Monday, August 27, 2012

Warning Issued for Eagle Heights Community Church Members


Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
(Ephesians 5:11 ESV)



I recently posted two articles by Eric Starkey and Raymond Ernst.  Here is Eric's story:   Personal Story of Spiritual Abuse by Eric Starkey.  Raymond told his heart-wrenching story of the break up of his precious marriage.  In that story, he chose to go by the name "Paul".  He is no longer concealing his identity and goes by his real name, Raymond Ernst.  If you haven't read Raymond's story, be sure to read it so you can get the full picture:    Can Spiritual Abuse Destroy a Marriage - Paul's Story.  

Some may have discovered in the comment section the connection between these two men.  They both went to the same church.  Although their experiences are quite different, they both came away with the same conclusions regarding their former pastor and spiritual abuse.

In Eric's personal blog articles, he did not reveal the name of his former pastor or church.  He described spiritual abuse, how it has affected him, and discussed his journey of healing in hopes that his experience would help others.  He has since had a change of heart regarding concealing his former church/pastor's identity and has revealed more details.  He should know more details because he was mentored by his former pastor and served on staff as associate pastor.  

Sometimes you get to the point where enough is enough and come to the conclusion that there are more risks than benefits in remaining silent.  Eric got to this point.  Going public is not fun.  It's messy.  It's ugly.  It's painful.  You may lose relationships.  People who had respected you may lose respect.  It can be a lonely place.  Eric feels this issue is too important to not address.  He has chosen to take the very difficult, emotional, and unpaved journey of telling his story to warn others so they don't have to go through what he, Raymond, and others have gone through.  

I do not recommend that everyone publicly disclose the name of their church and pastor as Eric or Raymond or I have done.  In fact, I think it should be done with much prayer, thought, and counsel, and as a last resort.  This is Eric's cry of desperation - a plea - a warning to the people of Eagle Heights Community Church in Hammond, LA and to his former pastor, Kevin Dunn.



Read some of Eric's heart-wrenching words from his blog post:
Why would I share negative opinions about the church that I spent seven years of my life building? Why would I litter my personal blog with information that I know will be perceived by many as extremely negative and damaging to the Church at large? Why would I take the risk of damaging my reputation and losing my voice as a respected minister? Why would I take the drastic step of writing this blog post when I now live 725 miles away from this church? Why not just simply forget about it and get on with my life? WHY??? I have wrestled with those questions repeatedly over the past weeks. But, I have a responsibility. I have a responsibility to warn people. I have a responsibility to share the truth that I know. I have a responsibility to at least try to protect others from what I believe to be a very, very appetizing, yet deceptive and unhealthy environment.

He continues:

Therefore, I do not recommend that anyone become involved with Eagle Heights Community Church for the following reasons:
  • It is my opinion that Eagle Heights Community Church is a spiritually abusive and unhealthy church. I believe Kevin Dunn is a spiritually abusive and an emotionally unhealthy pastor.
And more:

  • I have personally witnessed marriages that have ended and family division that I believe were caused directly and indirectly by Kevin Dunn and his teachings. I find that in these situations, he positions himself as a victim, but he is actually the perpetrator. He “plays” the part of the victim well, but he IS the perpetrator. Those who are the true victims are labeled as rebels, reprobates, troublemakers and cut off from the congregation. The congregation is then told not to fellowship with the “troublemakers.” How convenient? The entire story is never told.  He uses his bully pulpit to tell “his own version.”
*If you attend Eagle Heights Community Church in Hammond, Louisiana or if you are thinking of attending Eagle Heights Community Church in Hammond, Louisiana -you have been warned. The warning buoy has been set out to inform you of dangerous waters.

These are strong words - words from a man who wants to protect people from danger.   Please read Eric's complete story.  It needs to be told.  It needs to be read:  A "Warning Buoy" for the People of Hammond Regarding Eagle Heights Community Church on his blog.  



For the record - - I have looked over Eric's article carefully.  I'm no lawyer, but have a fairly clear idea of what defamation is after recently winning a half a million dollar lawsuit.  I used words like "cult", "creepy", "spiritual abuse" which were labeled as defamatory by my former pastor.   Those words did not meet even the first tier of qualifying for the definition of defamation.  Defamation must meet both tiers to be defamatory: (1) intentionally stating a known falsehood (2) stating with malice or the intent to harm. (These are my words, not the legal definition.)

IMHO, Eric's words are not defamatory - they are his strong opinions and beliefs.  Although Eric's speech may be difficult to read, they express his thoughts and opinions and thus are protected as free speech.  Feel free to read my court documents to see how my words match up against Eric's.  Eric's words are tame compared to mine.  Be sure to check out the 26-page document showing the attorney fees and court costs my former pastor/church will have to pay for filing a frivolous lawsuit.   I hope my lawsuit will deter pastors from making the same mistake as my former pastor.   I pray that pastors who are tempted to sue former members would instead humble themselves before God and submit to other respected church leaders for accountability and some soul-searching. ~ja


18 comments:

  1. Thank you, Eric and Raymond, for sharing your powerful stories. Not only do you give healing words to others but your stories may prevent more harm. My prayers are with you both - and may you also find healing as you share.

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    1. That really is the heart of this issue, Jackie - preventing more harm.

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  2. I too thank you both. I know you don't do this lightly, and your heart is for our Lord and for His church.

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    1. Thanks Julie Anne for using your blogg to expose the abuse that is going on not only at Eagle Heights but all over the country. Thank you Eric for having the courage to speak out against abuse that has affected so many good people. Hopefully with this type exposure, others will be spared the same abuse we have experienced.

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  3. Beloved in RecoveryAugust 28, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    "I find that in these situations, he positions himself as a victim, but he is actually the perpetrator. He “plays” the part of the victim well, but he IS the perpetrator. Those who are the true victims are labeled as rebels, reprobates, troublemakers and cut off from the congregation. The congregation is then told not to fellowship with the “troublemakers.” How convenient? The entire story is never told. He uses his bully pulpit to tell “his own version.”

    I felt like I could have written the above - and I bet a lot of people could say the same.

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    1. No kidding. And then if you get caught being "friends" with a current member from church, they may be put on the Mark and Avoid list for associating with people who "wage war with God". We wouldn't want to be associated with people who wage war with God, would we? ::::sarcasm here:::

      So the pastor gets to determine who is "waging war" - - - he doesn't allow the congregation to think for themselves and ask their own questions to come to their own conclusions - - -they are immediately cut off from communicating and finding out the truth. My former pastor thinks he owns his congregation, their minds, their choices, their lives. Cult-like behavior, anyone?

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    2. The above should say "friends" on Facebook - - - yes, he paid attention to who was friends with whom. Tell me, what pastor has time on his hands to be overseeing people's friends list on Facebook?

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    3. Whether he has that time on his hands is one thing. Whether he thinks it's his business is another entirely. It sounds like he would have marked and avoided Jesus for eating with tax collectors and prostitutes.

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    4. Julie Anne, you said, " Tell me, what pastor has time on his hands to be overseeing people's friends list on Facebook?"

      Might I suggest that has NOTHING to do with biblical "overseeing." It is interfering, spying, etc., and definitely UNfriendly [Facebook or otherwise].

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    5. Beloved in RecoveryAugust 30, 2012 at 8:25 AM

      I struggle as I read so much of this blog - I want to copy links and send them to people still back at my old church. I want them to understand that the pastor - when he shares his side from the pulpit - is using his pulpit in a very inappropriate manner. My former pastor was - and I suspect IS STILL - very good at putting others down with nary a word. Body language says so much - and yet you can get away with it much easier because no one can report back word for word what is said in body language. Yet, a look down - a slight shake of the head when a name is mentioned - you can even say "God would have us to pray for them" and sound really spiritual while sending a whole message with your body language that says "That couple/family/person has really gone off the deep end and you should stay away from them!" That is my former pastor to a T. He said so much with so few words, when somebody would leave the church - and you'd just be thinking - how sad that they ended up like that. Now I think - wow, they were much smarter than I, and caught on much quicker. But I know what those who are left are thinking of me. And it saddens me. Truthfully, I am not sure what bothers me more - being grossly misrepresented, or the fact that they are being lied to and groomed for further blind obedience the the king of the church. Small k.

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    6. Beloved: Isn't that strange - that we are concerned about what people think of us who are left behind? I get it, though, because I did the same thing. When you are in the church and people leave, they are the enemy because "how could you leave a church like ours?". When the truth is exposed, everything changes. I think the most difficult thing for me is knowing that some simply do not have the ears to hear or eyes to see. For some reason they are blinded and I don't know whether that is a conscious or unconscious choice. I discussed a bit of this issue on this blog post.

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  4. Eric and Raymond:

    1. Thanks for the courage to warn folks.
    2. Our prayers are with you.
    3. You did the right thing.
    4. Sorry you've experienced what many of us have at other churches by other "pastors".
    5. I don't know I chose to respond in number points, but I did LOL :-)
    6. Julie Anne, great job as usual. You're using the platform God has given you well IMO.

    --Alex, CalvaryChapelNews.com/CalvaryChapelAbuse.com

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    1. Thanks, Alex. Nice to "see" you here :)

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  5. Woohoo! I've tried to comment before on other articles but for some reason they didn't seem to go through...

    --Alex

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  6. my old pastor is 77 yrs old and has a facebook page with almost 400 friends on it. His 'church' only has about 25 members so you can probably guess where his heart truly is ;)
    He uses fb to 'police' his flock and he's better at that than the FBI would be! keepin 'em all in line is what he thinks he's called to do.
    We're so glad to be away from such nonsense!

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  7. Eddie Joe does not support any allegations made on this blog. God hates alot of things but one thing he despises is discord among brothers!

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    1. Are you Eddie Joe? If not, let's let Eddie Joe speak for himself. What God hates worse is False Teachers and destruction of lives by spiritual abuse. FYI, if you want to comment on the Eagle Heights Church/Raymond/Eric situation, I would recommend commenting on that blog post so that people will understand the context more easily.

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