#2 Crisis Week: 4/23/06 to 4/30/06
Sunday morning, April 23, 2006
At the close of the morning worship service, Don B. stunned a completely in-the-dark TBC by publicly resigning as an Elder and as a Member. During his announcement, Don B., only mentioned a growing awareness that he had different perspectives on certain doctrines, but did not go into specifics.
However, he elaborated more fully in a letter to his fellow Elders. In that letter, he mentioned not only the concern he had with the growing legalism, but also his unease with Scott’s ever increasing focus on Patriarchy, including his LOGS statement. Don B. also pointed out that he was the third elder in four years to resign over very similar concerns.
After Don B.’s, resignation, Jason further stunned the congregation by announcing that Mike, Todd and Don A. and their families were leaving as well, with Mike resigning as a deacon. The shock was palpable and many in the congregation were in tears.
Jason followed that announcement by calling of an emergency “heads of household”* meeting to be held that very evening at the Brown’s home to discuss all that was taking place and why those families had left the church.
This was exactly the sort of meeting that Mike, Todd and Don A., had asked for, but they were not going to be able to speak with the rest of the congregation themselves. Instead, Jason notified Mike, Todd and Don A., before they left the service that it would be “inappropriate” for any of them to come to the meeting. And, because the meeting was going to be held on Scott Brown’s personal property, the men would have to trespass if they wanted to attend in protest.
* [There was never an official statement or document from TBC or the Elders to explain or justify a “heads of household” meeting as opposed to a meeting that involved the entire Membership.]
Sunday evening, April 23, 2006, “Emergency Heads of Household” Meeting
That night, the remaining three Elders, Scott, Jason and Jerry, met with the men of the church. Everyone was appreciably shocked and confused – especially as to why the families were leaving and had not been allowed to address the church themselves.
In response, the Elders characterized Mike, Todd and Don A. as “quitters” and asserted that they “left the process too early” and were “giving up on the church.” Mike, Todd and Don had no opportunity to defend themselves.
In turn, the men in the congregation confronted the elders with:
- Failure to give the men both Biblical and Constitutional due process.
- Failure to consult with and receive advice from the Deacons. (Constitution, Article IV, section 4)
- Failure to engage the constitution as the final authority. (Constitution Article IV, section 1)
At the end of back and forth discussion, Jason spoke for the Elders and apologized. He also promised that the Elders would apologize to and “reengage” the 4 men who had left.
Then, all three Elders agreed to another heads-of-household meeting to take place the following Sunday, April 30. It was agreed that this meeting would include the Elders, Deacons, heads-of-household and the 4 men who had just left the church.
However, immediately following this meeting and everyone had gone home, Scott shocked Jason and Jerry by emphatically declaring that in spite of the agreement he had just made with the men of the congregation to have a follow up meeting, Scott would allow “no further meetings.” He went on to assert that the current chaos was resulting from a “plot [by men] who were out to get him.”
Monday April 24, 2007
The next morning, Jason alone called Mike, Todd, Don A. and former elder Don B. and apologized for his part in “cutting off the process.” Heedless of Scott’s declarations of the night before, he also told them of the agreement with the congregation to have another “heads-of-household” meeting the following Sunday, April 30. He further told them that they were being asked to rejoin the church and the discussion of the issues with the rest of the congregation.
Tuesday, April 25, 2007
Very concerned at what was going on, the next day the Deacons organized an emergency meeting to be held in two days on Thursday evening, April 27. They planned the meeting to include Scott, Jason, Jerry, the Deacons, Mike, Todd, Don A. and resigned elder Don B. It was their intention to hold their own investigation, according to their Constitutional duty, into what was going on.
The Deacons also approached the Elders about their desire to have Ron T., Chairman of the Deacons, moderate the heads-of-household meeting at that time still scheduled for Sunday, April 30th.
Jason and Jerry readily agreed to Deacon Ron’s moderation. Jason spoke for Scott and told the Deacons that, “[Scott ] feels good about it.” However, Jason admitted that he could not explicitly confirm Scott’s agreement. But, he promised to get in touch with Scott and call back with his answer.
Jason never returned the call to the Deacons.
Wednesday, April 26, 2007
The very next morning, Jason emailed Mike, Todd and Don A. and resigned elder Don B. a draft letter that he said he was planning on emailing to the heads-of-households on behalf of the elders. In the draft letter, the elders had unilaterally changed the originally agreed upon meeting from Sunday, April 30 to the Thursday after, May 4.
Also in the letter, they reiterated that it would once again be a heads-of-household only meeting. However, men were encouraged to talk with their wives at home. Ostensibly, wives could participate in this manner. The Elders acknowledged that there were several women who headed up households at that time and said that they would be welcome to attend the meeting. However, these women did not attend.
Following this news, the Deacons attempted to confirm the three-party meeting for the following evening and also to confirm Deacon Ron’s moderation of next heads-of-household’s meeting (the meeting now changed to 5/4).
Jerry and Jason again affirmed the meeting and moderation. There was still no comment from Scott. Jason again promised to contact the Deacons later that day on Scott’s behalf. Again, he does not.
All other participants (the Deacons, Mike, Todd and Don A. and Don B.) remained in agreement for the Thursday evening meeting and approved the moderation plans for May 4.
That evening, Jerry resigned as Elder and the Deacons were notified of an emergency meeting between just the Deacons and remaining two Elders for the next morning, following the regularly scheduled 6:00 am Men’s Bible Study.
Scott and Jason were now acting as sole Elders, in contradiction to the Constitutional requirement to maintain at least 3 Elders.
Thursday, April 27, 2007 approx. 7:00 am
Following the Men’s Bible Study, Scott and Jason held a meeting between themselves and the Deacons (minus 2: one is absent and Mike has resigned).
Scott began by telling the Deacons that the meeting was completely about “going forward.” He told them that his purpose was to discuss the ways that he and Jason would lead the church. Again, this was in open disregard for the Constitution of TBC – both in light of the 3-Elder requirement and also of the Constitutional declaration of the Congregation as the final authority within the Church.
Nonetheless, Jason continued with, “we are taking charge” and “nothing will move us. . . we are moving decisively to lead the church.”
Scott added, “What you see is what you get.”
As the meeting continued, Scott informed the Deacons that he and Jason had decided that the church would take a year to select new elders. Again, in open defiance of the Constitution.
Jason informed them further that,
“disunified [sic] Eldership will not be repeated. We will only choose like-minded Elders.”
Scott said that their plan included, “tweaking the Constitution,” a review of the membership process (to list only heads of households as members) and instruction to the congregation about Eldership. (The men of the congregation had already just completed extensive teaching on Eldership with Alexander Strauch’s books as a guide.)
Jason was emphatic that the LOGS issue would no longer be discussed and that there would be “no more meetings” about LOGS or anything else. He charged that all of what had taken place was mere gossip and warned the Deacons about the “gossiping mouth” and the “listening ear.”
Scott followed up with this charge by claiming the last meeting (April 23) was about nothing more than “vile and angry men spewing their bile.” And that he would not allow further congregational [i.e. heads-of-households] meetings.
At the close of the meeting, Jason and Scott asked if each Deacon was in agreement with their decisions. Three of the Deacons initially were in agreement. However, one abstained in order to keep the commitment to meet with and hear the 4 brothers.
After consideration, all 4 Deacons agreed to keep their commitment to the meeting that evening. Scott and Jason refused to attend.
By 10:00 am, Jason had called Mike, Todd and Don A. and had told them that the elders had reversed their decision about having the second heads-of-household meeting. To one of the men he said, in part,
“We’d agreed to have this meeting next Thursday night and we’re not going to have that meeting. . . That meeting probably won’t happen at all. . . On the League of Grateful Sons . . . we want to treat that as a closed issue. . . to continue the disunity (sic) [would] be bad for you and your family. . .”
Even at this time, Mike, Todd and Don A. had kept all discussions and comments between themselves, the leadership of the church and only the few other members with whom they had been working to call for a “special” congregational meeting according to the Constitutional By-laws. The Deacons later affirmed that at every step of the way, the three men had conducted themselves according to Biblical standards.
10:58 am – Scott sent out a congregational email (signed only by Scott and Jason, again in disregard for the Constitution) informing them of the two Elders’ decision to cancel all further meetings. He also sent out a position paper clarifying the two Elders’ (and by extension, TBC’s) positions on most of the 7 original issues raised by Mike, Todd and Don A.. These were the very issues that just 10 days prior, Scott had said were so complicated that the process of sifting through them to come to consensus would be extremely lengthy.
11:58 am – Jerry emailed his resignation letter (dated the previous day, 4/26) to the church and in it cited “differences [with his fellow elders] that are too significant to allow me to remain on the Elder board.”
That Evening – The Deacons followed through with their commitment to meet with Mike, Todd and Don A., and resigned elders Jerry and Don B.. Scott and Jason do not attend.
After hearing much testimony and after heavy questioning of the men, the Deacons concluded that the critical issue was no longer one of the original 7 issues, but at the least was one of a complete disregard of due process (both Biblically and Constitutionally) by Scott and Jason.
They had additional grave concerns about the conduct and character of Scott and Jason and considered adding additional charges – in particular charges of abuse of authority. They concluded that further meetings between the Elders, Deacons and these 5 men were vital.
Shortly after midnight, Ron notified Scott and Jason by email that it was the
“unanimous decision of the Deacons that there [are] additional concerns that must be addressed with the elders in the presence of these men. (Matt. 18: 15-17).”
He then asked the elders to meet with the concerned parties in four days on Monday, May 1, 7:30 pm at Scott’s office in Wake Forest.
Friday, April 28, 2006
The next day. Without responding to the Deacon’s email, Scott and Jason notified the heads of households of an “emergency, go forward” meeting to be held that very evening at Scott’s office building in Wake Forest.
At the meeting, Scott and Jason took attendance as each man arrived. When the meeting began, they shocked the men by stating that the agenda would include “going forward” comments by Scott and Jason, a time for questions and then a vote of confidence.
Scott and Jason also ignored the Deacons’ request to have Ron T. moderate and instead chose Barry D. who had only been attending TBC for a year, who had moved to Wake Forest specifically to be under Scott’s teaching (his own admission), and by Scott’s own determination was not a member.
In their comments to the men, Scott and Jason stated that they were “God-appointed Elders [and] would not lead by consensus.” In this announcement, Scott and Jason again defied both the Constitutional requirement for 3 or more Elders and the Constitutional provisions for the Congregation to be the final authority of the Church.
They then rebuked the stunned men of TBC that were present for spreading “misinformation” and “gossip.” All without substantiation.
Jason then informed them that since none of Scott’s and Jason’s positions on the 7 issues already addressed would change, that there would be “no further meetings” on those issues. The controversy over whether or not the LOGS statement was heretical was singled out as “frivolous“ and summarily dismissed without further comment.
During the following discussion time, the men questioned Scott and Jason about their refusal to allow for a special meeting to be called for by 10 members, as allowed in the Constitution and By-laws. Scott and Jason responded that they were “having problems determining which families are genuine members” and asserted that Mike (a deacon), Todd and Don A. were not “genuine” members.
The men of the congregation pointed out to Scott and Jason that no record existed of either Scott or Jason signing the membership covenant and that they were clearly maintaining a double-standard as by this standard, Scott and Jason themselves were not members.
Scott and Jason refused to comment.
Deacon Ron repeatedly appealed to Scott and Jason to allow Mike, Todd, Don A., Don B. and Jerry an opportunity to speak to the heads-of-household themselves [they were waiting at a neighboring restaurant at the Deacons’ request]. Scott and Jason rebuff his appeals without explanation. And again, the men could not come to meeting without Scott’s permission as Scott had arranged for the meeting to take place on his property.
Although Scott and Jason had begun the meeting by emphatically declaring that they “would not lead by consensus” they abruptly ended the discussion by demanding a vote of confidence.
There was no time given to the congregation to fast, pray or search the Scriptures over such a serious matter.
Scott and Jason stated that a vote of support would mean, “you agree with the church direction, to submit to the Eldership, to joyfully join in ministry and put all issues to rest immediately.”
One man exhorted Scott and Jason and the rest of the men that the Bible says it is “folly and shame to him who answers a matter before he has heard it” [Prov. 18:13]. As there had not been a fair hearing, he said he was personally unable to cast a vote either way and must abstain.
This prompted a private discussion between Scott and Jason, at the end of which, they announced that abstentions would not be allowed. Instead, all votes to abstain would be counted as “no” votes.
- There were 14 votes of affirmation (including Jason’s and Scott’s, who counted their own votes).
- There were 19 votes to abstain.
- There were 0 “no” votes.
Scott and Jason immediately declared that they had “lost” and resigned on the spot without allowing further comment by the shaken members.
Saturday April 29, 2007 Evening: Emergency Deacons Meeting
Having been thrust into leadership roles, the Deacons met the next evening to determine how Sunday’s service would be ordered. They decided that Scott would not be allowed to preach (as he had requested to be allowed to), but agreed that he would be given the opportunity to make a statement about his resignation, as would Jason and Jerry.
The Deacons deemed it necessary to meet with Scott and Jason on Sunday morning, prior to the worship service, in order to clearly communicate expectations for how the service should be conducted.
Sunday, April 30, 2007
Early morning meeting between the Deacons, Scott and Jason:
Using the Bible, Alexander Strauch’s book, Biblical Eldership, and the testimony of multiple witnesses, the Deacons laid out before Scott and Jason, as a minimum, the serious charge of “abuse of authority”. They urged Scott and Jason to repent.
Neither Scott nor Jason gave an answer to the charge.
The Deacons then discussed the Worship Service. They emphasized the need for civility. As there were guests in town for the NCFIC conference and at Scott and Jason’s request (who were particularly concerned that the charges would be read in front of women and children), there was agreement between Scott, Jason and the Deacons not to speak of any charges against Scott or Jason that morning in front of the congregation .
The Deacons communicated their desire that between Scott and Jason, Scott was to go first in the reading of the resignation statements and that Jason would follow.
Morning Worship Service:
At the close of the service, Jerry read his letter of resignation. This was the same letter that he had sent out three days prior on Thursday.
At this point, Scott noticeably refused to go next in defiance of the Deacons. When it became apparent that Scott absolutely would not go as asked, the Deacons had Jason read his statement instead.
Going last, and not leaving room for comment, Scott further broke his agreement with the Deacons and claimed that a “root of bitterness” within TBC was the cause of all that was troubling TBC.
Keeping to their side of the agreement, the deacons did not answer Scott’s accusation nor did they speak of the charges against Scott and Jason.
Instead, the deacons announced that another emergency congregational meeting would be held that evening at a deacon’s home. All members of the congregation were encouraged to attend this time.