Racism of a few besmirches all of us

July 30, 2012

Norm Millerby Norm Miller

Norm Miller is the director of communications and marketing at Truett-McConnell College.


The election of Fred Luter as the SBC’s first African-American president brought affirming nods from secular and religious media.

But the racism of a few members of the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Miss., continues to garner condemnation from neighbors, local and national media, and from FaceBookers who are not so friendly in their remarks on the church’s FB page.

At issue is the wedding of an African-American couple — Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson, who attend the church – who were told only one day before their announced and planned wedding that they’d have to be married elsewhere. FBC Crystal Springs would not be available. The church was available, however, for the wedding’s rehearsal two days previous.

Pastor Stan Weatherford told local news media that those in the church who objected to the wedding were but a very few. However, this group of a very few – reportedly, five or six — apparently hold enough power that they allegedly threatened to fire the pastor if he performed the ceremony at the predominantly White, historic church.

Saying he wanted to avoid controversy and to make the couple’s day special, Weatherford relented to the pressure and married the couple at a neighboring church that is attended by mostly African-Americans.

The pastor and the church have already endured enough ridicule from secular and religious sources. Some of the FB posts are incredibly hateful. Whereas some may say they deserve such rancor, SBCToday believes it’s time for solutions.

Actually, repentance.

And a heart-felt apology to the Wilsons is in order, too, from the pastor and church members.

As for the five or six who were behind the tragic decision? All other church members need to stand up to this handful of small-minded, spiritual dwarfs.

Pastor Weatherford must take the lead in these matters and set the Christ-like example for all to follow. He, of all people, must obey the standards set by the exemplary life of Jesus Christ and those of God’s written Word.

SBCToday in no way condones the actions of the church or the pastor; rather, we call for all to pray for the Pastor Weatherford, all members of FBC Crystal Springs, and most especially for the Wilsons. One news reporter said the couple was considering legal options.

While the couple experienced tragic treatment, the Wilsons should not compound the sin by suing the members of FBC [(if the media report was factual), cf. 1 Cor. 6.1-7].

One of the reasons for God’s prohibition of believers suing each other was for the sake of the unbelieving world, which, at this juncture, even in a fallen condition, can see the hypocrisy of what happened at the Mississippi church.

This points to where an immense amount of damage also occurred. Sure, the world already hates the Gospel, the Truth, the Church, the Lord. But how much more gasoline was poured on that fire of hatred?

Pastor Weatherford and FBC Crystal Springs know what to do now. Let’s pray they get it done. Let’s also pray for the Wilsons – that they will find comfort in our loving God, and that they will do that which brings God the most glory.

“Then he said to them, ‘You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean’” Acts 10:28 (NKJV).

“Red and yellow, black and white,

They are precious in His sight ….”

 

 

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Jeremy Crowder

I personaly believe that Pastor should resign from the ministry and if not the association should remove the Church as a member. That Pastor wronged a couple based on unBiblical ideas (even though they weren’t his ideas) that an African American couple should have to get married in a majority African American Church. This is a whole level of racism that goes beyond really what I’ve heard about in my life time being younger than many of you. This is just my personal opinion but really the Pastor needs to be held accountable. The Church has a right to keep the Pastor but the Pastor failed in his duty. If people want to take an unBiblical position than you should fight it if it divides the Church or not. This position taken by some people at the Church is sin. It’s a sin to refuse people because of race. It’s the same thing Peter and others confronted with the Jews and the Greeks both converts to one faith. It’s the same thing Jesus confronted with how the Jews saw the Samaritians. This issue should be taken just as seriously as gay marriage is taken because forbiding based on an unBiblical idea is just as bad as condoning based on an unBiblical idea.

    Rick Patrick

    Jeremy,

    Are you saying that even if both the Pastor and the church demonstrate repentance and issue public apologies, that unless the Pastor resigns, you believe the association should disfellowship the entire congregation, even though most of them did not know anything about what was going on?

    Thus far, we have not heard the names of the infamous five or six who brought pressure upon the pastor to change the location of the wedding. Perhaps this is a good opportunity for Crystal Springs in particular, and Southern Baptists in general, to recognize the extraordinary authority that often resides in every congregation’s most influential lay members.

    This time, the issue was racism, wrong and sinful decisions were made, shame was brought to the church and the pastor, and it became a national public relations disaster for the Southern Baptist Convention.

    But how many times, every single week in our convention, could it be said that a handful of influential laypersons threaten the ministry security of the pastor in ways that pressure him to compromise in order to provide for his family?

    To be clear, he was wrong not to stand up to them. But let us be equally clear that refusing to perform the ceremony at Crystal Springs was not his initial decision. Deacons, Committee Chairs, and Informal Matriarchs and Patriarchs of Southern Baptist Churches, pray for your pastor and follow his leadership. When YOU start leading HIM, then God’s design for church government has been turned upside down. The results, as in this case, are often tragic.

      Norm Miller

      You nailed it, Rick. Thank you.
      There is a tragedy behind the tragedy, and it was the ‘behind-the-scenes’ tragedy that fostered the public one. I, a former pastor, am a victim of a sinful patriarch, whose political dealings unseated me.
      Simply stated, there are too many in our churches who fail to follow Heb. 13.17: “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God.” — Norm

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I’m a recent victim of that sort of thing myself.

        I don’t want the pastor to resign. That would be all too easy. I do think he should lead by example, show repentance, and the whole church should follow.

        So far, we’ve not seen much close to that happening though. Just a few random apologies, outrage and tears over being accused of being something the majority isn’t (which is an accusation made only the most simple-minded critics anyway), a poorly worded statement from the Deacons, reiterating excuses, and so forth.

        That is my problem.

      Matt

      You’re correct, except that a demonstration of failure to have courage in what this pastor knows to be Biblical truth shows that being a pastor may not be the right way for him to serve God. Or, maybe he needs more time to mature before being in this position. If he cannot stand for what is right, what kind of shepherd is he to his flock. We all fail daily, but in a position of such high responsibility there must be a minimum standard.

        Rick Patrick

        Matt,

        Even in baseball they give you three strikes. If the minimum standard you mentioned means the first time a pastor caves in to the pressure of influential laypersons, he is removed from ministry, there will be a lot of pastoral vacancies coming up soon.

        However, this issue is moot, since the only people with the authority to remove this pastor from office are the members of his own fellowship. If I were in that church, I would seek to restore him, to encourage him, and to empower him to be more faithful to God.

        In the church I am privileged to pastor, the bylaws require a 2/3 vote of the membership to remove me from office. Such a policy would empower me to stand up to a half dozen members, although I have never really had to face that kind of a direct confrontation.

          Jeremy Crowder

          I pray that the Church will remove the Pastor and the Pastor will take some time in another occupation before returning to leading a Church. The Pastor should be forgiven but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t face the same discipline that would be demanded had he made another action that would bring disrepute.

      selahV

      Rick, I totally agree with you and Norm. selahV

      Jeremy Crowder

      Rick, I stand by my statement. I am from Alabama and my family has been in Alabama since 1836 by way of Virgina. We in the South whether Mississippi or Alabama need to wake up this is 2012 we can nolonger make excuses for the sin of racism. When the SBC takes racism as seriously as it does homosexuality we will be on the right path. If a Church performs a Gay Marriage they are kicked out well this Church denied a marriage based on race. We can’t lay the blame on five or six Church members. A Pastor has to stand up for what is right we wouldn’t tolerate it in other areas and can’t tolerate it in this area. I’m not saying anything here that I wouldn’t do to my own Pastor or Church. Racism is deeply damaging to many people and it hurts spreading the gospel. How can people believe that you are teaching about a loving savior when you deny people based on race?

Bill Mac

It is a rare church that has not compromised under the guise of peace. It is a rare church where there are not a few who wield undue influence. This church is now a hissing and a byword, not only in the world but among their peers. Condemning the action, we have already done. The question is do we want to redeem it or kill it completely? A little grace and space to repent would seem to be the biblical order. They need it, as do we all.

    Norm Miller

    Southern Baptists are known for shooting their wounded. Not so, Jesus Christ, who was wounded for the wounded so the wounded may be healed.
    Redemption, reconciliation and restoration are always the initial, biblical goal in such situations. — Norm

Dale Pugh

I take the approach that this is a time for all of us to look at ourselves. I grew up in a racist environment–both socially AND ecclesiastically. Once I matured enough I had to deal with what I believe about race, and those beliefs were transformed by the Gospel I read, not by the Gospel I’d been taught.
The pastor caved. (All of us have to decide what we’re going to do when pressure arises from a few influential and monied church members. Upon which hills are we willing to die?) He made a glaring mistake. To not offer him and his church the opportunity to repent and move forward in Christian grace would be completely wrong on our part. I honestly believe that the outrage in that church has probably already sounded louder than any of the racially prejudiced members can abide. These few people will either repent or they will become much less influential. I’d be willing to wager that it has already begun to happen.
Let us, as fellow Southern Baptists, support the change that is most likely to occur in this congregation. Let us pray for them and, for those of us who may actually know them, contact them with biblical encouragement. But let us also look to ourselves. Let us look at where our own compromises might cause us to stumble and fall. Let us see this public disgrace as a prophetic warning about our own faults and weaknesses.
And then let us pray for the courage to do the godly thing in a world bursting with ungodliness.

cyndi

Many of you are responding from what the media has reported and not the whole truth. This all came about in a matter of a few hours and in order for the couple to have a wedding without being interrupted, they moved to another location. The pastor is addressing this issue as are the deacons and the congregation. Apologies have been given to the couple in mass and the congregation as a whole is standing up for what is right. Those of you who are in churches without a group trying to run the situations in the church are very fortunate. Most ministers however have that small group who think they have power because they support the church with money. Since you have not had your church problems aired on the television, perhaps you should take a step back and see how you would have handled this very bad situation. It will be handled and the church will be better because this was brought into the light.

    Norm Miller

    Thank you, Cyndi, for this update. If you have some documentation to substantiate what you have reported, please send it on. The more info we have, the better informed we are. And, if these things you report have occurred, then we are also better informed on how to pray for the situation.
    Thx again for your input. — Norm

      cyndi

      My college roommate is a member of this church and knows the situation up-close and personally. The wedding party was decorating the sanctuary for the wedding when the few who have caused this came in and told them they couldn’t have the wedding there. At this point even the pastor was not aware of anything. When the wedding party called him, and the pastor showed up, he was greeted with hatred from the “few” and told that this couple would not be married in this church or there would be problems. It was at this point, because of the “few’s” anger, that he suggested moving the ceremony. He wanted this to be a happy day for the couple and it wasn’t going to be one. One of FBC Crystal Springs deacons (whom I do not have permission to post his name publicly) wrote a letter to our TV stations stating the feelings of the people of this congregation. Of course, it has not been reported or mentioned. Here is his letter:

      I would like to clear something up that you [TV Stations] have been reporting in error. First Baptist Church Crystal Springs did not decide as a congregation to not allow a black couple to marry in our church. There was no vote at all. It was never brought to the attention of our church members until yesterday (we are grateful that this was brought to our attention). Nobody but a few individual members that have made a habit of bullying our ministerial staff and committee leaders for years caused this. I would encourage you to come see our church Sunday. I promise you will see an outraged and humiliated group of people who are wrongly being accused of racist beliefs. Those few members should be required to leave our congregation until they can repent of their hatred of their brothers and sisters if they can do so.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Why were they never disciplined before?

        Why was their no vote taken at all to stop this nonsense?

        Why was it not brought to their attention when it happened?

        The points people have raised still goes totally by their heads. Outrage isn’t the point…repentance is the point for allowing the situation to ever get to this in the first place. That’s on the whole church. It is the reputation of the church that is getting the hit.

        The supposed racism of the majority isn’t the problem many of us are upset about with the church, or the pastor.

        I understand, and even sympathize with their outrage and humiliation. I would feel like that too. But that is almost besides the point many of us are making. I would also realize that the church needs to repent for allowing this sort of thing to fester within the congregation until it is too late, and then quickly repent on behalf of the church as a whole for it rather than just stewing about what people may or may not think of me because I attended there when this went down.

        Neither myself nor others that continue to harp on this from around the SBC have ever accused the whole church of racism, or even the pastor.

        Again, they need to reflect on 1 Cor. 5:6 and doctrines of accountability and church discipline until it sinks in…

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Where are these public apologies and public standing of truth? All the tears this morning? Charles Wilson himself in the latest interview asked some important questions on this.

    Every public statement by the pastor and the Deacon Statement has had no such thing. We’ve seen a rehash of the same excuse of wanting to compromise the Gospel for the sake of avoiding controversy in the church from the pastor. And Deacons stating that they will ask forgiveness if God reveals to them something they should ask forgiveness for.

    Not impressed so far, and time has been ticking on this for a while.

    Only some interviews of some church members have actually contained an apology.

    This incident was public, so should the repentance be public. So far as I can tell, we’ve seen none of it, but just a lot of “let’s hope this goes away” type of stuff.

    Also, for what its worth, apologies are not identical to repentance.

      cyndi

      You obviously did not watch WLBT last night or you wouldn’t have written this.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I linked to the video of that report in my blog and saw a few individual members interviewed offer an apology. Charles Wilson also raised some interesting questions yet unanswered, and the pastor rehashed his poor reasoning that I’ve already addressed twice now.

        And?

      Jeremy Crowder

      Johnathan I agree. They are making excuses about a small group of people being at fault. The shepard is the Pastor that is who should take full responsiability because instead of standing up for this couple who were by all accounts 100% innocent he backed down from the bullies. I would have told those people to take the money and go to another Church for all I care because all Christians have a responsibility to God. How will this Pastor answer God if asked about this day?

        Johnathan Pritchett

        The pastor can’t even answer reporters or Charles Wilson.

        In any case, I don’t think the pastor has full responsibility. He has some of it, the bigots have some of it, and even the church has some of it. The church needs to take full responsibility for it. Repent, and then move on.

        So far, after two Sunday services and a Unity Rally held by the community (not just for the church members), still nothing formal whatsoever. A lot of Obfuscation though.

        Norm Miller

        Jeremy, you said: “How will this Pastor answer God if asked about this day?”
        That is precisely the point. It will be the pastor who will answer for this. — Norm

Chris Inman

This truly breaks my heart in on so many levels. I pastored a church for 6 years and one of the most hurtful and shocking things I was ever told was “there is a church for black people and there is a church for white people”. I was in shock because I never thought I would hear such hatred coming from someone who was suppose to be so loving but mostly from someone who is suppose to be BORN AGAIN. I understand we aren’t perfect just because we are saved but I do believe we become new creatures as scripture says, we are given a love for God and people that’s not like what we had before. After all scripture says how can we love Him we have not seen if we don’t love him we have seen. I was eventually voted out because of a group of people who twisted my sermons, had “secret” meetings, and ran me down convinced enough people that I was wrong. The race issue wasn’t the only issue, I came into this church (my first church at the age of 23) with all the hope in the world. I actually believed that all the people there wanted to serve the Lord according to the Bible. I soon found out that a few people didn’t want to grow, they just wanted to tell me what to do. When they found out I couldn’t be persuaded because we were “friends” they soon turned to trying to intimidate me. I know I didn’t do everything perfectly but my hearts desire was to proclaim the Gospel and lead people according to scripture. I was told all sorts of things, I was even accused of using to much scripture when I preached!!! How do you do that? God didn’t call me to tell my stories although I do use some illustrations they are never the majority or backbone of what I’m lead to preach. This truly breaks my heart because of the blindness of people and because the way the local church is do greatly influenced by certain people. We all need to repent and return to the biblical ways of church, quit running the local church like a business where success is measured in money and numbers instead of discipleship and faithfulness. The closer I walk with Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior the more I see 2 Peter 3 unfolding and the more the “ignorance” of our churches burdens me. If it weren’t for Jesus I would have given up long ago but I’m reminded daily how great He is and that no matter what He is worthy of faithful service. Church we have a ways to go yet but we can do all things through Chris who strengthens us. We must begin with obeying the Word of God, believing and doing everything that is written. Repent, forgive, obey, and love Christ above all.

Tom Parker

Let’s be honest–How many SB churches would allow an African-American couple to wed in their church? Better yet, maybe some ministers can come here and testify to it having occurred at their SB church.

How many African-American are in positions of leadership in our SB churches, associations, state conventions, national convention, SB entities, etc?

It would be great to see names of these folks here.

    David R. Brumbelow

    Tom,
    I believe most SBC churches today would have no problem with a black couple getting married in their church. Granted, some would, but that is rapidly changing.

    Given a little time to clean up the mess, I believe the church in question and their pastor are going to get it together. But were they wrong? Of course they were.

    My SBC church is open to all races and we have had such marriages. While we are predominately white, we have had a black VBS Director and teachers and have backs and Hispanics in our church on a regular basis. On several occasions we have had a black preacher preach Sunday mornings (I’m a little worried my church may like him more than me!).

    While a church may be predominately one way or another, every church should be completely open to those of all races and backgrounds.

    Our Association has several predominately African-American churches and their pastors have been in leadership in our Association. The current president of our state convention (SBTC) is an African-American pastor. By the way, he was nominated for president by Paige Patterson. SWBTS has professors of different ethnic groups. So the list continues to grow.
    David R. Brumbelow

      Tom Parker

      DRB:

      You said:”The current president of our state convention (SBTC) is an African-American pastor. By the way, he was nominated for president by Paige Patterson. ”

      I am asking gently: Why is it significant that he was nominated for president by Paige Patterson?

      I’m not following what you mean.

      Also out of all the leadership positions available for African-Americans in SB life what percentage of leadership positions would you say they supply?

        David R. Brumbelow

        Tom,
        I thought Paige Patterson was one of your favorite seminary presidents.
        Also just to emphasize that conservative leaders are very open to more ethnic diversity in SBC leadership.

        I have no idea of percentages, and I’m not for a quota system. Are you? But we have been, and are, very significantly moving in the right direction.
        David R. Brumbelow

          Tom Parker

          DRB:

          So you said to me:”Tom,
          I thought Paige Patterson was one of your favorite seminary presidents.”

          So you did this just to be a wise guy?

          My point was –The current president of our state convention (SBTC) is an African-American pastor. By the way, he was nominated for president by Paige Patterson. ”– are you saying it would not have had the same significance if John Doe would have nominated him?

          You also said to me:”I have no idea of percentages, and I’m not for a quota system. Are you? Never have I anywhere said that. Wouldn’t you like to know the statistics.
          But I believe if someone did an accurate study you would find the percentage of African American in leadership positions is a very small percentage when you consider the upper level positions they could or should be in right now.

          You said”But we have been, and are, very significantly moving in the right direction.”

          Where is your hard evidence? As the old saying goes you or someone prove it.

          Also why did Dr. Fred Luter, Jr. run unopposed?

          How can you say he “won” the election as president when he had no opposition.

          Would no one else run but him, usually there are lots of “men” who wish to be the candidate.

          Just struck me as very unusual.

    Ron Phillips, Sr.

    Tom,

    We have weddings at our church of other races, mixed races, etc. We have members of varying ethnicity who serve as deacons, various committee’s and other leadership positions.

    BTW… My Dad married a mixed race couple in our home almost 40 years ago because it wouldn’t have been allowed at our church or ANY OTHER church in our area. And this was not in the South.

    I am thankful that for my entire adult life I have never been part of a Southern Baptist church that would done something like this.

    Blessings,

    Ron P.

      Tom Parker

      Ron:

      You said:”We have weddings at our church of other races, mixed races, etc. We have members of varying ethnicity who serve as deacons, various committee’s and other leadership positions. ”

      That is outstanding! May this occur in many more SB churches.

Ron Lane

This article seems overly conciliatory. The SBC should stand up and say who they are, because this action portrays that which many think they are. Where is the repentance of this church? Should this kind of witness be forgiven with no consequences? The mildness of tone betrays your contention that this was wrong.

    Norm Miller

    The mildness of tone is intentional. We need not poke others in the eyes who are already blinded, and who already have been attacked mercilessly. Conciliation is akin to the word ‘reconciliation.’
    We noted the tragedy in a number of ways.
    Local churches are autonomous, and it is not SBCToday’s job or anyone else’s to air this dirty laundry before a lost world any more than it already has been. The local association would have the right to take action, but that would be only to ‘disfellowship’ the church. Let’s not forget the prescriptions of Mt 18. I suspect the DOM of the association would take the lead in applying Mt. 18 principles. — Norm

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Just a word on that. God, whenever His name gets profaned, makes sure Himself that His people’s dirty laundry gets aired. Read the prophets, read the NT Epistles. By the nature of much of their content we know this to be the case.

      God also teaches us how to respond to these things. 1 Timothy 5:20 settles that issue, and the point of it for other people and churches to fear and check themselves.

      I too pray that they repent, but so far…

        Norm Miller

        So, you recommend that the church ignore the prescriptions of Mt. 18? — Norm

          Johnathan Pritchett

          I’m calling them out because clearly THEY already have.

          I recommend that this pastor, these five or six bigots, and this church all repent (sooner rather than later) for allowing this to even get to the point where something like this could happen.

          In any case, I am not in charge of disciplining that church. I am rebuking them (1 Tim. 5:20) calling them to repentance.

        Lydia

        “Just a word on that. God, whenever His name gets profaned, makes sure Himself that His people’s dirty laundry gets aired. ”

        Well, that can take a lot of years, too. I have seen way too much hidden-on -purpose -evil in mega churches that still has not come out and the pew sitters have no clue and probably would not believe it if told. People are supporting evil deeds and do not even know it because they have handed it off to a few to lead them that they don’t even personally know. Most of these people think it is a sin to ask for a budget. (They would not get one anyway)

    Matt

    Right on Ron. If we are the salt and light what kind of savor are flavoring this world with by silently condoning an act of hate. And, let us have no question that hate is he proper categorization of this offense. I pray for this church and it’s leadership. I also believe there should be accountability out of of love as SBC deems necessary.

      Norm Miller

      To condone means to overlook. We expressly stated that SBCToday does not condone what happened. — Norm

        Matt

        Mr. Miller thank you for your article. The title certainly expresses my opinion. I believe that action should should be deliberate and according to our biblical principles. It will certainly take more time to hear he whole story, should it ever come available to us. However if time reveals that there are only words without action; well that would just seem wrong to me.

    Rick Patrick

    Ron,

    “Where is the repentance of this church?”

    They are working on it. Consider the statement by the deacons reported here:

    http://on.thec-l.com/NR0Vwn

    I think we should give this local church the time and space to work out their differences and properly deal with those who pressured the pastor into this sinful predicament.

    I’m not condoning what they did. I just think we’re kind of piling on a bit. They’ll straighten this out and be better for it.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Um…that statement from the Deacons is horrible. “We will ask for forgiveness where God reveals it is necessary…”

      It has been revealed for 2,000 years or so now, and others have repeated that revelation over and over to them.

      Like last time, I agree with you that they should be given time to work through this, but that time BEGINS with repentance. Until they actually do repent, no one should let up the pressure, the “piling on”, insisting that they should repent.

        Norm Miller

        Before God, I cannot agree to keeping up the pressure or piling on this church for them to repent. For me, this crosses the line of where my ministry ends and the Holy Spirit’s begins. Pressure and piling on compounds the problem and smacks of legalism. — Norm

          Johnathan Pritchett

          So this should be our attitude towards mainline liberal Protestant denominations as well? No more calling them to repent for gay clergy, gay marriage, selling out God’s word, affirming religious pluralism, etc. in guise of “Christianity”?

            Norm Miller

            What happened at the church is a local church issue. It has far-reaching ramifications, to be sure. But, it is an in-house matter for the church to handle. For anyone other than the church, the Holy Spirit and the Scripture to intrude is a violation of local church autonomy. If the church doesn’t do what it should, then I am powerless to force the church. And if the church doesn’t respond according to my prescriptions, then I am wrong to rant and rave about it in public.
            There is also the issue of anyone prescribing to the church how to ask for forgiveness. Some would call that passive aggression; it seeks to add a retributive element to the offender by prescribing how the apology is to be offered. I say don’t pile on, but back off and give them a chance to do what is right. And if the church doesn’t do what is right, then we are welcome to our opinions about that; but we have no right to do anything else. At that point, according to historical and traditional Southern Baptist polity, it would be a local association matter. — Norm

            Johnathan Pritchett

            I understand what you are saying.

            It’s mostly rubbish though.

            I can’t help but think the wider reaction of the SBC would be a lot different, with a lot more voices, and a lot harsher tone (as would yours), if this was a case where the pastor performed a same-sex wedding because of not wanting to cause controversy among five or six people.

            And I know I’m right about that.

              Norm Miller

              As I peruse all the comments of the day, I’d say that, generally, many more people agree with my position than do yours. So, I guess there’s a lot more rubbish here than I thought.
              I suppose my position is that the church doesn’t have to apologize and repent according to my standards — only the Lord’s. And if they don’t, God has yet to assign me the job of rapping their little knuckles. If you think that’s your job, Johnathan, be sure the Lord assigned it to you. BTW: the name of your site — crankycontrarianchristiancommentary(dot)com — exceedingly apt, I think. Would cranky and contrarian be spiritual gifts? — Norm

            Johnathan Pritchett

            So its truth by consensus then…

            In any case, I am not putting any standards beyond calls to repentance. So there is no imposition of my standards at all. Clearly they need to repent, and until they do, they need to be called to it.

            How much more general do we need it to be? (Acts 17:30)

            So I am not quite sure what you mean by my making sure I have been appointed by the Lord in this case.

            Are you saying Christians don’t have the general permission to openly rebuke and call people to repentance?

            Please explain this odd position from Scripture.

              Norm Miller

              You would do well to read my initial post. I called for repentance. Job done. I find no verse to tell me I must do it over and over and over and over and over again. The point has been made by several, and by you many times. As for your blog name — I don’t see it as reflecting a Christian attitude, that’s all. Seems oxymoronic to me to add the word Christian to those other less-than-desirable traits. Methinks I hit a nerve with you, brother; so, I’m going to leave you to it. — Norm

            Johnathan Pritchett

            P.S. No. Cranky and Contrarian are not spiritual gifts that I know of. It is just the name of my blog.

            Where is the problem with that name?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Also, is it un-Biblical to ever be cranky and contrarian to popular opinions?

            Have you read all the contents of my blog to get a general sense of its tone and content?

Gwen Williams

Well I am thankful I grew up in an African American church where the pastor is in control. Some times this was bad, but in cases like this, it is good. Black pastors rule the roost and this would never have happened in my church. Those members would have been told to hit the door. It’s time for this to stop and pastors are the undershepherds responsible for leading God’s people right regardless.

earl simmons

Wonder how many of the Americans family served in the Armed Services to protect Crystal Springs’s rear end so they could practice their religion(not as Jesus instructed us to do)?

Max

In God’s eyes, there is only one race – the human race. Racism is sin – pure and simple. It’s sad to hear that this particular behavior still exists in some corners of the 21st century SBC landscape. Yes, repentance is the call of God in this regard.

That being said, there is another, perhaps greater, underlying sin that I have encountered in small SBC churches which leads to various problems. A veteran of “foreign” wars with wounds inflicted in church business meetings/battles, I can tell you that many small churches are controlled by unregenerate church members who walk after the flesh, not after the Spirit. In far too many places, pulpits are controlled by congregational powermongers. The pastor in this instance seemed to know the right thing to do here, but the fact is that he allowed the weakness of a few to overcome his strength – when the pulpit lets that happen, the pew owns you.

That which comes against the church is the world, the flesh, and/or the devil. From the information at hand here, this situation may involve some of each. I truly believe that a Jezebel spirit is alive and well in many churches. It is an unholy, genderless spirit which manifests itself by control, intimidation, and manipulation of the pulpit. While this spirit is not confined to only small church settings, it appears to do its best work in little congregations by influencing just a few folks – a powerful family, a prominent deacon, a convincing argument. Church leaders need to pray for discernment in how to deal with this spirit in their midst … otherwise, churches don’t have enough power to blow the dust off a peanut in dealing with such matters.

As a non-Calvinist “traditionalist”, I can certainly see the appeal of the plurality of elders form of church governance promoted by the New Calvinism movement. Many of these young reformed pastors are second/third generation pastors who have observed their fathers and grandfathers whooped by ungodly members in congregational votes that went contrary to the will of God. However, changing church polity is not the solution … 2 Chronicles 7:14 is the answer.

May the pastor and members of FBC-Crystal Springs, MS humble themselves, pray, repent, and seek God’s face … and be reconciled to the Wilson’s. With a world watching in, God’s reputation is at stake – they’ve done messed theirs up, but could turn that around “IF” they do the right thing.

    Lydia

    “In God’s eyes, there is only one race – the human race.”

    Thank you, Max.

    I don’t want to pile on but there is a problem when some are big donors and think they can make policy. I mean the pastor usually has a mortgage, too, so that can color his thinking. Not saying it did but I have seen that work out that way.

    I am not so sure I think 1 Corin 6 is a rigid rule here. It is a waste of time to sue a “church” unless it is for publicity. Rarely does one win a lawsuit against a church. A more successful way is to sue individuals who stopped the wedding. Does anyone realize how much time and money it took to change the venue? Who called all the guests? (You can tell not many former brides are commenting here :o)

    Let us admit there were no “wise” to judge among them. Obviously. Just because it says it is a church does not mean it operates as a Body of Christ.

    Ok, ducking out in case I get pummeled!!! :o)

      Max

      Lydia writes “… big donors … think they can make policy … the pastor usually has a mortgage, too, so that can color his thinking. Not saying it did but I have seen that work out that way.”

      Lydia, that indeed is a sad situation I have encountered in my journey through small church America. You can’t serve two masters!

      While I have seen the pew cripple the pulpit by such behavior, I observed a remarkable thing once. We were members of a mid-size SBC church where a heavy controlling hand was exercised by the deacon board (not servants, but power brokers). One Wednesday night, the pastor stood in the pulpit and proclaimed that he “wasn’t playing in that band any longer!” It was a point in time where everything changed. The pastor organized a group of men to join him every Saturday night in prayer to seek the Lord on a new direction for the church – the meetings lasted several hours. I was blessed to be included in that group and witnessed the power of prayer. We met every Saturday night for over 2 years, with a check-list of prayers answered! Genuine revival broke out … many folks repented … the chairman of the deacons was saved … deacon wives came to the Lord … the church grew in membership … the church led the State in baptisms for two years! It’s amazing what can happen when pastors confront Jezebel!

Ron Phillips, Sr.

I want to take the pastor at his word that he was trying to keep their wedding from being disrupted. Apart from evidence otherwise, I am willing to wait and see what he and the congregation do.

What if this pastor has been working diligently to preach the truth of God’s Word and praying that the Holy Spirit will change the hearts of these members? What if he has been working on a long term process to see these changes bear fruit? What if God uses this situation to accomplish this task?

The reason I want to give the pastor the benefit of doubt, is that I know of a pastor whose heart is broken over “influential” members of his congregation who are racist. Yet he stays believing God has called him there. He is trying to be salt and light and to lead this church to become biblical in practice in this and other areas. It has been slow, but progress is being made. It is my prayer that he will be able to use this event to show his congregation the sinfulness of racism.

Blessings,

Ron P.

    David R. Brumbelow

    Ron,
    I think you present a valid consideration. God often takes us where we are, then slowly begins moving us to where we ought to be.

    The Apostle Peter was a racist on the day of Pentecost. God began to deal with him on that issue in Acts 10 with Cornelius. Later Peter even seemed to have a relapse and the Apostle Paul confronted him in Galatians.

    I’m glad God is more longsuffering than we are.
    David R. Brumbelow

Luther

I for one would like to hear from the 5 or 6 before calling it “Racism”. It may well have been or could there have been other causes: Were the Wilsons living together before the Wedding? Had they jumped into the marriage too quickly? Were they unwilling to receive marriage counseling? Was one of them married previously? Is one of them the cause of the previous marriage breakup? Could any of these factors have been involved or was it just plain racism? If racism, of course that should not be condoned.

    Tom Parker

    Luther:

    You said:”I for one would like to hear from the 5 or 6 before calling it “Racism”. It may well have been or could there have been other causes: “Were the Wilsons living together before the Wedding?” I do not think this is the case if the Pastor had agreed to marry them.

    “Had they jumped into the marriage too quickly?” I do not think this is the case if the Pastor had agreed to marry them.

    “Were they unwilling to receive marriage counseling?” I do not think this is the case if the Pastor had agreed to marry them.

    “Was one of them married previously?” I do not think this is the case if the Pastor had agreed to marry them.

    “Is one of them the cause of the previous marriage breakup?” I do not think this is the case if the Pastor had agreed to marry them.

    “Could any of these factors have been involved or was it just plain racism?” I believe it is plain racism.

    “If racism, of course that should not be condoned. ” It should not be condoned.

      Luther

      You may well be right. It is just hard to believe to me that there would be 5 to 6 racists in that church.

        Rick Patrick

        My first guess is it’s only one or two racist leaders with four or five cronies (relatives, best friends, employees, etc.) who pretty much do whatever Bubba says.

        My second guess is that Bubba and his substantial tithe will be finding another church.

        My third guess is that God will bring some new tithers into the fellowship in the near future and there will be reconciliation between the pastor and the couple.

        My fourth guess is that they will be invited to several TV appearances. I hope in the process there will be repentance, forgiveness and a testimony that will ultimately bring God glory.

          abclay

          Tithing? Is this church sending money to Israel instead of the NAMB? Yeah…they have to leave the SBC!! /sarcasm

          (There’s another topic worthy of discussion.)

          As to Tom’s responses to Luther’s questions, this pastor has already shown a propensity to “back down” for the sake of peace. Perhaps some of these issues that Luther proposed were present and to “keep the peace” the pastor relented to the pressure against his better judgement. Maybe these “5 or 6” were reminding the pastor of his duties as a shepherd?

          Just a thought.

          David R. Brumbelow

          Rick,
          I’ve also seen situations where a tither got mad and left the church, and God provided by sending another tither or two to that church. Or that the members already there started giving more.

          Sam Jones said, “God will provide for an honest man if He has to put the angels on half-rations.”
          David R. Brumbelow

John Wylie

All I can say is that although this kind of thing obviously still happens it is fast diminishing. I have personally performed minority weddings, mixed race weddings etc. I have several church members of minority races. And of all my pastor friends I personally don’t know of a single one who would either refuse to perform a wedding for minorities or who would not allow them to join their local church.

    Tom Parker

    John:

    You are to be commended for work with minorities. Sadly I still believe there are lots of places in the SB world were the church or minister would either refuse to perform a wedding for minorities or who would not allow them to join their local church.

    There has been way too much talk and little action in this important area for years.

    Yes this situation is embarrassing to SB and it should be and I think many want to say well we have an African American as President of the SBC to show somehow the SBC is making great strides with minorities. I just think one needs to look at the year on the calendar (2012) and wonder out-loud why it took so long.

    I will ask it again–why did he not have opposition in the election for SBC President?

      David R. Brumbelow

      Tom,
      You asked, “why did he not have opposition in the election for SBC President?”

      Because everyone was for Fred Luter being elected SBC President.
      David R. Brumbelow

Tom Parker

DRB:

You said to me:”Tom,
You asked, “why did he not have opposition in the election for SBC President?”

Because everyone was for Fred Luter being elected SBC President.
David R. Brumbelow”

Really–EVERYONE-LOL!

Why EVERYONE in 2012?

    John Wylie

    Tom,
    Thanks for your kind remarks. I guess I really don’t know why he ran unopposed other than perhaps it would have been a really non PC thing to do. Just out of curiosity, why do you think he ran unopposed?

David R. Brumbelow

For anyone who has not seen it yet, Baptist Press has a very good article about this issue:
http://bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=38383
David R. Brumbelow

Matt

We must also remember to not cut off the ear of those who need to hear.

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