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


I am sitting here, absolutely stunned!  I have just finished another phone call with a former Pray’s Mill church member.  How do I describe the raw emotions that have been expressed to me?  Fear, pain, loneliness, regret, rejection, shame, and confusion are accurate, yet somehow inadequate.  How could pastors leave a group of people in so much turmoil and pain and not acknowledge their responsibility?


However, the more we write about the Pray’s Mill situation, the more correspondence we are receiving from pastors and church members around the country.  What's so amazing is the stories, though different in detail, sound so much alike.  There is trouble in Dodge, and we need the Calvary!  The Christian community must begin to expose and define these issues regarding hyper-authoritarian pastors.  If we collectively choose to bury our heads in the sand, we may find ourselves in the middle of a schism at a time when the “new atheism” is beginning to find a foothold.


We are well aware that there are a fair number of “defenders” of this new status quo and, until recently, their loud, self-righteous justifications have dominated the discussion.  Slowly, people are awakening to the problems inherent in the application of these beliefs and are no longer willing to be silent in the face of hardheaded legalism.




We have made a commitment that anyone can write us and tell us their stories, and we will maintain their anonymity.  There seems to be a smug, self-righteous attitude out in “christianese” land that those who have something negative to say should provide their name, rank and serial number.  Of course, the ones who are claiming this are usually the ones defending the new status quo.  They are the abusive pastors’ darlings, and their men can do absolutely no wrong. They are invested in keeping the status quo because, if the system is challenged, their position in the reflection of the pastors’ limelight will be diminished.  In other words, they will lose their identity, which is wrapped up in being part of the inner circle.


There are some, like Doug Pittman and Doug Pirkle, who have an extra ounce of courage and use their names.  Did you know that Doug Pittman has received threatening phone calls, had his mailbox knocked down, and had a fire set in his back yard?  I guess that the defenders of total transparency would say that one must grin and bear such personal attacks.  Could it be that the defenders of transparency are also encouraging or condoning this illegal abuse?  Jesus must be sooooo proud of these “brave” defenders of the faith!


Many who criticize such anonymity are wearing rose-colored glasses.  They assume that their church is “following the Lord” and will do “the right thing.”  They are simply wrong.  Pastors are also victims of indwelling sin, and those who think differently are in for a rude awakening.  Some church leaders, for various reasons that usually include some sort of self-indulgence, often do “the wrong thing.”  And revenge is usually at the top of the playlist.


We have spoken with some folks at Pray's Mill and plan to keep their names out of the story.  Their experiences have added to the overall picture, and in some cases, verified various stories.  




Did you know that there are pastors who actually reveal confidential information shared by their church members in private conversations?  I have been told by reliable sources that Mike Everson is guilty of this pastoral indiscretion.  Several victims in this story explained that they felt bad for the elderly congregants who were manipulated into shunning those who disagreed with the pastor.  They believe the elderly were fearful of being put out of the church if they didn’t do as they were told.  After what happened to the widow, who could blame them?  One person theorized that the elderly were subtly led to believe that if they did not support their pastor, they would be in trouble with God.


The Widow and the Official Church Spies


I had the opportunity to sit down with the widow who was “thrown out” of her church.  The story, which has been corroborated by several sources, is very upsetting.  Remember, this is a church that has extended families in attendance.  She became aware of the pornography situation involving Jarrod Everson.  She, too, was sworn to secrecy by the pastor.  At the same time, there was an incident involving a family member who had built the pastor’s home for “below market” value.  This man served as an unpaid pastor in the church.  This contractor had money embezzled from his company and, for reasons that are unclear to me, Mike Everson decided to support those accused of the embezzlement against his own pastor.


Then the widow's daughter, who was a choir member, had to leave after the choir finished singing one Sunday morning to take care of a family obligation.  She missed Pastor Everson's sermon!!!  Apparently, "certain" church members had been given the task of monitoring the church members' behavior, and they duly noted this absentee member's breach of conduct. (And they said the widow was a gossip?)  This was a pastor sanctioned gossip and report mill.  The daughter who missed Mike's sermon was dismissed from the choir that evening.  Soon after, the rest of the family members left the choir as well.


Obviously, there was much pain involved in this situation.  Mike Everson then made a series of claims against this widow.  Here they are: 


Her countenance had changed at choir rehearsals.

She didn’t smile enough.

She didn’t say “hello” to his (Mike's) wife at a store.

She was gossiping (ah, the “G” word).


The widow was then summarily thrown out of the church because she was a “gossip!”  What's wrong with this picture?  Where is the Christian love, support, and forgiveness?


 The Former Treasurer


Here is a letter that Doug Pirkle sent to Mike’s boys who were erroneously known as Deacons.


October 16, 2005



CJ Ellis, Chairman of Deacons,


As I’m sure you are aware by now, Tracey and I had our baby last Friday.  Because she had surgery, she has needed extra care as she begins to recover.  Taking care of my family has been and continues to be my top priority.  However, because this situation regarding the church has arisen simultaneously and has caused unnecessary emotional distress for my family, I must deal with it.  As my wife was preparing for surgery on Friday morning to have her baby and experience one of the most joyous experiences of her life, I was dismissed from a church that I have served in for 37 years.  As you can imagine, when my wife found out the news, she was emotionally distraught.  To make matters worse, she was told that David Barker was turned away from the hospital because there was a note that said that nobody from Pray’s Mill was allowed to see my wife.  On Monday, she called him to verify the rumor and to assure him that the information was false but got his voicemail.   She told him that she would have never turned anyone away.  As of yet, she has not gotten a response from him. We have investigated the possibility of the rumor being true with the hospital administration.  Because of the HIPA act, we were assured that if the information was not received from my wife herself, that no such information could be given out to the public.  Because we know that we gave no such information, we know that the rumor was started by someone outside the hospital, which has hurt Tracey beyond belief.  Also, even if I were not a member, my wife and daughter are technically still members. Our Sunday School class promised Tracey that they would bring dinner the week that we got home from the hospital.   Not only did they fail to bring food, but did not even give us the courtesy of a phone call to tell us that we would need to make other arrangements for the week.  This behavior is appalling considering that we are as Christians to help each other in time of need and keep our commitments to one another.  The fact that they abandoned my wife is absolutely appalling to me.  Thank goodness that when people fail, the Lord never does. 


Secondly, I would like to address my position regarding the issue of the recommendation presented by the Deacons and the staff against the expulsion of Linda Dupree on October 5, 2005.    One reason that I opposed the decision was that the Deacons did not follow the procedures outlined in the Constitution and By-Laws, Article XII (Discipline) Section 3 on Page 8 of 10.  I believe the actions are therefore invalid.  Even though Mike Everson suggested that those who opposed the recommendation be included in the list of those dismissed, no vote was ever taken by the Church   therefore, I am technically still a member.  This action was a blatant violation of the Constitution and By-Laws as adopted by the church.  


I, as an accused, acknowledge and accept that the Deacons will support Mike Everson’s allegations regardless of the merits and therefore waive my right for a hearing before the Deacons.  Based on the by-laws of the church, I am entitled to my rehearing against the one or ones bringing charges against me before the church.  Since, both parties were not heard before a decision was made by the Deacons, I believe that Mrs. Dupree and her family merit the same consideration under our adopted by-laws that Mike Everson wrote and signed shortly after he became Pastor of Pray’s Mill.  If you do not have a copy of the Constitution and By-Laws I have cited, I have submitted to you a copy following this text.  I would request this rehearing take place as soon as a special conference can be called that both parties agree to.  I will expect to hear from someone regarding this matter shortly.


 Doug Pirkle, Jr.





Section 3 – In every case in which a member is charged with an offense that would subject him or her to expulsion, the Deacons shall invite such a one to meet them and hear the charges and offer such explanations and evidence as may be desired.  After hearing all, the Deacons shall express a judgment upon the merits of the case and shall communicate their judgments with recommendations to the church.  The accused shall be duly notified of their proposed action, and the church shall adopt or reject their recommendation without discussion, unless the accused demands a rehearing, in which case the examination before the church shall be conducted in the same manner as before the Deacons, it being understand that any person may upon his own responsibility bring charges directly before the church…”



Let’s Keep Whuppin' Them

We have a copy of a letter dated May 16,2006, in which Prays Mills Baptists sent a letter to the Pirkles new church, Central Baptist Church in Douglasville, Georgia.  Prays MIlls  tells the church that Prays Mills will not give them a letter of recommendation for the Pirkles since they  dismissed the Pirkles from fellowship in 2005!


Thankfully the Pirkles and the Widow have found a new, supportive church body.  However, it seems that Pray’s Mill wasn’t simply glad to throw them out.  They had to keep them from worshipping anywhere else because that’s the Biblical thing to do, isn’t it?……… By the way, my former church did the same sort of thing to me.  Apparently, this is a new form of revenge.  “If you can’t play by my rules, you can go to hell since we aren’t gonna let you go to any church anymore.”


There are wonderful pastors out there who thankfully ignore this sort of nonsense. One of my current pastors calls it, “toxic waste".



Long Term Effects


I asked several of these Pray’s Mill folks where they currently stand with their faith.  One told me that she is having a hard time going to any church.  Another said that she no longer trusts pastors.  Another said he always was interested in evangelizing.  However, he is now having trouble getting the enthusiasm to do so.


Every person that I have spoken with about this situation has shed tears at some time during our conversation.  There is so much pain that is still yet to be resolved.  For some, this pain will never completely go away.




I wish I could say that this story of what happened at Pray's Mill Baptist Church is an isolated incident.  However, it's far more prevalent than we could have imagined.  This is a clear picture of spiritual abuse.  We believe the roots are to be found in several movements.


1.The rise of the Calvinistas:


Calvinistas are Calvinists with an attitude. They believe in strict pastoral authority and emphasize the indwelling sin nature of the believer.  Somehow, pastors get a pass on this sin thing because they are the Lord’s "anointed".  So, the “good” pastors keep the “bad” congregation in line.  It kind of reminds me of the plantation mentality of the pre-Civil War South.


2.The Conservative Resurgence:


We believed Paige Patterson and gang that the purpose of the resurgence was to get rid of the liberals who were ruining the Southern Baptist Convention hoodwinked us.  Unfortunately, the agenda was far deeper and more ominous than that.  Not only did they get rid of the liberals, but they instituted legalism.  For example, many churches require prospective members to sign “covenants” in order to join.  What's included in such covenants?  Here are some of the rules — that they won’t gossip, cause disunity, or be negative.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Except what constitutes gossip?  Think of the aforementioned widow.  She was hurt and confused and questioned the pornography issue.  That, according to the Pray's Mill pastor, was gossip.  She didn’t smile enough.  That meant she was negative.


3. Discipline trumps love and grace.

There is now a solution to every pastor’s troublesome church members — ”Throw the varmints out of church” and calls it church discipline.  I want to make an important observation.  How many people did Jesus throw out of His presence?  Didn’t He even let Judas stay in the fellowship?



We implore that pastors reassess how they view the members of their church.  Perhaps they can try out that old-fashioned notion of the loving and gracious servant/leader with an emphasis on "servant".  We ask all those who read this blog to pray for the healing of those abused at Pray’s Mill Baptist Church.  There is much pain that is still unresolved.  Remaining silent is not the answer…  We also ask that the Georgia Baptist Convention actually act like the body of Christ and provide support and encouragement for the members of the Georgia churches instead of emphasizing church leadership. We also ask for an investigation into the poorly presented anti-blogging resolution.  We believe apologies should be offered to Doug Pittman on behalf of the GBC.  Come on, boys, do the right thing!



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