Tuesday, February 06, 2007

NewBBCOpenForum Link

For those of you who would like to follow are participate in discussion of the events at Bellevue Baptist Church, the following link will take you to the NewBBCOpenForum. Book mark it or copy it down so that you will be able to visit it in the future.


Jefferson and the Bellevue Crisis

Today I had the incredible honor of sitting in a class taught by William Kristol. If you don't know Kristol's name right off, you can tune in to Foxnews Sunday and often Special Report with Britt Hume to catch Kristol in a panel debate. One of the powerhouse minds behind the neocon movement, he's teaching a class that I've the pleasure of taking this semester.

Kristol kicked the class off by taking a look at the Declaration of Independence. It's been a couple of years since I read it, and as Kristol noted, this would probably be the only class we'd have here that would require reading the Declaration (the sadder since I'm at a school of government). A couple of things struck me during his lecture:

Noting human nature, Jefferson tosses out the line, "that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

If that line isn't an apt description of the nature of the beast at Bellevue, then I don't know what is. Penned 231 years ago, Jefferson's ink still glistens in my mind's eye. Men, given their nature, are disposed to suffer, suffer, and suffer more, if the price for such suffering's abolition is the sacrifice of the familiar. That is Bellevue. People know there is a problem. Lots of problems in fact. People know something isn't right, that things should change. That all grievances, allegations, and explanations should be heard. But this would require a change in the congregation's spiritually affluent lives--a sacrifice too great. Indeed, such is the hallmark of civilizational decline as Mark Steyn has noted in America Alone: the abandonment of self-determination to apathy.

Bellevue is declining just as civilizations do when they refuse to confront their internal rot and external threats. Bellevue, like the US, has both. Internally, BBC has corruption, sin, and hardheartedness. Many at the core of the church have sacrificed Right for expedience, choosing to run the church as a business without accountability to the shareholders (members) or transparency to the world. In the same way, Bellevue has external threats from seeker-friendliness, trendy spiritual fluff, and simple secularism. There are also many enjoying the unseemly mess that the BBC administration is exacerbating.

Many would argue that those dissenting are the real problem. This is only true if the dissenters are wrong. But if they are right, then there are huge problems at BBC which should be solved. Those concerned have tried to address the problems within the framework of the church via Matthew 18 and have been told to leave. This then raises the question: Is it better to leave a corrupt church to prey on innocents, or is it preferable to expose such corruption (vis a vis Matthew 18--which as an aside says nothing about excluding the World from knowledge of the conflict) so that pressure from the Christian world and the secular world may force a cleanup? Obviously the latter is the answer. For there are no downsides to showing the world our willingness to 1) admit sin, and 2) repent of it, and 3) restore fellowship.

Jefferson follows up saying, "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

We have been abused by a pastorate intent on obfuscating (to know laughable levels), using church largess for personal gains (to be paid back purportedly, but at what cost to Cesar both locally and nationally), intimidating those who would question its actions (the dream, Mark Sharpe, other staff members who shall remain nameless here), cloaking itself in secrecy (vis a vis confidentiality agreements for multiple ministers, no business meetings or access to church documents and policy), harboring a child molester (after the molester purportedly offered to resign no less!), lawbreaking (both by trespassing (and from all signs falsely calling such trespassing an errand of reconciliation) and refusing to release documents as required under TCA 48-66-102).

One must ask what is so important that a CHURCH administration would break the law to conceal its actions.

Folks, Jefferson was right. We will suffer until we feel we can suffer no more. It shouldn't be that way. We can be free. We can be restored. We do not have to tolerate this dictatorial administration which removes deacons at will, attempts to coerce non-disclosure signature, and simply lies.

There have been "a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursing invariably the same Object . . . a design to reduce [us] under absolute despotism."

Now the question is, will you do your duty and change our church, providing "new Guards for [our] future?" Will you? Will you force to an end this administration that does not comply with Matthew 18, refuses to open the administration to transparency, and refuses to obey the law? Will you force the administration to be accountable to the people themselves? Will you force the church to operate transparently, like Focus on the Family, such that anyone from anywhere can examine our books and non-confidential records to keep us honest?

If you will not, then I must ask, why?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Regarding the Morality of Recording Conversations

Some have said that my recording of the conversation between myself and David Coombs demonstrates a lack of character or integrity. Let's break the arguments against recording down and see what we come up with.

Let's break it down. 1) I recorded to protect myself. Nothing wrong with that. Certainly nothing wrong since Mark Sharpe's meeting with Dr Gaines was so misconstrued to the deacons later. Indeed, I had considered using video tape but was afraid I wouldn’t be allowed in. That is the main reason I opted for the smaller recorder. Can any fault that after Jim Haywood’s experience while trying to record church announcements?

2) I recorded also to get exactly what David Coombs said. Nothing wrong there either. One of the most beneficial things in this entire broader debate would be to have key conversations and statements recorded so that we could be absolutely sure of what happened.

3) The point of contention seems to be the fact that I didn't tell David I was recording him. Well, I won't concede any moral high-ground on that point, and my reasoning for that is in the paragraphs that follow. But before I explain, I’ve got to ask just on face value how in heaven's name is it wrong to keep a perfect record in a situation when you think it likely someone will break the law? What moral authority can one appeal to condemn that?

And there’s the rub: Does natural or God’s law condemn that sort of recording? Does Man's law?

Regarding natural law and God’s law, I can think of three grounds on which my actions might be objected to: A) Breaking the Golden Rule, B) gossiping, and C) causing someone to stumble.

As far as A) goes, appealing to the Golden Rule seems to fall short in circumstances where people do wrong or give us reason to believe they will do wrong. For instance, if we see a fellow doing something immoral, say robbing a bank, we don’t say to ourselves, “Now if I were robbing that bank, I sure wouldn’t want someone to stop me. Guess that means I shouldn’t call the police.” Of course not. We realize that we must do what is right and prevent the man as best we can from committing the crime.

Now say we have a legitimate reason to believe that someone will do a wrong, do we not act accordingly? An example may help. I remember watching Dateline NBC ten or fifteen years ago and seeing one of their correspondents walk into a jewelry shop with a hidden camera. Under normal circumstances that might seem bit cheeky, but you see the correspondent had reason to believe that the store was going to cheat her because others had reported to her that the story was switching diamonds for worthless stones. And indeed, she caught them red-handed, switching out customers’ precious diamonds for cubic zirconia or some such. No one condemned the correspondent because she had reason to believe the jewelers would do wrong and she wanted to record the encounter to verify the customers’ claims. This is very similar to what we’ve dealt with at BBC. They have demonstrated time and again disregard for what is right from lies, to intimidation, to law breaking, to disregard for Matthew 18. This combined with the fact that they had in the past denied requests for the church’s bylaws gave me more than enough reason to suspect that they might well do the wrong thing. That being the case, conscience, reason, and Scripture all validate an action that at first glance doesn’t comport with the Golden Rule.

As for B) Gossiping, it is hard to condemn one for allowing others to know of a leader’s (or really anyone’s) transgression when the transgression affects all. If we are to condemn as gossips those who shed light on sins, then we must also condemn the prophets, the Lord, Paul when he spoke of the fornicator or Demas, John when he reported Jesus’ conversation with Peter, and when he talked of Diotrephes. Indeed, we should probably note that most of the Old Testament is riddled with “gossip.” And this is just in reference to the Bible. What about the sex offender registry? That notes people’s transgressions. Should that be taken down? Of course not. It let’s people know that certain people are not to be trusted. The same can be said of those who, for legitimate reasons, note sin.

Further complicating the gossip argument is the fact that one can rarely hold anyone, especially leaders, accountable without noting to the masses the nature of a transgression. If this is agreed, then the only counter-recording argument left under this line of thinking is that the recorder is too accurate, and as such does not present the other a fair chance. Most would consider that a dubious proposition.
Speaking to C) Causing Someone to Stumble, I would argue that simply silently noting exactly what happened in any circumstance does not cause anyone to stumble. The argument that says otherwise is akin to saying darkness is what makes people sin. This is obviously untrue because darkness simply provides the necessary shroud for our true character to be revealed. Indeed, the idea that we can act without accountability is exactly the problem here. Not the imposition of accountability! Darkness doesn’t force sin, it simply doesn’t resist it. And you can’t argue that I should have tried to stop Coombs from sinning. I did try. I told him what the law said. I just didn’t say there could be consequences.

Those are the arguments, as far as I can see them, from Moral Law.
Regarding the arguments from Man's Law, we need to look at four things: A) Tennessee State Law, B) Federal Law, C) 12 Other State’s Laws, D) the Right to Privacy.
Pertaining to A) Tennessee State Law and B) Federal Law, my actions were completely in compliance with TCA 39-13-601(a)(1)(C&D), 39-13-601(c)(5), and 18 USC 2510 (the state and federal statutes on recording conversations).

Pertaining to C) Other State’s Law, I really hadn’t thought about this until someone emailed me arguing that my lack of character (and presumably commitment of sin as well) is proved since 12 other states forbid the sort of recording I engaged in. This is one of those arguments that feels right and wrong at the same time. It feels right because it tries to appeal to natural or universal law (Rom 2) which we as Christians are trained to obey above man’s law (so we’re always trying to be at attentive to it), but the argument also feels wrong because we can’t figure out quiet where it fits into natural law except possibly at the Golden Rule (which overlaps with God’s law) which we’ve already seen doesn’t work here.
Let’s take the argument and break it down. The argument implies that since 12 other states forbid my actions, my actions are condemnable. But where does law derive from? we define things as condemnable since the law forbids them or do we forbid things by law because those things are condemnable? The answer is obvious. So we can break the law down into two types: i) Law that derives from moral wrongs, and ii) law that derives from the whims of the people (like school zones, tax rates, zoning laws, etc).

What the 12 Other States argument implies is this: An action is wrong because it is outlawed. Well, one problem with that is that recording isn’t outlawed universally (or even in majority). The other problem is that there’s nothing in God’s law or natural law that comes anywhere near forbidding it.

With that said, we have to acknowledge that the 12 states which do outlaw recordings do so out of preference. Before you dismiss that argument, note that this happens in realms other than recording. Those of you reading the blog in Tennessee, do you pay personal income taxes? You don’t? Well, under the 12 States argument you’re sinning because other states have said that people in their states must pay income taxes. Is the picture clearer? You see, income taxes, like recordings, can’t find any acknowledgment in either natural or moral law, except to the extent that they are to be obeyed if they are legislated. Since Tennessee has neither made recording nor not paying personal income tax (because there is no personal income tax) crimes, then you do not commit a sin when you record or refuse to pay a tax that isn’t levied on you.
Similarly, some states have higher speed limits than others. If Minnesota has an interstate speed limit of 55 mph and you choose to go 70 mph in a 70 mph zone in Tennessee are you breaking the law? Again, under the 12 States Argument you are. But again this argument fails so obviously because the speed limit, like income taxes, recording laws, and a multitude of other topics which can’t seem to find their basis in natural or moral law, come down to public preference as reflected in law. Not very satisfying I know, but that’s what it really amounts to. Tennesseans don’t pay income taxes because they prefer not to and the legislation reflects that. They can drive 70 mph because their legislators prefer it to be that way. They can record conversations they are a part of without other parties knowing since their legislators (and federal legislators) prefer it that way.

Finally, addressing D) The Right to Privacy. A few may appeal to that as a defense against unwanted recordings. First, if you appeal to this, please note that this is the exact idea that Justice William Douglas used in the case (Griswold v. Connecticut) that allowed Roe v. Wade to fall the way it did. But that aside, the argument for a right to privacy comes from what Douglas called the “penumbras and emanations” of the Constitution. What Douglas meant is that while the Constitution doesn’t expressly say there is a right to privacy, but if we take a little bit from this amendment, a little bit from that one, and a pinch of another one; then suddenly boom! we’ve got ourselves an implied right to privacy. Now this may seem plausible to some, but most of us tend to interpret the Scriptures and the Constitution literally. If you want to accept the Right to Privacy argument go for it, but if you do, you’ll also be accepting that gay marriage is protected under the Massachusetts Constitution and the idea that Genesis may just be a mythological account with moral lessons but no firm basis in reality.


It's interesting that some are appealing to an Argument from Contradiction: they say I violated my own principle because my actions didn't comport with the definition of "transparency."

Unfortunately that argument is a straw man. I say this because it fails to make a certain distinction--namely that the "transparency" I and others are working for is transparency required under man's law (§48-66-102), God's law (Rom 12:17), and reason.

The "transparency" I allegedly transgressed does not actually exist under man's law, God's law, or reason (as seen above)--except for the use of the Golden Rule which is subject to obvious exceptions. I pointed out some of those exceptions before, but here's another set of examples for the skeptical out there:

I Kings 20:35-43: where one of the Sons of the Prophets had himself beaten, then using the emotion that that false beating elicited from the King, the Son of the Prophets allowed the king to condemn himself; 2 Kings 6:13-23: Where Elisha completely misled the Syrians, telling them that they were not in fact at Dothan where Elisha was staying (of course he was staying there), he then indicated he would lead them to where Elisha was staying and of course did not; 2 Kings, 5:25-27: Elisha’s allowing his servant to condemn himself when Elisha already knew the servant was guilt and said nothing; and 2 Samuel 12: Nathan’s allowing David to condemn himself when Nathan already knew he was guilty but said nothing.

In each of these cases the protagonists knew something that would be damning to someone else, and chose not to be transparent about it (usually to further catch the person breaking his own code or lying). It is difficult to conclude two things from the above examples:

1) That the protagonists would condemn their own actions and simultaneously approve a refusal to release documents as obligated by man's law, God's law, and reason.

2) That the protagonists would accept their own actions and simultaneously approve a refusal to release documents as required by man's law, God's law, and reason.

Most of you objectors fall into one of those two camps. You might want to think about deserting.

In summary, it would be difficult to argue that the men at the center of the above examples would EVER think their actions were condemnable like the actions of those who refuse to release financial information as required under law. That dog just won't hunt.

Some have also noted that recording and releasing such information through the press amounts to, or results in, self-aggrandizement. But of course such an assertion about one can only be based on what the one has chosen to reveal to the other about himself, or on the other's opinion of the one's purportedly self-aggrandizement. I have certainly never in the least said or intimated that my actions were in any way designed to bring glory to myself, so those who say otherwise are left with their opinions or inferences as the basis for their criticism. To that, all I can say is that their inferences are incorrect entirely.

But another problem with the self-aggrandizement argument is that it automatically condemns any who would do good in the public eye. Take for example, Adrian Rogers. One could just as easily argue that he was self-aggrandizing when he stood up for Truth at the SBC, when he appeared in the media to defend us, and when he stood publicly against gay marriage. One could level the same accusations at James Dobson.
The problem is that the self-aggrandizement argument potentially condemns any who do good in public, implying that anyone who does good or what is right publicly only does it publicly for his own benefit. This is obviously false. Some do. Many do not. Further complicating things is the fact that this same argument logically results in the idea that one CANNOT do good if he is doing it publicly. This is obviously false.

A more interesting take on that, however, is Paul's note about motivations in Philippians 1. He notes that whether people preach the gospel from envy or love, he doesn't care as long as it gets preached. I can't help but think that this idea is applicable here. Whether one does good from a desire to look awesome, or out of a desire to simply do what is right, isn't the important thing to others the fact that he simply did right? Certainly his pride is sin, but that is between himself and God, and the good he does perhaps should not be thrown out on the basis of his less-than-altruistic motivation.

But of course, I could be wrong. As for my motivations, you have only my word that they are from a pure desire to see the truth realized, not out of any desire to bring honor to myself. I believe any who have talked with me directly could attest to this. As for what is on the inside that you cannot see, I assure you it is altruistic, but if you choose to judge that anyway, I'll say what Paul said, "It's a small thing that you judge me."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Forum confusion

It occurred to me earlier today that there may be some confusion over my quote in the commercial appeal in late September when it is compared with my response to Rev. Weatherwax. There is no contradiction, but as has been wisely said, "You should always lay things out very plainly for people otherwise they may well miss the point."

The CA article quotes me as saying that I had wanted to create a forum for members of the church to discuss these issues. That quote is quite correct (though it is difficult to anticipate just what part of what you had hoped would be published will actually get published). I had desired to do that long with providing commentary and covering what I saw as the issues that would not be allowed before the church (see mission statement).

In my letter to Rev Weatherwax, I noted that it was my personal blog and not a forum. This is true as well and extremely sensible given the context of our correspondence. The blog started as a personal blog, became a forum (by definition) when people posted their opinons, and (by definition) reverted from a forum to a standard blog when I turned comments off.

If you read the correspondence between myself and Rev Weatherwax, these points become abundantly clear, but just in case there was any question at all, I wanted to do some preemptive clarification before some tried to bring this to my attention.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A New Low--Reamed with Lies by a Family Friend

The administration has fired an unexpected volley at me showing beyond a shadow of a doubt the lengths at which it is willing to go to marginalize, demonize, and delegitimize anyone who asks questions or asks for a proper hearing of all evidence.

I believe this deserves to be covered here. I had laid down my sword. I quit pursuing the blog and trying to get information to the Bellevue body because I felt enough information had been put forth. Apparently, this has not been the case. And while my life as a student does not afford me the time to keep up this blog as I would like, the following needs to be shared with you all.

I recently wrote the letter immediately below to the Bellevue Deacon body. The letter is civil, even-handed, and pleading in nature--it's urges the body not to judge Dr Gaines or Mark Sharpe until a fair hearing per Matthew 18 has been allowed. How it could be interpreted as offensive or an affront is beyond me. Shortly after I sent this letter, I received an email from Rev. Phil Weatherwax at Bellevue. The subject line of that email was "your letter to the deacons." In this letter, Rev Weatherwax spent two and a half pages promulgating nothing but lies about me, and this in a vindictive, demeaning, and highly antagonistic manner. He had his facts entirely wrong.

I wrote back defending myself, and he claims not to have even read my attempt at defending myself. Our entire correspondence, starting with my open letter to the Bellevue Deacon Body, is below.

If this is what these men mean by "attempting to reconcile" then we are in trouble. If he truly believes I am in the wrong, then this set of correspondence is nothing but a manifestation of Ez 34:4: “The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up [that which was] broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.” This is one of the saddest days I've seen in my young life.

Finally, days ago I copied to Dr Gaines my initial response debunking beyond question these lies along with the original letter containing the lies. I have yet to hear back from him in any way.

Correspondence follow below:

October 8, 2006

Dear Bellevue Deacons,

Tonight I write you as a concerned member of our wonderful church. For months, many of you have heard whispered rumors and nameless fears—concerns about the direction of the church, actions of the Administration, and divisiveness of certain members. Sadly, I find myself in the last category mentioned, one who has been titled a divider of the brethren.

I write to you not in an attempt to divide, for that has never been my goal. I would simply ask that you examine both the accusations of Mark Sharpe and the Administration’s response to those accusations.

Each of you found himself in a deacon’s meeting not so very long ago during which Dr Gaines commented on some of the issues that have been driving the recent controversy. Because of Sharpe’s conspicuous absence during this meeting, one deacon asked if Sharpe should be present while the deacon body heard the matter. Dr Gaines’ response was that Sharpe’s presence would be the last thing such a meeting needed.

Dear Brothers, you know as well as I do that this is not the way these matters are to be handled. Mark Sharpe has for months, and to no avail, tried to address the body of whom he is a member. We see from Scripture that when a brother has something against another brother, he is to confront that brother, then confront that same brother with witnesses, and then if the brother will still not hear him, he is to take the brother before the church.

Mark Sharpe has made far more than a good-faith effort to follow Matthew 18. Time and again he has met with Dr Gaines, only to be told that he should leave the church. He is currently being prevented from completing Matthew 18’s mandate because the Administration will not allow him to speak to the Deacon or Church bodies.

Brothers, you are vested with respect and responsibility, and you dare not turn your backs on a violation of a Scriptural mandate, especially when such a violation is being committed by the Church’s leadership.

Some of you may reply that First Timothy 5 notes we are not to receive accusations against an elder unless it comes from two or three witnesses (indeed, I know of a deacon board member who contends that Matthew 18 does not apply to the pastor). Gentlemen, I can tell you that others who share Sharpe’s concerns are willing to speak, but only with the presence of authorities on the law in the room—this should tell you something about the gravity of this situation. The Administration will not receive them, and is thus preventing them too from completing their mandate as laid out in Matthew 18.

This brings me to the heart of this letter. I would beg you each to come forward in a visible, unmistakable way to show your concern and worry over the actions of the leadership specifically pertaining to this highly visible breach of Biblical conduct—the denial of men the opportunity to exercise Matthew 18, a fundamental part of the Christian walk. If, for this, you require two or more witness, I will personally join Sharpe, and I can provide you an enormous list of others who will do the same.

You may well respond that you have a ministry, a position, or a reputation that cannot be jeopardized by the action I’m suggesting. Well, it is not without reason that you have these things, and I thank God that He has given them to you. I also remind you, gently, that it is He who has given them to you, and this not without requirement on your part. He has given them, and you have a responsibility to serve Him above any office or privilege He grants you. We would all do well to be put in remembrance of Jesus’ words to Pilate: “You have no power over me unless it is given you from my Father.” He was of course right. No one holds any authority or power over us except that power which God ordains and allows to be exercised. Nothing can be done to us or taken from us without God’s express permission. This said, it’s easy to see why the apostles, and we too, could say: “We should obey God rather than men” or perhaps better for our purposes, “We should fear God rather than men.”

My brothers and my lay leaders, some of you know me, some of you have taught me in Sunday School. I beg for your ears now. Regardless of your thoughts on Sharpe’s concerns themselves, surely you realize that the Administration’s refusal to allow him to carry out Matthew 18 is without defense. Please dear friends, do not condemn our Pastor or our Brother, Mark Sharpe, without insisting that both sides be heard in a biblical manner. Be wise in this and insist on being able to question both men from the floor (pre-sorted questions and rehearsed responses do no one any good). Proverbs 18:17 says, “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.” Brothers, do not be paralyzed by inaction. “We should obey God rather than men.”


Josh Manning

From: Weatherwax, Phil [mailto:*******]
Sent: Tuesday, October 10, 2006 7:12 PM
To: *******.com
Subject: your letter to the deacons

Josh Manning,

I read your open letter to the deacons and have spent some time dealing with my impressions about you, your motives, the issues you address, the scripture you are so quick to claim, and the platform on which a young church member has been thrust into the very fabric of church life. I have quite frankly, struggled with my feelings about all of the above.

First, let me address you and your motives and I must confess that I know little of you but know your parents well. I know that in your young twenty three years you have had somewhat of a history of leaving churches and joining others so loyalty to Bellevue Baptist Church cannot be the driving issue for you. I also know that when you were here your attendance was at best spotty and your involvement in the youth and college activities showed even less of a commitment to the church programs and its staff and lay leaders. I wonder if I would get the same sense of lack of commitment and loyalty if I called First Baptist Church West Memphis, Second Presbyterian, Emmanuel in West Memphis, et. al. So if a twenty three year old is not that strongly committed to the church and is not all that loyal, what motives can he have for such an all out assault on the pastor, staff and leadership of the church, while all the time claiming it is my beloved Bellevue?

The one thing comes to my mind and I am sorry if it is not true, (but then truth has not governed what has been put on your web page either) is that you are a law student who is trying a case in the court of public opinion and using the tactics used by many lawyers today. Let me give you a few of those tactics that I see.

First: it matters not whether what you say is true just get it out in front of the people and create a reasonable doubt. All you have to do is get one out of twelve to doubt. Haven't there been a few items which have hit the page and then strangely disappeared when they were proven to be false. Yet you issued no apologies to the ones who read it, may have even believed it. No retractions were made so people who saw it are just left with doubt which in some cases is not even reasonable.

Second: use influential people,sometimes called expert witnesses to make your case. The bit with Pastor Adrian Rogers was scraping the bottom of the barrel. To use an excerpt from Pastor Rogers that had nothing to do with the present situation was so wrong. Some might assume that Pastor Rogers was in full agreement with you. Do you think today he would undo what he did when he passed the mantel and washed Pastor Gaines feet? I think not and I don't think he would have endorsed you using that excerpt in the way that you did? Help me with the legality of that act anyway. It maybe crossing a fence that you did not have permission to cross. I do take my hat off to you at the credentials of the expert witnesses that you have brought to the World Wide Web Court to try your case. They are mostly faithful men and personal friends which is what makes it hard for some of us.

Third: when public opinion or evidence is against you suppress it, squash it, minimize it or discredit it. I am not only not a lawyer but I am far from being a computer and a WWW expert. Help me understand if I am wrong but was not your page originally set up to be a "blog" that was linked with the "savingbellevue" web page? Is not a blog an interactive page that allows people to express their opinion no matter which side of the aisle they are on? I guess what made me begin to wonder about your motives was early on when you announced that you were the Supreme Blog Master. Someone had to be the one to determine what went on the site and what didn't and you determined that it would be you. You have established yourself as the one who makes that determination. I would imagine if it would have remained as a true blog you would have been overwhelmed with the opposition to your views and the desire on the part of the vast majority of the BBC membership to see you ride off into the sunset and try some other case. You have done an excellent job of getting your side only before the BBC membership. What more can Mark Sharpe possibly say to the deacons then he has had your platform to say without the possibility of refutation.

Fourth: When the facts aren't on your side attack the person. I have grieved to the point of becoming sick to my stomach over the attempted assination of the character of my Pastor. Having been in that position before, I can feel the pain that your constant attacks have put on Pastor Gaines and his family. God only knows the damage you have done and done it apparently with no remorse. I look first at the infamous "fence" incident. Having been a witness for the Lord for many years and knocked on many doors unannounced I have gone through gates, privacy signs, dogs, and a hundred other impediments to be able to witness to someone. I am sure that in the same situation, I would have done the same thing and not thought about it until the "Manning-Supreme Blog MASTER" report caught me. It seems like a lot of something about nothing. What really brought me to write this long email is that the very thing that you have persecuted my Pastor over you yourself have done with no apology and no apparent remorse. Yes, you did do it. You took the deacons book and published as the Supreme Blog MASTER, the names addresses and phone numbers of all the deacons. Some of those deacons put their unlisted numbers in that listing solely for the use of the Deacon network and you published home numbers for everyone to see. What about that Deacon doctor who has an unlisted number and an "on call network," and you have just given his patients his home number. I think you realized your mistake because all but the name and email addresses soon disappeared. Now how about that gate that you jumped over and the fact that you trespassed into those families lives. Not only that you gave the gate key to others so they could enter. Where is the private and public apologies for that? I can hear you saying, "Well I thought it was the right thing to do at the time."

What about the dream and the Amen-er. You have done your best to make the pastor out to be a liar and some kind of a brute beast who squashes dissenting opinions. Well I was the one who finally talked to the man who happens to be a very good friend of mine and there was no dream that ever was a part of any conversation I had leading up to the confrontation and subsequent talk with the man. My friend received it well, was not offended with me or the pastor and I saw him sitting quietly in the pew Sunday. I can tell you from having preached to the man and taught him in Sunday School for years he can be annoying if you are not used to him. Again, story completely blown out of proportion and for What?

Fifth and final lawyer tactic. It really doesn't matter if you are right or wrong, whether the man is guilty or innocent, win at all costs is the order of the day, and if you can bring down a giant the more prominent you will become. At this time let me apologize to those many wonderful lawyers who practice law with integrity and moral character.

Josh, I am sorry but I think you are a shark who smells blood and is now going for the kill, trying to make a name for yourself. I see no other dog you have in this hunt. If I am accurate as I believe I am you need to repent and cease and desist.

Reading David Bishop's well written letter which you did chose as the Supreme Blog MASTER, to publish let me briefly address, the "where there is smoke there must be fire, and it is a pretty thin pancake that doesn't have two sides and we need to get both sides together and have this ironed out in a public forum."

Mark Sharpe has had more time with the pastor and his associate in his brief one year tenure then most of his staff have had. I Wish Pastor would jump my fence and come see me. I would apologize for not having the gate open for him. Isn't that what you are wanting a forum with the pastor and leadership.

Mark has not been able to be reconciled and restored through all these meetings and I believe the reason is simply, he does not want to be. For some reason he is enjoying the notoriety and the attention. He wants to bring down the pastor and with him the church that over and over you guys claim to love. How can I make such a statement. Well I simply refer to Mark's own words, "I ask for the Pastor's resignation." What gall! What can he hope to gain out of a meeting with the pastor and deacons. Certainly not fulfillment of Matthew 18. I look at every attempt attempt the Pastor and his leadership have made to explain their view of the situation and each only became fodder for Mark's cannon to fire back them and post on your website where only your opinion can be seen. It was interesting that David used a political debate as a comparison of how the truth can be brought out. I happened to be watching a little of the Corker vs. Ford debate and it proved to be nothing but a mudslinging contest with no more knowledge of the truth then we had before it started. Yes Pastor Rogers said, It is a pretty thin pancake which only has one side, but he also said, "there is no winner when you get in a fight with a skunk." I will add to that one "especially if you invite him into your house for the fight."

I have a hard time believing any of what you say when so much has been proven to be false, twisted or inconsequential when compared to the statements of trusted staff and laity. It is also hard for me to believe you when you have moved away from your original issues which were stated to be foundational to try to find new (usually laughable) items in the things that Pastor has said and preached.

I think it would be appropriate for you to give it up, apologize to the pastor and church and move on. Bellevue will make it with or the Supreme Blog MASTER. I hope some day when you are older and wiser that you will see what damage you have done to the Kingdom. Even if I could say that some or all of what you may have put forth is right(which I cannot) the way you have done it is totally wrong and malicious.

I give you no permission to reprint any of this letter unless you print it all. Anyone can cut and paste what I say and make any point they want. Please don't abuse my integrity by doing that.

Yours without apology,

Phil Weatherwax

Minister, Bellevue Baptist Church

From: Joshua H. Manning [mailto:********.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 1:18 AM
To: Weatherwax, Phil
Cc: Gaines, Steve
Subject: RE: your letter to the deacons

Dear Mr Whetherwax,

I need to preface this entire letter saying that I have held you in very high regard for a very long time. I think of so many times when in my home I’ve heard wonderful things said of you. I have considered you one of the strongest leaders Bellevue has had. I’ve been proud that my parents knew you.

I don’t desire to debate or argue with you. The letter to the deacon body was not sent to you, so I think it may have been forwarded to you, I presume (and if I’m wrong, I’ll be glad to admit that when informed and apologize) by the pastor’s offices, so that it, and I, could both be handled. You have done that task. But you’ve also said some things that for my own sake and yours I feel I need to contest:

1) My loyalty/participation at Bellevue

You mention that I’ve a history of leaving and joining other churches. All incidence of comings and goings occurred while or before I was 16 years of age. The last time I left a church I was sixteen (1999). I left Cornerstone Baptist (I’ve never attended Emmanuel) in West Memphis when my parents did. I was living with them, and my dad was the spiritual leader of our family. I left when they did. I joined Bellevue when they did. I stayed submitted to my father’s authority. Surely you do not fault me for that.

You say that you know my attendance has been spotty. Sir, that is a lie. You do not know that. You cannot know that because my attendance since 1999 has been exemplary—Phil Newberry and Rob Mullins should both be able to comment to this. I even spent the first three years of college coming back home on weekends (a two hour drive from my dorm) just so I could attend Bellevue each Sunday. The last year of my undergraduate studies, I did spend more time at college, but I don’t think living away is grounds for allegations about my church attendance given that when I was at home, my church attendance was, again, exemplary.

Further, you contend that my involvement in ” the youth and college activities showed even less of a commitment to the church programs and its staff and lay leaders.” I wasn’t aware that Bellevue required allegiance or commitments to church programs and its staff and lay leaders. Had I known that such allegiance is required, I hope I could have convinced my family not to join. I grant my allegiance to no man, only to the Lord and His Word. If you can show me in Scripture where it says that I’m to be committed to church programs, I’ll repent, but you wont’ find that passage. I’m only constrained as a believer to not forsake the gathering of the brethren. And this I have not forsaken. Programs are man made with a heavenly goal. Participation does not legitimize membership, nor does lack of participation in programs per se disqualify one from membership—at least I don’t remember ever having learned this, but much has changed over the last year.

Since much of your letter was predicated on that false supposition, I’m afraid your arguments will experience a cascade failure of sorts—the faulty assumptions skew the validity all conclusions built thereon.

2) I am neither a lawyer nor a law student—this again creates another set of cascade failures because you’ve predicated statements based on a falsity. And for the record, I’m a graduate student.

3) If by “trying in the court of public opinion” you mean “presenting allegations that should come before the church under Matthew 18 (and possibly 1 Timothy 5) but are not because the church administration will not allow that” then you are right. But I doubt this is what you meant. There is a distinction, whether you or the administration realize it, between the court of public opinion and Matthew 18. The part that seems to confuse many is that a byproduct of Matthew 18 being fully carried out is that public opinion is formed. This is unavoidable given the fact that we are dealing with thinking human beings.

4) I’m honestly having a hard time following your second enumerated point. To my knowledge I’ve not commented on Dr Rogers’ would be opinion on any of the pastor’s actions. I believe I’ve used a quote or two regarding standing for truth, but aren’t those universally applicable, being normative statements that can be practically appropriated by any who believe that they are standing for the truth. This is an especially legitimate case since we’ve not established who here is not truthful—and I would point out that the reason that has not been established is that the administration will not allow Matthew 18 to be carried out.

And, sir, before you accuse me of more of this, I can produce testimony from an impeccable source who even the most skeptical on the other side would believe. And that testimony would state that I told this person that I strictly wanted to avoid pitting “Rogers against Rogers” on the blog by responding to his quotes being touted by the administration with other quotes from him that bolster my position. This person will tell you that this is exactly what I have said to her. I will seek this person’s permission to divulge his/her name if you’d like.

5) Regarding your third enumerated point: You have again, again sir, stated falsities. A blog is not designed to be an expressly interactive interface, look it up. You’ve mistaken a blog for a chat forum. They are not the same. Again, before you accuse me of something based on a definition, look it up. Blog is common parlance for Web-Log. The idea is that of an open diary or running commentary. Some blogs have an option that allows readers to comment on what the blogger has posted. I turned this feature on and allowed a multitude of comments both from people who applauded my actions and people who hated them. I was even handed. The comments I disallowed were those which were unedifying from both sides. I eventually disabled the comment option because of the flood of foul, ungodly comments. Most of these I note came from those who support the current pastor—I’m not at all implying guilt by association, this is just an observation.

Next, the blog was not set up to be part of savingbelleuve.com. In fact, if memory serves, the blog dates back to a few days prior to savingbellevue’s start and my knowledge of the project.

I never, never proclaimed myself “Supreme Blog Master.” Where in the world can you justify saying that? Go search the blog. That isn’t there. A search of every email I’ve sent for the past year will not return any results for that phrase or anything remotely like it. I did determine that I would be the one to filter the comments while they were still enabled because it was my blog. Again, you’re commenting on things you seem to have absolutely no knowledge of: a blog is by definition a web log. It’s possible for many people to run a blog, but this one was mine personally. There is no reason in the world why I should give up the right to choose what gets posted on a site that bears my name. You know that would be unwise, and I daresay you’d never give anyone such authority over something bearing your name. Don’t condemn me for the same—especially when the same is so easily obtainable through reason and common sense. Finally, my assertion of authority in the blog is stated at this hyperlink: http://bellevuetruth.blogspot.com/2006/09/comments-are-ended.html. Read that post and please tell me if anything in my words or implications comports with the title of Supreme Blog Master.

Next, I have never removed one item from the blog because it had been proven false because not one item on the blog has yet been proven false to me. Even Sharpe’s testimony which is most likely the hottest debated issue, has yet to be proven false in any way that I am aware of. But testimony is testimony regardless of fact. If the testimony is factual and true, then it stands on its own. If it is false, then it condemns the one who spoke it. But the fact that something may be false does not nullify its existence (we don’t strike perjury from court records), therefore it would be foolish and counterproductive for me to remove anything from the blog: its express purpose was to get at the truth of things whether the truth condemn or vindicate parts of the church.

Under this same point you refer to two other things: 1) a possible deluge of pro-Dr Gaines comments that would send me off into the sunset and 2) my doing an excellent job of getting mine and Mark Sharpe’s side before the church. Addressing 1: I turned comments off for the reasons I stated earlier to you and also on the blog itself (if you want the exact article addressing this it’s at http://bellevuetruth.blogspot.com/2006/09/comments-are-ended.html, and you should also see http://bellevuetruth.blogspot.com/2006/09/cleaned-up-comments-pages.html). Regarding 2: Good night man! Should both sides not be heard? I even let the other side post! What a choice of points to attack me on!

Under this same heading you say “What more can Mark Sharpe possibly say to the deacons then he has had your platform to say without the possibility of refutation.” Mr Weatherwax, you miss the point entirely. This is not about getting it out there without possibility of refutation. This is about trying to get things done via Matthew 18 (the way in which information is dissiminated to the church is nowhere mentioned in the passage. In fact, most are forced to fall back on the 1 Corinth 6 passage to defend being against the internet disbursal of information, but that argument is a non-sequitor and is answered on the blog itself at http://bellevuetruth.blogspot.com/2006/09/answers-to-objections-to-this-blog.html. If the administration you’re a part of would actually do what the Bible tells them to do in Matthew 18, then both sides would get to hear and argue their cases and refute each other as you seem to desire. Don’t you see that?

Finally under this disgraceful paragraph, you say that “when public opinion or evidence is against you [sic] suppress it, squash it, minimize it or discredit it.” I think I’ve shown that to be false already, but I would also ask what evidence has been given that discredits anything said? What one shred of evidence can you point to that has been suppressed or minimized? Sharpe has asked for receipts and financial documents that could easily disprove every single financial question. The administration has refused. If by “us suppressing” you mean “the administration not providing any evidence only opinion” then you’ve got us there.

I’ve posted what the Chairman of the Deacons has said in defense of the pastor. I’ve given a him a forum and even let him rebut—and this while he has not allowed the same privilege of rebuttal to Sharpe in deacon’s meetings. I’ve even tried to speak with the pastor, and he doesn’t seem to be interested. Sir, this seems a joke in horrible taste. If only it were so.

6) Regarding your fourth enumeration: There is much here that will be addressed by the last paragraph you’ll find at the end of this email. Moving on: As for the rest: First, I defy you to point to one unjust, unreasonable allegation I have made toward Dr Gaines on that blog. One. I have reported on testimony. I have been very careful not made allegations, though I have analyzed what some of the leadership has said. Next, you probably won’t hear me saying “I thought it was the right thing to do at the time” as you thought I might because I am vehemently opposed the attitude that gives rise to statements like that. Right is right, wrong is wrong. Time rarely plays a role.

You speak of the “amener” and say “You have done your best to make the pastor out to be a liar and some kind of a brute beast who squashes dissenting opinions.” How did I do this? I have not made him out to be any such thing. My exact response when Sharpe commented on this in the interview was “[Speaking of Mark’s allegations] This is pretty shocking, [I summarize what Sharpe has just said.] Is that correct? MS: That is correct. JM: Now Mark, these are pretty serious statements.” The above comes straight from that first interview with Mark Sharpe (http://bellevuetruth.blogspot.com/2006/09/on-record-firsthand-information.html). The above statements in no way, no way, comport with your accusation. Mr Weatherwax, you are old enough to know that words mean things. They have exact meanings. What I said in no way fits the words you used.

You say that the “amener’s” testimony contradicts Mark’s. Well, the thing that would help everyone establish what’s going on would be to allow Matthew 18 to be fully executed. Then all could be dealt with in the open. But again, the administration you’re a member of will not allow this.

And sir, the “amen’s distract” argument is so sad that I hesitate to address it. How can you say this after you’ve sat in an auditorium where the pastor has time and again solicited such comments, and even chided the congregation for not amening? I’m appalled by what seems to be a lack of intellectual integrity. But this is far less appalling than most of what I’ve waded through to make it to this point.

Again, much of what’s located under your fourth enumerated point will be dealt with by a solitary paragraph at the end of this email. Once you’ve read that paragraph, go back and reread your fourth enumerated point. I will hope for an apology afterwards.

7) Regarding your fifth enumerated point. Isn’t it hard to argue that I say right or wrong don’t matter when scripture is what I’ve been appealing to all through this? And contextualized scripture at that. Go read that blog. It’s chocked full of contextualized Scripture.

Next, I do care whether the man is guilty or not. I would point you to a line in my letter to the deacon body that said “Please dear friends, do not condemn our Pastor or our Brother, Mark Sharpe, without insisting that both sides be heard in a biblical manner.” That should debunk your contention well enough, but if not, go find the purpose statement to my blog. It was hoped to dispel false rumors against all involved.

I’ve no interest in bringing down a giant. I’ve honestly got too much to do to worry about bringing down a giant. Sir, I am studying in Boston right now. Destroying an innocent pastor in a far away city where I will probably not spend my professional life does not benefit me one whit. Indeed, as I pointed out on the blog, it would have been far easier and more personally beneficial for me to employee any abilities I have in the defense of the administration. However, I cannot do that which is not of faith.

Also, while your apology to lawyers with moral character and integrity does not constitute a de jure attack on me, it does constitute a de facto attack. So far you’ve been wrong about every single accusation you’ve hurled at me. Every single one, sir. Let that sink in. And now you have the unmitigated audacity and gall to attack my character. I’ve not attacked anyone’s character, especially the pastor’s. Search the blog. I have asked questions, but that does not constitute an attack—especially the way I’ve asked them. I’ve even commended the church when they’ve done what I felt was right. Sir, we cannot live in a society that does not ask hard questions and try to get answers. Those are not attacks. They are immunizations, designed to fortify us all.

Further, sir, I did not in any way know of or participate in the posting of David Bishop’s letter. I’ve no problem at all with your addressing it. I do have a problem with you again lying about me when you address it. Once again, read the final paragraph of this letter and then bite your tongue.

Your statement that “Mark Sharpe has had more time with the pastor and his associate [sic] in his brief one year tenure then most of his staff have had. I Wish Pastor would jump my fence and come see me. I would apologize for not having the gate open for him. Isn't that what you are wanting a forum with the pastor and leadership [sic]” is a non-sequitor—it does not follow—in regards to the unlocking of the gate. You miss the point that your wanting to have an unlocked gate does nothing to change the fact that these men broke the law—in public at Sharpe’s neighborhood. Further, I’m sure the pastor will make himself available to many who ask, especially deacons. I suspect they need only ask. That’s what Sharpe did. I would advise you to do the same. Going even further you say “Isn't that what you are wanting a forum with the pastor and leadership“ in regards to the fence incident. Again, sir, words mean things. A forum is not an in-home visit. Look it up. I and others want a forum with the pastor and the church, not a visit from the pastor. He has not taken what Sharpe said individually or with witnesses, and I’ve tried to talk with him to no avail, thus the next step is going before the church under Matthew 18.

You say that you believe Mark’s motivations are less than altruistic. That is your right. I do not dispute it. I can tell you that I’ve talked with Mark many times and I do not believe there is any evidence in Mark’s words, attitude, or demeanor—and again this is after having spoken with him privately on more occasions than I can remember—that his intentions are anything less than unimpeachable. You may disagree. That is your right, but don’t claim that a call for resignation equals self-servingness. Did you feel the same when Republicans called for President Clinton’s resignation (I in no way mean to insinuate that the President and Dr Gaines are in any way, shape, or form comparable). Did you feel it was self-serving or the right thing to do? (A more intriguing question is “are those two things mutually exclusive (as you seem to imply)?” For the record, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive at all, but we won’t go into that.)

You say “What can he hope to gain out of a meeting with the pastor and deacons. Certainly not fulfillment of Matthew 18.“ Well, I think that’s why we’re a tad more interested in dealing with the church. Sharpe has fulfilled the first portions of Matthew 18 and to no avail. Going to the church will at this point fulfill Matthew 18.

You also note that fighting with a skunk is a bad idea. Well you’re right, but you make this a tad too easy on yourself in my view. You have taken nothing by lies from the previous paragraphs and concluded seemingly that I am the skunk. What may be worse is that you’ve not actually done this, but have concluded that we’re the collective skunk (I can’t believe I’m actually reduced to writing these lines) based upon our desire to see Matthew 18 carried out and our willingness to go to the congregation—after being blocked by the admisistration—if that’s what it takes force the fulfillment of a biblical mandate. If that is the definition of a skunk, then sir I reek to the heavens and am proud of it.

Mr Weatherwax, you say that much of what I’ve said has been proven false. Sir, again, I ask you, where is that proof? Where is the signed testimony, where are the financial records? Yet again I say, words mean things. “Proven” does not mean “is alleged.” I would never say that it is proven that our pastor has done wrong. It hasn’t been! We want a forum where those who claim to have such proof may present it. If we fulfill Matthew 18, we may actually get to the bottom of all of this and then the proof will be, as the saying goes, in the pudding. Sir, if you and the administration are correct, this could all go away with the fulfillment of Matthew 18. Don’t you see, I want to get to the root of this as much as anyone does! I hate dealing with this, sir. I loathe it. I miss peace and quiet and being able to be nurtured at my church. I miss feeling that I can trust my leaders. I miss being able concentrate on my studies and being able to sleep with an unburdened mind. But believers are to be warriors for truth, and when such luxuries do no afford themselves on the battlefield, we must press on. So be it.

You say, “your original issues which were stated to be foundational to try to find new (usually laughable) items in the things that Pastor has said and preached [sic].“ Mr Weatherwax, by now I sound like a broken record, but would you please do your research. Here is the mission statement of my blog: http://bellevuetruth.blogspot.com/2006/08/quis-custodiet-ipsos-custodes-at.html. How are my mission statement and your version of my mission statement remotely comparable. How dare you libel me, and sir I say libel because I have the proof in black and white sitting on my web browser.

The last thing I want to address is your request for the full publication of this document if it is ever reprinted—and here you imply that I might take your words out of context. If you will remember though, I only published correspondences that were not designated as private and I always published them in whole until I was asked to stop by the author. Only then did I resort to using pull-quotes, and even then I explained to both the original author and those reading the blog that I had wanted to completely contextualize the correspondence but the original author would not allow me to. Don’t bring a straw man argument against me—especially one that’s already discredited by what’s on the blog at http://bellevuetruth.blogspot.com/2006/09/round-two-commentary-on-bellevue.html and http://bellevuetruth.blogspot.com/2006/09/ive-officially-been-demonized.html.

Finally, at the end of my reply to your fourth point I said that you would need to see the last paragraph of this email and then reread your fourth point (and I think your letter as well). I will hope for an apology after you do that. The last paragraph I referred to is below, but first I want to say that I truly regret having lost a family friend and someone who I had respected. This is the most painful of the cuts I’ve recently received because it came from someone I hoped could be trusted to want to uphold Matthew 18 regardless of all else. Someone who would insist on Scripture being upheld no matter what and regarding whomever—myself and the pastor not the least of whom might be held accountable under such a stand. Maybe in time some relationships can be restored. Now for that last paragraph:

I have never, ever, under any circumstances written one thing that has been on savingbellevue.com save what their webmaster liked from my blog—and that was not written for them, it was written for the church and posted on my blog. I do not have editorial control of the site. I do not own it. I do not operate it. I do not post to it. It was created without my knowledge, and my blog predates my knowledge of savingbellevue.com. I first saw savingbellevue.com on August 27 as indicated by an email record I have and as can be corroborated by a log file that all website keep. The first post, if you care to check my blog, was on August 16. I say this to say that my work was and is independent of savingbellevue.com’s. You have spent two and a half pages accusing me of being involved in something I was never involved in. I guess the difference between my situation and the church administration’s is that I’ve been accused yet I have the proof that I am not guilty and I will produce it as soon as anyone asks. I’ll be more than happy to get that log file for you and I will forward you the email I referenced if you would like.

Regrets over a broken friendship,

Josh Manning

PS If you sincerely believe that all questions can be laid to rest by proof that exists, execute Matthew 18 so that all such proof may come before the church and the proper names cleared and the church body reassured. You know as well as I do that this makes sense in biblical, logical, and common sense terms. That’s a pretty strong, three-pronged test for an action. Support that action, sir.

From: Weatherwax, Phil [mailto:********]
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 12:12 PM
To: Joshua H. Manning
Subject: RE: your letter to the deacons


Thanks for your response. If I might make one initial correction---Weatherwax not Whetherwax.

Let me throw out a bunch of questions for you and maybe some day we can sit down and discuss them.

Is any of what I said true? Is all of it true? Is it laced with truth and untruth? Did I believe it to be true when I wrote it? Any of it? All of? What was my motive in the first place? Does it matter? Why did I do it? Did someone put me up to it? Pastor? Administrative staff? Why did I respond, I am not even a deacon? Was it meant to be a dialogue between Josh and I or did I have plans to send it to others? How many? who? Did I think Josh would use all or part of it? Forward to his mom and dad or Mark or others? Did I think it would hurt Josh? If so would he forward it to his folks and would they be hurt also? Would this mean that a great friendship built on mutual love and respect would be gone forever? Did it really hurt your feelings? Why? Because of who said it? Because it was completely untrue? Partially untrue? Because some people would get it and they would make wrong judgements about you based on information that is not all true, completely true but damaging, or totally untrue. Would it be because you cannot respond to any of it? Because you don't know who might read it? Did this really break fellowship with you and I? Your folks and I? Have you lost all respect for me? Have I lost all for you? Can it ever be resolved? Are you so hurt that you will not ever have fellowship with me? Should we not have more back and forth over the internet? Can't we get some of the obvious discrepancies ironed out? Should we not go to some kind of Biblical resolution? perhaps Matthew 18? Whose interpretation do we use? Who is the offended party? Am I totally offended by what you fired back. Perhaps I can examine the Manning's personal and family life and see if I can dig up some dirt on them and publish it on the internet and force him to come to the Matthew 18 table.

Who did you make my email known to? Who did you make your response known to? Who did I make mine known to and what motives did we have in those exchanges. How many people have lost respect for you, Riad, Jessie, Mark, Steve Gaines, Mark D., Harry, Chip and oh yes Me, Eddie and Jo Ann. When we seek restoration and reconciliation, and when we do it out of what we say is love and respect for our church are we creating unity in the bonds of love by what we have just been doing? Are people being hurt that we do not know? Are we sowing seeds of love and unity or discord and division? Is this the right way to resolve our apparent differences???????????????????????

Josh, as I have examined the answers to the above questions in relation to the email I wrote I have to say that the answer to the last question is no. What we are doing and where this is headed can only cause division, hurt, broken friendships, lost respect, and a badly wounded body. I look at my two beautiful daughters and their families, and I don't want them to have no respect for you and your folks and others who have been at the forefront of all this. Josh it is happening, friend against friend mother against children, minister against minister, member against member. It is getting worse and worse and a polarization is taking place that is so divisive. If we truly love the bride of Christ we cannot go on. This is not the way to do it. I don't want you to lose the respect that you say you have had for me. I have tried in the best way I know how for these many years to live before you and your folks and the many friends that I have in AR with integrity and true moral character and I hope you see how it can be destroyed by the written word.

I was just thinking and can say this with a clear heart--I really do love you and this email has allowed me to put aside everything and just reflect on that alone. I desire that all that is being said will stop and maybe the Pastor's committee and the new staff position can create a forum for reconciliation and build respect and confidence in the body of Christ for our church.

I did not circulate this letter or the other. My wife and family do not know that I sent it. My desire was to show you how much hurt and division can be caused by the venue that has been chosen for this fight.

I really would love to meet with you sometime just the two of us and talk it out. My wife and I have on occassion said some hurtful things to each other that we have later regretted and really didn't mean at the time we said them but somehow our relationship was bigger and stronger than those momentary lapses and we grew past them. I hope ours is likewise.

I really did not read what you wrote -- I'll wait to hear it in person.

God is Love and Jesus is wonderful, (Adrian Rogers, always ended his letters this way and he was and is so right)

Brother Phil

From: Joshua H. Manning [mailto:******.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 2:10 PM
To: 'Weatherwax, Phil'
Subject: RE: your letter to the deacons

Mr Weatherwax,

The answers to a massive number of your questions are found in my earlier response to you. You want to dialogue, you say. Well, dialogue requires two parties listening to each and responding. You’ve apparently not done that since you “
really did not read what you [I] wrote.” Read it, then we can talk about dialoguing and I’ll be glad to answer those questions you sent me. As for a personal meeting, what would be the point of that since you’ve shown this little interest in what I’d have to say in response to you? Why would you take hours out of your day for a personal meeting when you won’t take mere minutes to read the thoughts before you—I assure, those are the same thoughts you would get face to face. Also, if you’ll read my response, you’ll see what face to face is not an option at this time.


Josh Manning

PS You mention Matthew 18 in regards to me. I am on record and will continue to be on record saying that if anyone wants is execute Matthew 18 against me, I will be glad to cooperate in anyway. In fact, if any believe I have sinned against the church, it is incumbent upon them to execute that passage against me. I will cooperate as long as it is fully carried out, not just made to be a political paper tiger.

From: Joshua H. Manning [mailto:********.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 6:46 PM
To: 'Weatherwax, Phil'
Subject: RE: your letter to the deacons

A final thought occurred to me earlier this afternoon, Mr Weatherwax. You condemned me for not allowing others the ability to rebut allegations (I have already shown this to be patently false). But you, sir, have done what you condemned me for, in that you hurled accusations at me and then refused even the courtesy of allowing me to defend myself. You accomplish this by refusing to even read that which I have said to set the record straight and defend the honor of my name.

In effect, had we been sitting down at a table, you’d have throw lie after lie at me and then placed your fingers in your ears and hummed a tune as I defended myself to you. How dare you accuse me of depriving others of a fair hearing when I never did and when you have done just that in black and white. How small is your consideration for the truth or for hypocrisy itself?

Josh Manning

Monday, September 11, 2006

Men of Bellevue, Now is the Time to Stand


Dear Readers,

For months, a small number of men have tried time and again to bring a number of concerns to the church administration, the deacon body, and the congregation. We have been intimidated, demonized, and quasi-excommunicated. We have fought as far as we can with the resources and information we have. We have brought you firsthand accounts, disturbing information, and stunning conversations. We have explained our intentions to fulfill the obligations set out in Matthew 18 and 1 Timothy 5. We have used this forum as a means to address the church and attempt to dispel harmful rumors.

For those same months a great many of you have had checks in your spirits similar to ours. You’ve had concerns about the direction of Bellevue. You’ve worried about a lack of civility, a bent toward delegitimization of opposition, a lack of transparency, a fear of, dare I say, hijacking. You, however, have not made your names known. You’ve hidden behind excuses of convenience and need, desiring benefit without cost—cure without pain.

You’ve been content to stand behind the shields of those with courage enough to make their individual names and voices heard. You have allowed these few men to absorb shattering blows and fend off vitriolic attacks, while you have sat comfortably anonymous and silently assenting as others do your work for you . . . and as others suffered for it.

To you, I say that time is ended. Today is the day when you will either stand or fall. Today you will rise up or be trampled. Today you will step into the light or withdraw farther into the shadows—and this perhaps beyond rescue. For today, I lay down my sword and shield. I have completed the mandate as set out in Scripture. We have brought you, the church, issues about our leadership that should concern you greatly. We have fulfilled our duty to church, man, conscience, and most importantly Scripture.

We can do no more than present what we know. Our few voices will not carry far over the sea that is Bellevue. We can warn but a few. You, however, have the ability to take up the cry. It is said in Ezekiel that the watchman who sees danger and remains silent is guilty of the blood shed from his neglect. We will not be guilty of such neglect. Now, the obligation is yours: this is your call to take up. You may remain silent no longer.

I do not know the future. My prayer is that Bellevue will be what it has always desired to be: a beacon of hope sending out its light and His Truth that they might lead us to God’s holy hill. And while we do that, we must, MUST, follow the words and principles laid out in Scripture. We must keep each other accountable, we must attend to the proper rules for confrontation with brothers, we must resolve our differences in the ways dictated in Scripture, and we must remain truthful and transparent. Nothing: not Sunday school attendance, baptisms, giving, or even souls saved—nothing excuses transgression of Biblical principles. We’ve been taught this for many years. Now, I charge you to uphold that teaching.

So today, choose your peril: slink into the shadow to a future of synthetic comfort and looming devastation; or rise, stand in the light, make your names and voices known—do that which hurts most in the moment, so that the future may be healed. You would never tell a man with what might be a tumor that he should simply ignore it because the examination, chemotherapy, and surgery might be painful. You dare not, you must not, do the same here.

I leave you with Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” We have not fainted. You have not fought. Now is the time. May we not fade quietly into the night, trading truth and accountability for the illusion of peace and solace. May the God who sees all that we do have mercy on each of us.

I bid you farewell,


Josh Manning

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sharpe Interview Pt 2

Below is the second part of the Mark Sharpe Interview. I will not personally host comments anymore, but if you wish to weigh in on this interview, you may comment at http://msinterviewcomments.blogspot.com/.

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.