(Underlined words, phrases and sentences link to cited material)
The Brooklyn Tabernacle (TBT) is connected in one way or another with various denominations, leaders, organizations, including, but not limited to, the Assemblies of God (AOG), Christian and Missionary Alliance, Church of God, Church of the Foursquare, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), along with other organizational affiliations such as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), Samaritan’s Purse, Liberty University, Moody Bible Institute and Church, and worldwide, especially considering the vast influence of The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir’s music.
Assemblies of God (AOG)
As an affiliate member of the Independent Assemblies of God International (IAOGI), The Brooklyn Tabernacle (TBT) is not accredited with the Assemblies of God (AOG) denomination. TBT and the AOG are tied closely together, to the point where it appears to the casual observer that TBT is a part of the AOG denomination, despite the historical disparities between the IAOGI and the AOG.
Cymbala has been a featured preacher at denomination-wide Assemblies of God (AOG) events over the years, including their heralded annual General Council meeting, and Prayer Summit. AOG pastors and leaders have preached at TBT over the years, including, Charles Crabtree, Ben Crandall, Nicky Cruz, Al Toledo, Bradley Trask, Thomas Trask and David Wilkerson. Details regarding these speakers and some of their affiliated organizations can be found HERE.
The AOG Minister’s Benefit Association, then the AOG Financial Services Group, provided 3 major loans acquired by TBT in 1998, 1999, and 2001, totaling $15,000,000. The AOG Financial Services Group was founded by Randall (Randy) K. Barton, a Board Member at TBT, for whom “Barton Hall,” a large meeting room in a TBT building, was dedicated. Randy is the Chairman of Dream Center Education Holdings (DCEH), which has experienced significant financial turmoil, even with favorable federal help targeted toward for-profit colleges. The Dream Center, under the leadership of Tommy and Matthew Barnett, is an AOG entity.
World Challenge, Teen Challenge, World Film Crusade
Cymbala is a World Challenge Speaker alongside Gary Wilkerson, Carter Conlon, Times Square Church Senior Pastor and former TBT Associate Pastor Tim Dilena, Claude Houde, Patrick Pierre, William Carrol, Teresa Conlon, Nicky Cruz, who wrote an endorsement in the 2017 reprint of Cymbala’s book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire and Francis Chan, who wrote the foreword for Cymbala’s 2012 book, Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of The Holy Spirit.
World Challenge is the “corporate umbrella” to AOG ministry Adult and Teen Challenge, formerly known as Teen Challenge. TBT, in one way or another, has been affiliated with Teen Challenge since the 1970s, when their ministry locations were blocks down the street from one another, hosting joint weekly events, even merging choirs.
Clair Hutchins, founder of TBT and Cymbala’s father-in-law, established World Film Crusade in 1973, also known as World Thrust Films, to purchase the distribution rights to the motion picture, The Cross and the Switchblade. “The Rev. Hutchins was deeply affected by the film adaption of of David Wilkerson’s book, The Cross and the Switchblade, which stars Pat Boone as David Wilkerson and Erik Estrada as Nicky Cruz. He secured film rights from the American Baptist Association and set a goal of translating the movie into 100 different languages. At the time of his death, 30 versions were completed or under production.” (Tampa Bay Times, May 17, 1994)
TBT continues to connect with Teen Challenge locally, including in Brooklyn and Long Island, which is under the leadership of Jimmy Jack and Freedom Chapel. In addition, one of TBT’s Board Members is Ron Brown, Executive Director of Teen Challenge Southern California.
Christian and Missionary Alliance
The most notable connection with the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination, by far, is Jim Cymbala’s relationship with the late Ravi Zacharias and The Brooklyn Tabernacle’s (TBT) ongoing partnership with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM).
The late years of Ravi’s life were tumultuous with calls for repentance and ongoing exposure of grievous alleged crimes, abuses, and corrupt activity, lasting beyond his passing. Recent coverage can be found in articles published by Christianity Today, Religion News Service, The New York Times, Associated Press, The Dispatch, and countless others which can be retrieved with a Google search.
Ravi spoke at TBT numerous times over the years and he traveled together with Jim to minister at events around the globe. At TBT’s 2011 Be Encouraged Conference for Pastors and Leaders, Ravi began his segment:
“I’ll tell you what, when you come to the [Brooklyn] Tabernacle, you’re always afraid as to what’s going to precede what you do. ‘Cause it would be very easy to destroy it, with all the blessing that they enjoy with the music, and uhm, it’s an amazing church to be in. Jim is truly one of my dearest friends now, and uhm, we have been together a few times, and uhm, anytime I have called for any reason, he’s there right on the spot to help. Love you, Jim, so grateful to you for your friendship and all that you do.”
A testament to the closeness of their friendship was plainly seen as Cymbala was one of the invited speakers at Ravi’s funeral.
Church of God
International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
Ties between The Brooklyn Tabernacle (TBT) and the Church of the Foursquare denomination goes back to at least 1947 during Cymbala’s father-in-law, Clair Hutchins’ ministry, where he, along with Latter Rain Ministry champion, Joseph Mattsson Boze, spoke at Galva Foursquare Church in Illinois.
TBT Board Member, Randy Barton, who founded the Assemblies of God Financial Services Group, also has some ties to the Church of the Foursquare denomination. He was an advisor under then-president of Church of the Foursquare, Jack Hayford, during the formation of the Foursquare Financial Solutions. According to the May 2014 Foursquare Leader Magazine, Barton also served in the Foursquare denomination as the Vice Chair of the Polity Task Group, part of the larger Presidential Task Force (p. 20). He is the Chairman of Dream Center Education Holdings (DCEH), which is affiliated with the flagship Dream Center church, a merged entity alongside Church of the Foursquare founder, Aimee Semple MacPherson’s Angelus Temple.
Beaverton Foursquare Church and their former pastor, Dr. Ron Mehl, have been connected to TBT for years. Outside of usual speaking engagements and performances by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers, Mehl founded a charitable organization called Compassion Ministries, which, as their mission, has supported TBT and a few other not-for-profit entities.
Both Dr. Mehl and former President of the Church of the Foursquare denomination, Jack Hayford, provided endorsements for the 2017 reprint of Cymbala’s book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.
The Brooklyn Tabernacle (TBT) was using the official Methodist Church logo during a portion of 1990s, although there does not appear to be any legitimate affiliation between TBT and the Methodists. Clair Hutchins is listed as Senior Elder, so it is believed this letter must have been in print prior to his death in May 1994.
Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)
The SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. From a doctrinal perspective, The Brooklyn Tabernacle (TBT), similar to the Assemblies of God (AOG) Pentecostals, has plenty of differences from the SBC. Yet, Jim Cymbala, TBT, and The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, have been closely associated with the SBC for decades.
Even though the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) canceled their Annual Meeting in Orlando, #SBC2020, which was originally scheduled to take place in June 2020, it is important to note that Jim Cymbala was to be a featured speaker at the SBC Pastors’ Conference leading up to the Annual Meeting event. Coordinated by Pastor David Uth of First Baptist Church Orlando, Cymbala was billed alongside Erik Cummings, David Platt, Wayne Cordeiro, Vance Pitman, David Hughes, Joby Martin, Jimmy Scroggins, Emerson Eggerichs, Ken Davis, Phil Wickham and Hosanna Wong.
The inclusion of Hosanna Wong, as a woman, brought with it some heavy controversy, along with questioning why Wayne Cordeiro was on the list of speakers, as he pastors a church in The International Church of the Foursquare denomination. Cymbala, pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle, a church registered with the Independent Assemblies of God International (IAOGI), closely connected to the main Assemblies of God (AOG) denomination, while the church bills themselves as non-denominational, went mostly unnoticed.
The SBC has recently been under fire, thanks to exceptional, thorough reporting by the Houston Chronicle’s Abuse of Faith series, for their widespread negligence when it comes to handling abuse within their local churches, seminaries and other SBC entities such as the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
This isn’t the first time the SBC has been called to the mat regarding their handing of abuse and subsequent cover-up. In 2007, ABC 20/20 aired a feature segment on abuse in the SBC. Leadership stated they were working on solutions. 10+ years later, not much seems to have changed.
As such, there has been, rightfully, additional scrutiny surrounding the SBC as an entity. The #SBC2019 Annual Meeting in Birmingham, AL drew quite a bit of attention as a result. With canceled #SBC2020 events now in the rear-view mirror, momentum has continued to wane, as many feel the SBC is making meager efforts to talk a good talk, with little systemic effectiveness to be seen.
Given the myriad differences in theology, doctrine, dogma, orthodoxy and orthopraxy, between the SBC and The Brooklyn Tabernacle, it is baffling as to why Jim Cymbala would be invited to speak at one of the highest profile events of the year for the SBC, their Pastors’ Conference. What is subsequently inexplicable, is the decades of relationship between the SBC and The Brooklyn Tabernacle, with the SBC embracing Jim Cymbala as a featured speaker for numerous SBC events.
Notable SBC Guest Speakers at The Brooklyn Tabernacle
Henry Blackaby, Mac Brunson, Michael Catt, Jonathan Falwell, Ronnie Floyd, Steven Furtick, Steve Gaines, Jack Graham, O.S. Hawkins, Daniel Henderson, Johnny Hunt, Robert Jeffress, David Jeremiah, Charles Stanley, David Uth
More biography details about each of these speakers can be found HERE.
SBC Conferences with Jim Cymbala as a Featured Speaker
FBC Jacksonville Pastors’ Conference
Formerly hosted by Mac Brunson, FBC Jacksonville
2010, 2012, 2016, 2019
Awesome August at Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, TN
Hosted by Steve Gaines
2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Refuel Conference at Thomas Road Baptist Church (TRBC) in Lynchburg, VA
(formerly InnovateChurch Conference)
Hosted by Jonathan Falwell and Ed Stetzer
2008, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018
More in-depth information regarding each of the above conference events, including detailed speaker lists, can be found HERE.
Other SBC Conferences and Events
June 1998 Pastors’ Conference in Salt Lake City
Speakers: Jim Cymbala, Rick Ferguson, Ronnie Floyd, Jack Graham, Mike Hamlet, Johnny Hunt, Charles Lowery, Adrian Rogers, Jay Strack, Jerry Vines, Ed Young
SBC Annual Meeting 2003
“Among those exhorting the convention from a distance were James Dobson of Focus on the Family; John MacArthur Jr., pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif.; Jim Cymbala, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York; and Joseph Stowell, president of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.” President (George H.W.) Bush also addressed the convention by a pre-taped message. Franklin Graham, Charles Colson, Hank Hanegraaff, Jim Cymbala, Joseph Stowell, Greg Laurie and Stephen Olford also delivered brief pre-recorded messages during the ERLC session, coordinated by Richard Land.
Richard Land, President of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC, former President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), Executive Editor at Christian Post magazine, which published this idolatrous cartoon on September 19, 2012:
2012 Georgia State Evangelism Conference
Curtist Baptist Church, Augusta, GA
Speaker: Jim Cymbala
FBC Dallas 2013 Building Dedication Event
Speakers: Jim Cymbala, James Dobson, O.S. Hawkins, David Jeremiah, Governor Rick Perry
August 2013 – North American Mission Board (NAMB) Send Conference
Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX
Speakers: Danny Akin, Jim Cymbala, Jack Graham, Luis Palau
February 2014 – Alabama State Baptist Convention
Speakers: Frank Cox, Jim Cymbala, Jim Futral, Bob Pitman, Brett Pitman, Vance Pitman, Guy Penrod
January 2015 – SBC Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, State Evangelism Conference
Speakers: John Avant, Jim Cymbala, Steve Gaines, Franklin Graham, Thomas Hammond, Steve Smith, Ken Weathersby, Bobby Welch
January 2017 – Arkansas State Baptist Convention
Speakers: Todd Cook, Jim Cymbala, Steve Gaines, Vance Pitman, Herb Revis, Robert Smith
2019 – Empower Conference in Texas
Speakers: Jim Cymbala, Ronnie Floyd, Noe Garcia, Junior Hill, D.A. Horton, Trip Lee, Nathan Lorick, Charles Lowery, Greg Matte, TC Melton, Lee Strobel
June 2020 – SBC Pastors’ Conference (event cancelled)
Speakers: Erik Cummings, Wayne Cordeiro, Jim Cymbala, Ken Davis, Emerson Eggerichs, David Hughes, David Platt, Vance Pitman, Joby Martin, Jimmy Scroggins, Phil Wickham, and Hosanna Wong
In order to understand the connections between Paige Patterson, Jim Cymbala, Steven Vornea, The Brooklyn Tabernacle and beyond, please refer to the Recent Lawsuit page, specifically these 3 sections, in order:
1. Steven Vornea and The Brooklyn Tabernacle
2. Steven Vornea, Jim Cymbala, Paige Patterson, and The Recovery Network
3. Paige Patterson Abasement: Fired from SWBTS, Facing Lawsuit