Assistant Pastor Ralf Stores of Calvary Chapel Cary in Apex, North Carolina gave a sermon about gossip and slander last year that’s raising some eyebrows for its potentially violent implications.
As many of our readers are aware, Calvary Chapel Cary has been reported on multiple times with a laundry list of allegations of abuse by Check My Church and The Roys Report. I recently described in a Check My Church Opinion Post how it’s common practice for wolves in sheep’s clothing to label victims, accusers, and whistleblowers as gossips and slanderers. In doing this, abusive church leaders can protect their image from being threatened by allegations of abuse and from having to answer questions.
In a sermon titled “Are you a firefighter?” from October 2nd, 2022 at around 1 hour and 26 minutes into the video, Assistant Pastor Ralf Stores picks up a metal shovel and, in my opinion, demonstrates this very practice. However, he does it in a way much more violent than I've observed from any other church I've ever checked. Near the end of the sermon, Stores says:
“...You know what I wanna do every time someone gossips? I wanna hit ‘em in the head with a shovel!...”
Stores seems to be joking here and quickly walks his statement back by clarifying:
“...Now that’s not the right mindset, okay...”
He stammers for several seconds before continuing (emphasis mine):
“...Now that might be the tendency when someone starts to gossip. Bam!...”
I don’t know about you, church checkers, but I don’t have a tendency to hit people with a shovel for any reason, nor do I want to hit people with a shovel.
After this statement, Stores clarifies his violent speech again, saying:
“...You don’t smack the person in the head, but you do snuff out the gossip the moment it happens. Folks, the moment somebody starts to gossip in your presence, BAM! Snuff it out right on the spot. I know some of you like that first part better. Somebody gossips, BAM! ...Listen, that’s not the tactic - we might want to do that but when even the first hint of gossip comes your way, hit it in the head with a shovel...”
Stores swings the shovel multiple times throughout this portion of the sermon, physically demonstrating how to “snuff out gossip” like a firefighter, violently swinging the shovel like a baseball bat, and then smacking it downward toward the floor.
Given the context of the many allegations against Calvary Chapel Cary’s leadership over the past few years, I wonder what Stores means by “gossip” in this sermon, and whether or not he believes the allegations of abusive behavior against the
leaders at CC Cary are mere gossip and slander.
Ralf Stores is an Assistant Pastor at Calvary Chapel Cary, but he’s also the Director of Global Media services at TWR (Trans World Radio), a Christian radio organization also based out of Cary, North Carolina. While other Christian radio organizations, such as The Bridge, have cut ties with Finch, CC Cary Pastor Rodney Finch continues to be a speaker for TWR.
One of the many allegations against CC Cary's lead pastor Rodney Finch includes going to drug rehab twice at the church's expense, while his bio at TWR (linked above) states he was “completely delivered and set free from drug addiction” in 1982.
Another issue worth noting is a potential quid pro quo between Pastor Finch and Ralf Stores. It appears Stores became an Associate Pastor at Calvary Chapel Cary less than a month after Finch announced on social media that TWR would be platforming his Salt and Light radio program and CC Cary's messages. CC Cary announced its content going to TWR on April 13th, 2017 and Stores was announced as an Associate Pastor at CC Cary on May 7th, 2017.
Allegations aside, in this sermon about gossip and slander, Pastor Stores clarifies multiple times that violence is not the answer and to literally hit someone with a shovel isn’t right, but the suggestion that anyone would even want to do this, and to demonstrate it so physically and violently at the pulpit as if he were actually swinging a shovel at someone’s head, may be disturbing to many. Especially those with concerns and allegations of abuse against the leaders of CC Cary.
Gossip and slander do exist and are terrible sins of pernicious hate and dishonesty. Something Stores doesn’t explain in his sermon, however, is the important fact that telling the truth to protect people from being abused, criminally victimized, or harmed in any other way, is not gossip or slander. Whistleblowers and victims who speak out to protect themselves and others from abuse are not acting perniciously or dishonestly, but for the cause of truth and love, which is both biblical and in obedience to the command of Christ to love God, others, and to protect and feed His sheep.
The fault of abuse and its exposure is with the abusers who perpetrate it, not their victims, church checkers. While gossip and slander are wrong, blowing the whistle on church abuse isn't either of these things. So as always, examine everything, use Christ-like discernment, tell the truth, protect the sheep, and stop feeding the wolves.