Disagreements turned to fights and disarray at Macedonia Baptist Church in Suffolk, VA this year.  It started badly and went south fast.  Soon the police were called to lock the door and arrest some of the members.  Five months later, there’s still no resolution.

What went wrong?

The church is an independent Baptist church that had 75 in December.  On March 7, a Sunday morning, the trustees and a deacon met the pastor at the door and told him he had been fired and was not going to preach that morning.  When church members found out what had happened, there was so much turmoil the police had to come keep order.

Next, the pastor called a meeting for the following Sunday (Mar 20) to discuss what had happened and what to do next.  During that meeting, two members (husband and wife) assaulted another member and were sentenced April 26.

At some point after the March 14 meeting, the trustees changed the locks on the church building, posted a “no trespassing” sign in the window, and directed the pastor and his family not to enter the property.

During the March 20 meeting, the pastor got a majority to vote him back in, and then they held a second meeting on May 16 to ratify the vote, and replace the trustees (including the man arrested in March), the treasurer and some of the deacons.

Things were quiet for a few weeks, but then on July 25 (also a Sunday), the pastor and some of his supporters fired the new trustees.  Police were called on reports of “people in the church out of control” and “screaming.”

Next, there were arson threats and allegations that the pastor was changing the locks and the financial reports.  Court filings from both sides allege financial irregularities.  A community event that annually uses the property has been canceled because “the pastor didn’t have the authority to rent the space.”  The pastor has also removed several members.

When the local Judge returns from vacation, the church will ask for a trial.

What can you learn from their misfortune? Plenty.

  • If you want to remove the pastor, don’t do it on Sunday morning.  Tell the pastor mid-week, and have a replacement lined up for Sunday.  If you have cause, say so in open session.  Deeds done in secret will come to light, and the consequences will be worse.
  • Audit the books regularly.  It’s hard to accuse leadership of impropriety if a neutral third party is auditing.
  • Form associations with other congregations.  You may never need remediation, but they might.  Scripture warns us to solve our own problems, and not rely on the civil courts to solve spiritual issues.

source:  Tracy Agnew at Suffolk News Herald