The Sovereign Grace Churches denominational leaders should be getting proficient at scrubbing websites of any traces of their latest fallen pastor, Lord knows they get enough practice! I’m guessing that right about now they’re wishing they wouldn’t have fired their social media expert, Brian DeWire, a few years ago. His scrubbing skills were so finely honed that he made Hillary Clinton’s expert email scrubbers look like rank amateurs.
Human Frailty or Judgment of God?
The Sovereign Grace denomination used to consist of approximately 120 churches, but because of a major child sex abuse scandal and attempted cover-up by then denominational leader C.J. Mahaney and his cronies, nearly one-half of the churches left the denomination. Nate Morales is serving a prison sentence for abusing boys while he attended Covenant Life Church, the former flagship church of the denomination. Grant Layman, a brother-in-law of C.J. Mahaney and an assistant pastor at CLC, testified at the Morales trial that church officials knew of the Morales sexual abuse but chose not to inform law enforcement. Layman has since quit the ministry and opened a paint store. Joshua Harris, who had taken over the senior pastor’s job at CLC so Mahaney could spend more time as chairman of the Sovereign Grace denomination, also quit the church, deciding it would be a good time to get an education. On his way out Harris, in an interview with the Washington Post, also admitted that church leaders knew of the sexual abuse and chose not to report it to law enforcement.
Here is what Brent Detwiler, formerly one of the top men in the Sovereign Grace organization had to say:
“Joshua Harris already knows the truth about many of the sex abuse crimes committed in Covenant Life Church and also about the massive criminal conspiracy that followed in their wake. He knows about C.J. Mahaney, John Loftness, Gary Ricucci, Grant Layman, Larry Tomczak, Nate Morales, David Adams, Steve Griney, Mark Hoffman, Dave Mayo, Charlie Llewellyn and others. The “pedophilic ring” is big and so is the cover up. Joshua is well aware of these facts. Joshua also knows he has contributed to the conspiracy. But guess what? He isn’t talking at least not for two years.”
-Brent Detwiler, June 25, 2013
Dave Harvey, also a former top man in the organization, left the denomination under a cloud in 2013. Gene Emerson, loyal lieutenant to C.J. Mahaney and senior pastor of Kingsway Community Church in Midlothian, VA was busted in a police sting for solicitting a prostitute in August, 2015, and now Matthew Wassink, formerly the senior pastor of Providence Community Church in Lenexa, Kansas has been removed from his position, for what is reportedly “repeated sexual lapses over the last few years.”
This is just a partial list and, while all church denominations undoubtedly have men who leave the ministry due to moral failures, it seems to me that the Sovereign Grace denomination has an unusually high number of men who leave the pulpit in disgrace. I am hesitant to interpret what God is doing, but it seems safe to say that His hand has been heavy on a denomination that officially sticks to their story of innocence while numerous victims and their families claim otherwise.
Yesterday I was alerted to the fact that Matthew Wassink had been removed from his position of senior pastor by a friend who sent me a link to these comments on the sgmsurvivors.com blog.
I immediately went over to the Providence Community Church website and found the scrubbing had already begun. Wassink was no longer listed as a pastor.
It appears that the scandal must have become public knowledge during the week of December 4th as that seems to be the last time Wassink preached. The last month of sermons has not been added to the website.
Ironically, Wassink preached his next-to-last sermon from Luke 17. He spoke about temptation. Below is a short two minute clip from the sermon.
Also of interest is that Jason Hansen preached at Providence Community Church on October 30, 2016. Hansen is the Regional Director for the West Region of Sovereign Grace and is also an assistant pastor at Sovereign Grace Gilbert, the church I used to be a member of. It is speculation on my part, but it sure seems as if Hansen knew there were problems in Wassink’s life. Hansen preached from Psalm 51 and spoke of five signs of true repentance. Hansen and Wassink attended the nine-month “Pastor’s College” together, “graduating” in 2009. Their families are good friends.
Wassink was reportedly one of the “fair-haired” boys, well liked by Mahaney. Brent Detwiler stated that: “Matthew and C.J. were close. C.J. often commended him and promoted him. They worked on the polity committee together from April 2012-Feb 2013.”
Wassink also wrote a piece, featured on the Sovereign Grace national website, promoting the benefits of attending the “Pastor’s College.” The page may have already been scrubbed from the website, but here is a partial screenshot.
The last activity on Wassink’s Twitter account was on December 2nd.
Brent Detwiler has informed me that paragraph 179 of the Second Amended Complaint (Link ) against Sovereign Grace took place at Providence Community Church. The “son of a pastor” refers to another pastor on staff at the time who left, not to Matthew Wassink. The family of the abused girl contacted Susan Burke but decided not to join the lawsuit.”
Apparently C.J. Mahaney, Craig Cabaniss (regional leader at the time) and Matthew Wassink conspired together and advised the family of the abused girl not to contact law enforcement.
Detwiler stated: “I have little doubt “defendant” C.J. counseled him not to report.”
As you can see below, Sovereign Grace leaders have been busy attempting to scrub any evidence of their latest casualty from their websites. Dave Quilla, a longtime assistant pastor, is now listed as the Lead Pastor.
You can see below that Regional leader Rick Gamache is responsible for Providence Community Church. I believe he has already spoken to the church membership about the Matthew Wassink situation. I have sent Rick two emails, not surprisingly he has not responded to either. Rick may be too busy scrubbing his church’s website to respond to me.
I found a video on Vimeo of Matthew Wassink preaching at Rick Gamache’s church. I doubt the video will be available for long, but here is a screen shot. (Editor’s note: as of 1-16-2016 the video has now been removed from Rick Gamache’s Sovereign Grace Church Vimeo account.)
While the date Wassink spoke is not listed on the video, it can easily be determined that the date was August 7th. Wassink had a guest speaker at his church on that date, and Gamache has removed that week from his sermon list.
Below is the complete list of speakers at Gamache’s church. You will notice once again that Gamache has, in Stalinesque manner, purged Wassink from the list. One might rightly wonder if Gamache has something to hide.
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.
James 2:1,8-9 NLT
You will notice below that Gamache has not bothered to remove C.J. Mahaney from his list of speakers. This got me thinking, and I sent an email to Rick Gamache which said, in part:
Dear Pastor Gamache,
I am conducting research for an upcoming blog article and I have a serious question for you. I noticed you have removed any mention of, or link to, Matthew Wassink having preached at your church. Specifically, he preached at your church on August 7, 2016. That week is now blank on your website and when I ran a search for all guest speakers on your church website his name is not listed. Meanwhile I see that C.J. Mahaney is listed as a guest speaker on your website. Therefore I am left to wonder if you consider blackmail, the covering up sexual abuse of children, participating in a “hush fund” and being schismatic to be less serious sins in the eyes of Sovereign Grace leadership than infidelity to one’s wife? If not, why have you not removed any trace of C.J. Mahaney from your website? Do you think that your actions make you guilty of showing favoritism to C.J. Mahaney, the very thing James warns against in chapter 2 of his epistle?
I have noticed the same actions were taken by Sovereign Grace leaders in regards to Gene Emerson’s being caught with a prostitute. His name is nowhere to be found on Sovereign Grace websites. While both Emerson and Wassink have committed serious sins which should rightly disqualify them from the ministry, your leadership fails miserably by continuing to allow Mahaney to be a pastor in your denomination, even awarding him a vaunted status and sending Pastor’s College students to his church for their training. For all your churches teach membership about transparency, confessing of sin and accountability, precious little of it is demonstrated among leadership.
Of course, I have not received a reply from Gamache, but I believe I have raised a serious issue. How does Sovereign Grace leadership justify leaving C.J. Mahaney in the pulpit? I believe as long as they allow him to remain in his position, and church leadership remains unrepentant, their future is grim.
“The difference between an unconverted and a converted man is not that the one has sins and the other has none; but that the one takes part with his cherished sins against a dreaded God, and the other takes part with a reconciled God against his hated sins.”
– William Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth
Matthew Wassink has apparently closed his Twitter account. I have a screenshot of his former account above. In searching @matthewwassink and also Matthew Wassink nothing was found!
Wassink does have an additional Twitter account under the name “W” @sinker8209 which has not seen any activity in a long time.
Observant readers of this blog informed me that Wassink’s old account on Facebook has undergone a name change. The account can now be found under the name of “Wade Wass.” Much of the old information, including family updates, has been purged.
I then searched Twitter to see if Wassink had changed his account to Wade Wass there. I found Wade Wass is a baseball player for the Angels, but Wassink had not started an account on Twitter with that name.
I would guess that Matthew Wassink/Wade Wass is searching for a new employer and does not want his potential employer to find out about his scandalous past, therefore he is scrubbing all his past social media accounts. I wonder if he lists C.J. Mahaney as a character reference on his resume?
Also, as noted above, Rick Gamache has now scrubbed Matthew Wassink’s August 7, 2016, video from the Sovereign Grace Church’s Vimeo page. I am guessing this blog alerted Gamache to his oversight. Social media has made it so much tougher to rewrite history than in Stalin’s days! (Link )