Small Church Apologizes for Alleged Pedophile Pastor; MacArthur Claims Persecution

By Julie Roys
John MacArthur Paul Guay Mabton Grace Brethren Church
Grace Community Church (GCC) Pastor John MacArthur (left) and former GCC Pastor and alleged confessed pedophile, Paul Guay. In background is Mabton Grace Brethren Church in Mabton, Washington, where Guay pastored from 1997—2012.

A small church in Washington that allowed an alleged pedophile to continue pastoring has posted a statement apologizing for its actions, following a recent exposé by The Roys Report (TRR). Meanwhile, Pastor John MacArthur, who reportedly covered up the abuse by the pastor decades ago, is claiming persecution for people “attacking” and “assaulting” him online.

In an exposé in April, TRR revealed that Paul Guay had allegedly molested his daughter, Wendy, when Guay was on staff at Grace Community Church (GCC) in the late 1970s. Though an eyewitness says Guay confessed his crime to MacArthur in 1979, Guay remained on staff at GCC until 1982.

Guay then went on to pastor several other churches, including Mabton Grace Brethren Church (GBC).

In 2003, Wendy Guay, and other Guay family members who claimed they were abused by Paul Guay, confronted Guay in front of GBC’s elders. Guay confessed his abuse, witnesses say. But GBC allowed Guay to remain as pastor until Guay’s death in 2012.

“We recognize that this decision by the elder board was wrong, was a betrayal of our responsibility to shepherd and protect the Guay family and our church, and was deeply painful and retraumatizing to Guay’s family members,” GBC said in a statement posted on its website.

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“We make no excuse for that wrong decision. The elders should have immediately terminated Guay from his position as pastor and made the appropriate reports to the authorities. We apologize to his family members and others who were hurt by our board’s decision.”

The statement was dated April 29, 2022—10 days after TRR’s exposé published. However, no one notified the Guay family about the statement. And it went unnoticed by them until a family member discovered the statement a couple weeks ago.

Paul Guay Mabton Grace Brethren Church
Paul Guay preaches at Mabton Grace Brethren Church.

TRR contacted GBC for comment, which the church declined to give. But soon afterward, GBC’s current pastor, Adam Copenhaver, sent a handwritten letter to Wendy Guay, which she shared with TRR.

“Words cannot express how grieved I, along with our current leadership and our entire church family, are over what you experienced,” Copenhaver wrote. “I am deeply sorry for the pain you’ve endured, and especially for the role that our elder board played in your pain. Thank you for your courage in bringing your story to our elder board in 2003. You did the right thing. And our board did the wrong thing.”

According to GBC’s statement, only one elder remains on its board who was an elder when Guay was pastor. That elder has gone on administrative leave while “we process these stories and determine how best to move forward.”

According to previous records obtained by TRR, that elder is Ron Juris, who served as chairman of the board in 2003.

TRR reached out to Juris for comment, but he did not respond.

MacArthur offers opposite response

GBC’s response stands in stark contrast to multiple responses by John MacArthur over the years.

According to a former member of John MacArthur’s church, John Tucker, MacArthur promised to deal with Paul Guay’s abuse in 1979, when Guay confessed the abuse to MacArthur in Tucker’s presence, but MacArthur didn’t.

Then, in 2003, Wendy Guay contacted MacArthur, asking for his help confronting her father and the elders at GBC about her father’s abuse. In a 2003 email, MacArthur denied Paul Guay had ever confessed his abuse to MacArthur, despite Tucker’s written statement saying otherwise. MacArthur also reproved Wendy Guay for raising the decades-old issue.

“I’m not sure why all this has become an obsession for you after so many years,” MacArthur wrote, “but neither myself nor anyone at Grace can do anything more than encourage you that we conducted ourselves with biblical integrity.”

TRR reached out to MacArthur for comment before publishing the Guay story, but he did not respond.

paul guay john macarthur
Paul Guay poses outside John MacArthur’s ministry Word of Grace in the late 1970’s, prior to it being renamed Grace To You (Courtesy Photo)

MacArthur also did not directly respond to TRR’s April 19, 2022, exposé about Guay, or other TRR articles revealing evidence MacArthur had covered up abuse by other GCC staff.

However, in a sermon on May 1, 2022, MacArthur addressed “getting hammered on the internet—people attacking you and assaulting you.”

“I want to bless those who persecute me and not curse,” MacArthur said.

“What about the wrong they’re doing?” MacArthur asked, answering: “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord.’

“You think God doesn’t know? You think somebody is getting away with something? Guess again. God keeps those accounts. . . . I don’t need to curse back. I just need to do what Jesus said and commit himself to a faithful creator.” 

TRR reached out to MacArthur and Grace Community Church again last week for comment about their handling of Paul Guay’s alleged abuse, but no one responded.

 

Guay family responds

Wendy Guay told TRR that Pastor Paul Copenhaver’s handwritten apology to her and her family “brought tears to my eyes.”

“I’m super appreciative,” Wendy Guay said. “It was really nice to hear that he was sorry, or that a pastor was sorry.”

However, some of Wendy’s siblings objected to how long it took Mabton GBC and Copenhaver to respond to the Guay family.

According to GBC’s published statement, Copenhaver first learned about the allegations against Guay shortly after he became pastor at GBC in 2013. These included allegations that Guay had sexually assaulted not just Wendy, but a niece who was 9 at the time of the assault.

Copenhaver filed a police report in 2013 with local law enforcement in case more victims of Guay’s came forward.

TRR has obtained that report. The report states Guay’s case was closed in 2013 but would be reopened if more victims came forward, which apparently never happened.

According to the family, no one from GBC contacted them in 2013, when Copenhaver filed the police report. The Guays said the first they heard of the report was in GBC’s recent statement.

The family similarly expressed disappointment that no one from GBC contacted them more than a month ago, when the church posted its recent statement. The family said Wendy’s brother, Dan Guay, discovered GBC’s statement in early June while doing a Google search, and then shared the statement with the rest of the family.

“The fact that (GBC) never informed us that (the statement) existed . . . and the fact that we’re hearing for the first time about a police report that they filed in 2013 . . . speaks to their motivation, that this was in order to save face, to cover themselves from liability,” James Guay said.

Dan Guay noted that GBC’s statement was not mentioned on its homepage, but instead buried on an interior page of the website. The statement also has not been posted on GBC’s Facebook page.

“My initial thought was, ‘Wow, this is kind of what we wanted to hear,’” Dan Guay told TRR. “But then I started thinking about it.”

The Guays also objected to a statement in GBC’s police report that around 2005, “Paul Guay’s daughter contacted one board member and retracted her accusations.”

Wendy Guay emphatically denied that she ever retracted her allegations against her father to any GBC board member. “Absolutely not,” she said when asked about it.

Similarly, Dan and James Guay said Wendy’s story about their father’s abuse has never changed over more than three decades.

The Guay family, however, said they prefer GBC’s response, though late, to John MacArthur’s denials and blame-shifting.

“(MacArthur) is making it sound like he’s a victim of attacks of the devil, which is the same thinking that led my dad to disown his own responsibility for abusing my sister and cousin,” James Guay said. “(It’s) misusing and abusing difficult texts to disown any responsibility and blame the victims, which is like the worst kind of thing you can do to a victim.”

When asked what she hopes to hear from MacArthur, Wendy Guay responded, “I’ve given up on hearing from (MacArthur). In 2003, I thought he would have just acknowledged and said he made mistakes and said he’s sorry. And he didn’t.”

She then noted another story TRR reported in March, revealing that 20 years ago, MacArthur had shamed and excommunicated a mother, Eileen Gray, for not taking back her child-abusing husband. To date, MacArthur has not responded to that story or Eileen Gray.

“When he didn’t ask Eileen for forgiveness or show any humility whatsoever, I totally gave up on hearing from him,” Wendy said.

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24 thoughts on “Small Church Apologizes for Alleged Pedophile Pastor; MacArthur Claims Persecution”

    1. A true snake MacArthur is! Cut from the same attitude that damned the Pharisees to hell. I have experienced a cell in hell for goats many years ago. Soon this anti-Christ will be in there where there is no time. In the end, no one gets away with anything. We either bend our knees and follow Christ or we try to leverage Jesus to make ourselves millionaires. There are not English words fowl enough to describe what this man really is.

    2. Guys like Johnny Mac ALWAYS claim PERSECUTION!!!!!
      It Virtue-signals how Godly they are.
      They even have a Verse:
      “All who live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer PERSECUTION.”

  1. Michael Barley

    It appears the only ones getting away with anything are MacArthur and those abusers he protects. What a twisted morality to think that when people tell the truth it’s “persecution”.

  2. John MacArthur, I have listened to your sermons for years. I’m a Reformed believer. You of all people should know that when someone has been caught and even has confessed; they should be removed from any and all offices in the church for ever. Confessing to their sin is good, but in the majority of cases, they will do it again. They should hold NO office in the church ever again. I am sooo disappointed in you. You owe the victim to this horrible crime a public apology.

    1. John MacArthur can be held to his own statements on sinful pastors, This one comes from what he said about adultery more than 30 years ago.

      “….
      Gross sin among Christian leaders is a signal that something is seriously wrong with the church. But an even greater problem is the lowering of standards to accommodate a leader’s sin. That the church is so eager to bring these men back into leadership is a symptom of rottenness at the core….(!)

      https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A256/should-fallen-pastors-be-restored

      1. This saying is trustworthy: “If someone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a good work.”
      2. The overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher,
      3. not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money.
      4. He must manage his own household well and keep his children in control without losing his dignity.
      5. But if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God? (1Ti 3:1-5, NETfree)

  3. so a pastor who has a net worth of $14 million+, a salary of $15,000 a WEEK ( $700,000+ a year), owns 3 homes worth $2.5 million+ total, and runs a tax free church business is ” persecuted” becouse someone online called him out on his deception, huge salary/idolatry/greed, and love of money?? this while millions of christians now and in world history were murdered, tortured, burned alive, were imprisioned, and made to live in utter poverty for the rest of thier life due to thier FAITH . john macarthur, sir when you are jailed for life or tortured or killed for the gospel THEN you can talk to us about REAL persecution. being called out for corruption or jailed for corruption is NOT “perseciution”.

      1. Amen, Gary. John MacArthur apparently knows nothing about true Christian persecution. Its shameful he dares to put himself into the same category as those who have, in the past, and are today, suffering true persecution. He should be ashamed.

    1. Thank you for bringing some (much needed) perspective to the situation. While I totally agree with the Bible verses quoted my MaArthur and his sentiments regarding them, I find it ironic that he is the one doing so. If this issue does not go away, but instead continues to simmer, then maybe we should wonder whether God is vindicating Wendy Guay after all these years. Just sayin’

  4. In the law, covering up a crime is often called being an Accessory After the Fact.
    Check your State’s Mandatory Reporter law with your insurance company.

  5. No John MacArthur will not take revenge himself he will sic Phil Johnson on them the consummate bully at least that is his MO to date

  6. Cathie Boucher

    James, thanks for saying what a lot of us are thinking when it comes to wealthy pastors who believe the laws of God and men don’t apply to them and their henchmen.

  7. We may need to update Fox’s book of martyrs. Let no one trouble JM any farther, for he bears the brandmarks….

  8. As a Calvinist, MacArthur should be praising God for the events that God has brought about in his, as he calls it, ‘persecution’ as this can only be by God’s will and to God’s sovereign glory. Because that’s what he teaches about the purpose of ‘evil’.

  9. Thanks for your continuing work to bring attention to these injustices, cover-up, and even this example of repentance (slow though it was.) I imagine many of the victims of these abuses are profoundly grateful that you’re interested in their stories and willing to tell them with such integrity. Of course we hope MacArthur will likewise repent of his arrogance, but in the meantime, all anyone can do is faithful tell the truth.

  10. MacArthur has become corrupted by power and money. He and his family have been living in the lap of luxury for the better part of 40 years now, and have become fabulously wealthy off the the hard earned donations of God’s people. And no, he will not retaliate himself. He has his right hand man and henchman, Phil Johnson to do his dirty work for him. Phil is well paid to preform his attack dog functions. We all know how he lied and committed crimes against Julie Roys – he even doxed her home address. May God have mercy on their souls (even though they DO know what they’re doing)

  11. “His theology is unsound. He thinks that there is a fourth member of the Trinity.”
    –Secretary of State William Seward, about someone else.

  12. Brian Patrick

    NONE of these megachurch icons are noble. NONE. Well, maybe 1 or 2% are and maybe double that started off with good intentions. The rest are wolves, tares, whitewashed tombs.

    It doesn’t matter whether they’re on the right like Johnny MacMafia or on the left like Hybels–they are all dang crooks, and only weak, pathetic, desperate people worship them like the FALSE gods that they are. Yes, someone like Rock (Star) Warren isn’t as egregiously terrible as MacArthur, but he’s still part of that cozy clique of Christian oligarchs. Look at his involvement with Mark Driscoll, look at how he singlehandedly appointed his successor like an all-powerful monarch.

    If you go to MacArthur’s “church”, or Saddleback, or Willow Creek, wake the heck up and find a real Christ-centered body. Heck, a bunch of recovering addicts hanging out for pizza in a hippie convert’s basement is ten times more of a real church than those snakepit stadium “sanctuaries of God”.

  13. We may be witnessing the contrast between biblical legalism and grace. Between two churches and their current leaders – Grace Brethren and Grace Community. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which is which. Jesus’ parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:28-29, 36-43) is becoming increasingly significant. As I see what’s happening today in evangelical, and more generally, Protestant circles. Tares are being exposed. This allows the Body of Christ to evaluate who is who and who they want to “follow”. But not all tares will be plucked up immediately; there’s a reason for that.

    “By their fruits, you shall know them” ~Jesus

    1. On second thought, I may have spoken too soon in favor of GBC. In the light of their dialog (or lack thereof) with the Guay family.

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