After two years of low profile amid questions about his handling of allegations of child sexual abuse, C.J. Mahaney is back on the program for the 2016 Together for the Gospel confab in Louisville, Ky.
A speaker sidelined two years ago by a sexual abuse scandal at his former church is back at center stage for an upcoming conference featuring prominent leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention.
C.J. Mahaney, senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, Ky., joins Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler and International Mission Board President David Platt as scheduled speakers at the biennial Together for the Gospel conference scheduled April 12-14 in Louisville, Ky.
Mahaney, who in 2006 along with Mohler and two others founded the confab popular among young Calvinists, sat out the last conference in 2014, saying he didn’t want publicity over a high-profile lawsuit alleging a cover-up of child abuse at his former church to subject the other founders to unfair criticism. Criticism nevertheless followed, after a photo taken at the gathering showed Mahaney seated alongside conference headliners on the front row.
Mahaney was one of numerous leaders of Sovereign Grace Ministries, a church-planting network he helped start in the 1980s, named in a class-action lawsuit for allegedly failing to report alleged sexual and physical abuse of children. The lawsuit was dismissed due to statute of limitations, but in 2014 a volunteer at Mahaney’s former church was convicted on criminal charges similar to acts alleged in the civil suit.
Problems at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., originally the mother church of Sovereign Grace Ministries, prompted Mahaney to move the organization to Louisville, Ky., in part to strengthen informal ties to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In 2012 Sovereign Grace Ministries announced a new program allowing transfer of credits from its Pastors College toward a master of divinity degree at Southern Seminary. The seminary broke off the relationship in 2014, after one of Mahaney’s former associates testified during the criminal trial that church leaders knew about alleged abuse in the early 1990s but did not report it to the police.
Mahaney stepped down as head of Sovereign Grace Ministries in 2013, saying he wanted to devote himself full-time as pastor of Sovereign Grace Church. A former colleague turned critic alleged that Mahaney was asked to resign by a board of directors concerned about damage control.
Recently Sovereign Grace Ministries received more unwanted publicity, when Gene Emerson, a former regional leader for SGM and senior pastor of KingsWay Community Church in Midlothian, Va., pleaded guilty to soliciting a prostitute in July.
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SOURCE: Baptist News Global