THE PRAY’S MILL BLOGGER


We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. –CS Lewis

 

 Jesus reserved his hardest words for the hidden sins of hypocrisy, pride, greed and legalism.–Philip Yancey


 

 Recently, I was perusing the book offerings at Amazon.com and found an interesting one on spiritual abuse.  A man who identified himself as a pastor wrote one of the reviews for this book.  In his review he said that if a church member believes (s) he has been abused, that person should leave the church quietly.   I guess that means one should leave without ever attempting to resolve the conflict.  I can understand why a pastor would give such advice.  The problem with this approach is clearly evident.  Unresolved conflict and pain will eventually resurface.  That is exactly what is happening at Pray’s Mill Baptist Church.

 

There are pastors who love to claim that they are “the authority” in their churches.  However, very few of these “men in charge” seem to follow the lifestyle of the One they claim they are serving.  Jesus was the Creator of the universe and the Author of life.  The church and political leaders who were threatened by His authority persecuted Him.  His own disciples jockeyed for position and rank in the coming kingdom.  They fell asleep on Him when He asked for their support.  Peter denied Him three times during His trial.  Yet, instead of throwing the whole bunch of disciples out of His presence, He worked with, loved and died for them.

 

Today, authoritative pastors love to apply “church discipline.”  Often, this results in church members, some who have been loyal for decades, being thrown out of their church.  These harsh and unloving pastors get exactly what they want – absolute control.  However, their dictatorial style has serious repercussions that cause congregants to run from their churches.  Just because these types of pastors have gotten rid of the "troublemakers" does not mean the matter is resolved.  In fact, years later the mess is often resurrected, and, in most cases, the unresolved conflict is bigger and messier than it was when it first surfaced. This occurs because unaddressed sin has been allowed to fester; and resentment and bitterness have grown during the ensuing years.

 

Here is the story of Doug Pittman, the “infamous” Pray’s Mill Blogger, However, he is not a troublemaker; he is a hero.

 

Internet Pornography

 

Doug Pittman had been a member of Pray’s Mill Baptist Church for 48 years.  He is an IT specialist who was asked to help the church with their computers.  Unfortunately, Doug discovered that Jarrod Everson, education minister and son of the senior pastor, was viewing young adult pornography on his computer as well as other church computers, including his dad’s.  This was brought to the attention of Mike Everson who asked that it be kept a secret from the congregation.

 

 Then, a rather odd set of circumstances occurred which involved Jarrod being secretly fired then rehired after he repented.  Strangely, this act of "church discipline" appears to be unknown by most everyone except Mike Everson.  To make matters worse, Jarrod was being allowed to preach from the pulpit during this time.

 

These circumstances were very difficult for Doug Pittman.  He was only one of a few who knew about the pornography problem and had vowed not to tell others.  He found it impossible to sit through sermons delivered by Jarrod, and this caused internal pain and conflict.

 

Finally, Jarrod left Pray's Mill and joined the staff of a Florida church where his brother, Chad, was serving as a pastor.  Chad hired Jarrod with full knowledge of his problem with pornography.  According to Doug, the rest of the new church was not apprised of Jarrod’s "issues".  Doug has since notified that church of Jarrod's history at Pray's Mill.

 

Believe it or not, Pastor Everson decided to add insult to injury by having Pray’s Mill Baptist Church purchase Sunday school material developed by Jarrod at his new church.  Doug expressed his dismay to the deacons.  One of the deacons, C.J. Ellis, said that they would allow this material to be used throughout the church because “that was what the pastor wanted!”  And so, in January 2006, Sunday school lessons were being taught at Pray's Mill using lessons authored by a man with a documented history of viewing pornography. 

 

One would think that the pornography issue would have been properly handled at Pray's Mill.  However, in August 2006, the minister of music, David Barker, was found to have been viewing pornography on his computer, which he had been doing for several years.  Once again, Mike and the board of deacons asked for this to be hushed up.  Dan was allowed to lead music for the upcoming revival and then was allowed to resign for “health reasons.”

 

Doug showed great courage and protested vigorously to the deacons.  C J. Ellis told Doug that the deacons were put in their positions “to make these sorts of decisions”.  However, they continued to pay Dave’s salary for a number of months after he was “secretly “ fired for the use of pornography.  Doug protested that he did not want his contributions used to pay for David Barker's continued salary.  He also said that he would no longer keep quiet about the real reason for which Dave was fired. 

 

As an aside, in a former church, I was made aware that a youth intern (volunteer, whatever) was "disciplined" for taking kids to “R” rated movies and then lying about it.  Instead of revealing the "real" reason for his absence, the pastors told the parents that the intern was given a “sabbatical” to care for his sick mother.  Approximately six months, after his return to the church, this man was arrested for sexually molesting young teenage boys.  Warning: if you hear about resignations of leaders in your church due to health reasons, it might behoove you to investigate further.  Is there a secret playbook these pastors are using?

 

Dave Barker’s computer was confiscated by Doug and put under lock and key until a new hard drive could be inserted.  This was necessary since the pornography had infected most of the computer.  However, Ric Blazi, another pastor, took the computer without permission and claimed he would personally replace the hard drive.  It was Doug’s responsibility to make sure that the computers at the church were clean. 

 

 Over the ensuing months, Ric refused to allow Doug to check that computer.  Doug was upset!  Considering the issues with pornography at Pray's Mill, it was reasonable to be concerned about a computer with pornographic files.  It sure seems to me that Ric was not following the admonition of Scripture to avoid all appearance of evil.  Pastor Everson did nothing to make this computer check happen.  I believe something is very wrong with such pastoral behavior.  Eventually, Doug was removed from his responsibility of checking the church's computers.

 

Finally, Pastor Everson refused to let Doug check his computer.  Here is the incident in Doug’s own words,

 

“Mike Everson had a personal computer given to him by the church as a pastor appreciation gift in which he was given a “brand new computer” out of the box.  He was asked several times to allow me to check the computer and I never was allowed to check the computer. After David’s issues and my request he stated to me in October 2006 he would either bring the computer in for me to check or he would throw it in the lake as he thought there was bad stuff on it from a previous owner. I told him it was not from a previous owner and it was “Brand New” and it was factory direct and was a fresh out of the box installed hard-drive. He tried to convince me that the computer was used – and it was not used when he got it!  I have personally seen material I considered “questionable” on his computers and from pictures surfed within his “history” which was viewed on the Internet.”

 

Pastor Compensation

 

Doug also raised the issue of the pastor's salary.  The head pastor position at Pray's Mill paid about $80,000 when Mike Everson first arrived at the church.  There were approximately 200 members at that time.   However, the pastor's salary continued to increase.  After 9 years under Mike's leadership, the attendance number had increased to about 330 members.  At that time this was Pastor Everson's reported compensation as provided by Doug:

 

“Pray’s Mill is now running on average 330’s in Sunday School, (or approximately +75 more average attendance each Sunday) and his salary / benefits are at doubled at $160,000 +.   I verified this figure with Vernon Collett in December 2006, just before I left Pray’s Mill.   As treasurer of Pray’s Mill Vernon is required to show any member, if he/she asked as I did, financial data within our Church. I was shown the actual paper out of the financial secretary’s desk with these figures:  $97,000 salary, $45,000 housing allowance and $10 -12,500 “contingent fund” as put by Vernon- plus Vernon said he got a hefty auto allowance paid by the church including a vehicle lease of $900 + per month (which is now upside down some $51,000) plus gas, oil etc. totaling $24,000 +.   

Of this $160,000 + figure Vernon stated that approximately $24,000 or on average $2,000 per month was for vehicle usage paid for by the church and does not show up as income to him.”

 

It is important to note that the average salary for the Pray's Mill congregation was approximately $40,000 per year.  During this time, Mike Everson also reportedly received help from a church connected contractor in the congregation to build his house and was charged far below market value.  This house is now worth around $450,000, more than double the average cost of housing for the congregation.  Doug questioned whether this compensation was warranted.

 

Actual Working Hours of the Pastors


Because Doug spent much time inside the church facility working on the computers, he had an insider’s view regarding the actual amount of time the pastors spent working at the church.  He emphasized to me that the non-pastoral staff worked long hours.  However, the pastors appeared to have "banker’s hours"

 

“As of March 21st, 2007, office hours were from 8am to 4 pm – Monday thru Friday with 1 hour for lunch.  On most days they showed up at 8:30-9:00 am, went to lunch at 11:15 – 11:45 am, came back from lunch @ 1:00 – 1:45 pm.  And went home between 3:00-4:00 pm.  These days were varied over my years of doing my computer support services but I saw it happen way too much.  Staff members were seen playing cards and games many times during office hours at the church.”

 

Visitation

Doug has an important insight in this area.  There is no question that some of today’s pastors do not see the necessity of visiting members of the church who are undergoing serious issues such as the death of family members or hospitalization.  One couple from my former church said that in the 17 years they had attended that church, they never received a phone call of visit in any form from any of the large numbers of pastors on the staff.

 

Doug Pirkle, Tracey’s husband, relayed an interesting comment to him by Mike Everson.  When Tracey’s grandmother died; no one from the staff visited the funeral home.  Mike told him that, in large churches, there is no time for that.  First of all, Pray’s Mill was not a large church — it had only 330 attendees. Secondly, and more importantly, if that is indeed true, then today’s churches are losing their mission.  I guess speaking on singles’ cruises in Hawaii is far more important than spending time consoling grieving families.

 

In Doug’s own words:

 “Evangelical Staff discussed negatively about who would go and visit sick people in the homes, nursing homes, and hospitals.  To me this showed disrespect to our members who were to be ministered to while ill.  They would say it was “others” responsibility instead of them showing the “gift” of mercy and wanting to do the visits out of the love for our members.  Instead, they were they had a “being forced to do something they did not want to do attitude.” 

 

 

Confidentiality:

This issue is one of great concern to me. If people can’t trust their pastors, whom can they trust?  Several people from Pray’s Mill expressed concern that the pastor would often speak openly of confidential matters that had been shared with him in the context of private conversations.  Doug Pittman verified this.  Once again, in his own words:

 

“Church Members' private issues, concerns and complaints (some of which I considered very personal) were being discussed openly in and around the office, and not as a ministry support system, but for general gossip."

 

The Pirkles and Linda Dupree Debacle

 

Doug was very concerned about the incidents involving the disfellowshipping of his friends, Tracey and Doug Pirkle and Linda Dupree.  Since we are telling their stories separately, we have not included them in this section.  However, these situations also contributed to his decision to leave Pray’s Mill Baptist Church and start the blog.

 

Matthew 18

 There is no doubt that Doug Pittman followed Matthew 18 throughout this horrific story that occurred over the course of several years.  The problem escalates when the church does not respond to Matthew 18. However, Doug desperately sought help from within the church by going to the denominational convention. Doug requested help from the Georgia Baptists Convention, which refused to get involved.  Frankly, this refusal to act caused this situation to escalate.  The GBC is responsible for the blot they caused on their witness to the world.

 

 As more and more of these incidents are reported throughout the denominations around this country, one cannot help but see that Matthew 18 is only effective when the church is committed to carrying out church polity as instructed by the Scriptures.  Many of today’s pastors seem to be committed to their own authority and couldn't care less about the fellowship of the believers.  So, it is sometimes necessary to take the case of grave injustice into the court of public opinion.  Even Paul took his case before the civil magistrates in Rome when he was about to be executed. 

 

Frankly, Doug Pittman was remarkably restrained, given the circumstances that he was forced to confront.

 

Doug’s Meeting with Mike:

 

Doug decided to leave his beloved church.  I can’t believe that he didn’t leave sooner.  He met with Mike and attempted to reconcile on his way out the door.  At that point, Doug believed the matter was closed.

 

Disfellowship:

 

 Several months after this meeting, Pray’s Mill's leadership took the unusual action of removing Doug from membership at the church.  The problem was, they couldn’t; he had resigned.   But, why let little details get in the way of revenge?  Frankly, the gig was up.

 

The Blog That Rocked Georgia:

 

 Doug began his blog ministerexposed.com to tell his side of the story.  It was not an act of revenge.  This was a man who had been done wrong by a church and the denomination that he loved.  We believe that this blog was absolutely warranted.  How else could he get his side of the story out?  This is a man who has the guts to stand against wrongdoing.  Far too many of today’s pew sitters could learn how to be a real man from Doug’s example.

 

Doug Pittman follows in a long line of church reformers.  Our guess is that Martin Luther and Doug will have some long conversations when they meet in heaven.  May Doug long continue to serve Christ and not man. 

Comments

THE PRAY’S MILL BLOGGER — 5 Comments

  1. Doug Pittman is a trouble maker NOT a hero! You make it sound like he is man that you idol.

  2. Don’t care

    Nonsense. What happened to Doug is unconscionable. And cut out the baloney with the word, “idol.” That is a catchall term used by unimaginative people and is so far off base that it is silly. However, I do appreciate you reading our blog.

  3. Dee/Deb, be sure to check out Chad’s new blog posted today. It’s a doozey! holding2truth.blogspot

  4. Anon,

    Absolutely incredible! It reminds me of one of Dee’s former pastors who told his friend (who taught Sunday School and was around the same age), I’m the DAD and you’re the CHILD. Well, the “child” left the church and found a more mature fellowship PTL!

    Check out Chad Everson’s post:

    http://holding2truth.blogspot.com/2010/06/accountability.html

    We have been warning our readers since the beginning that hyper-authoritarianism is on the rise. This is a great example of it. Perhaps a post will follow soon…

  5. Reading Chad’s blog, one might think, well, it sounds sorta biblical and he did use a Scripture reference. However, as one who can see into Chad’s real motives, this blog makes me wonder what private sin is soon to be exposed. He is obviously posturing for an exposed staff member to be kept on staff in order to be “restored”.

    I heard of another young couple with kids leaving Trinity last week. Chad has also instituted a New Members Orientation class that you must attend before you can officially join Trinity. Some of the sessions (if not all) are led by Chad, and there have been MANY “new members” leave before they were officially members because of what he has said in that class – about discipline, attendance, serving, salvation, and more. One of his more interesting views is that missing church is a sin. REALLY?? Another one we heard a few weeks ago was that not going on a mission trip is also a sin!

    He wants control – total control. I’m sure he is looking for a new post because our offerings are drying up as people leave. Trinity has been forever changed by this man and his appointed staff. There are so many good people being led blindly off a cliff by their “shepherd”. =(