Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

May 2, 2010

The Church Tested — Part Three

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

(Please read the two previous blogs, Part One and Two, before reading this blog.)

Perhaps there are times when people get caught up in some excitement and respond, but later rethink their response.  That perhaps happened at our church with many people.

The news of our church receiving a black person spread across the state.  We had not sought any publicity, and there had been no attempt to bring about the challenge that came to our city.  Many people in the area began to feel that this action of the church should not have been.

Our church ministry continued as if this young lady was no different from any other person.  As I scheduled her baptism with several others, I was approached by several to delay the baptism.  It was a ploy to perhaps allow the church to recant its decision.  If we truly meant what we as a church expressed on the Sunday morning she came forward, then we had no basis for a delay.

I did baptize her in a few weeks.  That, I believe, became a catalyst for the following events.  It had been about two weeks since her baptism.  It was Wednesday evening and we noticed a particularly large number of cars in the parking lot and people going inside.  We realized that this was not going to be an ordinary Wednesday evening prayer service.

When we went inside, we found the place packed.  People were standing.  There were members of  the KKK, church members that had not attended in years, and many towns people.  These individuals seemingly had put pressure on a few of the regular members.  Those members  called a special church conference as allowed in the constitution.  A motion was placed on the floor that I be dismissed as pastor, along with other staff and deacons.  Knowing that this would be a meeting not under the Holy Spirit, Judy and I left the church.

Later that evening, two respected men in the congregation came to the house to visit with us.  They told us the people decided to give me an opportunity to change my convictions.  If I would not, then a vote would be taken on Sunday to terminate my ministry.

I responded that under no circumstances were my integrity and convictions for sale.  Judy and I knew what the result would mean, but we would stand to lose much more than a job.  We agreed that self-respect and a commitment to Christ were our priorities.  There would be no compromise.

The following Sunday morning, we were fired along with other staff and deacons, ironically on Race Relations Sunday.  I was told not to come into the building again, and that all my books and personal items would be in boxes in the yard for me to retrieve.

Much more publicity would appear in newspapers across the state.  We were ostracized by many, and yet supported by thousands.  Letters and even financial support came from missionaries around the world, and church members and leaders from across the nation.  But for the time, furniture went into storage, family pets were given away, the children changed schools, and I had to begin to seek employment.

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life . . .”  (Psalm 138:7)  “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  (2 Corinthians 4:8,9)

But God is all He promised!  We did not seek the attention or the abuse.  We had no agenda.  Our only desire then, and now, is to be loyal and faithful to the One who has called us. Let that be your commitment also.  ” . . . love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength . . . .”  (Mark 12:33)


Yet, there is still more to the story.  In coming blogs, I will confess some bitterness I had, and how I handled it.


1 Comment »

  1. This is both disturbing and inspiring. Shows how receiving God’s grace makes us like Jesus and rejecting God’s grace ushers in a hard heart that allows us to live deceived lives. I’m glad you wrote these 3 blogs. I look forward to upcoming ones.

    Comment by jjr — May 2, 2010 @ 8:24 am | Reply

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