Quotes of the Day:
John Stevens, "I now yield the chair to the Chariman of the Board of Deacons for the conduct of this discussion."
Bill Lamb, "We do have young people that are in the nursery, if you would like to put your young people back there, it's not a requirement, but they are available if you would like to do so. The time of adjournment for this ah....discussion, is fixed for 9:20. Discussion will stop at 9:15 and a vote will follow. If a person is able to obtain the floor in that time period they will have ONE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK, FOR A PERIOD OF THREE MINUTES." Northside Baptist's thirty minute surpise [no notice given to the targets]excommunication process. This process was overseen by and deemed fair by John Stevens' hand-picked Parliamentarian Eugene Albert Stauch III. The good Mr. Stauch is known for his sense of fairness, particularly by the 13 year old girl he was convicted of Criminally Sexually assaulting and Committing a Lewd Act upon in 1991.
John Stevens' Parliamentarian, Eugene Stauch, is a Registered Sex Offender in North Charleston, SC 29420. Fortunately for John Stevens, there is no comparable system to register Spiritual Offenders and Religious Abusers: John Stevens is both. Apparently, such people as John Stevens - who vainly invoked the name of God in preventing the inspection of his church books - find a place on the board of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International!
People like John Stevens are masters at finding willing people within the church to join them in doing their dirty work. At Northside Baptist, John Stevens not only used such people as Registered Sex Offender Stauch to do his dirty work, but he used the resources, finances, and offices of the church to gain the loyalty of church employees, staffers, volunteers, deacon-wannabe's, teachers, area preachers (thru tuition discounts to the school), etc.
How does a Bob Jones III-recommended preacher handle his financial responsibilities in Dr. Bob Jones III's home church, Northside Baptist Church? How does a Board member of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International manage church finances and deal with members who want to see his church financial records?
And, how does the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International have the gall to promote John Stevens to Board of Directors Emeritus?
A biblically honest man, when asked to share fiduciary records, would simply say, "Here are the books. Write down any questions you might have. Turn the lights out when you are done. I will answer all of your questions when I am able to gather the required documentation!"
THIS IS HOW AN INDEPENDENT FUNDAMENTAL BAPTIST PREACHER, A PHARISEE OF PHARISEES WITHIN THE FUNDAMENTAL BAPTIST FELLOWSHIP INTERNATIONAL, REACTS WHEN CHURCH MEMBER'S WANT TO SEE THE CHURCH BOOKS.
From: The News and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina
By: Skip Johnson of the Post-Courier staff
Date: Thursday, May 2, 1991
THREE SUE BAPTIST CHURCH OVER EXCOMMUNICATION
Three former members of Northside Baptist Church in North Charleston who say the church excommunicated them without cause and in violation of its own bylaws have sued for reinstatement and payment of $150,000 in damages.
The suit was filed April 24 on behalf of former deacon and longtime church member Oscar C. Fitzhenry of West Ashley, his son, Mark Burton Fitzhenry, and the younger Fitzhenry’s wife, Wendy Anne Fitzhenry.
It alleges that discrepancies had been uncovered in the church’s handling of finances dating back to July 1987, and Oscar and Mark Fitzhenry were trying to see the church’s books and investigate them.
Church pastor Dr. John E. Stevens, who spent Wednesday in consultation with his staff and several lawyers, said he could not comment on nay of the specifics raised in the suit.
“But the charges are not true,” he said. “We are concerned about our testimony in the community and know these things will all be cleared up.”
On Jan. 5, the suit says, church general treasurer Barry Formanack confirmed an appointment for the two Fitzhenrys and their lawyer to review the books on Jan. 11.
However, it says, two days before the meeting, the church, which is on Northside Drive, conducted an unannounced business meeting and voted to excommunicate all three Fitzhenrys. The next day, when Oscar Fitzhenry asked Formanack if he could still see the records as promised, Formanack told him records were closed to him because he was not a church member.
No minutes were kept of the meeting at which the Fitzhenrys were excommunicated and no reason has been made public as to why there were excommunicated.
Excommunication involves a vote of the congregation to expel the member from the church. Every Baptist congregation is autonomous and sets its own procedures in these and other matters.
The suit, filed in the Charleston County Court of Common Pleas, names as defendants Northside (independent) Baptist church through its Board of Trustees and Board of Deacons, Dr. John E. Stevens, pastor, Tom McGann, business manager, and Dr. Cecil Beach, school administrator, all in their official capacities; and Stevens, McGann, Beach, Dennis Clements, Bill Lamb, David McGinnis, Jim Reese and Eugene Stauch individually.
In addition to restoration of church membership and personal damages, the suit also demands an independent audit of all church expenditures dating back to July 1, 1987; restoration of all funds that were spent contrary to the church budget; a full disclosure by the pastor and all senior staff members of all compensation given them since he was employed; reinstatement of Oscar Fitzhenry to the Board of Deacons; a redesignation of all funds given to the church by Mark and Wendy Fitzhenry to accounts of their choice; and punitive damages.
According to the suit, filed by attorneys Donald J. Budman of Charleston and Orin G. Briggs of Columbia, here’s what happened: As early as July1987, the church’s congregation had reason to question some of the church’s financial activities, including the unauthorized expenditure of church funds, failure to give full accounting of expenditure of church funds, and the failure of the church leadership to properly disclose the spending of money in various church accounts.
The concern culminated in July 1990 when a financial report showed that more than $22,000 of designated mission funds had been transferred to the church’s general account without the knowledge or approval of the Board of Deacons or the congregation, which violated the church constitution.
The Budget and Finance Committee, of which Oscar Fitzhenry was a member, investigated and reported the following September that Stevens had ordered the money transfers.
Other discrepancies were discovered later. One involved the failure of Stevens to report senior staff members’ complete salaries. Another was that various special committees had been formed without approval of the congregation and there never has been a complete accounting of the more than $200,000 they spent.
For example, the suit says, after Hurricane Hugo the church set up a special Hugo Fund to help those who had specific needs as a result of the hurricane. However, it says, “the Hugo Fund was never used to perform services for selected members of Northside Baptist church and large portions of the fund were used to pay church members $100 a day to do Hugo cleanup, thereby diverting these funds from the originally intended purpose so as to buy votes and influence friends for the benefit of Dr. John Stevens.”
Stevens promised the congregation a certified public accountant would review the books and named Dr. Robert Vallier to do it. Vallier reviewed them but the suit says he is Download shelleyltr.pdf (405.1K)">not a CPA or a licensed accountant in South Carolina.
Vallier said in his report it was not an audit and he expressed reservation about the reliability of records he had seen. Quarterly financial reports of the church also documented the lack of management, the absence of full accountability and financial irresponsibility, the suit says.
Oscar Fitzhenry made dozens of oral and written requests in 1990 for specific records but was refused. And throughout September and October of 1990, the suit says, deacons chairman Bill Lamb openly criticized Fitzhenry for insisting on accountability in church financial matters.
On Oct. 8, the Board of Deacons asked Oscar Fitzhenry to resign, and on Oct. 28 the congregation was asked to remove him from the board.
Fitzhenry kept trying to see the records, and just more than two months later he, his son and daughter-in-law were excommunicated.
Fitzhenry was on his boat Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. However, he left word with his wife that he would not discuss the suit with anyone.
REPRINTED BY PERMISSION OF
MR. MULLINS, POST AND COURIER
We filed suit to gain access to the books, to recover our stolen membership, and for slander. Attached is a study I did not the matter of taking those who allege to be brothers to Download Law2.pdf (1173.3K)">Civil Court. Would I file suit again if an identical situation occured? I don't think I would have wasted the time or money. I only hope that I would have had the sense to stay out of such a synagogue of Satan in the first place. Did it solve anything, purge evil from Christendom, or purify fundamentalism? Why not visit Northside Baptist in North Charleston, SC and find out for yourself?