To: The Church of the Fox Cities
Pastor Jonathan Fries (Music of Life Church – Appleton)
Pastor Joel Swokowski (Music of Life Church – Kimberly)
July 29, 2022
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We write this second letter with heavy hearts and a clear purpose to those who have continued to experience damage at the hands of church members, professing Christians, and religious authorities.
There are three reasons why we feel called by God to send you a second letter:
To bring clarity to our first letter dated August 9, 2021,
To share how the abuse we warned about in our first letter has continued and increased, and…
To bring objective and clear steps for you to know how to handle the plague of whispering (gossip) infesting the Fox Cities.
Although it was clearly stated multiple times that the purpose of our August 2021 letter was “to care for the people who are deceived away from the truth that could help them grow, as well as the enabling of the sin of whispering,” our use of specific people’s names and books in our previous letter was used as an excuse for many readers of that letter to be distracted from its purpose.
Our proof that people misinterpreted our first letter happened in an interaction we had with a group of pastors who came against us at the beginning of this year. We were contacted in January by this group of pastors who stated they desired to meet with us. Our initial response was to be elated by this opportunity. Our experience with pastors has been largely a disappointment, but we were hopeful that our experience was about to change!
When we asked some clarifying questions to gain understanding about this forthcoming meeting, our questions were not answered, and we couldn’t get a specific and consistent answer as to what their goal was in meeting with us.
Due to past experiences with pastors in the Fox Cities, one of the major hindrances of meeting is miscommunication that turns into abuse. In an effort to benefit all parties involved in this meeting, we required the meeting to be audio recorded. The response to us wanting the meeting to be recorded proved these pastors feared man more than God (since God hears and sees everything, right?). They said they were no longer willing to meet with us, and our hope that pastors have good hearts was once again diminished.
This group of pastors' main concern with us was based on a misinterpretation of our August 2021 letter where they made unfounded projections and judgments on us, our churches, and our ministries. All this did was prove their inability to interpret text and that the issues we were hoping would be repaired through our August 2021 letter were still happening.
In fact, in one meeting that Pastor Joel had with one of these pastors, it was proven that they were still using the 2009 FCEMF Letter as their support to come against Pastor Joel and Pastor Jonathan. Even though the 2009 FCEMF Letter was proven to break the laws of the land, and to be an abomination to the Lord, this pastor tried to use it as their proof that Pastor Joel and Pastor Jonathan were wrong.
What do people have to see to realize that the sin of whispering is causing abusive division in the Fox Cities?
What do pastors need to experience in order to realize they are not only not following God’s Word but are going in the opposite direction? Do these pastors need to have their churches and ministries taken away from them?
How has this abuse and sin gotten worse this year? As recently as June of this year, a young woman came to visit a Music of Life Church - Appleton (MOLCA) service. This woman had been going through a rough patch for the past few years. As you can imagine, the leaders of MOLCA were ecstatic to see this woman in church and had wonderful fellowship with her. She felt the refuge of God through MOLCA’s members and even shared on social media that she was very happy to be there. This is where the story took a turn…
A local pastor replied to this woman’s social media post in a manner that can only be defined as bullying. The local pastor has a history of coming against Music of Life Church and was doing what they could to direct this woman away from the help she was getting from MOLCA.
When Pastor Jonathan entered the interaction, in order to protect the young woman from being bullied, the local pastor progressed further and further into the bullying techniques of distracting and intimidation. When the pastor’s statements were eventually proven wrong, did the pastor confess and repent? No. The local pastor, who had been proven wrong, attacked more aggressively by outright stating that Pastor Jonathan has succumbed to heresy and rebuked Pastor Jonathan “in Jesus name.”
We want to share three important points regarding this local pastor’s exchange with the young woman and Pastor Jonathan:
This local pastor wrongly claimed Pastor Jonathan had been previously confronted and accused him of teaching heresy. Pastor Jonathan has never even met this local pastor.
The local pastor was proven wrong concerning what they thought Pastor Jonathan’s beliefs are and then used the 2009 FCEMF Letter against Pastor Jonathan to support their belief that he’s teaching heretical information.
This all happened in the context of and to a young single mother of two boys who has come back to church to experience the healing and safety from our Lord through His people.
So much of our experience with the religious authorities in the Fox Cities has proven that they are really dictators and bullies. Dictators have the “it’s my way or the highway” mentality. Bullies question others while refusing to answer questions from others. We want you all to know, there is no level of leadership in existence that entitles a person to no longer be questioned. Jesus invited questions.
Leaders are meant to bear the pain of others, not to displace pain on others. Bullies use intimidation to get their own way, at the expense of the people they are meant to be helping. What breaks our hearts is the fact that pastors are acting as dictators and bullies in the name of God. They believe God wants them to act like dictators and bullies.
The issue that we see affecting the Fox Cities is whispering and the enabling of that sin. The sin of whispering simply means “secret detraction.” It’s talking negatively about someone (detraction) to a third party (secret).
We want to continue to equip you. Do you know how a person ought to handle whispering? Here are three steps you and others can follow:
Hear the Other side of the story:
If I have an issue, I ought to go directly to the person I have an issue with to discuss it.
Ask the person telling you about another person, "Did you hear the other side of the story?":
If someone talks to me about a person they have an issue with, I ought to ask them if they went directly to the person they have an issue with.
Ask the person, "Who did you hear this from?"... and, "Did you tell the person talking that if they don't go to the person they have an issue with, they are in danger of breaking State Defamation Laws?...and if not, then you are in danger of breaking these laws too."
If someone talks to me about how they heard from someone else how that other person has issues/concerns, this step helps me not enable the sin of whispering in others.
Again, our purpose in this letter is to care for the people who are deceived away from the truth that could help them grow, as well as the enabling of the sin of whispering. The real damage that happens as a result of whispering is the abusive division among believers and the placing of stumbling blocks in the path of those who need help from the truth. God calls this “sowing seeds of discord” and He sees this issue as an abomination.
We stand with God in trying to help people grow in unity and handle their issues in a right and just manner.
Please feel free to reach out to either of us pastors if you have questions or you need clarification. As we have stated before, we have a desire to build relationships with other churches and pastors and we want to be a resource for any discussion you’d like to have about this issue. We especially want to form a network with the Christian leaders who want to equip believers in discipleship so those believers can discern truth and avoid sin.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Pastor Jonathan Fries
Music of Life Church - Appleton
Pastor Joel Swokowski
Music of Life Church – Kimberly