(Photo: Flickr/James Thompson)
C.J. Mahaney has announced that he is stepping down as president of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) with the closure of his office to make way for an executive director during the church group's organizational restructuring.
"As that new polity takes effect, I will be transitioning from the role of President, and the Executive Committee will recommend an individual for confirmation by the Council of Elders to serve in the newly formed role of Executive Director," Mahaney wrote last week in a blog post at SGM's website.
"In October, I informed the Board of Sovereign Grace that I was withdrawing my name from consideration for Executive Director as I don't think my gifts and sense of call are the best fit for certain aspects of this new role," he added, revealing that he made the same announcement to SGM pastors in November at an annual pastors conference.
The SGM board published a "A Note of Thanks to C.J. Mahaney," the same day its president announced his resignation.
"Our family of churches owes a debt of gratitude to C.J. Mahaney for co-founding and leading Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) to establish and build gospel-centered churches for the past three decades. C.J.'s leadership and example have helped to instill so many of the values that have shaped our family of churches, and none more so than our gospel-centrality. We are grateful for the central role his preaching and personal passion have played in making the gospel more clear and more precious to all of us in SGM," the board stated.
Sovereign Grace Ministries is an evangelical, Reformed, and charismatic network founded in 1982 that has about 80 member churches, located mostly in the U.S. SGM also partners with pastors and church-planting networks in countries all around the world.
Mahaney, 59, has been leading SGM for nearly 30 years while also pastoring at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md, which led to the network's founding. The minister, who handed over leadership of Covenant Life Church in 2004, stepped down from his SGM office in July 2011 amid accusations of pride, deceit, and sinful judgment. Mahaney, who founded SGM with Larry Tomczak, was reinstated as president a year later after a board review cleared him of the accusations, reportedly borne from fallouts with previous SGM ministers.
The church network, which moved its headquarters last year to Louisville, Ky., was hit with a lawsuit last November filed by former SGM church members alleging a cover up of child physical and sex abuse, allegedly at the hand of some leaders. SGM has asked a Maryland judge to dismiss the lawsuit, which plaintiffs want to attain class-action status, claiming that the courts cannot get involved in a church's internal affairs. Attorneys representing the network also say the suit should be tossed due to the vague nature of the allegations. Mahaney, Tomczak and John Loftness, who resigned as chairman of the SGM board in February, are among those named in the lawsuit.
Neither Mahaney nor the SGM board referenced the lawsuit in their online notices.
Mahaney, married with four children and 11 grandchildren, leads Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, which he planted last year. He, along with Christian ministers Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan and Albert Mohler, lead Together for the Gospel (TG4), a biennial conference for pastors founded in 2006.
"Returning to the pulpit of a local church last September has only confirmed for me what I believe God has called and gifted me to do: pastor, preach, and fulfill a role in building the local church for the glory of God," he wrote in his resignation announcement.