C. J. Mahaney

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C.J. Mahaney
CJ Mahaney Pastor.jpg
Born (1953-09-21) September 21, 1953 (age 61)
Residence Louisville, Kentucky
Nationality United States
Occupation Pastor
Religion Christian
Denomination Sovereign Grace Ministries
Spouse(s) Carolyn

Charles Joseph Mahaney, commonly known as C.J., is the former president of Sovereign Grace Ministries (formerly People of Destiny International or PDI, co-founded with Larry Tomczak), a network formed to establish and support local churches, and was one of the founding pastors and leaders of Covenant Life Church, in Gaithersburg, Maryland and presently is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville.

Mahaney resigned the presidency of Sovereign Grace Ministries in 2013 in order to plant Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville.[1] A 2012 civil lawsuit alleged that he permitted and helped cover up child sex abuse in his congregation. The lawsuit was dismissed[2] and Mahaney released a public statement explicitly denying all claims in the suit.[3]


Early life and career[edit]

Mahaney was born in Maryland into a Roman Catholic household, the middle child of five. He was the son of a metalworker in Takoma Park, Maryland.[4] As a child, he was more interested in sports than God.[4] Mahaney attended Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. He reports having been converted in 1972 at age 18 by a friend who shared his faith. He says that a newspaper ad motivated him to join a local prayer meeting known as Take and Give.[4]

In 1974, aged 20, Mahaney had met Larry Tomczak, with whom he led and taught a large local prayer group. He says his only reading in theology at that time had consisted of the Bible and The Late, Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey.[4]

In the 1980s, Mahaney became a senior pastor. He cites his reading of the works of 19th century Baptist leader Charles H. Spurgeon and the Reformed theology of John Calvin as influences.[4]

Mahaney met Carolyn Layman in the 1970s, while he was teaching at Take and Give and she was working as a secretary at a Christian conference ministry in Sarasota, and they soon married. Mahaney has one son and three daughters.

Current roles[edit]

C.J. Mahaney was the president of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Mahaney was the senior pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland for 27 years before handing the senior pastor role to Joshua Harris on September 18, 2004. He has most recently planted a church on the east side of Louisville, Kentucky.[5]

In June 2011 he voluntarily took a leave of absence for self-examination after charges were leveled against him by a former Sovereign Grace pastor.[6][7][8] His leave occurred in the wake of accusations from a former top Sovereign Grace pastor who distributed hundreds e-mails and internal church documents that portrayed Mahaney as focusing on the sins of others below him in the church hierarchy. After Mahaney's departure, the Sovereign Grace board gave a strong vote of confidence to him, saying that he is "a qualified minister of the gospel and this board approves his pastoral and teaching ministry."[9] After an extensive outside review by Ambassadors of Reconciliation[10] of the charges brought against him and affirmation of the Sovereign Grace board,[11] Mahaney continued to serve as president of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Covenant Life Church, the church Mahaney co-founded and pastored for 27 years left Sovereign Grace Ministries.[12]

Mahaney resigned from the presidency of Sovereign Grace Ministries in April 2013 while planting a church in Louisville, Kentucky. In 2012 a class action lawsuit named Mahaney as a defendant and claimed he permitted sexual abuse of children and helped cover it up.[13][14] The lawsuit was dismissed by the court.[2]

Additionally, Mahaney co-hosts the Together for the Gospel conference with Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan and Albert Mohler[15] and serves on the Council of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.[16] It was announced that he was pulling out of the 2014 T4G due to ongoing lawsuits against Sovereign Grace Ministries.[17]

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ "Church planter interview: C.J. Mahaney (Louisville, KY)". Sovereigngraceministries.org. September 26, 2012. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Lee, Morgan (July 1, 2014). "Sovereign Grace Sex Abuse Case Appeal Dismissed by Maryland's Court of Special Appeals". The Christian Post. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  3. ^ Mahaney, CJ. "A Statement from CJ Mahaney". Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Keeping their eyes on the cross". The Washington Times. December 23, 2002. Retrieved January 12, 2013. 
  5. ^ Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville
  6. ^ Peter Smith (July 12, 2011). "Mohler backs Mahaney, dismisses claims of abusive leadership". Courier-Journal. Retrieved July 13, 2011. 
  7. ^ Why I'm taking a leave of absence, C. J. Mahaney's blog
  8. ^ Lillian Kwon (July 11, 2011). "C.J. Mahaney Takes Leave Over Charges of Pride, Hypocrisy". Christian Post. Retrieved July 13, 2011. 
  9. ^ Sovereign Grace Ministries Board of Directors Announcement
  10. ^ Ambassadors of Reconciliation's report on Sovereign Grace Ministries
  11. ^ Board Update: Response to Ministry Recommendations
  12. ^ Jeff Schapiro (December 20, 2012). "Maryland Megachurch Secedes From Sovereign Grace Ministries". The Christian Post. 
  13. ^ Allen, Bob (November 19, 2013). "Mahaney, Mohler share speaker platform". Associated Baptist Press. 
  14. ^ Bailey, Sarah Pulliam (May 24, 2013). "Evangelical leaders stand by pastor accused of abuse cover-up". Religion News Service. 
  15. ^ "The People & History : Together for the Gospel". T4g.org. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  16. ^ "C. J. Mahaney - Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Inc". Alliancenet.org. February 25, 2005. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  17. ^ "CJ Mahaney Drops Out of 2014 Together for the Gospel Conference Due to Sovereign Grace Lawsuit". Christian Post. July 2, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Clap Your Hands! by Larry Tomczak includes stories from Mahaney's early days in ministry and details the origins of Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries[better source needed]

External links[edit]