Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Calvary Chapel Pastor Pastor Bob Grenier: Stories of Abuse As Told by His Children

'What brings a person to ruin?  It’s simple.  It’s a one-word concept given to us in the Bible.  It’s called “sin.”  You see, one thing that people have in common is the problem of sin.' . . . Pastor Bob Grenier, A Common Miracle

After reading story after story of misconduct, abuse, cover-ups, it makes me wonder - - - - did Pastor Bob Grenier actually read the quote he wrote above?  It's mind-boggling when one can clearly see sin in the lives of others, call it out, yet completely miss it in their own life.  

Last week, I published an article about the impending defamation lawsuit between Calvary Chapel Visalia/Pastor Bob and Gayle Grenier and Alex Grenier and 4 others listed.  Today I am spotlighting the Bob Grenier family and the abuse that Alex and others have alleged on the Calvary Abuse blog.  

I thought I was getting emotionally tugged into the Calvary Chapel Visalia story because of the potential lawsuit, but as I've been digging deeper, I've discovered that our stories have quite a few similarities.  In fact, I was so shocked that we had so many strange coincidences, I sent Alex an e-mail listing some of them - also advising him to play creepy music in the background while reading (being a musician, all emotional events require background music, you see).  Here, I'll give you something to play while reading.  It's only 29 seconds long:

Things Julie Anne has in common with Alex: 
parents divorced 
raised by step-dads who abused us our entire childhood 
step-dads played drums
lived in Oregon and California
have suffered spiritual abuse
maintain blogs dealing with abuse in the church 
have been sued (or about to be sued)
family connections in Visalia

Isn't that crazy?  I'm still shaking my head.

Going back to Alex's blog, it seemed pretty evident in reading the countless stories that there was a clear pattern of abuse, denial, illegal activities, cover-ups, with accounts from many people, not just Alex and his family members.  

Alex shared with me a bit of the family background:

My mom was 'saved' in the Church Tent Jesus Movement days of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (Lonnie Frisbee, Chuck Smith, etc). My real dad was a hippy drummer and he was 'saved' in the Tent as well. Both were druggie hippies saved in the very early days of the Calvary Chapel Movement.

Alex's parents were married.  Alex was born first and one year later, his brother, Geoff.  His parents had marital difficulties and ended up divorcing when Alex was around 3 or 4 years of age.  After the divorce, Alex's mom, Gayle, moved and eventually ended up at the Shiloh Commune in Dexter, Oregon.  Shiloh was called a "hippy commune".

Wikipedia describes Shiloh Commune:

The Shiloh Youth Revival Centers movement was the largest Jesus People communal movement in the United States in the 1970s. Founded by John Higgins in 1968 as a small communal house – House of Miracles – in Costa Mesa, CA, the movement quickly grew to a very large movement catering mostly to disaffected college-age youth. There were over 100,000 people involved and 175 communal houses established during its lifespan.
Two years after the movement's founding, Higgins and some of the core members of the movement bought 90 acres (360,000 m2) of land near Dexter, Oregon and built a new headquarters which they called "The Land". The movement grew quickly until the mid-1970s when increasing competition and high turn-over rates likely slowed its growth.  

It was at the Shiloh Commune where Gayle met Bob Grenier.  Bob had recently been "saved" after being a drug dealer and drug smuggler.  This is detailed in his book, A Common Miracle.

Bob and Gayle married when Alex was 5 years old.  They left Shiloh Commune and moved to Eugene, Oregon, where Bob pastored Calvary Chapel Eugene for a brief period of time.  Alex remembers his first instance of child abuse not long after they were married and recounts the story here:  Jar of Change.

Bob eventually met Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel, and accepted the pastorate at Visalia, CA.    This was around 1977.  

When Alex was 10 years old, Paul was born (parents Bob and Gayle)  One year later, Robert/Bobby Jr. was born.  So, the Grenier children include:  Alex and Geoff (from Gayle's prior marriage), then ten years later, Paul and then Robert, Jr., (Bobby)  from the marriage of Bob and Gayle.

The abuse continued for Alex - the worst period was from ages 10 yrs through high school.   According to Alex, Bob would lose his temper and physically abuse.

WARNING:  Beyond this point, I will sharing personal accounts of physical abuse and it is quite disturbing.   If this is a trigger for you, please do not read further.   ~ja

Alex describes the abuse he incurred here:

I have personally witnessed and been the victim of the physical child abuse.    We aren’t talking gray area here…clear cut State-defined abuse including, but not limited to:   hitting with objects causing deep purple bruises on the lower back, backs of legs and buttocks.    Drawing blood.     Hitting in the face full force with the palm of the hand.      Hitting in the face with a closed fist.      Locking in a small closet.      Kicking.      Pushing into walls.      Grabbing violently.      Yelling and threatening and cursing.      Beating over the entire body…head to toe…with the branch of a mulberry tree leaving cuts and bruises.      The number of abusive acts are too numerous to count.      The memories are quite painful.      It was, literally, a living hell.

On the Calvary Abuse website, Alex mentioned being very uncomfortable around his step-dad:

Bob’s a creepy dude. I am 10 years older than Paul and while I wasn’t molested, Bob did make me shower naked with (him) [sic] many times which gives me the creeps and he also made it a regular habit of walking around the house naked with his genitals exposed to us throughout our childhood and teen years. Again, creepy and now knowing what I know it makes me sick. 

And as every victim of child abuse knows, there is the perpetrator and usually an enabler who knows what is going on, but does not get involved and allows the abuse to continue, in this case, Alex's mom, Gayle Grenier.  Alex shares an incident he had with his mother here:

I confronted my mom around 7 years ago in my kitchen at our old home in Visalia about the abuse.  I told her she shared in the responsibility for all the abuse that happened to us and I told her I blamed her for not protecting us.  I told her she was an adult and should have put a stop to it.  She broke down in tears and softened tremendously.
I didn’t see her again for around a couple of weeks.  When she resurfaced she was in cold robot mode and soon after we never saw her again.  She stopped seeing our daughter, her granddaughter and it was over.  Bob took her away.

Folks, the residual effects of abuse continues to this day - it can last more than a childhood - and sometimes goes into adulthood and even through generations.  In this case, a grand-daughter has lost her opportunity to have normal relationship with her grandma.   Healthy grandparents usually play such an important role in the lives of their grandchildren - sharing wonderful times together, building their relationship, etc.   Alex's daughter apparently has none of this.  In an abusive family system, the abuse takes center attention over relationships.  Time is spent in denial, covering up, hiding, doing anything, but looking at the reality of abuse which is sitting right smack in front of them.  What a waste and a tragedy.  My heart breaks for the very innocent victims, not only Alex and his brothers, but for the grandchildren.

Here, Geoff (brother #2) describes in a letter to his mother, Gayle, about his experiences:

> Bob has made his peace with me and I still forgive him. It’s a dead issue between us. Bob needs to address it and reconcile with Alex and Paul. EVERYTHING ALEX DESCRIBED IN HIS LETTER TO BOB HAPPENED!!!!!!! PERIOD.>> If you choose to lie and say it never happened and that Alex and Paul are lying I am prepared to produce a laundry list of people including neighbors, coaches, ex classmates (who used to make fun of the welts on my butt, back and legs, in the showers) and friends that I confided in real time while it was going on. There are also two people that witnessed first hand me being screamed at and smacked in the face repeatedly while I was forced to hold my hands to my side.>

And now we'll read from Alex's younger brother, Paul's account (full story here).  Paul is the 3rd son in the family, Bob Grenier's biological son.  I have copied a portion here and added paragraphs to make it easier to read.   Keep in mind, this is only a portion of the full text.

“I wanted to expound on what my brother wrote in regards to brutality. I haven’t commented publicly on this issue, but reading through these posts has brought up memories and feelings that I have tried to numb and forget.

I want to talk a bit about what it is to be brutal. Brutal is making your children watch while one of your brothers is beaten, punched and kicked. Brutal is laughing at your child after you have beaten and humiliated him in front of his family. Brutal is hitting your child with a wooden log all over his body. Brutal is making your children go in the backyard and “pick the switch” that they will be whipped with all over their backs and buttocks. Brutal is making your child count out loud the number of times they will be hit. Brutal is making your child thank you and tell them how wonderful and responsible it is that you just beat them.

Brutal is locking your child in a small, dark closet. Brutal is punching your child in the face and then kicking him out his home because you are so afraid that it is going to be front page news that you are a child abuser disguised as a Pastor. Brutal is then kicking that child out and laughing at him because you have cut him off from his mothers and brothers. Brutal is not letting your wife talk to her son for 10 years. Brutal is threatening the rest of your children that they will be cut off if they talk to their estranged brother.

Brutal is telling your child to put their hands behind their backs and that it is ok because you aren’t going to hit them. Brutal is then hitting that child in the face so hard that they fall to the ground. Brutal is humiliating, degrading, and psychologically torturing your children for hours on end and then calling it a day and expecting everything to go back to “normal”. Brutal is ruining your son and soon to be daughter-in-law’s wedding day because you refuse to take family pictures with your estranged son and behave like a grown, civilized adult.

Brutal is making your child eat an entire pack of cigarettes and swallow them and laugh at them as they vomit and cry because they tried smoking in high school. Brutal is telling your children you don’t love them. Brutal is telling your children you wished they were never born and you never planned on having them. Brutal is beating one child so badly that they are scared and whimpering like a small animal, and then having another one of your children sit on your lap and profess how they are your favorite and how much you love them. Brutal is watching your older brother and sister-in-law in agony over the fact that they might lose their newborn baby boy.

Brutal is watching your brother call your Mom to come down and your Mom not responding. Brutal is hearing from others how sad your Mom is that she doesn’t have a relationship with her children and grandchildren. Brutal is then seeing your Mom in public and having her walk right by you like she didn’t know you from Adam. Brutal is hearing that your youngest brother called one of his older brothers on Mother’s Day (not a great day for us) and having him glibly ask how his Mother’s Day is going.

Sadly, in this account,  the story gets more complicated and very messy.   Paul shares the extremely personal and painful experience of being sexually abused by his father  in this article:

I have agonized over what I am about to share.  I was the victim of sexual abuse in our home at the hands of my father. That is all the detail I will give publicly.

And then Paul describes his relationship with his younger brother, Bobby/Robert Jr.  Robert is the youngest of the four boys in the family. The following paragraphs summarize the family dysfunction well:

I have spoken privately to some about it.  I most recently spoke to a class action child abuse attorney along with my brother, Alex, and sister-in-law, Amy, about what was done to me.  I would prefer not to share such a horrific thing I lived through but I continue to be attacked and maligned by Bob, Gayle, and Robert.  I feel that at every turn I have tried to take the high road and be as gracious as possible.  I have been backed in a corner and have no choice but to make a public statement. 

If you attend Calvary Chapel Visalia I would keep your children as far away from Bob and Robert as possible.  They are both evil people who will not give a second thought to hurting you and will actively try to destroy your life.  Bob has ruined multiple family relationships and marriages in his tenure at Calvary.

I will say this and say it once.  I was raised by the Bob the monster.  I survived it.  I was raised by a drug addicted, abuse condoning, abhorrent mother.  I survived it.  I grew up with a mentally disturbed younger brother.  I survived it.  I have been slandered and maligned by Bob’s inner circle. I survived it.  I can promise you this: anything Bob, Gayle, and Robert throw my way. I will survive it and be stronger because of it.  Bob could not break my will and spirit when I was a child and he nor anyone else associated with him will be able to do so today.

Bob, Gayle, and Robert want a fight. They’ve got one and a worthy opponent in me.  Dysfunction breeds dysfunction.  If I have to spend the rest of my life defending myself against them and keeping them out of my life I will do it.  And I will survive that too.

In addition to losing his temper and abusing the children, Alex recounts the abuse of his mother by his step-dad and pastor, Bob Grenier:

Yes, Bob was very abusive to my mom, screamed and yelled, broke stuff in front of her in rages (there’s a specific instance he actually shared from the pulpit joking about it. He picked a wooden chair up over his head in a rage and put a gash in the popcorn ceiling and then smashed it into pieces on the floor in front of all of us. He laughed as if it was no big deal when recounting the ordeal, we were all scared to death that he was going to kill us). 
I remember Bob dragging my mom to the back bedroom often and then locking the door and then the screams, yelling, crying that ensued. 
Geoff says he saw Bob smack her around, Paul says he saw Bob on top of her choking her.

Ok, I have gotten over the abuse I incurred as a child, but even so, this stuff is very difficult to read.  But I have a hunch some might say - - - this is Alex's blog - - - he can say what he wants publicly and he expects us to believe it?  He may just have a personal vendetta against his father.  Yea, I get the naysayers.   How can we know for certain this is true?    I'll save you the trouble from looking.   I  found more accounts from others outside the family who make their observations known.  This first comes from a former board member of Calvary Chapel Visalia:

Regarding the allegations of abuse from his sons, I distinctly remember that Bob told the Board that he had gotten very angry at Geoff, and had hit him in the face.   Bob seemed very repentant, and even asked us if we thought he should step down from the ministry.  In questioning him, he said that it had only happened once, that Geoff deserved discipline, but that he had lost his temper and unfortunately struck Geoff.  Knowing what the boys are now alleging, I shudder to think that Bob was only using his sorrow as a way to say he had told his Board, and that he was told not to step down.  Bob also told me many horrible things about Geoff, Alex and Paul, to justify their estrangement – my response was to advise him to not be vindictive, to forgive, to ask for forgiveness and to seek reconciliation.  I believe Bob’s hard heart toward his sons, has led to great harm to the Church, the name of our Lord and to his personal ministry.

Alex reports:

"This CCV board member gave testimony that was presented to Chuck Smith that reports that Bob made a confession of punching Geoff to the Calvary Chapel Visalia Board in 1988.  The Board didn't report the abuse and covered it up.  Much more abuse happened after that, including Paul's molestation allegations."

And then more outside reports here from Alex:

My aunt Kathy Martin testified on a police report that she witnessed Bob striking Geoff in the head/face in a rage. There's personal first-hand testimony of me, Geoff and Paul to the physical abuse. And even Robert/Bobby Jr. let it slip to a mutual friend Shaun Bagley (a 41 year old male nurse in Visalia) bragging that Bob used to beat us up. I have Aunt Kathy's testimony and Shaun's.

To summarize:  

Bob and Gayle Grenier - were shown in the above accounts as abuser and enabler, leaving a path of destruction and abuse in the lives of their sons, Alex, Geoff, and Paul.  Bobby/Robert Jr., however, seems to have followed in the footsteps of his father, exhibiting troubling signs of abuse and discounts the testimonies of his brothers, siding with his father and mother.  This is indeed a very complicated internal family mess.  It is important to note, however, that countless outsiders, including a long-time church board member vouched for the abuse, others filed police testimonies or accounts, and at Alex's blog, there are quite a few comments from outside witnesses who validate the complaints of Alex, Geoff, and Paul.   The stories I have highlighted only involve abuse within the family.  

I have just scratched the surface of this story, sadly.  Sometimes abusers keep abuse solely within the family.  In this case, we find accounts of abuse extending outside the family into Bob Grenier's "work" environment as Pastor of Calvary Chapel Visalia.  The next post in this series will detail personal accounts of the abuse which extended outside the family and into the church and work environment.

photo credit: Waleed Alzuhair via photopin cc


  1. Well done Julie, could you possible expand on Paul's profile to include clips from his molestation claims. I think that is very important to painting a portrait of a monster. Reading this makes me angry all over again. Only a very sick person would do these things to thier children, then stand before his congregation and proclaim the love of Jesus.

    1. I appreciate your suggestion, Not Alone. I will try to find more on Paul's story. If you have specific links to suggest, please send them to Thanks!

    2. "I have agonized over what I am about to share.  I was the victim of sexual abuse in our home at the hands of my father. That is all the detail I will give publicly."


    3. Thank you so much, Not Alone. I added it above.

  2. Julie Anne, you did an incredible job of succinctly yet thoroughly covering our tragic story. The troubling thing is that Bob's abusiveness has affected many more than our own home, which is why I came forward several years ago publicly...then to find out about Paul's molestation allegations, it's infuriating. I personally met with Chuck Smith founder of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Dave Rolph and Chuck Smith's attorney Janet Carter and relayed all this information to them along with printed first-person testimonies along with testimonies from many others hurt by Bob at Calvary Chapel Visalia over the years...and I also informed them of Paul's molestation allegations. Chuck Smith could care less. Business as usual. I'm convinced their goal was to collect information so they could help Bob prepare a defense and to see what was there and if Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa had any potential liability. The goal certainly didn't seem to be justice, accountability and intervening in a righteous manner with one of Chuck's endorsed/affiliated Calvary Chapel pastors.

    1. Alex - You and I share so much in common and the idea of grown men who are in trusted authority positions in church and turn a blind eye to known abuse absolutely infuriates me and I know you, too. If we do not speak out from the depths of what occurred to us, who will? Why are the people in Calvary Chapel not outraged? The sad thing about these kinds of situations is that so many people will overlook it . . . . until it affects them up close and personal.

      I hope you do get your day in court so that the world will see what has happened all of these years. The testimonies I have read make my head spin. Stay strong, Alex. You know you have my prayers and support.

    2. Thanks my friend. I'm looking forward to my long court battle with Bob. While the others should do anti-SLAPP and be rid of him, I feel a spiritual conviction to take this all the way through and to do as much discovery as possible to uncover as much as I can, not only with Bob Grenier and Calvary Chapel Visalia but with CCV Board members like Raul Ries who are connected to the situation and even Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and Chuck Smith if possible.

    3. Raul Rees.

      I remember him from Christian(TM) radio in the Seventies, when various Calvary Chapel radio programs dominated the local Christian(TM) AM airwaves.

      What I remember about the guy from back then was he was (1) CC West Covina, (2) Black belt in some sort of martial arts, and (3) RABID Anti-Catholic.

  3. You did a great job compiling this information. As I mentioned earlier, Chuck could fire Bob tomorrow if he wanted. Also, when Bob went to the board, the board had no power to remove him. In fact, Bob could have fired any member of the board at a moment's notice. This is in Chuck's Calvary Chapel Distinctives and they are very proud of it.

    Famously, the Philosophy of Ministry of Calvary Chapel tells the anecdote of pastor firing his entire board/elders in one swoop when they gave him an ultimatum: "Either give up your medical practice or resign as the pastor. We feel that we need a full-time pastor and your medical practice is taking you away from your ministry here." Chuck personally said, "Fire the board."

    In recent years, cases like Bob's have prompted some of the pastors, themselves, to demand some local oversight. Still, even in the cases I read, pastors want to give slim criteria for removal.

    1. Thank you for this information, Moses. I'll take a look at it.

  4. Well done, as always, Julie Anne. I'm praying that the right eyes see this with open hearts.

    1. That is, of course, the most important goal of this exposure. We read in scripture that God hardened and softened hearts. I pray that hearts will be softened like this kind of softening:

      “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.
      (Zechariah 12:10-11 ESV)

  5. Some will know me but I need to stay off the raider from any potential issues. Its self preservation and I admit it is cowardice. I admire Alex and others who fight these injustices and try to seek reconciliation and healing. In my experience as a Christian those are always unreasonable expectations. In my experience I have seen horrid child abuse, kids left in vans my their mother who was a prostitute who beat their head so hard against the van wall they damaged their brain, children raped so violently they were made quadriplegic and so on. In the faith community I was almost always informed I was a liar, wanted attention etc. Since I never gained any of those when I did speak about it, which was very seldom I really gained nothing if people believed me.

    It is hard to live in the faith community one hast to always and I mean always be on guard, scope for angles, leverage opportunities and so on. It is exhausting. I can think of so many times I returned from church or bible study so physically exhausted and scared of reprisal.

    As stupid as this sounds I just hurt for my friend Alex and his family.

    1. briann - thanks for your comment. I think everybody needs to decide for themselves the amount of involvement or non-involvement they want to take. Most people don't like the conflict. That's ok. Some are good prayer warriors, some are encouragers.

      You are not alone in your feelings regarding Alex and his family. It's so sad :(

  6. When Alex was 10 years old, Paul was born (parents Bob and Gayle) One year later, Robert/Bobby Jr. was born. So, the Grenier children include: Alex and Geoff (from Gayle's prior marriage), then ten years later, Paul and then Robert, Jr., (Bobby) from the marriage of Bob and Gayle.

    Has Paul also been abused? If not (or if he is less abused than Alex & Geoff), we might have a "Not My DNA" dynamic. Just like a male bear or lion when moving in on a female will kill all cubs which he has not personally fathered, who don't carry his DNA. Not human behavior so much as ANIMAL.

    And the fact that Bobby/Bob Jr is siding with Bob against the others. Bob, Jr... Given a common pattern of other Megachurches, maybe his being named "Bob, Jr" indicates he is heir to the throne of Calvary Chapel Visalia?

    1. HUG - Interestingly, Paul was also abused and he was blood son.

      It's all noted above (including a link). He was the only son who says he was sexually abused. Here is Paul's quote: "I have agonized over what I am about to share. I was the victim of sexual abuse in our home at the hands of my father. That is all the detail I will give publicly."

      Paul also describes being treated horribly by Robert Jr.

      You make a very interesting observation regarding Bob, Jr. as possible "heir" to the throne. We have seen that pattern in SGM, haven't we? I hope Alex chimes in. Bobby doesn't seem the "pastor" type from what I've heard, but neither does his father!

  7. I linked this article (along with TWW's) over at

    Thanks again Julie Anne and BGBC community for dealing with these important issues!

  8. Thanks for writing this Julie Anne. Bob Grenier is an example of what is wrong with the Moses Model, lack of accountability for Calvary Chapel pastors.

  9. Julie Anne,

    Thank you for giving a chronological and succinct summarical structure to the heart of all represented by Alex's accounts on his blog, and for spreading the word of warning to others about the "Bob" type pastors in the churches!

    Andy G

    1. Thank you for your comment, Andy. When things do not leave my mind, I know it's time to type up a post.


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