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


Little Tracey began attending Pray's Mill Baptist Church at the age of two where she learned about her loving Savior from an early age.  Her future husband, Doug Pirkle, also grew to love Jesus Christ with all his heart in this wonderful church.  When Tracey and Doug joined their lives together as husband and wife, there was no question where they would worship.  They hoped to have children and raise them in the same church that had impacted their lives so dramatically.  At Pray's Mill, generations of families committed their time, talent, and treasure to doing God’s important work of proclaiming the Gospel to their community and living out the Christian life.  It was truly a sweet fellowship of believers.


God blessed Tracey and Doug with their first child, and Tracey’s mother, who had been a long-time member of the church, helped look after the baby.  Tracey loved and appreciated her mother so much!  Although Tracey’s mom lived a vibrant life, she died of a heart attack in September 2002. 


You know the old saying — things come in three’s.  Well, that was certainly the case in Tracey’s family.  She lost her father in 2001 and her grandmother three months after that.  Tracey continues to miss her loved ones so much!  Perhaps the silver lining to the dark cloud of sorrow is that Tracey’s parents and grandmother were spared from knowing what would befall Tracey and Doug at Pray's Mill in the not too distant future.


Several years went by… Mike Everson had been serving as senior pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church for some time.  Pastor Everson went to the Deacon Board and requested that a “certain” elderly widow be voted out of the church.  The primary charge — gossip.  


The congregation meets every Sunday night, sometimes for preaching, sometimes for church discipline, and sometimes for a business meeting.  On the evening of October 5, 2005, the church held a business meeting.  During that meeting, a motion was made to disfellowship the widow who had been accused of “gossip”.  The members of the church don’t vote by secret ballot; instead, they vote by standing to their feet.  Talk about intimidation and peer pressure!  When votes opposing the widow’s disfellowship were cast, Doug Pirkle stood to his feet, along with a few others. 


The motion carried, and the widow was “dismembered”.  (It probably felt that way!)  Then Pastor Everson told the members present that those who opposed the motion should also leave the church.  Although the pastor’s command was not an “official” motion, it was treated as a fait accompli.  At that point in the meeting, some church members were sobbing over what had just taken place to their elderly sister in Christ who had been so deeply committed to her church.  With Christian “friends” like that, who needs enemies!!!


Tracey, who loved to sing in the church choir and often blessed the congregation with her vocal gift as a soloist, was pregnant during the months leading up to the infamous business meeting. 


Unfortunately, her second pregnancy was high risk, and her doctor put her on bed rest in July 2005 so that she wouldn’t go into early labor.  The elderly ladies in the church who had been her mother’s friends began helping Tracey during this difficult time.  After all, she had a husband and young child.  These women, who had also been in Sunday school class with Tracey’s mother, brought food and helped the young, growing family as church members should.  They told Tracey not to worry because they were there for her.  It was a wonderful way for Tracey to keep her mother’s memory alive as these dear ladies reminisced about the good times they had with her. 


That evening (after the widow, Doug Pirkle, and a few others were thrown out of the church so to speak), Doug went home to share the heartbreaking news with his wife.  Because Doug is the “head” of his wife, Tracey was also no longer a member of Pray's Mill Baptist Church, where she had spent practically her entire life.  It was a travesty!


One and a half days later, Tracey had a C-section, and her baby was born.  The next day, after the “disfellowshipping,” a lady who had been in Sunday School class with Tracey’s mom and presumably looked after Tracey and her family during the difficult pregnancy, went to Pastor Everson and asked what they should do about caring for the Pirkle family now that they had been kicked out of the church.  The pastor’s response was — “SHUN THEM”. 


Someone called Tracey shortly thereafter and shared the pastor’s response.  Mike Everson said that no one from the church was to provide meals, call, or even visit Tracey and her growing family.  Pastor Everson instilled fear in his congregation, so the Pirkles had absolutely no phone calls or visitors from the church.  No one from their Sunday School class or the church choir came (Tracey had been a member of the choir for many years) and none of the elderly ladies who had kindly looked after the family in the months prior dared disobey the pastor’s directive!  The Pirkle family had ceased to exist as far as the pastor and Pray's Mill congregation were concerned.  Finally, one woman from the church came to visit Tracey, but she said she couldn’t talk about anything that happened. 


Apparently, Mike Everson manipulated his congregation, especially the older members.  They falsely believed that the closer you are to the pastor the closer you are to God.  The corollary was: if you disobey the pastor, you are disobeying Almighty God!  Pastor Everson manipulated the minds of his congregants, especially the older members who were fearful that they might be thrown out of the church too if they didn’t go along with the pastor’s agenda.  After all, they didn’t have many more years to live, and they certainly didn’t want to die outside of the fellowship of their church.


Concerning what happened to the Pirkles, there’s just one word to describe the events that took place at Pray's Mill Baptist Church – DESPICABLE!!!  Mike Everson was building his kingdom, not the kingdom of God, and his actions prove that he would allow NO ONE to stand in his way!





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