Gary Ezzo served as a Pastor/Elder at Grace Community Church between 1984 and 1995. His tenure was one of the longest of those serving at the time. Each year Grace Church pastors and elders were individually affirmed by the Board of Elders on matters of character and doctrine, and then publicly affirmed by the congregation. One could not be a member of the Board of Elders or a member of the pastoral staff without this annual affirmation and approval. Gary Ezzo continued with his pastoral oversight right up until the day he and Anne Marie officially left the church.
The Ezzos' reason for departure was summarized by John MacArthur speaking to an audience of families on October 13th, 1996. Pastor MacArthur candidly remarked that "the Ezzos left with concerns over the integrity of the Church leadership." The Ezzos have since confirmed the accuracy of this statement. Despite what Steve Rein says or implies on his ezzo.info website, the Ezzos have never been disciplined out of a church. They have left two churches for problems with the integrity of the Leadership including Grace and Living Hope.
We know the Ezzos and their integrity, as well as many of the GFI families and pastors that serve to hold them accountable. Unfortunately, we do not know the voices from Grace who attack the Ezzos. What we have read is inconsistent with what we know about Gary and Anne Marie and their teaching. It is curious that MacArthur now criticizes the Ezzos' teaching even though it is the same core curricula that MacArthur supported for eight years at Grace, and that Grace continued to teach for a year after the Ezzos left the church.
In October of 1997 Grace Church published a public statement critical of Gary Ezzo, the man who served alongside John MacArthur in ministry for twelve years. GFI responded point by point with well documented evidence. Regarding public accusations made by Grace against the Ezzos, Gary and Anne Marie felt for the sake of integrity and truth, they needed to be open to correction if there be any sin liability on their part. The Ezzos, along with the Growing Families International (GFI) staff, invited Ken Sande of the well respected Peacemakers Ministries* to examine and help mediate Grace Church's post-departure dispute with them. The Ezzos submitted themselves to Mr. Sande's counsel to help bring about a biblical resolution. This examination proved helpful to GFI and publicly demonstrated that the Ezzos had nothing to hide. The document at the end of this page was published as a result of Peacemaker's efforts, was approved by Grace and bears little resemblance to the first public statement.
What is particularly disturbing is that no apology was ever issued by Phil Johnson, the author of the first Grace statement, for impugning the Ezzos’ reputation and character. Was one really necessary? We think so and believe that biblical ethics require that the apology be made in the public and private forums. Is it possible that they just did not want to publicly admit that they made a mistake? Why would they change the statement? If it was not true, then they made a mistake and Phil Johnson needs to be held accountable in a public forum since the comments were made there. If it was true, then why change the statement?
There is a lot more going on at Grace than most people realize, something the Ezzo critics fail to mention because it would harm their case against the Ezzos to do so. It is not just the Ezzos that have integrity concerns about Grace, but because of their public visibility, they have stood out among those disenchanted with the Grace “way.” There have been other occasions in the past where pastors and longstanding members of the congregation have left over integrity and leadership problems.
We also have documented evidence of a recent event where a pastor from Grace spread lies about the Ezzos and then refused to be accountable. The sin is in the lie, the refusal to be accountable with confession of the sin, and a blatant refusal to seek forgiveness. This clearly casts a dark shadow over the integrity of John MacArthur and Grace Church and confirms what others have said about Grace.
Pastor Adam Bailie, an assistant to the Executive Pastor at Grace, made a statement on an Internet forum that the Ezzos were “disciplined out of our church (Grace).” For those of us who were even casual observers of the Ezzos’ ministry in 1996 knew that Mr. Bailey’s claim that the Ezzos were “disciplined” from Grace Community Church was false, possibly to the point of absurd. This erroneous and slanderous statement was picked up by several anti-Ezzo forums such as Steve Rein’s ezzoinfo (the main repository of anti-ezzo gossip) and the information has undoubtedly found its way around the world. It was also posted to the anti-ezzo forum, TulipGirl on June 1st, 2005. Pastor Bailie told ezzotruth that he later asked her to remove the post from her site but that she refused to comply with his request (documented conversation). She has since removed the post from her site after ezzotruth communicated with her about the documented evidence that Adam Bailie passed on information about the Ezzos that was not true and that by posting Pastor Bailie's comments, she became a willing party to a lie.
After three phone calls to Adam Bailie from Ezzotruth in 2006, he finally returned our call and he was confronted with the untruthfulness of his statement about the Ezzos. He admitted that he was wrong in making that statement in the first place, that the statement was not factually correct and that he relied on erroneous information given to him from another source. We have documentation of his admission of guilt. However, when confronted with the sin of lying about the Ezzos, spreading gossip, cheating them out a chance to defend themselves, and stealing their reputation (something that he could never repair), Adam Bailie refused to offer even a simple apology to the Ezzos.
We believe this event speaks to the very same integrity reasons that drove the Ezzos to leave Grace. It seems that Adam Bailie has put his own prideful self-protection interests ahead of the Word of God and even runs contrary to John MacArthur’s own teaching. Even a casual observer must ask the “why” questions. Why does Pastor MacArthur’s admonition not apply to himself or his staff and lay leadership? On what grounds is Adam Bailie exempt from the scriptural admonishment of repenting and seeking forgiveness and why hasn’t his spiritual supervisor forced this issue? If this behavior reflects the integrity concerns that lead the Ezzos to disassociate themselves from Grace Church, then the question of integrity has been answered. For the Bible says: “He who knows to do right but does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17).
Below are the three e-mail exchanges that took place after the initial phone conversation with Adam Bailie when he admitted his guilt. We have also included other e-mails from people who have left Grace for similar reasons as the Ezzos. We hope this will give the reader sufficient reason to at least question the credibility of the Grace statements about the Ezzos, if not disregard their statements entirely.
From Ezzotruth after a documented phone conversation with Pastor Adam Bailie:
Thank you so much for taking the time to converse with me about Gary Ezzo. I have contacted Alexandra, the owner of Tulip Girl and asked her to remove your original comments from her site... I am pleased that you have readily admitted the error, but the gossip has spread way beyond anything you can imagine. This is certainly hurtful to the Ezzos but also has caused further discord to the Body of Christ and damaged to the Ezzos’ reputation. It is very difficult for me to accept those remarks when you don’t even know them. I know you are acquainted with Paul and Jenny and you may have had some conversations about the Ezzos, but I believe there is more going on than you know. I ask two things of you. First, would you please send a letter of apology to the Ezzos for your comments? You may send it to me if you wish and I will forward it to them or you can send it directly through www.gfi.org. I think this it is fair to at least offer them an apology. There is not much else you can do about the ripple effect of the comments across the Internet; the damage is done. Second, would you please send me a statement that I can post on our website, www.ezzotruth.com. I have tried my best to present only documented truth on the site. It is friendly to the Ezzos, unlike what you have experienced on the anti-ezzo sites that are so vicious in their unfounded attacks. You might find the ezzotruth website interesting in light of your posting about the Ezzos. I know you are under the authority and influence of Grace Principals, but there is another side of the story. I know many pastors and others that were at or closely associated with Grace and Living Hope and know the Ezzos personally that have a completely different story to tell. I have documented evidence for most of what I say on ezzotruth, I hope you will visit the site and even ask the Ezzos themselves and not be content with what you have heard from others. As you have seen, it has already caused irreversible damage.
From Adam Bailie:
We agreed not to post his complete communication, but only to summarize it.
1. He said he was misguided in his comment regarding the discipline process with the Ezzos.
2. He said that he is not willing to do any more than what he already has done. He has refused to apologize or to talk to the Ezzos about this event.
Thank you for your time. We appreciate your desire to see an end of any correspondence in this matter. We know that this has probably been somewhat uncomfortable for you.
As you might imagine it is also uncomfortable for Mr. And Mrs. Ezzo and for those of us who care about them. It is never an easy thing to read false statements and gossip about yourself or about someone you care for.
While we don't want to jump to any unfounded conclusions here, we do know from speaking to the Ezzos that you have never contacted them to make an apology for your admittedly "misguided" public statements, which amounted to gossip and slander against them. While you may not have intended those comments to be made so public, in reality, anything on the Internet is pretty much open to the world Mr. Bailey and intended or not, those statements are VERY public now. By not taking the high road with an apology to the Ezzos, you have put yourself and Grace is a position of being a poor reflection on the Body of Christ. There are consequences.
Perhaps you have made some efforts to contact Mr. and Mrs. Ezzo and make an apology and we are just not aware of it, and if so, we will stand corrected. If not, however, we are deeply puzzled at the splinter/log issue going on here and at the seeming lack of concern on your part about the ongoing harm that is still being caused by your words.
The tongue (via the keyboard, in this case) has an incredible propensity to do harm. You have personally done GREAT harm to the reputation of another believer. That harm is ongoing. You may desire this whole thing to be put behind you, but it will not go away, because your words are still out there. You may have a few calls and e-mails to answer. The Ezzos will have more than a few to answer due to the ongoing impact of your comments. So now, you have not only stolen their reputation, you have stolen their time.
You can try to justify your actions by saying that Mr. Ezzo has been "excommunicated" from another church (editor’s note: the Ezzos have never been excommunicated or disciplined by any church) so that excuses you from the basic courtesy and moral behavior (ie: not gossiping and slandering) toward them. Not so, Mr. Bailie. Basic moral courtesies are universally applied, not just to those you think are deserving of them. You public comments with no public apology forthcoming say far more about YOUR character and the reputation of Grace than they do about Mr. Ezzos' character.
While you may not be personally aware of the events that occurred between the Ezzos and GCC and LHEF, we have spent literally HUNDREDS of hours investigating these matters and speaking with eye witnesses. While we don't hope to convince you, we just want you to be aware that all is that glitters is not gold, and all who hold positions of authority within the church are not who they seem to be. Based upon our investigation and the investigation of numerous others into this whole matter, it is clearly not Mr. Ezzo but the elders of LHEF who owe an explanation and an apology to the Ezzos and to all who were affected. If you care to know the truth of the matter, you could read the report of a six month investigation done by Pastor Ron Seidel of Granada Hills Community Church on our www.ezzotruth.com website. The information shared in that report, while troubling, only scratches the surface of the strangeness of this whole event, which can only be explained in terms of Ephesians 6.
While you may sit back in your comfortable office and believe that you have done all that you can do to make right what you have done wrong, unless you have apologized to Mr. and Mrs. Ezzo for your public remarks pertaining to them being church disciplined prior to their departure from GCC, then you have not done enough. No, you cannot take back those words, but as a disciple of Christ you have the same responsibility we all have to make right what you can when you have wronged someone.
We will honor your request not to forward or publicize your e-mail... However we will necessarily need to summarize the communications we have had with you for the sake of righting the wrong that you created, and to shed light on your own character and Christian witness.
Should you wish to make a public apology for the frank gossip that you engaged in with regard to another believer, we would be happy to post that apology on EzzoTruth. It would go a long way toward making right what you have done wrong. Should you elect not to publicly apologize for the very public way you harmed another believer, you will follow the pattern of Ezzo critics who have gone before you over the years--throw jabs, then run and refuse to be accountable.
So, is our correspondence finished? It is, unless you choose to renew it. We still hope for the craziness to end and for the prayer of our Lord in John 17 to be fulfilled in this matter...unity, brother. It is not too much to ask, but it seems beyond our reach and your willingness to consider.
For the cause of unity and truth,
Tom & Evangeline Reed
Others have also left Grace over integrity issues and listed below is just a sampling of their concerns. These were obtained from the Ezzos’ own personal files.
My wife and I first came into contact with the Ezzos and their material more then 15 years ago when we took GKGW at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley prior to the birth of the first of our 6 kids.
I am intimately acquainted with the events surrounding their troubles at Grace and with the staff there. In fact that was one of the primary factors that my family left that church after being members there for about 15 years. I talked to Elders and staff at Grace Community, I talked to the Ezzos and others in (or who were in) their ministry and I realized that more than anything the Ezzos displayed the graciousness of Christ throughout the whole situation, which I can not say for the others I spoke with.
Although I would have (sic) understood a negative comment or justification of their position from the Ezzos, they never had a bad word to say about those who were disparaging them.
We are now members at another local church which is very supportive of Grace Community. I love my church and our Elders but once again I had another negative Ezzo encounter with one of our Elders. We were at a impromptu Memorial Day picnic and a young couple asked one of our Elders about their parenting philosophy. The Elder took the opportunity to talk down the Ezzos material and I found myself once again silently offended.
I won't go into all of the details, but it caused me to seek out the website and I was glad to find your link!
We are not currently involved in their ministry, but we have taught GKGW, Prep for Parenting, Prep for the Toddler Years, and I've used Teen Wise in our community extensively.
Another former Grace member writes the Ezzos:
I was grieved but not surprised, at the people that
turned against you (the Ezzos). I always thought that Abel and Maddox were arrogant and too much a product of Grace church. After we left, with our own horror
story, others came out and told us about their "war wounds". All I can say
is good riddance.......Take care and God bless you both.
These testimonies and other communications and sin issues with the Grace leadership should at the very least give the reader pause to consider that it is not the Ezzos that are the problem here. But because they stood up for what was biblical and just, and moved on without a desire to expose the dirty laundry of others, they were publicly vilified at liberty and ad nauseum by those in opposition to their ministry and them personally.
Grace Church/GFI Ministry Status (Released May 13, 1998)
As the Ezzos travel each weekend, city to city, and state to state, questions regarding the conflict between Grace Church and GFI inevitably arise. At the moment it appears the reconciliation process has gone as far as possible, so we are providing this statement to describe what progress has been made and what issues need further prayer.
In January (1998), Gary and the management of GFI asked for reconciliation assistance from Ken Sande, the president of Peacemaker Ministries. As an objective third party and a respected authority on biblical conflict resolution, we were confident that he would provide unbiased, biblical counsel and help us to remove whatever "plank" might be in our own eye (Matthew 7:3-5). We know that no person or organization, including ours, is perfect or without blind spots. Whether or not any meetings between Grace and GFI would ever take place, we wanted to make sure that our actions had been and would continue to be above reproach.
In February of this year, Mr. Sande met at length with the Ezzos, the elders of Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship (Gary and Anne Marie's home church), and the management team of GFI so that he could evaluate our actions and responses throughout this conflict. Mr. Sande made some specific recommendations about what Gary and the ministry staff at GFI could do to correct any wrongdoing and remove any hindrances to the reconciliation process. Some of these recommendations were challenging, but after prayer and discussion, Gary and the rest of our staff, with the support of his church elders, submitted to Mr. Sande's counsel.
In addition to meeting with GFI, Mr. Sande met with Mr. Phillip Johnson, Executive Director of Grace to You Ministries, and the author of the Grace Church statements. A few weeks later, another meeting took place that included Mr. Sande, Mr. Johnson, and Gary Ezzo. Those meetings helped GFI identify ways to handle such situations more constructively in the future. They also helped facilitate a revision on March 21, 1998 of the official Grace Community Church statement concerning Gary Ezzo and GFI which was made public on October 16, 1997.
This new statement is much shorter and limited to two issues of preference and one of perspective. The first preference issue concerns the extent to which depravity and regeneration should be emphasized throughout the GFI curricula. Though Mr. Johnson acknowledges the fact that it is mentioned (see GKGW pages 16-17, 23, 34), in his opinion, it ought to be given more attention. Second is the emphasis throughout the GFI curricula on various issues of family governance (i.e. non-biblical issues, such as advice given on infant feeding). The third is the potential for conflict within a church which may occur between parents trained in the GFI principles and those that are not. On all three matters, we agree to disagree.
We wish we could report that all differences and concerns between the two parties were reconciled. They are not. That means there are some issues only heaven can sort out. In the meantime, we will continue to live in obedience to Romans 12:18 "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
This document was reviewed and approved for distribution by: Mr. Ken Sande, Executive Director of Peacemaker Ministries,* Philip Johnson of Grace To You Ministries, and Gary Ezzo of Growing Families International. (May 13,1998)
* Peacemaker Ministries
, 1537 Avenue Suite 352, Billings, MT 59012