped you then stop you from the great opportunity you have now. There was a lot of wishful thinking a year ago mixed with heavy sentimentality and a refusal to face the facts. The number one barrier you face now is a sentimental attachment to CHS and the way things were once upon a time. It is time to call a spade a spade, as the saying goes. CHS is no longer the man of the “good old days”, whatever you imagine those to have been. Honesty before God demands that it be acknowledged that the root blame (on a human plane) for the entire situation at the Plaza today falls squarely on the shoulders of Pastor Carl H. Stevens II. To place it anywhere else is to actually perpetuate the disaster that has occurred. If you blame it on Tom Schaller and his willing minions (and, for sure, therein lies the lion’s share of the blame for the execution of events), if you excuse “poor old Pastor”, if you continue to hail the “good old days”, your new association is doomed to repeat history – no matter what your intentions. The events of today didn’t begin with dismissing Paul eighteen months ago. The roots reach way back into the “good old days”, and you know it.

Am I saying that there was never any good thing in TBS/GGWO? Am I saying that we didn’t learn, we didn’t grow, we didn’t have godly vision or godly purpose? Don’t accuse me of that. Am I saying crucify CHS, burn him in effigy, rouse the villagers and arm them with pitchforks and torches? Absolutely not! I don’t have a problem with proclaiming (in a reasonable manner) the good or even great things of TBS/GGWO as long as it is not to the exclusion of acknowledging the mistakes and errors that brought the ministry to its current condition. To do so will only perpetuate the mindless, Pavlovian ovations and man-centered adulation that, quite frankly, has become the trademark of “worship” at the Plaza (for more than one leader).

I understand that an entourage of the current Plaza leadership will be making its way to Sandy Chicago (or whatever it will be called – I’m not trying to be a smart-ass). They will come crying, “Peace, peace” when there is no peace (in their hearts). They are coming in desperation – Sandy Cove, the disaffiliations, Sandy Chicago, and even the factnet are exposing them, their behavior, and years of erroneous teaching. Their greatest weapon will be your weakest area: sentimentality. I pray, and I believe, that you have learned your lesson. Please stand firm. Please forge a new way that keeps the best of many years’ experience while guarding against the mistakes of the past. Please correct the erroneous teachings. And, for God’s sake, please don’t keep it a secret. Don’t wait for factnet to tell the story of Sandy Chicago. Get it out there where everyone can see what you’ve done.

By the way, a closing point or two. Like many of you, I’ve read sections of the factnet. It is true that there is a lot of anger there, even bitterness, and some nonsense, but – like it or not – there is a lot of insight and truth to be found there, also. For your information, I don’t post there. Should I ever decide to, you’ll see my postings under my name and not a code name. I would also suggest that you go forward boldly in this new affiliation without looking back as it seems that at least one element of the United States Government is taking an interest in the activities at the Plaza. If you missed that one, I recommend that you get in touch with Christian Dean as soon as possible.

I’m through. I’ve risked offending you. I suspect some of you may be quite upset with me. So be it. I know that Tim Kelley, Bruce Brown, Bob White, and Tom Powell are starting to see some of the refugees who have left the Plaza. I see ex-GGWO people all the time, new ones every week. They go to other churches hoping to find Jesus again. Sorry, men, but that’s what’s happening here in Baltimore. Some cry, some are relieved, most can’t believe that they are hearing good (or great, as in our church) teaching. And the process is painful. It should have never been this way, but it is. That’s why I’ve written to you again, a year later, on the eve of your momentous conference. God bless you and God bless all you accomplish there.

Ed Lutz