Florida Woman Says Former Church Plans to Make Her Sins Public

December 19, 2008 — 5 Comments

Have you heard about the church that is going to tell its members about a woman’s sins?

Have you heard about the woman who was so upset that a church was going to tell its members about her sins that she told the entire world about her sins instead?

Here’s the full story:  FOXNews.com – Florida Woman Says Former Church Plans to Make Her Sins Public

Does anyone else see the irony in this?

In trying to expose the church, she seems to have only exposed herself.

Interesting tactic.

T. Scott Christmas (great name for this time of year, huh?), pastor of the church, told the Florida Times-Union that the “process of loving accountability” is made very clear to members, and the church is doing “nothing more than following the practices of what biblical churches have done through history.”

The church’s method for dealing with sin of this nature is a three-step process: private admonishment, admonishment in the presence of witnesses and finally public admonishment.

Rebecca Hancock told FOXNews.com that Grace Community Church, a non-denominational church in Jacksonville, Fla., was against her relationship with boyfriend Frank Young because the two were sexually active but not married.

Now, I’ve read the article and I don’t think this situation was handled properly by her “mentor” and some of the women in the church. 

Hancock confessed her sin to a woman she considered a mentor.

Hancock learned that her private sessions with her mentor hadn’t been so private after all, when in October her mentor pulled her aside in church and asked her come into another room.

“In the room, there were several women that I never told my business to. And they proceeded to tell me about my business and what I was doing and what a sinner I was — just persecuting me.” Hancock said. “One of the ladies was even saying ‘I was at your house when you didn’t come home all night.’”

A stakeout?  Sounds like at least one of the women at Grace Community Church is watching too much Law and Order.

That being said, I have the suspicion that there is more to the story.  As a church leader who has been involved with church discipline, I know that these type of situations can be very complicated and that the “victim”–not the Elders–is typically the only one who gets to share his/her side of the story.  My experience has been that godly elders, typically use more discretion than the one who has committed an indiscretion and that godly elders are reticent to defend themselves.  I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to the elders who are dealing directly with this situation.  I bet you that there is a lot more to the story than we’re hearing. 

Elders are almost always made more vulnerable by the discretion with which they choose to handle delicate situations like this.  I’ve known elders in similar situations who could have quelled all criticism and stopped all gossip by simply revealing some of the facts they knew, but who–because they were men of character who knew that they had to put the care of the flock, not their own reputations, above all else–kept their mouths shut and endured unfair criticism without uttering a word in their own defense.  Yes, I’m going to give these guys the benefit of the doubt.  It seems that they are trying to handle this situation biblically.

Still, it’s very sad that this situation has been made so public.  It’s puts the church, the elders, and Rebecca Hancock in the position to be ridiculed by people of the world, which is unfortunate for all involved.

The article mentions that Hancock sent a formal letter of resignation after receiving the elders’ ultimatum in hopes of solving the dispute. She said she fears for her 20-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter if the church carries out its threat.

“I don’t really care what they do to me. But I am concerned about my children sitting in church with their mother being crucified by the church that they trust,” she said. “I am very concerned about how it would affect them.”

Which leaves me with 3 questions for Rebecca:

1) Then, why didn’t you think about your children before you started having sex with a man to whom you weren’t married?

2) If you’re so concerned with how it would affect your children, then why did you tell the whole world? 

3) Was getting revenge on Grace Community Church worth the price your kids–and you–are now having to pay?

Maybe, this story reveals more about the woman a church has decided to discipline that it reveals about a church a woman was trying to criticize.


5 responses to Florida Woman Says Former Church Plans to Make Her Sins Public


    You’re right. There is great inconsistency in this story – room to make us believe we’re not getting the whole picture.
    Still, it will force us all to think about how we would want our elders to handle a similar situation. We have to learn from any mistakes made and refine our thinking, not over-react to any fallout from this news story.
    I was pleasantly surprised that the Fox article included commentary from a conservative theologian who seems to have handled himself well.



    Thank you for defending the church’s biblical standard. Pastor Christmas is a godly man committed to the purity of the church.


    What an interesting situation. It is difficult to make much of any judgement in this situation because there are so many unknowns. One unknown is the character of the Elders at her church.

    However, I know the character of the elders at my church. Based on that, I would have to say if the elders at my Church sent me such a letter–even after I had left the membership–I would reach the conclusion that they really love me.

    The easy thing to do would be to just drop it and let a sleeping dog lie (No pun intended). But their decision to press-on gives the appearance of a deep love for her.


    Haven’t talked to you in a long time!!! =) I hope (know!) you are all doing well! The three questions you posed at the end really bring it all into focus, I believe. Those are the same questions that Cameron and I were asking when we first learned of the story. As always, it’s good to hear your thoughts. Merry Christmas!!!


    I read what you had to say but am disgusted with how the church handled the situation. I just think of the women about to be stoned and Jesus confronting the men there and stating that those who have not sinned this sin can throw the first stone.

    When something it discussed in private, it is of great violation and I feel for the woman and she chose to reveal how poorly this church was handling her situation. She is choosing to speak up and say that this isn’t write.

    When she left, if they wanted to show love to her, they should have approached her as Christ would have. Not coming to punish her, not trying to humiliate her but to show love and acceptance.

    No one should attack her for revealing the wrong of this church. Her privacy was violated and her wishes ignored. She stood up and is letting people know what is going on and that takes a LOT of strength.

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