Friday, December 16, 2011

John Langworthy Update



Update:

WLBT-TV >> Group spotlights sex offender's working at local drug store


For immediate release:

Admitted child molesting cleric gets state license

Group urges government agency to rescind it immediately

He was at Clinton church and now works at local pharmacy

Man currently faces eight felony counts of ‘gratification of lust’


WHAT:

Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, a man who was sexually assaulted by a priest will disclose that

-- An admitted child molester now works now at a local drug store, and

-- He was recently licensed by the state of Mississippi as a pharmacy technician

The victims group will also

-- Announce that his group is writing Mississippi officials urging that they revoke the predator’s license, and

-- Urge anyone who saw, suspected or suffered the predator’s crimes to come forward, get help, protect kids, call police and start healing.


WHEN:

SATURDAY, Dec. 17, 1:00 p.m.


WHERE:

Outside the Medicap pharmacy, 821 E. Northside Drive (corner of Live Oak) in Clinton, MS


WHO:

A Jackson man and clergy sex abuse victim who is the primary contact in Mississippi for an independent support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)


WHY:

SNAP has learned that an admitted child molester, John Langworthy, has – within the last month – obtained his Pharmacy Technician license from the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy and now works at Medicap Pharmacy.

Langworthy was indicted last month on criminal charges of eight felony counts of gratification of lust stemming from allegations that he abused five different children while he worked as a youth music minister at Morrison Heights Baptist Church.

SNAP is concerned because in order to get his license, Langworthy would have needed to pass a background check in order to prove he is of “good moral character.”

While he may have passed the criminal background check because of the timing of his application, his indictment and crimes indicate that he is clearly not of “good moral character,” and SNAP wants the MS Board of Pharmacy to immediately revoke his license. SNAP is also concerned because this job could feasibly put Langworthy within access to drugs with which he could tempt young children today as he did in the 1980’s.

And the group believes that any time a predator is given a title or position of responsibility, he or she will try to use it to win the trust of parents and get close to kids.

Associated Baptist Press >> Former music minister indicted


CONTACT:

Mark Belenchia, msbelenchia@gmail.com, 601-953-2535

Amy Smith, spacecitysnap@gmail.com, 281-748-4050

David Clohessy, SNAPclohessy@aol.com, 314-566-9790 cell


Barbara Dorris

Outreach Director

314-862-7688

SNAPdorris@gmail.com

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lifeway Recalls Pink Bibles




And Southern Baptists wonder why they're sometimes the laughingstock of the country.

WFAA-TV >> Southern Baptist publisher recalls pink Bibles

The Tennessean >> Lifeway's Pink Bibles Scrapped

The Christian Post >> LifeWay Christian Resources Ending Sale of Pink Bibles After Uproar

Frankly, I think the whole "pink thing" has gotten out of hand. Pink bibles? Who thought up this idea in the first place? Breast cancer "awareness" does nothing unless there are actions and money (research, education, and screening availability) behind the sea of pink. I think the pink ribbon craze has certainly done a good job of increasing awareness, and no doubt lives have been saved, but I also think we're on the brink of becoming desensitized to the message because of "pink" overload.

Did anyone at Lifeway not realize the ties between Komen and Planned Parenthood? It's not exactly a secret. It's kind of ironic that "evil bloggers" seem to have been responsible for bringing this information to Lifeway's attention.

Are Southern Baptists going to stop buying soup and all the other pink-labeled products we see every fall? Because... as we all know, a portion of the price of every can of pink-labeled Campbells soup, every pink bottle of laundry detergent, and every pink-ribbon-adorned doodad sold goes to Komen.

And did you know that men with breast cancer -- about 1-2% of all diagnosed cases -- are
discriminated against in the health care system?

I'm surprised the Southern Baptists aren't screaming about that. Except, of course, in their world "real" men probably don't get breast cancer. Can you imagine some "manly man" megachurch pastor like Steve Gaines or Mark Driscoll developing breast cancer? The humiliation!

So now I guess the problem becomes what to do with 25,000+ pink bibles.

Third Warrant Issued for Sammy Nuckolls



This one in Waldron, Arkansas...

WMC-TV >> Charges in 3rd city filed against traveling preacher from Olive Branch

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Al Mohler Wakes Up... Finally!



R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the flagship Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written a good article about lessons Southern Baptists can learn from the firing of Penn State's Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier and the arrest of former assistant coach and perpetrator, Jerry Sandusky, as well as the indictments of the former AD, Tim Curley, and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, Gary Schultz. Heads have most certainly rolled at Penn State this week. The grand jury's findings can be read in full here.

Mohler concludes, "The detonation of the Penn State scandal must shake the entire nation into a new moral awareness. Any failure to report and to stop the sexual abuse of children must be made inconceivable."

Are you just now realizing this, Dr. Mohler? Or did the worldwide reporting of such a large scandal at a big-name university involving a legendary coach force you to no longer be able to remain silent?

Mohler continues: Sometimes Christians are reluctant to report suspected sexual abuse because they do not feel that they know enough about the situation. They are afraid of making a false accusation. This is the wrong instinct. We do not have the ability to conduct the kind of investigation that is needed, nor is this assigned to the church. This is the function of government as instituted by God (Romans 13). Waiting for further information allows a predator to continue and puts children at risk. This is itself an immoral act that needs to be seen for what it is.

There's a lot of truth in that paragraph, but actually, Dr. Mohler, it's an illegal act not to report. Let's stop sugar-coating premeditated crimes by calling them "moral failures" or "sins" or merely "mistakes." (See Sammy Nuckolls.) Many times, as with the Penn State story, they're a lot more concerned with protecting "the brand" or some good old boy's job or career than they are with making a false accusation or the protection of children.

A Christian hearing a report of sexual abuse within a church, Christian organization, or Christian school, needs to act in exactly the same manner called for if the abuse is reported in any other context. The church and Christian organizations must not become safe places for abusers.

News flash! That ship has sailed. The church and "Christian" organizations already are safe havens for abusers! It's the blatant lack of accountability, trust in "men of God" just because they say they're "called by God" and can quote scripture and toss out spiritual sound bites, and the unwillingness by church leadership to report abuse or suspicion thereof to the authorities and their congregations that have resulted in churches being safe havens for these perverts for years. (Another one from Bellevue's past has recently come to light, and a lot of people apparently knew about him. One former staffer was quoted as saying they knew this guy was a "pedophile" for years but no one was willing to contact authorities.) Will Mohler publicly (or privately) criticize church leaders who are guilty of covering for confessed child molesters? Or will he continue to speak at their churches and invite them to speak at SBTS chapel services? Mohler spoke at Bellevue as recently as June of this year.


video


Greg Belser, who covered for John Langworthy, spoke to SBTS students and faculty at their October 25th chapel service.

Any report of sexual abuse must lead immediately to action. That action cannot fall short of contacting law enforcement authorities. A clear lesson of the Penn State scandal is this: Internal reporting is simply not enough.

Again, it's taken the Penn State scandal to clarify this for you?

After law enforcement authorities have been notified, the church must conduct its own work of pastoral ministry, care, and church discipline. This is the church’s responsibility and charge. But these essential Christian ministries and responsibilities are not substitutes for the proper function of law enforcement authorities and the legal system. As Christians, we respect those authorities because we are commanded to do so.

Yes! Amen! GLO ree! Thank you! It's about time! But why is a man of Mohler's impressive credentials just now seeming to grasp this concept when most of the sheeple in the pews and, for that matter, "the world," haven't had to pause for one second to consider what to do in a situation like this?

The other day Mohler decided to crack open the policy handbook for the institution he's headed for almost 19 years and discovered that the seminary's policy on reporting of any sexual abuse, even that of a child, could have conceivably led to another Penn State situation. Oops! Dodged a bullet there, didn't we?

I discovered yesterday that the policy handbook of the institution I am proud to lead calls for any employee receiving a report of child abuse, including child sexual abuse, to contact his or her supervisor with that report. That changes today. The new policy statement will direct employees receiving such a report to contact law enforcement authorities without delay. Then, after acting in the interests of the child, they should contact their supervisor.

While I applaud Mohler for finally educating himself on his school's policies and changing the policy immediately... better late than never as they say, with all the publicity in recent years about the numerous cases of sexual abuse, often involving children, within Southern Baptist churches, I can only wonder why it took a story on the scale of the Penn State scandal to awaken Mohler.

Christa Brown, SNAP representatives, and others have been trying to get the attention of Southern Baptists for years only to be at best ignored and many times demonized, maybe not by Mohler himself (he seems to have remained silent) but by many of his peers. Frank Page described some who speak out against clergy sex abuse "opportunistic persons who are seeking to raise opportunities for personal gain." Did Dr. Mohler ever renounce Frank Page's statement? Paige Patterson called them evil-doers. Did Dr. Mohler call him out? All I heard was crickets.

FBC Jax Watchdog has written a good series of articles on the Penn State story:

At Least in College Football, Failing to Report a Molester Is a Crime - But How Does Joe Paterno Still Have a Job?

The Ugly Truth About Joe Paterno and the Sandusky Rape of 10 Year Old - And What We Can Learn From It

Paterno Out: A Legendary Football Coach is Held Accountable for Turning Blind Eye Toward a Pervert



Let's see what happens now.

1. Will Al Mohler have the courage to reintroduce the motion Wade Burleson proposed at the 2007 SBC?

2. Will he lead the rally to support Burleson or another messenger who proposes a similar motion in 2012?

3. Will Mohler now implement mandatory training for all seminary students in how to handle any knowledge or even suspicion of sexual abuse? (This shouldn't be "uncharted waters," but apparently it still is for many, including seasoned pastors.)

4. Will he publicly rebuke Southern Baptist "ministers" who are caught committing these crimes? Not to publicly humiliate them but to warn people about these wolves. Or will he continue merrily on with his CBMW agenda warning against the evils of women teaching men, not submitting to their husbands, and young people not getting married as soon as possible and popping out as many babies as nature allows?

5. Will he now begin to publicly rebuke Southern Baptist pastors who knowingly cover for confessed child molesters? Or will he continue to bring them in to speak in chapel services and fill the pulpits of their churches? The "elite" among the SBC seem to think they're "appointed by God." Someone needs to explain to them that while they may be called by God to preach, they are hired by people to perform a job. Otherwise they wouldn't be so concerned about their salaries (and keeping them a secret).

This 2006 BP article illustrates this point precisely. Translation: We are appointed by God, we are being "persecuted" because we are "God's men," and you are to overlook any wrongdoing by us "men of God" because we are... "appointed by God." You can't touch us. Just shut up, grab a broom, and help us sweep it all under the rug.

As David Clohessy, national director of SNAP said, "It's easy to say stuff; harder to do stuff." So will Mohler now "do stuff" or will a change to the handbook, which apparently even the president himself hadn't read until this week, be Mohler's only response? Come on, Al. Do the right thing! Don't just say stuff, DO STUFF!

November 18th update:

We're making progress...

AlbertMohler.com >> My Letter to the Southern Seminary Community: Our Duty to Report

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Be Joyful! (But only when I say you can.)



JOY. That was today's sermon topic. Well, actually the sermon was entitled "Are You a Friend of God?" I've always thought that whole "friend of God" thing borders on sacrilege or at the least seems somewhat simplistic and man-centered. (The song I Am a Friend of God has been described "like a song that a kindergartner would sing. It makes God seem like our pal Jake that we hang out with at McDonald's.")

Still, bear in mind that great emphasis was placed on the expression of "joy" in today's sermon.

Steve told the story (for about the hundredth time) about how he learned to "lift holy hands" while in college. He's not telling you that you have to lift your hands when you worship, but it is in the Bible, so draw your own conclusions about his feelings on the subject.

He then explained why Christians should be joyful and not go around with clouds over their heads.

Then he burst into song. This has become an almost weekly tradition.

Finally, nearing the end of his sermon... somewhere near the conclusion of point 6 of 7... there was a disturbance. During a pause a woman off camera began shouting. I don't believe it's racist to acknowledge that the woman was very likely black, a detail which is irrelevant other than to offer a possible explanation for the style with which she traditionally worships.

Watch what happened.

Steve is always trying to reach out to and attract all races of people to Bellevue. Then the cameras zero in on every black person they can find, but there still aren't that many. There's a reason for this. Those who attend predominantly black churches typically have a different worship style from those who attend predominantly white churches. That's not criticism of any style. It's just a fact. That's probably the main reason why Sunday mornings are still the most segregated hours of the week. On a positive note, we are seeing many of the walls come down as evidenced by churches like First Baptist Atlanta and others. In spite of trying to convince people otherwise, Bellevue isn't quite there yet.

Last Sunday he ranted (again) about people who move because people with a different skin color than theirs move into the neighborhood, and he was all "how dare you!" about it, yet when he moved here, he didn't move his family to an inner city or "minority" neighborhood. Does he really think people moved out of, say, Frayser because people with a different skin color moved in? Or could it be because they got tired of hearing gunshots every night? Steve's neighborhood isn't gated (I'm surprised), but his house is on a quiet cul-de-sac in a very nice upscale neighborhood outside the Memphis city limits. (The significance of that, among other things, is he doesn't have to pay Memphis city taxes which account for about half the tax bill for people who live inside the city limits or in annexed areas.) If you think about it, moving Bellevue from inner-city Memphis to Cordova 20+ years ago was motivated in great part by "white flight."

And yet he wants to criticize city council for considering certain ordinances. If you're not paying Memphis city taxes, should you really have a say in how the city of Memphis does things? He criticized people for not wanting their kids to go to public school with "those people" (his words) while he sent his to private, lily-white ECS. When he got only a smattering of applause, he remarked that wasn't a very big hand. Maybe that's because most of the audience grasped the hypocrisy in what they'd just heard.

Things backfired this morning in the 11:00 service. After half an hour of being encouraged to be joyful(!), to praise God by "lifting holy hands," and a rousing rendition (solo by Steve) of What a Day That Will Be, a lady in the audience apparently could hold it in no longer and shouted, "GLO ree! GLO ree!! GLO ree!!! THANK YA, LORD! THANK YA!! THANK YA!!!" {then something muffled}

Steve stopped (you could practically hear the whir of the hamster wheel) and said, "Amen. If you will... just a second. Let me say this. I appreciate your... I appreciate your joy... but I'm speaking right now, and the Holy Spirit's speaking through me and He never interrupts Himself. So let me finish my sermon and then you can have joy, okay? Thank you.

"Number 7............. amen? Everybody okay? {muffled audience response} All right... we're all... everybody's all right. Everything's cool. Nobody's... that's fine."

"The Holy Spirit's speaking through me and He never interrupts Himself"? Thinks rather highly of himself, doesn't he? God spoke through a donkey, too. What's the point? Maybe the Holy Spirit was speaking through the lady!

What does he expect? That's how the people in many predominantly black churches worship! They're enthusiastic, they constantly respond to the preacher during the sermon, and they aren't by any stretch of the imagination, quiet. Steve rebukes people if they don't clap or say "amen" at the right time. Then he devotes an entire sermon to being joyful, lifting "holy" hands, and expressing that joy, encouraging "amens" and applause at just the right moments, but when one woman doesn't follow the script... bam! Sit down and shut up! After being publicly called out, do you think that woman will ever darken the door of Bellevue Baptist Church again? Not only will she not ever come back, she's going to tell ALL her friends what happened, too. Nice job lo♥ing Memphis, Steve.

If that woman today hadn't gotten wound up before then (it was near the end) she probably wasn't going to get any louder. Like one would try to tune out a crying child, he could have just ignored her and kept going and there probably wouldn't have been another outburst, but she didn't shout "Glory!" on cue, and we can't have that. Remember "Amen Kelly" and the dream? (Whatever happened to him anyway?) He had to be dealt with because he was interrupting Steve's train of thought.

Hey, I'm not unsympathetic here. I recall a lady (who shall remain nameless) whose "amens" used to interrupt my train of thought on a regular basis. Anyone who's heard her will likely know who it is. She was always so loud, so constant, and so predictable... two "amens" with the same emphasis on the syllables... "a MEN! A... men!" after almost every sentence that came out of the preacher's mouth. And yet... I don't recall Steve ever requesting she tone it down a few notches. Considering who she's married to, he wouldn't dare!

You could see "lifted hands" at the bottom of the screen during part of his sermon this morning. Why didn't he chastise them? Well, those did look like white hands. Maybe big tithers or children of big tithers? Hmmm.

Oh, and this seems to be the new Sunday 11:00 a.m. look now.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Lifeway Makes Statement Regarding Sammy Nuckolls


Lifeway has issued a statement regarding Sammy Nuckolls. It took almost a week after all traces of their former relationship with him was scrubbed from the internet for them to issue this statement, but better late than never. I applaud Lifeway for finally addressing this issue.

On FBC Jax Watchdog's blog Jim pointed out the elephant in the room when he wrote, "Lifeway would have done an immense amount of good if they had added to the statement about no evidence of illicit activity by Nuckolls at FUGE camp: "However, we will contact every church or group that attended camp when Nuckolls was camp pastor and encourage campers and leaders who suspect they may have been victims, to come forward." Still, I'm glad Lifeway made a statement.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Olive Branch Southern Baptist Evangelist Charged with Video Voyeurism



On Twitter Sammy Nuckolls listed his occupation as "itinerant pastor." Perhaps "professional peeping Tom" would have been more appropriate.

Now his Twitter account is gone... GONE!, just like all references to him on Lifeway's FUGE blog. (Articles on Nuckolls from 2-1-11 and 10-10-11 are still visible in Google Reader.) No public statement by Lifeway, just a clean sweep, much like we saw last year when Ergun Caner was caught... embellishing.

Last week Nuckolls was taken into custody by the Gosnell, Arkansas police after a woman whose family's home in which he was a guest while he conducted a revival at a local church discovered Nuckolls had used a "spy pen" to videotape her in her own bathroom. She retrieved the pen and turned it over to the police who questioned Nuckolls and transported him to the Mississippi County jail where he was booked on charges of video voyeurism. According to the Blytheville Courier News Nuckolls confessed to the crime in Gosnell and also admitted doing the same thing to two women in Mississippi. He was released on $50,000 bond. And continued to Twitter as if he didn't have a care in the world.

Today we learned that police confiscated his computers and video equipment and discovered videos of an unknown number of other women "dating back years" and that investigators are "still sifting through it all."

More Victims of Accused Olive Branch 'Peeping Preacher' Surface: MyFoxMEMPHIS.com


Olive Branch, MS police arrested Nuckolls at his home Saturday, charging him with one felony count of "photographing, taping, or filming persons in violation of expectation of privacy." He was later released on $10,000 bond.

Related articles:

WMC-TV >> Olive Branch evangelist charged with video voyeurism

WMC-TV >> Olive Branch police charge evangelist with voyeurism

WMC-TV >> Traveling evangelist faces new voyeurism charge in Arkansas

WREG-TV >> Preacher charged with voyeurism

FBC Jax Watchdog >> SBC Lifeway's 2011 Youth Camp Pastor Sammy Nuckolls Arrested for Filming Woman Showering in Her Own Home

Associated Baptist Press >> Evangelist charged with video voyeurism

Wade Burleson >> On Glass Windows and Curtains: The Psychology of Withdrawing from Public View

Apprising Ministries >> SBC LIFEWAY YOUTH CAMP PASTOR SAM NUCKOLLS ARRESTED FOR VIDEO PEEPING

Topix >> Blytheville Forum >> Sammy Nuckolls spends night in jail

rev.org >> Pastors and Porn


Not yet wiped (we saved 'em):

Morph Missions Board of Directors

Williams Baptist College >> Audio Archive >> 11/10/2010

Speaking at Mississippi College


FBC Jax Watchdog asks the glaring question:

FBC Jax Watchdog >> Video Voyeurism of Sammy Nuckolls - Were There Any Victims at Lifeway's FUGE Camps?


Updates:

WMC-TV >> Accused voyeur evangelist faces judge in Olive Branch

WMC-TV >> Evangelist charged with voyeurism could face even more charges


One question I have is why, if he just had to look at naked women besides his wife, he didn't do what at least 50% of his peers do and just go to the internet? Why did he feel the need to make his own videos? For the thrill of it? To humiliate his victims? I'm not sure I want to know.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lawsuit in Baptistland



The Tennessean >> Former Nashville councilman hits Baptists with lawsuit

Three years ago a former Nashville, Tennessee Metro Council member, Ron Nollner, was hired by the SBC's International Mission Board to oversee the construction of a New Dehli office building. He and his wife, Beverly, who was hired "to provide support, aid and comfort to her husband," sold their house and car and gave up his construction career and her job in the U.S. to work for the IMB and live in India for at least the next three years for a paltry $1200 a month.

When Nollner complained to IMB administration about unsafe building practices and the builder and architect bribing local officials to obtain construction approval along the way, the IMB responded by informing Nollner his position was "no longer necessary." In other words, they fired him.

On October 20, 2011 Nollner filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the SBC in the Davidson County (TN) Circuit Court alleging "retaliatory discharge, breach of contract and detrimental reliance." In the lawsuit Nollner describes IMB officials' reactions to his concerns as "unbothered, if not complicit."

In a related case the Supreme Court is slated to consider the idea of "ministerial exception." The outcome could affect not only this case but many other cases, some legitimate, others frivolous.

Could a ruling by the Supreme Court in this case open the door to victims of sexual abuse by SBC ministers suing churches and the SBC for failing to protect them against serial abusers? Stay tuned.


Photo © The Tennessean

Friday, September 30, 2011

Scroll down for John Langworthy stuff.


I'm keeping the John Langworthy story on the front page for now, but a couple of local stories are in the news now. More information will be available after JL's scheduled court date on October 5th or as soon as it develops.

Please, if you were a victim of JL or any other abuser or have information about this case or abuse of anyone, regardless of how insignificant the information may seem, contact the proper authorities and let them sort it out. In Clinton, that would be detective Josh Frazier at 601-924-5252.

If the abuse or suspicion of abuse occurred in Jackson, MS:

Jackson Police Sex Crimes:

601-960-1210

In addition to either of the two police departments listed above, to provide any information regarding the JL case or abuse in Hinds County, MS, contact Assistant D.A. Jamie McBride at 601-968-6568.

If the abuse or suspicion of abuse occurred at Prestonwood or in the Dallas area:

This is a great list of victim's services information.

Dallas Police non-emergency number:

214-744-4444

Child exploitation unit:

214-671-4211

Dallas Children's Advocacy Center

214-818-2600

DCAC victim assistant coordinator:

214-818-2613

DCAC will act as the go-between if you do not want to contact the police directly. Don't worry about any statute of limitations. What may seem to be an insignificant detail may be the missing puzzle piece the investigators need. Go to them and tell them what you know and let them determine if it's important! They will keep your identity confidential.


Scroll down for all the John Langworthy articles and comments or click on these links:

John Langworthy Arrested (Current JL thread. Comments are active.)

Comments are closed on these older articles, but the articles and previous comments are still available.

Church Leaders Lawyer Up In Sex Crime Investigation

Wolves in the Music Ministry - Part 2

Wolves in the Music Ministry

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Adrian Rogers 80th Birthday Celebration



From the Baptist Press:

Adrian Rogers is turning 80 this year and we are going to celebrate!

BARTLETT, Tenn. (news release)--The Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute, the Adrian Rogers family, and Faith Baptist Church (Bartlett, TN) are hosting the Adrian Rogers 80th Birthday Celebration on Sunday evening, September 18 at 6:00pm. The event will be held in the Faith Baptist Church sanctuary. There are no tickets required; all are welcome.

This special event will commemorate the life and legacy of one of the greatest Christian leaders of the last 100 years, Dr. Adrian Rogers. In addition to commemorating his 50 plus years of public ministry, the event will celebrate the future extension of this legacy through the Pastor Training Institute and its deployment of the online Adrian Rogers School of Global Leadership. When finished, this state-of-the-art website will feature the training of Dr. Adrian Rogers which will educate and equip hundreds of thousands of global pastors, per month, that are unable to attend seminary due to cost and inaccessibility.

Leading the music portion of the event will be Dr. Jim Whitmire, who presently serves as minister of music as First Baptist Church, Jacksonville. Dr. Whitmire served as Dr. Rogers' ministry of music for 38 years, starting with First Baptist Merritt Island and moving onto Bellevue Baptist Church.

Whitmire recently noted, "I am honored to be able to participate in this event where we can truly celebrate the legacy of a very unique servant of the Lord. I'm so excited that the Pastor Training Institute continues to carry on Dr. Rogers' legacy. He loved preachers—especially young preachers. This was the genesis of the Pastor Training Institute. He saw himself growing older and transferring his wisdom and experience onto the next generation. I don't think he had any idea of how global it would go, as the ministry is committed to training 1,000,000 pastors in 100 countries by the year 2020."

Also joining in the festivities are musical guests Jamie and Dana Parker. Jamie presently serves as music minister for Dr. Ronnie Floyd at Cross Church (Springdale, Arkansas).

July 25, 2011

Yes, but did he tithe?



It appears Rusty Hyneman's house of cards has finally collapsed.

Commercial Appeal >> Fast and loose: Sweetheart bank loans spur Rusty Hyneman’s financial collapse: Lenders call in their debts and crumble developer's empire of excess

Commercial Appeal >> Developers Hyneman, Bourne pulled 'scam' on bank, contractor says

Commercial Appeal >> 'Flip' on land flops as windfall profit blows ill: Bourne, Hyneman buy acreage, sell to selves

Rusty's father, John Hyneman, is a Bellevue deacon, and Rusty is a Bellevue member although no one seems to recall seeing him there in years. Rusty's defense that the court couldn't touch his McMansion and other property because his daddy co-owned them didn't impress the court.

Commercial Appeal >> Memphis-area developer Rusty Hyneman's 'daddy defense' headed to court

Of course, this wasn't Rusty Hyneman's first brush with the law. He served time in federal prison for drug trafficking charges.

Memphis Flyer >> The art of the deal

Then there was this bizarre incident:

Commercial Appeal >> Hyneman goes to court over fight: Developer faces assault charge in incident outside Beale bar

So is this really the end of the road for Rusty Hyneman or will he prove to be Teflon-coated yet again?

I suppose the most important question to ask is if Hyneman tithed to Bellevue on all those millions. If he didn't he was living in a stolen house, driving a stolen Rolls and Bentley, flying in stolen jets, riding stolen horses... oh, wait.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Church Leaders Lawyer Up In Sex Crime Investigation


Well, this is just sad. Unfortunately, it was also predictable. I was really hoping Morrison Heights Baptist Church was going to be the exception and not the rule.



Read along and let this sink in:

According to his alleged victim, John Langworthy's sex crimes took place 22 years ago when the former minister of music at Morrison Heights Baptist Church was babysitting.

McBride: "And obviously it's a very serious allegation."

Prosecutors say the accusations against the 49-year-old husband and father include multiple acts of child molestation.

McBride: "I guess it really would fall under both sexual battery and gratification of lust, both lustful touching and penetration.

Assistant district attorney, Jamie McBride, wants to know what church leaders know about Langworthy's possible past sex crimes, but elders at Morrison Heights are now speaking through their attorney.

McBride: "The attorney for them has asked us to come up with some law to talk about whether or not that's privileged conversations or not."

Ross Adams, WJTV News, Channel 12



Could this be what all the "lawyering up" is about?

Who may report a suspected case of child abuse?

In accordance with Section 43-21-353 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated, "Any attorney, physician, dentist, intern, resident, nurse, psychologist, social worker, family protection worker, family protection specialist, child caregiver, minister, law enforcement officer, public or private school employee or any other person having reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a neglected child or an abused child, shall cause an oral report to be made immediately by telephone or otherwise and followed as soon thereafter as possible by a report in writing to the Department of Human Services, ..."

What will happen if you know of abuse and don't report it?

Upon being found guilty, the individual shall be punished by a fine not to exceed Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by imprisonment in jail not to exceed one (1) year, or both. Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated Section 43-21-353(7).


Related articles:

Clarion Ledger >> August 28th >> Abuse case talks called privileged

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services >> Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect: Summary of State Laws

Wolves in the Music Ministry

Wolves in the Music Ministry - Part 2

Letter to the editor in the Clarion Ledger from David Clohessy, national director of SNAP.


WAPT-TV >> Grand Jury To Consider Case Against Former Clinton Minister

Associated Baptist Press >> Prosecutors want information from church about former minister suspected of child abuse


We saw the same stonewalling from Bellevue during the Paul Williams investigation.


Deny, Deny, Deny!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wolves in the Music Ministry - Part 2



This will be a continuation of the original Wolves in the Music Ministry post. The comment stream was getting pretty long.

The cover-up of John Langworthy's "indiscretions" and "mistakes" (his words) while at Prestonwood is coming back to bite as evidenced by the lead story by Brett Shipp on WFAA-TV's August 8th 10:00 p.m. broadcast. Thank you, Amy, for your advocacy for victims and for your persistence in bringing this story to light. If it were not for your efforts I have no doubt nothing would have changed.

WFAA-TV >> Disturbing revelations about former Prestonwood minister

Bob Allen has addressed this story:

Associated Baptist Press >> Abuse confession raises questions of cover-up by Baptist mega-church

Associated Baptist Press >> Pastor renews call for database of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse

Associated Baptist Press >> Christa Brown >> Opinion: Prestonwood saga shows clergy abuse database is overdue


It also made the newspapers:

August 9th:

Dallas Morning News >> Former Prestonwood minister admits to 'sexual indiscretions' with students more than 20 years ago

Clarion Ledger >> Clinton music minister confesses to 'sexual indiscretions'

Clarion Ledger >> Clinton minister quits over allegations

August 10th:

The Republic >> Recently resigned music minister admits long-ago sexual misconduct with teen boys

Hattiesburg American >> Ex-music minister admits past sexual misconduct

August 15th:

Clarion Ledger >> Man accuses former Clinton music minister of molestation

Clarion Ledger >> Ex-choir leader in sex probe

August 19th:

Clarion Ledger >> Hinds DA office probes molestation claims against former Clinton music minister

August 20th:

Clarion Ledger >> DA probing sex abuse allegations

The Oklahoman >> Enid pastor renews call for clergy sex abuse database


And Jackson, MS TV:

August 9th:

WAPT-TV >> Former Youth Minister, Teacher Makes Startling Admission

WLBT-TV >> Clinton music minister makes eye-opening confession

August 10th:

WAPT-TV >> No Criminal Complaints Filed Against Former Minister

WJTV-TV >> Former Music Minister Admits To Sexual Indiscretions

WJTV-TV >> Clinton Parents in Shock Over Former Minister's Confession

WJTV-TV >> Ex-Music Minister Admits Past Sexual Misconduct

August 11th:

FOX 40 >> Church Scandal

August 15th:

WAPT-TV >> Clinton Police Investigate Complaint Against Former Minister

WLBT-TV >> Former Clinton church music minister under investigation

WJTV-TV >> Police To Meet With Minister's Alleged Victim

August 16th:

WAPT-TV >> Former Minister's Accuser Expected To Speak To Police

August 19th:

WLBT-TV >> Questions about sexual misconduct continue for music minister


Around the Blogosphere:

Wade Burleson >> Full Circle: Why the SBC Child Predator Database Is Needed Now, Not Later (Comments have been reopened.)

FBC Jax Watchdog >> In the Langworthy/Prestonwood Story, Bloggers Once Again Show They are Sorely Needed to Get Truth Out

Zwinglius Redivivus >> The Catholics Aren’t The Only Ones Who Cover Up Their Clergy’s Evils

The Wartburg Watch >> Does the SBC Fear Women Pastors More Than The Molestation of Children?

Wade Burleson >> The Reason the SBC Will Not Create a Minister Sex Abuse Data Base Is Liability, Not Polity

A now-former teacher at Prestonwood Christian Academy was recently indicted for having an inproper relationship with a 17-year-old female student. Although the student went to his apartment willingly on several occasions, he was 26 at the time. In Texas it's a second-degree felony, regardless of the parties' ages, for an educator to have an improper relationship with a student.

Plano Star >> Former Prestonwood teacher indicted

Then there was Joe Barron.

Barron videos

Apparently Johnson and Barron's cases were handled swiftly by the administration at Prestonwood. However, Barron's story was plastered all over the national news at the time, and Johnson's was covered in the local news, so they really didn't have much choice. With Langworthy it's less clear about the timeline and who knew what when, but apparently the church and school district in Clinton were never warned about him.

If a database of convicted, confessed, and credibly accused sexual predators was available to Baptist churches, and if the churches would avail themselves of it, a lot of these cases could be prevented. When will Baptist leaders wake up, stop covering for their own, and establish some method of accountability within their ranks? I know, I know! Baptist churches are autonomous. Unless, of course, they do something really bad like call a woman preacher. Autonomy is such a relative term in "Baptistland."

TRANSCRIPT of John Langworthy's August 7, 2011 statement to Morrison Heights Baptist Church

VIDEO

A "Family of Friends"?


This video clip is from the August 24, 2011 Wednesday night "Awesome August" service.

video

Watch closely. A picture's worth a thousand words.

This video is for noncommercial use only. Its use here is solely for critical commentary and/or parody which qualifies as fair use and is protected under Title 17, Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law, aka the "Fair Use Doctrine."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Do as I say, not as I do.


From The Commercial Appeal...


Caption:

The week before the new school year started on Aug. 8, thousands of Memphis City Schools teachers, along with lots and lots of security personnel, attended a workshop for teachers that was held at Bellevue Baptist Church. Parking was at a premium. I asked a Bellevue security officer about this MCS security car that was parked in a space reserved for the handicapped and was told, "That's OK." Well it's not OK if you are a handicapped person looking for a spot to park. This is Memphis City Ordinance 11-40-16: "This section shall be enforceable on public property or on private property where a business, firm or other person transacting business with the public from a permanent location, has provided specially marked parking spaces for the exclusive use of handicapped drivers or passengers, as set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated, Sections 55-21-101 et seq., and Section 68-120-204." It's funny -- or maybe just pretty interesting -- that security officers for Bellevue and MCS think it's OK to park in a handicapped spot. "1,000 Words" is a pictorial commentary on events in Greater Memphis and around the world. Today's "1,000 Words" was written by Mike Maple, a photographer for The Commercial Appeal.

Photo by Mike Maple © The Commercial Appeal

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Enlarging our borders, are we?



Check out the speaker line-up (and disregard the obvious typos).

I have only one question. Why?

What We Believe

Okay, I have one more question. Do we agree on these Four Core Beliefs?

The "Four Core Beliefs" of the Assemblies of God:

1. Salvation
2. Baptism in the Holy Spirit
3. Divine Healing
4. the Second Coming of Christ.

Since most of us are Baptists here I assume we are pretty much in agreement with #1, and I don't think anyone would argue with #4. However, I think I can say with certainty that most of us, as Baptists, do not agree with #2 or for that matter #3 as it's taught and practiced in the AoG church.

Recently we've heard a lot about primary, secondary, and tertiary beliefs among Christians and more specifically Southern Baptists, and all but the most rabid of the Baptist Identity crowd have agreed to disagree on all the tertiary stuff and most of the secondary stuff. We have not agreed to disagree on the primary stuff. Some have tried to make secondary and tertiary issues primary issues, but that's a different subject.

By definition, "core beliefs" are primary beliefs, the very foundation of our faith. This is not to say that we cannot cooperate with AoG churches in some situations, but this is like the Tennessee Baptist Convention inviting the pastor of the largest Assembly of God church in Memphis to speak at their annual meeting. He's probably a really great guy, but he's not Baptist.

Therefore, what possible reason could the Tennessee District of the Assemblies of God have for inviting Steve Gaines to be their keynote speaker, and what reason could Steve Gaines possibly have for accepting their invitation?

I'm all ears eyes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wolves in the Music Ministry


Update: After over 240 comments in this thread, discussion will be continued here.


Two posts back the comment stream began to veer off topic and onto a much more serious subject than the original post. It began with this comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been trying now for about 9 months to warn about a predator pedophile music minister. This man was my youth music minister at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas in the mid 80s. He became a close family friend, even living with my family for a while. I was on the church staff as a youth intern as a college student in 1989 when this minister was fired abruptly due to credible accusations of sexual abuse by several boys in the church. He was confronted by church staff, including the head pastor at the time, who is still the head pastor today, Dr. Jack Graham. This offender admitted to the abuse. The church did not report his crimes to the police, which was mandated by law starting in 1971, just fired him and told him to leave. Church members were not informed.

He packed up that week and moved back to his home state of MS where he is on staff now as music minister of all ages at a church in Clinton, outside of Jackson, Morrison Heights Baptist Church. He also teaches choir at the local public high school. I have spoken with the school superintendent, head pastor, as well as local law enforcement. Both the school and church have confronted this man, and he admits to the abuse that occurred in Dallas, as well as to abusing a boy in MS that he babysat prior to his job in Dallas.

I know that local law enforcement is very concerned and has advised that this minister be fired, yet he remains on staff. The MS pastor and elders told me that they are concerned with protecting this minister’s reputation, as “everyone in the [town] knows [him.] and that “he has the largest church youth choir in the state.” I have even been contacted by this man’s attorney who is a church elder and has heard accounts of the abuse from victims and admission by his client. This attorney is also a MS state rep. The attorney asked if I would speak with him to “discuss a resolution.” I said no. The MS pastor has told me that they “feel my pain.” I expressed to them that I am not a victim, but I am doing this as a victims’ advocate to protect children.

I have also contacted Prestonwood Baptist to plead that they do the right thing and report these crimes against children that occurred on their watch. Silence has been the response. Recently Christa Brown who founded Stop Baptist Predators posted my story on her blog.

1:13 PM, May 27, 2011

I've reposted the subsequent comments in this thread, and the discussion can continue here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bwahahahaha!!!


Truth is often stranger than fiction, but this fiction is strangely true!

Click to watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ34Nl-XZRQ

Monday, April 25, 2011

Paul Williams Update



Does that photo send chills up your spine? Make you sick to your stomach? Well, it should!

The afternoon of April 7th someone contacted me to ask if a Paul Williams who wrote a paper for Union University back in 2002 was "the" Paul Williams. Judging from the photo and bio of the man, it was not.

However, that got me to wondering what the former Bellevue Paul Williams is up to. A quick Google search led straight to the Warren Community Church March 2011 newsletter. The story begins on page 2 and is continued on subsequent pages. I planned then to do an update, but within a few hours of forwarding this information to Christa Brown and others, Christa posted a very good article saying everything I could have said and more (and said it much better than I could have, too).

We knew he'd been hanging out at WCC several years ago, right after he left Bellevue. (He and his wife live in Somerville.) It was rumored back then that the pastor of WCC, Ken Culver, had even offered him a staff position. Several people were outraged at this news and at least one called the pastor, who eventually denied the rumor (after asking what business it was of the caller's), but he did reportedly say he wouldn't see any problem with Paul being on staff since it was all in the past (how does he know it's "all in the past"?) and how it's possible for people to be forgiven and restored. Yes. Yes, they certainly can, although that's generally preceded by repentance, confession, and asking for forgiveness, but there are consequences to our actions (ask Karla Faye Tucker), and one of the consequences of being a confessed child molester is that you are never, under any circumstances, allowed to be alone around children or, in the case of a minister or other church leader, ever be allowed to be in a position of leadership again. This is just common sense. Besides, I've never seen any evidence of repentance from Paul Williams. He never addressed the people of Bellevue and seems to have gone merrily on with his life as if nothing ever happened.


A few months later someone who lives in Somerville had taken her child to some kind of homeschooling activity they have at WCC, and she said Paul was "hanging out" there in the middle of the day during the week. Then he was spotted, alone, at a children's basketball game, just standing there watching.

Last I heard the victim still would not allow Paul to see his grandchildren, so those must be his daughter's children in the above photo.

So Paul is on the Board of Trustees of WCC now. That would be like... an "elder" or something, right? Remember what Steve Gaines said about elders?

What is an elder? It's a pastor. It's not some "super deacon." It's not some elevated lay person. An elder is a pastor is a bishop is a pastor is an elder is a bishop -- all the same stuff. There's only two offices in the New Testament -- pastor, which is also an elder and a bishop and deacons.

I realize the job of most trustees is merely to rubber-stamp whatever the pastor wants, but I'd be willing to bet there are no women on that BOT because, you know, women are excluded from "leadership" roles within the church (that don't involve only other women or young children). However, the bar must be set pretty low for men at WCC.

Paul Williams not only didn't go to jail, he was never charged with anything. (The statute of limitations in Tennessee, which has since been extended, had passed, and the victim was reportedly not willing to pursue any legal action.) Yet Paul Williams is a self-admitted pedophile! He should be listed on the sex offender registry, but he's not along with at least 95% of his fellow pedophiles.

And all this isn't even addressing what adult female victims of this man's lecherous comments (much more recent than any 17-21 years ago) have said his behavior has done to them, proving once again pedophilia and sexual abuse are rarely about "sex" but about exerting power over someone weaker. Make's 'em feel like real manly men, I guess. One of his female victims described his eyes, when he went into "pervert" mode, as "soulless."

In my opinion Paul Williams and that Hernando pastor, Eddie Prince, who was caught downloading child porn at the library should be sharing a prison cell. What would Eddie Prince's family's reaction be had it been one of their children exploited for child porn? And who knows if this guy has done more than "just look"? Besides, child porn is not a "victimless" crime. Someone's children were victimized to produce this perverted filth, and by seeking it out and watching it, you're just as guilty as the lowlife who produced it. If there wasn't a market they wouldn't do it.

Since Christa's article was published, several writers have published articles about this story, but it's no surprise we don't seem to find any mention of it in "conservative" SBC blogs or publications.

The Big Daddy Weave >> Southern Baptist church Selects Confessed Sex Offender as Trustee

Baptist Life >> SBC church names confessed sex offender as Trustee

Civil Commotion >> Pedophilia: Not a career impediment in the SBC

And shouldn't we all be ashamed that "the world" can see the problem, but so many in the church cannot?

Atheist Revolution >> Idiot of the Week: Warren Community Church, Somerville, TN

"Idiot of the Week," indeed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bellevue's in the Baby Convention Business Now?


An attentive reader alerted me to the latest... gimmick?... money-making scheme?... new member drive?... at Bellevue. I'm not sure exactly how this fits into the grand scheme of things, but here it is.

Mid-South Baby Expo 2011


Bellevue isn't the main sponsor of this event (to my knowledge), but they are providing the facilities and will have a big presence. In the past this annual event, like most "conventions" of this type, has been held at the Agricenter International, but this year it's being held at Bellevue.

The question is... why? Mainly, I believe there's money in it for the church. I'm sure they get a percentage of the admission price. (Someone can correct me if I'm wrong about that.) Someone -- the sponsors, the attendees, the exhibitors -- someone is paying for the use of the facilities, the utilities, the clean-up, traffic control, extra staff, security, etc. I believe money is the driving force behind much of what they do. Not all, but much. In a charitable nod, the church is providing bus service for women in "underserved" areas.

If they can attract some new members with this thing -- with kids (future replacement giving units!) -- then all the better. However, those in the age bracket having babies generally aren't the big givers. If they were smart they wouldn't have run off so many of the older givers, but that ship sailed ages ago.

To date there are over 60 exhibitors (Bellevue has reserved a booth 3 booths), and sponsorship packages are available. In addition to being an exhibitor, Bellevue is one of the "anchor" sponsors (hence the 3 booths as opposed to just one). "Anchor" sponsors appear to be a step above "participating" sponsors. I'm reminded of the FBC Jacksonville Pastors' Conference silver, gold, and platinum sponsorships. I wonder how much it costs to be an "anchor" sponsor.

I see four radio station logos on the sponsors page. Generally when radio stations are present at an event they blare their music from vans. Will the church parking lot be filled with the sounds of "maximum rock," "Gen X music," "classic soul," and the sweet strains of "today's best country"? What, no K-LOVE or "The River"?

Some of the
activities and seminars include a babies and children's fashion show, a maternity fashion show, breastfeeding seminars, pediatric consults, an "infant safety zone," spa treatments for mom, and a "Daddy Zone" complete with "daddy obstacle course" where dads will wear the "pregnancy belly." (I think some of those guys wear the pregnancy belly all the time.) Turner Dairy will be serving up pickles and ice cream. Yum! And there'll be door prizes! And... if you run short of cash and want to buy more stuff from the exhibitors' booths, why there's an ATM machine right there in the west lobby.

As the trendy bracelets remind us... WWJD? I think there'd be some serious table-turning-over going on at Bellevue on April 2nd. But again, on second thought....

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Bellevue Lo♥es Soda Cans!



This morning Steve Gaines announced that Bellevue has spent $3000 on a trailer to place on the church parking lot which will be used to collect aluminum cans. The proceeds from recycling the cans will be given to Life Choices, a local crisis pregnancy center. Now, that's a commendable goal which I cannot criticize.

However, did anyone really think this through before they dropped $3000 on what appears to be the type of flatbed, mesh-sided trailer landscaping companies use? Seriously? I mean, surely in those big outbuildings somewhere on the lush, manicured Bellevue "campus" there is already a fleet of trailers. We've seen the "Bellevue Lo♥es Memphis" trailer.


If nothing else and if you really want to recycle, tear down some of those old SCT, MPP, or VBS sets which will never be used again and have some volunteers build a big, secure recycling box.

Instead, the church, in their infinite lack of wisdom with their seemingly bottomless coffers, chose to spend $3000 on a brand new trailer. Oh, but wait! There's a catch. Life Choices will see no immediate benefit from this project. Rather, Steve says in the video clip that after the trailer is paid for all money collected from future recycling will be donated to Life Choices.

He did strongly hint that someone or perhaps a Sunday School class (or whatever they're calling SS now, I can't keep up) could dig into their own pockets and pay for the trailer immediately, but assuming that doesn't happen, let's consider just how many aluminum cans it's going to take simply to recoup the cost of the trailer.

A little research reveals that it takes about 32 of today's aluminum cans to equal one pound. It used to be around 24-25, but today's cans are lighter.

It varies, but from what I can tell, the going rate in this area for aluminum cans right now is about 30 cents a pound. Therefore, just to break even on the cost of the trailer and not factoring in the cost of getting the cans to the recycling center, it's going to take about 10,000 pounds (5 tons) of aluminum cans to recover $3000. That translates into 320,000 individual cans.

Put another way, the 13,333 cases of cans (24 cans/case) it takes to equal 320,000 cans would measure about 14,867 square feet or roughly 1/4 the size of a football field (if you include the end zones) if they were to be laid side by side in a single layer. Or if you were to stack all those cases in a single pile they'd reach a height of 5278 feet. One mile = 5280 feet.

Petty? Maybe. What's $3000 out of an annual budget of almost $20 million? If you're one of the many families that doesn't even make $3000 in a whole month, it might be very significant.

Today was "Prove the Tithe" Sunday at Bellevue. Yesterday every Bellevue family received an automated, pre-recorded phone call from Brother Steve saying (paraphrased but close), "Tomorrow is 'Prove the Tithe' Sunday at Bellevue Baptist Church. God says, 'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,' says the LORD of hosts, 'if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.' Whether you already tithe or not, we're asking you to take one-tenth of what you make in one week and give that to our church in the form of a tithe. Blah blah blah."

That sounds awfully Benny Hinnish to me. Proof-texting one verse of scripture from the Old Testament to convince people they must give "one-tenth of your income, undesignated, to the budget of the local church" if they want to be blessed by God is not the generous, cheerful (i.e. without compulsion) giving taught in the New Testament.

If you're giving a tenth or more to Bellevue Baptist Church in an undesignated fashion and doing so cheerfully believing it's all going to do the work of the Lord, that's great. Keep giving. Give even more! I would think, though, that a prudent person would expect the church to be good stewards of that money, and I'm not convinced this example is one of good stewardship.

I find it ironic that Bellevue continues to pressure people to give more while every few weeks Steve Gaines is gallivanting around the country and even overseas to speak at conferences, lead Holy Land trips, and I've lost track of the weeks of vacation. (Time off for recent knee surgery is certainly legitimate.)

Barely a year ago they extended the platform in the auditorium, and now they plan to tear all that out and completely redo the platform and choir loft. (See the Vision 2010 Plan and the Love Offering 2010 mailing for artist conceptions.) They bought an expensive new center IMAG screen and projector year before last. Now they plan to replace all three IMAG screens.

Later this month Steve and four staff members from the church, David Coombs, Drew Tucker, Steve Marcum, and Russ Quinn, will be traveling to Gardendale, Alabama to lead "sessions" at the 2011 Alabama State Evangelism Conference, funded by Alabama Baptists.

Does it strike anyone else as a bit ironic that David Coombs is leading a session called Adding Water to the Soup (Budgets, Buildings and Adjusting to a New Normal)? It's described as a "hard look at how to survive and adjust in this new economy." I guess that means "spending money today like it's water because you might not have it tomorrow." Reminds me of the federal government. In fact, "nickels and noses" seems to be the common thread throughout the session topics at what is being called an evangelism conference. In a 20-page PDF file the name of Jesus is mentioned twice.

So guzzle those Diet Cokes everybody, and Life Choices, y'all hang in there. The check will be in the mail as soon as the members of Bellevue have collectively drunk a mile-high stack of cases of Diet Coke and the trailer is paid for in full.

Will they accept Bud Light cans?