Crisis at Bobby Welch's (Former SBC President) Church

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by ehaase, Jan 20, 2007.

  1. ehaase

    ehaase
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    http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/News/Headlines/frtHEAD04REL011307.htm

    First Baptist members say pew to new pastor's changes
    By JIM HAUG
    Staff Writer

    DAYTONA BEACH -- The Rev. David Cox modernized the altar of First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach with a hardwood stage, twin movie screens and music equipment worthy of a rock band.
    On Wednesday, Cox went to the same altar to defend his job, less than six months after succeeding the much beloved Bobby Welch as senior pastor of the area's largest congregation with 4,000 members.
    Cox is under fire on everything from his spending habits to his taste in church music.
    "I've tried my best to reach out to every one of you," Cox said at the beginning of the town hall style meeting that let the congregation vent its frustrations.
    "To the extent I've fallen short, I hope you'll forgive me."
    For many, the renovated altar has symbolized excess and misplaced priorities under Cox's leadership.
    Noting the absence of the cross, one church member said Wednesday the church altar looks more "like a Masonic Lodge than a pulpit."
    Church members put the cost of the renovations at somewhere between $300,000 and $450,000, which many say is impractical due to the timing.
    "Why are you doing all this when you're moving to a new church in three years?" church member Jimmy Woolyhand said in a telephone interview.
    First Baptist is planning to build a new church on 226 acres off Tomoka Farms Road and Interstate 4. The church celebrated the construction of a bridge to the site last November, but members complain about lack of communication about the progress of the construction.
    A long and so far unsuccessful search to find a buyer for the current church property that fronts Palmetto Avenue just north of International Speedway Boulevard has also put a strain on the congregation.
    In an allegation that was denied in a statement from Cox, the new senior pastor was accused of selling off the new church property near I-4 to a "beer drinking campground business."
    "There's a lot of rumors going around," said Les Wilkinson, a church deacon who led Wednesday's meeting.
    Cox has the unenviable task in replacing the much revered "Brother Bobby" Welch, who was pastor for 32 years before officially retiring in August.
    But Cox is not exactly new to the job. He served as a caretaker of the church during Welch's last two years when Welch was serving as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
    Welch is now considered "pastor emeritus." He could not be reached for comment.
    That many longtime church staffers have left since Cox took over is another source of contention, according to a church handout, which defended their leaving as voluntary. At the town hall meeting, the congregation complained about the departure of at least five staffers by name, including one who was fired only two years from retirement.
    The congregation is also questioning the salaries for Cox and other staffers while many popular programs, such as youth basketball and bus transportation for the under-privileged, have been eliminated.
    At Wednesday's meeting, church members said staff salaries comprise about 60 percent of the church budget.
    Much of the complaints are also cultural. Critics don't like Cox's use of the popular book "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren, his reference to First Baptist as a "campus" instead of a "church," and the change in music to a more contemporary sound.
    "I like the organ," said Jim Ward at the meeting. "I don't like the drums, guitars, (but) I'm older."
    On Jan. 4, about 60 disgruntled church members met in Port Orange without Cox present. After four hours of discussion, "nearly all raised their hands" when asked if they were in favor of dismissing Cox, according to a church letter.
    The group is circulating a petition to force Cox's ouster, Woolyhand said.
    Cox declined to be interviewed, but has told the church he does not think his critics represent the "vast majority of Christian believers at First Baptist Church."
    The church plans another town hall meeting on Wednesday to respond more in depth to criticisms.
    Cox's defenders say change is needed to revitalize the church. First Baptist needs video screens and upbeat music to appeal to youth.
    "It's not rock music," said John Baldwin, a member.
    jim.haug@news-jrnl.com
    Timeline:
    Important dates and colorful personalities:
    · First Baptist of Daytona Beach dates back to 1898, when believers first met in a room above a hardware shop on South Beach Street.
    · Founders collected timber that washed up on the shore to build the first church building on Palmetto Avenue about 1900.
    · A church schism occurred in 1955, when 250 members left with fired pastor Lee Nichols to form Central Baptist Church, 142 Fairview Ave. Hal Marchman, an advocate for alcohol and drug addicts, would later lead Central Baptist for 28 years.
    · In 1974, Bobby Welch became pastor of First Baptist Church, serving for 32 years. From 2004 to 2006, Welch also served as president of the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the country.
    SOURCES: First Baptist, Central Baptist, News-Journal archives http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/Lifestyle/Religion/lifeREL001011807.htm
    1st Baptist pastor rejects call to quit

    During an emotional town hall meeting Wednesday night, the Rev. David Cox turned down a call to resign as pastor of First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach.
    "I cannot resign," he said before several hundred parishioners in a tension-filled, scheduled meeting peppered with angry shouts and clapping. "What's happened has been unbelievably unfortunate. I feel I'm the man called by God to be pastor of this church."
    Earlier in the evening, the chairman of the deacons, Charles Allen, called for the pastor to resign, citing more than 500 signatures on petitions asking Cox to leave.
    Cox, who succeeded the popular Bobby Welch as senior pastor less than six months ago, has been under fire for a variety of reasons, including his spending habits.

    However, the drama at the church has not ended. Allen and other leading church deacons said Wednesday that according to church bylaws, a vote will be taken during Sunday's evening service. Allen said the 6:30 p.m. event is to call for a general vote on whether Cox should be "terminated" or not. -- Mark Davis
     
  2. blackbird

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    :tear: :tear: :tear: :tear:

    I predicted things like this to happen over 20 years ago

    Mega churches build multimillion dollar facilities----state of the art stuff---and dump in millions for budgets----all under the guidance and leadership of good Godly men-----Brother Welch--no doubt is a Godly leader--loves the Lord Jesus Christ with all of his heart

    Some of the other mega church leaders of years past are the same way--

    -Adrian Rogers---God fearing man--the Prince of the Preachers

    Jerry Vines---Godly expositor

    WA Criswell---Mister Southern Baptist

    My point is---all of these guys built these mega facilities that require millions to maintain---all of them built mega memberships

    But when they retire---somebody has to fall in place as leader and look what happens when that has to happen---Case in point--Welch to Cox

    The people are led straight up to Jordan River---the outgoing Pastor led them that far---retires---then new leadership comes on board and they(membership) have no idea how to cross Jordan at flood stage---much less fight the first battle at Jericho after that muddy crosspoint!!!!

    Sad, though!! Really!!
     
  3. tinytim

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    That much change in the first 6 months?

    That goes against everything I was taught about being a Pastor.
    You ONLY change what is NECESSARY for the first few years....

    You have to build relationships, and change with the church....
    You change together...
     
  4. ABCJim

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    But does all this rest on the pastor alone? He surely couldn't make all these changes without cooperation of the deacons/elders/board could he?

    I'm not that familiar with SBC procedures, but if I walked in Sunday morning and the giant cross above the pulpit was gone and the preacher said it was going to stay gone there'd be a riot...and big spending for building purposes have to be voted on by the congregation.
     
  5. StefanM

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    Perhaps I need to add a rule to my list...

    1) Never, ever follow a mega-pastor.
     
  6. J. Jump

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    Sounds to me like too much putting a pastor on a pedestal. I know my wife and I have been guilty of that in the past.
     
  7. PastorSBC1303

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    A good rule.
     
  8. preachinjesus

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    this isn't so much about following a legacy pastor (which is an issue here, but not the whole thing) but it about the transformation between the church of last century and the church of this century.

    prediction:

    we'll see more of these battles between congregations of yesterday and tomorrow
     
  9. Logos1560

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    Regardless of whether someone agrees or not with the changes, I agree with you that it is too much change too quickly for a new pastor to be making.
     
  10. pinoybaptist

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    I feel sorry for this church and its members, but on the on the other hand,I'm just glad to be among the primitives.:flower:
     
  11. dh1948

    dh1948
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    People are the same

    Do you think there is a tendency for the Christian community as a whole to view mega-churches as being mega-spiritual? I know that when I attend conferences at mega-churches I am always impressed by the spirituality the staff, volunteer and paid, projects. I am tempted to think, "I sure wish my people were this way."

    By mere size alone, mega-churches, can easily hide their conflicts and problems from those who visit them. I don't feel like I am doing a very good job at saying what I want to say. Maybe this will sum it up...People are the same no matter what size the church may be. Size does not determine the spiritual response to conflict. Sooner or later, the flesh can take over and spirituality goes out the door.
     
  12. El_Guero

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    Great insight!


     
  13. tinytim

    tinytim
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    :tongue3:

    I know there is another smiley with their tongue sticking out at you, but I can't seem to find it now....:wavey: :smilewinkgrin:


    (tiny now makes that rasberry sound)
     
  14. Deacon

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    It surely doesn't take a prophet to know that difficulties would pop up.

    This isn't a mega-church problem alone.
    Even small churches deal with similar difficulties when beloved (and long entrenched) pastoral staff retires from their ministry.

    Rob
     
  15. GodsRealTruth

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    Everyone in that church

    needs to look at themselves before pointing the finger at that pastor who succeeded Welch. Too many churches are leaving all the work to be done on the pastor alone. God calls for a unified church, meaning all the people are to take responsibility not just the pastor. Sounds like this church was spoiled under the previous pastor.

    Churches need to learn if you are going to call a man to pastor, back him 100% from that point!

    I will be praying for this pastor.
     
  16. gb93433

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    Very few pastors who follow a pastor who has had a long tenure at a church ever stay very long. Seldom is it past two years. Just shows the attitude of people and their unwillingness to change. Even if a change is great many peole get upset because things are not the way they once were. I have known pastors (myself included) who have pastored churches where many come to Christ and the people who have been warming the pews for years do not like what they are experiencing. People often do not liek change even if it good.

    If every deacon had to have proof of his leadership most likely not so many would be deacons.
     
  17. StefanM

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    I'm in football mode still, but...

    It's a lot like following a legendary coach. It is going to take a Herculean feat to have a successful, long tenure.
     
  18. Timsings

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    I disagree with this on several points, but I will make just two. First, following a long-term pastor doesn't have to be a short-term proposition if the congregation and the pastor work together to deal with the transition. If the congregation takes the time to prepare itself for a new pastor, then the transition can go much more smoothly. Second, churches are going to change. But, if the congregation feels that changes are being forced on them, then it is only natural for them to be resistant. The current view of the pastor as CEO or ruler of the congregation goes against traditional Baptist polity of congregational government.

    From reading the OP it appears that the new pastor of FBC-Daytona Beach has changed too much too quickly on his own without talking to the congregation about the changes. He needs to honestly answer all the charges that have been levelled against him and agree to abide by the vote of the congregation to keep him or fire him.


    Tim Reynolds
     
  19. EdSutton

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    One thing overlooked in this thread. FBC-Daytona was never "Bobby Welch's church" in the first place. He merely happened to be the "Senior Pastor", hence the most prominent "undershepherd" of Jesus' church, meeting in that location, as I read Scripture. That is to neither laud or decry either Bobby Welch or David Cox or Charles Allen, or any or all other other members, especially the bored (sic) :rolleyes:, for I would know not a single one, but to attempt to put this in some Biblical perspective.

    Whose church is it again? I though the answer was "it's the Lord's church", the church of Jesus Christ. Or did I misread Scripture?

    Ed
     
  20. Joseph M. Smith

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    I thoroughly agree with this posting. I had been wondering, as I read the earlier responses, whether anyone was going to pick up on the theme of "the pastor changed, the pastor sold, etc.". Of course if you know anything about journalism, you know that stories are written with biases, so that the reportage about the pastor changing things on his own may simply reflect the reporter's assumptions that that is the way things are done in churches. He may be ignorant of classic Baptist polity.

    Nonetheless, it does appear that the pastor is moving too quickly, on too broad a scale, without due process. It APPEARS that way.

    As one who was a relatively long-term pastor in one setting (twenty years), though it was far from a mega-church (avg. about 225 in worship), I have been watching and praying as my successor takes hold. So far so good, because he is an attentive and sensitive man. But he said to me the other day about my twenty years, "That's phenomenal, to stay here twenty years." It leaves me wondering what he is feeling. It was not a setting in which I could pursue that with him.
     

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