An important message from the elders of Hope Community Church:
On February 2, Mike Lee officially retired from Hope Community Church. At that time, we recorded videos of his announcement that we later shared with our church community. Those videos clearly stated that Mike’s retirement was due solely to burnout and exhaustion resulting from 40 years of ministry. Recently, the family chose to share details on social media that there was in fact an additional reason for his retirement.
Many of you know that, at Hope, a core value of ours is “We balance grace and truth.” Considering the recent social media post, we believe there is a need to update and correct our communication on Mike’s retirement. It is important for you to know that Hope leadership was not aware of other reasons when we publicly shared the news of his retirement.
On March 23, after his retirement had been announced to the church, Mike confessed to the elders that his abrupt retirement in February was not only driven by burnout and exhaustion as stated in the video, but also due to personal struggles revolving around his engagement in an adulterous relationship during his sabbatical. He demonstrated remorse and asked for forgiveness for that sin, as well as his deception of leadership and the church. Mike was immediately met with the same biblical love and grace he taught us from Scripture for more than 27 years.
Said clearly, what Mike did was wrong and is opposed to how Scripture calls us to live our lives. At the same time, 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Mike confessed his sins and while there will be difficult times as a result of the decisions made, God extends grace, love and mercy and so do we.
You may be asking why we have not shared this with you before now. As elders, we wrestled with this decision. Refusing to rely on our own wisdom or opinions, we sought Scripture and believed that as Mike had now confessed, was actively showing repentance, and was no longer a staff member, there was no need to publicize this information (Matthew 18). We prioritized giving Mike, Laura, their family, and all involved the privacy necessary to focus on their own next steps in their healing and restoration process – the same privacy any of us would appreciate if we were in similar circumstances.
Hope leadership was and is committed to walking with the Lee family and others impacted through this very difficult process of healing and restoration. We are called to love and support them as well as honor God by responding with humility, forgiveness, and without judgment (Matthew 7: 3-5, Ephesians 4:32).
It is not the place of the church to make any of these details more public than they already are. God’s Word is clear that gossip has no place among His people (Exodus 23:1, Proverbs 16:28, Ephesians 4:29). It is our place to do all we can to encourage repentance and restoration for those who need it, and that is where our focus must remain. Each one of us should remember daily that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23-24) and only by grace are we made right with God through Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Since the founding of Hope Community Church in 1994, Mike’s teaching was based in God’s Word, and he shared God’s grace and mercy in practical terms. He skillfully communicated in real and personal ways that inspired many of us to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Those biblical truths are timeless and do not change. We will always be grateful for the countless lives that have been impacted through his ministry.
We ask you to join Hope’s elders in praying for Mike, Laura, their family and all those affected as we trust God to work in their hearts toward full restoration. Duane Calvin’s powerful message this past weekend could not be more timely: God is a healer.
We also want to encourage you to stay strong in your faith. Spend time in Scripture like never before. This has been a difficult year for so many and we must be careful to not lose sight of what is most important: Jesus alone can bring peace, hope and resiliency to our lives.
If you have questions, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will do the best we can to answer your questions while guarding the privacy of the Lee family. If you are hurting and would like to work through emotions and have someone pray with you, you can reach us at email@example.com. These email addresses go to multiple people so that we can promptly follow up with you.
As our heavenly Father continues to work in and through Hope Community Church, we are privileged to partner with you to love people where they are and encourage them to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
Thank you for joining us in prayer and seeking God on behalf of those involved.
-Your Elders at Hope
Questions You May Have
Based on the information we have available to us, Mike’s affair was not going on while he was teaching.
Mike Lee tendered his resignation on February 2, 2021. On March 23, 2021, Mike confessed to having an adulterous relationship with a woman during his sabbatical from teaching and leadership. Mike was retired when this truth came to light and committed to a biblical restoration process and reconciling his marriage. Based on biblical examination, the elders held his sin in confidence to benefit the restoration process and encourage healing.
Many in this situation would appreciate the same privacy.
If this had been a legal matter or if he were still in a teaching/leadership position we would have taken a different approach.
While we are aware that this is a decision you will have to make for yourself and for your family, the leadership of Hope is confident we have followed biblical principles in how this situation was handled. We believe we have acted with the best of intentions and relied on scripture to guide our decisions towards biblical reconciliation.
If you have additional questions you need answered, we are happy to address them as fully as we are able. Reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Someone on our leadership team will get back to you and set up a time to talk.
We are reminded daily that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23-24) and only by grace are we made right with God through Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Grace and truth are words we all need. And while sin is a reality in all of our lives, the mission of Jesus is not hindered by it. Hope Community Church has always existed to love people where they are and encourage them to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. That mission is still what we focus on every day. That has not changed and will not change. The biblical foundation of Hope is as strong today as it has always been. Even in the midst of what seems like a storm, the future of Hope is bright. Today, we are as motivated as we have ever been for the plans God has for us, and we are so honored and thankful to walk toward it with each one of you.
First and foremost, join us in praying for all those involved that God might bring restoration and healing. With God, we know that all things are possible, so we continue to pray for complete restoration.
Secondly, stay strong in your faith. Be in scripture like never before. Remain engaged with the church, your small group and your volunteer teams, encouraging each other to grow in faith as we journey through this season together.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out if you have questions – we are here to support you.