Association officer says church must handle controversy in-house
The regional director of missions with the Enterprise Association of Southern Baptist Churches says the embattled pastor of Jack’s Creek Baptist Church refuses to resign.
Church members Ozark Slone, Burman Newman, Freddy Johnson and Mary Hall sent a letter to Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter, complaining that Pastor Paul Grainger had used racial slurs “racial slurs not once, not twice, but at least three times this year, including using the N-word, while preaching in Sunday school class, and while preaching from the pulpit.”
Rev. Thomas Biddle says he met with complaining members of Jacks Creek Baptist Church on October 16 and then met with Grainger on Oct. 17.
“He stated that he would not be resigning,” Biddle said. Biddle says he met with the church members again the following week to lay out their options.
“Leave the church, wait and see what happens, or call for a vote for the pastor’s job.”
Biddle says the letter the four complainants sent to the Southern Baptist Convention gave the impression that he had been unwilling to help them.
“Other than meeting and counseling with them, that’s all we could do because we don’t have the authority to remove a pastor,” Biddle said. “I in no way support that kind of language.”
Biddle says he knows all of the people involved well, and he has himself pastored before at Jack’s Creek Baptist Church when it did not have a minister. “They have no reason to lie to me.”
Hall says the pastor has asked her and some of her friends to “find another church if they didn’t like it at Jack’s Creek.”
Hall said she was called by God to attend Jack’s Creek Baptist Church, that it has been her home church for most of her life, and she doesn’t want to leave. Hall says Grainger’s anger, his racial insensitivity, politicking from the pulpit, and criticizing other denominations have cast a dark cloud over the church’s services.
Grainger has pleaded ignorance when asked if he had made the statements, telling The Floyd County Times, “I don’t know. I have no idea.”
In a response from the Rev. Fred Luter, the president of the Southern Baptist Association, and the first African American to hold that position, he says he is “blown away by the fact that a pastor continues to use derogatory lanugage even after being confronted by members of his church.” But Luter added that SBA cannot remove a pastor from an autonomous church.
Luter suggested that the members call for a special meeting of the congregation to deal with “this very unfortunate matter.”
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