Re-posted from the Forum with permission:
Dear Former Leaders of The Brooklyn Tabernacle,
(Former pastors, former deacons, former ministry leaders, former board members, former staff in leadership roles of any kind)
If you have found this letter, and thereby this website, please first read through the Biblical Support and Abuse of Faith sections before we continue. Thank you.
Biblical Support – https://www.brooklyntabforum.com/biblical-support/
With those passages and verses in mind, I want to begin by expressing gratitude for your service in the church. While ministry itself is encompassed wherever a Christian is, whether in the church or in the community, there are works specific to the inside of church walls.
It is an honor to minister wherever we are, inside or outside the church.
For a lot of you, you may be glad to have left your leadership role at BT. You are licking your own wounds, having been inside of a toxic environment and yourself experienced spiritual abuse, now dealing with the after-effects of trauma experienced. You may wrestle with your own intent, which was to wholeheartedly serve God and His people, and not be able to reconcile those good intentions with the overlooked despicable behaviors that went on, inside the walls of the church. You thought that the best, most Christian way to leave was to leave quietly, to remain adjacent to the ministry, convinced this is the work of God and your quiet departure ensures its continuation.
Your silence upon departure, and continued silence, is a signature on the dotted line stating, without words, that The Brooklyn Tabernacle is a safe, healthy house of worship with a leadership structure that is not just a façade, but is truly a plurality of elders with no one man, woman, or family entity holding the reins. You have endorsed every unacceptable behavior exhibited among the leaders, every unacceptable action, especially those that have caused harm to others.
When you took the opportunity and the honor to serve as a leader at The Brooklyn Tabernacle, or any church for that matter, that opportunity came with responsibilities on your shoulders, outlined throughout the word of God. In addition to meeting the qualifications of an elder in the broader sense of the term, you are to lead and protect the people God called you to serve. The more vulnerable the person, the more need to protect.
What you were not called to do was protect the powerful. You were not called to overlook immoral, unethical, or illegal behaviors and actions of other leaders. You were not called to ignore the cries of the sheep. You were not called to give a free pass to any leader, no matter their deemed importance to the ministry. You were not called to be an enabler of bad behavior among the leadership. You were called to serve and protect the sheep. You were called to provide legitimate accountability, especially among the leaders themselves. You were called to speak up. WARN OTHERS. Report to civil authorities, where necessary.
The way that BT is set up, authority is supposedly given to the leaders, but everyone knows that the actual authority belongs with Pastor Cymbala and his family. A true authoritarian structure.
How many have we heard him say, “you need to have my back,” or similar? How does this line up with the biblical call of the leaders to protect the sheep first and foremost? How is it that the one with the MOST power is demanding to be the most protected?
Have you been protecting The Church, the sheep, especially the most vulnerable? Or, have you been protecting an idol, wrapped in a beautiful building, with beautiful music soaring throughout, hearing what you believed to be the Word of God? The answer resides in the fruit. Are the sheep protected from wolves, including wolves on the pulpit, or are the sheep devoured by wolves, without the proper protection from leadership?
If The Brooklyn Tabernacle is truly God’s church, where we trust Him for all things, why is it that leaders throughout the decades have chosen in their own strength to sweep things under the rug, ignore abuses, protect the most powerful among them, when in fact the leaders are supposed to be the first in line to confront, expose, and warn others? What does it say about the centrality of scriptures and the fidelity of the bible if our leaders have perpetually projected a false image while covering up the truth and hiding horrible secrets behind the scenes?
As it is said elsewhere, “silence is not spiritual.” It certainly is not a quality of leadership.
Healing of your wounds from whatever you and your family may have experienced at BT is possible, and I hope you are able to actively pursue that healing through methods such as seeking a licensed counselor who specializes in spiritual abuse. Alongside of that pursuit, you have the chance to make things right for your negligence. You may have believed with all your heart that your silence was the right way to leave, but that is not true. It is time to speak up and voice what you witnessed, what you knew, what you were aware of but chose to minimize or ignore altogether. You can experience healing for your wounds and openly repent for not protecting the very sheep God called you to protect, all at the same time. Sheep are still being wounded, in part, due to your silence. Now is the time to make it right. Speak up. WARN OTHERS. Report to civil authorities, where necessary.
For those who may have fought to protect the vulnerable while at your leadership post, you are commended for fulfilling your duty, at least in part. However, there is more to that duty. No one was publicly warned. Accountability is still a joke. No effective, long-lasting action was taken, whereby the abuses were discontinued. Even though you are no longer a leader at BT, your decision to remain silent is still passively allowing and endorsing the wounding of sheep.
Stop protecting the powerful. Stop convincing yourselves that silence is spiritual. Repent and come clean, for the sake of the Gospel you claim to believe, for the sake of those who live with profound spiritual wounds caused by BT, for the sake of those in the line of fire to be wounded next. Speak up. WARN OTHERS. Report to civil authorities, where necessary.
If there are any former leaders reading this who were actively complicit in wrongdoing, knowingly involved, you also have the opportunity to repent and come clean. The Kingdom of heaven is near.
The time is now, former leaders of The Brooklyn Tabernacle. Re-read the Biblical Support and Abuse of Faith links. Be on the side of truth, righteousness, integrity, and trusting in God, not in some man-made strength to cover up sins and secrets. You don’t need to pray about whether or not to do the right thing and speak up. It is never a question to do what is right. We don’t need to pray about that. We just need to do it. Speak up. WARN OTHERS. Report to civil authorities, where necessary.
The. Time. Is. Now.