C. J. Mahaney

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C.J. Mahaney
File:CJ Mahaney Pastor.jpg
Born (1953-09-21) September 21, 1953 (age 67)
Residence Louisville, Kentucky
Nationality United States
Occupation Pastor
Spouse(s) Carolyn

Charles Joseph Mahaney, commonly known as C.J., is an American Christian minister. He is currently the senior pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, and was formerly president of Sovereign Grace Ministries, now known as Sovereign Grace Churches (formerly People of Destiny International or PDI, co-founded with Larry Tomczak), a network formed to establish and support local churches. He was one of the founding pastors and leaders of Covenant Life Church, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Under Mahaney's leadership, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville is a member of Sovereign Grace Churches and works with the Southern Baptist Convention for training and Christian mission work.

Mahaney resigned from the presidency of Sovereign Grace Ministries in 2013 in order to plant Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. A 2012 class-action suit was filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries and listed Mahaney as a defendant. The lawsuit was dismissed due to the statute of limitations;[1] Mahaney released a public statement explicitly denying all claims in the suit.[2]


Early life and career

Mahaney was born in Maryland into a Roman Catholic household, the middle child of five. He was the son of a metalworker in Takoma Park, Maryland.[3] As a child, he was more interested in sports than God.[3] Mahaney attended Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. He reports having been converted in 1972 at age 18 by a friend who shared his faith. He says that a newspaper ad motivated him to join a local prayer meeting known as Take and Give, which evolved into Covenant Life Church.[3]

In 1974, aged 20, Mahaney had met Larry Tomczak, with whom he led and taught a large local prayer group. He says his only reading in theology at that time had consisted of the Bible and The Late, Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey.[3]

In 1977, Mahaney became senior pastor of what had evolved into Covenant Life Church. He cites his reading of the works of 19th century Baptist leader Charles H. Spurgeon and the Reformed theology of John Calvin as influences.[3]

Mahaney met Carolyn Layman in the 1970s, while he was teaching at Take and Give and she was working as a secretary at a Christian conference ministry in Sarasota, and they soon married. Mahaney has one son and three daughters.

Recent career

Mahaney is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, a church he planted in the fall of 2012 with Bob Kauflin, Brian Chesemore, Jeff Purswell, and Gary Ricucci. Mahaney resigned from the presidency of Sovereign Grace Ministries in April 2013 while planting this church. He was the senior pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland for 27 years before handing the senior pastor role to Joshua Harris on September 18, 2004. He has most recently planted a church on the east side of Louisville, Kentucky.[4]

In June 2011 Mahaney voluntarily took a leave of absence for self-examination after charges were leveled against him by a former Sovereign Grace pastor.[5][6][7] His leave occurred in the wake of accusations from a former top Sovereign Grace pastor who distributed hundreds e-mails and internal church documents that portrayed Mahaney as focusing on the sins of others below him in the church hierarchy. After Mahaney's departure, the Sovereign Grace board gave a strong vote of confidence to him, saying that he is "a qualified minister of the gospel and this board approves his pastoral and teaching ministry."[8] After an extensive outside review by Ambassadors of Reconciliation[9] of the charges brought against him and affirmation of the Sovereign Grace board,[10] Mahaney continued to serve as president of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Covenant Life Church, the church Mahaney co-founded and pastored for 27 years left Sovereign Grace Ministries.[11]

In 2012 a class action lawsuit was filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries alleging that leaders including Mahaney covered up the fact that sexual predators were allowed access to child victims.[12][13] The lawsuit was dismissed on a technicality in May 2013 by the Maryland Court of Appeals due to the statute of limitations, and has been appealed as of June 2014.[1]

Mahaney co-hosted the Together for the Gospel conference with Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan and Albert Mohler[14] and serves on the Council of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.[15] It was announced that he was pulling out of the 2014 T4G due to ongoing lawsuits against Sovereign Grace Ministries.[16] He is scheduled to return as a guest speaker at the 2016 T4G conference,[17] a decision which drew protest from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.[18]

In February 2016, Mahaney was the subject of a Washingtonian Magazine article, titled The Sex Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch - Inside the Rise and Fall of Sovereign Grace.[19]

Selected publications


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lee, Morgan (July 1, 2014). "Sovereign Grace Sex Abuse Case Appeal Dismissed by Maryland's Court of Special Appeals". The Christian Post. Retrieved April 1, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Mahaney, CJ. "A Statement from CJ Mahaney". Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. Retrieved January 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Keeping their eyes on the cross". The Washington Times. December 23, 2002. Retrieved January 12, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville". sgclouisville.org. Retrieved July 10, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Peter Smith (July 12, 2011). "Mohler backs Mahaney, dismisses claims of abusive leadership". Courier-Journal. Retrieved July 13, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Why I'm taking a leave of absence, C. J. Mahaney's blog
  7. Lillian Kwon (July 11, 2011). "C.J. Mahaney Takes Leave Over Charges of Pride, Hypocrisy". Christian Post. Retrieved July 13, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Sovereign Grace Ministries Board of Directors Announcement
  9. Ambassadors of Reconciliation's report on Sovereign Grace Ministries
  10. Board Update: Response to Ministry Recommendations
  11. Jeff Schapiro (December 20, 2012). "Maryland Megachurch Secedes From Sovereign Grace Ministries". The Christian Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Allen, Bob (November 19, 2013). "Mahaney, Mohler share speaker platform". Associated Baptist Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Bailey, Sarah Pulliam (May 24, 2013). "Evangelical leaders stand by pastor accused of abuse cover-up". Religion News Service.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "The People & History : Together for the Gospel". T4g.org. Retrieved February 20, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "C. J. Mahaney - Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Inc". Alliancenet.org. February 25, 2005. Retrieved February 20, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "CJ Mahaney Drops Out of 2014 Together for the Gospel Conference Due to Sovereign Grace Lawsuit". Christian Post. July 2, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Bob Allen. "Controversial preacher returning to T4G stage". Baptist News Global.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Bob Allen. "Abuse survivors want conference speaker removed". Baptist News Global.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 14, Tiffany Stanley on February; 2016. "The Sex Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch". Washingtonian. Retrieved February 15, 2016.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Clap Your Hands! by Larry Tomczak includes stories from Mahaney's early days in ministry and details the origins of Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries[better source needed]

External links