“One of the fundamental laws of life, and therefore of business, is that you get more of what you subsidize, and less of what you penalize.” Douglas Wilson
To set this up, let me remind you that last August Pastor Douglas Wilson of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, released the CREC Presiding Ministers’ Report on the Sitler and Wight Sex Abuse Cases (PMR). The report ignores and/or whitewashes unspeakable sins that took place under Mr. Wilson’s watch, including those he orchestrated. For example, Doug Wilson was the chief intellectual & religious influence on one of the subjects of the report — Jamin Wight. From his Logos School education to his ministerial training at Greyfriars Hall, Mr. Wight learned all things Wilson, which likely accounts for his criminal behavior: “A disciple is not above his teacher” (Matt. 10:24). Presumably the Presiding Ministers understood as much when they placed this recommendation into the report:
At present, Christ Church’s Greyfriars Hall is the closest institution the CREC has to a denominational seminary or ministerial training center. It is vital that Greyfriars establish proper protocols for vetting ministerial candidates and providing them with intense accountability throughout their training. In addition to initial screenings, extensive reference requirements, and criminal background checks, students should be given ongoing evaluations. We recommend consulting with MinistrySafe to develop a more comprehensive screening process.
As our review progressed and interviews were completed, it became apparent to the committee that the Greyfriars program needs a significant overhaul (more than it has received). For example, it was revealed that a large percentage (perhaps the majority) of ministerial candidates never complete their required studies while in Moscow but are expected to complete them at their next location. Also, records kept on students were often incomplete and there was a lack of communication between various entities involved in a student’s training (churches, Greyfriars, internship locations).
Our recommendation is that, in general, Greyfriars Hall take a more institutional posture and investigate how established seminaries deal with the problems and challenges of vetting candidates for ministry, including character checks, as well as keeping careful records and improving communications amongst pastors and elders involved in the training and oversight of candidates. We recommend that the process of assessing new students and re-assessing them during their program be tightened up significantly. We urge having a mapped out plan with scheduled benchmarks which are reviewed by all parties involved and having all of these records maintained in a well-organized system. We also recommend that the program have a more definite beginning and end point, and that students be strongly encouraged to complete the whole program before taking a call to a pastoral position.
Further, we would strongly recommend that Greyfriars bolster its counseling component since future pastors are likely going to have deal with cases like those under review in this report. (PMR 12, 13)
This sets the table for today’s post: The Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches held their triannual big jamboree last month. A quick search of the meeting minutes reveals they did not discuss the sexual- and physical-abuse cases of Jamin Wight or the ongoing abuse case of serial pedophile Steven Sitler. However, they did elect a new presiding minister to replace Douglas Wilson, whose term expired, and in my opinion the CREC could not have picked a better-qualified person to succeed Mr. Wilson.
Meet Virgil Hurt
The Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches elected Virgil Hurt as their new presiding minister. Mr. Hurt is pastor of Providence Church in Virginia and he hosts a blog called Babbelog (I have no idea what this means). Two unique qualifications distinguish Mr. Hurt to occupy the highest office of the CREC: (1) He was a classmate of Jamin Wight at Greyfriars Hall, and (2) He helped perpetrate the Topless & Proud hoax against his neighbors on the Palouse.
- Classmate of Jamin Wight
This is not a “guilt by association” argument. It’s a point of reference to show that Mr. Hurt attended Greyfriars when the program did not have “proper protocols for vetting ministerial candidates” and when it did not provide them “with intense accountability throughout their training” (PMR). Accordingly, no one can vouch for his training any more than they could vouch for Jamin Wight’s.
- Topless & Proud
Few facts demonstrate the remarkable scope of Virgil Hurt’s education at Greyfriars Hall than his role in Topless and Proud. (Read the whole story here, to understand this well-coordinated fraud.) In short, Virgil Hurt was the manager of Kinkos when he studied at Greyfriars Hall,1 and Douglas Wilson used his student’s free access to Kinkos’ fax machines to execute the fraud. Doug Wilson wrote: “When they [the Moscow Police Department] demanded to see the film from the security cameras at Kinko’s (whence the faxes had been sent). . .” Virgil Hurt sent the faxes and then stonewalled the police when they asked to see the film — the film of him committing the crime. If this does not convince you of Mr. Hurt’s preparation for the ministry, you can read his two position here.
Few things demonstrate Virgil Hurt’s blind loyalty to Douglas Wilson more than his role in Topless and Proud. If the MPD had filed criminal charges against the culprits, then FedEx (parent company of Kinkos) would have terminated Mr. Hurt, without appeal, because it was all on film. Mr. Hurt willingly jeopardized his employment and reputation so that Doug Wilson could giggle at a few “tight-lipped fundamentalists of the left.” One can only imagine what Mr. Hurt would have said to his wife if he got canned: “Gee, honey, Doug said it was okay.”
Doug Wilson’s Handheld Puppet
So much for “vetting ministerial candidates . . . intense accountability . . . extensive reference requirements, and criminal background checks.” The CREC elected Douglas Wilson’s handheld puppet as their new presiding minister. The minutes say that one of Mr. Wilson’s other handheld puppets — Toby Sumpter — nominated Virgil Hurt, which suggests that they scripted this.2 And right on cue, Virgil Hurt’s first act as PM was to endorse New Saint Andrews College:
The CREC began in 1998 and has steadily grown and expanded her gospel ministry throughout the world. There are now 95 member churches in ten countries and on four continents. Our stateside and foreign churches are active in planting new mission churches. It is our desire to be responsive and helpful to all who inquire about our communion and her related ministries. We have one church-affiliated liberal arts college, New St. Andrews. (A Greeting from the Presiding Minister, December 12, 2017)
Call it a hunch, but methinks that Douglas Wilson needed a Kool-Aid-drinking loyalist as PM to keep a safe firewall between himself and giving account for his unethical activities. He cannot allow any more Review Committees to sniff around Moscow. So Virgil Hurt was a no-brainer. Mr. Hurt “surrendered [his] independence” two decades ago.
This is business as usual in the CREC, where crime pays and frauds rule. Or as their founder aptly said, “You get more of what you subsidize and less of what you penalize.”
1 There’s a discrepancy in the timeline. Mr. Hurt’s bio page says he attended Greyfriars Hall in 2000–2001. However, Topless and Proud took place on April 1, 1999, one year before Mr. Hurt entered Greyfriars, according to the bio page. Douglas Wilson resolved this dilemma on his personal website. Please note the words “for the record”:
“The ‘Topless and Proud’ joke was not done by an unnamed ministerial candidates with the help of a student at Kinkos. It was done by an unnamed elder with the help of a ministerial candiate [sic] who worked at Kinkos. Like I said, hardly worth mentioning. . . . But these comments of mine are just for the record. . .” (Blog & Mablog, More Than Usual About CT, March 23, 2009)
2 The minutes also show that Randy Booth ran for the office of Presiding Minister Pro Tem. This demonstrates, again, that he did not resign because of integrity.