Unprepared to Teach Parenting?
"We have profited tremendously from the Growing Kids materials. We are going to continue using it because it helps our people," Karraker said.
Children whose parents take the program are well-behaved and "the children whose parents don't are terrors," Karraker said.
In response to his ouster from Living Hope, Ezzo submitted himself this year to two ad-hoc groups, which examined Living Hope's findings. The first panel was composed of GFI regional representatives. The second was made up of anonymous individuals who are "independent of GFI organizationally."
The GFI regional representatives said they could not endorse the discipline process carried out at Living Hope, whose elders declined to meet with either group.
Living Hope has not provided specific details concerning Ezzo's alleged misconduct. Neither of the ad-hoc committees found cause for Ezzo to remove himself from Christian ministry or GFI leadership.
Ezzo questions the motives of Living Hope's leadership. "If you have the Ezzos in your church and if the Ezzos are leaving for some reason, that does create a dilemma," he told CR. "The idea of the threat of church discipline against a national leader and the motive behind it is at least somewhat suspect."
Ezzo says the elders carried out the excommunication only after he expressed unnamed concerns with them and then left the church voluntarily.
The Living Hope elders' statement tells a different story. It notes that, in accordance with Matthew 18, they called upon Ezzo to acknowledge his offenses, pleaded with him to repent, and were saddened by his "persistent unwillingness to respond to biblical admonition."
Ezzo also questions the integrity of the elders at Grace, saying their statement represents "blatant deception." Grace was not willing to have its actions evaluated, he says, and "[we] believe they owe us a public apology."
Ezzo's current pastor, Ron Seidel of Granada Hills Community Church in California, dismisses the concerns of Living Hope's elders based on his belief that they mishandled the discipline of another Living Hope ex-member who is an associate of Ezzo's and now attends Seidel's congregation.
Is Ezzo who he says he is?
An inquiry by CT into Ezzo's background surfaces many new questions about his training, his conduct, and his professional interactions. Parents trust Ezzo to be professional and authoritative on parenting, yet many are not aware that he has no professional background in child development, medicine, or breastfeeding support.
Ezzo, GFI, and his publisher have attributed to him three different academic degrees that he does not have. Ezzo stated in writing that he had an associate's degree in business from Mohawk Community College in Utica, New York, even specifying a major and a grade-point average. He never graduated from that school, officials say.
GFI and Ezzo's publisher, Multnomah, have both said he earned a master's degree in Christian education, but he holds no such degree. The master of arts in ministry that he does have gives significant credit for life experience and is designed for noncollege graduates.
Ezzo has remained silent on at least two occasions when he has been publicly but erroneously referred to as "Dr. Gary Ezzo." One of these was a national radio ad for one of his books.
A former Multnomah employee—responsible for the ad at the time—said that Ezzo may not have heard the reference in the ad. But the former employee confirms that Ezzo listened to the ad and did not comment on this error, although Ezzo did discuss other changes.