A Message From Our Elders

 - September 16, 2022 -  

It grieves us to have to share this with you and we believe it grieves the Lord as well. Over the last two days you may have heard from Pastor Dan Burgoyne, or others, that the elders have been in a process of correction and restoration for him. Over the past several months, according to Matthew 18, Pastor Dan was approached one-on-one, then by 2-3 individuals. After he dismissed their concerns, the individuals brought their concerns to the elders, who then approached Pastor Dan. These allegations, which were not sexual in nature, were brought forward by multiple pastors, directors, staff members, congregants, as well as elders. After many hours of prayer, discussion, and outside counsel, the 10 elders of this church unanimously agreed that Pastor Dan was in need of correction and restoration.

Pastor Dan was presented with the evidence and a restoration plan. We informed Pastor Dan that our desire was not to harm or shame him, which is one of the reasons we asked for the contents of the meeting and document to remain confidential to preserve Pastor Dan, his family and the church. Pastor Dan signed a confidentiality agreement that night and the next day signed the agreement to go through the restoration process plan which he also agreed to keep confidential. Days later, he provided us a letter saying he rescinded his signature on the restoration process plan as he believed Matthew 18 was not done, but the elders showed and explained to him numerous times that Matthew 18 had been completed and that this was the final step of the discipline process.

The following week, Pastor Dan came before the elders and presented his perspective. After giving Pastor Dan an hour and a half of uninterrupted time to share, the elders were saddened by the fact that Pastor Dan denied responsibility for almost everything that had been presented to him. Once again, all 10 elders unanimously agreed that correction and restoration was still needed for Pastor Dan. The elders presented to Dan three options: submit to the restoration process, resign, or a congregational vote for removal from his position as Senior Pastor. The elders have wanted to see repentance and restoration but let Dan know that if his conviction doesn’t allow him to agree to the restoration process, then he should resign. As we said in an email to Pastor Dan: “We love you and we love your family. We know that it was not easy moving your family here and we don’t want to position you in a way that brings harm to yourself, Joy and the kids. For this reason, the elder board has unanimously agreed that if you choose to take the path of resigning, we will provide for you a 1-year severance of pay and medical so that you may provide for your family and to help you transition to what the Lord has next for you.” The following day (Wednesday, September 14) we received an email from Pastor Dan stating “I believe it best to resign with an appropriate 2-year severance package plus medical insurance…I believe a statement of mutual non-disparagement that the elders and I sign be crafted; honoring our parting of ways.” Pastor Dan also asked for loan forgiveness for money he used for improvements to his home in Rolling Hills. We informed Pastor Dan that the severance package he asked for totaled about $650,000 which would put staff positions, missionaries and ministries at risk.

After we rejected his desire for a $650,000 exit package, we heard from congregants that an off-campus meeting was being held for Pastor Dan to address some members of the church. A number of staff members attended the meeting, as representatives of the church, including Pastor John Thill. Here is Pastor John’s experience from last night’s meeting and overall experience of working with Pastor Dan:

“I (Pastor John Thill) have been a pastor for over 55 years, at RHCC since 2009. I join this letter because I can no longer support Pastor Dan’s vision for RHCC or his actions and attitudes with congregants, staff and elders. Dan was insistent on moving us to an elder run church, which I agree is the Biblical model. With this model all of us must submit to the elders ‘as they live under that authority of the Word’ (Hebrews 13:17). Pastor Dan is in rebellion against all 10 of the elders. I have been in numerous elder meetings and can testify that Pastor Dan is not accurately representing either the motives or the actions of the elders. I have been contacted by numerous congregants and staff seeking counsel on how to deal with serious concerns about Dan’s leadership. His continual public repose to those who talk with Him is; “there are many exits at this church, you are free to leave.” This is not the response of a Biblical Pastor. I am his peer professionally, having been a pastor many more years than He, I do not have confidence in the way he deals with congregants, staff or elders. On Thursday night Sept. 15 I attended a public meeting called by some of Pastor Dan’s supporters. I sat through the meeting hearing Dan give inaccurate information, misrepresenting people who he said agreed with him against the elders when I know for certain they do not, inciting the attenders to rise up against the elders, rather than going to them to seek information and express their concern about how they were dealing with Dan. This is not behavior I can support and I call out my peer in ministry for sowing discord among the body for personal reasons. The most telling part of the meeting was at the end when I raised my hand and requested to ask a question. His response was to deny my yet unidentified question, falsely accuse me and demand I leave the room. This is not the action or attitude I can support in a partner in ministry. I invite any questions you may have of me – 310.521.2546, jthill@rhcc.net. I work part-time and am in the office Monday – Thursday, 6:30am-12:00pm.”

RHCC family, I know that you may be hearing one side of the story from Pastor Dan, and it grieves us to say this, but Pastor Dan is not being truthful in many of the things he’s sharing. Proverbs 6:19 outlines one of the things that the Lord hates: “a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” Unfortunately, this is the path that Pastor Dan has decided to take instead of submission to the correction brought before him. I encourage you to not cast judgment until you have heard both sides. “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). We know this may come as a shock to many of you and we want you to know that our elders love and care for you and are available to meet with you to address your concerns and share more details that led to this point. To schedule a meeting, please email elders@rhcc.net. Pastor Dan has mentioned that he is “bringing things to light” as if the elders were hiding things in the darkness. The goal of the Matthew 18 process and church discipline is to restore and not harm. Our hope was that this process could have been done in a way to preserve and protect Pastor Dan, his family and the church. Since Pastor Dan has decided to publicly make deceitful claims, we invite you once again to come and meet with your elders to hear from the men who have spent extensive time and effort to protect the church and restore Pastor Dan.

Elders are accountable before the Lord to shepherd and protect the flock, which is why we took seriously the numerous allegations that were brought to us by staff, congregants and elders. The book, Biblical Eldership, says “No part of Christian ministry is more difficult than investigating and disciplining sin, especially the sin of a church leader. One can easily think of a thousand clever excuses for evading the discipline of a church leader.” The elders could have taken the easy route by downplaying the allegations and making excuses, but once again, elders are accountable before the Lord for what they choose to do and what they choose not to do. The elders have nothing to gain by doing this, other than knowing that it is the biblical thing to do.

Although Pastor Dan could have refused, he signed a separate agreement on August 31, that he would not share any of the information from that night’s meeting with others. The agreement continues by stating that if Pastor Dan chose to share information privately or publicly that it would be considered Pastor Dan’s immediate resignation. As of last night, we have witnessed Pastor Dan publicly break this agreement and thus the elder council is accepting Pastor Dan’s immediate resignation according to the agreement he willingly signed.

In the days and weeks ahead, we will be speaking with congregants and staff to address any concerns regarding the future. We as an elder board ask that you continue to act in a way that honors the Lord by not slandering or spreading rumors. Please trust and have faith that the elder board is seeking and following the Lord for His wisdom and guidance as we move forward in doing what is best as we continue to shepherd His flock. I would like to remind you that this is not our church but that this is the Lord’s church. God has been faithful to Rolling Hills Covenant Church for over 60 years and will continue to do His amazing work for His glory.

RHCC Elder Board

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all” 
1 Chronicles 29:11