The Village Church has issued an extensive apology for its treatment of Karen Hinkley over the annulment of her marriage to Jordan Root, who confessed to watching images of child abuse over many years.
Root entered what the church called a "process of walking in repentance" which saw him removed from ministry and reported to the authorities. However, Hinkley found herself the subject of church discipline because she had her marriage annulled contrary to the church's covenant membership provisions. The church refused to accept her resignation from membership while she was under discipline because that too was contrary to the covenant.
The Dallas megachurch, whose leader is Matt Chandler, was widely criticised for its conduct. According to a Christianity Today report, Chandler plans to apologise in services this weekend for failing to show compassion to struggling church members. He said that elders had been "domineering" in their approach to church discipline in a few cases and that this was wrong and unChristian.
"We have sinned against some people—and we are owning that before God and specifically before the people we have hurt," he told Christianity Today.
"Our desire is always to be loving and caring. It is clear that we have not communicated—in multiple cases now—the gentleness, compassion, and patience that our elders are called to walk in."
An email to church members posted online by Matthew Paul Turner contains reflections on the events and apologies to Hinkley and others. It says that while the church has not changed its theological position on covenant membership, "we realize that there are clear and specific instances where we have let our membership practices blind us to the person in front of us, in turn leading us to respond in a way that doesn't reflect our desire to be loving and caring to our members".
It continues: "In receiving more information and considering the way we've ministered to Karen specifically, we believe that we owe her an apology. Specifically, as it pertains to her desire for an annulment, we know that it would have served her better to have a clearer understanding from us as to what we do and do not consider biblical grounds for divorce or what we understand the Scriptures to define as divorce. In hindsight, we wish that we would have provided clarity to Karen in an immediate fashion and are saddened by our unpreparedness."
It also says that it had acceded to her request to be removed from membership.
The letter closes with an expression of regret, saying: "In every way that we've mishandled this situation, along with others in the past, we repent and ask for forgiveness."