Steve Shank, a pastor at the Sovereign Grace Church of Gilbert, AZ and a Regional Leader of the Sovereign Grace Churches denomination, has vanished without a trace. Shank, a close friend of C.J. Mahaney’s and a fellow pastor with him from the earliest days of the organization, seems to be the victim of a “Stalinesque” purge. (This is not an uncommon event in the Sovereign Grace organization. Ironically, Shank was often the man selected to “purge” a pastor. The party faithful refer to it as “de-gifting.” Over time a pastor being removed from his job became known as being “Shanked” because Steve Shank was so often the man selected to carry out the dirty deed.)
Brent Detwiler shared the following information on his blog, which highlights the close working relationship C.J. Mahaney and Steve Shank at one time possessed:
“C.J. Mahaney and Steve Shank
C.J. was the senior pastor at Covenant Life Church (CLC) when the alleged sexual abuse occurred in relation to Norma Noe, Robin Roe, and Grace Goe. He was interacting with Defendants Loftness, Ricucci and Layman and providing them counsel.
Steve Shank had apostolic responsibility for Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax (SGCF) when the alleged sexual abuse occurred in relation to Jane Doe, Karen Coe, and Karl Coe. He was interacting with Defendants Ecelbarger, Phillips, D. Hinders, Gallo, Mullery, V. Hinders and providing them counsel. Steve was also in contact with C.J. regarding these matters.
The pastors at CLC and SGCF did not act on their own. C.J. and Steve played significant roles in providing them counsel and direction in these situations. This should come out in the discovery phase and then in the court trial if the case proceeds. In my opinion, Steve Shank should be added as a Defendant.
Both C.J. and Steve were aware of difficulties regarding Carla Coe and Defendant Tomczak.”
It seems that over the years apostle Shank was often assigned the least desirable jobs. Below is a screen shot of information Shank gathered from legal counsel and then sent out to his fellow apostles. The subject matter was whether it would be legal for Sovereign Grace leaders to blackmail co-founder Larry Tomczak with information C.J. Mahaney had garnered while in a private counseling session with Tomczak’s juvenile son. (Note – Mahaney disregarded the counsel and went ahead and used the information to blackmail Larry Tomzcak.)
Shank was last seen in his role of a Sovereign Grace Regional Leader on November 22, 2015, preaching at Sovereign Grace Church of Tucson.
In mid-January I was alerted to the fact that Shank had been removed from the Sovereign Grace Gilbert website by this comment on the SGM Survivors website:
A few weeks after Shank was removed from the Gilbert website he was also removed and replaced from the listing of Regional leaders on the Sovereign Grace national website. (Although numerous other references on the site can still be found to Shank as a Regional leader. Since Brian DeWire was fired from his job the Sovereign Grace national website doesn’t get much attention.) Replacing Steve Shank is the relatively inexperienced Jason Hansen. Hansen graduated from the 9 month Sovereign Grace “Pastors College” in 2009 and has been on the Sovereign Grace Gilbert staff since then. I heard him preach when I was in Arizona last summer. You can read my impressions here. It’s hard to believe that such an inexperienced man would be appointed to such a responsible position, but perhaps choices are somewhat limited after 40 churches have left the denomination.
Here is Dave Harvey speaking warmly of Steve Shank back in May, 2008. Harvey and Shank were both apostle’s in the Sovereign Grace denomination (prior to the denomination dumping the moniker in an attempt to gain respectability). Harvey even had a short stint as the leader of the denomination after Mahaney was forced to resign.
Here is Glynn McKenzie, Senior Pastor of Grace Community Church in Westminster, CO, speaking warmly of Steve Shank. This is from June of 2015.
I included these two warm endorsements of Steve Shank to show that the man had power and prestige in the Sovereign Grace denomination. Folks, I am telling you that something is rotten in Denmark. A high visibility leader like Shank does not just quietly disappear. Not a word has been said about him. I wrote an email to Sovereign Grace inquiring what has happened to Shank, not surprisingly they haven’t responded.
Sovereign Grace churches are known for giving standing ovations at the drop of a hat. Exhibit “A” is the recording below. Grant Layman announced he would be resigning from the pastoral staff of Covenant Life Church. He was under great pressure as one of the defendants in the sexual abuse lawsuit and had been subpoenaed to testify in the Nathan Morales criminal trial. He actually was resigning in disgrace, yet Joshua Harris praised him as an example of “finishing well” and the church gave him a lengthy standing ovation!
Meanwhile, Steve Shank, a man of much more importance in the Sovereign Grace organization is gone and, in response, this is all we have heard:
Eventually the facts will come out. In the meantime, if you find Stevo, please let me know.