Gary Ezzo Growing Kids God's Way
Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo Truth -

Gary Ezzo: Character and Church Ties
Gary Ezzo's character has been questioned by critics in many subtle (and not so subtle) ways. As we have indicated throughout these pages, the Ezzos are characterized by welcoming an honest and respectful criticism of their ministry work as well as their personal life. They are not perfect; neither is any one of us. But they have done their best to resolve any conflict that may exist in their lives, whether it be public or personal.

As a matter of respect and due diligence, a reasonable expectation would be that a person with a complaint about the Ezzos or their teaching would come forward and present their case directly to the Ezzos, not hide behind the skirts of the Internet or a tabloid style article and take potshots. That may be tolerarable in small doses in the secular world but it is shameful when another Christian engages in such activity.

To try and right the wrongs leveled by the critics, or to just offer a clarification for a misunderstanding, Gary Ezzo has gone so far as to make a public invitation to his critics to present their case before an independent panel of believers. Wouldn't you know that not one of the major critics chose to do the right thing and meet with the Ezzos to present evidence of their claims. Since most of the critics' claims cannot stand up to scrutiny, it would make sense that they would not want their "evidence' reviewed by an unbiased third party.

Many of the accusations about Mr. Ezzo's character can be answered in the Response to Christianity Today and Response to Christian Research Institute pages. Also, most of these accusations are at least five years old, but hang around the Internet as if they are current. Critics like Steve Rein, Kathleen Terner, Hank Hannegraaf, Frank York, Dr. Matthew Aney and Eric Abel are responsible for the vast majority of the negative information. Yet, what does the reader know about the character of these people or the spiritual fruit of their lives? Should these untested individuals be allowed to be the voice of the world's opinion on the Ezzos and their teaching? Other references are just a repackaging or rehashing of the false and irresponsible reporting of yesteryears.

The Ezzos have friends all over the world that vouch for their character. It is disturbing to say the least when people who have never met them, never read their material or thought to question the veracity of what they read on the Internet, are willing to surrender their minds to unfounded criticism and unfair judgements. Gary Ezzo says the following about criticism of ministries:

It's ALL About Character

There is a normative pattern of criticism that seems to follow the growth of some successful ministries and the evolution of attacks on the GFI ministry reflects each step of this process. Frequently, early criticism tends to be directed at ministry associations. The ministry's message first faces opposition because of their associations. Commonly employed in this first phase is the fallacy of the "slippery slope" argument. Thus, in the GFI ministry, the Ezzos heard: "The Ezzos are at John MacArthur's church, so their teaching must be narrow, unloving, and legalistic."

If impugning association doesn't work, and the ministry continues with growth, the second level of criticism shifts to flaws in theology or biblical interpretation. With Growing Kids God's Way in 30 plus denominations, it was very difficult for critics to raise serious concerns about the biblical soundness of the Ezzos' teaching.

When negative association does not stick, and theology is not challengeable, the last field of attack on growing ministries is to go after character. Character, specifically integrity, is always challengeable because the essence of character is subjective, not objective. Here, good actions are judged to have bad motives or good motives condemned because not all outcomes are perfect. In this way, critics can keep pressure on the righteous without accountablility for their charges.

So how does one discern whether a person is a man or woman of integrity or whether the critics are credible in their assessment and honest in their motive? How can you measure the subjective qualities of one's personhood? The Bible does provide some answers to these questions. For example, the Bible speaks to the character of evil-doers, deceitful people, and those whose feet are swift to do evil and create division among God's people. They flee even when no one is pursuing (Proverbs 28:1). The Bible equates the actions of these people with darkness. "Darkness" is an interesting euphemism. It not only means hiding in darkness, but also fleeing from light. Such people are characterized by rebuffing accountability and fleeing the light of examination for their words and actions. They shun all attempts to have their words tested for truth or measured for accuracy. Good character does not flee examination or accountability.

When we began to look into the allegations against Gary's character, what we found was a bit surprising. It was not Gary or Anne Marie who resisted accountability, or fled examination of any claim or wrong doing: it was their critics. Time after time, the critics would spread their gossip and slander, then refuse a calling to accountability despite the efforts by the Ezzos to arrange meetings for them to offer a defense of (or supporting documentation for) their criticism. Please keep this in mind if you are exposed to such critical information. Over the years that we have answered questions about the Ezzos character, we have found that the questions below represent the vast majority of the concerns raised by people who have been exposed to the negative information circulating over the Internet.

Commonly asked questions about Gary Ezzo's Character:
Have the Ezzos caused trouble in past churches or been excommunicated from a church?
No! Like most of us, the Ezzos have left a few churches for one reason or another. They have never been excommunicated nor have they ever been confronted on any sin issue which could possibly justify church discipline. They quietly left Grace Community Church two years after stepping down as Pastor of Family Life Ministries and dedicating their time to their outside ministry, Growing Families International. John MacArthur has since become critical of the GFI ministry and Gary Ezzo personally even though the core curricula of GFI is the same that Gary developed and MacArthur supported at Grace for eight years. See MacArthur Response page. After leaving Grace, the Ezzos started attending Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship under Pastor Dave Maddox. They soon found that Living Hope's leadership had credibility issues and, after unsuccessfully dealing with the matter privately, submitted a letter of resignation. They were not excommunicated. See Maddox Response page. They then joined Granada Hills Community Church under the leadership of Pastor Ron Seidel. Pastor Seidel conducted a very intense investigation of the Ezzos past experience at Living Hope before allowing them to join his congregation. See the results of his investigation on here. The Ezzos eventually moved to South Carolina and have been active members of their new church. They continue to teach GFI classes under the authority of their local pastor as they have in all other churches they have attended.
Is Gary Ezzo characterized by not allowing people to approach him or call him on his sin?
No. In fact we have observed just the opposite. Gary is always ready to apologize when he realizes that he was wrong...sometimes even when he may not be wrong, but someone feels they were harmed. He has invited (I would say even beyond what would be considered reasonable) critics to sit at the table with him and independent Christian counsel for the sake of resolving whatever conflict exists and arriving as best as possible at truth. The problem is that the critics don't show up or wiggle out of commitments to meet.
Did Gary Ezzo cover up the embezzlement of some money from GFI?
No. In September of 1999, GFI discovered that Robert Garcia, the Ezzos' son-in-law and former Director of GFI (a private company), misappropriated corporate funds for his own advantage. This discovery took place a couple of months after Robert left GFI.

A decision was made to have an investigation and audit of GFI's financial records done by an outside CPA firm. After a nine month comprehensive review of all pertinent financial files covering the years 1995 and 1999, a determination was made that Robert Garcia 1) misused funds for personal gain; 2) borrowed substantial sums of monies from GFI without authorization or repayment and 3) manipulated the financial records to cover his loans which constituted embezzlement.

Following the audit findings, GFI reported Robert's activities to the IRS. GFI also entered into a Settlement Agreement on April 1, 2001 with Robert and his Tax attorney. The agreement includes a promissory note and repayment schedule for all monies taken with interest payment. Growing Families International also secured a signed Confession of Judgment filed with the Superior Court of the State of California governing the event of a breach of Debtor of his payment obligation. Upon any breach Growing Families International may execute the judgment at will.

This was a private matter between relatives and handled as such. Gary states the following: "Although the offense was against us, the Ezzos see the grace of God extended to all who are willing to confess, who desire to be restored, and who are willing to make restitution for their wrong."
Are the Ezzos divorced? (sigh...where do they get this stuff?)
No. They are very happily married and they do just about everything together. Many GFI leaders communicate with both of them on a regular basis and find them to be a great example of a godly couple desiring to serve God through their ministry.
Did Multnomah Publishers drop Ezzo following an investigation of medical and character concerns?
We find it sad that this particular issue has been reported without giving all the facts and therefore leaving a false and biased impression against the Ezzos. When you read in media reports that the Ezzo's publisher "dropped him" one is left with a negative feeling. But when you check with the publisher, no such negative language existed in any public or private statement concerning the Ezzos.

Yes, Multnomah Publishing did return the rights to the On Becoming series (including Babywise) back to the Ezzos. This was according to Multnomah, a mutual decision between the publisher and author, done "in the spirit of cooperation", and was a business decision that best served the needs of both parties. Nowhere has Multnomah made the claim or even suggested that this action was the result of any validation of character concerns with Mr. Ezzo or medical concerns with Babywise.

What the critics neglect to report is that the publisher's entire review of accusations against Gary Ezzo was triggered by an open letter posted on the internet from Frank York. Mr. York is a disgruntled former employee, dismissed from GFI . The critics also seem to conveniently forget to report that Frank York's accusations were challenged by Multnomah's invitation for Mr. York to follow the biblical process and come and sit with the Ezzos and a neutral third party to present evidence of his charges. The invitation was also extended to critics Mr. York referenced in his open letter. Multnomah also offered to cover all expenses, flights, hotels, meals anything, to remove any excuse for not following the biblical procedure in dealing with accusations against a brother. If the critic's concerns were valid, than why not meet? If they had evidence, why not present it? If they succeeded in providing a few factual cases showing a neutral third party that ethical issues existed, the outcome would have been a public condemnation of Gary Ezzo from Multnomah.

Instead, when given opportunity to defend his words with evidence, Mr. York and the others refused to meet with a neutral third party and have their statements evaluated for truthfulness. This we believe says more about the character of the accusers than the accused. This also appears to be a consistent pattern among Ezzo critics. Cast disparaging remarks and then flee accountability for their words.

Multnomah's public statements summarized this very point. "While Mr. Ezzo was a willing party to this process, those who made accusations chose not to accept our invitation to participate and present evidence of their statements. This is unfortunate, as the merits of the accusations could not be biblically evaluated by a neutral third party. While Mr. Ezzo has done everything we asked him to do, both Mr. Ezzo and Multnomah believe the process has gone as far as it can. Having come to that point, Mr. Ezzo and Multnomah mutually agreed to return the publishing rights back to the author. This decision is a mutual agreement, done in the spirit of cooperation, and best serves the needs of both parties at this time." (Read the entire Multnomah statement here.)

The Ezzos saw the separation with Multnomah as a blessing for at least two reasons. First, it is almost unheard of that a best selling book, like Babywise has the publishing rights returned to the author. The book continues as a best seller with accelerated sales, exceeding two million copies in print. Second, the change of ownership allowed the Ezzos to move the book On Becoming Childwise to a popular video series without an owner/publisher conflict. This project was in discussions before Mr. York ever wrote his letter. Thus, little did Mr. York realize that he actually helped the Ezzos with his public letter, in ways he could never imagine.

In addition, Jeff Gerke, a former Multnomah employee is often quoted as a spokesperson for Multnomah. He did have some communication about the Ezzos with Dr. Aney, a known "attachment" parenting advocate, who forwarded their private communications to Kathleen Terner and Christianity Today. Gerke was then quoted in the Christianity Today article. However, when you read the beautifully written letter from Mr. Gerke to the Ezzos seeking their forgiveness, a completely different picture emerges than what Christianity Today offers. Among other things, Mr. Gerke wrote: "I ask for your forgiveness, Gary and Anne Marie. We have had a good relationship over the years and I deeply regret the wedge that I have driven between us. . . For my sake, Multnomah's sake, and your sake, I wish I could retract those words. But I can't. I can only ask you to forgive me," (April 2, 2001). The Ezzos have done just that.

While it could be argued that the critics' statements regarding Multnomah releasing publishing rights are "true" the internet versions and media reports are not TRUTH since they mislead the reader by conveniently leaving out pertinent facts. This form of duplicity in reporting is not new among the Ezzo critics.

Letter of Support from Granada Hills Community Church
This is a letter that was recently released by the pastor of Granada Hills Community Church that addresses - and puts to rest - some concerns over the Ezzos' character. It is in PDF format. Click the link below to download/view.

Document Title File Type File Size
Letter of Support from Granada Hills Community Church 3,171K

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