Interesting to hear the church leaders say they are "disappointed and saddened..."
Yeah, me too.
But not surprised, not one bit.
Here is the leadership of FBC Jax's statement regarding this lawsuit:
"The congregation and leadership of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville is disappointed and saddened that Mr. Rich has chosen to seek resolution of His disagreements with the Church via the Court of Law. Despite numerous efforts by the church to facilitate resolution privately and in accordance with Holy Scripture, Mr. Rich has been unwilling to participate. Having made every effort to settle this matter biblically, the Church stands ready to have the matter addressed according to law, though this is not, and never has been our desire."
I'm saddened by this statement. I'm saddened to hear they are still misrepresenting the facts. Even sadder that they seem to think their congregation and those in SBC-circles around the country will buy it.
Let me provide a few responses to their statement:
1. This lawsuit has nothing to do with my "disagreements with the Church". Nothing at all. Perhaps they didn't read the lawsuit. It has to do with fraud, misrepresentation, and abuse of process...and it has to do with defamation, a pastor using his position and power to tell a malicioius, purposeful lie to the newspaper about my mental health to justify his church's actions. THAT is what this lawsuit is about.
2. "Despite numerous efforts by the church to facilitate resolution privately and in accordance with Holy Scripture"....I'm not sure what "numerous efforts" mean. There was no effort, unless you call showing up at my doorstep with trespass papers for me and my wife, and demanding that I appear before six leaders of the church with no representation, without given the chance to read the bylaws of the church, and not being told the basis of their allegations. Maybe one of their "numerous efforts" was their decision to not allow my wife entrance on the property to watch our daughter sing in her ensemble. They are claiming their process was "in accordance with Holy Scripture"? Not even close. They never, ever...not one single time...attempted resolution in accordance with Matthew 18.
3. "Mr. Rich has been unwilling to participate" ...bald-faced lie. Who wrote this? Do they even know the facts? After they received my identity from the JSO and demanded I appear before their committee of 6 leaders, I sent John Blount an email agreeing to meet with them, with three simple requests that could have been met in 5 minutes. Also, when offered the chance to meet with the deacons in February, I agreed! But John Blount told me they would not allow my wife to come, and they would not let me speak freely to defend myself from the charges against me. Also, a prominent pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention approached FBC Jax with an offer for a reconciliation meeting in March, but we received no response.
4. "Having made every effort to settle this matter biblically.." If this does get to court, maybe they will have to make the argument how their actions were according to the Bible. Their efforts were not biblical...but then again maybe they have some Old Testament scripture of how to deal with sinners they are referring to. I assume "biblically" means in accordance with Matthew 18, which they most certainly did not use.
5. "the Church stands ready to have the matter addressed according to law, though this is not, and never has been our desire" That last statement, "never has been our desire." Now that is TRUTH. I agree with them. They never thought they would have to defend their un-biblical actions in the local media, much less a court of law. But here we are.
For those of you new to the blog, here are some previous posts that will help, as they contain hyperlinks of documents and correspondence:
"The Subpoenas: Unmasking the Baptist Bloggers Under Force of Law"
"The Search for the Watchdog's Identity"
"The Story of the Watchdog Blog"
And, I recommend that you listen again to the Deacon's Resolution read by A.C. Soud on February 25, 2009 - keep in mind that this resolution was read and passed before the church leaders knew that it would be revealed publicly what actions they took with the JSO to find my identity.