Giving your resignation from your church is not an easy decision. My resignation comes with a heavy heart but is necessary due to concerning circumstancesI On Sunday, Feb 11, 2018 while attending Freedom House Church (which is under the Pastoral guidance of Troy Maxwell and his wife Penny Maxwell), I asked Pastoral staff and leadership about the church theology regarding how the church comes around those who have suffered trauma, like domestic violence. I also had some questions about that days message. The response I received from the church was anything but Christ like – it was shocking! I was told to go somewhere else – to literally find another church. I was verbally attacked, and made to feel like I wasn’t wanted there or accepted because of being a survivor of domestic violence. One of the leaders and staff employees (Jenny Houseknecht) even got in my face – I hadn’t even met her before that conversation. That day I witnessed that the church leadership was saying one thing but their actions showed the opposite of what they were preaching and it would only get worse.
At this point I had already been feeling out of place due to earlier treatment I had received after a girls dinner and our first life group lead by church leader, Diana Henderson on the book “Without Rival” by Lisa Bevere. In which I had shared I was a survivor of domestic violence. Yet from day one I had been assured by the church leadership that there were other women who were also survivors of domestic violence and that this church embraced and came along side survivors, and supported the. That this church was all about fellowshipping and connecting fellow christians (see picture above). I had finally felt like I was finally home, that I had found my church home.
Though those Sunday conversations on 2/11/18, really made me question some things about the church. So, I decided to reach out to the Head of Church operations, Milan Ford that Monday, for clarity. Though I wouldn’t hear from him or even receive an email or return phone call. The first contact from him(on his behalf) would be when I arrived to the next Life group meeting on 2/15 – that night things would turn grim. Once I arrived I went to use the restroom and upon leaving the restroom, Ben Whitley and Adam Mulchi (church staff/leaders – sent there by Milan Ford) were there waiting for me outside the bathroom to escort me to a pitch dark room where they approached me – especially Adam got in my personal space and issued warnings – messages to be relayed to me on Milan’s behalf. Now church leadership knows I’m a survivor of violence, yet there was no female presence there to protect my interests or make sure I felt safe. That night Ben and Adam were there to physically remove me from group, without an explanation as to why. Force was not necessary as I left willingly and without any issues! The entire situation is still very confusing and made me feel unsafe, intimidated, and threatened. So that night I reached out again to Milan, as advised by Ben and Adam and sent the below email with his response above it.
Milan and I did speak on the phone. Though he wouldn’t explain why Diana Henderson had me removed from life group, he told me it didn’t matter and that I would never know and that he didn’t even know nor did he care. I spoke about Matthew 18:15-17 (below) and that if an offense had been committed that the biblical protocol as stated in scripture was to follow Matthew 18:15-17 and seek resolution, yet that was not happening.
Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
He made it clear that Diana Henderson and he mentioned others (Madison Buzzeo , Jenneane Tillman, and Jenny Houseknecht) were not interested in resolution. Yet he still would not explain what offense I had committed (so I could avoid committing it in the future – as I wanted to avoid any confrontation going forward). He made it clear through several warnings that if I needed to know what I did there would be a different and more difficult conversation that would take place including my permanent removal from church, ex-communication from Freedom House Church.
What had I done to warrant and even justify this harsh treatment? I asked that this be kept only between those involved. He told me he wouldn’t promise that and that if the others wanted to talk/gossip (slander and character assassinate me) that they could. But if I told any of my church friends what was happening or spoke of this to anyone, he firmly warned me again that he would seek action, force would be used, and I would find out what happens next! He also told me that going forward I was not able to attend ANY life groups and I was forbidden to be at any public place where a life group was taking place like public restaurants etc. Completely disconnecting me from getting connected within the church and being able to fellowship, grow in my faith, and cultivate relationships with other christians. Preventing me from getting involved in the church was the complete opposite of what Freedom House Church promotes, and what the purpose of fellowshipping within the church body is in general.
He made it clear that it didn’t matter to him about what I had originally reached out to him on Monday, regarding the matter that had taken place that previous church Sunday. Church members were being protected and he made me feel inconsequential and like I was not part of the church community. I also expressed feeling unsafe with the intimidating way he had sent Ben Whitley and Adam Mulchi to deal with me (actions unwarranted) by their actions jeopardizing my safety. Milan didn’t care nor did he really apologize. Through out the phone conversation Milan issued a lot of intimidating and terrifying warnings! As a representative of the church he refused to work towards resolution and peace regarding this matter, whatever ‘this matter’ is. It was clear there was a disconnect within the leadership as no one knew the reason for threats to be issued against my well being but were just following orders from Diana Henderson (without just cause) because of the leadership position she held. Milan made it clear that verbal warnings could and would turn to physical ones. Considering it’s called Freedom House, the terrorizing and intimidating warnings were another clear sign that their words and actions did not match the content on their website, social media posts, or that of their Sunday Church messages. Milan also stated that I was forbidden to talk to ANYONE about church theology moving forward and that I was strongly encouraged by him on behalf of Freedom House Church leadership to stop any talk about my ministry and the fact that I am a survivor of domestic violence. I was told If he heard that I did the opposite of anything he warned me not to do that Freedom House Church would take legal action, ex-communicate me, and use force if necessary! Below is a follow up email from Milan following our phone conversation.
Following these disturbing incidents with Freedom House Church, I sought help and guidance from organizations like The Wartburg Watch and GRACE. I was advised to completely remove myself from Freedom House Church, because their non-biblical actions and words had proven to be unsafe and had created a hostile church environment. I was also told to send the formal letter (below) of my church resignation to Freedom House Church. Removing myself from their discipline (mistreatment/warnings/intimidation, etc.) and also to stop any further slander or shunning of me by their church staff, leadership, members, etc, due to Milan having already stated this would take place. Unfortunately, slander and shunning took place and my reputation and ministry have been impacted!
This post is to share the mistreatment I’ve suffered, to publicly declare what really happened to restore the unjustified damage done to my reputation and ministry. To speak out against their attempt to silence my voice through their warnings, force, and intimidation. Also to be a voice for others going through a similar experience. Here is the certified letter I sent to Freedom House Church.
Here is the Return receipt showing it has been received and since April 7, 2018 they have needed to abide by the resignation notice and what it states.
Sometimes we don’t know why the words and actions of christians are the opposite of the christian walk they publicly proclaim. But if you are struggling with church misconduct or abuse click on the links above for help. If you are struggling with your faith due to church mistreatment, please know that the church, that christians who are not blameless like Jesus, and we are not always the best representation of Our Heavenly Father. So, please do not let the church and christian communities keep you from having a relationship with Jesus Christ. We are not the best example of His non-judgmental love and never ending grace. Do not judge Him for what others do to you and how they treat you, they are not Jesus. He loves you and will always accept you. Just run to Him, He is waiting for you with open arms. You’re not alone!