Suggested pre-reading, "The Truth (Chapter 2)," "Early Lessons"
Before you get all bent-out-of-shape about the title of this segment, let me clarify that I am not calling any particular denomination, or leader, a demon. Now, let’s move onto our story.
Donna and I had pioneered a church. Please note, we did not “plant” a church. The difference is a church plant is supported by a mothering church or organization. We “pioneered” a church into existence from nothing. Several months after we started the church, a denomination approached us about joining them. After evaluating the situation, we did. In this denomination’s by-laws, it specifically stated that whenever one of their churches was closed within a city, all proceeds from the liquidation of the assets must be held in escrow to be used in the future by a new congregation within the same city. Several years before we joined this denomination, they had closed a church in our city and liquidated its assets. We were told there was approximately $250K available when we were ready to purchase a facility. Once the church had grown to a state that a permanent facility was feasible, I approached the district leadership of the denomination about securing the designated funds. The response I received read something to the effect of, “Pastor Gibson, we have reviewed your request for the escrowed funds for the Dayton community. Our committee has met and, to be quite frank, releasing those funds to a church plant would be like turning a child lose in a candy store. We are not approving your funding request.”
Subsequently, the denomination amended their by-laws and reapportioned all of the designated city escrowed funds to other agendas. I later found out that the funding designated for Dayton actually went to a northern Ohio ministry entitled, “The Mentoring Mansion.” To add insult to injury, I met a pastor who had successfully secured the funds which had been held in escrow for his community and had built his new congregation a brand new building. I congratulated him on his accomplishment and explained the dilemma we had experienced. He, more or less, called me a liar and stated that the by-laws demanded the escrow funds be used in their designated city and the denomination followed its by-laws. As you can imagine, we never became “buds.” To wrap a nice bow around this situation, I did contact the denomination’s headquarters about what we had experienced. I received a, “Sorry, but we can’t help you, the money is gone,” letter along with a check for $15K to “invest” into our ministry.
As if the aforementioned money issue weren’t aggravating, illegal and unethical enough, worse things happened with this movement. Donna and I co-pastored in our ministry. One particular day, I had to go to my vocational job when our district leader was scheduled to visit the church. Donna was available and he was made aware that she, not I, would be meeting with him. In the middle of a discussion in the parking lot, he basically told Donna to shut-up. That obviously didn’t work, so, this 6’4” tall man physically put his arms tightly around my 5’ 2” wife, pulled her into his embrace and told her to be quiet. Fortunately, an airman pulled into the parking lot at just the right minute. All of a sudden, the district official let her go, got into his car and left. The airman asked Donna, “Are you ok?” She replied she would be fine. Then he asked, “Who was that a**hole?” When we reported this incident to the district office and requested their assistance in resolving it, we were told, “The Bible says to go to the one who offends you, first. You go back to this gentleman and try to work it out before involving us. It is only fair to him.” So, in other words, this “man” physically abuses my wife and the “spiritual authorities” instructed her to go back to confront her abuser, all under the cloak of “Scripture.” Sorry, it just doesn’t “compute” in my brain.
Please stay tuned for the next blog in the series, “Denominational Demons-Part Two.”