Even though people experiencing dementia become unable to recount what has just happened, they still go through the experience—even without recall.The psychological present lasts about three seconds. We experience the present even when we have dementia. The emotional pain caused by callous treatment or unkind talk occurs during that period. The moods and actions of people with dementia are expressions of what they have experienced, whether they can still use language and recall, or not.” ― Judy Cornish, The Dementia Handbook: How to Provide Dementia Care at Home link
The little blog that roared and caused FBC Sapulpa to temporarily stop their obsession with 9Marks.
In May 2017, we wrote The Little Blog That Roared.* The Controversy at First Baptist Church, Sapulpa, OK. The anonymous, lively group of people who run the Sapulpa Messenger became quite concerned that the pastor, Smokey Hurst, was implementing a 9 Marks styled membership. This would include:
- A church covenant
- A change in the constitution and bylaws
- An attempt to impose church discipline on a woman who raised questions about an alleged secret bonus paid to a pastor.
Two threatened lawsuits
A lawyer associated with the church threatened a lawsuit against the blog which alleged that a businessman in the church took ads for porn sites on his radio station website. Shortly before posting our initial article, the content was removed from the radio station and we have removed the gross ad from our site as well.
The second lawsuit was written about by Sapulpa Messenger in the cleverly titled Getting served by the leaders of the First Baptist Church of Sapulpa has a new meaning!
It’s sad but true. After some key resignations of staffers and deacons, the remaining leadership of First Baptist Church of Sapulpa is now unrestrained. Without anyone left to stand in their way they have moved ahead with plans to threaten the entire congregation with legal action if they don’t stop sending emails to The Sapulpa Messenger website.
They rounded up the unsuspecting sheep under the guise of an “information” meeting and proceeded to blast everyone for reading the forbidden information on The Sapulpa Messenger blog. This attack on the minds of the members was all planned in advance at a private meeting of the “board of directors” aka your beloved elders. The parading of families and children as victims, all shameful emotional appeals, were engineered distractions. What was most disturbing was that the church floor was given to an attorney who used his time to level legal threats against all of the frightened members. YOU were forbidden from sending emails. A look around the room revealed the presence of the giddy church lords, smiling delightfully as some people cowered in terror.
It is important to understand that there are two threats of legal actions against you right now… one from a jaded business owner and one from the church itself. Both are ludicrous. Of the two, the church is the entity with the largest potential to financially support a frivolous lawsuit.
Obviously neither of these lawsuits have merit and the church is just blowing smoke. However, there was more turmoil to come.
A public apology was issued by the church for attempting to implement 9 Marks policies but was it merely a delaying tactic?
The Sapulpa Messenger posted FBC Sapulpa mails 9Marks Church Discipline Letters:
Early on we got out in front of this plot at Sapulpa and exposed it to the entire church. At the time, people were willing to look into the allegation and do their own research. This led most members to demand an abandonment of the 9Marks. Eventually enough of the good ol’ Southern Baptists got involved and the pressure became so great that the CEO of FBC Sapulpa was forced to give a public apology. Not only did this guy apologize in front of the entire church at a business meeting but he also made a public commitment to NOT pursue the 9Marks agenda. The church was assured that the 9Marks agenda was over. This was met with a great sigh of relief by the majority of the church.
After this occurred, a link to the 9 Marks website was removed from the website of the church. As of today, it is still not listed.
The FBC Sapulpa/9Marks game is afoot and being watched by the Sapulpa Messenger.
The Sapulpa Messenger reviewed the following article Why We Disciplined Half Our Church by Mark Dever for Christianity Today. The Sapulpa Messenger quoted this from Dever’s article.
FBC Sapulpa: the *Merry Christmas* letter from hell.
Here is the letter sent to people on December 11, 2011.
How to respond to this letter: a piece of advice from TWW.
The postcard mentioned in the letter allows a person to return to church but he/she will have to meet with the pastor to discuss it. I would urge people to be quite careful in their response to this letter. If you opt out, remember you have been removed under church discipline. The church could use that against you if you attempt to join another church in the area. Such churches are known to pursue former members to new churches in order to ask the new pastors not to accept them into membership since they are under church discipline.
What would I do? I would simply not respond to the letter. Then, if the church attempted to *discipline* me or my loved one, I would get a lawyer and have him/her explain to the church that they are harassing me. If they do not desist, I would ask my lawyer to proceed to the next step…
What is different about this letter from the one sent by Mark Dever/9Marks to members of Capitol Hill Baptist Church?
One source claimed that, as far as they know, no one who received the letter was called ahead of time. In this case, the church knew how to get ahold of a number of these people. Why didn’t they do so? My guess is that they didn’t want to deal with the inevitable turmoil that would ensue. So, they chickened out and sent a letter.
However, both churches believe that this letter is a form of church discipline and you should pay attention to this.
Dever claimed that they at least spent months attempting to reach these missing members on the phone and in person. At FBC Sapulpa we’re told by nearly everyone who received a removal letter that they were not contacted at all. Many of these people still have the same 224 phone number they’ve had for decades. It appears there is more interest in removal than in fellowship. The letter is an empty platitude. Just like the scattered and disgruntled sheep at Dever’s church, your old friends and family members are about to be disciplined by you and your church. Sadly, the last word they will hear from the church is that they are being terminated.
Who received this letter?
Elderly and infirm people:
Shame on FBC Sapulpa if this is true. Did they really send this to old and frail people?
According to one source:
One of the letters went to a man in an assisted living facility that is geared for people with dementia and Alzheimer. He is a member of the church and was a faithful deacon for many many years. (the old type that used to help people instead of discipline the dickens out of them) However, I don’t think he has Alzheimers/dementia. I believe he just doesn’t have anyone to help take care of him as he is quite elderly. I say this because he is fully aware of the church situation and is disgusted with this church discipline/9Marks stuff. He is very grieved to see what has become of the church he served in.
Besides him there was another elderly couple that got the letter. One of them DOES have dementia and her husband helps take care of her. Coming to church just isn’t a physical possibility for them anymore.
2. Those who did not contribute to the church.
According to a source, the current church constitution prohibits the pastor, whose name is on this letter, from knowing who gave what. If this is true, then one can assume the pastor ignored this in order to send out this letter.
This is a reference to financial contributions which is something the church constitution expressly prohibits the church staff from looking at for obvious reasons. This leads to favoritism and preferential treatment of the wealthy tithers
Is this membership removal driven by an agenda? If so, what is it?
Is the church getting rid of people who do not support the agenda of the pastors and assorted gospel dudes in charge? According to the Sapulpa Messenger, those over the age of 50 do not support the 9Marks agenda and attendance has been falling. There is suspicion that those who have been asked to leave are those who did not support the 9 Marks view of church membership and did not give money to support it.
It has taken a while to get here but we’re entering the final stages of a thermonuclear church meltdown. Let’s get real. It’s not that 50+ year members aren’t attending FBC Sapulpa anymore because they’ve turned their back on God. It is because it is obvious that FBC Sapulpa has become a charade and a tragic joke in the community it once served and people refuse to be associated with it. Attendance is reaching record lows while pastoral pay is at an all time high. It appears the rich young rulers who have transformed this church into their personal religious social club are still subsidizing their banana republic staff. As long as their money pays the bills nothing will change. The pathway to destruction is wide and winding but we’re rolling smoothly down the middle of it. At FBC Sapulpa there will be discipline and damnation of those who dare to leave.
It is my opinion that the church leadership under Pastor Smokey will move to incorporate membership covenants, new bylaws and a consitution once the *discipline” has been completed. There will be a growing emphasis on church discipline and those who stick around better beware,.
My concerns about 9 Marks and their posture to the sick and elderly.
I recently talked with a pastor who has a part time job which entails visiting the elderly and the sick. This church also provides communion to those unable to attend church. Mark Dever is adamantly opposed to providing communion in these circumstances.
According to the 9 Marks website:
It’s a wonderful thing to remember those who are separated from us, especially by disability or age. Prayers, Scripture reading, visits, and encouragements of many kinds properly express Christ’s love and ours for such a brother or sister. But what about “taking them the Lord’s Supper”? No, I don’t think you can serve the Lord’s Supper to one person alone any more than you can baptize an infant. It’s outside the definition of what the Lord Supper is by its very nature. In my mind, therefore, this question is comparable to the question of how we should think about baptizing someone unable to be baptized. In the case of both the person in the nursing home and the person who is unable to be baptized, their inability morally excuses them from the command. It’s the nature of the Lord’s Supper to be an expression of the unity of a congregation (1 Cor. 10:17). While all members of a congregation may never be present, the public meeting should be one of which all members are welcome and most members usually are present. Someone’s inability to assemble with the congregation—we trust then—will be accompanied by God’s special provision for them during their trials or extended absence.”
Jonathan Leeman disagreed with his boss, Dever, but we know who runs the show over there. Leeman stated that doing so is not necessary but they *can* do it. It is obvious that they view communion an an unessential part of Christian life.I don’t.
As a Christian, I find their view of the elderly and infirm as being outside of the body of Christ very, very sad.
Two pastoral caveats to mention: First, I don’t think it’s necessary for a church to do this, but, if a person asks for it, I think that a church can. Second, you should make sure your “shut-ins” understand that they will not receive any extra transfusion of special or sanctifying grace by receiving the Supper. That’s not what the Supper does.
I believe this reflects a broader attitude in which the individual person is not important unless they show up in the actual church building and do their part as ATM’s on legs. Is this simply a means of control? Is there any compassion for those who are suffering and find communion an important part of their faith?
If I were a member of FBC Sapulpa, I would be very, very concerned about the direction that the church is headed in.
I’ll leave you with the last song that Glen Campbell wrote when he realized he had Alzheimer’s disease. He died in 2017. FBC Sapulpa leadership should listen to this and consider their position towards the elderly and the infirm who cannot play their game.