FBC Jax began the discipline process against this couple at approximately 6:00 pm on Wednesday, November 28th, 2008 (the evening before Thanksgiving), when Reverends Kevin King and John Blount, ministers of the church who served for many years under Homer J. Lindsay, Jr, delivered to the couple's home a sealed envelope containing a 3 page letter outlining 16 charges against the couple of being "derogatory, divisive, destructive, and demeaning to the ministry of First Baptist Church", along with an executed trespass warning for both, barring the couple from attending church under threat of arrest. When they delivered the letter, King and Blount were invited to come in the home, but they refused the invitation and just delivered the sealed envelope and departed.
The accused couple are long-time members with three children who grew up at FBC Jacksonville, and both served in multiple areas of ministry in their approximately 20 years of membership at FBC Jax, right up until the day they were banned from the church with the trespass warnings.
For the benefit of deacons and members who are not aware of the events leading up to this special Deacon's meeting, below is a chronology of events that has unfolded leading up to this disciplinary meeting.
Why is this information provided in a public forum?
One might question what purpose is served by airing this entire process on the Internet. The Watchdog has maintained from the very beginning, that the best disinfectant to church abuses are to shine light on them. This Watchdog blog has sought to share the truth about Mac Brunson and his leadership abuses that most people in the church would not have access to. To the greatest extent possible, the Watchdog has provided documentation to support the articles - audio, video, and written documentation - often times using audio and video of Mac Brunson himself both in Jacksonville and away from Jacksonville when he thinks we aren't listening to him. The purpose of this article is to not rehash these abuses, but they are all available here on this website in the article archives at right.
The Watchdog believes that this entire church discipline process is unbiblical, abusive, divisive, coersive and just plain unloving and nasty. Despite John Blount and the Discpline Committee stating their intentions are "reconcilation and restoration", its quite clear when all facts are taken into consideration that this is not so. The Watchdog believes that this process being played out, that is now culminating in a Deacon's meeting and then a church-wide business meeting to discipline two former members, is meant NOT to reconcile and restore the accused (after all they were forcibly removed with threat of arrest, and have joined another church), but it is Mac Brunson's attempt to intimidate church members into silence, from speaking up against him or challenging his leadership in any way. Mac himself has stated that one of the purposes in dealing "harshly" with people in church discipline is to "put the fear of God in YOU". Thus, in keeping with the Watchdog's intent from August 2007, he is shining light on this entire process, giving it a fair and full hearing here on this website so that church members and deacons can be informed before they are asked to vote on this matter. Very likely little of this information will be shared with the deacons Monday night 2/23.
So here is the story of the Watchdog blog, and the disciplinary process exacted on the members accused of owning it.
The FBC Jax Watchdog blog started August 30, 2007. The blog is essentially a website containing a series of articles about FBC Jacksonville, along with comments posted by readers. Since its inception, the blog consists of approximatley 250 articles, and has had nearly 200,000 visits and half a million "page views", and a readership from all over the country. It has been the topic of conversation in many SBC circles and websites and blogsites, and even several news media web sites. Every single article ever written on the Watchdog blog is available for viewing at the right hand column, sorted by year and month.
The FBC Jax Watchdog articles have been quite critical of Mac Brunson and the lay leadership of the church, pointing out a number of abuses that have occured under the leadership of Mac Brunson. The blog includes documentation of the allegations, including audio clips, video clips, and public documents. Since the blog was opened and readership grew, the leadership in the church have been determined to find the author, and apparently they believe they have found him/her and are seeking to shut it down. It should be noted that another blog focusing on FBC Jax and Mac Brunson existed earlier in 2007 that was closed down around March 2007.
November 28, 2009 - The Allegations
As mentioned above, this is the date that Reverends King and and Blount delivered the written charges and trespass warnings to the accused. Rev. Blount placed a phone call to the accused home telephone about 15 minutes prior to their arrival - the husband picked up the phone, and Blount hung up - apparently to confirm that he was home so they could personally deliver the letter.
The letter outlines the allegations against the couple, items A. through P. in the letter hyperlinked below. It also tells them that they are banned from the property until they agree to meet with the "Discipline Committee" consisting of the Chairman of Deacons, Vice Chairman of Deacons, and 4 other members. Neither member knows these 6 men personally. The letter was signed by David Bristowe, David Kay, Jerry Ward, Bob Harrison, Jerrett McConnell, and A.C. Soud, Jr.
It should be noted that in this letter, it is stated that the process they are using is "...in accordance with....Matthew's Gospel, Chapter 18, verses 15-20, and in compliance with the Bylaws of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville...". This is a lie, since in no way does biblical church discipline begin with trespass warnings delivered to keep people from attending church until they meet with 6 men. Biblical church discipline as described in Matthew 18 starts with one person, then two people, going personally to meet and attempt to correct the offenders. Furthermore, I doubt that the Bylaws of FBC Jax grant this Discipline Committee the authority to ban people from the church premises as a tool of coersion to meet with them.
The Allegations Letter
The Trespass Warnings
December 1, 2009 - The Accused Respond
The accused couple replied to the November 28th letter, stating they would be very willing to meet with the committee, provided three reasonable requests were filled: 1. A copy of the bylaws be provided to the accused so that they may understand the process and their rights in the process; 2. That they be allowed representation with them in the meeting for protection of everyone involved; and 3. That they be informed beforehand the basis of the allegations, that is why they were singled out, among the 24,000 members, of being the owners of the Watchdog website.
The couple also asked that the trespass warnings be immediately lifted, as it is completely unreasonable to barr people from worshipping at their church who pose absolutely no risk to anyone. This request was especially important to them as they desired to attend church Wednesday 12/3 as their daughter was singing a solo in the service with her ensemble.
The Accused Response Letter
December 3, 2009 - The Committee Stands Firm
Rev. Blount quickly responded on behalf of the Discipline Committee to the accused. In short, Rev. Blount said the couple must first meet with the committee that night before they would be allowed back on the property to see their daughter perform. Blount ignored their request to give a copy of the bylaws, said that never at any time will they be allowed representation at any meeting because of the "ecclesiastical nature" of the meeting, and regarding the desire to see their daughter perform that night, Blount said:
"....the trespass warnings remain in full force and effect.....Your non-responsive, unwillingness, or unavailability to meet at this time will prevent you from being granted permission to attend this evening's service".
When it was apparent that the committee was going to ban them from seeing their daughter perform unless the gave into their coersion and meet with the Discipline Committee before their reasonable requests were met, the couple sent Blount an email letting him know they would comply with the trespass warnings and not attend. So the accused couple drove their daughter down to the church, dropped her off, and drove home to watch their daughter perform via the live Internet feed. A releative brought their daughter home from the service that night.
Rev. John Blount 12/3 Letter
Accused 12/3 Response to Blount
December 15, 2009 - A Request to Go to Church
For about 3 weeks after the trespass warnings were delivered, the wife of the accused continued to take her children to church so they could participate in the church functions uninterrupted. In most cases she would drop them off, and stay in her car in the parking lot until the service was over, or sometimes relatives would bring the children home. The couple complied fully with the trespass warnings, but still decided it best for the church to provide a copy of the bylaws, allow them to have some representation at a meeting with the six men, and wished to know why they were singled out as being owners of the website, prior to meeting with the Discipline Committee.
But on Sunday December 14, the wife emailed Rev. Blount out of frustration, desiring to accompany her daughter to the special Travis Cotrell Christmas musical that evening. Her email stated:
Mr. Blount, Could I please accompany my daughter to the service tonight? She has been attending some of the special Christmas services and it breaks my heart to have to wait outside for her. Why are you penalizing me and my daughter when we have done nothing wrong?All I have done for FBC is good by giving of my time and talents in every children and youth ministry for the past 20 years. I would appreciate a prompt response and for you to reconsider my simple request. Thanks,
Quite a shame that a mother has to gain permission from Rev. Blount to attend a worship service with her daughter without the threat of arrest. Understandably, Rev. Blount didn't check his email that afternoon and thus was not able to respond, so the mother again took her daughter downtown, dropped her off, and waited in the parking garage until the concert was over.
Rev. Blount did respond the following day via email, with the same message: entrance will not be granted to the church until the meeting with the Discipline Committee. Out of his "generosity", he did agree to lift the trespass warnings for an hour, so that the church bylaws could be read (not copied) by the accused in the church library.
December 21st - February 1, 2009 - The Family Leaves
The family of the accused began visiting other churches, as their own church had effectively excommunicated them. Several churches were visited, and finally they found a loving church, an honest, humble preacher, and people who love each other. The kids adjusted well to their new friends at this church. On February 1, 2009, the family joined their new church.
February 11, 2009 - The Discipline Process Continues
Apparently the new church wrote FBC Jax and asked for the "letters" of the family the Week of February 1st. Ironically, it was then that the Discipline Committee and John Blount, after nearly two months of silence, cranked up their Discipline process once again.
John Blount left several voice mails, and sent an email to the accused, asking them to contact him.
February 12, 2009 - The Accused Respond to Blount
The accused email John Blount to ask that no more attempts be made to contact them. The accused again stated that because the committee could not provide a copy of the bylaws, allow representation at the meeting, or give them the basis of the allegations, they have complied with the trespass warnings and wished to be left alone.
February 13, 2009 - Investigation is Completed
John Blount ignores the request to leave the family alone, and Blount presumably knows the family has joined another church. But his next email says he and the Discipline Committee are "compelled by the Bylaws" of the church to continue the discipline process, and notifies the accused that the results of the "investigation" into the Watchdog website is complete. Apparently the Deacons and the Pastor have decided that one of the functions of the FBC Jacksonville is to be investigating websites on the Internet, to try to find out who owns them so they can be "shut down" as the pastor says. Blount states that because the accused has "refused to meet with the committee" the meeting with the deacons will take place without them - which is a lie, since the couple has stated their willingness and desire to meet with the committee once their reasonable requests were met first.
February 16, 2009 - The Accused Respond Again
In response to Blount's 2/13/09 email, once again, the accused respond saying that they are willing to meet with the committee, but Blount and the Discipline Committee refuse to give the accused the bylaws, tell them the basis of the allegations, and refuse to allow them to bring a representative. The accused state their disappointment in the entire unbiblical process they are being subjected to by the John Blount and the Discipline Committee.
February 17, 2009 - Invitation Extended
Unexpectantly, John Blount sends an email to the accused, offering an invitation to appear at the February 23 Deacons meeting to speak on their behalf to the Deacons before they vote on the disciplinary measures.
February 18, 2009 - The Accused Accept the Offer to Defend Themselves
The accused send an email back to John Blount, accepting the offer to speak on their behalf. The husband states that he will be present with his wife, to hear the allegations against them, and to have a chance to speak to the deacons - despite still not being given a copy of the bylaws, and despite the Discpline Committee still not sharing the basis of the allegations as to why they were singled out as the owner of the blog - the were very happy to have the chance to meet with the deacons and defend their name, and to speak to the allegations in the November 28, 2008 letter.
The husband sent an email back explaining he needed at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time so that he could speak to the allegations - to answer all A. through P. of the allegations in the November 28th, 2008 letter would be no small task.
February 18, 2009 - Not So Fast!
After receiving the email from the accused that they very much wish to attend the deacon's meeting, the Discipline Committee sends back a letter through John Blount stating that the wife of the accused cannot accompany him to the meeting. They say she is no longer a member and thus not subject to the disciplinary process. But technically neither is the husband, since on February 1st they joined another church. Apparently they recognized the wife's desire to leave the church, but not the husband's.
Furthermore, the Discipline Committee puts stipulations on the speech of the accused, and does not guarantee that he will not be interrupted. Instead of being able to address the allegations of the November 28th letter, the committee says the accused's remarks must be limited to:
1. Whether he is or is not the owner of the Watchdog web site; and
2. Whether the content of the blog is "wantonly sinful".
The accused is told that if he "abuses" the time allocated, the moderator, Mr. Keith Hill the Chairman of the Deacons, will terminate the response time.
Presumably John Blount and the Discipline Committee will have freedom to present their entire case to the deacons accusing the man and his wife, but they feel they must limit the speech of the accused.
February 19-20, 2009 - Thanks, But No Thanks
Once the accused understood that the committee did not desire the deacons to hear the full story from the man accused of owning the Watchdog site - which would necessarily include a description of the unbiblical discipline process, the trespass warnings, the unfair treatment of his wife, and the accusations in the November 28th letter - he knew that it would be pointless to show up only to be silenced as he tried to speak.
The accused sent an email to John Blount stating they would not be present based on their decision to no allow him to speak freely and to keep his wife out of the meeting.
John Blount sent a 2/20 email back saying they have rescinded the invitation to the accused to speak because he had "voluntarily declined" the offer to speak.
The accused responded with a 2/20 email pointing out Blount's false statement that he had voluntarily declined to meet, but in fact did wish to speak but not if they were going to limit his ability to speak to the allegations in the November 28th letter.
So that is the story.
The end result is likely a unaninmous vote by the deacons, and a unaminimous vote by the church on Wednesday 2/25 to exact church discipline on people who aren't even members, and who were forcibly removed with trespass warnings nearly 3 months ago.
The Watchdog will not be intimidated by these abusive actions, and hopes that the rest of the FBC Jax membership won't either. The Watchdog will continue to do his best to tell the story of FBC Jax under the leadership of Mac Brunson, and his "Team".