"This letter is to inform you that according to the by-laws of the Union Grove Baptist Church, and by vote of the active members, any membership or associations that you have had with this church are now officially revoked. Therefore, you cannot attend Union Grove Baptist Church for any reason whatsoever. You are not to come to the property of the Union Grove Baptist Church located at 680 Pulliam Street, Elberton, Georgia 30635."
Certified Letter sent to Genora Hamm Biggs
Some elderly congregants across our Land of Liberty are facing difficult days as they are being thrown out of churches where they have been long-time members. It seems inconceivable, but it actually happening…
Back in April 2009, when our blog was just one month old, we shared the shocking story of Karolyn Caskey, who was perp-walked out of the church where she had been a member for nearly 50 years! Her pastor, who had been hired just a few years prior, began to implement changes that she and some other church members disapproved of such as disbanding the deacons due to the small size of the congregation. On January 18, 2008, The Wall Street Journal featured an article entitled "Banned From Church", which caught our attention. Here is our 2009 post.
The following is a transcript of a 911 call made by a pastor from his pulpit on a Sunday morning. This is NOT a joke!
11:01 am, June 17
911 Operator: Hello. Thanks for calling 911.
Pastor: Hello? Hello?
911 Operator: This is 911. Can I help you?
Pastor: Yeah. I’ve got somebody trespassing at the Allen Baptist Church.
You need to send an officer out immediately.
911 Operator: What the address sir?
Pastor: 4215 North Eden Road
911 Operator: OK. Is it someone that’s been warned to stay out or what’s going on exactly?
Pastor: Uh, they’re no longer a member at this church, and uh they’ve been told
to leave and uh they’re not welcome here and they refuse to leave.
911 Operator: And you name?
Pastor: Pastor Jason Burrick
911 Operator: And what’s the number of your cell phone you’re calling on sir?
Pastor: 23_ – _ _ _ _
911 Operator: And what’s their name?
Pastor: Karolyn Caskey
911 Operator: OK. And she’s just refusing to leave then?
911 Operator: OK. Is she on the grounds or inside the church?
Pastor: She’s in the building and she’s been confronted and um she refused to go,
and we need to uh have her out ASAP.
911 Operator: OK. Well, I need to get the basics so I can send an officer.
What’s the nearest crossroad?
Pastor: Route 12 and 49. We’re right on the corner.
911 Operator: OK. All right. We’ll have someone there as quickly as we can. If anything
should change or it should turn into a real confrontation, give me a call back,
Pastor: All right. We’ll have someone at the back door waiting for him,
so just send him right in.
911 Operator: All right. Very good.
This emergency phone call should serve as a WAKE-UP CALL for all Christians. What’s going on here? According to The Wall Street Journal article “Banned From Church” in the January 18, 2008 issue, the pastor at Allen Baptist Church in southwestern Michigan placed a 911 call from the pulpit when he spotted Karolyn Caskey in a church pew. The story can be found at the following link.
Just who is Karolyn Caskey? According to the WSJ article, she’s a 71-year-old mother and grandmother of three who has been a church member for close to 50 years. Mrs. Caskey has served her church as a Sunday school teacher and has been a regular contributor, donating 10% of her pension. According to friends and family, she’s a very generous lady who loves her church. When funds were low and the church couldn’t pay the electric bill, she sacrificed and gave money to meet these expenses. She even mowed the church’s lawn on occasion, and contributed $1,200 to the church when she sold her van. Mrs. Caskey plans to have an engraved image of Allen Baptist Church on her tombstone.
Imagine the scene. . . This elderly grandmother (who has two artificial knees and a double-hip replacement) is perp-walked out of Allen Baptist Church by a state trooper and a county sheriff’s officer. One of the officers handcuffs her, and the other carries her purse and Bible as she is removed from the sanctuary. Listen to the 911 call in the WSJ article.
While Mrs. Caskey’s was taken to jail under the charge of trespassing, her real crime (in her pastor’s view) was questioning his authority. She and an older married couple had insisted that the pastor follow the church constitution, which specified that a board of deacons be appointed to help govern the church. Pastor Burrick claimed the congregation was too small to warrant deacons. After much conflict, she and the couple were expelled from the church. In August 2006 Pastor Burrick sent a letter to the congregation informing them that Mrs. Caskey and Patsy and Emmit Church (the older married couple) had taken “action against the church and your preacher”, and they had been dismembered (it probably felt that way to them).
The WSJ article includes several other accounts similar to the situation at Allen Baptist Church. These stories provide a glimpse into a growing movement that is occurring in conservative Protestant churches. This sort of “church discipline” (or might we say “abuse”) is on the rise and may be coming to your church soon.
How does this newfangled church discipline work? Suspected sinners are privately confronted (Matthew 18) and if they refuse to repent, they are publicly castigated and excommunicated from the church. While church discipline seems perfectly reasonable when church members commit adultery or child abuse, for example, it is sometimes being exercised for legitimate questioning (which is now called “gossip”), skipping a church service, and not participating in a “community/care group” (such as a small group Bible study).
As a follow-up to this 2009 post, you might be interested to know that the church's history page indicates that Pastor Burrick left Allen Baptist Church in 2011.
Last week one of our readers alerted us about a similar situation that has been getting lots of media attention. (Hint, hint – please send us links to stories that you think we should be discussing.) Recently, a 103 year old grandmother was given the left boot of fellowship at the church where she had been a member since she was 11 years old! Instead of honoring Genora Hamm Biggs for her 92 years of faithful membership, the newly hired pastor, Rev. Tim Mattox, along with church officers, sent her a letter informing her that her membership had been revoked (see screen shot below).
Thankfully, Genora Hamm Biggs (who had worked for many years as a school teacher) did not go away quietly. Instead, she showed up at church Sunday morning. As has been reported in the news, the pastor, along with the church members, demonstrated tremendous immaturity. They turned out all the lights and vacated the worship center, leaving Genora all alone. The police were called; however, the officers who responded exercised great wisdom and refused to get involved in what appeared to be nothing more than a church dispute. Way to go Georgia police!
The story has gotten out, and the press has been keeping it front and center. Here is one news report that provides some excellent background information. There are many others available on the internet. We were shocked to learn that Tim Mattox had been one of Genora Bigg's students!
Genora Hamm Biggs' story has been covered by The Augusta Chronicle, The Huffington Post, The New York Post, and many other news sources. Just Google her name… You can even go over the the church's Facebook page for updates.
Here is a brother who comes to the defense of Genora Hamm Biggs and sets Rev. Tim Mattox straight. We hope you will take to the time to watch the video. What he shares could be applied to any authoritarian pastor who deceitfully takes over a church (which we have seen time and time again).
Please remember these powerful words from the video and adopt them as your own:
"The day of you being able to control these congregations and bully 'em around is coming to an end. That day is over…"
It's time to take back our churches from power-mongering pastors. Let's work together and stop these stealth church takeovers.
UPDATE (9/22/15): It appears that Rev. Tim Mattox has been removed as pastor, according to this 27 minute video. We will continue to monitor the situation.