“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”
― Winston Churchill
“This report is focused on the deception and coverup of facts by ARBCA Pastor John Giarrizzo.” -Grace Covenant Church Elders
The Elders of Grace Covenant Church in Gilbert, AZ have done an incredible job in their report titled “Pastor John’s Involvement in ARBCA’s Coverup of the Tom Chantry Scandal,” They have uncovered new information, got John Giarrizzo (a man who I have long suspected to be one of the primary players in the corrupt inner circle of ARBCA leaders) to admit there was an ARBCA cover-up as it related to the Thomas Chantry sexual molestation and assault of children (though he denies he was involved in it) and confronted him with evidence that proved his initial story of not being a part of the ARBCA Administrative Council in 2000 was a lie. (After confronted with irrefutable evidence Giarrizzo claimed memory loss!) I urge everyone to read the complete report, which can be found further down in this article. But knowing that many of you may not read the whole report I have included a few bullet point quotes of interest below.
I will also let you know up front that, incredibly, Giarrizzo has managed to hold onto his job, albeit at a great price. He has suffered the loss of many, if not most of the people of integrity, including all the elders, most of the deacons, many staff employees and many godly members. I am told most of those remaining are the younger people in their 20’s, not the prime demographic for people who donate lots of money. I would guess that many of the big givers are in their 40’s and 50’s and therefore the loss of about 50% of their membership may actually comprise 75% of GCC’s income. Perhaps the biggest loss and one that is not easily recovered is the damage to Giarrizzo’s reputation.
To cut costs the church plant in San Tan has been shut down. Plans for a $200,000 office expansion will likely be shelved, and perhaps Giarrizzo will even forego the recent pay raise that he worked so hard to obtain. Below are the brief points of interest from the report:
ND informed JG (John Giarrizzo) that Darrell said that he and Rich Howe (one of the MVBC elders in 2000/2001) talked by phone one day and Darrell inquired about what was going on at MVBC. Howe explained some pornography was found hidden in the parsonage after Tom Chantry left and that Tom left due to an incident involving over-spanking or some type of wrong spanking of some of the children. Darrell did not know more than that.
ND continued by explaining that JG had been on the AC from the start of ARBCA in 1997 and never left the board, but JG told the Weinland’s that he just didn’t remember being on the AC at that time. ND asked how JG could account for such a memory loss.
Pastor John was asked, “Is it your opinion now that there was a cover up at some level by AC members?” Pastor John responded, “Yes.”
Pastor John informed the elders that Earl Blackburn’s stated, “This might come back to bite us.” Blackburn made this comment in regard to Bob Selph’s refusal to turn over the sealed report. A follow up question was asked as to whether or not Blackburn’s statement demonstrated an awareness of the situation by Pastor John. Pastor John stated, “Yeah, they have something to hide.”
Pastor John explained his memory loss as it related to his participation on the 2000 AC and being the product of not remembering.
Here are before and after screenshots showing how decimated the leadership of GCC is. It should be noted that Frank Urquidez and Rob Holmes were elders at the San Tan Reformed Baptist Church. Holmes is loyal to Giarizzo and has returned to GCC. I am unsure of the status of Urquidez.
(10/11/2018 Note from editor: Below is the updated web page showing the one remaining elder and two remaining deacons at Grace Covenant Church.)
According to the Grace Covenant Chuch Elder’s report titled “Pastor John’s Involvement in ARBCA’s Coverup of the Tom Chantry Scandal,” on the last day of December 2017 Grace Covenant Church members, John and Pam Weinland met with their pastor, John Giarrizzo “to express their concerns over ARBCA’s handling of the Tom Chantry matter at Miller Valley Baptist Church (MVBC) in 2000.”
While it doesn’t appear the Weinlands were members of MVBC while living in Prescott in 2001, they had friends who were. When Thomas Chantry was arrested in December 2015 the Weinlands undoubtedly talked to some of their friends and realized Thomas Chantry was not being unfairly persecuted because he was a Christian, nor was it an attack of Satan, rather he was facing serious consequences for his reprehensible crimes against children.
Kind, thoughtful, compassionate and tenacious seekers of truth with a strong moral compass, it seems Providence had placed the Weinlands in GCC “for such a time as this.” Because of the Weinland’s resolute determination to expose ARBCA’s cover-up of the sordid Chantry matter, the other Elders at GCC took notice and also started asking questions of senior pastor John Giarrizzo. Again, I quote from their report:
GCC elders took an increased interest in the issue when GCC members Scott and Pam Weinland first met with Pastor John on December 31, 2017 to express concern over ARBCA’s handling of the Tom Chantry matter at Miller Valley Baptist Church (MVBC) in 2000. Pastor John, as a founding pastor of ARBCA, served as the bridge for GCC elders between past and present ARBCA personnel. This appeared to be an advantage to the elders because Pastor John was knowledgeable of the ARBCA Administrative Council’s (AC) protocols, the association’s culture, his significant institutional knowledge, etc. Pastor John had a good rapport with all of the ARBCA pastors and the elders believed Pastor John’s esteemed standing within ARBCA would provide the influence necessary to get the answers to questions posed by the Weinland’s. Since that time (nine months) GCC elders were exposed to increasing amounts of information by way of public record, through shared documents and personal conversations and interviews. On August 14, 2018 all GCC elders came to the unanimous conclusion that the ARBCA Administrative Council (AC) withheld vital information from member churches in 2000 and 2016. It was, and is, clear to the GCC elders that the ARBCA leadership connected with the 2000 and 2016 ARBCA ACs, had varying degrees of culpability that ranged from negligence for not taking proper action to the willful attempt to coverup the facts. This range of culpability also extends to members of the ARBCA 2016 Membership Committee (MC) that had knowledge of the criminal investigation, which was initiated in 2015 by the Prescott Police Depart. It is not the intent of this report to determine the level of involvement of individual leaders within ARBCA. It should be noted that many of the pastors/elders in ARBCA, past and present, have no connection and insufficient knowledge of the 2000 and 2016 Chantry investigations and the ARBCA officers’ subsequent coverup. This report is focused on the deception and coverup of facts by ARBCA Pastor John Giarrizzo. It should be noted that Pastor John was an active member of the AC since the inception of the association in 1997 through 2002. Pastor John withheld this information from GCC elders until it was discovered by the Weinland’s and reported to the elders on August 4, 2018. For eight months GCC elders had been working off of the false premise, as communicated by Pastor John, that he was not on the ARBCA AC in 2000, an administrative council that he, himself, condemned.
In February 2018 the Weinlands, frustrated with their perceived inaction of the GCC elders and the obvious lack of integrity among ARBCA leadership, informed the elders of their intention to resign their membership. The elders prevailed upon the Weinlands to hold off on their resignation because this was the first they had heard of their concerns! (Personal note: I believe the elders because I experienced the exact thing at the United Christian Church of Dubai. I had shared my concerns with the promotion, at times from the pulpit, and sale of C.J. Mahaney’s books with senior pastor John Folmar. He dismissed my concerns and I eventually resigned from the church. After I resigned the Chairman of the Elder Board called me, desiring to know why I had done so. I was shocked when he told me this was the first he had heard of my concerns! The moral of the story is when you have issues with the senior pastor you would be wise to CC your email to at least one of the non-salaried elders.)
Also in the Providence of God GCC had been blessed with four good men who were elders – Pete Smith, Mark Flin, Joe Godal, and Josh Rusev. Additionally, Nick DeBenedetto, an intern pastor, served a vital role in the investigation of John Giarrizzo. Pete Smith is a retired Police Officer from Gilbert and Nick DeBenedetto is a retired Police Officer from the Phoenix Police Department where he served as an internal affairs investigator. These men all seemed to possess the wisdom and courage necessary to do a proper investigation. Too many times I have seen elders who, when faced with the need to confront the senior pastor, prove to be cowards.
Prior to even finishing their investigation, the elders concluded that Giarrizzo had serious issues that needed to be addressed. Here are the actions they proposed:
On August 16 the statement to the GCC congregation and ARBCA resignation letter was read to Pastor John by Mark Flin in the presence of Joe Godal. He was also advised at that time that he would be suspended with pay of all pastoral duties until the investigation was complete. He offered no objections to the elders.
Unfortunately for John Giarrizzo, his hard-heartedness has now driven these men of integrity out of his church, as well as any member with a lick of discernment, which appears to be about 50% of the congregation.
On August 2, 2018, the Weinlands resigned their membership at GCC. The final piece of evidence that tipped the scale for them was when they discovered the photo of the 2000 ARBCA Administrative Council. (See below.) This photo showed John Giarrizzo to be a dissembler. Giarrizzo had claimed all along that he was not a member of the 2000 AC, but once confronted with evidence to the contrary he had two options – he could man up and admit he had lied, or he could claim a memory loss. Any guesses as to what choice Giarrizzo made?
Here is Giarrizzo’s response:
I must say that I was both shocked and embarrassed to discover that I was indeed still on the AC – not only in 2000 but also 2001 (perhaps 2002 also)! I was honored to be on the first AC in 1997. We ran for two-year terms. I can remember how demanding the AC work was becoming and how I was getting so busy at GCC that I had to resign before finishing out my term of office. For some reason I thought I was off the AC by that time. I should have checked the dates before telling them that. But being on the AC at that time I just don’t have any recollection of “many serious discussions” on any of the AC conference calls. I don’t recall there ever being a single discussion over what to do about the serious sins of Tom Chantry? I have a bad memory to begin with – but something this serious would definitely have stuck out in my mind. I’m sorry to draw a big blank on that.
Below is the photo of the ARBCA Administrative Council for the year 2000. John Giarrizzo denied for months that he was a member of this Council, but due to the Weinland’s persistence in digging up factual evidence, they unearthed this photo which proved Giarrizzo to be lying.
Below is a portion of the letter the Weinlands submitted to the GCC elder board, advising them they were resigning from the church.
It has now been over 8 months since we first brought the concerns to the elders attention. It has been over 5 months since the elders asked us to give them an opportunity to confront ARBCA. We believe this has gone on far too long and ARBCA continues to make excuses. Over the long history of this scandal they have been given one opportunity after another to respond honorably and each time have only dug themselves in deeper. • ARBCA had the opportunity to report the child abuse by Tom Chantry to the police in 2000, but didn’t do the right thing. Instead, they broke the law and handled it on their own. To Chantry went on to teach in an Christian elementary school and pastor another church. • ARBCA had the opportunity to deny or at least delay Tom Chantry’s church admission into ARBCA membership in 2016, but didn’t do the right thing. Instead, ARBCA’s Membership Committee and Administrative Council recommended Tom Chantry and his church for membership in ARBCA despite the fact that he was under a criminal investigation for child molestation. ARBCA knew of this investigation but concealed the information from the ARBCA member churches. • ARBCA had the opportunity to give accurate and truthful information in their statement to the 2017 General Assembly, but didn’t do the right thing. Instead, they whitewashed the charges against Tom Chantry, referring to them as “incidents” or “difficulties”. They also lied when they reported “a process was followed that conformed to biblical, confessional, and constitutional parameters,” and that there was no conspiracy to “conceal.” • ARBCA had the opportunity to respond in a God honoring way to the GCC Elders’ appeals, but didn’t do the right thing. Instead they continue their refusal to address the allegations, telling the Elders that they don’t have the facts. It appears ARBCA wants to continue to make the excuse that they can’t talk while there’s a criminal trial in progress. This refusal to act is unnecessary as we discussed at the April 24th meeting. It simply reflects a continued obstinance to do the right thing when there’s a potential high price to pay. It may be that they think they can minimize their liability for future civil actions, but it has been at the expense of their integrity. To our knowledge, no remorse or repentance has been expressed, no accountability has been taken, and a lack of humility has been keenly evident in ARBCA’s handling of this situation. There has been no concern expressed publicly for the victims which is appalling. At this point, we have lost all respect and trust for ARBCA and are unable to be associated with them in any way. This is due to their own repeated unwillingness to handle a very severe grievance in a godly manner.
I am of the opinion that Giarrizzo is another narcissist who has found his way to a pulpit, below is an interesting quote I found which seems to describe him:
Sadly, my clinical experience also includes too many people who have been victimized by narcissistic pastors and the systemic dynamics that enabled them. In this much-needed book, Ball and Puls offer an important prophetic service by exposing the destructive behaviors of severely narcissistic pastors, as well as the congregational dynamics that leave religious communities vulnerable to the same.
Christians are often eager to assume the best of others, to trust leaders, and to quickly seek reconciliation when there have been conflicts and problems. These commitments are often spiritual strengths, but narcissistic leaders can find a “longer leash” in some religious settings than they would find in other contexts. Narcissists are unlikely to change unless they have gotten into trouble, have received significant consequences, and are facing robust accountability that leads to a rigorous multi-year treatment plan. There is often a small window of time when initial interventions can have any chance of efficacy, namely when the narcissist is in a vulnerable position and their supporting cast had agreed changes are needed. But many narcissistic pastors are resourceful, charismatic, and talented enough to find ways of temporarily glossing tensions in their own congregations or, if the problems are serious enough, able to locate a new congregation that will give them a fresh start with few probing questions about their prior difficulties.
Ball, R. Glenn. “Let Us Prey: The Plague of Narcissist Pastors and What We Can Do About It”
Below are two comments made on previous posts. I thought they were good and it seemed they were relevant to this post as well so I included them.
All Died in the Wool ARBCA Leaders,
I find your blind loyalty to Thomas Chantry incredibly foolish and wicked. You care about your own desires more than God’s. I was a member of Miller Valley Baptist Church at the time of most of the abuse/molestation and you were not even present during the abuse but yet you have believed in a “Man” blindly and you weren’t even there at the time. I was a personal witness to Thomas Chantry’s behavior (Selfishness & Abusive Speech), and you were what….a thousand plus miles away at a minimum, except for John Giarrizzo(100 miles) and yet you blindly accept Tom’s word. Wow, you also believe Tom is a great preacher; I did too. I used to listen to his sermons on the road…..then I became a member of MVBC and found out who he really was when he wasn’t behind the pulpit.
Demons have more knowledge of scripture than a single man will ever possess but all of you would rather put children at risk in at least 3 different states than be the whistleblower. Whistleblowers usually are the ones who get crucified by the empire that is threatened by the truth coming out. The truth is called slander and gossip by the empire because it will expose the wicked leaders. You, ARBCA, chose to cover up Tom’s wickedness to save the empire for your own glory. John Giarrizzo told me directly, in person, that he took Tom Chantry in when he fled MVBC in the dead of night….like a coward(Exposed). The innocent do not run; the guilty do. John Giarizzo, ARBCA pastor, ARBCA Council Member, aided and abetted a criminal in his home so Tom could flee his crimes against children. I was there…I sat in one of the meetings with the investigative team to protect one of the victims during the secret ARBCA investigation(Not all of the truth came out that night). I was a representative for the victim. I have first-hand knowledge of the crimes Tom committed against these children. I knew who some of the children were before the abuse and who they have become after the abuse. Tom’s abuse destroyed their lives, my grief for these children is an abyss because I have the knowledge. ARBCA thinks they have got it all figured out…but they have no clue. I taught the same children as Tom; sweet children, innocent of the ways of a pedophile before the abuse….but you refuse to believe the truth and have exchanged it for your own narrative. Why, because just like so many before you, protect the empire, protect your legacy, protect ARBCA, protect Walter Chantry, protect the church, protect Tom but not the children. What the HELL is wrong with you guys. You are not men. You are cowards. You are no better than the Roman Catholic Church who protected the priests rather than the children. You can’t hide from this one boys. The truth is coming and it with find you. The hidden crimes of Thomas Chantry and the ARBCA cover-up is festering like a boil and the putrefaction will rise to the surface and you will not be able to keep control no matter what you do. I have either been a member or attended at least 4 ARBCA Churches and I have seen the ELDER OVERREACH destroy the unity of the body of Christ, the Bride of Christ. The control the elders have in the typical ARBCA church is evil…it is not like a gentle, kind shepherd. I do not have any power over you but the Almighty Sovereign God of the Universe does and He will defend his people…I have no doubt. Repent ARBCA Leaders, you have aided and Abetted an abuser, violator, and molester of children. If you can’t see that now, you are as blind as the Pharisees.
Finally, for all of the families and victims, I love you and commend you. I pray for you all daily. You are brave and courageous.
-The Surveyor, Comment on “Day Fourteen of the Thomas Chantry Trial” 8/23/2018
I strongly believe ARBCA is bankrolling some or most of Chantry’s defense. It’s one of only a few reasonable scenarios. Of course that money comes indirectly, but regularly via the offerings and tithes given to local ARBCA-loyal churches whose members and attendees assumed the money would be used for the service of God. Silly them.
So not only has ARBCA possibly violated IRS code, church members have unwittingly contributed to the legal defense of a child abuser. That includes me, and that makes me ashamed.
Meanwhile, ARBCA-loyal elders and deacons keep quiet. If they have been asked, they have likely sidestepped the question, perhaps hiding behind sophistry: “Those kinds of questions don’t further the gospel.” But were it demanded of them to provide a full accounting of a local church’s contribution to ARBCA and what proportion went to Chantry’s defense, could they? Would ARBCA provide that information? In truth? Or would doing so unearth an corpse leading to an IRS investigation? I’ll go long on the latter.
One wonders when the blinders worn by the complacent in the pews will fall away, when demands for emergency congregational meetings will escalate, and when some elders and deacons will be asked to step down simply on the basis that they too, like Chantry, are no longer beyond reproach.
It’s an outrage that these things are happening in churches claiming to have the closest acquaintance with the truth of God’s word.
-Paul Schmidt, Comment on “Are ARBCA Funds Being Utilized For Chantry Defense Fund?” 9/27/2018
Giarrizzo, emboldened after holding onto his job had the nerve to write this email to the elders who had done such a thorough job of investigating him>
Below is a screenshot from the Spring 2017 ARBCA Update. Slightly more than one year after proclaiming how blessed they were the San Tan Reformed Baptist Church has closed their doors.
Two days ago I took a screen shot of the money five ARBCA church plants have received. You will notice San Tan Reformed Baptist had raised only $3,200. (San Tan Reformed Baptist Church was a church plant of Grace Covenant Church.)
One day after I had visited the ARBCA website it appears the ARBCA “sweepers” were there trying to remove any trace of a failed church plant. You will notice they didn’t do a very thorough job, but then they are running ragged these days.
Finally, in a related issue that drew my attention I noticed that my former church, Sovereign Grace Church, also in Gilbert had sent one of their pastors, Trey Richardson, to teach a Sunday School class at Grace Covenant Church a few years ago. I called the church four times between 9/11 and 9/27. The first time I talked with a receptionist because Trey was out of town. I explained I was a former member who writes a blog and I was interested in knowing what type of relationship Sovereign Grace Church had with Grace Covenant Church. I left my number and asked her to have Trey call me back. I then called Trey directly 0n three occassions. My calls went straight to his voice mail. I left a message with my phone number each time but Trey never returned my call. Finally, I emailed Trey yesterday again explaining what I wanted to talk about. Again I have not heard back. As you may know, Sovereign Grace Churches under the leadership of C.J. Mahaney have been credibly shown to have conspired to cover-up the sexual abuse of children in their denomination. Nate Morales, a youth worker at Covenant Life molested at least 5 children while working there. The leaders of Sovereign Grace said nothing. Morales moved to Las Vegas and married a woman who had 5 children. Morales molested two of his step-sons! Morales was eventually prosecuted for molesting three of the boys from CLC and sentenced to 40 years in prison. The Sovereign Grace pastors in Gilbert all continue to strongly support C.J. Mahaney.
Brent Detwiler has written an article about an illegal slush fund for a family that was sent out from Sovereign Grace Gilbert to plant a church. Their son was raped by the son of another Sovereign Grace pastor. To keep the family from joining the class action lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries they paid the family $35,000. You can read the article here.