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Pastor Powell

From Pastor Powell

To the Board of Elders, Baltimore, MD

I felt it necessary to write my thoughts concerning Baltimore’s decision to vote in Pastor Stenger as Chief Elder. I understand that there has been a reaction due to the lack of process and discussion prior to the decision. I believe that the health of the church and the worldwide affiliates are in question. I understand that the decision was a local issue, but you must remember that your decision has national and international ramifications. So, I am writing as an affiliated Pastor – a person that has a deep respect for all of you, and I will try to share my viewpoint as objectively as I can.

As it appears to date, there were four people that were considered, that I am aware of. The first to be considered was Pastor Paul. Obviously, he has been excluded because of personal sins, and is no longer a consideration.

The second consideration is Pastor Steve. He is a personal friend of mine, a good man with a pure heart and was seen in the eyes of some as having the backing of his father. I believe that he would implement the conclusions of Sandy Cove regarding the teachings that have been in question. He has not participated (to my knowledge) in the marking and ostracizing of people. He does understand the issues of reputation that the American churches have faced as a result of the events in Baltimore. My concerns regarding Pastor Steve are:

• The fact that some of the leaders that are in Baltimore (and perhaps abroad) question his ability to lead the church.
• The apparent (this is only how I see it) lack of a deep relationship with the foreign churches (due to his inability to travel or lack of travel).
• Lastly, that he has never been in the position of an overseeing Pastor, and might be open to undue scrutiny as a result of this.

The third choice is Pastor Schaller. He too is a personal friend of mine, one who we have supported for over 20 years, both financially and spiritually and we will continue to do so. He is a man of great renown and talent, who has planted churches worldwide. My concerns with him if he is chosen as Pastor are:

• Over the course of 1-1/2 years, there has been a great deal of confusion concerning all of the issues surrounding Dr. Stevens: his illness, medications, and ultimately, the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and the erratic reasoning that is associated with it. In the midst of this chaos, there has been no clear, apparent, moral or ethical Pastoral stand by the majority of Elders. There was an apparent confusion of teaching that has led to abuse, isolation and the ostracizing of godly men and women and the hindering of reconciliation. In the minds of a number of affiliates, we were “hung out to dry” for stating what was obvious to us all.
• Regarding these very issues, I shared my concerns with Pastor Schaller and Pastor Scibelli many months ago. I told them that, whether they like it or not, their face would be put to these problems because of their perceived role in the leadership of the church then. Any one of us as Pastors would have dealt with these circumstances differently, had we removed the names and only been given the circumstance. The seeming indifference to those who expressed concern and were targeted for doing so has stained the existing Elder leadership.

• With this in mind, I am concerned that the issues of Sandy Cove, namely doctrines that were analyzed and brought into balance, (i.e. “The Anointed One”, “Touch Not the Ark”, “Unchallenged Pastoral Authority” and “Spiritual Fathers”) would be dismissed or overlooked. The reason I say this is not because of comments by Pastor Schaller himself, but because of others that speak of him, and the lack of clarity regarding these teachings.

• It was also agreed at Sandy Cove that the Baltimore church was to become only one of the churches in affiliation, albeit the “crown jewel” of the ministry and the place where some of the greatest leaders reside and teach. The Pastor of Baltimore was not to be as it was in the past; the decider of all doctrine and policy, and that the affiliate churches were not to be judged based solely on their relationship to Baltimore. My fear is that the comments that surround Pastor Schaller would hamper this decision. Again, I have not heard this from him. He is a man of integrity and has held true to his signature of Sandy Cove. These are the comments of others.

• It is imperative to me that the Elders that have been esteemed for decades continue to be treated with respect. My fear with the selection of Pastor Schaller is that men who have been considered pillars, such as Dr. Lewis, would not be able to co-exist under his leadership in Baltimore. God only knows the affect this could have on the American churches, as well as the Russian and European churches. It would certainly be a point of contention.

• In the past 20 years, the established ministries here in America have struggled with the issue of credibility due to accusations and the fallout that began with the Walter Martin report. We have all fought, stayed true and have been faithful. In light of the events of the last two years (i.e. Factnet and the occurrences in Baltimore), it is no longer easy to say this is just evil or that this is a conspiracy. Personally, as an American Pastor who has to live with these “skeletons in the closet” and the thought of a new believer happening upon this information that is floating on the internet, I find this shameful. I would hope and expect these issues be addressed publicly in the American churches, as well as in Europe, and that the churches be given some relief in this area. I would need to know that Pastor Schaller has a plan and purpose to be forthright in dealing with these things. My concern is that Pastor Schaller might not share the same zeal in dealing with these issues. I am not saying that he wouldn’t care, rather, that he might not understand the complexity of the issues here in the states.

• Lastly and perhaps most importantly, Pastor Schaller and Pastor Scibelli are perhaps two of the greatest missionaries of our generation. Their accomplishments speak for themselves. What would be the point of asking him (Pastor Schaller) to focus his energy and attention on America? He will always be looking abroad to another field. This distraction may not have been an issue earlier, but certainly now it appears that the church here needs undistracted attention. I fear Pastor Schaller would be hampered in his most fruitful calling if he were to take up this cause.

The fourth consideration is Pastor Stenger. He is a missionary, has built churches, pastured churches overseas and here in the U.S. He is a proven man of integrity, placed on the Board of Elders in Baltimore after much of the initial stages of confusion had occurred. He is well respected by Pastor Schaller, Pastor Scibelli, and other leaders. He has proven himself to be sympathetic to the concerns of those who are suffering. He has sought to reconcile relationships with those who felt disenfranchised and misunderstood. He is a strong advocate for the changes recommended and approved at Sandy Cove. He is also sympathetic to the reputation issues that plague the American churches. I believe that he will mediate and moderate the tension between Dr. Lewis and Pastor Schaller, and will be supported by those who are overseas that, for whatever reason, feel threatened by Pastor Schaller’s leadership.

In short, Pastor Stenger is a peace maker. As it stands right now, it is my sincere opinion that this church, worldwide, is in desperate need of a peace maker. My vote is with him.

In Christ,

Pastor Tom Powell