Today's Wall Street Journal features an article entitled Banned From Church which details the story of Karolyn Caskey, a 71-year-old woman who'd been a member of Allen Baptist Church in the small town of Allen, Michigan for nearly 50 years. Mrs. Caskey was escorted out of a service and arrested for "trespassing." Several months earlier Mrs. Caskey was accused by the pastor, Jason Burrick, of spreading "a spirit of cancer and discord" when she questioned why the church wasn't following their bylaws which called for the election of deacons and quarterly business meetings. Burrick then expelled her from the church.
I was reminded of the many similarities to Bellevue's situation. While no one has been formally "disciplined," even though the pastor has the means (if not the grounds or intestinal fortitude) to do so, several thousand people have left Bellevue in the past two years, and many of those would say they felt pressure to "preserve the unity" at all costs.
Should a pastor have this much power? Should a pastor be able to "excommunicate" someone from a congregation without a vote by the membership or at least the elders (if applicable) or the deacons? Should there be any controls in place for when a church administration willfully ignores or refuses to follow the church bylaws? Should there be the means for a congregation to "discipline" their leaders?
Thanks to "amazed" for this topic idea.