In March, Evangelical Dark Web reported on the attempt by top leadership of the Evangelical Free Church of America to defrock a pastor for opposing wokeness. The news from their annual meeting that took place last week is in, and unfortunately justice and sound doctrine did not prevail.
As previously reported, Pastor Jeff Kliewer has been a trouble maker to the upper echelons of leadership for speaking out against Social Justice in the church, including writing a book Woke-Free Church and asking questions of woke preacher Bill Riedel. For this, Kliewer was charged with four counts.
The first was Christian Nationalism, which is not only benign, it’s also irrelevant to Kliewer. Kliewer was found not guilty of this charge as the tide has turned in favor of this term, he explained. The second charge was misrepresentation, which he presumes to refer to either the EFCA or woke pastors. The third charge was attitude, to which Kliewer credits thinking that he’s right. This is also not a sin issue. The fourth charge was influence, which is also not a sin issue. He was instructed to repent prior to September 2022 to avoid his ministry credential being taken away. This is the EFCA version of defrocking a pastor, as they, similar to the Southern Baptist Convention hold to a more congregational polity.
The decline of the Free Church was displayed this past month at the EFCA National Conference in California. Pastor Jeff Kliewer, upon recommendation of the EFCA leadership, was informed that he would not be ordained in the Free Church unless he repented. Over the last few years Pastor Kliewer spoke and wrote about the Social Justice agenda that he sees being pushed upon the churches by the leadership. In 2021 Pastor Kliewer detailed this in a book titled, Woke Free Church.
John Harris, in promoting this article, clarifies that Jeff Kliewer was disciplined by the body, and will not be considered ordained unless he repents.
He also likens the situation to the Southern Baptist Convention where many conservative churches have left because of liberalism. But whereas the SBC has a pathway for disfellowshipping egalitarian megachurches, the EFCA has a woke magisterium, the Board of Ministerial Standing, cracking down on righteous pastors. Seth Brickley has some of the same inferences in his article.
For doing what a good shepherd is supposed to do he has been disciplined. What is interesting is that while the leadership refuses to ordain him, Pastor Kliewer is leading a vibrant church in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. When Kliewer arrived there in 2016 the church had forty people and now seven years later the church has three hundred. This church loves their pastor. They love that he proclaims the truth passionately and also defends it. This church pastored by Kliewer is one full of love and unity.
Perhaps Cornerstone Church in Mount Laurel, New Jersey will leave the EFCA and keep their beloved pastor. Perhaps this will wake up EFCA pastors to see the problem of wokeness in their own denomination, less they go the way of the Evangelical Covenant Church.
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