Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Code of Silence

From comes this interesting article about the failure on the part of the leadership of First Baptist Atlanta to inform the congregation that a prior children's minister who had worked at their church for 19 years had sexually abused children while on staff at at least one Texas church. While there is no evidence that anyone at FBCA knew about this man's past while he was on staff, the question is, why didn't they inform the congregation once they did know? Imagine how many children this man was in contact with during those 19 years!

Yet when three representatives of S.N.A.P. tried to pass out flyers to congregants leaving the Atlanta church one Sunday, security guards tried to run them off. It's not known how much of a background check, if any, the staff of FBCA did on Tommy Gilmore before hiring him, but with the "code of silence" so prevalent in the SBC and other denominations, it's doubtful a routine background check would have turned up anything. But people in Texas knew. Yet they said nothing.

Read more about Tommy Gilmore and his trail of victims

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's the "spirit" of the thing...

This is a continuation of the previous thread.

On Sunday, November 5, 2006, there was a marathon BBC deacons' meeting that started in the afternoon, recessed for the evening service (which was followed by the second "information meeting" where we were told how the deacons had "reviewed" the credit card receipts and determined that the pastor had done nothing wrong), then resumed after the service and didn't end until around 11:00 p.m.

Here is a clarification of what transpired during this meeting and afterwards which resulted in the deacon loyalty oath:

1. Near the end of the approximately 6-hour meeting, an idea (not a formal motion) was proposed which referenced supporting the pastor. This was thought by many deacons to simply mean "support" as in prayer, service to the body, etc., not blindly "swallowing and following" the pastor no matter what and certainly not agreeing to signing a statement that, to many members, had all the appearance of pledging an oath to a man. In any case, it was this idea regarding support of the pastor which was passed unanimously (meaning there were no dissenting votes) by those who remained in the meeting. As one deacon put it, after spending nearly six hours in that emotionally-charged, grueling, frustrating, heart-wrenching meeting, he would have agreed to almost anything just so the meeting could be adjourned.

2. A few days later the deacon body received an e-mail containing the "loyalty oath" as reprinted in the previous topic heading. For many deacons, this motion hardly resembled the simple "support" motion voted on in the meeting, and all the deacons were being required to sign it. Yet no one could remember that motion being read word for word at the meeting. However, deacon chairman Chuck Taylor stated in his e-mail that all who were present unanimously approved this motion.

3. It was later learned from some of the deacon officers that the final wording of the motion was drafted after the meeting. Apparently, the deacons' meeting was taped and the opinions and viewpoints expressed by certain deacons that evening were used as a basis for the final wording of the motion. Those supporting the motion claimed this represented the "spirit" of the original motion that was voted on in the meeting. This is where a number of deacons disagreed, and they did not sign the oath. In fact, only about 80 of the 180-plus deacons signed it. Many serious concerns had been expressed during the meeting, and it was felt these were completely ignored by those who drafted this new motion.

4. Finally, Chuck Taylor announced that the deacon officers had decided not to bring the motion to the congregation that following Sunday but to postpone it until a later time. By the way, Mr. Taylor, it's been over 8 months now, and we're still waiting....

Questions to ask:

1. Why was the wording of the motion finalized after the meeting and then claimed in an e-mail sent to the deacons that it was unanimously approved at the earlier meeting of the deacon body? Should not this finalized version of the motion have been brought back to the deacon body for discussion and a proper vote?

2. Was the objective to try and intimidate the deacons who had serious concerns about various issues into signing a document that was considered by many to be a clear violation of Scripture?

3. What authority did the officers have to postpone a motion they claimed had been voted on unanimously by all the deacons (we know it wasn't)? What's the point of voting on motions at deacons' meetings if the officers can rewrite or postpone them later?

4. What was the real reason the officers decided to postpone the motion? Was it because of the positive feedback taking place between the Communications Committee and various groups and individuals in the church as they claimed, or was there another reason?

5. Who all was involved in drafting the loyalty oath?

Concerned members are encouraged to contact deacons who remained until the end of this meeting to see if their version of these events matches those here.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Serving the Body or Serving Steve Gaines?

It's deacon nomination time again, and the qualifications have been outlined in this insert from the July 1st Bellevue Today.

It seems a few things have been added to the Scriptural qualifications -- such as adherence to the BF&M 2000 (which our pastor had a large role in penning) and "lifting up the hands of the pastor," the latter being a variation of the wording in the infamous "deacon loyalty oath" that apparently died on the vine. That letter, which all the deacons were requested (required?) to sign, but which many refused, read as follows:


At the conclusion of our Deacons meeting that followed the evening service, all who were present unanimously approved the following motion:

"The 2006 active Deacon Body of Bellevue Baptist Church met November 5th after the evening service and unanimously approved the following motion. We the active Deacon Body of Bellevue Baptist Church wish to convey to our Church family our affirmation of Dr. Steve Gaines as God’s appointed and God’s anointed Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church. We commit ourselves before God and our Church family to serve with loyalty under his leadership and to free him up to do the work to which God has called him to do. We publicly demonstrate our loyalty to Pastor Gaines by signing our name to this motion and standing before the Church congregation in each of the morning worship services on November 19, 2006."

Over the next few days, each Vice Chairman will be calling the men in their group to go over the motion and answer any questions. The motion requires each Deacon to sign his name to the motion indicating his public approval of the motion, so please go to the Events Registration Center to sign it. If you have any reservations in signing this motion, please discuss it with your Vice Chairman. I want to reiterate that every Deacon that was present in the Deacons meeting following the service unanimously approved this motion, with the understanding they were to sign it and to stand before the congregation on November 19th. Our congregation needs to know where the Deacons stand during these challenging days.


Steve Gaines has stated that he is not accountable to the deacon body. Therefore, it appears "service," as outlined in these qualifications, is a one-way street. We have many fine men serving as deacons, and certainly not all bow to the "demands" of the pastor, but some do.

You may recall the letter from Charles and Pam Gremillion to the deacons and some of the deacons' responses.

Now the "Pastor's Pit Crew," a group of children who have volunteered to pray for the pastor, have received their first assignment. Praying for the pastor is something we all should do. That's not the point. However, maybe it's "just me," but this sounds a little too much like loyalty to a man.