David J. Merkel
11 Sunnybank Lane
Aston, PA 19014
13 April 1995
Dear Pastor Mathew,
I write this to you because you have been identified as a member of the leadership of Grace Valley Christian Center [GVCC]. After seven years away from GVCC, I have had time to reflect on the issues that caused my family to leave. The Bible, Church History, and the Creeds say much about them. The enclosed paper discusses these issues. I write this out of love for those at GVCC, and to set my conscience at rest. As time went by, the seriousness of the issues led me to write. I hate making anyone unhappy, unless there is a greater good in sight. You may not agree with what I write, but you ought to be aware of what the Bible has to say.
I would have written this sooner, but my responsibilities have grown as a father, businessman, and church member. I write this out of concern for the eldership and membership of Grace Valley. It was with a heavy heart that we left GVCC; we did not want to lose 98% of our extant friends. But there were issues more important than friendship at stake. As an aside that I will briefly touch on, I have found the Biblical answer to the question “When should someone leave a local church?” Many members wondered about that question at GVCC.
Please understand that I write this with no anger or bitterness on my part. That passed away early. The remaining emotion I have, if any, is pity. Pity for the elders who have taken on burdens that God never meant for them to bear. Pity for the members whose lives suffer, whether they know it or not. But also understand that I have not forgiven the eldership of GVCC. To the best of my knowledge, the eldership has not repented of their false doctrines, or the evil that their false doctrines led them to do.
There may be some things in this paper that I accuse the eldership of that they might say they never taught. I believe what I write is the experience of many who have attended GVCC. If the eldership publicly says they did not teach these things, I think many of their members would be surprised. Perhaps a review of the holographic sermon notes that many took during the Seventies and Eighties would confirm some of my points. But if not, and the eldership claims they never taught it, but agree with my points, then why not teach against it? If I was confused, perhaps others were too.
There may be some things that the eldership has quietly dropped, and no longer teaches or encourages. In these cases, I would urge the eldership to teach publicly against these things. To the extent that the eldership does not, the members of GVCC who are more sensitive will still have their consciences bound to the old, false teaching. Those members will feel they, and the rest of the church, aren’t as sanctified as they used to be. Bad ideas deserve a formal death and burial.
When I attended GVCC, many members and elders said there was no place like it, and that we were blessed to have what we had. I believe this sentiment was a tad overboard. Since leaving, I have been a member of two congregations: Covenant Reformed (RCUS – Sacramento) and Broomall RPCNA. I have also become familiar with several other congregations in that time. On net, GVCC is not the worst off, but is toward the lower end. I could not recommend it to anyone living in Davis. (Sacramento is not too far away to get good preaching, fellowship, and worship.)
My sincere hope is that the eldership will repent formally and publicly, both of doctrinal errors, and the rash actions that resulted from the doctrinal errors. Don’t let this wait until Heaven. I would not want to have to answer for the things the eldership has wrongly taught and done in the name of Jesus.
For Christ’s Crown and Covenant,
David J. Merkel
P.S. I would like an official response from the eldership, but personal responses are welcome. If I receive no responses within a month, I will call some of the elders of GVCC to confirm receipt of this letter and get any reaction that they might offer. I am not looking for a protracted debate, but to see what the eldership thinks.