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Rachel’s Open Letter To Pastor Roy Grant

Dear Roy,

I was raised in the church that you now pastor. You never got the opportunity to be my pastor because I left for many reasons some of which I’ll explain later on in this letter. You did see myself and many others grow up in front of your eyes while your dad was our pastor. I have such good and bad memories all mixed together and sometimes it gets very confusing. I should probably be directing this towards all of the elders throughout the years and your father John Grant as well because he was my pastor while I attended. I’m directing this towards you now because your voice can bring the change I feel is necessary to start or continue the healing process that so many like myself need.

I want you to know the people of Calvary Gospel Church were my family growing up. I was loved by so many and so many helped me in times of great need. I will always be grateful for the compassion and kindness I was shown. I’ll always be thankful for the families that took us in and gave us a safe place when my mother left and helped my dad in his time of need. If one can love, be hurt, want change, but still be angry at the same time that’s how I feel. I like many others suffered trauma that even with counseling makes it impossible to want to go back to my Calvary Gospel Church family. I feel grief and loss for so many of my once friends, but also find quiet support from others. It’s weird to have such pain and hope at the same time.

I’ve learned that a family is only as sick as it’s secrets and the same can be said about a church family. There were so many things that were kept secret or purposefully hidden while I was attending both the church and the Christian school. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with six sexual assault survivors from my youth. They were all minors assaulted or raped by adults. There are also secrets of minors touching minors inappropriately. When it’s hidden knowledge that adults are sexually assaulting minors and getting away with it, that behavior is sadly typical in children and some will respond in this way because they do not understand what is going on. I’m sure there are many other survivors that are still scared to tell their story for fear of being shunned or talked about behind their back.

One of those survivors is my older sister. She was raped as a teenager around the age of 13 by Mike Bakken a man in the church that was ten plus years her senior. She went openly out on dates to Pizza Hut with him and myself. There were plenty of other church adults who witnessed it. He had sex with one other underage person that I know of (my friend Deb) before he raped my sister.

I go back and forth in my mind about how all of this could have happened. Was it the culture that taught little girls from the pulpit that a slit in her skirt causes adult men to lust but then didn’t tell those same adult men to keep their hands off? Was it countless adult men dating underage children and teens without any repercussion from the pulpit? Was it that parents were too trusting? Was it that we were so scared of hell that when something bad happened to us as children we didn’t say anything? Was it that 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15-year-old children were to blame for the lust of others? Was it that we were not shown the love we needed so we were searching for love? I think it was a mix of all of it and much more that could take years to explain.

I know I’m not perfect so let me be the first to say to you Roy that I’m sorry I didn’t have the courage, to tell the truth as a child when I saw these things happening and when they were happening to me. I have deep regret and have suffered severe depression because of it. I wish I had been stronger back then. I was scared and I could have potentially helped a lot of children not have to suffer through the trauma I did. I should have asked for help, but I didn’t think we’d be believed. I should have stood up and asked why things were wrong instead of cowardly letting them happen. There was a lot of fear involved in my silence, but I’m not scared anymore. I want to make right the wrongs that happened and the only way to do that is to apologize. I am truly sorry to anyone I hurt with my silence and inaction.

What I want from you Roy, like I asked my dad to do, is to acknowledge that these things happened. Acknowledge that they were wrong. Apologize for the elders and pastors for hiding things and not taking them to the police. Apologize to the people that were threatened into silence. Change your policies so that when people are assaulted, especially children, the police are notified. Foster a culture where when bad things happen children don’t blame themselves for the lust of others. Create a place where toxic shame doesn’t exist and it is safe to tell the truth when one is being hurt. I honestly believe that most people want to do the right thing but are scared to or can only follow your lead. Please be the leader Calvary Gospel Church needs. Please choose to do the right thing for all those hurting people. Please do what Jesus would want you to do.

Sincerely,

Rachel Capacio

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Leadership, Trauma, United Pentecostal Church

Sabrina Marie’s Open Letter To Pastor Roy Grant

Roy, I do not know if you remember me as I was not in the church for very long. When I was there your father was the main pastor. I cannot look back and say that my own time in the UPC was completely unhelpful in my life. What I can say is that in recent years I have realized that so much was hidden from me and none of it was good.

When you were not the pastor, I loved the down to earth family life you seemed to have. You would throw a pig roast every year, you would talk to other men no matter how involved in the church they were. It didn’t matter if they wore sneakers instead of dress shoes and you even took the time to teach my husband a quick way to tie his tie. I appreciated you and your family. I looked up to your father and I loved and cared about all of you. Even after leaving the church, I always thought your Dad was one of the closest people to God there was. Later hearing you had become a minister yourself as many wanted to see you do, I was happy about it. I occasionally heard snippets of you talking about spiritual warfare and I really appreciated that you were fighting spiritually for the good of the world, the light of the world.

In the past three years, I have heard fact-based truth about things that have occurred not only within the UPCI but many from within your own church. I realize that a lot of them occurred when you were not even ordained yet. I understand that. But at the same time, I’m learning these disturbing things and realizing that the entire Acts 2:38 message by the UPC is cherry-picked from the Bible. That and knowing that you have participated in what has really become narcissistic, controlling, and even cult-like behaviors leaves me feeling disturbed and betrayed.

Imagine if you will for a minute, that at some point in your life you looked up to someone as the ideal, and you trusted everyone in the organization under that person. You believed they were safe and healthy for your family and that they wouldn’t dare tell a lie or cover up something that would continue to hurt others. Then imagine that you found out what you thought might be just idle gossip but then more and more truth came forward with more and more fact, and then your clean, clear vision of that person became fogged, broken, and dirty.

I imagine that you might be reading this and assume that because I have left the church that I can no longer see clearly. You might believe I have been tempted by Satan or that I have just lost my mind to opinions. That is okay what you think of me because it is irrelevant. You were raised in the church and you know exactly what the Bible says. You know exactly what has been right in front of you this entire time. I believe that in your experience there are things you know you should not be dismissing and you know those things are not in alignment with the spiritual warfare, the call of God, or what Jesus would do.

As others and I have requested in these letters, please take a stand for the survivors. Please stop hiding or standing with those who you know are not telling the truth. If you truly care about getting people saved, save their families like mine from being found a fool and from being hurt, deceived, and shamed. Be the one who puts his foot down and says enough is enough.

Please start listening to what is being told to you by human beings, not robots or demons. It is important, it is still happening, and people are still suffering. Your congregation is not safe if you are not willing to step from the podium and confess what you know to those whom you say are faithful servants of God. Finally, if at this moment, as you read this you feel absolutely nothing, I simply have one more question. Is that what he whom you call Jesus would do? Feel nothing? Be blind? He stood up when no one else would did he not? So, forget who I am, and decide who you are.

Thank you,

Sabrina Reynolds

C-PTSD, Compassion, Crime, Justice, Leadership, Sexual Abuse, Trauma, Uncategorized, United Pentecostal Church

An Open Letter To Pastor Roy Grant

Roy, it has been a long long time since we have spoken or really had any contact with each other. I have thought about reaching out to you many times but something has always stopped me. I know instinctively that any interaction between us will be painful because neither of us is who we were when we knew each other.

When I was a child I looked up to you as a big brother. You were an adult but just barely and at the time I believed that you understood me. As the youth leader and school monitor, you kept us within the lines without seeming authoritarian. I felt like you understood how oppressive it could all be and so you tried to bring the fun with you when you could. For a long time, you gave me rides to school along with as many kids as you could fit into your old Blazer. I’m sure my mother almost never gave you gas money. It makes me smile now to think of how Norman and Tim would have to hoist me into the truck because I was so tiny and it was so high up. My childhood was a dark dark place and the times when I was having fun with you shine bright in the midst of it all. Even now it makes me smile to remember watching Star Trek in your basement after church and doing donuts in the empty parking lot. I was so scared we would crash and you and the boys would laugh at me. Silly kids stuff but when your home life is so bad things like this make life bearable. When I won a place on the honor roll field trip and my shoes developed a hole I told my mom I would just skip it. She called you and you called around until you found a pair of shoes for me. We never talked about it but you came through for me and it was a big deal in my little life.

I don’t think you singled me out and to most people, these things might not seem like much. Speaking from my child self they were important to me. You just never know how a small act of kindness will impact a child. I always try to remember to smile at kids because I recognize that my smile might be the only adult smile they see that day. Once you stepped back some and John Seidl took over youth group and Sunday school things became harder. He was much sterner and I never felt like I could not let my guard down around him. I’m sure you were not perfect but I always felt like you wanted everyone to feel included. When you were not around school or the youth group as much I felt like there was no adult I could turn to who wouldn’t immediately judge me. Sympathy and compassion were impossible to come by.

This brings us to now. I know that I am probably not your favorite person due to the things I have exposed within my blog. I am sure that you and I disagree on most things. I know that this will probably not bring about the change that I and so many others wish to see but I feel compelled to try. I’m sure it has felt like I’m attacking the church and your family. It has never been my wish to attack anyone. I have only been trying to shed light on my experiences in order to help others and maybe get a little bit of justice for myself. If I thought your father would listen I would be directing this towards him. You are the pastor now and so I’m directing this towards you. I’m writing this to plead with you and Calvary Gospel to change. I’m asking you to acknowledge how bad things were handled with regards to Steve Dahl and countless other abusers. I’m asking you and the church to apologize to all of the people who have been hurt by policies that go a long way towards protecting the church but leave in their path, countless victims. I’m asking you to develop church policies that include going to the police first when a victim comes forward because this is the only way the community at large can be protected from predators and physically abusive people. Lastly, I’m asking that the church no longer tolerate older men dating underage women. It is one of those things that everyone knows about but no one does anything about. By acknowledging the church’s role in the pain of so many survivors you could help bring a tiny bit of healing to my community. We could all rest easier knowing that you are committed to reporting abuse and protecting children. We could all rest easier knowing that another Becky or Debbie is not being groomed within the walls of the church.

I know how hard this kind of change would be and I understand that my posting this publically is going to make things even harder. I’m posting it publically because I don’t believe the church or you will respond any other way. I am also concerned about my words being twisted and this way it is all out in the light for anyone to read. I’m going to sign off for now and I hope that you will be the hero this situation needs. To the other pastoral staff, I’m sure you will see this and I hope you will also be a part of bringing some healing into the lives of so many who have been devestated by Calvary Gospel.