Providence Community Church of Lenexa, KS – a Toxic Culture?

By | August 17, 2017

The difference between religion and religion incorporated – commentary by Michael Savage.


The leaders of Sovereign Grace Churches (a denomination formerly called Sovereign Grace Ministries -SGM, which was formerly called People of Destiny International – PDI, which was formerly called Gathering of Believers – GOB) are slick operators. Quick to publicize news that paints their organization in a favorable light, they are less than transparent when it comes to informing their own denomination, much less the public, of negative news. Examples of this are numerous. Allow me to cite just a few.

“Gene Emerson, former Regional Leader in SGM and senior pastor of KingsWay Community Church in Midlothian, VA, was arrested on May 29, [2015] for the solicitation of prostitution in Chesterfield County, VA.    He was arraigned on June 9.  He was found guilty and sentenced on July 9.  He is a close friend of C.J. Mahaney’s and known for carrying out vengeful assignments given him by Mahaney.”  (Link)

Standard operationg procedure in Sovereign Grace Churches is to cover-up pastoral shenanigans. Such was the case with Gene Emerson. My guess  is Emerson thought he may be facing some jail time, so he conveniently arranged to take a five month sabbatical. I assume that assistant pastor Matthew Williams (now the senior pastor) was complicit in the cover-up. Williams wrote a letter to Kings Way Community Church members explaining the need for Emerson’s sabatical. The letter could be viewed on the church website, but it was quickly scrubbed when news of Emerson’s arrest went public.


Steve Shank, right-hand man of C.J. Mahaney from the early days of the denomination, was one of the “apostles” of Sovereign Grace. Later, attempting to gain acceptance with mainline evangelicals, Sovereign Grace discontinued calling their leaders apostles. Shank’s title was changed from “apostle” to “Regional Leader” for the West Region of the United States. After years of loyal service Shank was quietly removed from his position, replaced by Jason Hansen, a young assistant pastor from Shank’s home church in Gilbert, AZ. On March 13, 2016 Shank preached a final sermon at the Gilbert church, saying his goodbyes. Not a word was mentioned on the national website.

Detwiler, Shank, Mahaney, Harvey, & Ennis

In April, 2015, with much fanfare, CrossHaven Church of Belleville, IL (an eastern suburb of St. Louis, MO) was welcomed to the Sovereign Grace Churches denomination.  A full page article appeared on the Sovereign Grace national website written by Mark Prater, Executive Director for Sovereign Grace. (The article has recently been scrubbed from the website, but fortunately, knowing how Sovereign Grace operates, I saved the article!)

Shortly after I learned of CrossHaven’s joining the Sovereign Grace denomination I wrote an article stating how foolhardy a decision it was for a church to join the toxic denomination.

Less than two years after CrossHaven joined the Sovereign Grace denomination they are no longer listed in the church directory on the Sovereign Grace national webpage. The CrossHaven website has disappeared and it looks like Chris Oswald preached his last sermon there on March 12, 2017.

If you are waiting for another full page article by Mark Prater announcing that CrossHaven Church has closed shop and  Sovereign Grace Churches have lost another member church, don’t hold your breath.

In case you  are wondering what has become of  Chris Oswald, pastor of CrossHaven Church, don’t you worry. That man is a player! He is one of those guys who always lands on his feet.  While, in my opinion, he totally sold out his congregation in Belleville by joining the Sovereign Grace denomination, he stayed true to his words stated in Prater’s article: “I was absolutely resolute. I was going to walk with Rick Gamache in gospel partnership no matter what.”

Oswald has parlayed that “gospel partnership” into a nice package of material gains. Actually, Oswald’s loyalty to Rick Gamache (Midwest-Northwest Regional leader) likely led to the collapse of CrossHaven Church.

Readers of my blog may recall another incident I wrote about concerning pastoral shenanigans in the Sovereign Grace denomination that was covered-up. (Sovereign Grace Pastor Matthew Wassink Removed – Why Not C.J. Mahaney?) In December, 2016 it came to light that pastor Matthew Wassink of Providence Community Church in Lenexa, KS was a serial adulterer. He was fired from the ministry, preaching his last sermon on December 4, 2016. Rick Gamache quickly went to work scrubbing websites to conceal the story, but fortunately I was a step ahead of him and captured many items concerning Wassink prior to them being deleted.

Wassink was one of C.J. Mahaney’s “fair-haired boys,” he served on the Theology Committee and was one of rising stars in the denomination, so it was very embarrassing to the Sovereign Grace leadership to have Wassink exposed as a total fraud.

The reason I said that Oswald’s loyalty to Gamache may have led to the collapse of CrossHaven Church is because beginning in February Oswald started regularly preaching at Providence Community Church. I am speculating here, but it is my feeling that CrossHaven, a small church to begin with, was not growing in numbers and was possibly even regressing.  Providence was a decent sized church, but since the Wassink incident they were bleeding members badly. Financially it was important for Regional leader Rick Gamache to plug the hole in the dike. A business decision was made to move Oswald from the small, dying church in Belleville to the much larger church in Lenexa. Oswald preached at Providence every Sunday in February, 2017. At some point it was decided to make Oswald the new senior pastor at Providence Community Church, so he returned to Belleville to tie up lose ends. He was away from Providence for the first three Sundays in March, returning March 26th. (You will recall that Oswald preached his last sermon at CrossHaven Church on March 12th.) In the audible below, taken from Oswald’s March 26th sermon,  Oswald mentions that he is the new pastor of Providence Community Church. The official installation service was the following Sunday, April 2nd.





To anyone considering attending Providence Community Church, (or any church in the Sovereign Grace denomination) I would advise against it. This is a toxic denomination with deep systemic problems.  From my previous post on Matthew Wassink I quote:

“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.” “


Lest you think that this was all in the past and things are better in Sovereign Grace Churches now, look at who the guest preacher at Providence Community Church was on March 19, 2017.  This was the week prior to Chris Oswald’s first Sunday as the official new senior pastor. Do you realize who John Loftness is?  Scroll down and you can read the horrendous, credible story of this sexual predator.

It is my opinion that Loftness should not be preaching. I feel he should be serving time in prison with Nathan Morales, a convicted child molester who attended Covenant Life Church, which used to be the flagship church of the Sovereign Grace denomination.

Who made this terrible choice to have John Loftness preach at Providence? I assume it was Regional leader Rick Gamache. Whomever made this decision has demonstrated a woeful lack of discernment.  The responsible party should resign from his position of leadership or, failing that, should be terminated. I don’t look for that to happen – after all, Mahaney remains the darling of the denomination, preaching in Louisville and hosting the Pastor’s College.  Additionally, the fact that John Loftness remains the senior pastor of a Sovereign Grace church points to a denomination which has no moral compass.



The following are credible accusations against John Loftness filed in a class action lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries, Covenant Life Church, and numerous pastors in the above mentioned organizations.  These charges and detailed information regarding them and the character of John Loftness can be found in an article written by Brent Detwiler titled “John Loftness in Focus – Former Chairman of the SGM Board & Alleged Sexual Sadist.”  The class action lawsuit was dismissed because a judge ruled it failed to meet Statute of Limitations restrictions.


Victim:  Jessica Roberts-Thomas
Complaints:  86-87
Location:  Covenant Life School – Separate Room with a Window
Timeframe:  1983/1984
Age:  5
Alleged Abuser:  John Loftness, Unknown Man

86.  Another victim of the Individual Defendants’ ongoing conspiracy and Institutional Defendants’ gross negligence is Plaintiff Jessica Roberts-Thomas.

87.  During the 1983/1984 school year, Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas was five years old and in kindergarten.  At that time, Defendant Loftness was serving as the School principal as well as serving as a pastor in CLC.  Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas was in kindergarten at the school, with [Stephen] Griney as her teacher.  Defendant Loftness entered the class, and took Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas out of class and to a separate room that had a window.  There was a man unknown to Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas standing outside the window watching her and Defendant Loftness.  Defendant Loftness directed Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas to bend over the desk and pull down her underwear.  Defendant Loftness stood silently behind Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas for quite some time.  Then Defendant Loftness began to beat Plaintiff with a white cord for a lengthy period of time.  Defendant Loftness stopped beating Plaintiff [Roberts-Thomas] and she tried to pull up her underwear.  Defendant Loftness directed her not to do so, and walked away, leaving Plaintiff there for quite some time.  Defendant Loftness returned, and began hitting Plaintiff again with the white cord.  Defendant Loftness then inserted the white cord into her vagina.


Victim:  Jessica Roberts-Thomas
Complaint:  89
Location:  Covenant Life School – Empty Class Room
Timeframe:  1983/1984
Age:  5
Alleged Abuser:  John Loftness

89.  During the 1983/1984 school year, Defendant Loftness pulled Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas out of class as the class was learning to read. Defendant Loftness brought her into an empty class room, and directed her to pull her underwear down and lie across a desk.  Defendant Loftness beat Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas repeatedly with a plastic cord.  Defendant Loftness stopped beating, and Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas heard him unzip his zipper.  Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas cannot presently recall what happened after that point.


Victims:  Jessica Roberts-Thomas, Heather Thompson Bryant, Third Unnamed Girl
Complaint:  90
Location:  Covenant Life School (Aspen Hill) – Empty Room
Timeframe:  1985/1986
Ages:  Jessica – age 7, Heather – age 5
Alleged Abusers:  John Loftness, Stephen Griney, Gary Ricucci

90.  During the 1985/1986 school year, Defendant Loftness, Griney and Defendant Ricucci brought Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas into an empty room with two other girls.  Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas recognized the girls, one of whom was Plaintiff Thompson. (The other is not being named here to protect her privacy.)  Defendants directed the girls to strip off their underwear, and lay across desks.  Defendant Loftness beat Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas on her bare buttocks.  Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas heard the unnamed girl crying, and saw Griney hitting her on her bare buttocks.  Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas turned over her shoulder to look for Plaintiff Thompson, and realized Defendant Ricucci had taken her out of the room.  Defendant Loftness continued to beat Plaintiff Thomas-Roberts’ bare buttocks, and then he inserted his fingers into her vagina.


Victim:  Jessica Roberts-Thomas
Complaint:  91
Location:  Covenant Life Sunday School (Magruder High School)
Timeframe:  Likely 1985/1986
Age:  Likely age 7
Alleged Abuser:  John Loftness

91.  On one Sunday, Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas was attending Sunday School (then held at Magruder High School) when Defendant Loftness arrived and told the Sunday School teacher that he needed to take Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas.  Defendant Loftness took Plaintiff down a hallway, and began to hit her, and then fondle her vagina.  Defendant Loftness told Plaintiff that she needed to “learn to be good” and that he “loves” her.  Defendant Loftness told her it is “her fault” but that he is going to help her “learn to be good.”  Defendant Loftness hit Plaintiff again, and then walked her back to Sunday School.  Just before permitting her to enter the class, Defendant Loftness told her that she is being “very good” and cannot tell anyone what occurred or she would “get in trouble.”


Victim:  Jessica Roberts-Thomas
Complaint:  93
Location:  Covenant Life Sunday School (Magruder High School)
Timeframe:  Around 1988
Age:  Around 10
Alleged Abuser:  John Loftness  

93.  In or around 1988, Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas was attending Sunday School (then at Magruder High School).  Defendant Loftness called her over into a hallway, and began to fondle Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas’ vagina.  Defendant Loftness explained he was going to teach her things she needed to know, and took Plaintiffs’ hand and began to rub it on his penis.


Victims:  Heather Thompson Bryant, Two Other Girls
Complaints:  21, 59
Location:  Covenant Life School (Aspen Hill) – Room in School
Timeframe:  1985-1986
Age:  5
Alleged Abusers:  John Loftness, Stephen Griney, a Third Person

21.  Defendant John Loftness resides at 3005 Arden Forest Lane, Bowie, MD 20716-3821.  He served as Chairman of the Board of SGM until he recently stepped down.  Defendant Loftness abused Plaintiffs Thompson and Roberts-Thomas, and is a member of the ongoing conspiracy.

59.  On one occasion during the 1985/1986 school year, Defendant Loftness, Griney and a third person isolated Plaintiff Thompson along with two other girls attending the school.  Defendants took the children to a room within the school, and directed them to take off their underwear.  Defendant Loftness pulled a plastic rod along Plaintiff Thompson’s left leg and through her vagina.  He then began to hit her bottom.