May 9, 2012
Sovereign Grace Ministries Relocating Headquarters to Kentucky
Ministry cites the economy as main factor in the decision; critic cites conflict over leader C. J. Mahaney.
Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), which has weathered controversy over its leadership and discipline practices, will relocate its offices and pastor-training program to Louisville, Kentucky.
Currently based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, SGM cited the economy as the main factor in its decision. It also hopes to expand its Pastors College and collaborate with Louisville-based Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS).
“In short, our mission is to serve Sovereign Grace churches, and being located in the DC area was placing limitations on our ability to do so,” John Loftness, chairman of the SGM board, said in a statement.
SGM currently has no churches in Kentucky or Indiana, but Loftness said SGM president C. J. Mahaney will plant a church in Louisville. Albert Mohler Jr., president of SBTS, told The Courier-Journal he welcomed the church plant and SGM’s move.
“I think the Sovereign Grace churches are a demonstration of the revitalization of Christianity in the early 21st century,” Mohler said.
Last July, Christianity Today reported that Mahaney was taking a leave of absence after former SGM pastor Brent Detwiler raised concerns about “various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment and hypocrisy" committed by Mahaney.
That month, SGM installed an interim board of directors and established three separate review panels to determine if Mahaney should remain as president. It reinstated Mahaney in January.
Though Loftness asserted in his statement that SGM had been planning the move to Louisville years before last summer’s conflicts, Detwiler told The Courier-Journal SGM was moving because of its “fractured relationships” with Covenant Life Church, SGM’s flagship congregation where its headquarters is currently located.
During its review of Mahaney, SGM enlisted the services of the Ambassadors of Reconciliation (AOR), a Lutheran conflict mediation group. Early last month, AOR released a report of its findings, citing SGM for, among other issues, overemphasizing sin.
“We recommend that Sovereign Grace Ministries intentionally develop a culture of proclaiming God’s forgiveness to those who express repentance or confess their sins,” AOR said in its report.
In response to the AOR’s recommendations, SGM’s Board of Directors released a statement pledging to “commit by God’s grace to correct the failures identified in this report and to do all in our power to shepherd the precious people of God with grace, patience, humility, and love.”