Two Rivers: The Saga Continues

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Timsings, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. Timsings

    Timsings
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    Here is a link to the next chapter in the Two Rivers saga. They are trying to solve their problems by kicking the dissenting members out of the church.

    This reminds me of a situation where a mission church in Florida with fewer than 125 members kicked out seven tithers for "non-support of the pastor". The pastor (and I use the term very loosely) was the prime mover in this. Within another year or so, the church fired the pastor.

    Tim Reynolds
     
  2. Tom Butler

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    Tim, you're there in Nashville. Do you have any insights into the TRBC situation beyond what has been reported in the Tennesseean? I've been to the dissident website, but I'm lookiing for a more independent viewpoint.

    To see a church in conflict is heartbreaking.
     
  3. Timsings

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    I'm afraid I can't help you, Tom. So far as I know, I don't know anyone who is a member of Two Rivers. Also, my church is about as far removed from Two Rivers as we could be by any standard that you could name. But, then, I'm speculating about that as well. In any case, I think they are in real trouble.

    I do know that the beginnings of their growth occurred when Jim Henry was their pastor back in the 1970's. They thought the world of him. When he left suddenly to go FBC-Orlando, the church was devastated. It took them over two years to find a new pastor. He stayed several years, and then he moved on. Jerry Sutton followed him. If Sutton has not been there twenty years, he is awfully close to it.

    I do not have any experience being a member of a really large church, but it seems to me that, as churches grow large, they need to be especially careful to outline their processes in detail that are available to any member who wants to look at them. This is especially true of processes that relate to the handling of money.

    My church's membership is about 1/9 the size of Two Rivers, and our attendance is about 1/6 of theirs as reported in the article. Our new pastor just arrived in town today. It has been 19 months since our previous pastor retired. He had been with us for over thirty years. He had no role in picking his successor. Our by-laws clearly spelled out the procedures to be followed. We followed them to the letter, picked out an excellent search committee (my daughter was one of the members), and waited while they sorted through over 100 resumes to bring us a candidate who received a 95+% vote after two visits and his trial sermon. I served as a deacon during this whole time. The last day of my term is tomorrow. The search process went very smoothly because we took our time, explained the process to the congregation multiple times, answered any question that was raised, received regular reports from the chairman of the search committee, and organized ourselves to carry on the business of the church in the interim.

    This is the kind of thing that any church, especially one the size of Two Rivers, should be doing. Maybe they want to do it differently, but whatever process they choose should open and spelled out in detail to the congregation. This will promote trust and integrity on both sides. I don't feel like they have been doing that, and now it is going to cost them. The price is yet to be determined. But, you're right. It's heartbreaking. On another Baptist forum, the comment was made, "What a mess!"

    Tim Reynolds
     
  4. Timsings

    Timsings
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    Here is a link to the results of the Two Rivers vote to oust 71 members because of the lawsuit they filed against the pastor, Jerry Sutton, and other staff members. According to the article, if they had followed Robert's Rules for Order as their by-laws called for, the ouster would have been successful. Because the deacon chair allowed the dissenters to vote, the ouster vote failed. I don't think this is over, but it may be a while before it is resolved. It may get messier yet.

    Tim Reynolds
     
  5. JDale

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    I lived about a mile from Two Rivers for four years, from 1998-2002. While I was not a member, our neighbors were, and we visited the church on several ocassions. I also had the privilege of meeting Dr. Sutton, and I have great respect for the Lord's accomplishments through him at Two Rivers.

    That said, I find the events at Two Rivers shameful, and I don't think either bunch can claim the "Biblical" high ground in the dispute. There are a lot more questions than answers in the circumstance, but a few observations that can be factually substantiated.

    First, the 71 members who filed suit in a court directly violated the prohibition of the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 6. That is not arguable, and on those grounds alone, these members deserved Discipline -- probably expulsion.

    Second, the failure of the congregation to expel the 71 has created a circumstance that forces two opposing factions to remain in the same organization, yet divided on principle and allegiance. This will not work in the long term. It cannot. Thus, Two Rivers will become a monument to the FAILURES of the church to their community, and will remain a reproach to the Gospel.

    Third, too much value has been placed upon the "local church" as "my church." Sutton and his supporters have said Two Rivers is "our church" while the gang of 71 have protested that "I shouldn't have to leave 'my church.'" Both fail to understand that it is God's Church that is important. Their claim to a building or an organization is meaningless, and their loyalties are misplaced by hanging on.

    Fourth, the responsible and biblical next move would be that one of the factions voluntarily withdraw from Two Rivers and form a new congregation. I would suggest that Dr. Sutton and the almost 700 who supported his desire to purge the gang of 71 be the mature believers, and let them have the building and the organization. After all, that which grew Two Rivers into a great church was not the organization, nor the buildings and grounds. The Church was built by the Holy Spirit through a willing and faithful congregation. If those who remain faithful withdraw and found a new congregation, meeting temporarily in any number of places near Opryland or Donelson, and they do so under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then God will be honored and He will bless. Let those who want to keep "my church" have it. I'd rather go with the Holy Ghost anyway!

    I HOPE Dr. Sutton will come to this realization. If not, if he hangs on to the building and the institution of Two Rivers rather than building a greater work apart from the bitterness and the battles, then Two Rivers, despite all the great things accomplished there will be remembered only for the dishonor it brings to the cause of Christ. I trust the Holy Spirit is speaking of such things in the hearts of the His people even now.
     
  6. Timsings

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    Well, I have been out of town for the last nine days, but, when I began to glance through last week's copies of The Tennessean, the first thing I saw was this article about Two Rivers finally ousting their dissenting members. Then, a couple of days later, there was this article about the church offering them a chance to return. This offer has been made before, but, if you thought you were acting in the best interests of the church, it would be hard to do.

    Tim Reynolds
     
  7. Revmitchell

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    Sad but necessary
     
  8. donnA

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    Why do some churches find it necessary to air their dirty laundry in public.
     
  9. Born_in_Crewe

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    It's more akin to a sports club than a church. :(

    Doesn't give a good impression at all.
     
  10. Revmitchell

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    Filing laws suits and talking to secular news organizations is shameful.
     
  11. LadyEagle

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    I live in Nashville and know people who are still members at Two Rivers. A few members have left there and joined our church, no matter what side of the issue they are on - they have been welcomed with open arms into our fellowship and as far as I know, no one at our church cares what the reasons were that they left TR. I personally refuse to discuss the matter in public, gossip, or speculate - that the matter went to the press is shameful and should have been handled internally according to Scripture, not in the court system. That's all I have to say about the situation.
     
  12. mparkerfd20

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    I tend to agree, but an even bigger question is why do churches have so much dirty laundry to begin with. :( :praying:
     
  13. donnA

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    Yes it is, it needs to be handled internally, how does this look to an unbeleiving world.
     
  14. donnA

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    All churches do. Most just hide it better.
     
  15. mparkerfd20

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    That I won't deny, but why doesn't that still raise red flags all over the place? Just because it happens doesn't make it right or less tragic. Satan is a dissenter and loves to sow discord among church members. Our churches have enough attacks from the outside than to have all this turmoil on the inside. God help us!
     
  16. convicted1

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    RE: Two Rivers.....The saga continues

    DonnA,

    I can't help but think of Judas Iscariot as I was reading this thread. Not that I am calling any one a "Judas", but that Judas was amongst the other 11 Disciples and Jesus, during Jesus' Ministry here on earth. I think it was because of this, that Jesus used this(Judas with them) as a warning that wolves would be amongst the flock scattering the sheep. People want to live be the old Burger King slogan, "Have it your way", and in church, we all need to look out for each other, and not worry about ourselves only. I have only been in church going on a year, so many more on here have witnessed more than I, but as Apostle Paul wrote, "In the flesh dwelleth no good thing, for when I do good, evil is present". If everyone would just lean on God, there wouldn't be any trouble. It really bothers me to see a church in such turmoil. What kind of impression does this leave on sinners? If they see trouble in a church, with bickering, arguing, strife, etc.....they could also see that in a bar, too. I pray to God that He helps the innocent at Two Rivers to survive this "dry season", and those who stirred this up, and are still stirring it, that they turn to Him when, and if, they see they are in the wrong.

    Willis
     
  17. donnA

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    It would be nice if all churches were interested in "cleaning up". For some reason they aren't. Which is sad, Jesus is worth it.
     
  18. donnA

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    Satan has his people in church too. But, we as christians, do chose to do wrong too, even in church.
     

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