Earlier today, I recieved the following letter, forwarded to me by a person in the Central Florida Presbytery.
Dear Fathers and Brothers –
Our decision to invite Tullian Tchividjian to relocate to Orlando, join Willow Creek Church, and even serve as a member of our support staff was motivated by love for Christ, the peace and purity of His Church, and Tullian and his family.
Our Session voted unanimously to extend these offers, confident that we were in a unique position to offer Tullian a safe haven to continue in his healing and repentance. Tullian attended Willow Creek during his seminary years; maintains encouraging friendships with members of our congregation and community; and will benefit from a church body that knows him and will endeavor to love him accordingly, in the grace and peace of Christ.
As a member of the Presbyterian Church in America, I proactively reached out to the South Florida Presbytery through the chairman of the committee overseeing Tullian’s care and discipline process. I wanted to make sure that we were pursuing this course decently and in good order.
We received an encouraging word that while Tullian was indeed deposed from the office of teaching elder, he was not excommunicated or given further censure. I was very clear in our intent, and nothing in the conversation led me to believe that we were circumventing the South Florida Presbytery’s decision. We proceeded in good faith. If we were mistaken, it was a joint error. However, and more importantly, I am confident that our system of government can accommodate the error and correct it in a manner that promotes Tullian’s growth in grace and the peace and purity of Christ’s Church – all with gentleness and respect.
The position offered to Tullian is a non-ordained, support position. Recognizing his deposition from office, it does not involve any functions unique to the office of elder in general or teaching elder in particular. It provides him a community of grace in which to work and worship; the means to provide for his family; and an opportunity to display his repentance before the body of Christ. For these reasons, we are overjoyed and eager to welcome him into our church family.
Please pray for us and all involved in caring for Tullian and his family.
Kevin Labby, Senior Pastor
Willow Creek Church
Although there has not been a formal statement made by the Central or Southern Florida Presbytery’s, I have good reason to think that the leadership of the Central Florida Presbytery does not believe that a violation has occurred.
Just as Luther had to clarify the various kinds of statement he has made, I so must also.
- I still believe that this is an unwise decision, and that it is inappropriate for Tullian to be serving in any role as an employee of the Church, especially one that is in any way tangentially connected to the ministry of the Gospel. I do not regret making statements to that effect, nor do I withdraw them.
- I still believe that the conclusions I drew were reasonable conclusions based on the information which was made publicly available. I am intentionally not deleting the posts, since I do not feel it is appropriate to erase the evidence of my former mistakes, and I think that were my conclusions not proven incorrect with the revelation of further information, it represents an appropriate and biblical exhortation.
- I made strong statements regarding Chris Rosebrough and his inconsistent approach in the matter. While I still believe that there are inconsistencies in his approach, I do regret making strong statements without all of the facts. I ask that Chris forgive me for speaking rashly.
- I made strong statements regarding the implications of this transition and what it says about Tullian’s repentance and submission to Church discipline. I ask that Tullian forgive me for making erroneous conclusions and speaking publicly regarding them.
- I made strong statements regarding the leadership of WCC regarding this decision. As stated above, I still believe this to be an unwise decision that is ultimately not beneficial for Tullian, his family, the congregation members of WCC. I ask that Kevin and the other leadership at WCC forgive me for speaking rashly.
- Because I have sinned against my brothers, I have also sinned against God. I trust in the finished work of Christ who not only began a good work in me by justifying me, but also to complete that good work in me by perfecting me in sanctification.