An Open Letter to David Stine

Webster defines conviction as “A firmly held opinion or belief”.  Christianity maintains that convictions can often be God’s way of directing us within His will for our lives.   Christianity maintains lots of things, honor and unity being among them, which means choosing our words with the utmost care when we attempt to ‘speak the truth in love’.  If I’ve learned one thing over this past year, it’s that silence doesn’t serve the greater good.  We absolutely can pray and submit our requests to God, but He has not given us a Spirit of fear to speak out when we see or experience injustice, but one of power, love, and self-control.  It is with that love and self-control that I will attempt to speak my truth, while honoring the lives/work of those whom have influenced it along the way.

Dear David,

God used DC Metro Church powerfully in my life.  It may never have existed without you and Taryn, leaving me eternally grateful…. and yet.   Watching your “Return to Ministry” video on your newly launched website, gave me a visceral reaction.  “Not yet…. not this way”…. It was like an anthem on repeat from the Holy Spirit for the entire 11 minutes as I watched you lay so much of the responsibility for your questionable leadership at the feet of an illness.    Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to hear you’re healing, your marriage is healing, your relationship with your kids is healing.  I forgive you for the dissolution you caused within my beloved community, the ‘collateral damage’ of your illness, but I would be remiss to not call for accountability to the ministry of reconciliation with MANY people that labored alongside and directly under you.  You and I, we don’t need to be reconciled.  Not because there is ill-will, but simply because, in truth, we never had a relationship.   You were not my Pastor, the Body of Christ that you oversaw, some of the leaders within…. They were my Pastor.  They taught, they cared for and corrected, they oversaw the reconciliation of my marriage.   God is always at work within His churches, no matter the leadership structure…. it is the divine beauty of His power when people gather in His name.

Personally, for me, the temptation was strong early on to idolize you and Taryn.  God knew. I needed to see HIM, meet HIM, and to do that I needed to recognize the frailty of man, susceptible to the temptation of power & prestige.  It honestly confused me for awhile, watching how negligent you appeared to be with the very lives of people I loved, as a PASTOR, why wasn’t GOD stepping in???   However, I realized it was God’s goodness, in His mercy He sent SO. MANY. people along the way trying to correct, and highlight destructive behaviors…. I believe He was hoping you would repent, humble yourself and seek forgiveness.  However, God is not a man, that He can be mocked.  Ultimately it was His justice that revealed His sovereignty in all things to me.  His Grace and Mercy are legendary, but I would caution against returning to ministry without first following the precepts He clearly lays out for reconciliation.

You are gifted, I will give you that.  You are persuasive, enigmatic, you have drive, and vision.   Are you humble?  Are you authentic?  Those questions I cannot answer, I did not see those attributes.  I’m not saying they don’t exist, but using social media as a platform to relaunch your ministry, highlighting all your achievements that would not have existed without the hard work of those that built the church, wrote the books, enabled the reach you enjoyed, without reconnecting with them…. it falls flat.

Taryn,

Your authenticity is a gift the world needs.   You brought the one smile I had watching that video, when you likened his behavior to being ‘a butt’ :).   Your inner voice is still a bit kinder than mine, but I’m learning to discern when it’s appropriate… and when… maybe not.   You have been the closest one to him through all of this.  You knew LONG before the rest of us when it was getting bad.  I get that ‘christian world’ is confusing with it’s honor/submission/unity messages, which I can only imagine being on steroids in the role of a ‘Pastor’s Wife’.   It was so brave, what you did in bringing the overseers in, but your silence before that…. It facilitated that void, that darkness, where the enemy had a field day.   Your voice is powerful.  Do not be afraid to use it.  You are powerful and I am praying that as the closest one to him, you will be this barometer as you tentatively re-integrate with the world.  As you said, losing your family would have been the ultimate devastation.  That should remain priority numero uno.   If David struggles to love his wife and kids well, struggles to honor and support, and lay down his life, his desires to promote them/theirs…. it should be that red-flag that maybe “Not yet… Not this way”.

Y’all remain in my prayers… as does our whole ‘community’, though many of us have since moved away.   God has great plans for all of us, and should this note ever find it’s way to you, I pray you receive it with the sincere heart it was written with.  I tried very hard, that the message would not be one of shame/condemnation…. that is not your’s…. we all make mistakes, but a message of caution as you move forward.   God’s best can be a painful…. reconciling my marriage…. painful, but I wouldn’t trade what I have now for anything in the world.    Y’all have loved, and served with some amazing people…. Trust God…. I believe it will all be worth it.

With Love,

Julie

P.S:  To Stovall Weems and the other leadership within the Associated of Related Churches (ARC) – I’m still working on forgiving you.  I do not trust you, nor your very apparent profiting on the brokenness of the humanity you claim to serve.  ALL of this occurred under your ‘oversight’, among a host of other scandals within the other churches under your umbrella.   Wolves in sheep clothing, this is my discernment, and I will caution anyone within my sphere of influence to proceed VERY carefully when interacting with an ARC church.

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