June 21, 2007

An Open Letter of Rebuke to Dr. Mark Brewer of Bel Air Presbyterian Church

December 26th, 2007: This is a letter written to our former pastor. I am posting it as part of a discussion that I have been having with Jonathan, on the question, "Why doesn't God just cure autism".

I am backdating it to the date that it was sent to Mr. Brewer as I don't really want it at the top, but it does need to be up on the blog for reference. For the record we never received a response to this letter or to the letter of complaint that we subsequently filed with the elders of the church (Mr. Brewer's bosses).

The school continues to deny our right to access our children's school records in violation of California law.

Since it has been 6 months since we sent the letter, I think it is safe to assume that they will not be responding to us and 1 Timothy 5:20 (a Christian's obligation to publicly correct church leaders who continue in wrong doing) is now in full effect.

Heads up. It is a very long letter that lays out our case against this pastor in religious terms and may not up the alley of my regular readers.

Ginger

UPDATE: 1/15/08

After submitting a new request to Bel Air's new church director (who replaced Mike Hooper) I have been told by him that they are sending me the files. I will update if they do arrive this time.

After having a discussion with someone this week, I learned that one charge that we had filed with the charge may not be true, so I have removed it from our letters (and noted the edit) to err on the side of caution. We want to make sure that we do not publicly air accusations that are in doubt.

I am adding the Letter that we had filed with the Bel Air Elders on Session. We have never received a response to that letter either.

It was reported to us this week that after receiving our letters that instead of following God's direction in Matthew 5:23-26 to come to us, befriend us and work toward reconciliation, that Bel Air turned the letters over to their lawyers. Our understanding is that the unbiblical and illegal counsel that their lawyers offered them was to ignore the letters, to not turn over our records to us, and not respond to them in any way.

This is God's counsel on the matter:

Matthew 5:23-26

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.


So we wrote to Mark in part to correct him on his disobedience to Matthew 5, and he responded by again disobeying Matthew 5. Irony upon irony.

UPDATE: 1/26/08

So three weeks after we made our demand for our records to the new church director, we received them. A fraction of them that is. They cherry picked a few relevant documents and left out the bulk of the record.

But the most telling feature about the package that we received, was that it was evident from the presentation that Andrea Petche herself had prepared it! We write to Bel Air, repeatedly, and tell them that Ms. Petche has falsified our children's school records to cover up her wrong doing and committed perjury in a state investigation, and the charge is not only dismissed with out so much as contacting us and asking for details, but they apparently allow HER to compile the records to send to us!

We wrote back to the director almost a week ago demanding the ENTIRE record. We have not gotten a response.

This is beyond ironic. It is hubris.

Mark Brewer
Bel Air Presbyterian
16221 Mulholland Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049
June 21, 2007

Dear Mark,

This letter contains a lengthy and harsh rebuke of you. It is not for lawyers or your staff to handle, the charges in this letter are directed solely at you. We strongly encourage you, before you read any further, to spend time alone with God and let Him prepare your heart to hear what we have to say.

It has been more than a year since our last contact with you and during that time we have done much soul searching, meditating on scripture and seeking God’s wisdom on what to do in our broken relationships with you and the rest of the staff of Bel Air with whom we have been in conflict. We have come to the conclusion that God’s best in this is to walk through a Matthew 18 process with you personally, confronting the sin in your life that is having such a destructive effect at Bel Air, in our former community, in Scott’s extended family, in our family, and most importantly in the life and development of our autistic son Chandler.

Three times during 2005 and 2006 we sat with you and described in detail the sin and corruption that was going on among the staff at Bel Air Presbyterian, including the unethical and illegal treatment of four disabled and at-risk children in Chandler’s class. On all three occasions, we asked you for direction on how to address this on our end, as well as asking for correction on anything that we might be doing wrong that could get in the way of progress and growth. You took responsibility for addressing the misbehavior of your staff and said that action would be taken.

We are writing to you now, in frank and clear language, to confront you on your failure to live up to those commitments, your failure to practice biblical ‘shepherding’ of the flock with which God has entrusted to you, and your failure to repent of your sin, and we do this in accordance with Matthew 18:17, before the Elders on Session at Bel Air.

During our last year at Bel Air, we found that two staff members, Mike Hooper and Andrea Petche, were involved in malfeasance and were lying to cover it up. We attempted to walk through confronting them in obedience to Matthew 18, Luke 17:3, 2 Tim 2:23-24 and other scripture, while coming to you to teach us to do it well.

Their response to this correction was not that of the biblical picture of the Early Church where confrontation leads to repentance, resulting in restoration and healing. Rather they became immediately hostile and launched an attack on us and our children, eventually lying and slandering us to you, to Scott’s family, to our community, culminating in the expulsion of our children from the school.

This monumental miscarriage of justice, was allowed to take place on your watch, because when we brought this matter before you and told you that the staff was lying, you did not obey God’s command in Deuteronomy 19 to investigate the matter thoroughly, to hold a hearing where all parties were present, to do this with out prejudice of any kind and to discipline anyone found guilty of giving false testimony.

Instead you joined in the attack; becoming the sole signatory on the letter that dismissed our children from school illegally and with out ever showing cause.

When we met in your office on March 9th 2006, we told you directly that there was corruption at Bel Air. At the time, we earnestly believed that this corruption was allowed to continue because you did not know about it and because many of the others who had witnessed it or had been victims of it were too afraid to come forward for fear of retribution.

We reasoned that since you so often preached against injustice and corruption, and held out as examples men such as Polycarp, Bonheoffer and King who gave their lives courageously in standing up to corrupt governments for God’s truth, surely addressing corruption correctly in an institution that you lead would be a non-issue.

After our experience with you it is clear to us that the corruption continues at Bel Air because you allow it to continue. We are witnesses to you turning your head away from wrong doing, and rubber stamping the mistreatment of the sheep that you are charged with protecting.

Bel Air is a corrupt church because you are a disobedient pastor.

You told us so during our meeting on December 29th, 2005. We told you of our efforts to set up the Growing Families group so that it was prepared to take real action in healing families that are in trouble due to infidelity, addiction, abuse, disability, hardship and the like. We asked what Bel Air’s protocol was for getting help to at risk families, and your reply was that there wasn’t one. When we asked how Bel Air deals with confronting sin in its members, you gave an example: “If we find out a church member is involved in an extra-marital affair, unless that person is in leadership, we don’t address it. But if that person gets nominated for elder for example, we will go to them and say, ‘we are letting you know that you were nominated for elder, but because we know you are having an affair with Such and Such, your nomination has been withdrawn’.”

Mark, this is not how Jesus directed us to deal with sin in the church. In carrying out this policy, you stand in direct defiance of Matthew 18, Luke 17 and a host of other scriptures. In John 21:15-17, Christ’s essential direction to the first pastor is to tend His sheep. Because you do not practice biblical church discipline, wolves are free to attack the sheep. The sheep are not protected, even from themselves. And it pays to lie at Bel Air.

Additionally, you seem to be under the impression that these are your sheep and you can manage them however you see fit. In disobeying God’s command to practice proper church discipline, you have replaced God’s judgment with your own. When pastors do that, God calls it ‘appalling and horrible’ (Jer 5:30-31). If you have forgotten how serious God is about not having his judgments replaced with men’s, we suggest you review the last few chapters of Job.

Further, according to the executive pastor’s own teaching, because Bel Air does not obey God in His command to confront sin, it does not even meet the qualifications of a church. On February 12, 2006, Roger preached a sermon entitled, “Sardis: Obedience”, the thesis of which was, ‘Bel Air if we are not obedient to God then we are not a church. We are a social club, a civic organization, a business, but we are not a church.’

After hearing that sermon, while at the same time witnessing Bel Air’s disobedience to God’s directives for biblical church discipline, we put to you that Bel Air is Sardis. It has the reputation of being alive, but it is dead.

Roger preached this sermon the week that he himself was flagrantly disregarding Deuteronomy 19, among others, in handling our problem when it came before him. He quoted Micah 6:8 in his sermon in which God’s first direction was to “Do Justice”. Four days earlier he went to Ginger and asked her to tell him what was going on at the school, and she told him, in person and in writing, of the families that were having their rights violated by the school, and that Andrea and Mike were lying and attacking us in attempt to silence us. Instead of addressing the allegation biblically, he joined in the attack on us.

Subsequently, when we told you of his disobedience three weeks later, you followed suit, ignoring our charges and joining in the attack against us as well. When we told you of the atrocious behavior of your staff, rather than taking our claims seriously, you actually made fun of us. You mocked us and said, “oh… you guys are the victims here… what… are you martyrs in this?” When you asked us to justify our actions in the matter, Ginger reached for her Bible to read you the scripture that we had been given by ‘wise council’ and were using for guidance, and you reacted as if she had reached for a gun. You snapped upright in your chair and said, “Don’t you quote scripture to me”.

We were stunned silent at your reaction.

When Ginger finally very politely replied, “Sir, you asked me a question and I have to read scripture to give you your answer”, you scolded, “Listen to me, I know that book better than you and we can go back and forth all day and I will win.”

Is this the behavior of a man who is sharing the love of Jesus and biblically reproving the flock? Are these the words of a man who follows Christ’s lead in considering the scriptures as, ‘his food and his drink’? Is this the picture of a pastor who reflects Christ’s compassion on a family struggling with caring for a disabled child in the midst of financial hardship? No, this is the behavior of a man who sees the people in front of him as adversaries and a threat to his power.

After leaving Bel Air, we talked to several people who had been in leadership positions for years, and they all reflected the same sentiment. Each offered different versions of the message that, ‘no matter what you would have done, they never would have let you win’. They all used the word “win”. It was not until we heard that word used for the third time that we really came to grips with this realization -- the staff at Bel Air function in conflict more like first century Rome than the first century Church.

Your goal in conflict is not repentance, obedience and restoration. Your goal is winning.

During your meeting with us, you opened by reminding us of our duty to obey you as our pastor, a duty that we told you that we considered ourselves bound to. You ended that meeting by exercising that power over us, by which we responded in complete obedience to your direction. Because we did, and because you are the senior pastor, you now are responsible to give an account to God not only for your bad behavior in this matter, but also the sin and lawlessness of all those whose souls God has given you watch over.

You are also answerable for our sin as we submitted ourselves to, and even solicited, your correction as our pastor. Even in the end we repeatedly asked you what we had done wrong that merited the treatment that we were getting, and your only response was repeating, “You know what you did”. Not biblical instruction or confrontation under any standard, but rather an intimidating, shaming statement.

We believe that it is our responsibility to inform you that because you did not obey God’s direction to exercise appropriate church discipline, Andrea Petche has since gone on to commit perjury in a state investigation. In June we filed a simple oral complaint with the State of California. According to the report we received from the investigator, when she went to the school, Andrea lied to her, falsified our son’s records, misrepresented documents, and suborned perjury from those working under her. Jon Taylor, member of the preschool committee and Scott’s brother, was informed of Andrea’s perjury last summer, and in turn informed the committee, but no action has been taken to resolve the matter legally, biblically or to any standard of integrity.

Scott and Jon’s father, Steve Taylor, met with you last summer to give you further account. He told us that he reported to you how his family was now divided because of Bel Air’s actions, [a portion of this sentence has been removed as there is a question as to whether or not it was based on faulty information]. Steve told us that your concern seemed to be primarily whether or not we intended to sue. When he told you that he didn’t think we would, you seemed satisfied and took no further action.

Suppose Mr. Taylor had indicated we were probably going to file suit, would your course of action been different? Does one need to threaten a law suit at Bel Air for a complaint to be taken seriously? Do you only honor the rights of those who have the resources and the will to sue you?

We have reported to you that according to witnesses, Andrea Petche, Mike Hooper, Karen Crawford and Roger Dermody have given false testimony during this conflict with our family. Conducting a hearing according to scripture is part of the debt that you owe to God, so that sin is not allowed to go unchecked in His church. It is Bel Air’s responsibility to call its own hearing. We should not have to sue you in civil court to get you to obey scripture and California law. (1 Cor 6)

Consider this a written demand, requiring that you forward us complete copies of both of our sons’ school records so that we may review them, as is our right under California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Div 12, Chap 1, Art 6, Section 101221 (e). This right was breeched by Andrea Petche and Mike Hooper on March 3, 2006 when they refused to produce a signed consent form (which doesn’t exist) allowing Andrea to order an evaluation of Chandler. (For your personal review, you can find the laws under which the school operates in pdf format at: http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/ord/CCRTitle22_715.htm listed under Child Care Centers). These records should also contain the minutes of the school board meeting on Feb. 21, 2006, which we were not allowed to attend, during which we are told that false testimony was given against us and our child.

During our final meeting with you, you told us that Mike and Andrea had reported to you that Chandler had to be dismissed from school because his disability was too severe for him to be maintained in the classroom; and that we had threatened to sue the church. We informed you that their testimony was completely false. The records should also contain the minutes of your meeting with them and the specific claims that they made which informed your decision to terminate Chandler’s enrollment. Finally, the school records should also contain the notes of any other meetings in which we were discussed.

As it is our understanding from the state investigator that Andrea falsified the records, we have requested that Ellen Baker, Secretary of the Session, retrieve all the records without prior notice to Andrea or any school staff and express copies to us within 24 hours of receipt of this letter; so that we can be assured that no further tampering will take place. We trust that she will not alter the records in any way.

There are many, many issues here. Many sins that have gone unconfessed and unrepented by many people, but so that we don’t cloud the purpose of this letter, we will focus the rest of it on you and specifically what you have done to our family.

Mark, you are in sin. Our experience with you has shown us not a man who is yielded to the Holy Spirit and yearning to follow Jesus no matter what it costs him, but a man who worships power and influence, and loves the money that buys it for him. A man who is willing to sabotage the treatment of a three year old autistic boy in order to protect his control over his organization which serves his ambition.

"When a successful figure becomes especially prominent and conspicuous, the majority give way to the idolization of success. They become blind to right and wrong, truth and untruth, fair play and foul play." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics

You appear to us to be man who was once a broken truck driver, driven to God in his pain, who has years later come to arrogantly believe his own P.R. You live as if the rules don’t apply to you. You constrained us to Matthew 5 during our meeting in March, but you do not adhere to it yourself. After your phone call to Ginger when you derided her, saying “I am not going to discuss this with you, I know how you work”, Scott sent you an email letting you know in no uncertain terms that we had something against you. Why then did you not obey Matthew 5:23-24? Does it not apply to you because you are a pastor of a large congregation?

In preparing this letter, we went back to the Bel Air web site to check the date of Roger’s sermon. While there we saw that you recently preached a sermon entitled, “Estrangement to Reconciliation”. We had to listen to it as the irony was too much -- a sermon on reconciliation preached at the institution which [section of the sentence removed as there are questions to its accuracy] lead to our complete estrangement from him. Well you could see how our curiosity would be piqued.

It was a truly upsetting experience to listen to such hypocrisy. You spoke as if this was actually something that you and the staff practice. Except for the moment when you joke that this practice doesn’t apply to you personally. In that sermon you tell God’s flock that they are to seek reconciliation in estranged relationships -- to come along side and confess their sins to and forgive those with whom they have broken relationships. Except you begin by making a joke which seems to excuse you from mending your own broken relationships. Apparently alienating people is part of your job.

“He can reconcile our relationships to each other. Even the most toxic, poisoned, beat-up relationships … and I make a living out of making those.”

Much truth is spoken in jest. And it begs the question, “Okay Mark, if you admit to making toxic, poisoned, beat-up relationships on a regular basis (as was certainly our experience), how do you heal them? You must have a lot of wisdom to share because you have to mend relationships so often.” Why did you not share with your audience stories where you, confessed, repented, forgave and were forgiven, and how it lead to healing? Why did you not tell them that even though you make these horrible relationships, you always are sure to heal them? As with any preacher, it is generally assumed that you practice in your own life what you are preaching. If you are indeed above reproach, shouldn’t you be inviting those who have something against you to obey Luke 17:3 and come to you in private so you can be sure all your relationships are healed?

How could you preach that sermon and not quote Matthew 5:23-24? How do you get around not giving God’s sheep His command to “be at peace with all men so far as it depends on you”? How do you leave out God’s imperative and recipe for healing found in James 5:16, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed”? You barely mention their responsibility for confession of sin at all.

Is it because those verses convict you and you don’t want to obey them yourself?

We attest to the fact that you do not practice these principles in your own life. You are a false teacher to those under your lead. You do not teach them confession and repentance. You teach them to ignore complaints, cover their asses and bully into submission anyone who might hold them to account. You lord over Bel Air and teach others to do it, and your life lessons negate what scripture you might quote from the pulpit.

These commands are not optional to the Christian. One cannot be in disobedience to scripture and be in a right relationship with Christ. Indeed Matthew 5:23-24 tells you not to come to the altar until you go to your brother. How many times have you come to the altar since we let you know that we had something against you 15 months ago? Every single time you did it, Matt 5 says you did it in defiance of God.

Mark, you have said from the pulpit several times, not all pastors go to heaven, but that it is your belief that you will, even if you are just “waiting tables”. If the true character of a man is found in what he does when he thinks no one is watching, what he does that he thinks he can get away with, and what he does when he has something to loose, then your true character is of a man who does not know Jesus.

Where Jesus is present, broken people are healed. But you have crushed our family under the wheels of your ambition. Mark, you are not keeping His commandments, therefore, according to the Word, you do not love Him, and if you say you know him, then you are a liar.

John 14:21-24 tells us that if we love Him, we will keep his commandments. It also tells us that the converse is true, if we are not obeying Him, we do not love him.

1 John 2:3-4 says, “by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

In this, you have no excuse and cannot claim ignorance of his commandments. You have a Ph. D. in “His Commandments”. In the last meeting with us, in claiming that you know ‘that book’ better than we do, you arrogantly claim responsibility for knowing the entire Bible, as you can’t possibly know which parts we know and which parts we don’t. God heard that claim and holds you to it now. Add to that the warning God gives us that, “to whom much is given, much is required,” and, “let not many of you become teachers knowing that you will incur stricter judgment”, and your responsibility of humility, obedience, repentance, and carrying the burdens of others is higher than everyone but perhaps a dozen people in all of Los Angeles.

Does that not terrify you? Does that not put into perspective God’s command to work out your salvation with fear and trembling? If that realization does not drive to plead for His forgiveness for not shepherding His sheep according to His directions, if you are not convicted by this letter, then you have to ask yourself, “Do I know Jesus”? You clearly know a lot about Him, but if you know Him you will be in love with Him and will be compelled to obey Him. Joyfully even! (1 John 5:3)

If you do not have the Holy Spirit at work in you, convicting you of your sins against our family and against those you lead, then you do not know Jesus. If that is the case, then it is time for you to give your life back to Him. All of it. All your power and influence, all your relationships, your reputation, your job, your vision for “Making LA the Greatest City for Christ In America®” and most of all your ambition.

If God is going to change LA, he does not need you to do it. Further, it will never happen around you while you are in disobedience to Him. Never. He CANNOT use you. You will only succeed in creating a false front powered by cash and worldly influence; a 21st century, “PTL” with better production values.

And what if God doesn’t want to make LA the Christian Mecca? Are you sure that is God’s will? Has He appeared to you told you that? Sure it is a lovely thought, but God’s glory is served in judgment just as it is in mercy. The Bible is clear that most people will not come to Christ, thus the ‘narrow road’ analogy, and that God will be glorified in the judgment of the unbelievers. What if His plan for LA is to save the few believers who have not soiled their garments and judge the greater city?

Reign in your ambition, stop trying to do God’s job for Him and just obey Him in this moment and then in the next. He is going to do with LA what HE wants to do with LA.

If you are not willing to give it all back to God, and openly repent to the congregation of your sins against them and drastically change the way Bel Air operates, beginning with this conflict, then quit your job. Immediately. Give Bel Air to a pastor who will shepherd that flock in obedience to God, who will confess his sin to them, and who will be teachable and offer himself, even the most vulnerable parts of himself to them, as an example of what Christ has done for him.

As it stands, hard decisions at Bel Air are not made according to scripture, but cost-benefit-analysis. Repeatedly when we asked, “why aren’t we INSERT BIBLICAL COMMAND HERE, the response we got was, ‘oh… we can’t do that because someone might sue us.’ You cannot serve two masters, and you have chosen the god of money over Jesus.

Over and over during our dealing with Bel Air on this problem, we ran into the same ethos. The lie that one can disobey Jesus for the sake of the ministry of Jesus and still be in a relationship with Jesus. This is Bel Air’s mentality because it is your mentality. (Proverbs 29:12)

Mark, when we read through Matthew 23 we see verse after verse which describe your behavior. You meet the requirements of a Pharisee.

You have tied up heavy loads and laid them on our shoulders and are unwilling to lift a finger to help us. You love the place of honor at parties and love being called “Doctor” in the marketplace. You exalt yourself and belittle those less powerful than you.

God has called us to confront sin in our own lives, and in the lives of others, in that order. During this conflict, you treated us as sinners, but when we requested correction from you, you would not offer it. Therefore we cannot “enter into the Kingdom” by confession and repentance; or restore our relationships by defending ourselves against false accusations. And you will not confess your sin and enter the Kingdom yourself.

As for devouring the widow’s houses, the corruption at Bel Air actually lost us our home. You were well aware that we had been walking the fine edge of financial ruin for two years because of Chandler’s diagnosis. Because we spent so much time in February and March away from work taking meetings and seeking wise council and pouring through scripture and getting on our knees before God and reading the law for ourselves and fighting to keep our children in school while trying to obeying God in confronting those in sin and weeping over the way our church that was treating us, in April we fell too far behind on our mortgage and our house went into foreclosure. We were able to borrow the money from Ginger’s family to get it out and sell it. You literally devoured our home.

[Paragraph removed as it may have been based on inaccurate information.]

You are a blind guide, teaching the flock how to move from Estrangement to Restoration when you have a trail of broken relationships behind you and ignore the damage you have done to God’s children.

You tithe, but neglect the weightier portions of the law in judging our case. You did not offer us justice; you did not offer us mercy, you were not faithful to God.

YOU BUILD AN ENTIRE NEW WING ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE CUP AND WILL NOT CLEAN OUT THE CORRUPTION IN YOUR STAFF AND IN YOUR LIFE!

Outwardly you appear as a righteous man, but behind closed doors you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Mark, nothing is hidden from God, He has seen it all. Be very afraid of Matthew 23:35.

And if that wasn’t enough to send you crashing to your knees before the Holy God, there is yet one more passage which suggests most clearly an impending threat to your salvation. You have sinned boldly and recklessly against our four year old disabled son, Chandler Taylor, “The Least of These” among all the sheep at Bel Air. We want to be absolutely clear here, so we are being as frank and direct as we possibly can.

Focus on Matthew 25:31-46. Really spend time meditating on it.

When you ratified the requirement for us to sign a contract giving up access to him while he was on school grounds, you violated his rights that protect him from harm. When you dismissed Chandler from school, you violated the laws that protected his therapeutic school placement, his treatment for Autism. [Charge with held for questions about accuracy]. In all this you ended up taking 11 months of therapy and treatment from him during one of the most crucial years in his battle against Autism. This account only touches on all of the things you have stolen from Chandler, that were rightfully his, since we first came to you about Andrea and Mike’s malfeasance.

If Christ judges as unbelievers those who simply don’t visit the sick, how harshly will he judge a pastor who steals a disabled child’s treatment?

For you, it all comes down to this: What you have done to Chandler, you have done to Jesus Christ himself. What you have stolen from Chandler, you have stolen from Christ. Your dismissal of Chandler’s needs is a dismissal of Christ’s needs. Your violation of Chandler’s rights is a violation of the rights of the God you claim to serve.

Of the three thousand people at Bel Air, Chandler Taylor was the most vulnerable, disabled person there. He was as close to an actual innocent as could be found there. He was the singular person whom Jesus Christ chose to represent Himself most seriously for the purposes of His judgment. He was The Least of These in your charge.

Chandler IS the weak thing that God has chosen to shame the strong.

Christ stands behind Chandler at all times and witnesses everything that any of us do to him and everything that we don’t do for him.

Having Chandler as our son, and knowing the immutable truth of Matthew 25 has shown us, in all too painful detail, who we really are. It has given us a good look at all the love and all the selfishness that we are capable of.

As the parents of a “The Least of These” child, we live under the glare of this scripture every day. We have to repent constantly that we do not live up to the obligation that we have to this little boy with whom we have fallen in love. We praise God for this reality because it has driven us to brokenness and repentance. We praise God for giving us the new chance every day to tangibly serve Him.

THAT is the blessing of the disabled child. THAT is the blessing you have missed by throwing him out of school and driving his family out of Bel Air.

We are holding a mirror up to you and asking you to take a good hard look at yourself.

Did you ever expect you would become the sort of man who would throw a disabled child out of his therapy? For any reason? We listened to you preach for almost five years and we believe that if you heard this story about some anonymous pastor, you would be completely disgusted. This story would probably show up in one of your sermons as an example of how just how arrogant, cold hearted and dead pastors can become when they start believing that they are somehow above those that God called them to serve.

Mark, the week that you threw us out, you actually ended your sermon with the story of a disabled family and you got choked up as you declared that disabled children are a blessing and extolled the virtues of their parents, saying all they had to do was love their disabled child and people would come to Jesus. Three days later you called Ginger and shamed her over the phone for simply asking for the reason you were throwing her disabled son out of his school! You insinuated that she was some sort of manipulative, destructive malcontent for obeying God’s command to advocate for the rights of her disabled child and the other disabled children at the school found in Proverbs 31:8-9, and according to your own sermons, both that week and the previous week!!

How did you get here?

God says that unless everything that was taken from Chandler is restored to him as best can be by you, plus one fifth, you will not see heaven. Matthew 25 is not an empty metaphor; it is God giving us the final exam at the beginning of the semester and writing the answers on the blackboard so we can constantly be testing ourselves.

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?” -- 2 Corinthians 13:5

Chandler Taylor is the litmus test of your salvation, and you have failed.

Your first Sunday at Bel Air, we sat in the balcony, pregnant with Chandler, and decided to stay at Bel Air under your shepherding because of a commitment that you made during that sermon. Chandler was born and baptized into your care. He was your responsibility before God and you have failed him.

The picture that Jesus paints in Matthew 25 is this: When Chandler was diagnosed with Autism, it was as if Christ stepped into his skin and walked around Bel Air Presbyterian, giving everyone the chance to serve Him directly. But you did not recognize it.

Read this sentence as many times as you need to in order for you to understand the gravity of it: YOUR STAFF, UNDER YOUR AUTHORITY, HIRED EXTRA SECURITY TO TURN ‘JESUS CHRIST’ AWAY AT YOUR GATE; YOU RATIFIED THEIR DECISION IN WRITING AND SIGNED YOUR NAME TO IT.

When you step before the Bema on that day, Jesus need not say anything to you. He can just hand you that letter, as it is a standing testimony against you.

You are standing on a precipice with a millstone around your neck. We are very afraid for you, Mark. You have sold your birthright for a new building and an adoring fan club. Turn back before it is too late.

Unless you practice true repentance in this (Numbers 5:5-7), regardless of what ever else you have done in your life, you will be counted among the goats (Matt 7:21-23). As of now, Chandler’s life and present circumstance stand as a testimony to the fact that you are not a disciple of Jesus Christ.

This is not our judgment; it is the judgment of God that He has laid out for us all in scripture. All we are attempting to here is hold your actions up to His standard and connect the dots for you. When we do, this is what we see: You are the man who built the Taj Mahal and mislaid the body. You are the Ecclesiastical “foolish king who has forgotten how to learn”. You are one of the seeds who have been choked out by the deceitfulness of wealth and the worries of life. You have gained the whole world and lost your soul.

Repent. Clean up your life. Clean up Bel Air. Find the narrow road and get back on it, no matter what it costs you. No matter what it costs Bel Air Presbyterian. Mark, turn from the idols of this world and “bear fruit in keeping with repentance”.

There is a culture at Bel Air that pre-dates you. But you are the captain of that ship and the responsibility of it now rests squarely on your shoulders. And it is not unique to Bel Air or the American church, but it is a deadly cancer, eating at the body and hindering the work of the Spirit.

The functional heresy at Bel Air is that repentance of sin is not required for the forgiveness of sin, for sanctification and maybe not even for salvation.

You have preached that Satan loves to get a foothold in churches. This seems to be the foothold that he has a Bel Air, and you look to be the one holding it in place for him.

A search of Bel Air’s web site for the words “repent” or “repentance” yields only a single hit. An article where you quote Acts 26:19 where God gave a vision to call the people to repentance. You then write an article about “following your dreams”, but never mention repentance, which was the important part of the verse in the first place.

According to Numbers 5:5-7, repentance requires three things:

1) Guilt. Conviction of legitimate wrong doing.
2) Confession. Saying to God and those you have wronged, “I have wronged you. I did ____________ but I should have done _________________.
3) Restitution. Cleaning up your mess. Doing the thing that you should have done in the first place and adding 20% (if that is possible).

This is what we are calling you to now. This is the biblical standard we are calling you to hold your staff and membership accountable to. This is what we are calling you to preach and live.

Repentance is the first command that He gives us so that we may gain eternal life, and continued repentance is continued proof of life. You have no proof of life.

We are fully aware of the harshness of this letter, and the utter gall it must seem to confront a well-respected pastor in front of the Elders. And yet we are compelled by scripture and conscience to speak the truth, not in anger, but not sugar-coated either. And it has taken us a year to be able to address these issues with love and not anger. In constructing this letter we have worked to balance two commands that God gives in confronting sin. First, 2 Timothy 2:23-24, “The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth”. And Second, “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.” Leviticus 19:17)

We have purposefully been detailed and brutally honest, John the Baptist honest. We have chosen to err on the part of frankness, as that is the example that Christ set when he rebuked those in God’s leadership who were mistreating the sheep. We do not believe that God’s purposes are served by polite rhetoric, as the consequences of your actions in this matter will extend into eternity for you, for Scott’s brother, and for the thousands of people who look to you for guidance. We believe the harshness of this rebuke is in line with the gravity of the circumstances. “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Prv.27:5-6)

If we have been, or even seem to be, too harsh or unloving, we apologize.

Whom the Lord loves, He reproves. It is our earnest hope that this will not be received as us lashing out at you or trying to embarrass you in front of others, but as brotherly concern and correction from God’s Word (not ours) for the sake of your future. We pray that the Holy Spirit will fall on you hard so that your cheap grace will fall away and you will fall in love with Jesus for offering you absolution for your horrible treatment of Him. That in true humility, you will come to allow yourself to be taught by the people you have wronged. Not just us, but all of the people that you have wronged during your ministry, no matter how far back it goes.

You have a choice now.

You can continue on the present path, ignore our complaints and warnings, and go on the attack against us yet again; to continue to sabotage and seduce until you get what you want. If that is your choice, then you are sadly not a pastor but a CEO, and you are lost.

Or

You can accept the correction, get out your Bible, meditate on scripture, humble yourself on your face before God, and examine yourself to see if there be any wicked way within you. Repent, beg the Holy Spirit to convict you to the depths of your heart and to create in you a clean heart and renew a right spirit within you. Then go out and make it right. DO justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God in His steps.

Forgiveness and freedom from sin do not come without true repentance. True repentance is seen clearly in a man’s acts of repentance. Repentance/Forgiveness (which are two sides of the same coin) is a mixture of humility, grief and joy that is unmistakable and drives a man not to dread confession of sin, but to take pleasure in finding some burden that he can hand back to his God so that he can be rewarded with more of Him.

Being the parents of an autistic child has given us insights that we never would have had otherwise. We would like to share one more with you.

In the beginning of our journey with Chandler’s autism, we heard the question, “what is the hardest thing about having an autistic child?” and upon thinking about it, Ginger realized that the hardest thing was the lack of ecclesia. It is wrenchingly heartbreaking to call to your own child but to never have him respond.

It has given us a glimpse of what it must be like for God to be constantly calling out to the children that He loves, knowing that because of the manifestation of sin, they cannot hear Him and respond, and indeed some never will.

The pain of longing to know and be known by our son is merely a glimpse of the pain that The Father bears when He longs to draw His children to Himself, but they do not come to Him because His voice does not break through all of the other noise and distraction in their world.

The joy that filled us the first time he responded to us after beginning treatment cannot be fully described. Give the Father that joy now.

Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you on this journey. We hope that God is even now working in all of our hearts, for His glory.

We will be praying for you and for Bel Air as we wait for your written reply.

Sincerely,
Scott & Ginger Taylor

cc: Elders on Session


1/15/08 - Adding the Letter to the Elders on Session. The letter has been edited as we believe that two of the people that we filed charges against are most likely innocent of the charges we made against them, after they DID come to us to be reconciled in obedience to Matthew 5:23-24.

YAY OBEDIENCE! IT WORKS!! (*Never mind on the reconciliation and obedience. Said parties, were not earnest or honest with us about the conflict and the reconciliation attempt failed. We now believe our charges were basically correct, but should be altered a bit, but we have decided to continue to leave them off the public record just for the sake of accuracy. - GT 05/29/09)

I am also with holding the names of any one who is NOT in an overseer position at Bel Air, as God's command in 1 Tim 5:20 only extends to the public rebuke of those in high positions, and not to the general membership.


Secretary of the Session
Ellen Baker
Bel Air Presbyterian
16221 Mulholland Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049
June 21, 2007

To The Elders on Session,

We began attending Bel Air Presbyterian in 2001 and became regulars when Mark Brewer arrived. We quickly made friends and became active in the Young Marrieds group, becoming part of the leadership and helping build that community. In 2003 we became members, and both of our sons were baptized by Roger Dermody that April. Webster enrolled in the preschool in the fall of 2004, Chandler followed in fall 2005.

During our childrens' enrollment in the Bel Air Presbyterian Church Preschool, we became aware of several unethical and illegal actions perpetrated by the staff and administration. In the fall of 2005, we attempted to move through a Matthew 18:15-21 process with the key staff members, as we are obligated to by scripture. We also met with Mark Brewer in December telling him what we were doing and asking him to teach us and hold us accountable to do it well, which he committed to doing.

To say it did not go well is an understatement. When confronted by Ginger, the staff members became defensive and indignant. How dare she question their judgment? Instead of holding themselves accountable to scripture, the licensing laws of California, the student handbook, and the enrollment agreement of the school, these staff members initiated a scorched earth initiative to silence and discredit us, and to keep their sin hidden in darkness.

On several occasions, we reported the continuing malfeasance of the school’s staff to Mark Brewer, Roger Dermody, Karen Crawford, [names with held] and one of the mothers whose child was being mishandled. On every occasion a report was made by us, rather than being investigated and adjudicated properly, it was dismissed out of hand and we were mocked, slandered and retaliated against for filing legitimate grievances.

As the senior pastor of Bel Air, Mark Brewer has a mission and an obligation to adhere in strict obedience to scripture and to teach and correct those under his authority to do likewise. Mark does not live up to this standard. And when we had occasion to bring this to his attention personally and privately in his office, he mocked us, dismissed our claims, told us not to use scripture, and made an empty promise that he would look into it properly and thoroughly. He did nothing further on our behalf, except to belittle Ginger over the phone several days later and to write us a letter dismissing our children from the school and [accusation edited].

It is our earnest prayer that Mark Brewer will begin to take seriously the unaddressed sin in his life and in the lives of the staff at Bel Air. It is also our earnest prayer that as his administrative superiors, you will take seriously and with great care the position of authority God has placed you in over him and the rest of the staff.

At this time we report to you that false testimony was given about our family and this conflict by the following people: Roger Dermody, Karen Crawford, Mike Hooper, Andrea Petche, [names with held].

We also report to you that the following people violated state law during our conflict with the school: Mark Brewer, Mike Hooper, Roger Dermody, Andrea Petche, Megan MacMeekin, [names with held].

These violations include, but are not limited to:
• Commissioning an evaluation of our son Chandler without our knowledge or consent
• Requiring us to give up our parental right to have access to our children while they were on school grounds as terms of their continued enrollment
• Refusing to produce school records on demand
• Multiple violations of confidentiality.

Further, according to the Community Care Licensing investigator’s report, the following people committed perjury and fraud during the state’s investigation into our charges in June of 2006: Andrea Petche, [names with held].

According to the Book of Order which follows Robert’s Rules and standard parliamentary procedures, we believe that Megan MacMeekin and Mark Brewer’s recusal from any deliberations by the Session on the matter is required.

Consider this a formal written demand requiring that you forward us complete copies of both of our sons’ school records so that we may review them, as is our right under California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Div 12, Chap 1, Art 6, Section 101221 (e).

These records should contain the minutes of the “trial in absentia” preschool committee meeting on Feb. 21, 2006:
• Which we were not allowed to attend
• Of which we were not allowed to know the topics discussed,
• Of which we were not allowed to know the charges brought against us despite repeated requests
• After which we were not given the opportunity to make a defense against any charges despite repeated requests
• Of which were not allowed to question the work product (illegal contract)
• During which we are told that false testimony was given against us and our child.

During our final meeting with Mark Brewer, he told us that Mike and Andrea had reported to him that Chandler had to be dismissed from school because his disability was too severe for him to be maintained in the classroom and also that we had threatened to sue the church. We informed him that their testimony was a complete fabrication. The aforementioned records should also contain the minutes of this meeting and the specific claims Mike and Andrea made to Mark. The records should also include all minutes, notes or summaries of any other meetings in which Scott, Ginger, Webster or Chandler Taylor were discussed.

It is our understanding from the state investigator that Andrea Petche falsified Chandler’s records, therefore we request that Ellen Baker retrieve all records without prior notice to Andrea or any staff and express copies to us within 24 hours of receipt of this letter; so that we may be assured that no further tampering will take place. We trust that Ms. Baker will not alter the records in any way, and ask that she include a letter stating that they have not been altered since receipt of this demand notice.

We take scripture and the law very seriously. Paul tells us that God holds the elders and ministers of His flock to a higher standard, and we as Christian brothers are to encourage, instruct and rebuke one another in love for the building up of the body. To not do so, to let someone continue in sin unchecked, does not serve the sinner, it does not serve the body and could inevitably leads us back into a “Moomaw” situation.

This is a very complicated matter and we wish to be of assistance to you as you investigate and adjudicate it biblically. Let us know what we need to do and how we may best be of service to you.

Sincerely,
Scott & Ginger Taylor
[clip]


Update: April 20, 2008

I see that people have begun coming to this post from Los Angeles because of the questions circulating about what is going on at Bel Air.

Just to update, we never received a response to our last demand to in January for our children's full records and BAPC still remains in violation of California law allowing parents access to their children's school records. Neither Mark Brewer, nor the elders have ever contacted us about resolving this matter.

For the record, we have never filed a law suit or even threatened to file one against Bel Air for their actions. It is Bel Air's obligation to deal biblically and legally in this matter and no one should have to file a law suit to force a true church to do the right thing and take responsibility for its actions.

Since leaving, we have heard from others whose experiences mirror our own, but who have not spoken out publicly for fear of retribution and of not being believed. We encourage those people to speak up for the sake of those still at Bel Air who will be treated poorly in the future if appropriate accountability is not put in place.

We encourage the members of Bel Air to initiate a detailed and serious investigation of what is going on there, of both the current and former staff members, and of the finances.

7 comments:

Ezekiel3 said...

I just read this and I certainly sympathize with you.

Two weeks ago, Mark gave a sermon that was somewhat interesting on the topic of “salt and light.“

Brewer quoted Sir Francis Bacon who has often been called the “father of modern Freemasonry” as well as strong ties to Rosicrucians. Bacon also believed that America was the new Atlantis and would be the site of a new, utopian society (aka new world order).

The other person he quoted was Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and called him a “great Christian.” Before I looked him up, I was hoping he wouldn’t be questionable because hope you’re just mislead and not misleading. But looks like Pierre was an evolutionist and a JESUIT. I don’t have to tell you that every Protestant should know who the Jesuits are being there has been no other group in history more determined to bring all people under the Pope’s rule and the elimination of Protestants. There’s a ton of information on them but the 60-80 million Protestants killed during the Inquisition alone using some of the most horrendous torture instruments ever devised should be a red flag. The Catholic Church alone is responsibility for upwards of 150M (possibly up to 500M) throughout history. This is plain fact. Again, the Roman Catholic Church IS unquestionably the beast in Revelations.

To be fair, he had a great sermon on grace not too long ago. But then he followed it up with a picture of the Last Supper by DiVinci and showed possible people we may see in Heaven. I guess the point was to be nice to people because you never know but…well, let’s just look at the examples used and their affiliations:

• Adolf Hitler – Occultist / Thule Society
• Bin Laden – suspected Islamic terrorist
• George Bush – Skull & Bones aka The Order of Death, Bohemian Grove member (both Luciferian), family biz partners w/ both Nazis and Bin Laden’s too – go figure
• Ozzy Osbourne – promotes Satanism
• Ghandi – rejects Christ with self-empowered religion
• OJ Simpson – haven’t heard of any repentance from him yet, but he may ask for his sins to be forgiven
• Billy Graham – 33 Degree Freemason (which, yes, by default means he’s a Luciferian; check their ‘bible’: “Morals & Dogma”) Kinda makes me wonder about 34 degrees.

I’ve brought to light that on BAP’s altars are Odin’s Cross and the Octagram (which represent Baal and Ashtoroth) b/c God’s Word is quite clear (many times over) that He hates pagan idols on His altars.

Which is more bizarre? That I notice these things or that they are actually happening in my home church? Secondly, if I’ve pointed out anything that is false, please correct me. God just instructs us to:

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Eph 5:11

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work—which is by faith.
1 Timothy 1:3-4

I’ve brought up other issues that are clear in the bible with Brewer and Hinnman and they’ve brushed me off with “there are different translations of the bible” or “Jesus nailed the Law to cross” or “no one can understand Revelations.”

For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
Romans 16:18

For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane
1 Timothy 1:6-9

And of course, let us not forget 2 Peter 2.

I know we are called to be patient and loving, but I really think something is wrong with the leadership of Bel Air and may be consciously serving Catholic interests.

In His name,
David

Ginger Taylor, M.S. said...

David,

"Which is more bizarre? That I notice these things or that they are actually happening in my home church?"

I really connect with you on this statement. While we were in the process of leaving Bel Air and trying to wrap our brains around what we were going through and the just plain horrible and unbiblical behavior we were seeing in the staff and lay leaders, we gradually went from a very naive place of, "well if we just point out that scripture instructs us on this matter, then of course everyone will want to do it", and running into detour after road block after full frontal assault, to "OHHHHHHH! They don't WANT to do what scripture says! They just want what ever their appetites want! I get it now!"

In the process it was like light bulbs going on here and there every few hours illuminating a different part of the picture and specific scriptures that we had a broad understanding of before, suddenly became bright neon in their meaning and how they applied to what was happening. (Has it been like that for you? “Hey… is that an occult symbol on the stage?” “Wait, did he just say Hitler might be in heaven?”)

We didn't start out to blast a pastor on his sin, just to address one hurtful thing that one church member did to another, and in the process, because we stuck to scripture, and didn't just give up when people told us to, one closet full of secrets after another opened up to us and we got to see what was really going on there behind closed doors.

(There are many stories there, but they are not ours to tell. We can only tell our story and encourage other’s to tell theirs.)

And suddenly those verses on the apostasy in the church meant something. We have never really been last days focused people, so scriptures on judgment (both at the end of life and at the end of days) just kind of faded into the background for us because we checked ourselves and made sure we never got too far from the confession and repentance that are proof of life, so knew we were covered.

But seeing the very subtle rebellion going on at Bel Air, and then seeing how INSANELY hard the resistance was to any correction, well it just showed us how church corruption comes about and is allowed to flourish. (There are good people there, but they have either been bullied into submission or run out, or the just fled. There are a group of people there that I think of as “Good Men Doing Nothing” because they have just gotten knocked down so many times when they tried to confront sin that they decided that you could not fight city hall and gave up. Ergo, Satan keeps his foothold and evil continues. But you get them alone and you will hear how hurt and upset they are.)

Once you see it, like the process you are going through now, once you wake up to it and start to measure and think critically about what is really being preached in the pulpit and practiced in the offices, you start to see it everywhere.


Brewer and Hinnman blew you off with something dismissive (usually the first response). If they were passionately following Christ, wouldn't they want to pull out their bibles with you and dig in?

Why didn’t the conversations get launched with your comments:

they’ve brushed me off with “there are different translations of the bible”

"Great! Which translations say what, and what is the original greek and what scholars say what about that?

or “Jesus nailed the Law to cross”

"But what about Matthew 5:17-19 where Jesus says that:

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."


"Jesus didn't seem to be 'nailing the law to the cross, but bringing it to life".

"And if the law means nothing to Christians, then why did Paul write the book of Romans."

or “no one can understand Revelations.”

"Well God put it in there, so He must have wanted us to study it and try to understand it. And if no one can understand it, then why did you guys to a 10 week series on it in 2006"?

(but by the time you got that far they probably would have left for a building planning meeting, or to plan the Easter services at the Hollywood Bowl that costs the church around $100,000 every year).

When you consider the excuses for the dismissal of issues that people raise, you start to see that they might have used scripture, but they didn't use it properly. Cite a 'grace' verse, and imply that you have to forgive, but never cite any of the verses that show that grace is always a response to repentance.

I understand that particular argument is a staple of Roger Dermody's. When people confront him on some sin that he has committed against them, his response is often something to the effect of, "well people often expect pastors to be perfect, but we're flawed people. We need forgiveness too". While never admitting to any wrong doing or apologizing or setting right the thing he did wrong.

The pattern I see in what happens to most people is that if you survive the first round of brush off/misuse of grace scriptures, and come back and say, "wait a minute, that is not correct theology" or "but you didn't address the problem", the side stepping becomes more skillful. "Let's talk more about this" but then your calls don't get returned and you begin to get "phased out".

But the thing that people need to understand about Bel Air is that there is NO system of accountability. If something really bad happens there (which it does) and if the leader ship does not want to address it properly (which in my experience it doesn't) then there is literally no way of holding to account the people who are in serious sin at the top.

Mark does what he wants, and he is not checked by the session or anyone as long as he is keeping the major donors happy. Decisions there are made on cost-benefit analysis (not scripture) and conflicts go to who ever has the most political power.

It is exactly the same as a worldly economy, except people smile more and say, “I will pray for you brother”.

Your comments bring to light the purpose that his sermons fulfills. Not to bring people closer to the real Christ, not to teach biblical Christianity, but to be inspirational and moving.

To put people's hinders in the seats and keep the donations rolling in.

Doesn't matter if it is horribly theologically incorrect or scripturally unbalanced or even as crazy as suggesting that Hitler (whose last act on earth was to murder his wife) might be in heaven?

To get by, things just have to sound good and look good. And when people there wake up, it usually one at a time, and they either leave or are dispensed with before they can 'cause any trouble'.

I know we are called to be patient and loving, but I really think something is wrong with the leadership of Bel Air and may be consciously serving Catholic interests.

There is something wrong. And keep in mind, the people that Christ was patient and loving with were the broken and the humble. The religious leaders who were taking advantage of their positions and distorting God's word for their personal gain… not so much.

As far as the interests that are being served, I don't see them so much as "Catholic" (theologically or association wise), but merely just the same corruption blossoming that is in full bloom in the Catholic church.

A church does not just suddenly start the wholesale slaughter of those who differ from them, the covering up the molestation of children by its own people and the hoarding of billions of dollars while proclaiming "excess wealth" a new sin. It takes time for a church to get that far off course.

If Rome is a seasoned gray haired man in its sin, then Bel Air is the enthusiastic college student that can talk the Christian talk, but is in private sin.

The rebellion is there, but it is subtle, so one might assume that it is just a function of youth. Until you try to offer correction or any kind of challenge, and you find that no challenge is tolerated.

If you will allow me another analogy, the cancer started growing there the minute that actual accountability to scripture ceased to exist (there is only an appearance of an accountability process with the elders, for example, I am told by someone still there, that our complaint to the elders was not in the reports that they should have been in, so it could be that Mark saw that it never went through proper channels for the session to consider).

The cancer is causing symptoms now (People leaving injured by the staff, a 12 million dollar building project that ended up costing 22 million, no audit of exactly where all that money went, many staff getting 'laid off' because of the budget problems, private grumblings about mistreatment and legal violations, public discussion about the sin in the senior staff (like this one) rearing its head, pandering to the wealthy and popular at the expense of congregants who are struggling) but you have to look closely right now to see those (as you have done here).

But things are ramping up there and the symptoms are getting more obvious and the complaints louder. People are becoming less afraid to talk about it (although many still are afraid of retribution).

Anyway, I have gone on too long. I could talk all day about what we learned leaving there.

I will go back and listen to the sermons you reference. I am curious.

I would encourage you to keep asking questions, do it lovingly and biblically, if you believe Mark's preaching is unbiblical, which you have made the case for here, then go through a Matthew 18 process like Christ's directs you to.

I can pretty much bet that you will be derailed and run out of the church no matter how earnest you are or how well you do it, but do it anyway. Simply because Christ commands it.

The way I see it, and referencing Eph 5:11, if an earnest believer sees sin in his church's leadership, he has two biblical choices, confront the sin in obedience to Matthew 18 or choose not to have fellowship with darkness and leave.

If you do choose to do the former, please allow me to offer you the benefit of what I learned the hard way. I wrote a bible study called “Wonder Women Fear God Only” from all that I learned while leaving Bel Air. I have a long chapter on how to do the Matthew 18 process well, incorporating lots of other scripture. I will post it to my other blog, DailyDiscernment.com.

It is really interesting to you your take on the corruption at Bel Air, because it comes from a completely different direction that our perspective, but yet is it is still a scriptural one.

Feel free to share your thoughts here (critical thinking is desperately needed in the church today), but both my husband and I strongly encourage you to do Matthew 18. You have already done step one (confronting in private) you actually should do it again in front of witnesses and bring it before the session before writing about it publicly.

I will leave them up as I believe that because Mark refuses to repent of his sin, and because we have gone all the way through the process, that he is an apostate and we are required by 2 Tim 5:20 to rebuke him publicly.

If you believe that he is an apostate, an unbeliever or “continuing in sin” then you should write about it openly, regardless of personal consequences.

BUT

If you believe he is your pastor or your Christian brother, you should do him the kindness of confronting him in love according to Matthew 18. Even if he does not accept it or behaves badly.

Ginger Taylor, M.S. said...

Confronting Sin in Your Christian Brother

Aubrey'sKid said...

Ginger-

I was Googling Mark Brewer because his name came up in conversation today. I was simply looking for his C.V., but this came up first. Interesting.

I attend (attended?) BAPC for close to 7 years. I found myself pulling back this summer, attending less and less, as I have been bothered for some time about our relationship.

There isn't one.

It isn't that I never tried. Once upon a time I really wanted one. Funny thing, BAPC never wanted ME. There were many emails to sign up for information, or volunteering or small groups that were never answered. In multiple times of need -- spiritual/practical -- I was turned away with a bland, "Hope that works out for you."

The one that hurt most, I don't know why, was going to a BADD audition, finding myself the only one interested in helping in a certain position... AND BEING TURNED AWAY ANYWAY. For a volunteer job! Year after year.

My purely anecdotal, one-dimensional impression of BAPC is that it is elitist and pulpit-driven. Mark is clearly intelligent, can put on a good sermon, can tell funny stories with self-jests -- but I find myself squirming. He can't make all those cutting remarks against himself without showing something: He has real self-loathing.

I hold BAPC up against my home church in Seattle (which is not in any way perfect) and find many life-saving pieces missing:
* Mission statement: "Every member a minister" vs. "Making... greatest city for Christ". Sharing the load in humility vs. Hubris.
* Pulpit driven vs. member driven. A church whose responsibility, vision, and work is carried by the WHOLE body is not easily brought down.
* Classes? Library? How can a church grow responsibly if it doesn't feed and grow its members? BAPC doesn't even have a room designated a library, let alone anything to put in it.
* Sunday morning vs. 7 days-a-week Christians. A case can be made this is more a matter of topography and demographics, but BAPC lacks the vision that would entice people there for more than their personal sermon hour. Back home the church's every nook and cranny is in use all day every day, and, in some cases, all night. There's a waiting list for small groups to get to use the kitchen to volunteer to make meals for the homeless.

Now THAT'S the kind of volunteering that I can be happy being turned down for.

P.S. I'm curious Ginger: Where did you go when you left BAPC? My progression has been Glendale Pres., Hollywood Pres., BAPC.

Ginger Taylor said...

AK,

So sorry for the delay in answering you. This comment slipped by me.

I pretty much agree with your assessment. I have heard many of the same analysis from others. I think your experience is common. I too began making comparisons between BAPC and the much more biblical (but flawed) church I grew up in.

Absent is the vulnerability of the pastors that spoke into my life as a young believer. Instead BAPC has a velvet rope up between the leadership and the lay people. Well, the leadership and the laymen who are not wealthy or famous. Absent is good teaching, especially from outside sources. I realized that for years I had never been encouraged to read or listen to any other teachers or pastors. Absent is any system of accountability.

It is just really a lot of parties and very shallow teaching/study/service. All icing and no cake.

Paul chided the church at Corinth for being too influenced by the corruption in the culture of the city around them. Bel Air is a model for that problem. We moved to Maine two and a half years ago, and after being out of the LA culture for a while, we were embarrassed at how much sin and bad behavior we dismissed at the church because we had just gotten used to it living in that city, and how dang lazy we had become.

Scott and I had a conversation shortly after we moved here, and got some distance from Bel Air and all the people influenced by it, that went something like this:

‘You know, we should have left three months earlier when the screwed over ________, but we just thought there must have been some reasonable explanation or big misunderstanding. But now that I think about it, we should have left six months before that when XYZ happened. And a year before that, you were home sick one Sunday and a baby started crying in church, Mark stopped his sermon to tell the family to leave the sanctuary and many of the congregation applauded him. It was totally disgusting. And remember when….

After doing that for like a half hour, we realized that we should have started getting uncomfortable and asking questions when the executive pastor got divorced and remarried shortly after we arrived there. But we were ‘comfortable’ and having fun with our friends and quite frankly, we were asleep.

Since leaving Bel Air, it has been hard to find a home church because now that we have a good understanding of how corruption in the church works, and what the warning signs are, we can visit a church once and leave with a laundry list of things that they are doing that are contrary to God’s word. After Bel Air we went to a little church of about 100 people, that a friend was pastoring and God really used in healing us from what we had been through, but he has moved on and I don’t think it is now what it was then.

Here in Maine we have been with a home church, and a very small church of 40 or so that meets at a school.

Since going through what we did, Scott and I have real questions as to whether or not a church can grown to a size of several hundred or a thousand or more and actually still be the true church. Some sort of transition seems to take place between 100 and 200 or so members where “Every member a minister” ends, accountability starts to fall away, iron stops sharpening iron, and the “church” begins to behave like a corporation. It becomes about serving and protecting the building, the property and the program and not about serving Christ himself at all costs.

If we were back in LA, I think that we would just get together with friends who were true disciples of Jesus and start worshipping and serving like the church in Acts did. There is no lack of deep, excellent teaching from pastors like Tim Keller, RC Sproul, Voddie Baucham, Paul Washer, John Macarthur, John Piper, and on and on, so you don’t need to leave home any more to get good preaching.

Just start being the church together.

InKorrekt said...

My heart goes to the Taylor family. None of us including MarkBrewer has the answer for Autism.For you to accuse him for not responding is wrong. Forgive him and move on with your life. I have known Mark Brewer since 1992.If he has done something wrong, then God will certainly deal with him. God has not called you and me to be the judges.But, we are called to love one another as Christ Loved us. If you do not forgive him and the church,God will deal with you. My Ex father in law ws aConartist.He is a very rich minister.His own accountant told me horrible things this man has done. I could not consider him as my father in law t all. I exposed him.I took the law in my own hands and embarrassed him. I have paid heavy price for this.My daughter died.The hospital killed my son. Much more happened. No mater what they do,God always protects His servants. Lert not any evil fall upon you.Be very careful.FORGIVE MARK AND THE CHURCH. LET GOD BE THE JUDGE. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

Ginger Taylor said...

Thank you for your loving response. However, neither the church nor Mark Brewer ever responded to these letters. God will indeed judge us all.