This letter is addressed to the Pastors of our GARBC churches and to Deacons. It is being written in accordance with the instructions of the Council of Fourteen. A copy is being mailed to the Pastor and another to the chairman of the Deacons.
The purpose of this communication is to share with our churches our thinking concerning publicity of the discipline of Pastors and other leaders.
For a number of years it was the policy of the Baptist Bulletin to publish news items concerning men that had been disciplined, if churches or Associations supplied these items and requested their publication. The purpose was not retaliation against the individual, but the protection of the churches.
However, the Baptist Bulletin goes into more than 25,000 homes. In many cases there are unsaved members in the families, or babes in Christ. Some of these were being stumbled by the public announcement of these situations. Many pastors requested that the practice be terminated for they felt the ill effects were serious.
The Council of Fourteen prayerfully considered this matter and voted to instruct the Editor of the Bulletin not to carry such announcements.
Pastoral discipline is the responsibility of the churches. It is not Association business. Therefore, the Council has asked me to convey this information to the churches. A letter goes to each pastor so he will understand the policy, and to the deacons so that churches without pastors will also have the information.
In the judgment of the Council it is the business of each church to carry out such discipline as is Biblical. If the disciplining church desires to notify sister churches of the action, it is the church that is responsible to send out such a notice, for it is the church that knows the facts, has the evidence, and has taken the action.
A list of the churches and their addresses is available in the GARBC Yearbook. If such a notice is sent out by the church a copy should be sent to the GARBC office for our information.
We wish to point out no member should be disciplined without specific reasons submitted to him, and without an adequate opportunity to defend himself. Great care must be exercised not to act upon prejudices or gossip, but upon well established facts.
If publicity is given to such discipline, proper caution should be taken to have in the possession of the church bona fide evidence to support the action, or the church may become involved seriously in counter charges. The cause of Christ, as well as many individuals involved, may be damaged tragically by such events.
We further wish to make it clear that the Association has neither the right nor the desire to intrude into the responsibilities of the local church. This is true in relation to discipline as well as in the conduct of all other church business.
The church has the privilege of asking for counsel from sister churches or from the men in the Council of Fourteen, or in the GARBC office, or others. But the request must originate with the church.
Brethren, may the Lord bless you and give you wisdom and courage, love and grace, as you administer your responsibilities in the church. It is His church and deserves our best!
Yours in our faithful Lord,
Paul R. Jackson, National Representative