Introducing the New SGM Board

Below is an announcement (available on SGM blog) wherein the Interim SGM Board announced their intent to install a new board this week.   They believe that the scope of their work was to oversee the adjudication process and to appoint a new board.   It’s disappointing for those of us who have hoped that the SGM Board would heed the urging of almost 20 churches to slow down, wait for AoR report and initiate a collaborative process.

Since a new SGM Board will be appointed,  it is hoped that this succeeding SGM Board will engage local church pastors to collaboratively craft a way forward.   I also hope that the SGM Board will discard its old ways of marginalizing those who disagree -a point I made strongly in my last post – and include different perspectives.   SGM can, and apparently will operate as an autonomous entity.  By design, they are not answerable to the churches.    It should be noted that it is their legal right to do so but I would suggest that it is not the way, well run, partnership based organizations function.

Once again, fellow members, what I’ll repeat what I said in my last post – talk to your pastors, inquire where they are leading and ask them about how they plan to engage SGM, in particular as it relates to ongoing giving.   I think regardless of your opinion on SGM, it is your responsibility to engage your pastors in a discussion about this – that’s how healthy families should work, especially spiritual families.

With that, here’s the announcement from SGM


Introducing Our New Board

This week a new Board of Directors will be installed to replace the interim Board that has led Sovereign Grace Ministries since July 2011. The interim Board’s purpose was largely restricted to overseeing the adjudication of charges brought by a former leader—a process that we completed in January 2012—as well as initiating a broad review of SGM. This new Board will serve by providing ongoing governance of the ministry.

The membership of the new Board reflects certain structural changes that had been underway from 2010 but were postponed with the installment of the interim Board. These changes are primarily designed to increase the Board’s accountability and the participation of Sovereign Grace pastors while maintaining fidelity to our bylaws. Most notably, a majority of members of the new Board are pastors in Sovereign Grace churches rather than full- or part-time staff of SGM. They also meet other criteria: each has more than five years of pastoral experience; is endorsed by his local team for his character, gifts, and ability to work well in plurality; has a proven ability to reason biblically in various circumstances; has strategic and problem-solving gifts; and is committed to our mission to plant and care for churches.

You can read more about the new Board members, listed below, at the end of this post.

  • Ron Boomsma

Sovereign Grace Church of Pasadena

Pasadena, CA

  • Paul Buckley

King of Grace Church

Haverhill, MA

  • Craig Cabaniss

Grace Church

Frisco, TX

  • Mickey Connolly

CrossWay Community Church

Charlotte, NC

  • John Loftness

Solid Rock Church

Riverdale, MD

  • Ian McConnell

Grace Bible Church

Philadelphia, PA

  • Ken Mellinger

Living Hope Church

Harrisburg, PA

  • Al Pino

Palm Vista Community Church

Miami Lakes, FL

  • Phil Sasser

Sovereign Grace Church

Apex, NC

Each of these men was nominated by the interim Board, approved for service by their local pastoral teams, and then affirmed through a feedback process open to all ordained pastors of Sovereign Grace churches. The interim Board also gave careful consideration to comments pastors sent to us about the process and the timing of the process chosen by the Board.  We concluded that implementing changes in our governance, including the process for choosing SGM leaders, should be the responsibility of this new Board.

The new Board begins its work this week. A top priority will be addressing changes in SGM’s governance, which will include participation from a broad spectrum of Sovereign Grace pastors.

Please pray for these men, the ministry, and our future. God has blessed Sovereign Grace churches and used SGM to do much good in our short 30-year history. Our hope and prayer is that God will use this new Board to lead us into a future of even greater fruitfulness as we seek to plant and build local churches through the gospel to the glory and praise of God.

Ron Boomsma moved from the Midwest to California in 1990 to work at The U.S. Center of World Missions, which reflected Ron’s heart to see people reached with the gospel. He became a member of Sovereign Grace Church of Pasadena in 1991 and joined the leadership team in 1997, eventually becoming senior pastor in 1999. In keeping with Ron’s heart to reach people with the gospel, Sovereign Grace Church of Pasadena has planted churches in San Diego, Kansas City, and Orange County. He is currently pursuing ongoing education at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Paul Buckley has a PhD in material science and an M.S. in material engineering from Johns Hopkins University.  He has served in pastoral ministry for eleven years.  For the last ten years he has served as the founding pastor of King of Grace Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts.  Being in the Boston area Paul has had opportunity to teach at Gordon Conwell Seminary and serve as a pastoral mentor for M.Div. students.

Craig Cabaniss has a B.A. In Religion from Baylor University and an M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary.  He has served in pastoral ministry in SGM for 22 years.  He has planted churches in San Diego, California, and Frisco, Texas where he currently serves as the lead pastor.  He serves as an SGM regional leader with the churches in Texas.  He has taught a Systematic Theology course in the Pastors College since 2004.

Mickey Connolly has served in pastoral ministry for 26 years and has a B.S. from the University of Maryland.  He served as senior pastor at Solid Rock Church in Riverdale, Maryland, from 1989-96 and then moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, to serve CrossWay Community Church.  Since 2002 he has served as senior pastor.   Mickey serves SGM as their regional representative in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  In addition he has taught various courses at the Pastors College since its inception in 1999.

John Loftness received a B.A. from Houghton College in 1978 and has studied extensively at the Masters degree level at Fuller Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. He began his career as a pastor in 1981 when he joined the staff at Covenant Life Church.  Over the years has served in a variety of roles in local churches and in SGM, primarily as a pastor.  From 1990-2007 he served exclusively at Covenant Life.  In 2007, John left Covenant Life to become the senior pastor of Solid Rock Church in Riverdale, Maryland.

Ian McConnell has an M.A. in pastoral theology from Bob Jones Seminary and has twelve years of pastoral ministry experience.  Ian replanted Grace Bible Church in northeast Philadelphia in 2005 where he continues to serve as lead pastor.

Ken Mellinger has been a part of SGM since its inception and has 20 years of pastoral ministry experience.  He has served as senior pastor of Living Hope Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania since 1993.

Al Pino has an M.A. in theology from Reformed Theological Seminary and has served in pastoral ministry for the past 27 years. For the last 15 years he has served as founding pastor of Palm Vista Church in Miami Lakes, Florida.  He had approved for a PCA church plant in Miami but was then introduced to SGM through Larry Malament in 1994. Al also serves SGM in the Caribbean, currently working in Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Phil Sasser has more than 30 years experience in pastoral ministry. He also has a B.S. from Ohio State University and has completed graduate work at Ashland Theological Seminary.  Before joining SGM, Phil served as an elder in an independent charismatic church in Ohio from 1976-89.  Since 1994 he has served on the pastoral team of Sovereign Grace Church in Apex, North Carolina, where he became senior pastor 2001.  Phil has taught apologetics at the Pastors College since 1999 and will teach a course on Christian ethics this coming year.


12 thoughts on “Introducing the New SGM Board

  1. “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

    I know Jesus. I hear his voice daily. I know my ‘under shepherds’. I have experienced their care for me and have seen them caring for others. I know their voice. I will follow shepherds such as these.

    I do not recognize the voice I hear coming from SGM. These men are strangers to me.

    • Sad to say, this is not the communication that inspires followers to follow. It is indeed a voice that is contrary to what we’ve been taught. Taking a positive and generous view, perhaps the new Board can foster a new way involving broader representation and better dialogue – something that eluded the interim Board

  2. You’ve pinged the most important aspect of this, sgmNation. How many times have I heard about the safety in the close accountability network among SGM leadership at all levels? But where is that now? How well did it ever really function?

    How many times have I heard that being a godly parent isn’t about demonstrating perfection to your children but about showing humility? – how they need to see your example of running to the cross to find forgiveness and grace to help in your time of need – how they need to see you apologize and admit where you’ve been wrong far more than they need to see you “getting it right”? and I’m more convinced than ever that all of that is so true… And yet it seems like SGM leadership have focused far more on cultivating the perfect image than on demonstrating dependence on God before all of us… Like they have been more focused on how they have been misunderstood and misrepresented than on apologizing and asking forgiveness for where their teachings or counsel (however well-intentioned) damaged people…. There have been apologies for apologizing but little indication that they see any need to repent publicly for sins that don’t rise to the level of adultery or embezzlement. Since when has that been our standard for taking sin seriously?

    If any board members read here, please know that there would be many who pray that you model the kind of humility and eagerness to repent and be reconciled that you have taught to us. We pray for you and love you as brothers, but I, for one, cannot imagine choosing to follow you unless you model biblical integrity in these ways.

    • emSDG – Realizing that what is preached, is not what is practiced, is the most grievous aspect to pastors and members alike. No reasonable person expects anything close to perfection in our leaders but we expect honesty, transparency. It’s what restores trust and right now, trust is gone… like yesterday is gone.

      • Yes, exactly what I meant in my original post by not recognizing the voice coming from sgm. Their recent communications have been so very different from what they had been teaching.

    • IntheNick – trust, me – I understand the frustration. I think the longer you’ve been in, the greater your disappointment. The more bought in you were to the teaching and example, the deeper the frustration. Everyone copes in their own way but I try to remember these guys are fellow Christians. I’ve also been put in some tough leadership scenarios myself and haven’t done so well – in those instances, hearing some hard but fair feedback has helped me course correct. Hopefully, they will as well.

  3. Exactly – we expect honesty and appropriate transparency. And it doesn’t appear to be forthcoming… the spin, omissions, and deceptive-not-quite-lies continue in the recent board communications…

    • emSDG – I presume you’re a current member. If I may ask, does the Board’s response and the way the situation has been handled, incline you to leave SGM? If so, why (what’s the trigger to make you leave) …if not, why not?

  4. Yes, we are leaning toward leaving, and the board’s response is the primary reason. And by response, I mean the overall handling of this crisis season, not just the communication copied above. I don’t know if it’s one particular trigger or just a cumulative case sort of thing as the evidence builds that:
    – their values are way different from mine (like making honesty and transparency a priority),
    – that their behavior is not matching their teaching (I don’t mean perfectly, but generally, even in understanding where individuals have been hurt and apologizing genuinely) and
    – I’m not seeing a markedly positive trajectory when it comes to establishing structures for accountability and fostering intra-denominational (aka “family of churches”) dialogue. What sort of family talks “at” each other rather than with each other?

    I read and appreciated Harvey’s “When Sinner’s Say I Do” – I thought it was better than most of the marriage and pre-marriage books SGM has promoted and particularly enjoyed the last chapter and how he talked about forgiveness… I can separate the message from the messenger, of course, but when I hear the Tomczak’s testimony that Harvey never called to ask for their forgiveness for his part in the blackmail / coercion episode until a couple of weeks before the Board was to release its response to the panel reports (in which they said that everyone involved had apologized to the Tomczak’s), I wonder if he’s really gotten what repentance and forgiveness mean on a horizontal level. And, wondering that, I can still benefit from his book, but I don’t know that I want him / those with similar issues to lead the movement…. That goes double for CJ, with what happened at the last pastor’s conference…

    And even if the names at the top change (I don’t have experience with many of the board members that were just appointed), I just don’t trust the structure anymore. You can manage an organization with poor structure if leaders have unusual personal integrity – that’s what people used to believe in with SGM. You can manage with barely qualified leaders if there is strong structural integrity in a system that allows for problem areas to be identified and dealt with ahead of time, individuals to be removed and replaced if they lose the confidence of their constituency, and redundant systems and controls that prevent bad decisions from devastating the organization.

    • emSDG – thank you for a very thoughtful response to my question. I completely understand – just wonder how many feel the way you do and is it too late for SGM or are they at a pivotal moment that a change of behavior could redeem. It’s a long road to reestablishing trust and I wonder if they know what they have to do to start that journey

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