Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sharpe Interview Pt 2

Josh Manning: Thanks for taking time for us again, Mark. We left off last week with a bizarre story where a church member was said to be demon possessed by the administration. Then the administration reversed itself, and denied having said that. You said that story was just the tip of the ice berg. Now, I'd like to talk with you about the bulk of that ice berg: the financial information that you have.

Mark Sharpe: Josh, I'm convinced there are questions that must be addressed by Bellevue's leaders.

JM: Could you take us sort of from square one with the financial info, and shed a little light on the rumors that are floating out there?

MS: In my opinion, Bellevue started down a road that had led us to where we are today when Mark Dougharty assumed his position at Bellevue. Mark has surrounded himself with a small group of men that have over the past 5 years assumed a tremendous amount of control over the church. One could almost say that Bellevue is "Elder ruled" without any church guidelines actually calling for that to happen. A lot of the financial decisions are made without the knowledge of the church body. I think it's safe to say that a lot of financial decisions have not been known by the complete finance committee.

All of these issues have been brought before the leadership these past 4 months. I along with others have requested that these issues be dealt with to no avail. In a 3 hour and 25 minute meeting with Mark Dougharty as recently as 4 weeks ago, I was asked to either leave Bellevue and find another church to attend or stay and be quiet and drop these issues. After further requests to bring this before the appropriate committees and members, my request was denied. I asked to be able to address the deacons last month and was told that I was no longer a deacon and that I would not be able to address the deacon body that I love and have served faithfully over the years.

JM: That's a lot of information, Mark. Maybe we can break this down and talk about it one piece at a time. First off, can you tell us what sort of decisions are made without the knowledge of the complete finance committee?

MS: The best place to start is at the beginning. While we were without a pastor and Mark Dougharty was our leader, some men who surround him decided it would be a good idea to give him a whole year's salary in the event that our new pastor didn't want him to stick around.

When I confronted Mark about this, he told me "I didn't have anything to do with that. In fact, it was their idea and I had no decision it.” I asked him if he had free will to say yes or no. In my opinion, he should have said “Thanks guys, but at this time, it wouldn't be the right thing to do. Nobody knows anything about it and it's a nice gesture on your part but I just can't take it without anyone voting on it.” You might ask yourself, "What's wrong with giving Mark Dougharty a whole year's salary?" There's nothing wrong with it as long as the church knows about it. The deacons certainly didn't know about it, and I confronted Mark about the whole finance committee not having any knowledge of it. He didn't deny that the complete finance committee didn't know about the transfer of money.

It would be nice to do this for our Associate Pastor, and I'm sure the whole church may have voted to do so. What needs to be checked is the fact that it was that easy for a large sum of money to be spent without the knowledge of the church. Not everyone has the luxury of getting this type of benefit when they loose their job. In this case, he gets it if he stays or goes.

JM: And Mr Dougharty never gave you an answer or any indication why this didn't come before the church?

MS: He would not give me a response.

JM: Mark, who were the men who made this decision?

MS: I don’t know who the men were. He wouldn’t say.

JM: All right. Well, was this the only financial decision that the congregation didn't know about and the financial committee didn't have oversight of? Were there other, or are there still, financial decisions that fall through the proverbial cracks?

MS: I wanted to touch on something that has really bothered me since the first day I heard of it. As I've said before, I believe that a man is either called to pastor a church or he isn't. If God indeed calls a man to pastor a church, I believe that compensation should not be a reason for coming or staying. God will provide for the needs of all of us. With that said, I am told that our search committee offered Steve Gaines a compensation package that was on the level of our former pastor. The offer that our church made to Steve Gaines evidently was not enough for him to live on. Mark Dougharty did tell me that he didn't think that Steve Gaines renegotiated his compensation package before he accepted the call. He believed it to be after the call. Either way, does it really matter? Without the knowledge of the church, the finance committee, and at least 70% of the search committee (I’m told), we now have a pastor that is ridiculously compensated and the structure that was changed that allows him to set his own salary. I'm told that the only checks and balances that are in place now for the pastor's salary are Steve Gaines, Mark Dougharty, and whoever is the Chief Financial Officer of the church. (I believe we are now without one.) What we pay the pastor is not as important as the process that is in place to allow something like this to happen. For being concerned over this issue, I've been demonized over and over. Why not let the church know how much we love our pastor. Why not have more faith in the membership to let them know how we take care of our pastor. The question I have been asking our leadership is this; "Would it be embarrassing to our congregation if they knew what was going on with compensation inside the pastor and associate pastor’s office?"

JM: Mark, you just said that you were told many of these things. Who told them to you? Are they on good authority?

MS: Before I blew the whistle, I had to know the information was good. This information came from the office of administration that included the finance office at Bellevue. Keep in mind, I was the chairman of the insurance committee at Bellevue, on the executive missions committee, and very involved with staff members some of whom have left Bellevue in the past 6 months. I've had one of these men say over and over again that he will be glad to come into a room with the men involved at Bellevue who are responsible for these activities as long as there are men who are ready to find the truth and get to the bottom of these issues. I can tell you that I've been stonewalled and pushed away time after time. It's very frustrating. Just because someone says it isn't so doesn't mean it isn't so. There is a paper trail that will get to the truth. I've said from the start that if these things did not happen then "Praise the Lord." The proof would take about 15 minutes to gather the documents that would put these issues to rest.

JM: So you're saying that the head of finance at the church has given you this information? This is the man who is willing to sit in a room with legal authorities and the leadership and tell what he knows?

MS: Yes. This man who is no longer employed by Bellevue has stated that if that day ever comes, he will tell state the truth in all of these matters. I know this man to be a dear man of God. Nobody can imagine the pressure a man faces when standing up for the right thing in an ocean current that is coming at you. He who controls the platform has an incredible advantage to information flow—especially in this case where every fiber of your being wants to believe the office of the pastor.

JM: So, money is being set aside that the finance committee doesn't know about; and salary control for some of the administration, as well as oversight, is now out of the hands of the finance committee according to conversations you've had with this person. Is that right?

MS: I told Mark Dougharty in our recent meeting that to my understanding, the finance committee gives to the pastor's office now a lump sum of money to distribute by department anyway they want to. For instance, let's say one department had $1,000,000 set aside for compensation. The pastor could at his discretion give one minister half of what he wanted to give another regardless of the number of years that person may have served here at Bellevue. Mark Dougharty described the new setup to me. I also let Mark Dougharty know that I personally didn't like it because there were not enough controls in place. He told me that he didn't want the congregation knowing what he made. When I reminded him that most every SBC church in America knows what the ministers make, he let me know he didn't agree with that. I told him that I believe if the Bellevue congregation knew what he and the pastor made, they would be appalled.

JM: Mark are there other financial concerns? We've heard something about credit card charges that might not be entirely proper. Can you tell us if there's any substance to those rumors?

MS: I don't know if there is or isn't. It was brought to my attention and I went to Mark Dougharty and told him what I'd been told. I told him that improper credit card charges by the pastor were brought to him in the first couple of months of the pastors calling. Mark Dougharty was asked to address these issues and refused to do so after several months. When I confronted Mark Dougharty about this, he didn't deny it. All he said was that a recent audit that was done showed everything to be in order. I reminded him that Enron and WorldCom had just had multimillion dollar audits done that showed everything was fine. Most financial people know that there are different levels of audits that are done. In this case, I told him there would obviously be a paper trail to show otherwise. Just produce the monthly statement and the reimbursements back to the church. That would take about 10 minutes to produce. He informed me that wasn't going to happen. I told him I had heard that each month there was a long list of personal expenses. Mark Dougharty not once denied it. What conclusion am I to come to after a discussion like this? I also asked about a membership to Colonial Country Club that was purchased in Steve Gaines name and he said that was so he could get away from the church and have some privacy when needed. We have a wonderful facility at Bellevue with a professional chef that cooks wonderful meals and we have some lovely fireside rooms that can be used for privacy. I shared with Mark that I believe the church needs to know about these things. Why would we not want to share this with the congregation? If we can't share it with the congregation, we probably don't need to be doing these things.

JM: You bring up the country club membership. I had heard, though never confirmed, that this was part of the package offered by the pulpit committee. Do you know if that's true? Also, do you have any idea how that committee and Dr Gaines interacted before, during, and after he was called? In other words, were there "negotiations" about compensation?

MS: I can't answer that. This is a question for a member of the search committee. All I know about the interaction between Steve Gaines and the pulpit committee, I've gotten from Steve Gaines and his address to Gardendale on the night of his calling. In the past month with talk about the pastor renegotiating his contract swirling around, I've heard that the renegotiating went on after he accepted the call and not before. I still don't understand why a package similar to what our former pastor was making would not be close to enough for Steve Gaines to live on. That is worrisome.

JM: Thank you for not answering something that you don't feel you've got enough information to comment on.

You say that you've brought these concerns before the leadership for months. We know you've talked to Mr Dougharty, but were there others to whom have you talked--Dr Gaines for example--and can you give us an idea of how many times?

MS: I've talked to Dr. Gaines on two occasions in person and several more times over the phone. I've talked with Mark Dougharty, Chuck Taylor, and numerous other current deacon officers. I've talked so many times in person and on the phone with these men that I honestly can't remember the exact number. I believe at least 15 times in the past 4 months collectively.

JM: You say that during some of these meetings, you've been told that you should simply leave the church. Is that correct?

MS: That is correct. Two men have said that to me numerous times. Steve Gaines and Mark Dougharty. In fact, Mark Dougharty said the only way my family should return to Bellevue is for me to drop this stuff and act like it never happened. He said also that "I know this statement looks like I'm just trying to protect myself."

JM: Have you asked to take your concerns to the deacon body?

MS: Yes, I've asked that I have the opportunity to take these issues to the deacon body. They have refused to allow me to speak to the deacons. The deacons at Bellevue really don't have any authority. To the congregation, it may appear that they do but at Bellevue, the deacons are there to serve. Their main function is to counsel at the services, serve the Lord's Supper, and man the phones when people call in. To the average member of Bellevue, they need to know that outside of that, there really isn't any authority in the body that the current church government allows. I believe a lot of decisions inside the church are made hiding behind the deacon body. To the church, it looks like deacons approve everything when in fact they don't approve anything.

JM: I understand. Let me ask you another question, have you considered taking this to the congregation itself?

MS: The only reason I'm doing this interview with you is to give the congregation a way of hearing this. I believe the membership of Bellevue has a right to know these things and demand accountability. The accountability may come from the congregation and not the deacon body. It's hard for a man to take a stand when he is facing losing something but I came to the point where I was convicted to be more concerned with what God wanted me to do instead of what man could do to me. As I said earlier, this is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Nobody in their right mind would do this unless they knew for sure this was the right thing. I've got nothing to gain from this. In fact, my family feels like we've had a death in the family. Our church has been hijacked and nobody is willing to stop it. What my family has had to go through the past 4 months has not been easy. You have to remember Bellevue has been our home for 17 years. We were here long before Steve Gaines came. I've heard from so many members who have called us or sent cards in the mail echoing these thoughts. A lot of people know something isn't right but they know there is something out there.

JM: I'm so sorry to hear that Mark.

Thank you again for coming out with this information. I know you say that the deacon body doesn't hold much power. Do you think the deacon body will do what they need to do to build accountability into the system?

MS: I don't believe so. I love everyone one of these men. They really don't have any authority. Unless they hear from the congregation, I don't believe that will happen. Being leaders, they could wield some authority in the church but I'm not sure how many of them want to take a stand. It's hard to explain but I've been amazed at the men who I consider strong leaders just sit on the sidelines and do nothing. A person can either want to know the truth or not pursue it. I guess the easy road is to not know sometimes what the truth actually is. I don't believe God wants us to accept anything but the truth. I know that God is not going to honor any body of believers that participate in sweeping truth under the rug. I am praying that there are deacons that will rise up and search for the truth. I've said it before but these issues may not be valid but coming from the folks that are in these trenches and knowing that I've confronted these men and they haven't denied most everything I'm sharing—all of this leads me to believe there is truth behind these concerns. There is so much out there, it takes a while to let everything sink in because it's so bizarre when compared to what we have been used to here at Bellevue. Because of that, I think time will allow this information to sink in and men will start to get to the bottom of these issues. If not, I pray the congregation does. We've been operating for years with a pastor that had an incredible amount of integrity. He was a self-disciplined, self-controlled man you could trust. I don't ever recall an instance where he made me question his integrity. Our deacon body has operated for a long time with this level of trust for the office of the pastor. It's hard to not feel the same way.

JM: Well, I join you in praying that all of these rumors can be dispelled by the light of truth. I’d like to recap for a moment: Basically, what you have said here tonight is that you've found from the former head of finance at the church that large amounts of money have come under the direct control of a small group of men who are held accountable to no one other than the congregation (not the deacons and not the finance committee). These men refuse to disclose information about expenditures to that same congregation. When two were confronted, they told you that you should leave the church or be quiet. When you asked to take this information to the deacon body, you were denied the opportunity and told that you were no longer a deacon. Is this correct?

MS: Yes

JM: I think that information should probably startle the Bellevue membership. Let me ask you about something else. There’s been a lot of talk about losing staff members and gaining new ones over the last year. Rumor has it that these new staff members are coming in at significantly higher pay than the ministers that were already here when Dr Gaines took over. Can you shed any light on this?

MS: I asked Mark Dougharty if any laymen saw the mega-church compensation survey prepared in 2005. The survey had been done to provide direction for the 2006 Budget Planning Committee. I asked if any laymen knew how Bellevue's compensation compares to Southeast Christian, Willow Creek, and Saddleback (churches with larger budgets and attendance than Bellevue). The survey shows that employees at the highest level at Bellevue make considerably more than comparable positions at other mega-churches. I asked what was the justification to start Jamie Parker at the same amount of compensation that Jim Whitmire was receiving when he retired (after 30 years of service to the church). I also asked how Steve Gaines could bring Bill Street (former college roommate to Steve Gaines, son-in-law to a member of the pastor search committee, and on-staff minister at Gardendale) and Ken Hatley (former member of Gardendale) on board at salaries over $80,000, bypassing loyal staff members who have been serving for years. I also asked Mark Dougharty why Bellevue gave one of the smallest pay raises in the past 10 years (while giving is up) but three people didn't fall under that umbrella; Steve Gaines, Mark Dougharty, and Jamie Parker. When I asked this question, once again he didn't deny it happened. Bill Street and Ken Hatley I'm sure are great men but why can't the church know of their hiring before they are hired. Is it wrong to ask about these questions? Is it right for the church to relinquish any knowledge of new hirings?

JM: Mark, does Dr Gaines now have sole authority to higher and set salaries?

MS: I can't say what changes have been made if any these past several months but according to Mark Dougharty, there isn't any written guideline for establishing Bellevue guidelines for hiring and or firing. The salary deal is like I stated earlier. The pastor has the ability to pay anyone he brings in at any salary he wants as long as he doesn't go over the pool of money set aside for a certain department. Let's say the pastor says we don't need 5 ministers in this department any longer and we can do it with three. Then there would be a lot of money in the pool to pay someone new coming in. Mark Dougharty told me nobody on the finance committee knows what the pastor, associate pastor, minister of music, or any new hire makes. This information is from Mark Dougharty himself.

JM: That's incredible

Let me ask one final question: Have you been intimated by any member of the administration?

MS: That's a good question. Last month, after repeated attempts to have the opportunity to deal with these issues behind closed doors, a group of concerned members of Bellevue prayed about getting together to discuss these issues and see what God would direct us to do. When word got back to the office of the pastor, Steve Gaines, Chuck Taylor, John Caldwell, and Mark Dougharty paid a visit to my home. I live in a gated community with a "no trespassing" sign at the entrance. They came to my neighborhood unannounced and uninvited. I believe when you have 4 men come see you and climb over a fence when they could have called my home to open the gate that it's intimidation. After they could not catch me at home, Steve Gaines called my home at 11:08 one evening and told me I was "Hezbollah" and that I was going to personally be sending people to hell if I went to this meeting. I informed him that I didn't have the power to send anyone to hell. Standing in my kitchen with my cell phone speaker on, my wife heard the conversation as did my neighbor. I have to admit, I was shaken by the words I heard my pastor speak to me. I was shaken to the bone but reminded that these were not the actions of a pastor. I don't have to fear what man can do to me, but I do fear what God will do to me if I don't do what the Holy Spirit prompts me to do. I know this information is going to be hard for people to hear but God is my witness that I'm not making anything up. I pray for our Bellevue and the leadership that knows what the right thing to do is. I pray for the congregation, that God will raise leaders up who have had a check in their spirit for some time now and do the right thing which is seek the truth.

JM: Mark, I'm sorry that it came to that, and I think that should always be our prayer for ourselves and our leadership. Do you have anything else you want to add tonight?

MS: Josh, On behalf of the congregation that wants to get to the truth, we say thank you for the forum you've provided. Nothing else needs to be said other than pray for Bellevue, pray for Steve Gaines, pray for Mark Dougharty, pray for Chuck Taylor, the leaders of the church, and the congregation. Pray that nothing be accepted other than truth. Pray for people to do the right thing. One thing we don't have to worry about is the truth. God is Truth and I believe god wants the truth to always be known. I talk with you this evening able to say that every thought I've uttered has been the truth as I know it. I pray for anyone who has spoken about these issues if they knowingly made false statements or they don't want to get to the truth. For anyone who is a Believer, the Holy Spirit is convicting. Conviction can and will get deep into any Believer to where it's very uncomfortable if they run from it. I pray for all of these men tonight who are my friends. May God have mercy on our church.

JM: Mark, again, I thank you for coming forward with this information. Since it seems that you’re not being allowed to directly air these concerns to the church, this seems to be next best (though still entirely inadequate) medium for finishing out the mandate of Matthew 18 and 1 Tim 5.

Thank you for sharing with us from your knowledge. Thank you for your honesty and transparency. May God make us all men who will stand up for what is right. This information is now in the hands of the church. They may do with it what they will. May God have mercy on us all.


Blogger Mark Sharpe said...

Mark and Josh,
First I want to Thank You for being Men of Integrity. Thank you for telling the Truth of what has been covered up from the majority of the congregation of BBC. I do not know but by the Grace Of God how you and your families have stood up under all the presures. I myself have a deep pit in my stomach this morning after reading what is taking plasce in our beloved BBC.
We have been members for 20 plus years. We have loved our Pastor and the Pastors that served under him.He has preached from the Word Of God and proclaimed TRUTH.
If we cannot have Truth from our Pastor and the Pastors and workers under him where is our beloved BBC headed.
Sunday I sat and listened as Chuch Taylor told how they searched for our new Pastor. How can a man of God stand behind the pulpit and say these words. I feel in my heart there was never a search.What I am hearing from these people is "This is who Dr. Rogers thought should be our pastor". Did God or Dr. Rogers call Steve Gaines. Could this be the problem. Man called instead of God called.
Our family was as excited as anyone when we called the Gaines to our church but as Sunday by Sunday we have watched and listened our hearts have been broken for BBC and a Pastor and Leadership we cannot TRUST to lead us forward.
As we Pray for our deacons to have Godly Courage May God watch over BBC and lead us in the direction he would have up go.
God Bless

onlyamember has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

I have to say that I have ignored all these 'rumors' because I did not want to hear them. When I found out that Mark Sharp and Craig Parker and other very respectable men of our church were involved; I listened. I know Mark personally and know him to be a very solid man of God. His family is one that I admire and trust and love dearly (he doesn't even know I feel that way) and have seen stand for the Word of God for as long as I have known them. I have NEVER seen anyone in his family act any way other than Biblical. Saying that, I say, if we have solid, Godly men bringing these (or finding truth to) these accusations....we need to listen. They are NOT making these up. As a church, we need to find a way to demand answers. I am sickened over what I have read on this site, but more sickened that we have to come here to get our information and not behind the safety of closed doors in OUR church! There are so many areas to be concerned. The more I read, the more I see and that saddens me. I sit here and read about the money our staff is making and saw first hand something yesterday at church that broke my heart. Something needs to be done. As a family of God, our church needs to get to the bottom of this and fast.
Does anyone have any info on the Deacons meeting from yesterday? It was my understanding that things would be put to rest at that meeting....what does that mean and can it be done fairly if they aren't allowed to hear both sides?

How can we as a church demand that a fair and even meeting be set and held in hopes to bring this to a conclusion?

Who decides if the pastor stays or goes? Would it benefit going to that group of people and demanding answers from them? I am not talking about being anything other than asking people to leave because we don't like what they say, no mid-night phone calls intimidating people, no jumping fences.

Is there not anyone willing to stand up in a church-wide staff meeting and demand answers? I pray for everyone involved.

thank you Mark for taking a stand, we will pray for your lovely family!

Mark and Josh,
These are very serious allegations you have raised. I am sad that you have had to do this. I am heartbroken over my church.

It must be just like Mark has spoken. It must be the truth. What would Mark have to gain by making up this? Would he take over the church? Would he get financial gain? Does he "JUST" dislike leadership at Bellevue? If he were "just a troublemaker" what is his motive? I have to believe that Mark Sharpe is telling the truth because of the length of time I have known him and his family and they have been involved in our church and love the Lord. I do not like the direction of the music program and I have been unhappy - NOW I fear for the church. I personally do not see what "little me" or my family can do about this. Who cares what we think? If some deacons and leaders of the church don't do something I guess nothing will be done. God help us all.

In Jesus,
Carolyn Gish

Sickened has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

As I have recently read what has been going on in our church home, I have been more and more concerned over the lack of response by our leadership. There are many of the membership who have sensed an undercurrent of spiritual illness for some time and I understand that the deacons met to "resolve" this situation, but no one seems willing to release the outcome of the resolution. WHY?

Knowing the reputation of Mark Sharpe, I applaude his efforts to make the truth known to the membership. If it were anyone else, I would have doubts about the credibility of the witness. I am sure that he and his family are in deep distress over his decision to make know his concerns, and I am more deeply distressed that he would be removed as a deacon for expressing these concerns. This only gives credibility to his witness. I understand that his sources are or may be former employees and that their endeavors to make know the facts have been construed as a result of revenge or "sour grapes" over loosing their job (the truth be know, there are probably a lot more staff members that needs to go);however,this does in no way negate the facts that exist. The administration is acting like a child who has been caught with their hand in the financial cookie jar. If there is even a grain of truth to the accusations, especially of the lies over the dream and the fence jumping incident, then we have a serious problem. I believe that there are situations where the Lord reveals himself to His people in dreams, and I know there are those with the gift of discernment of spirits, which would account for Steve Gaines being disturbed over the "amens" of the member who was silenced. But I also know that this man sat under the leadership of Dr Rogers lo these many years and if anyone would have been gifted with discernment of spirits, it was Dr Rogers - and he would not have sent a hirling to do his bidding for him.
I know that the pulpit committee did not even visit the churches of those potential pastors that they did not "want" because they were unknowns in the politics of the SBC, so to stand someone like Chuck Taylor up in front of the church body to "vouch for the integrity of the pulput committee" holds no weight with the majority of the membership.
Before this situation gets any worse, there needs to be full accountability of all accusations in front of the church body.
There is always room for forgiveness at BBC, but to let this go on without accountability may well result in a spiritual drought, the likes of which BBC has never know. Just because there are people being saved and new members added does not mean that the leadership is in good standing with the Lord (I was saved during a message from a pastor who was involved in adultry at the time) it just proves that the Lord does not need us to work His will - remember Judas??
I call upon Steve Gaines to stop the cover up before it makes the six o'clock news! The buck stops with him.

Dear Mark and Josh,

To say that this information is disturbing would be an understatement.

As difficult as it has been and likely will continue to be, I applaud you for taking a principled stand and asking these hard questions. I commend you both for the manner in which you've brought these issues to light. It is clear you have done so in a manner according to Scripture as best you could, and that you are only doing what you feel is right and necessary.

I am reminded that there are indeed two sides to every story, although I cannot imagine what explanation can or will be provided for some of these concerns, especially the financial matters. Regardless, I hope and pray that Bro. Steve, Mark, Chuck, and all others involved will step forward and clear the air completely, honestly, and without regard for the consequences.

No king but Jesus,

Collin Houseal

xd9x19 has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Mr. Sharpe says that he has been informed that he is no longer a deacon. Was he voted off by the other deacons or does the church administration (Pastor?) have the authority to remove him?

If the congregation votes for deacons to be approved, does not that mean the congregation would have to vote to strip someone of that title?

Keith White has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Our spirit has been seeking wisdom. Our prayers continue for our church and for those in position of influence. in response to your note of 6:23pm 09-11-06, I recommend a collective approach of support to our church congregation. suggestion: utilize this venue to communicate a meeting date/location to discuss options for the way ahead. Ephesians 6:10-11

Jim Farris has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

All this information is great, but if we do not have a way to sign -up to show our discountent or that this is more than just a few people who are upset with the new administration, all we have is a bunch of people with no direction. There needs to be a list or petition that members can sign to show that there are numbers behind this movement. I am willing to put my name on the list. I just hope more people will do the same. This is something that needs to happen ASAP.


Churchmouse has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

If we start a list or petition, we need to prepare a statement that contains specific points. All the pages would need to be consistant so that the message would be clear, and people would know what they were agreeing to. Some of the work would need to be done off of the internet. Many people at the church are not computer savy. There are still a LOT of people at church who don't have a clue that this is going on. Bible Study teachers are telling their classes not to listen to the gossip. Who will reach the masses of people walking through church with their hands over their ears? The Commercial Appeal? Please, God, help us. Bj

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Josh and Mark,

You've done what your conviction has told you to do. Complete the task at hand. As Jim Farris has suggested, organize the next steps to bring the truth before the congregation. There are to many people and to many directions to expect this to be done in a organized and Christ like manner.

AnotherBBalto has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Josh & Mark,
Along with many others, thank you for being the forerunners. We desperatly need to SAVE our church. The more I hear the worst it gets. Yes, we need a petition or something to get the word out. Maybe form a circle around the church building requesting a meeting with the people involved? Whatever and whenever I am there. We as a church deserve to have answers and as members we rightfully have a voice. I will stand firm and proud to protect my church and my church family.
T. Robertson

Saddened BBC member has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

I have been a member of Bellevue since 1952, when I was 17 years old. I have been in the choir since 1960. Every time my mail comes I look for the letter telling me that I am no longer needed in the choir, that I am too old. I do not clap and stomp. I do not wave my hands. I feel grief for my church and the music program I loved, as if there had been a death in my family. And truly there has been, in my church family. And I am one among many. How, then, shall we unite?
You, Josh, and Mark have given us all so much insight, but where do we go from here? I will be ready and willing to be one who stands for what we know is right and true, but how does this all get started? How can we bring this all before the church? If someone will tell me when and where to attend a meeting, I will be there to help. This is my beloved Bellevue. We were not even allowed to grieve for Adrian Rogers before Jim Whitmire was removed from us, along with many of our trusted staff. Give us a chance and we will stand up and be counted.
M. Eberhart

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Josh, Mark, not sure who's site this is anymore. In light of the eloquent challenge you made to men of Bellevue, you should make it a bit simpler for respondents to acknowledge their desire to stand up. We should congratulate those who have already done so.

It was difficult for me to drill down and find this page. I suggest that you move these comments back to the opening page of the blog linked to your final post and the MS interview.

David Gish has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Anonymous thanks are all well and good, but that doesn't cost much, does it? Josh is right, now is the time to stand and be counted. I'm willing to do that, even if it means being asked to leave the church. I cannot in good conscience continue to bring my tithe to a church with no financial accountability, nor place my family under the authority of a pastor whose actions cannot stand the light of day. The alternative is to accept the status quo and pretend hypocritically that nothing is wrong, that it will all go away, we will awaken Sunday and the sky will be blue. Believe me, it will only get worse. Dishonesty, denial and bullying has worked so far and nothing succeeds like success.

Deuteronomy 19:15 declares " the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established." From what we've heard, there are more than enough witnesses (unless they've been intimidated into recanting.) We need them to come forward in a congregational forum. Sadly, that isn't going to happen at Bellevue.

Organization is not one of my strong points. If a brother with that facility will step forward, I will assist in any way I can.

Josh and Mark: Thank you for your Christ-like spirit, humility and courage in bringing these issues to light. I believe no one with an unbiased spirit would accuse you of malicious intent. You had nothing to gain by this, everything to lose and the price you were willing to pay, and have paid, is truly humbling to me. I can do no less. The whole congregation owes you a debt of gratitude whether they know it or not. God bless you both.

Bellevue has been our home for 13 years. We have many friends who are near and dear to our hearts. Let us fast and pray that God will send out His light and His truth and guide us through this critical time in the life of Bellevue Baptist Church.

In Christ,

David Gish

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Mark and Josh,
I am praying for you each day.
Your courage reminds me of Dr. Rogers. Don't take those awful remarks from unkind men too seriously! "Me thinks they protest too much"!! Unkind men criticized Jesus too...remember? God knows your hearts. Thanks for getting the by-laws for Bellevue.
God knows your motives too. Stand firm brothers!! If someone will lead us to never, never, never give up, I will join the battle. If God be with us, then who can be against us? Gaines, Doughtery and others are stealing from Bellevue. We want our money back. And Gaines does not need a Country Club membership. But I know some missionaries who could benefit from some extra Bibles for prison ministry. Is the Bellevue staff taking all of us for fools? United we stand, divided we fall. Bellevue unite!

Churchmouse has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

What do we hope to accomplish? We need a statement. Are we calling for resignations? Are we calling for change and accountability? (that is needed, but is a bit subjective and could drag out forever) Are we calling on God to help us? Are we making a stand against something? If so, what specificlly? Could someone send Mark a statement? He could approve, amend, or edit it. We could post that. Churchmouse is a woman and not a leader. But, maybe she has some ideas and she really wants to help.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Interesting in light of the alleged events at BBC.

Churchmouse has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

This was my Bible Study lesson for today - we are studying Luke:
"..for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. Luke 1:49-53

onlyamember has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Josh and Mark, thank you so much for putting your families on the front lines for our church. You have given us the information that we would otherwise not be a party to. We as a church have no excuse now to just accept the pastor ignoring this. I have known Mark and have watched his family for many years and have NEVER questioned their position in OUR church or their Christian walk. I have used them as a Godly example for my own life. I can't say the same for the pastor. I understand that people don't like change, I understand that people are still grieving Dr. Rodgers; but people, when you start having all these questions in your spirit, it is no longer from not wanting change.

We have been given too much information to let this go. What can we do as a church to demand these issues to be looked into? What can we do as a church to demand the resignations of the 'fence jumpers'? I don't want these things any more than those going blind, but we can't build our church on a new foundation with cracks all in it. It will sink eventually. We need to take care of it now.

What is the next step. Someone needs to tell those of us that are only members, what can we do. We don't want to leave Bellevue, but won't stay at a church with faulty foundation, either.

You are correct, this is very sad that the world can read all this; but we are don't get much bigger than this, the world is always watching. This needs to be taken care of now before it explodes before the world.

It scares me to see that someone joined Bellevue up with the Willow Creek Association without a vote from the church! How can this happen? Where is the accountability here? Whose church is this anyway? We are members of Bellevue Baptist Church, a southern Baptist church; by choice! Are we going to allow one man to come in and take that away? Am I seeing this wrong?

Staff, it is time for you to step up and demand answers. There are too many changes in too many departments that noone likes. I don't think Dr. Rodgers would have endorsed someone with questionable issues, without getting to the bottom of them first. He is no longer here to guide and protect us.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Based on the Church Leadership/Administration having nothing to hide.

Suggestions for Next Steps:

1)Determine if all or any of the allegations from this internet forum are true. Have elected representation from the congregation and deacon body to perform overall evaluation. Bring results before the congregation.

2)Determine how God’s money has been spent over the last year. Have a full accountability of salaries, expenses, and perks. Option: Use an outside accounting firm to help perform the review with representation from the congregation and church administration. Bring the results before the congregation.

3)Determine how the hiring and firing practices were performed over the past year and why? Option: Use an outside Human Resource firm with representation from the congregation and church administration. Bring the results before the congregation.

4)Determine best approach for future accountability and management of finances and hiring –firing practices. Option: Use outside firms to help make suggestions with representation from the congregation and church administration. Bring the results before the congregation for approval.

5)Better understand the direction and method for leadership tactics and worship changes in the church.

• Are we following the Purpose Driven Movement? Pros vs. Cons
• Traditional vs. Non-Traditional Worship
• Leadership tactics and openness
• Provide suggestions
• Agree to support or not to support the tactics and changes

6)The above results will provide direction on whether to seek leadership change or get behind the current leadership with more accountability and open involvement from deacons and church membership.

onlyamember has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

To the person that asked about Mark Sharpe being removed as a deacon.....

No, it was not voted on. His name was simply removed and told not to come back. The deacon body has a disciplinary procedure that was not followed. The church did not have a choice. (this is my understanding).

onlyamember has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Dear Anonymous; this is all well and good; but how? How are we going to bring things before the church? Who is allowed to get this information? It seems to me the people who would be able to do this, can't. So, how will just members be able to do this. We need to be realistic.

onlyamember has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

I am reading these comments and my heart is breaking. Seems there are many who want to stand up and help, but can't or don't know how to lead something like this. Who is that leader?? We need to bathe this in prayer. We need to pray for God to send us a leader. I believe he already has, but something needs to be organized. It needs to be someone with first-hand information, I believe it needs to be a man with leadership capabilities and a Godly heart. That person needs to tell us all what we need to do. We are just members that want to save our church before too much harm can be done.

Our leaders are telling us not to read this site or listen to the mumblings. It is way past that now. The ones that have caused these problems are informing our Sunday School teachers what they are to instruct us. They are the cowards. If they have nothing to hide, they need to defend themselves. That is not going to happen, so the church needs to do something. What is that something?

Do we hold our tithes? Money seems to be a pawn in this and if the church is not getting what they need, they would be forced to look at it deeper??

Do we decide on a date and time to stand up as one, in a church service and demand answers? They can't throw us all out? They won't cancel services if they find out about it?

Does someone close to the pastor need to set up a meeting with him, and then us all show?

I believe it needs to start with past and present staff members. Go as a group, stand tall together and demand answers. The church will not stand for him firing everyone?? I know many of you and know your hearts and hate to see you hurt and be unhappy in a church you love so deeply; please get together and take a stand! Get to the bottom of this!

Is someone going to start a petition with all the facts and send it to every possible person that can make a decision or get the ball rolling?

Who wants to go out during GROW and bring new people into this mess?? We still need to be showing the love of God and witnessing to lost soals, but bring them to

How are we going to grow spiritually and as a church sitting in the service week after week and question the man that is bringing us the Word of God? These issues need to be resolved be hearts harden!

We need answers and we need guidance. Someone please tell us, realistically, how to do this.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Suggestions for our Bellevue Baptist Membership and Leadership

1) As it relates to the hijacking or government of the church – Major decisions, direction, or change that affect the church as a whole should be brought before the church membership to be voted on. The church membership needs to be educated first on the pros vs. cons regarding these decisions or directions and it doesn’t need to be forced on them without a majority vote.

2)Church worship leadership (Pastors) need to focus on bringing the message and works of God to Bellevue and the unsaved. The financial issues and hiring and firing issues should be under a separate administrative area function not controlled by pastors but by an Administrator who reports to a board or committee of Bellevue members that are elected by the church membership.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Story about Pulpit Integrity from Editor's Journal. Explains how a man with a questionable financial background gets to be pastor of a large church.

post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

As a life long Baptist who is not a member of BBC I find it hard to believe that the one-half page 1929 bylaws you were given are the actual bylaws for a church the size of BBC. I have seen a lot of bylaws in my days and those just don't pass the smell test. The bylaws of my Baptist Church are 34 pages long and while we are a big church, we are much smaller than BBC. Furthermotre, anyone that goes to the office can immediately get a copy of the current bylaws.

I suspect they misled you when they passed off the 1929 copy as the current bylaws, and I see red flags all over the place with respect to the people making decisions.

Mrs C has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

I have dreaded attending the worship services for some time because of the deterioration in the quality of dignity and respect shown to the house of the Lord. I have continued to attend only because the Lord has not given me the permission to leave, however, I have cried thru many services and now my heart is breaking. I fully believe in light of these revelations that Steve Gaines, Mark Dougharty, Jamie Parker and the others involved in this major departure from integrity should remove themselves from the pulpit until the matter is resolved one way or the other. We still have adequate leadership on staff that can hold the services in a manner that is decent and orderly. There is no way that I can sit thru another service with all of this sin sitting squarely on Steve Gaines shoulders and he is continuing to act like nothing is wrong, even sending others to do his bidding instead of addressing the very serious charges that have been made. Sin is very deceiving, even the split second that a sinful thought crosses our minds is unholy in God's eye, but when a man of God is acting on those thoughts, it reflects no less than a heart that is unclean before a holy God. How then can Steve Gaines harbor such ill will and arrogance towards his fellow man and continue to preach? Of course, the Lord will work HIS will with or without Steve Gaines, but until this situation is resolved, this man needs to sit quietly while those whose integrity is not in question lead the services. This includes Jamie Parker as well. If he entered into a "covenant" relationship with a man of questionable integrity, then he is equally guilty, as is Mark Dougharty. I am struggling with the giving of the Lord's tithe and offerings in light of the financial decisions that are being made. I have decided to withold it from the church, but not the Lord. I will write the check and set it aside for the appropriate time to turn it in. Since Dr Gaines likes to make issue (brag from the pulpit)of the offerings amd attendance being high, I think that he believes that it is his doings, and not the Lord's. To continue to enable that mindset is not acceptable to me.
Also, I would like to know if the BFC leaders were actually told to tell their classes not to view this website. I have not heard that in my class, but that does not mean that it is not said, just not said to me. I am proud of the stand you men of God have made and I know the pain this has caused you and your family is very great. Especially when there are those with whom you have served, worshiped, wept and prayed are the ones that are attacking you. I shall continue to pray for you and as a woman, my place is not to stand and speak, but to pray and intercede. And that I shall do, continually with fasting and many tears. God bless you and our beloved Bellevue.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Is down, or has it been removed? If so, what about all the articles and links to the bylaws that were there? Or maybe I'm just having technical difficulty.

Collin Houseal has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Regarding the withholding of tithes, I stopped submitting my tithe to the church several months ago over issues that were in fact quite public, in the form of the 2006-2007 Proposed Budget.

I met with the Finance Committee (Chip Freeman and John Crockett were there as representatives) regarding a number of astounding proposed expenditures. I simply and respectfully asked for a Scriptural basis for these expenditures. I received no explanation whatsoever other than a worldly and materialistic rationale based almost entirely on "enticing" the lost to come to church.

Nowhere in the Gospel are we called to be enticing, attractive, or to otherwise "bait" the lost into coming to church. We are called to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ boldly and firmly, and let the Holy Spirit work from there.

At the end of this meeting, I submitted a letter to the Pastor and the entire Finance Committee, which expressed my views and indicated my vote against the proposed budget. To date, I have received no response from the Pastor or any member of the Finance Commmittee.

As a result, my family and I take our tithe (which we view as the Lord's money, not our own) and give it gladly to other ministries in which we're involved, and to wherever God directs on a month-by-month basis. These are ministries where I know, from personal involvement, without a doubt, the money will be used to do God's work.

Speaking for myself, my wife, and my daughter, our future membership at Bellevue hinges in large part upon how this is handled by the administration. I have many other concerns (doctrinal as well as organizational) which will affect my decision, but at the moment they pale in comparison.

Lastly, I echo the gentleman who called for us to list our names here. Anonymity can be a tool of the devil as much as any other. I am not condemning those who have posted comments as Anonymous; however, the time has come to stand up and be heard, for the sake of Christ and His church.

Mark, Josh, and others have put much on the line. Can we do any less? My name is placed here not to condemn any of the men in question; rather, simply to stand beside Mark and Josh and echo their call for truth and accountability.

Collin Houseal has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Regarding the withholding of tithes, I stopped submitting my tithe to the church several months ago over issues that were in fact quite public, in the form of the 2006-2007 Proposed Budget.

I met with the Finance Committee (Chip Freeman and John Crockett were there as representatives) regarding a number of astounding proposed expenditures. I simply and respectfully asked for a Scriptural basis for these expenditures. I received no explanation whatsoever other than a worldly and materialistic rationale based almost entirely on "enticing" the lost to come to church.

Nowhere in the Gospel are we called to be enticing, attractive, or to otherwise "bait" the lost into coming to church. We are called to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ boldly and firmly, and let the Holy Spirit work from there.

At the end of this meeting, I submitted a letter to the Pastor and the entire Finance Committee, which expressed my views and indicated my vote against the proposed budget. To date, I have received no response from the Pastor or any member of the Finance Commmittee.

As a result, my family and I take our tithe (which we view as the Lord's money, not our own) and give it gladly to other ministries in which we're involved, and to wherever God directs on a month-by-month basis. These are ministries where I know, from personal involvement, without a doubt, the money will be used to do God's work.

Speaking for myself, my wife, and my daughter, our future membership at Bellevue hinges in large part upon how this is handled by the administration. I have many other concerns (doctrinal as well as organizational) which will affect my decision, but at the moment they pale in comparison.

Lastly, I echo the gentleman who called for us to list our names here. Anonymity can be a tool of the devil as much as any other. I am not condemning those who have posted comments as Anonymous; however, the time has come to stand up and be heard, for the sake of Christ and His church.

Mark, Josh, and others have put much on the line. Can we do any less? My name is placed here not to condemn any of the men in question; rather, simply to stand beside Mark and Josh and echo their call for truth and accountability.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

I don’t physically attend your church but have listened to Dr. Rodgers via the LWF program for years on the way to work. This web site breaks my heart and scares me to death when I read about BBC going down the Purpose Driven pathway. If a picture is worth a thousand words then videotape is worth a million. Watch the video on the link below from the king of all purpose driven Churches - Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California and see if this is what you want in your Sanctuary on Sunday mornings. This is what worship is like at a church whose pastor has great influencing over hundreds of pastors across America – including yours. Yes - that is a "worship" service you are watching complete with young female dancers gyrating to the beat in a fashion similar to the Memphis Grizzly cheerleaders. Who will take a stand against our services becoming like an MTV video just for the sake of filling the pews?

You may have to copy and paste the link to your browser. If that does not work you can go to and do a search for “Saddleback Worship – He Reigns”.

Please don’t let this happen to you. There are many of us out here who love and look up to your church because of the radio and other ministry things you provide.

John 16:33

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Our Bible Fellowship Leader informed us on Sunday that there was a lot of gossip going around and that we should not listen to it. We were informed that it is just troublemakers who started out not liking the music. Of course, I knew different. But I was appauled that this leader would trivialize what is happening at our church. How can these people, in good conscious, make light of the unbiblical behavior from our pastor and associate pastor? And did this leader khow of the fence fiasco? Is that gossip, too? I think not. It was all just brushed under the rug, as though everything is fine. Satan is alive and well at Bellevue.

Mrs. C has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

Who knows how to start the petition online and who is willing to be responsible for it? I would if I had a clue what to do? Is someone already working on it?

onlyamember has left a new comment on your post "Sharpe Interview Pt 2 Comments Page":

We were told that there were a few people at the church that were upset about some things and causing some issues. We were told that there would be a Deacon's meeting that day that would solve it. We were left with the impression that the Deacon body actually had the authority to make decisions and get things done.......which I found out later is not true. Belleve just hasn't learned how to function yet, with a leader that is not above reproach.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Saving Grace said...

Thank you guys for persevering through Satans attacks...keep up the good work. Yes beloved church family even this blog is under attack. It was temporarily interrupted but now we're back online... Bellevue family keep the prayers going up. There are others out there who are trying to stop this. It's time to stand and be counted!!

9:19 PM  
Blogger Mrs. C said...

I need to get a few things correct in my mind. Would someone kindly respond to these questions if you know the answers?
1. Was the blog offline because of something someone did to shut it down, or was it because of an unrelated technical difficulty?
2. Regarding the letter from Chuck Taylor. Am I to understand that the search committee KNEW in advance that Steve Gaines was going to make these staff changes and also that he was going to bring Jamie Parker back? Was the knowledge that Steve Gaines was "seeker sensitive" in his goal to change our church to a more liberal format by secretly introducing the Purpose Driven Church plan into our services also known in advance by the search committee?
3. Are there church staff members posting on this site who are afraid of giving their full names? (I am fearful of giving mine - I have already been told to leave if I don't like what is going on!)
4. How many of the new members are those recently departed from GBC after their split over similar reasons?
5. Are the deacons working on something to resolve this or is it just a few of us that are concerned? (I read somewhere that for every one person that actually writes or calls, there are at least 100 or more who are likeminded)
Thank you for any information you can give me.

11:53 AM  
Blogger IWTK said...

I have heard Brother Steve say numerous times he is not taking us to a "seeker" model. Yes we have brought the tempo of the music up, but we still do a "blended" service (half hymns/half new). Amazing Grace was new at some point. Change is hard for many, and they will fight it tooth and nail.

I hate to see all of this continue. Steve Gaines, Mark Doughtery, Chuck Taylor, Harry Smith and Chip Freeman stood before 180+ Deacons on Sunday and answered all the "allegations" one-by-one. I would have to estimate that 99% of the Deacon's left that meeting feeling confident that there is little or no reason for panic.

Do some things need to be tweaked? Sure. Do we need a Personnel Committee? Probably. I BEG each of you to seek out several Deacons to get their input before you continue all of this. There are a few deacons who are not on the same page as the vast majority. One has to trust that 180+ deacons are capable of discerning information and coming to a conclusion. I have to think that most will agree with me, that, while not perfect, the system we have is working. As I said before, it can be made better.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Psalm 15 said...


I agree!!!

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Psalm 15,

I especially like verse 3, "(he, or "the godly man") does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend"

Many people are undeservedly gaining this "godly man" title affixed to their name; what if we used that phrase according to its definition in Scripture?

1:06 PM  
Blogger BR said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"trusting deacons to handle the situation is very difficult in light of all that has happened, (there were deacons jumping fences)"

Water caused flood damage to my friend's car, so now I shouldn't drink it?

Come come, let's do better than that.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Wayne said...

It is also a concern when we are asked to trust deacons when we know this administration has entered someone's private resident by jumping a fence. This was illegal. Knowing that the administration has stated that they prayed about it doesn't free them of the responsibility to do what is right - and that was not only wrong it was ILLEGAL. HELLO!?

I feel we are simply turning our noses to the wind and simply wanting to excuse these instances. Well, I'm sorry, I can and will not. They need to be held accountable and answer for what was obviously a pure failure of their integrity - plain and simple.


2:06 PM  
Blogger CH said...

To those who have suggested that this is somehow about changes in the worship style, or changes in certain departments, or so on and so forth... you're missing the point.

Some of you have put forth charges of posting "malicious, false, defamatory" and "slanderous" comments; you then proceed to post comments of that very nature against Josh, Mark, and any of us who stand to simply question the actions of men who are in leadership positions. And you won't even leave your own name. What kind of backbone does that take?

I've read nothing whatsoever in any of these blogs (by their authors) that can possibly be construed as malicious, defamatory, or slanderous, and whether or not these charges are false or not has yet to be determined.

These are serious charges that have been leveled, and there appears to be substantial evidence to back them up. Every day that passes without a response directly from the accused leads me to believe that they may very well be true.

These are not the voices of a small minority, arguing their preferences over the volume of the music or how we should dress in church. These are the voices of a considerable number of people, from all walks of life, from all areas of the church, of all ages, who have sensed something is not right, and now see evidence to explain why that is so.

Let your voices be heard, and let your names be known... on both sides.

Speaking for myself, I assure you there is no malicious intent here. I seek nothing but the truth and accountability.

We have a church literally filled with surveillance cameras. Why is that? I'm sure the administration would argue that if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide and therefore nothing to fear. All we are asking for is the same standard to apply to the administration itself.

I call on Steve Gaines, Mark Dougharty, Chuck Taylor, and others in question to come forward, address these charges in their entirety in front of the entire church body, and let the evidence speak for itself.

Collin Houseal

2:11 PM  
Blogger ilovebbc said...

My question is for Collin. Did you read the post that said Brother Steve, Chuck Taylor and Chip Freeman went before the deacons on Sunday afternoon and answered all their questions one by one?

2:20 PM  
Blogger Psalm 15 said...

I have one regret about the "fence jumping" as you call it.

I was not with them.

Thank you men for caring enough to go to this man in love to try to restore him.

We need more men like you in our church

Psalm 15

2:23 PM  
Blogger BR said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To IWTK: I disagree that 99% of the deacon fellowshop is satisfied. A little homework will confirm that all of the explanations offered Sunday will not stand close examination. Example: The circumstances surrounding David Smith's dismissal were, to be charatible, misstated; and to be candid, patently untrue. As Dr. Rogers said "it's a mighty thin pancake that only has one side" and unfortunately the other side has not been allowed to be heard. I wonder why???

2:54 PM  
Blogger laura said...

Psalm 15 2:23pm,
What a statement. How do you know that the Bellevue Fence Jumping gang went to restore? Do you have first hand knowledge of their motives and intentions?
According to Mark Sharpe (the home they went to), he recieved a phone call (not only heard by him but by others in the room) from Dr. Gaines (the coach of the team)saying that he was "Hezbollah" and that he was going to personally be sending people to hell if he went through with the meeting. This does not sound like restoration to me. Does it to you?
They said that this "fence fiasco"
was equivilent to an EE visit. Our you involved in EE or know anyone who is? If so, do you know anyone who has climbed over fences on any EE occasion? I wonder what the response would be of that home. It would surely taint the testimony of anyone who would do such a thing, don't you think?
Why did they not call or ring the buzzer to ask to come in and talk?
God knocks on our hearts door - he doesn't barge in and ambush you does He?
Let's look at facts and not wishful thinking. This is too dangerous for Bellevue to turn and "hope" that everything will eventually get back to the way it was. The leadership must be held accountable!

3:37 PM  
Blogger I Tim. 5 said...

To me one of the saddest things about this situation is that it is causing good people to have to take sides. I sympathize with all of the people who long to be loyal to the pastor and to believe what has been said at the deacons meetings. Unfortunately, I know beyond any doubt that the information given to the deacons was filled with half-truths that end up being whole lies. The things said about David Smith are not the only less than factual statements made. The issues of Mr. Whitmire, credit card misuse, and Dr. Gaine's dream are a few other areas that were misrepresented. It has turned into a giant cover up. I understand that some of the leaders in the church are desperate to avoid a church split or resignation of the pastor, but I don't think that the end justifies the means! Integrity is what has been thrown out the window, and I'm deeply saddened by that.

3:45 PM  
Blogger ilovebbc said...

On that last most I meant to say "many are taking up offenses for people that do NOT feel offended."

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, David Smith choose to leave and take an interim positiom at GBC where he had no health insurance, forcing his wife to go to work. Interesting. Hmmmmm.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I know David Smith to be a man of impecable character and have no doubt he said he choose to leave. What would you do if you were stripped of all your responsiilities and told to submit a weekly report of what you were dong to find another job? I'd choose to leave too.

5:08 PM  
Blogger laura said...

I was referring to Psalm 15 as I noted.
I do not question anyone's love for Bellevue,(except that of Dr. Gaines and some other leadership staff). What man tries to cover up, God will uncover.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Saving Grace said...

Saving Grace says in Colossians 4:6 it says....Let your conversation be always FULL of grace, seasoned with SALT, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Please lets keep this in mind and share only what is helpful and uplifting for the cause of Christ.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Alvin Ellis said...

At the BBC deacons’ meeting Sunday night, several persons spoke about “topics” which had developed from the questions Chuck Taylor had received. One topic was “bylaws”, which was addressed by Bruce Brooke, chairman of the board of directors for BBC. Bruce explained how he’d been involved in “bylaws” from the 5th or 6th grade until now, in one form or another. He stated that J.V. McGee didn’t like them and that Dr. Rogers had not, either. But he did not mention several things in his discussion of bylaws.
I recently called the Church to see if I could or could not see the Church’s bylaws. Though told I could but under limited conditions, Diane Mills and Mark Dougharty also shared that the current policy was begun by Dr. Rogers, shortly after he replaced Dr. Pollard. One of them said he felt bylaws hindered the moving of the Spirit and if the Church had to resort to the level of its bylaws rather than practicing the exalted tenants of the Bible, the Church was already in a hurt. I agree with both statements and feel that all Bible believers should, too.
But Bruce did not mention that the Southern Baptist Convention has bylaws which are closely followed, changed as needed, and preserved - to the chagrin of those who would divert and pervert our convention; that the Adrian Rogers-led victory in taking back the leadership of the convention and seminaries was by a proper exercise of the SBC’s bylaws; and that those bylaws have been used to steer the convention through some rough times. As a starter, let’s just adopt and adapt these bylaws to Bellevue.
Bruce also failed to mention that our Tennessee Baptist Convention has its bylaws, which are presently being used by that convention to win back control of Belmont University from those who would dilute its Baptist and Christian controls. Without these tools of governance, our state convention would be suffering the same problems as Texas (Baylor) and North Carolina (Wake Forest).
Bylaws simply govern, and as with any type of governor, are there to control or punish the evildoer and reward them that do well. Why should we be afraid of that? I really doubt Bruce or any other Church leader wants our Church to run out of control, doing whatever may be right in each member’s eyes. Yes, Germantown Church recently had its problems, and was delivered from them by adherence to its bylaws, which were current enough to address the situation and insure that Church continued on its foundation, the Bible.
Try Googling “Southern Baptist Convention bylaws” or any state convention and “bylaws”. They all have them, and probably all, together with the seminaries and Bible colleges, recommend them
Let’s be realistic: since people are being told they can leave BBC if they do not like what is happening, since charges of impropriety are raised from both “sides” of our body, since we seem to have forgotten about deferring to a weaker brother, we seem to have forgotten the warning and commands of “brother-keeping” from the Sermon on the Mount, we seem to have purchased Bibles with I Corinthians 13 missing, this is the very time we need a minimal guide - like a set of good bylaws – so we may act decently and in order in God’s house.
Like Paul said in I Corinthians 8, “IF the lack of good bylaws make my brother to offend, I will demand good bylaws while the world standeth, LEST I MAKE MY BROTHER TO OFFEND.”
In His Name, Alvin Ellis

8:19 PM  
Blogger Alvin Ellis said...

I earlier wrote about the bylaws issue and Bruce Brooke’s comments, and, with apologies for the length of that message, add this comment on who should set up the bylaws. Years ago Dr. Creighton taught on Acts 6, which covers the first “schism” in the Church. There were the well-established ‘Hebrews’ and the newly-arrived-but-really-outsider ‘Grecians’. Those trouble-making Grecian widows were not getting their daily victuals like they should. Predictably, “there arose a murmuring.” Rather than distract from their prayers and ministry of the Word, the Apostles appointed seven men to handle this issue. Those seven men all had Grecian names. The Apostles, trusting God and recognizing His value on these people, had picked men who only days earlier had been “unclean”, and therefore “unworthy” to handle the administrative issues of the Church. And we all know the dire effects of this foolishness by reading Acts 6: 7, “And the Word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” It may sound too simple, but it surely seems to follow that if we were to follow this “Grecian Formula” set down by the earlier Church leaders, we, too, might see the number of disciples, i.e., those obedient to the Word, multiply in Memphis, and even a large crowd of us priesthood of believers would become obedient to the faith. Is the same God at work today who worked then? If the same seed is sown, should we expect the same harvest? Just like the leaders then, our leaders now would have to trust God with His Church, surrender some of their power to ‘them’, and then pray over the men selected to build the bylaws and over their product. It surely sounds like foolishness, but would our God use this foolish bylaws thing to glorify Himself and bring to naught the wisdom of this world if it were handled like the lesson in Acts 6? I believe He would. Do you? In His Name, Alvin Ellis

3:45 AM  
Blogger BellevueTruth said...

Send out thy light.....

I would ask Chuck Taylor our chairman of the deacons, Bruce Brooke current President Of the Board Of Directors for Bellevue and attorney, Jeff Arnold, Harold Shipman, Tom McCormack, Chuck Fullerton and John Addison all members of the Board Of Directors, Pastor Steve Gaines, Associate Pastor Mark Dougharty this question. What is the "right" thing to do concerning our bylaws and state charter?

A.To ignore them.


B. To abide by them, which I understand the state of TN has a generic set (these are called the "Filler Law") that address what our current bylaws don't.

I hope they agree, this is not a "subjective" decision. To think otherwise would be arrogant. The "right" thing to do is abide by them. To decide different is not any person, staff, deacon or committee decision. It is the congregation's decision by vote.

OK church, start calling your staff, deacons, committiees and other leadership to "now" be accountable by answering our questions. Why not have a Question & Answering meeting for all Bellevue members at our church with the liberty for anyone to ask any questions? Jesus spoke in public and answered questions from others. Remember, it is never to late to do the right thing...

Hang in there church...

12:55 PM  
Blogger Ed_T said...

I plan to have an extended discussion with a deacon in the near future. At this point in time, I think we have passed the "hope it will all go away" stage. If Mark Sharpe & Co really are spreading "lies" and "division", then it has reached a level in my opinion that it is time for something to be done.

You don't hear much of church discipline these days, but if the supporters of the current church administration are to be believed and all the "rumors" are false, then Bellevue Baptist Church needs to hold meetings to determine the validity of the charges. If these men are making false accusations that have brought us to this state of affairs, then they should be publicly stripped of their membership in Bellevue Baptist Church for causing such discord.

However, I suspect the lack of aggressiveness in refuting these charges is more an attempt to avoid potentially embarrassing situations (such as the actual circumstances around the departure of Dr. Whitmire and David Smith) than an indicator of an attitude of "that's a blatantly false rumor and I won't dignify it with a response".

At this point, SOMEBODY needs to be disciplined, whether it be Mark Sharpe & Co, staff members, deacons, or whomever. There's too much contradictory information floating around for somebody in this mess to not be lying or to be highly uninformed and making accusations based on woefully incomplete information.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Saving Grace said...

I agree something needs to be done now... SOMEBODY, Pleeeezzze SAVE BELLEVUE!!! I love my church but I don't like what is going on there. You can't possibly worship in the atmosphere that is there. Why can't the TRUTH that has been revealed be believed and understood? Are we such a feeble and weak generation that we won't STAND FOR TRUTH no matter the cost? May those who come behind us FIND US FAITHFUL!!! I pray that the body of believers that I once knew will STAND UP and be counted!

10:37 AM  
Blogger aubie said...

I would like to add something that at the time was equally as disturbing. When Dr. Gaines first became pastor, he began to change some things in the worship service. One of these things was the position of the pastor, asst pastor, and music minister during the service. They formally sat on stage all during the service. One Sunday morning, Dr. Gaines announced the chairs on the platform had been removed at the request of the Music Office. I thought this was strange because if that were the case, why had they not said anything to Dr. Rogers before? I personally talked to one of the staff members in the Music Office and they said they never requested those chairs to be moved. Why would Dr. Gaines be dishonest about this? If he wanted the chairs to be removed, it would not be a big concern. I have felt from that point on that I could not trust the pastor.

8:06 PM  
Blogger CH said...

To Mr. Haywood (and anyone else involved behind-the-scenes with the Channel 5 story tonight), I must express my disappointment. While clearly this debate regarding truth and accountability is taking place in a public forum, putting it out on the local nightly news was not a positive or proper step to take.

If you were pestered by the media for a story, it would have been far better to politely decline with a "no comment; it's not the general public's business." You essentially gave them the story and allowed them to proceed.

I'm sorry to have to say this, but we must look critically at all sides in this debate.

This action was not necessary, and I'm afraid it's done far more harm than good.

On the flip side, I must add that whoever the "Bellevue spokesperson" was, their comment indicating that Bellevue's administration "takes all questions and suggestions from the church body seriously" is laughable at best, as evidenced by the very existence of this site.

Collin Houseal

8:25 PM  
Blogger William Streich said...

Truth never fears investigation, while the fear of truth refuses to investigate!

6:44 PM  
Blogger Diana Hart said...

With all due respect to Mr. Houseal, I disagree. I think it was better for the webmaster to go public at a time and place of his choosing than for it to happen any other way. And believe me, with 35,000 hits it was only a matter of time that it would hit the news. I can't believe it has taken this long.

And for all you women who are writing that you can't do anything but pray and fast, you couldn't be more wrong! You have the power to tell people! If your Bible Fellowship teacher won't talk about it, does that stop you? The only rules we are under are Christ's rules and I think we have established that the Biblical rules have been followed. Get a list of people in your class and get on the phone. Start calling people and informing them. If they won't listen, mark them off the list and go on to the next person. Don't waste time with people who won't listen and move on to people who will. Some people will never believe. That is their problem. Bellevue members - don't wait for your deacons and staff members. They are not going to step up to the plate. The ones that are going to step up have and they need your help. 5 people can not do this alone. We need ALL of you!!!

6:48 PM  
Blogger BR said...

If those of us who are seeking the truth will do some specific things (or even one of them), maybe something will happen. One would be to print out Mr. Saba's letter and mail a copy to Steve Gaines, and one to each or even a few of the deacons if you can. You can call the reporter at the Commercial Appeal and ask him to find out just HOW many of these drastic changes have been voted on by the congregation (as he was told by church officials) seeing how we are a congregationally approved body and just when were we allowed to question the hows and whys of the lies, cover-ups, dreams (visions) and financial arrangements that are behind the scenes. On another note, when calculating salaries, I am curious if they do or do not include the perks. Like the new Tahoe that Steve Gaines picked up before he ever came to preach his first sermon, and then went on to brag about it from the pulpit. Did he know how many people give sacrificially to the church thru tithes and love offerings, or does he even care?? I have no doubt that Steve Gaines was sent by God to Bellevue. He has the potential to be a great preacher, however,I believe that he was sent here to wake up God's people as to what is going on in the Lord's church these days. We are conforming to the worldly culture around us and it is destroying us!! God's house is a HOLY place, not ENRON or Beale Street. We do not need a CEO or a lounge act on stage. We need a man of God preaching the Word of God and the music should edify, not tear down! AND even now, in everything we should give thanks, even for this degradation in His church. I know that the sovereignty of God will work all things together for HIS glory, not Steve Gaines' glory (nor ours), and that is my comfort. This should bring us all closer to HIM, thru fasting and prayer, but we must act unless the Lord hinders us from doing so. Apparently Steve Gaines is not willing to budge on his stand to keep total control and keep everything behind closed doors and quiet, that is why he demonizes those who are seeking the truth. Why else would he claim that we are being used by the devil to bring down Bellevue? I believe that the devil is using Steve Gaines to bring down Bellevue. BUT, God in his wisdom will not allow it, but maybe HE is going to bring Bellevue to it's knees - in HOLY prayer, with weeping and much sorrow for allowing Steve Gaines and staff to run amuck, unchecked and unrepentant to the church and before a HOLY GOD. There are deacons who are blindly following the leaders, trusting the word of men who acknowledge breaking the law, who tell us that it is none of our business what they do or who they hire. Breaking federal labor laws on a whim, keeping those on staff who are favored and being hateful to those they deem less favorable, crossing off the names of deacons who question them, refusing to meet with the congregation. Mr Gaines, arrogance and spite is just as much a sin as lying! Deacons, it is time to stop being respectors of persons and time to be respectors of GOD!Maybe we need to arrive at the church at 8:00 am Sunday and pray at the altar for our church. That the truth will be made known, and that those forces that are not of the Lord's will, shall be removed from HIS church, by whatever means HE sees fit in HIS wisdom, not ours. Remember Ananias and Sapphira? Who in our midst would be fool enough to lie about these things?

11:29 AM  
Blogger RS said...

BR -

You have put into words exactly what is on many people's hearts and minds - what exactly can I, as an individual, do? You have identified several items, but the one that stands out is your call to the alter at 8 AM on Sunday to pray.

As a group we have been demonized, criticized and trivialized on many occasions. The Pastor, Associate Pastor and Deacon Chairman have even gone so far as to say that this is only about a small group of disgruntled people who just don't like the music and new worship style. Quite honestly, I believe they have no idea (or are too arrogant to care) about the number of people who are concerned about issues far greater than the music. Issues that include ethics, accountability, personal integrity, potential financial impropriety and illegalities, and my personal favorite – theological bullying from the pulpit!

BR, if you are seriously asking that all who are seeking accountability and transparency amongst our church staff and leadership be at the alter this Sunday, 9/24, at 8 AM - then I will join you. I can't think of a better way for Bellevue members who seek the truth to unite together in God's house and pray for His church.

1:27 PM  
Blogger BR said...

My family and I will be there. And if they lock the doors, we will pray on the concrete outside, rain or shine. And I encourage any and all members who are concerned about the health of our church to be there as well. I appreciate your encouragement. Please pass the word. As Dr Rogers would say, God's people on their knees can do more than any government in the world. I pray that the Lord will move in a mighty way and that only HE will get the glory. Thank you.

4:07 PM  
Blogger CH said...

I will join you there tomorrow morning.

Another idea which I proposed to Mark Sharpe and Jim Haywood in an email (but have not received a reply to as of yet) was this:

The moment Steve Gaines steps to the pulpit to preach in the 9:30 service, all men (representing themselves and their families) who are simply calling for accountability, honesty, and the truth without fear or favor, those men should stand wherever they are in the Worship Center. Stand for a few moments and then quietly and uneventfully be seated again.

It will be a silent statement as to the true numbers of us who are genuinely concerned for our church. No one need say anything except perhaps one representative down front, and then only if questioned directly from the pulpit. The response should be concise and state only that we stand as members of the church body openly calling for truth and accountability. I believe this person should be Mr. Saba, Mr. Manning, or Mr. Sharpe.

This simple act cannot be construed as accusatory, vicious, defamatory, divisive, or any of the other labels which has been thrown against those of us who are merely seeking the truth.

These allegations are either truth or fiction. Scriptural discipline is required on one side or the other. The truth, whatever it may be, is all we seek.

If you stand, I will stand with you.

Collin Houseal

[If you object to this idea for whatever reason, I will respect that. In such case, please do not post this comment, to avoid confusion.]

7:35 PM  
Blogger Alvin Ellis said...

That’s my picture! I’d clicked on “Trespassers” and then “High Stepper” and there I was – at the fence that has come to be such an issue. That’s my wife’s red yardstick laid against the fence and that’s Mark Sharpe’s house behind me. I’d heard so much conflicting stuff about ‘the fence’ and other things that I decided I’d see what was accurate the best I could. So having heard the deacons were told you could easily step over ‘the fence’, in conflict with its being ‘a horse fence, chest high’, I looked up Mark’s address on Google Maps and drove out there to see for myself. Since then I’ve personally heard two of those who climbed over it say (1) that he didn’t really know how high the fence was, maybe 3 and 1/2 or 4 feet, but he could easily climb over it” and (2) that the fence is only “belt-high”. Tonight in his Info-mercial, Steve Gaines said it was "a little biddy white fence about that tall", indicating it was about crouch-high withhis hand. My hand is on the fencepost which is 48 inches above the ground and the top of the top plank is at 44 inches – diaphragm-high to me (I’m 5’10”) - and well above my belt.
Now why is that important enough for me to write this? Because when the meat of the matter is so hidden that the truth of it can not be determined, then I look at the fringes, those little things on the edge of the controversy, to see who is consistent with the facts and who is not. Then I use that “He who is faithful in little, will be faithful ...” teaching to see who is being faithful to the truth – whatever it may be and whoever may be telling it. So, since Mark Sharpe told me the fence was “a horse fence’ and that it was “chest high” and his side of the story turned out to be the truth, I strongly tend to believe the other things he has said.
So, if you are trying to walk circumspectly in all this and questioning who to deem credible, just drive out and look at the fence. Maybe take your yardstick or tape measure. Look at the only hard evidence that is available. You’ll surely find that the question is no longer “can you step over the fence or easily climb it?” No, the question, at least for me, begins to focus on the integrity of those who tell a conflicting tale about ‘the fence”, and other things.
Steve Gaines may be right: I may need to find another church. But until I feel the leading to do so, I want to find the truth about these matters so we can begin the healing of our Church and the souls who are wounded. So, Father, when will you visit us with that great and mighty work of repentance, reconciliation and restoration that we, Bellevue Baptist Church, so desperately need? Prov 18: 17 Alvin Ellis

8:49 PM  
Blogger Russell & Kathy Hurley said...

I am behind you all the way, but for those of us who are unfamiliar with all this ... your website is confusing. You need to list your points and articals in chronological order. Surely you have a computer saavy friend who could help with your presentation.

The site looks unorganized ("bit & pieced") together. This may sound picky, but your integrity is being challeged and the appearance of your website needs to be thougth out and presented in a way that even an occasional visitor at BBC can easily follow the events.

The way it is now ... you have to do hours of research throughout the site to figure it all out.

You should list the parties involved and what their titles are and a full contact list of all the deacons and the committe members so that the membership can contact them. Surely most of them have an email account or phone?

The meeting last night was a whitewash! I think they had supporters planted throughout the audience to promote support.

First of all ... there is nothing wrong with saying "Amen" in church. If Pastor Adrian had an issue with the situation he would have privately taken the gentleman to lunch and in his softspoken humorous way; he would have asked the long time member to help him out!

2nd: Surely, history has shown us time and time again that when a scandal raises it's head the best thing to do is open the books and squash any rumors or complaints. The longer you try to surpress ... the worse the situation becomes.

3rd: I'd really like to know how Mrs. Rogers truly feels about all of this! Pastor Adrian would be so unhappy with the disgrace!

4th: I continued at BBC for months after Dr. Gaines came, below are my observations:

A. The screen was an insult to the choir and a true statement of the ego involved.
B. His messages lack compassion.
C. He is arrogant by nature.
D. Way too many points for one sermon. The message was if you weren't taking notes on his sheets ... you were not fully worshiping. Everyone learns and worships differently. That should have been presented simply as an option ... not a statement
E. The music was much better before and I'm not elderly. You never knew who was going to do a solo or what special music they would perform to warm your heart. Now it's like the sing offs that they have on WBUY with the pink haired lady. Of course Jamie is featured on almost every song and they all sound alike. Standing for 30 minutes for the entire song service is a bit much.

We have been visiting other churches, but all of this makes me what to come back to help save Bellevue. I thought we were the only ones who were unhappy!!!!!!!

Thanks for your time & efforts! Our prayers are with all of you!

Russell & Kathy Hurley

10:27 AM  
Blogger seasonschange4all said...

Mark & Richard,
I attended the Friday evening meeting and left upset at the innuendo/rumors that were floated there, as well as the lack of evidence to support both your innuendo and holding a meeting at that time. I believe you withheld some vital information due to believing that the pastor, associate paster, etc. would come clean (after your lunch meeting that same day with other deacons). Now I see they are not ready or willing to do so, based on the answers they gave to your allegations. Or are your allegations baseless? If you have evidence to contradict what was shared from the pulpit following the Sunday PM service on 9/24, please host another meeting - I promise to be there due to my and my wife's hearts being heavy with doubt as the credibility of my new pastor and the men supporting him. My question above has been on my mind since that Friday evening meeting. In order to put this to rest, physical evidence to support any allegations against our pastor, associate pastor, other staff, committee members, etc., needs to be made public - NOW if not sooner! I pray that you are working on doing so. I look forward to that meeting, although it may be a day we who truly love our church will live to regret.

11:51 AM  
Blogger onlyamember said...

I am sad to say that the meeting Sunday night went exactly like we all thought. Steve said and had said just enough to pacify and satisfy. The REAL questions were not answered. I am tired of hearing him try to blame all this on Mark and Josh. I am afraid that the Deacons have never been involved in anything like this before and are afraid to take a stand. Truth is that he probably would have never addressed the church if had not hit the media. We did not buy it. If there is nothing to all these rumors and they have nothing to hide....why not have the meeting that Mark asks for? This is more than about the changes and the bylaws. The real issues need to be addressed. What about the ministers that have left? Has anyone contacted them to see what they have to say? I watched people all around me Sunday night and saw MANY not clap and not buy what Steve was selling...himself; but where are these people now?
I am sorry, but the bottom line for me is why would someone of Mark Sharpes stature and character say these things if there was nothing to it? Why would a pastor of Bellevue not want to get to the bottom of this and have the meeting? What about a mediator from the association?

Did anyone show up Sunday morning at 8? (I am just now reading this, so I wasn't aware of it.) Did men stand at the 9:30 service? Just curious what the response was if they did.

12:09 PM  
Blogger DARGIRL said...

Mark and Josh,you are right in telling us about dr.Gaines.have numerous meetings until all know the truth.The church belongs to the true believers.All members are equal.

1:50 PM  
Blogger allofgrace said...

I'm a member of Bellevue, and have been for the last 4 yrs. Dr. Rogers, of course, was still the pastor when I first came. However I didn't come to Bellevue because of Dr. much as I admired him. I came to Bellevue looking for stability in a church. My first 9 yrs as a believer were spent in a church that knew little BUT turmoil for those 9 yrs. I feel confident in saying that the majority of that turmoil was due to personality conflicts between congregation and leadership. Much of it could have been avoided if the Biblical principles for conflict resolution were understood and obeyed. I've had many concerns for Bellevue for some time...actually for the SBC as a whole. In the majority of SBC churches I think it's safe to say, that nothing closely resembling church discipline is practiced, though it is commanded by scripture, and the proper Biblical procedure for conflict resolution is all but forgotton. But I think these things are but symptoms of a larger like Dr. Rogers and others fought hard for the inerrancy and infallability of Holy Writ..but I think the battle fell a little short...have we lost confidence in the SUFFICIENCY of scripture? Is the pure milk and meat of the Word not enough for us any longer? I'm not nearly as concerned about musical styles as I am theological content..although it's been proven that loud raucous music with pounding beats and repetitive, mantra-like strains have a physiological effect on us. I don't think God is nearly as impressed with our "productions" as He is with the condition of our hearts. Worship styles that more closely resemble an episode of American Idol than God honoring worship may play well to the TV cameras, and may impress those who tune in...but the wisdom of man is still foolishness with God. In the SBC it seems that the thing valued most is the mega-church model with it's huge numbers....hypocritical numbers I might Bellevue boasts a membership of 30,000?...where are those 30,000 "members" on any given Sunday?...can they even be accounted for?...does church membership even have any meaning anymore? Has the teaching and preaching of doctrine taken a back seat to widescreen television screens, banners, Starbucks coffee shops, and all the other trappings of the modern megachurch? I say again...I do not believe God is impressed with these things one iota. Step into the average megachurch and you see a tribute to conspicuous consumption. The pastors of these megachurches have had the most visibility and their voices heard above all other pastors in the SBC...for some time now they have all used the pulpit as their own "bullypulpits" to openly criticize anyone whose theology doesn't agree with theirs..and I'm not talking about men from other denominations...they've made Calvinism the major issue in SBC life and have sounded a loud alarm that Calvinism is the big boogyman that threatens to undo the SBC..well..I'm a Calvinist..have been for years..and I can assure you I have no agenda to convert the SBC..or any individual for that matter to Calvinism...I submit that the hysteria being created over Calvinism is nothing more than a smokescreen which hides what the real threat to the SBC is...PRAGMATISM...Calvinists have been a part of the SBC since it's founding..check your SBC history...if Calvinism hasn't destroyed the SBC by's highly unlikely to...a dumbed down, doctrine-lite, seeker sensitive gospel however, has the potential to bring any denomination crumbling to the ground. Personally I don't care who agrees with my theological convictions or doesn't..but I do weary of pastors who constantly cry.."get your theology from the Bible" though they are the only ones capable of picking up a Bible..reading it..understanding it...and coming to some conclusions that differ from their own. As I see it...both my theology and and large..are within the mainstream of Christian let's get off that soapbox and get to work on what the real problems are..and get to the business of what God has called us to's not OUR's not THEIR's GOD'S church...He owns it lock, stock, and barrel. Let's honor the Head of the Church, the Captain of our Salvation, the Author and Finisher of our faith...let's get our focus off men and on Him by whom all men will be judged.

"This is what the Lord says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls...'" Jer. 6:16

8:14 PM  
Blogger youthmomma said...

After listening to the watered down response of the select few on Sunday night, the check in my heart has become very very heavy. I am not surprised by what I heard, it is exactly like I expected. I find it so interesting that my friends who are blind to all of this actually thought that the administration took care of everything...put "us" in our place. Since it's not my personality to rock the boat, they can't understand why I have all of these questions and frustrations. If my family has to leave the church, I don't want to do it without at least TRYING to do what's right, although at this point, I don't know what that is...what new actions to take. My husband has already talked to a few deacons, longtime friends, and there are no answers all. Since we don't seem to be getting anywhere...isn't it time for a meeting? Shouldn't we organize? How do other churches that have been hijacked get their churches back?

8:19 AM  
Blogger Wayne said...

Dearest BBC Members,

Well, needless to say I am not shocked by the lack of truthfulness from Dr. Gaines on Sunday's "Informative Meeting." Not only was he not truthful - he even joked about climbing the fence - which, by the way, was against the law - a little thing called trespassing!!

I fear for Dr. Gaines!! I fear for him simply because he sees himself as 'untouchable' by others. I am also saddened to see so many other BBC members who are still blinded and who are able to accept him - even after he ADMITTED climbing the fence - remember - that was against the law AND he joked about it!

I pray that BBC will wake up and see Dr. Gaines for what he truly is - a man. A man who can not tell the truth and creates his own version of the truth to fit the immediate situation. And, if you don't mind me saying, he sounds and resembles more of the personality of a politician than a pastor! It doesn't take long to realize how shameful those type of people are to us!! May God have mercy on us and BBC!!

Dr. Gaines, in and through the name of Jesus, tell the truth and step down NOW!!


7:48 PM  
Blogger Alvin Ellis said...

In response to the question of how many if any were at the altar at 8:00 Sunday, 7 of us were there. One brother came in with his 2 daughters, said he was there to pray, knelt on the prayer bench and prayed. Another couple, the 2 daughters, my wife and I prayed together as a group. We were acceptably late to our Sunday School class. Maybe you’ll join us Sunday on that battlefield – not to pray against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of darkness that would destroy our Church. I Peter 5: 2-11 Alvin Ellis

8:07 PM  
Blogger Diana Hart said...

To Youthmomma, your friends (as well as some of mine) have been brainwashed. I have friends who know more about the Bible than I do but keep telling me he's "preaching the Word." He is NOT preaching the Word - he is preaching the word according to Steve. If anyone questions this statement, please get out your Bible, dust it off and start reading it every day. I have read it cover to cover since Steve's first day.

To the Hurley's: I wrote a letter to Steve in Feb. that he responded to (although he didn't actually respond to what I wrote but to what he wanted to respond to) and when I called Jamie arrogant, rude, and condescending, Steve told me to watch what I say and not let Satan get a foothold. I was very offended by this. As far as I'm concerned Satan has his hands all over the current administration and I was only speaking the truth as I see it. Anyone who is in the choir and has eyes to see and ears to hear can see/hear it for themselves. So anyway I caution you not to let Satan get a foothold since you referred to Steve as arrogant.

Oh, Jamie I know you read this site. Don't bother sending me a letter to tell me I'm no longer needed in the choir - I've already firmly established myself in a choir with upstanding Christians who love us whether we are waving our hands in the air or not! And for anyone who is wondering, I'm not a senior citizen - I am 37!

Thanks Mark, Josh, and the rest for everything you are doing. Our prayers are with you!


Diana Hart

8:14 PM  
Blogger I'mheartbroken said...

I knew Sunday evening was a terrible evening when Pastor Gaines, Harry Smith, Chip Freeman, and Chuck Taylor began to say things that didn't seem right. I don't know what to believe right now but I know that what was said from the pulpit Sunday evening broke my heart because it was obvious there was some sort of cover up and then I hear my pastor say what he said about Wednesday evening preaching. I am sick to my stomach. I felt as if the Holy Spirit was gone from the church.

I am ready to ask Steve Gaines to resign from Bellevue for the sake of the church. Why should we let this man who has just spoken about Wednesday evening services from his heart stay as our pastor? I have been going and sacrificing all of my life as a child and now as a parent to make sure my children are in church on Wednesday night. I am speechless. I don't know what to do. Can someone please ask this man to go back to where he came from?

After hearing his own words again on th web, I am asking my church to reduce his pay by $300,000. If he doesn't want to preach on Wednesday nights, that's fine but we should not reward a man who calls himself a Southern Baptist preacher for this behaviour. I am disgusted. I am grieving.

I love my Belleuve. Someone do something.

4:56 AM  
Blogger Wayne said...

Dear Ones,

I know at times it may seem that I'm hper-critical about Dr. Gaines, but his arrogance is too much!! When you hear is reasons for not preaching on Wednesday night . . . it is nothing less than arrogant.

I work over 50 hours a week including 4 days a week that are over 12 hours in length. I make $65,000 a year. Dr. Gaines preaches on Sunday - and that's it! Now, I know he says he has meetings - don't we all!! I know he says he has a family - I have two children and a wonderful wife. I work that much harder to make time for each of them. God has called him to preach the gospel - meetings and getting to know deacon families, however good that is, comes SECOND - not before. Yes, we want him to raise and Godly family and to be a Godly father - but to receive $500,000 a year and to give a excuse like he did does not get any sympathy from me!

Dr. Gaines, wake up!! Just because you have a large group of people who can not see beyond their nose - doesn't mean that others can't see you for what you are!!


7:11 AM  
Blogger Mark Sharpe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:13 AM  
Blogger Mark Sharpe said...

We have been told to judge the spirit of our Church by the monetary receipts taken in since September ‘05. They are reported to be up 23%. My only question on this “spiritual barometer” is this, “Is the accumulating of wealth in the church either good? Is it a sign that the church is spiritual and specially blessed of God?”
We could use such “barometers” as Solomon and his great wealth to show that accumulation of wealth evidences great, Godly spirituality – but Solomon was a spiritual failure and turned from the true God in his later years. We could look at the Temple in Jesus’ time to see that was wealthy - and its wealth was held by “whited sepulchers” – who crucified our Lord and claimed they were doing good.
But let’s just look in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, chapters 2 & 3, to see what He has to say about church wealth. The first mention of financial success is in Smyrna, where Jesus announced that He knew their works, tribulation, and poverty, and then the King of kings declared, “but thou art rich.” That’s strange: in their “poverty” that Church was recognized as “rich” by Jesus. The last Church mentioned is Laodicea, which bragged of its wealth, of what great values it had accumulated and of its “need of nothing.” But Jesus declared that Church to be “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”
Sorta makes you wonder how big its budget was and how much it was exceeding it, doesn’t it? It definitely makes you wonder if some people have been looking at the wrong things to gauge God’s working, and if they need to “repent and turn to God and do works meet [i.e., fit] for repentance.” How truly foolish we are if we use the world’s standard to evidence our Godliness and Holiness. How truly foolish we are. Alvin Ellis

6:14 AM  
Blogger Curious said...

Why was the transcript from Sunday night removed from the site?

9:56 AM  
Blogger john 16:33 said...

If a Pastor is not willing to make church worship service attendance for himself and his family a bigger priority than a youth athletic event, is he the right guy to lead BBC? What kind of example is that? Yeah, sure, Church is important, but just not more important than Soccer. Priorities.

I understand some people miss church because of job duties. But a pastor's job duties require he be at work on Wednesday nights. I miss some of my kids games because I have to work or travel for business.

When the senior leader of the church (this is his job!) condones missing worship for volutary activities it sends a message. How many of you get to skip out on work for voluntary activites without taking vacation? When he shrugs & says it is okay to blow off a responsibility he has as Sr. Pastor for a soccer game it sure sends a strong message. Even if he does not preach he should be there.

Actions speak louder than words.

I am not advocating the pastor be there 24x7. He needs evenings off and should be able to delegate other weeknight meetings to senior administrative pastors. The Pastor sets the tone. His actions suggest Wednesday night service is not important.

This is not gossip. He is on the record. In his own words he has said he has better and more important things to do than fulfill his job responsibility to lead the curch in worship on Wednesdays.

11:09 AM  
Blogger ilovebbc said...

Just fyi - Brother Steve led 8 players on the UT Martin football team to the Lord on Tuesday.

12:11 PM  
Blogger BR said...

I love BBC as well, and I was led to the Lord by a pastor who was in the middle of an adulterous relationship and had been for some time. This only goes to prove that the Lord does not need us to do HIS will.
We should NOT give anyone credit for the work the LORD is doing.

12:51 PM  
Blogger allofgrace said...

BR said...

I love BBC as well, and I was led to the Lord by a pastor who was in the middle of an adulterous relationship and had been for some time. This only goes to prove that the Lord does not need us to do HIS will.
We should NOT give anyone credit for the work the LORD is doing.

12:51 PM

Amen to that br. Proclaiming the gospel and souls being saved as a result is completely a work of God. Dr. Gaines would not be able to share the gospel had God not saved him...who knows how many went before Dr. Gaines to prepare the soil. The scriptures teach us...."Some plant, some water, but God brings the increase." Proclaiming the gospel and soul winning is not a contest to see how many "notches" someone can get on their belt. It's ALL a work of God..from first to last. Let's be careful folks, not to turn anything or anyone into an idol...not the pastor, not the church, not worship itself..God shares His glory with nothing or no one...all praise belongs to Him alone.

2:49 PM  
Blogger blsdbyHIM said...

In response to Dr. Gaines reasons for not preaching 0n Wednesday nights...I would like to add that his children go to a Christian School that to my knowledge does not even schedule volleyball games on Wednesday nights and from what I understand of the school they have limited homework on Wednesdays and no exams on Thursdays in order for their students to attend church with their families on Wednesday evenings. Why can't He?? Or has he just made commitments to preach at other churches? I am sure we could all go on an on about his faults and even find many good traits in him, but the bottom line is what do we do? My heart does ache for our church and it aches for all those who keep saying this is a witch hunt. God guide us all and have mercy on us all...

3:30 PM  
Blogger Diana Hart said...

Someone reminded me yesterday that Steve's youngest daughter is at church on Wednesday nights in the youth group classes and Donna is teaching a women's discipleship class so he can't be having much family time with all that going on. Just a thought!

Diana Hart

11:41 AM  

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