As you likely know, Matt Chandler is the pastor of The Village Church, a Southern Baptist and neo-reformed mega church in the Dallas area boasting a weekly attendance of 11,000. Chandler is also the president of the Acts29 network, and one of the many pastors who signed that letter to Mark Driscoll.
On May 23, Chandler’s church sent its membership one doozy of a letter, a letter laced with a plethora of reformed catchphrases and dogma, a letter detailing the reasons why the church has put Karen Hinkley (formerly Karen Root) under “church discipline.”
Karen, along with her now ex-husband, Jordan Root, were sent out (by the church and Serving in Mission) as missionaries last August to South Asia. Then, in December, Jordan confessed to viewing child pornography.
According to Karen: “The discovery of Jordan’s pedophilia and use of child pornography was an indescribable shock and triggered a thorough upheaval of every aspect of my life.” SOURCE
And she couldn’t be more correct…
After Jordan’s confession, the church brought them home from the mission field. They put Jordan through some “path toward repentance.” And they chided Karen for wanting her marriage to be over.
Still, 4 weeks after returning home, Karen filed for her marriage to be annulled.
Her church’s reaction? Whoa, slow down. And they sent her letter after letter, seeking reconciliation of Jordan and Karen’s marriage. And then, when she didn’t respond?
They issued church discipline… dear God…
“Karen’s decision to pursue immediate annulment, to decline any attempt of reconciliation, to disregard her Membership Covenant and pastoral counsel, and to break fellowship with the body has led her into formal church discipline. While members in good standing are free to leave the church and seek membership elsewhere, those in the disciplinary process have covenanted to see that process through before leaving the church. Because of this, we have attempted to fulfill our biblical commitment to love and care for her according to the Membership Covenant she affirmed and subsequently renewed on multiple occasions. ” READ THE CHURCH’S FULL ACTIONS HERE.
But the thing is, Karen had resigned from the church. That’s right. She’d asked to be removed from their membership. But according to Christian Today, the church sent Karen a letter and declined her request to part ways.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: I mistakenly credited Christianity Today with this link. My apologies for the misinformation. It is my understanding that Christianity Today is working on a story about this topic.)
“The letter asks for forgiveness for any shortcomings on the church’s part, but says that “we have been perplexed by your decision to file for an annulment of your marriage without first abiding by your covenant obligations to submit to the care and direction of your elders…this decision violates your covenant with us – and places you under discipline”. Younger adds that the church’s bylaws prohibit a member voluntarily resigning while they are subject to the formal disciplinary process.” SOURCE.
“This decision violates your covenant with us – and places you under discipline”?? What? Is this the 1600s? Are they gonna call her a witch next? I mean, come on…
But Karen stayed strong, holding to her position that she didn’t want anything to do with The Village Church. And that she didn’t want anything to do with Jordan either.
And for good reason…
She says: “Jordan’s admitted pedophilia and use of child pornography over many years is no small thing. The child pornography industry relies on the exploitation and abuse of children and their bodies, and the use of child pornography harms children by driving the demand for more. What is even more disturbing than his use of child pornography is that throughout the duration of these years, Jordan sought and gained access to a large number of children, many of whom represent some of the most vulnerable populations of children in our society. His ability to successfully manipulate others is evidenced by the complete trust that was placed in him by many parents, companies, churches, and organizations over the course of these years. It is my sincere hope that Jordan has not sexually abused any children, but I believe the circumstances warrant his exposure so that any victims who might be out there can be identified and given an opportunity for justice and healing.” SOURCE
Karen goes on to say: “The inclination towards minimization and secrecy that the pastors and elders of The Village Church have displayed is inexcusable. And the spiritual abuse I have experienced at their hands is unacceptable from those who would represent Jesus Christ. Jesus cares deeply for the vulnerable and the voiceless. He speaks strongly against those who would victimize children, and he went toe-to-toe with the religious bullies of his day who “tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” (Matthew 23) The treatment of Jordan as the victim and me as the perpetrator by the leadership of the church is an appalling reversal that evidences priorities that are not in line with the Word of God.” SOURCE
According to the church: “In similar counsel from our elders, SIM has given Karen a gracious six-month leave to pursue healing but also required that she be reconciled to The Village Church before they would consider sending her back to the mission field. She also declined SIM’s counsel, abandoning her request to return to the mission field.”
But seriously, what on earth is Matt Chandler and his band of elders thinking? Jordan and Karen’s marrage is over. Period. And the State of Texas has sided with Karen, not that that should matter. They’ve gone to great lengths to reconcile with Jordan. And put Karen through hell, choosing to put her under “church discipline” and refusing her desire to resign from their membership! What? How inhumane. How unChristian. And how Puritan…
And in addition to that, they decided to shame her decision in an 8-page letter to the membership of a mega church.
Once again, a powerful and seemingly arrogant church is further abusing a victim, failing to see past their rigid bylaws and theology and choosing law over humanity.
Have some mercy, Matt Chandler. Retract your church’s actions toward Karen immediately. Stop playing “God”… and get off your church/theological high horse.
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