As posted here about a week and half ago, a business meeting at FBC Jacksonville was held on Wednesday, November 28th during a Wednesday night service. During this business meeting, Mr. David Bristowe, the chair of the deacons and the president of the FBC Jacksonville, Inc. board of trustees, brought forth a motion to approve church bylaw and articles of incorporation changes. The meeting can be listened to here.
During the meeting, absolutely no explanation was given to the members present as to what the bylaw changes were - either specifically or generally...absolutely NO explanation during the meeting before the vote. The bylaw changes were however, put into the church library a few weeks prior, and a notice in the Sunday bulletin ran for several weeks stating that the bylaws would be changed and that copies for review of the changes would be placed in the church library. Posters here reported that the library bylaw copies were numbered to keep track of them, they had to be checked out for viewing by signing one's name on a check out sheet, and the librarian explained that the copies were not to leave the library. Members that I talked to did not bother to go to the library, as they assumed that changes would at the very least be summarized in the business meeting before voting - and some members feared retaliation from the church if they had to put their names on the check out sheet.
If anyone has a copy of the new bylaws, or excerpts from the bylaws describing the discipline committee, I would gladly post them here on the blog. You can email me using the email link in my profile.
Apparently the bylaw changes were not at all minor or administrative in nature. You'll notice in the meeting recording hyperlinked above that Mr. Bristowe made absolutely no mention of the bylaw changes, but yet did describe fully the very "administrative" articles of incorporation changes...giving the attenders the impression that the bylaw changes TOO were administrative in nature.
The decision to not widely disseminate the bylaw changes and not openly discussing or explaining them prior to the vote has been criticized on several baptist discussion forums on the Internet...I have read of no one that would defend the decision to make it harder rather than easier for a member to become aware of the bylaw changes prior to the vote.
One of the changes to the bylaws, as reported by one of the posters here, was the formation of a "discipline committee". Others included granting more power to the pastor in selecting members to committees. You can read more about the bylaw changes here at the previous post on this topic.
Regarding the formation of a discipline committee, one poster on the http://www.baptistlife.com/ forums said this about the FBC Jax bylaw changes and the discipline committee (my emphases):
"....The problem is that a church that doesn't/hasn't consistently exercized discipline for church damaging sins across the board, regardless of a member's position (whether lay or clergy), suddenly develops a private discipline practice for specific sins (all, perhaps coincidentally or perhaps not) relating to those actions that have allegedly occured against pastoral leadership. That such a process seems to have been developed privately such that it is kept from widespread distribution by the leadership should set off every baptist alarm signal.
We must definitely not ignore all sins and we must not let the sheer amount and diversity of sin keep us from returning discipline to its proper place in the foundation of church integrity. But where discipline has not been a church's regular practice, it must be taught for a significant period of time before it is ever practiced church wide. Else, it will be exposed for what it truly is: not biblical church discipline but just another club by the leadershp to squelch dissent among the membership."
Again, this whole bylaw fiasco is another example of Mac's failed leadership. He has ramrodded bylaw changes through...instead of moving toward a more open and honest sharing of information with his congregation he moves in the opposite direction: he makes signficant changes to the bylaws that form a discipline committee with absolutely no explanation to the congregation, and at the very same time that he from his pulpit attacks those who speak up about some of his changes as being "comfortable in their sin and in their compromise" (listen carefully to this 1 minuter clip of the angry pastor berating his congregation on 12/2/07). To hear the pastor say these things to his congregation, just 4 days after he ramrodded the formation of a discipline committee into the church bylaws with no explanation: unbelievable.
But let's get copies of the bylaw changes distributed and freely available to all members...if someone would send them to me I'll gladly post them right away.