Members of a Kentucky Baptist church were riled this week after receiving a pastor’s letter revoking their memberships for failure to attend and contribute.
Seventy longtime members of Cave City Baptist Church received the letter, Rev. Ryan Broers said Wednesday.
The letter, shared on Facebook by Jason Pedigo, said under the church’s by-laws, “members are expected, first of all, to be faithful in all the duties essential to Christian life; and also, to attend habitually the services of His church, to give regularly to its support and its causes to share in its organized work.”
Members who received the letter were informed that their names were removed from the membership roll.
Senior Pastor Broers has invited back members and told one of them in a Facebook comment that he hopes the letter “is the catalyst that causes you to return to Jesus and faithful service in his church.”
“I allowed this letter to go out because I wanted people who have broken fellowship with God and His church to realize they need to repent and return before Christ returns,” Broers said in another Facebook comment.
Pedigo’s Facebook post has been shared more than 440 times since Monday night and people have called the letter unbelievable, shameful and disgraceful. Others have welcomed Pedigo and the rest of the former members to their own nearby churches.
In an interview Wednesday, Broers claimed Pedigo has not been to the church in 20 years and wondered why he was so “bent out of shape” about the letter.
About 100 people attend the church on a regular basis, Broers said. Having several hundred people on the church membership roll not attending sometimes prevented the congregation from meeting a quorum during business meetings, according to Broers.
Additional letters were set to go out to more members who do not attend regularly, but Broers requested those wait for a rewording of portions.
Beth Gentry Carder stopped attending the church around a year ago due to work reasons. She said she wasn’t mad about the letter, but was mad at the way it was handled. She doesn’t want to return.
“Kind of made you feel like you wasn’t welcome back to the church,” she said in an interview. “Made it kind of seem like they only wanted your money. Kind of makes you feel sad. No church should make you feel this way.”
Some people who commented on Pedigo’s post claimed Broers blocked them on Facebook. Broers was responding to some criticism but stopped after more and more people voiced displeasure.
“They didn’t want to have a conversation. They went into attack mode and made very personal comments to me that were hurtful and untrue,” Broers said in an interview. “When I blocked the post, it was because some of them went on my private Facebook page and made derogatory comments. If they would like to talk to me, they can contact the church. I’m not afraid to have a discussion.”
Broers has been the senior pastor of the church for about a year. He said the letter is a part of the church’s current “rebuilding phase.”
His intentions with the letter were to simply hold people accountable to their commitments to the church, he said.
“I know it won’t make me popular (none who preached the truth in the Bible were thought well of) but I am not in a popularity contest,” he said on Facebook. “I’m trying to point people to Jesus and the inherent responsibilities that come along with being a follower of Christ.”
Many people were upset the church did not warn or check on those whose memberships were in jeopardy. Patricia Harvey Briggs said her 88-year-old mother, who attended the church since she was 26, received one of the letters.
“No one that I know of who is a member has called her or visited her or was concerned enough to see if she needed a ride to church since she is no longer able to drive,” Briggs said. “All they seemed to be worried about is attendance and tithes.”
No homebound people were removed from the roll, Broers claimed.
“None of our shut-ins or elderly received letters. We visit them regularly,” he said. “In many cases, they are in nursing homes and we minister to those people. They have requested a desire to remain a part of the church.”