Back in 2012, led by the divine hand of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit, I called out pastor Danny Hodges as a soldier of Satan after the Lord revealed to me that Danny Hodges and the organization he led were stealing from me, and I hold him personally responsible (as the president of the non-profit company) for wronging my family and I on several occasions.
Today, you are here because he was exposed as (and admitted to being) a mean drunk who abused his power as the leader of a flock, of whom a number of innocent, trusting people he hurt.
But it gets much, much worse.
Danny Hodges’ actions, behavior and even the trusted “board” members who were driven, by faith to cast him and his wife out, resulted in a monumental split within the body.
Then came the leading astray of many who’s trust and hope were crushed by the very man they chose to follow, unknowing he had sunk so deep into denial, he started his own business after deacons, elders, brothers and sisters (and even a 3rd party restoration company, PastorServe) clearly labelled the man as unfit to lead…
Below is his letter of resignation from Calvary Chapel St Petersburg…
To the Board, Staff & Elders of CCSP:
On Friday afternoon, June 16, PastorServe communicated to me the Board’s direction to give them an “all in or all out” decision concerning our participation in the PastorServe plan no later than noon (EST) Tuesday, June 20, 2017.
With shoulder surgery scheduled for Monday morning, June 19, we realized it was imperative that we reach a decision and put it in writing prior to that time.
Due to different work schedules, it wasn’t until this evening that we were able to sit down with all our children (and FaceTime Tanner) to discuss our decision and review with them this letter.
With their full knowledge, consent, and support, we submit to you the following.
This is a very difficult letter to write, but after much fervent prayer in seeking God’s will, my wife and I agree that we can no longer continue with the PastorServe plan. Furthermore, Wendy and I believe the time has come that we must leave the fellowship of Calvary Chapel St. Petersburg.
The following is a summary of our reasons behind this heartwrenching decision:
· The deep divide that exists between myself and some of my former fellow pastors. I was not aware there existed a divide, but six months ago it became painfully clear. Some of the division, I am told, was caused during the years I experienced what for lack of a better term is ministry “burnout.” Pastor Chuck Smith would often say he did not understand burnout, so no CC pastor I know would ever even come close to admitting such a thing, including me. But it happened to me. I am deeply sorry for any hurt I caused my fellow pastors during that time, and ask that you forgive me. My wife can verify that gradually over time the constant pressures from decades of ministry had a progressive negative impact on me emotionally, mentally and physically. Yet with her help, we took decisive steps that enabled me to recover. January 2016 marked the start of significant positive change for me and my entire family. The Lord not only restored my health and family relationships, He also renewed my passion, zeal, and vision for ministry.
· The charge of disqualification. Despite my season of burnout, I have done nothing worthy of disqualification from pastoral ministry. I have attached a letter from Pastor Don McClure sent to some CCSP leaders this past March, and I pray it adds a bit of integrity to this statement. I left Don’s email in its raw form in order for you to know that it has not been altered in any way. My initial reason for stepping down as senior pastor was because fellow pastors said reconciliation was not possible for them as long as I was the senior pastor. But after stepping down, no one was willing to sit and talk on a personal level.
· Multiple accusations against me that are inaccurate, exaggerated, or completely false. I have tried to own my failures and the mistakes I have made, but some of the things being presented as fact are shocking to my entire family. These have been stated as truth, even though they have never been verified, nor have my wife and I had an opportunity to respond to the charges. Yet judgments have been rendered without charges being thoroughly investigated and the truth determined (Deut. 19:15-20).
· The Calvary board’s unwillingness to allow or even consult with the Calvary Chapel Association (CCA) in dealing with these matters. From the beginning, I have repeatedly recommended that the CCA be brought in to deal with these issues. Key council members on the CCA including Don McClure, Joe Focht, Sandy Adams, and Malcolm Wild have repeatedly offered to help, even fly here at their own expense. But the board chose not to consult with any of them. This is highly disturbing since the CCA is the one entity to whom we as a local church should be accountable. These are men of tremendous spiritual integrity and decades of pastoral ministry experience. They also love this flock. When Don McClure was in town a few months ago, Art Dykstra urged the board to at least sit down and talk with him, but to no avail.
· Outsourcing the attempt to settle these issues to a ministry that does not reflect the values and beliefs of a Calvary Chapel church, not to mention the financial cost of doing so (potentially over $100,000). The leadership of the CCA has offered to assist at no cost whatsoever to the church.
· The unbiblical manner in which this situation has been handled. Passages like I Tim. 5:19, Matt. 5:23-25, 18:15-17, Heb. 12:15, Deut. 19:15-20, Prov. 18:17, and Gal. 6:1-2 have been either ignored or side-stepped until a future “right time” (i.e. according to the PastorServe plan). In Matt. 5 & 18 Jesus stresses urgency in settling conflict quickly, something the PastorServe plan has yet to address. It has already been six months, and the longer we wait the worse things get. In our view, church by-laws and PastorServe methods have taken precedence over biblical truth and directives. In the meantime, the enemy is having a heyday with the sheep of this congregation.
· The lack of desire or intention among a majority of the pastoral staff, and at least certain board members, to see me restored as senior pastor. It is clear to me that even if I was restored to the staff of CCSP, it will not be in the position that God has called me to. Some who attended the May 15 leaders’ meeting reported that when pastors and two Board members were asked to show by raised hand who wanted to see me return as senior pastor, none responded. No response was a revealing response.
· A shift away from Calvary Chapel distinctives. I have serious concerns about the direction/position of some key Calvary Chapel pastors and leaders away from the core values and doctrinal positions that define a Calvary Chapel church. Also, it is my suspicion that even now, with the guidance of PastorServe, current church by-laws are being altered, and it is possible that when completed, the new by-laws will resemble those of a particular denomination, and Calvary distinctives will be done away with.
· The false impression being presented by the leadership that I need rest, healing, etc. For the past year and a half, I have never felt healthier, been closer to the Lord, nor had more vision and passion for ministry. Yes, a few years ago I hit a wall, I lost my passion and vision. But I have had the most significant revival of my entire life and believe my best days of pastoral ministry lie ahead.
We agonize to have to send this letter, but the time has come. As the spiritual father of this church, I have a responsibility before God to take a stand. I initially agreed to submit to the PastorServe plan, believing this would perhaps be a path back to the responsibilities the Lord called me to for this local church 34 years ago. But it has now become evident that PastorServe is not that path at all.
Wendy and I are stepping away from CCSP completely, and we feel the Lord is directing us to make a fresh start. We have counted the cost, accepted the sacrifice, and look forward to a new venture in faith.
I still desire forgiveness and reconciliation between me and any other Calvary pastors or leaders, and I am willing to sit down and talk anytime in a personal setting according to Matthew 18:15.
Pastor Danny & Wendy Hodges