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?

Pastor:              Yes

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.

Pastor:              Bye-bye. 

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).  

We are kicking off a series that will take an in depth look at a fast-growing movement which is closely linked to the Calvinistas and other quasi-conservative groups.



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