Two Rivers Members Group Sues Sutton

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Timsings, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. Timsings

    Timsings
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    A group of members from Two Rivers BC in Nashville is suing Jerry Sutton and other ministers on staff for the release of church records. Here is the link to the article.

    I have no contact with this church. I'm not sure whether I know any of its members. I don't think I have ever been inside it. But, it does count among its members many of the leaders of the SBC agencies headquartered in Nashville.

    Tim Reynolds
     
  2. donnA

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    A matter between church members and the pastor? Doesn't the law suit contradict this statement?

    It seems some of what they are asking for is private information about members.
     
  3. preachinjesus

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    The lawsuit is unneeded. Plain and simple.

    Couple of more thoughts:
    1. If they don't like the leadership they can leave the church.
    2. As a pastor, as a leader my finances (church wise) are an open book and I have nothing to hide. All leaders should operate this way.
    3. The after effects of the SBC takeover need to have a postmortem report done on how the newer leadership has handled themselves in their positions. Lots of scary stories about that.
     
  4. Baptist Believer

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    Unfortunately, not all pastors are like you.

    I have known more than a few "big name" pastors who shield their compensation information from the membership citing concerns of privacy. Of course, when you discover what they are making, it is often something of a scandal.

    Now, I have no problem with pastors and ministers making a good living. I believe that a minister should make about what an average member of the congregation would make in white collar secular employment if they are working about 50 hours a week.
     
  5. Timsings

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    We talked about this at home this morning. From the article it seems that the most personal information they are asking for is the list of members' names. It does not state that they are trying to get giving records, only budgets and staff expense reports and credit card statements.

    My church gives out budgets well in advance of votes. Both the Stewardship Committee and the Deacons have to approve them before they go to the congregation for a vote. Every month we get a detailed listing of receipts and expenditures based on the budget. We go them in Stewardship Committee, Deacons, and monthly business meetings. There are no secrets. Every church I have been a member of has operated in a similar fashion.

    I think that this what the dissenters at Two Rivers are after. The real question is what they would do if Sutton led the church to open the books and make the changes that they are seekig. Would they still want him ousted? Possibly, but maybe not.

    According to earlier articles (for which I do not have links), in order to force a congregational vote on retaining or firing Sutton, the dissenters must collect signatures from a percentage of the congregation. This percentage is stated in the church by-laws. I suspect that the dissenters want to verify the membership so they will know exactly how many signatures they have to get.

    About ten years ago one of our church secretaries began purging our roles of inactive members who had died, moved away, joined other denominations, etc. Our membership roles dropped by about 200. If Two Rivers has not gone through a similar purging, they could have as many as 1500 names of inactive members on their roles, based on a comparison of their membership with my church's membership. Removing that many names would have a significant effect on the number of signatures that the dissenters have to collect.

    Again, I have no dog in this hunt. It is only of interest to me because of its location in Nashville. I am simply making the news available because it is a prominent church in SBC life.

    Tim Reynolds
     
  6. Tom Bryant

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    I guess Paul's command not to take another believer to court has no standing in these

    This is just taking the attack web site to the next logical, though unscriptural, level. They work up a web site, start attacking the Pastor and when that gets nowhere, they bring it to court.:tear:
     
  7. menageriekeeper

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    Sad state of affairs.

    I'd hate to have to stand in front of God and answer to Him about why I took a brother to court over this. Or why I was part of a minority trying to oust the man God put in this place by the vote of the majority of members. I can't see this as coming out well for anyone.

    Btw, our church runs it's finances very similarly to Timsings. If you want to know what is going on, go to the business meetings and participate!
     
  8. donnA

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    They want to know what members tithe so they can compare with the books.
    I read some of the comments from church members.
     
  9. Timsings

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    I also posted this topic on another Baptist Forum. The reaction there has gone in a different direction from here. There, the discussion has focused on the process for decisions, particularly the church's funding the wedding reception for Sutton's daughter. Yesterday someone stated that the committee members are nominated by a Committee on Committees and voted on by the church. If that is accurate, then the dissenters' position is weakened. They may prove to be simply disgruntled members and will have to leave.

    One thing more. There have been several comments here regarding Paul's warning against taking a brother to court. Fidelity cuts both ways. In today's climate, it would be easy for someone on a church staff to engage in questionable practices, and then hide behind this scripture claiming mistreatment. I don't want to appear overly suspicious, but this sort of thing has happened. We recently had a situation in an African-American congregation in Nashville where the pastor was accused of misuse of funds without congregational approval, including large purchases and mortgaging the church property. It was much more acrimonious than what has gone on at Two Rivers. At one point the police were called to the church during Sunday services. It was finally resolved when the deacons fired the pastor.

    In the current climate where many pastors practice the "pastor as ruler" model, there is great potential for abuse. All churches need to be clear on where they stand in terms of their constitution and by-laws. Unfortunately, it is no longer enough simply to have faith that the pastor and other staff members will carry out their duties honorably. Nobody has ever claimed that being Baptist and holding a congregational form of church government were easy.

    Tim Reynolds
     
  10. FBCPastorsWife

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  11. donnA

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    Just how does the pastor get this money? In our church the pastor has nothing to do with the money, he can't even sign a check.
     
  12. Baptist Believer

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    But if we practiced the "pastor as servant" model that Jesus and the New Testament taught, we wouldn't have the denominational power structures that lock out the rank-and-file Christians, the politicking from the pulpit, and the drive to move from the smaller churches up to the bigger churches for more pay, prestige and power!
     
  13. Baptist Believer

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    Sounds like your church has a good perspective on this. If I were still a pastor, I would still refuse to have the ability to spend the church's money or make financial decisions.

    The pastor is not in that role to "run the church." The pastor is there to feed the people, provide leadership through proclamation, encouragement, and example, and to minister to the community of faith and those whom God is drawing to Himself.
     
  14. rbell

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    according to the article, the church has 6,800 members....about 900 folk attend an early traditional service, and 680 attend a contemporary service.

    6,800 members, and 1,700 in attendance? wow.
     
  15. Baptist Believer

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    I wonder if Jerry Sutton was against the resolution at a recent Southern Baptist Convention that churches exercise integrity with their membership rolls and clear the names of "members" who they cannot locate or who have been completely inactive for many years? That resolution was opposed by a number of the so-called "Conservative Resurgence" leaders, and Jerry Sutton is certainly one of those leaders.
     
  16. preachinjesus

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    If anyone is still measuring effectiveness and size of churches by membership role numbers they are vastly mistaken. Week to week attendance and monthly chur averages (how many unique individuals show up from Sunday to Sunday) are the true measure.

    Membership processes, in most SBC (and Baptist) churches, needs vital overhauling. :)
     
  17. 2 Timothy2:1-4

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    So a church is in yet another battle and a liberal wants to take pot shots unrelated to the issue at the Pastor questioning his integrity.

    This is sad and should grieve everyone.
     
  18. Baptist Believer

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    If this is referring to my posts...

    - I'm not "a liberal" by any sane definition.
    - The so-called "pot shots" had to do with issues of church leadership and inflated church membership numbers related to the issues at this church, so they are not "unrelated."
    - Mr. Sutton is a member of the so-called "Conservative Resurgence" old guard, which has had difficulty with the newer generation of "conservatives" over issues like this, which are related to integrity. If Mr. Sutton was in support of the resolution on integrity in church membership, I'll be happy to apologize.
     
    #18 Baptist Believer, Sep 19, 2007
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2007
  19. Timsings

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    It appears that you are doing what you're complaining about: taking pot shots at an unnamed person that you are apparently trying denigrate by calling them a "liberal". If you want to slap someone with a label, you might at least do them the courtesy of naming them unless you are trying to bait someone into responding.

    Tim Reynolds
     
  20. rbell

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    I don't get the "liberal" label. Even if there were "pot-shots" taken...how does that make one "liberal?" I would think that "pot-shotting" is equal-opportunity.

    I'm not really dealing with the appropriateness of the thread regarding the pastor...this has to do more with why that gets a "liberal" label. If this thread questioned a liberal pastor in the same way, would that make the questioner a "liberal?"

    Back to the thread at hand....Tennessee's larger Baptist churches are having a rough go of it. First Bellevue, now Two Rivers. Sheesh.
     

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