West Palm megachurch pastor resigns amid debt, résumé exposé

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Aug 28, 2006.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    http://www.abpnews.com/www/1328.article


    West Palm megachurch pastor resigns amid debt, résumé exposé
    By Hannah Elliott
    Published: August 28, 2006



    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (ABP) -- Embattled pastor Steven Flockhart resigned from First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach, Fla. -- less than three months after he was hired to lead the 10,000-member church -- reportedly because he lied about his academic degrees.

    Church leaders announced the resignation Aug. 27, according to The Palm Beach Post. Flockhart, 40, had been elected senior pastor in June. His resignation took effect immediately.

    The announcement came the same day the Post ran a story about Flockhart’s résumé, which said he graduated from Columbia International University and earned degrees from two other respected schools. In reality, he received bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees through correspondence classes from non-accredited Covington Theological School in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., the story said.

    The Post and Associated Baptist Press previously reported that Flockhart left a Georgia church eight years ago with unauthorized debts from personal credit card use and personal checks totaling more than $162,500. Macedonia Baptist Church in Dawnville, Ga., filed a lawsuit after Flockhart left in 1989 for Crosspointe Baptist Church near Memphis, Tenn.
    Flockhart repaid the debt last year, the Aug. 13 story said. Bruce Phillips, chairman of the elders at the 170-year-old church near Dalton, Ga., declined to comment for this story.

    The résumé also said Flockhart was obtaining a second master's from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, although the Post reported that officials at the Wake Forest, N.C., school denied the claim.
    According to the Post, Flockhart said in his resignation letter that he did not expect his deceptions to resurface.
    "I ask your forgiveness for this situation,” Flockhart wrote to the church. “You embraced our family and loved us from the beginning. We immediately fell in love with First Baptist and this community. I will cherish the sweet memories that we shared in this brief time together."

    First Baptist’s executive pastor Kevin Mahoney and associate pastor Bill Keith did not return phone calls for this story.
    According to the Post, one part of Flockhart's résumé was true: his plans to begin working on a doctorate at Liberty Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va. The school was founded by Jerry Fallwell as part of Lynchburg Baptist College.
    According to the Post, Liberty officials said Flockhart paid registration fees directly to seminary president Ergun Caner because Caner personally recruited him, said Ron Godwin, Liberty’s executive vice president and CEO.

    According to the Post, Godwin said Flockhart and Falwell are friends. Falwell is the school’s chancellor.
    The Post reported Flockhart was hired by the West Palm church on the strength of a recommendation from Johnny Hunt, a prominent Southern Baptist leader and pastor of a 14,000-member church in Woodstock, Ga.
     
  2. Lagardo

    Lagardo
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    Everybody lies on a resume, right? :thumbs:

    Really, this should be a strong warning to all of us in ministry, that everything is public and open to scrutiny.
     
  3. El_Guero

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    There is a difference between a lie and a whopppppppper.

    There was no truth in his story.

    Where was he even pastoring after the 162k fraud?

    That is a chunk of money . . . big chunk.
     
    #3 El_Guero, Aug 28, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 28, 2006
  4. FBCPastorsWife

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    How disgraceful!
     
  5. av1611jim

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    what is the point of this post?
    are the vultures feeding again?
    rather that sling mud, how about a little bit of what is GOOD in our churches?
    for example; tonite in our jail ministry we were able to lead 6 men to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.:wavey:
     
  6. gb93433

    gb93433
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    If one always tells the truth then you never have to worry about what you said last.

    With news like this I find it easy to share my faith with people. I tell them that God is not interested in the church you go to so much as do you know him personally. All of us are accountabele to God. We cannot fool him. To thoink that we can lie and fool God is like spitting on God and thinking we can fool Him. He is just.

    Remember there are six things the Lord hates. No, seven, a lying tongue. what the Lord hates he does not bless. There is no right way of doing the wrong thing.

    Frankly I would like to see more of these things exposed so that churches are put in great fear. It would also create churches which do things right and have a healthy fear of God. What Ananias and Sapphira did is recored for all to see. They were church members. I see no difference between the article and what is recored for all to see in the Bible other than the Bible is inspired by God.

    A church should never be afraid of showing its books to its member or the public. If they do things right and above board there is nothing to fear.

    I am reminded of Psa. 9:20, " Put them in fear, O Lord; Let the nations know that they are but men. Selah."

    Churches should always do an excellent job of asking for referenecs and checking on any future employee. I got to the point where I would not take a job is the employer did not call my references. It told me a lot about the details of the organization and whoio I might be working for. I have found that people who are thorough are also truthful and expect truth.
     
    #6 gb93433, Aug 29, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2006
  7. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
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  8. ccrobinson

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    Uh, no, everybody does not lie on a resume. Whether you were joking or not, I take offense at the word "everybody".


    Huh? There's no difference. One is as much a lie as the other.
     
  9. preachinjesus

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    hmmm

    sort of saw this coming with the ABP story on FBC Colleyville mentioning Flockhart. Get ready for some more fall-out, seems long time coming.

    I think we need a denominational wide audit of our agencies and pastors for resume "issues." Or at least a major publication from the denom expressing how to review a resume properly.

    The sad thing about this is he probably would have been hired anyways (Dr. Hunt is rather...influential) if he had told the truth about his degree situation.

    Gee...I wonder if BPNews will ever carry an article on two pastors of larger churches in the SBC being forced out in the last two weeks.
     
  10. Baptist Believer

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    :laugh:

    You've mistaken them for a news organization!

    If this situation happens in CBF or Texas Baptist circles, it will be a front-page story with daily updates and analysis by the inner circle.
     
  11. Lagardo

    Lagardo
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    I am truly sorry to have offended you. I hope and pray that everybody does not lie (whopper or otherwise) on a resume, but unfortunately, even in ministry, people do. SO much so, that people take on a worldly attitude, shrugging it off to say, "everybody streaches the truth on a resume." So I said that, included the winking smiley so it would come across as sarcastic, and then went on to make a point that pastors should remember that EVERYTHING is public and subject to scrutiny.

    Sadly, many pastors do lie about their resumes. Degrees get a little wieghtier, numerical growth gets bolder, sometimes volunteer positions become senior pastor positions. I know of a pastor who was a member at a church for 5 years (1995-2000). He left the church because they would not call him as pastor when the pastor left. HE left and pastored another church for 3 years (2000-2003), then accepted a call to pastor the first church. Now, on his resume and church website, he claims to have been a pastor of the church since he first attended there. (1995-present)

    The pastorate is not a job. Worldy views regarding how to get a job do not apply (or at least they should not apply).

    I would hope the pastors on this board are honest about their resumes. Look how much can be lost when the truth comes out.
     
  12. Lagardo

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    No, there is no difference. If his story was 90% true and the money in question from the previous church was only $16, there is still no difference.

    My sarcastic comment (sarcasm does not translate well online) was not intended to excuse any lie on any resume.
     
  13. ccrobinson

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    Thanks for the apology. I wasn't sure what the thumbs up meant and took it the exact opposite of what you meant.

    Now that I understand, no issue! :wavey:
     
  14. Tom Bryant

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    Pretty sad story. Sin will ruin lives. Posting this story is right for the same reason why David, Solomon and Abraham's sins are mentioned: because we need to receive a warning.
     
  15. preachinjesus

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    this this true...I had forgotten how near-sighted BPNews tends to be

    perhaps we should start a petition to get them to cover the stories so our faithful congregations are not set upon by more vultures
     
  16. gb93433

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    "The main reason the pastor was chosen was his outstanding evangelical skills," Gille said last month. "We felt at this stage in our church's life, that's what we need."

    The church was misled to believe something that scripture does not teach. That is not what the church needed. It is not just the pastor's job. It is every believer who must do that work. The work of every church is not just evangelism but as Jesus commanded--make disciples.
     
  17. rbell

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    it amazes me that a guy with that kind of past and that many obvious lies thought he wouldn't be caught.

    I'm with you , El G--what's up with a $162K thief ever serving again? If a pastor did that to our church, we'd shout it from the mountaintops, I would expect, in order to warn other churches about this guy...

    Sinning sure is stupid...you'd think we'd learn that, huh?:tongue3:
     
  18. gb93433

    gb93433
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    He did get caught.

    The good ol' boy system could have helped put that pastor there. I have seen it happen a few times myself.
     
  19. El_Guero

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    I just pray that we do not look the other way for even more hideous crimes . . .

    It is bad enough that we look the other way for flagrant felony theft . . . and academic loss of integrity.

     
  20. Baptist Believer

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    Back in college, during Spring 1987, I went to Wyoming with about 40 others to lead revivals in about 12 churches over the Spring Break holiday.

    I ended up in a moderately-sized church in Wyoming (I'm not going to post the name or location here) for a week. The pastor had multiple categories of problems that, apparently, the congregation did not recognize until he deserted his family the day after we left to go back to Texas. I won't go into the details because of the innocent abused parties involved, but it makes most other pastoral misconduct incidents look trivial.

    About a year ago, I found his picture on the internet: http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/fugitives/cac/fontenot_rd.htm

    I still have the King James Bible he gave me to replace my "faulty" modern translation.
     

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