Greater Grace World Outreach

A nondenominational evangelical Christian church with a global mission and a history of controversies.

Greater Grace World Outreach (GGWO) is a nondenominational evangelical Christian church, emphasizing grace, the finished work, and missions. Its headquarters, located in Baltimore, Maryland, serves as the hub for its wide array of ministries, including the Grace Hour, Greater Grace Christian Academy, Maryland Bible College and Seminary, and the Christian Athletics Program, alongside its international outreach endeavors. The organization was initially part of a predecessor known as The Bible Speaks, which transformed into GGWO under the leadership of Carl H. Stevens. Following Stevens’ illness in 2003, a congregational vote in 2005 led to Thomas Schaller being elected as senior pastor. Despite internal disputes and a significant disaffiliation by many pastors and leaders in 2004, forming The International Association of Grace Ministries, GGWO continues to thrive with approximately 500 churches globally​​​​.

GGWO operates under an affiliation model, where pastors ordained by the leadership of Greater Grace Church Baltimore agree to abide by its standards. This affiliation facilitates fellowship and communion among pastors and churches within the Greater Grace community and, occasionally, with external entities. Despite recognizing local congregations as fully autonomous, a congregation becomes part of the broader GGWO body if its pastor is ordained by GGWO, although the organization asserts that it does not interfere with individual churches’ affairs unless assistance is requested​​.

The organization has faced accusations of cult-like behavior and spiritual abuse by its leaders. Critics, including former members and cult-watching organizations, have raised concerns about a culture of lying, guilt, fear, and manipulation undergirded by authoritarian teachings. Allegations include sinful and abusive activities by key leaders, followed by cover-ups and denial, justified by distorted teachings on grace and the finished work. Eyewitness accounts from ex-members describe attempts to address these issues through proper channels, only to be met with subterfuge, denial, character assassination, and legal threats by the leadership. This has left many former members feeling alienated, believing that God’s grace and love are reserved exclusively for the GGWO faithful​​.

Moreover, personal accounts from individuals who have left GGWO highlight the profound impact on their lives, including strained family relationships and personal struggles. These narratives often describe the initial appeal of GGWO’s welcoming community, only to later reveal a reality marred by control, manipulation, and isolation from dissenting views. Efforts by former pastors to address questionable practices within the organization have been met with resistance and, in some cases, personal and professional repercussions. The experiences shared by these individuals paint a picture of an organization that, while offering spiritual guidance and community, has also been a source of significant controversy and pain for some of its members​​.

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