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Author Topic: Reconciliation for Bill Taylor  (Read 12068 times)
StillOnePeace
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« on: July 26, 2011, 04:41:16 pm »

Just received this by e-mail today (July 26, 2011):

Dear Friends of Bill Taylor,
 

In April, I sent out a letter with the encouraging news that the 1976 Solid Rock Fellowship discipline of Bill Taylor has been vacated and that there has been reconciliation between Bill Taylor and the former leaders of Solid Rock and the leaders in Great Commission Churches (GCC) including the Linworth Road Church (LRC) elders.  (See attachment.)    This paper is a history of the events that led to that reconciliation

This paper represents my personal perspective of Billís discipline and reconciliation. (Although I did submit this paper to Bill, the other Solid Rock elders, the Linworth Road Church board, and the GCC board for their counsel.)

If you have any questions about this paper, please do not hesitate to contact me.

God's grace to you in Jesus Christ.

John Hopler


[Attachment:  ]

A Story of Reconciliation:

Bill Taylor and Leaders in Great Commission Churches

John HopleróJuly 2011

Dear friends of Bill Taylor,

. In April, I sent out a letter with the encouraging news that the 1976 Solid Rock Fellowship discipline of Bill Taylor has been vacated and that there has been reconciliation between Bill Taylor and the former leaders of Solid Rock and the leaders in Great Commission Churches (GCC) including the Linworth Road Church (LRC) elders. (See attachment.) This paper is a history of the events that led to that reconciliation

Our God is a God of reconciliation: ďTherefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.Ē (2 Cor. 5:17,18). In unity with Godís ministry of reconciliation, I have three goals in this paper. First, I want to honor Bill and the men involved in the recent reconciliation. Second, I want to give details of the recent events that led to the reconciliation between Bill and GCC. Third, I want to appeal to any who have not reconciled with Bill or with GCC.

A Word of Introduction

In 1973, after hearing Bill Taylorís lecture on the Second Coming of Christ, I put my faith in Jesus Christ. I later joined Solid Rock and benefited greatly from Billís teaching. I had no part in the September 12, 1976 excommunication process, but I was at the church meeting when Billís discipline was announced. In 1979 I became an elder of Solid Rock and later was on the team that started the national Great Commission organization. In 1991, I and other GCC leaders talked with Bill in an attempt to bring about reconciliation. This past year, as the GCC Director, I steered the reconciliation process between Bill and GCC. Also, I am a member (although not an elder) of Linworth Road Church.

This paper represents my personal perspective of Billís discipline and reconciliation (although I did submit this paper to Bill, the other Solid Rock elders, the Linworth Road Church board, and the GCC board for their counsel). My hope is that this paper will bring more reconciliation within the body of Christ.

HONORING THESE MEN

At the outset, I would like to give honor to Bill Taylor, the former Solid Rock elders (Fred Colvin and Mike Keator) and the other GCC leaders who had a role in the 1976 discipline and the recent reconciliation (Dave Bovenmyer, Dennis Clark, and Herschel Martindale.) Each man loves Jesus Christ and His word. As humble men who have confessed their wrongs, they have received Godís abundant grace. May we imitate our heavenly Father by giving them abundant grace as well.

In this paper, I have a special desire to honor Bill. When a man is excommunicated from a church, he suffers a loss of respect in the Christian community, even if later on it was acknowledged that the excommunication process was not appropriate. One goal I have in writing this paper is to do all I can to restore Billís reputation as a follower of Jesus Christ, particularly in GCC churches. Bill is a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. His ministry has had a powerful impact for Godís kingdom on many people, including many in GCC. Today Bill is doing a marvelous work in equipping nationals to advance the gospel in unreached parts of the world. While it is true (as he has admitted) that he was wrong in some of his actions in the 1970s, my personal belief is that he had an overall desire to teach Godís truth in this new movement. It is an honor for me to say that Bill Taylor and I are united as brothers today to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

At the same time, I want to honor the other 5 men mentioned above (Fred Colvin, Mike Keator, Dave Bovenmyer, Dennis Clark, and Herschel Martindale). Just as there is a need to restore Billís reputation, there is a need to defend these menís reputation. They took action in 1976 out of a desire to advance the gospel and to build Christís church. Those most familiar with the facts of this case know that these men had valid issues that they were addressing at that time. Hindsight being 20-20, they would take a different course of action were they faced with similar circumstances today. My hope is that this paper will increase peopleís appreciation for them. Although they were wrong in some of the actions they took in 1976, they are humble men who were worthy of our respect in 1976 and who are worthy of our respect today.

A Commitment to Transparency

This paper is focused on giving details of the recent reconciliation. As to the 1976 discipline, I want to answer any question related to the specifics of that discipline. However, I want to do so in a way that honors the Lord and the men named earlier in this paper. I could give many details about events that occurred over the past 40 years. But I see no need to write about certain statements or actions that have since been confessed and forgiven. Because I respect Bill and these GCC leaders so much, I have chosen to limit the amount of facts that I put in writing. Also, I have chosen not to present any facts that would hinder future reconciliation efforts between Bill and those outside of GCC involved with the 1976 discipline.

If you would like more details about the 1976 discipline of Bill Taylor than this paper provides, please contact Bill (billjoanntaylor@juno.com) or my office (info@gccweb.org).

DETAILS OF THE RECENT RECONCILIATION

1970s: Billís discipline in 1976 involved a conflict that began in the early 1970s. There are many details that could be given. However, it is sufficient for this paper to make three points:

1. The discipline in 1976 centered around statements and actions by Bill Taylor between 1974 and 1976. Bill had concerns with the leadership and teaching in the movement, particularly with Jim McCotter. Jim was the pastor with the most national influence in the Great Commission church movement from 1970 until he left in 1986 to pursue business ventures.

2. Over the past 30+ years, a primary issue for Bill has been the content of his concerns with the leadership and teaching in the movement. During the past 30+ years, as GCC leaders addressed Billís substantive concerns, a primary issue for GCC leaders has been the way Bill shared his concerns. Many of the issues raised by Bill were later addressed and acknowledged in GCCís 1991 Errors and Weaknesses Paper. (http://gccweb.org/assets/gccweb/weakness.pdf). However, Bill has also stated that he was wrong in some of the ways he presented his concerns in the 1970s.

3. Another key issue was the process taken in the excommunication. In September, 1976, leaders from outside Solid Rock came to Columbus because of their concerns with Bill. Everyone agrees that it was appropriate for these outside leaders to present their concerns to the Solid Rock elders. However, everyone in GCC also agrees that several significant aspects of the 1976 discipline process were wrong (and contrary to how a GCC church would proceed today).

1990s: In the early 1990s, GCC leaders made changes in their leadership approach. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s elders would too often ignore criticisms or assume they were unmerited or ill intended as being ďdivisiveĒ. This resulted in the inappropriate usage of Titus 3:10 in some situations. But now a greater emphasis is placed on humility and responding maturely to criticisms. As part of

Project Care, in 1991 I and other GCC leaders pursued reconciliation with former members including Bill Taylor. Afterwards, GCC wrote a letter to Bill acknowledging and apologizing for the process taken in the 1976 discipline. However, despite these procedural errors, GCC leaders believed that the discipline should not be lifted and asked Bill to respond to some issues. Initially there was some dialogue but until recently there was little interaction between Bill and GCC.

2010: Last year, the Lord began working towards reconciliation. Billís wife JoAnn had a deeper prayer burden for a resolution. In May 2010, while reviewing the history of our movement, I began praying for reconciliation. Then, after receiving an email from Bill Taylorís friend Dan Lilly, the Lord stirred Fred Colvin to see the discipline lifted. This resulted in many emails back and forth and some conference calls in late 2010. At that time, I was affected by 1 Peter 3:8: "To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit." Harmony comes when there is sympathyó seeing things from the otherís viewpoint. So we made extra effort to see things from Bill's viewpoint. For example, I was sympathetic that in the 1970s there was no defined appeal process (as there is in GCC today) for Bill to express his concerns with a pastor who had national influence. Even though we in GCC still questioned some of Billís conduct, God used 1 Peter 3:8 to prepare us for our meeting in January.

January 2011: On January 6-7, 2011, I invited Bill Taylor and Fred Colvin to Columbus to meet with Mike Keator, Herschel Martindale, Tom Short, Dave Bovenmyer and me. In summary, it was a wonderful time. We prayed together, and the Lord was very present. We had rich fellowship, characterized by humility, brotherly understanding, forgiveness, and grace. The time was filled with the sharing of Godís word, testimonies, and moments of laughter. We spent many hours talking about advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ to new places in the world.

At the outset of the meeting, GCC leaders humbly acknowledged to Bill the errors in the discipline process. Also, I shared that GCC leaders thought it would be right to vacate the judgment unilaterally. During the meeting Bill also acknowledged that he was wrong in some of the ways he addressed his concerns in the 1970s. Overall, everyone extended forgiveness to each other.

After the meeting, as Herschel and Dave flew back home, Bill, Mike, Fred, Tom Short and his wife joined my wife and me at my home for a meal and a time to break bread. For me, it was a time of special blessing to be fellowshipping with the former elders of Solid Rock.

January 2011 to the present: The 1976 excommunication was done by Solid Rock. Linworth Road Church (LRC), the successor to Solid Rock, was the proper body to vacate the discipline. Since none of the present LRC elders had any knowledge of the 1976 events, the GCC board recommended to LRC that the September 1976 church judgment of Bill Taylor be vacated. In February, I met with the LRC elders to explain the Bill Taylor discipline and the GCC recommendation. Due to several being out of town over the next month, the LRC elders were delayed in making a board decision. Then on March 18, 2011 the LRC elders made an ďofficialĒ and independent decision to vacate the 1976 judgment of Bill Taylor.

Questions and answers

1. How does vacating the excommunication restore Billís reputation?

Because significant aspects of the process were wrong, the excommunication was vacated. To vacate means we treat this judgment as if it never occurred. We did not ďretryĒ this case under Titus 3:10. A retrial was not considered possible (since these events happened so long ago) or necessary (since we who met with Bill in January would not characterize him as a factious man today).

What does this mean as to Billís reputation? We should presume that Bill was innocent of faction,

based on this principle: A man is presumed innocent unless proven guilty by a fair and thorough process. In a court case, if the procedures are not right, then we cannot be sure that the judgment is just. In Billís case, he was never judged to be factious through a fair and thorough process. Therefore, Bill should be viewed like you and me, as one innocent of faction, until proven otherwise.

In addition, based on my general understanding of what occurred in 1976. it is my personal opinion that the events that occurred in Solid Rock in 1976 would lead to a different result in GCC today. In 1976, Solid Rock was not part of a church association where there were older, mature Christians who could act as mediators when conflicts arose. If the same events occurred in a GCC church in 2011, I believe that those in national leadership in GCC would counsel the elders to view this as a conflict between elders, not a Titus 3:10 matter. Even though there were some valid issues in Billís life to address at the time, my opinion is that in 2011 this matter would result in mediation, not church discipline. If my opinion is accurate, then Bill would not have been disciplined in 1976 had Solid Rock been part of a support structure like that provided by GCC today. And if so, there would have been no need to restore his reputation today.

Bottom line, my hope and prayer is that everyone will view Bill Taylor today, not as a factious man, but as a brother in Christ who seeks to honor God and His word.

2. What steps have been taken to correct the wrongs of the 1976 discipline?

Because the discipline was wrong, the following steps were taken. First, the GCC and LRC boards have repudiated the 1976 discipline. Second, I urged those in a GCC church who were involved with the discipline to reconcile with Bill. Every GCC church member who played a role in the discipline has asked for and received forgiveness from Bill. Third, in 1998 GCC established as a GCC church membership requirement a process for addressing concerns with elders that protects churches in the future from the wrongs that occurred in 1976. Fourth, for 25 years, the practice in GCC churches has been for elders to seek a peaceful resolution that avoids a Titus 3:10 discipline. Elders are urged to be humble and patient with those with disagreements, and not be quick to assume that a person is divisive. Fifth, as for those who participated in the 1976 discipline who are not in a GCC church, GCC has urged them to seek reconciliation with Bill. Finally, I have asked Bill if there are any other steps for us to take and he said that he is satisfied with GCCís response.

3. Why did this reconciliation not occur in 1991 when GCC leaders met with Bill?

I have often asked myself this question over the past few months. We all wish that reconciliation had occurred many years ago. However, there are several reasons why reconciliation occurred in 2011, not 1991. First, in Godís sovereignty, the Spirit of God chose to move in several peopleís hearts (JoAnn Taylor, Fred Colvin, mine) at the same time in 2010 to bring about the reconciliation that was completed in 2011. Second, GCC leaders and Bill are more mature today than in 1991. This past year, GCC leaders and Bill made greater attempts to see things from each othersí perspective. As a result, God changed GCC leadersí perspective on how to view the wrong procedures. In 1991 GCC leaders acknowledged that the 1976 discipline process was wrong. But at the end of 2010 GCC leaders recognized that if the process is wrong, then the right action is to vacate the 1976 judgment unilaterally. When this was communicated to Bill at the start of the January, 2011 meeting, it paved the way for a total reconciliation between Bill and GCC.

But there was another major factor. When I and other GCC leaders met with Bill in 1991, we genuinely wanted to achieve reconciliation. What most people donít realize is that another church (not a GCC church) had disciplined Bill in 1985. The discipline by this church (which previously had disagreed with Solid Rockís 1976 decision) greatly affected GCC leaders. To honor that churchís discipline, we wanted Bill to give us news of a resolution or an explanation on why the 1985 discipline was invalid. Not until 2010 did this occur, when Bill sent me news that he and the churchís pastor had reconciled. It is true that Bill received a letter of discipline in 1985. However, the churchís pastor told me that although there had been a

conflict, his view today is that Bill did nothing worthy of being disciplined. This news was pivotal in the reconciliation between GCC and Bill. My personal opinion is this: If the 1985 incident had been resolved in 1991 I believe that it would have led to a chain of events that would have resulted in Billís discipline being vacated in 1991. I realize that this is highly speculative. But still, that is my opinion today.

4. Has there been reconciliation with everyone who was involved in the Bill Taylor discipline?

Everyone who is a GCC church member (and all but a few outside of GCC) are reconciled with Bill. Bill has made himself available for a reconciliation meeting with anyone involved in the 1976 discipline, including Jim McCotter. (FYI, Jim has not been a member of a GCC church or in any sort of accountability relationship with GCC for over 20 years.) Please pray that God will bring total reconciliation with all involved with the 1976 discipline.

Evaluating through eyes of grace.

In this story, there were wrongs and immature actions doneÖby everyone. But I hope that we all have a gracious spirit when evaluating the men in this story. All of us, including leaders, have flaws and need Godís grace. These leaders were young men, in their 20s and 30s who did not have the benefit of 30+ years of experience with the "20-20 hindsight" that we have today. Therefore, my appeal is that we refrain from a harsh, judgmental attitude when looking back on September 1976. My prayer is that while we look honestly at the flawed actions, we will evaluate these brothers as the Lord views them, with ďeyes of grace.Ē

TWO APPEALS

I rejoice that Bill Taylor and GCC churches are reconciled today. However, some unresolved situations remain. Therefore, I have two appeals. First, if you have not reconciled with Bill as to the 1976 discipline, please do so. Second, if you have concerns related to this paper or related to a GCC church, please contact me. I promise to listen to you with sympathy and to make a good faith effort to resolve your concerns. In that regard, please consider this note from Bill Taylor:

"I have found John to be, as the Director of Great Commission Churches (GCC), a man of his word. As we worked recently through issues that have divided us over these 35 years, it was John's persistence and honesty that unlocked shut doors leading to ways that reconciliation could take place and relationships mended. I would encourage you to share openly and honestly with him as I believe he wants the best for the Lord Jesus Christ. If you would be more comfortable to include me in your communication with him regarding issues that concern you please feel free to do so. John and I continue to have open and straightforward communication and a common desire to see the Lord glorified and people helped positively as much as we can regarding these things."

FINAL WORD: EXALTING THE GRACE OF GOD

In closing, it is only fitting that we exalt God for His grace. The gospel of Jesus Christ has continued to spread over the past 35 years, despite everyoneís sins, errors, and misjudgments. Fred Colvin, Mike Keator and Bill Taylor are all actively proclaiming the gospel overseas. Also, from that 1976 Solid Rock church, over 35 churches have been started. But perhaps the greatest miracle is that the Lord united Bill, Fred, and Mike as former Solid Rock elders and brought unity with other GCC brothers in Christ. Today we all support each other in our ministries to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ across the globe. Praise God for His amazing grace! To Him be all the glory!

If you have any questions about this letter, please contact John Hopler at info@gccweb.org.

ATTACHMENT

April, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

You are likely aware that Bill Taylor was excommunicated on the charge of faction from Solid Rock Fellowship in Columbus, Ohio in 1976. Solid Rock later became Linworth Road Church, a member church of Great Commission Churches (GCC). This is written to give you the encouraging news that there has been reconciliation between the former leaders of Solid Rock, the leaders in the Great Commission Churches including the Linworth Road elders, and Bill.

The seven of us met on January 6-7, 2011 in Columbus. Fred Colvin, Mike Keator and Bill Taylor, were the Solid Rock elders in 1976. Dave Bovenmyer and Herschel Martindale, present GCC board members, were elders from other churches involved in the 1976 excommunication. John Hopler and Tom Short, also GCC board members, were members of Solid Rock in 1976. All were present with a desire to see God bring about reconciliation. In summary, the January meeting was a time of rich fellowship in the Lord, characterized by humility, brotherly understanding, confessions and expressions of forgiveness and grace. The time was filled with prayer, the sharing of Godís word, testimonies, and moments of laughter. We spent many hours talking about advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ to new places in the world.

After unrelated delays, on March 18th, 2011, the Linworth Road Church elders, in harmony with counsel offered by the Great Commission Churches board, made a decision to vacate the 1976 church ex-communication of Bill Taylor. If you have questions about the specifics related to this decision, you can contact any of us individually or the GCC office (http://gccweb.org/) or the Linworth Road Church office (http://www.linworthroad.org/.) Also, John Hopler, who the Lord used to steer this reconciliation process to its conclusion, is writing a paper from his personal perspective which gives a history of this matter in detail, which you will be able to receive by contacting the Great Commission Churches office.

As your brothers in Christ, we would also like to communicate to you the following:

1. The Living Christ. Jesus Christ is the One who brought about this reconciliation. The January meeting was another example of Godís grace being greater than our sins, our immaturity, and our unwise judgments. Even with all the events that occurred in the 1970s, God faithfully worked in advancing His church. Since 1976, there have been over 30 churches started out of Solid Rock.

2. Brotherly Humility and Love. Each of us has confessed to each other the wrongs we have done, our immaturity, and acknowledged to each other the different ways we would have acted were we faced with the same set of circumstances today. If there are ones who have been hurt or wronged by our actions, we ask for your forgivenessóand we would want to express that to you personally.

3, The Mission of Jesus Christ. Although we have had many healthy discussions about the past, we have chosen to not dwell on the past. We are moving on, united as brothers, to advance Christís glory to the ends of the earth. Dave Bovenmeyer is a pastor in Iowa, and serves on the GCC leadership team. Fred Colvin is a missionary in Austria, helping to lead a movement of 40 churches. John Hopler is the GCC Director, a movement of 150 affiliated churches in the world. Mike Keator is equipping thousands to share the gospel with unreached people throughout the world. Herschel Martindale is training leaders in the Dominican Republic. Tom Short preaches to college students, leading many to Christ. Bill Taylor works with a mission group in training nationals to advance the gospel in their countries. We support and pray for each other in the work each is doing for the Lord. We also ask for your prayers and support for each man that the fame of Jesus Christ will spread throughout the world.

Much grace to you in Jesus Christ,

Dave Bovenmeyer, Fred Colvin, John Hopler, Mike Keator, Herschel Martindale,

Tom Short, Bill Taylor
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EverAStudent
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2011, 08:44:40 pm »

Thank you for sharing that.  Praise the Lord that Bill's situation is resolved.  Congratulations to GC for admitting their excommunication process was all messed up.

Concerns that I read in the "attachments" give me some ongoing pause:
   - it took until all the seated elders (who oversaw the unrighteous excommunication) were gone from its leadership before that church acted to reconcile
   - the letter repeats several times (for emphasis?) that Bill did admit to being sinful when they unrighteously excommunicated him (does that exhonerate them somewhat and somehow?)
   - the letter identifies that another church had "disciplined" Bill in 1985 and that this is why they decided not to admit their unrighteous excommunication of Bill in 1991.

Sure, this is a step in the right direction for GC.  But the thing that most bothers me is that they besmirtched Bill's reputation further by drawing attention his 1985 discipline by another church which no one knew about before (and which also turned out to be unrighteous), then they used that other church's improper discipline (which was for an entirely indendent and unrelaed issue) to somehow justify them not confessing their own unrighteous excommunication of Bill, and so they delayed their repentance until 2011.  Really? 

Just my two pennies.
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Linda
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2011, 09:29:56 pm »

EAS,

Amen to what you said. My thoughts exactly.

This letter is astonishingly proud as it attempts to be humble. Perhaps Hopler did not realize what he was doing as he kept telling us that "Bill did some wrong stuff, too," and then went on to spread some "gossip" about what happened at different church.

This is a man who was "excommunicated" for 35 years. He had to live under false condemnation for 35 years. Shame on them for putting him down as they attempt to reconcile.

He also neglects to point out to any of the elders reading about this remarkable reconcilliation that one of the things that Taylor was excommunicated for was teaching that unity was important, but truth was more important than unity. This went against McCotter's teaching that unity trumps truth. Taylor stood up for truth, he paid a price. God bless him for that.


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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2011, 09:30:20 pm »

I haven't waded through it all.  I really, really, really need to go to bed.  But my first initial thought was, Cool!  And then when I got past the title was, Really?  They were mad because he said something about Jim McCotter?  That's not sin, peeps.  I can't remember the whole situation, but really.  Why can't they just say:  We were wrong.  We messed up.  We are sorry.

We all know that saying "I'm sorry, but" negates the I'm sorry.  Then again, I haven't waded through all of it.  I really, really, really need to go to bed.  Tomorrow, I may edit this if I know longer agree with it after reading the entire thing.

Edited to add:  Oh fine!  I stayed up and read the whole thing.  Smiley

I guess it's a good thing.  I'm surprised that they take themselves so seriously.  It's a level of intensity I'm not comfortable with.  I don't know what Bill did exactly, so I guess I can't really make judgments?  What did he do that was so horrible in the first place?

And by the way, Thanks for sharing this!  I'm sure I'll have more to say tomorrow.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 12:25:57 pm by AgathaL'Orange » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 10:00:36 pm »

Agatha, Bill's sin was that he disagreed with McCotter on the unity teaching and taught what he believed which was that unity was important, but truth was more important than unity. Back in the day, if you disagreed with Jim, you were considered divisive because of Jim's doctrine that "unity trumped truth".

In case anyone would want to refresh their memories about what happened to Bill Taylor. Here are two links.

Here is the link to an account of what happened to Bill Taylor as told by Larry Pile.

http://www.gcxweb.org/Books/MarchingToZion/MTZ-Trouble.aspx

Here is the link to the transcript of the excommunication.

http://www.gcxweb.org/Audio/ExcBillTaylor-12-09-1976.aspx

In a nutshell. Jim McCotter came to town (so much for the assemblies being overseen by local elders) and had an all night meeting where Bill was excommunicated without being present to state his case. When Bill showed up at church the next day, they excommunicated him, physically kicked him out of the church, and proceeded to tell those assembled that Bill had been given the boot.

Larry Pile's account of the event.

Quote
When Mike and Fred showed up at the church with Jim and the others, Fred was requested to go in and bring Bill out. While Jim and the others waited out of sight, Fred approached Bill, asking to speak with him outside. Upon seeing Mike, Bill exclaimed, "Mike! What are you doing here?", to which Mike dead-panned, "We excommunicated you," and he handed him the letter of excommunication.
   When Bill recovered from his initial shock at Mike's announcement and understood the intention of these brothers, he said, "You're not going to do this without me being there," and he turned for the door. At that point Mike prepared to stop Bill by physical force. Just then a late arriver to the meeting (Pat Ryan) came around the corner, saw what was happening, and stopped still (none of the others saw him at the time; he told this to Bill later). About that time Jim and the others appeared, and two of them took up positions between Bill and the building. Following this, Bill chose the course of prudence and left, while the rest went on into the church to fulfill their intentions.

After Bill had been forced out of the building the excommunication meeting began. The transcript reveals that someone named Tim Burnham wondered why Bill was not allowed to speak. The answer is astonishing. Here it is.

Quote
Tim Burnham: [Gives scripture reference; unintelligible on tape, but is John 7:51.] "Our Law does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?" I was just wondering -- is there a reason why Bill was not allowed to speak in his own defense?
Colvin: Well, that's aÖ that's a good question. His defense, Tim, is what caused me to sin. His defense is the very thing he's getting disciplined for, because his defense is very divisive. And, y' know, like any controversy would have, there's a ring to it, that if you didn't really know the situation, you might say, "Well, y' know, that sounds pretty good." Let me tell ya: it wouldn't 'a' gone on for two years if it sounded silly. So, like people can be very convincing.
In other words, Bill Taylor was being excommunicated for faction. He was considered divisive because he disagreed with McCotter on some theological matters (the unity/truth thing) and taught what he believed. They couldn't let him stand up before the church and say, "I am considered factious because I disagree publicly with McCotter's theology," because, according to GC "rules" a public disagreement with McCotter over theology would be faction. It's crazy.

I'm with you. Mr. Hopler could have saved a lot of time if he would have just said, "We were wrong. We messed up. We are sorry. We are very grateful that Bill Taylor was willing to reconcile with us after the way we mistreated him."
« Last Edit: July 26, 2011, 10:07:29 pm by Linda » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2011, 08:13:11 am »

It's great that the brothers reconciled! It's great they want to restore Bill Taylor's reputation! But it reminds me of a story (sorry I don't remember the men involved. I believe they were well-known Christians in England.)
 
One man had spent a period of time telling others of the wrong the first man had done. Later he repented and came to the first for forgiveness, saying he would repair the first's reputation. The first granted forgiveness, but then gave an object lesson. He tore paper into many small pieces, went to the window and threw them out into the breeze, where they promptly scattered to the 4 winds. He turned to the other and remarked that the man could no more restore his reputation then he could gather the many pieces of paper and make it whole again.

It is a lesson to me how words and actions cause such damage! Bill's reputation will never be totally repaired because of the wrong of the men who conducted the excommunication. They may desire it restored, but by their own actions, it never will be this side of heaven.

A quote from a Sara Groves song - "Remind me of this with every decision, generations will reap what I sow. I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I will never know."

May God give peace to Bill and Joann and multiply their ministry!
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2011, 08:47:49 am »

Excellent point and illustration, nolongergci. The more I read this, the odder it gets. This is not an apology.

I would like to remind everyone of what Mike Keator said. Publicly. To the gathered church. At a meeting where Bill was not allowed to be present. He was also not present at the all night meeting at the hotel the night before where McCotter and his cronies (Martindale, Clark, Catalano, Clemente, Gumlia, Harvey, Irvine, Kellogg, Royal, Schonberg and Keator) were flown in (another question, for all these meetings, old and new, is tithe money used to jet these leaders all around the country to discuss their bad decisions?) and made the decision to excommunicate him. He wasn't even allowed to make his defense. They just sat around talking about him behind his back (slander and maybe even gossip). They they excommunicated him. Shame on them. So people understand the harshness of what transpired, here are Keator's words from the excommunication transcript:

"Bill is excommunicated from the universal body of Christ. No Christian in any city on earth is to associate with him. And we will warn Christians all over the world, if we have any suspicion that Bill has communicated with them.

If you receive a phone call, turn away -- just hang up immediately -- and let me warn you, don't get into a discussion with him. The Scripture says in Titus chapter three that he's perverted -- doesn't mean hopelessly lost, it means his mind's perverted, twisted. He hasÖ he'll probably come out with tremendous arguments. The Scripture says his mind is twisted. You're not to listen. And, you can do him a favor if you contact us. Any time you get a phone call, hang up immediately and contact us. If he approaches you on the street, obey the Scripture: turn away, have nothing to do with. If he follows you, run away. If he runs after you, keep running away. If he tackles you [laughter from audience] Ö and I'm notÖ this is possibleÖ get away."

Bill Taylor was basically told he could not have communion/fellowship at any church in the world and all his friends were told to shun him. Not only that, but Keator suggested publicly that Bill might just physically tackle someone. He lived under this burden/false charge for 35 years. Then, 35 years later, John Hopler says the understatement of the year.

"When a man is excommunicated from a church, he suffers a loss of respect in the Christian community, even if later on it was acknowledged that the excommunication process was not appropriate."

Really? I guess so!

Note here that he still does not say that BT should have not been excommunicated. He merely says that they acknowledge the process was not appropriate. He then says he wants to defend the reputation of the guys who did the excommunicating. He says they were young. (Well, then maybe they were unqualified to be elders). He says their motives were good. (So, then, the end justifies the means?) He says he wants to defend their reputation. It seems to me, the way for them to do that is to be genuinely humble by acknowledging their wrongdoing, repenting, and asking for forgiveness.

This would need to be done publicly, since the excommunication was very public.

What Hopler and Co. have written above is not a humble apology. It is not humble, nor is it an apology.

For Bill Taylor's sake, I'm glad there has been some vindication and this burden has been slightly lifted. I say slightly because it sounds from Hopler's letter that he got off on a technicality.

Also, someone needs to inform Hopler and company that Titus 3:10 is still in the play book. It's been softened to more of a social shunning, rather than a full blown excommunication, but they used it on us.

« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 03:50:47 am by Linda » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2011, 12:53:13 pm »

I really wanted this to be good.  I thought maybe I had forgotten some egregious sin that Bill had committed, but it really does appear that he was "factious" and "divisive" in the GCI/GCC/GCM/GCAC/GCX sense, in the regular world it looks like disagreement and communication.  My impression from this letter is also that they want to protect the current leadership and are making it sound like Bill holds an equal fault on this issue.  No, he doesn't.  I'm not convinced that he bears ANY fault here.

I'm really disappointed.  I appreciate that it's very difficult for prideful, self assured, circle the wagons organizations to admit complete fault here, but that is what is required for repentance.  They need to admit that they were unqualified, untrained, young and overly zealous, and quite simply incredibly prideful.  They need to admit that Bill's teaching that doctrine is very important, more important than unity, and humbly confess this fault. 

When telling a story of one's sin, you don't keep reiterating that the other person is also to blame.  That does not ring true here, nor is it true.

I've never experienced such a weird situation.  Is there some horrible thing Bill did that no one knows about?  In addition, I think saying that things were handled inappropriately is an understatement.

How about, "We are responsible for a ridiculous kangaroo court of arrogant youths.  We insisted that we were God's personal mouthpieces.  We are embarrassed, to say the least, that we actually thought we had the authority to excommunicate someone from the worldwide Body of Christ.  Essentially, we thought we were cool.  And we weren't.  We are human.  We made mistakes.  We are mortified about this entire situation.  Of course, you are free to disagree with your leader.  You are free to speak of it.  You are free to tell your friends.  And we appreciate the many years of tolerance and grace that so many have given us for our heavy handed and oppressive leadership tactics, that are not limited to the men in the Bill Taylor fiasco.  In fact, it's only because of the willingness of these men to address the situation that it came to light.  There have been many, many other situations as bad as this one that haven't come to light probably because those leaders still think they were in the right."


I'd like it if they then went on to say, "We are now going to send all our pastors to seminary and have them intern in other churches to learn from others.  We recognize that our organization has been insular, willfully ignorant, and proud.  We thought we had all the answers.  We don't."

I suppose it's a step in the right direction, but I'd say a baby step.  A little tiny step.  If they weren't in positions of authority, I would applaud them.  If they were my children, I would attempt to shape this behavior into greater things.  But from a leader?  It seems like they think it's a sign of weakness to admit fault.  It just makes the people he's trying to defend look bad.  He doesn't need all the reasons.  Why the reasons. 

 Even just, "Reconciliation has happened.  We were so incredibly wrong.  We were also wrong to wait this long.  We ask for forgiveness from Bill, the body of Christ, and from God. Reconciliation and repentance feels great.  I highly recommend it!"  Smiley  The reasons just keep showing that they don't think it was all that bad.  Am I misreading? 

I really am coming at this WANTING them to change.  I really do.  I really, really do.  C'mon GCC. Change?  Maybe a little faster???




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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2011, 01:15:30 pm »

This past evening I was reading a book on, of all subjects, Church Discipline.  It reminds the reader that the process of church discipline is NOT:
   -1 go in private to correct the sinner, and IF he does not repent,
   -2 go with others to correct the sinner, and IF he does not repent,
   -4 excommunicate him.

NO!  The process is:
   -1 go in private to correct the sinner, and IF he does not repent,
   -2 go with others to correct the sinner, and IF he does not repent,
   -3 go with the entire church, and only if after the entire church has confronted him, and only after he has had time to conisder what the entire church is telling him, only THEN if he does not repent after a reasonable time,
   -4 conduct formal excommunication service/meeting (distinct in time from step 3).

Frankly, never in all my time at GCI did I ever see step 3 implemented.  

Always it went from the elders confronting the person (step 2) directly to step 4 (excommunication).  Somehow they thought that if the elders informed the church that they had excommunicated the person in a private meeting then they had fulfilled step 3.  

Step 3 is supposed to be the dramatic church-wide event of the entire church telling this person to repent and giving him time to do so.  BEFORE an excommunication service is conducted.

Imagine the impact it would have on a person if every member of the church came to them face-to-face and asked them to repent, and then waited for them to actually repent!
« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 02:15:32 pm by EverAStudent » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2011, 06:02:29 pm »

I don't think that their process of excommunication is the only thing that is flawed (i.e. skipping step 3 and going to step 4 directly) but also their reasons for excommunicating. In Bill's example, he was excommunicated for standing up for truth and daring to say that Jim McCotter was wrong. I don't think that speaking truth is reason for excommunication. It was always my understanding the excommunication was for repeated, unrepentant sinning.
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2011, 06:32:45 pm »

Hello Judah, I agree, more is wrong with what GC does regarding church discipline than just skipping step 3. 

Sadly, what their letter of explanation states is that they think it was primarily their process of discipline that was flawed with regard to Bill Taylor and not their vicious attacks against people trying to correct McCotter's faulty theology.  The fact that they even thought about "retrying" Bill and that the "reason" they did not retry him was because it was too long after the fact (35 years later!) such that witnesses to the events could not be found!!!!

There seems to be minimal genuine remorse for their outrageous conduct.  In fact, the reality is they do not even now see their conduct as having been outrageous.  If they did, they would not have even talked about retrying Bill but rather have thrown themselves on God's mercy, confessing their sins without excuse, and unilaterally asking for Bill's forgiveness. 

What the letter looks like to me is a business transaction:  "Our reconciliation transaction is complete because Bill admitted guilt in equal quantity and value as our own alleged guilt, so the books are now balanced."
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« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2011, 05:27:00 pm »

There seems to be minimal genuine remorse for their outrageous conduct.  In fact, the reality is they do not even now see their conduct as having been outrageous.  If they did, they would not have even talked about retrying Bill but rather have thrown themselves on God's mercy, confessing their sins without excuse, and unilaterally asking for Bill's forgiveness. 

This.
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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2012, 08:02:06 am »

I don't know the man in question or the details per se, so take this in its proper perspective....... But I've found that a man is not only known by his friends but also his enemies.  Our Lord told us to "love our enemies"; we can't love what we don't have.  That GCI transgressed against this man doesn't hurt his reputation WITH ME; in fact, I could see it as a badge of ligitamacy.   Cheesy
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« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2012, 11:21:34 pm »

I apologize to everyone for having read this letter. My mistake was in being so open-minded as to hope that the letter would have stopped blustering long enough to create actual reconciliation. In retrospect, I think that if I had simply relied upon the evidence I already had in abundance, I would not have wasted our time in such a fashion. Will the group please forgive me?
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Huldah
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2013, 04:05:36 pm »

No forgiveness needed. We're all equally guilty.  Wink
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« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2014, 12:23:54 pm »

Some of you may find it interesting to contrast Hopler's "reconciliation" letter (where he never fully accepts responsibility for Taylor's excommunication back in the day) with this astonishingly humble public letter of apology from Mars Hill pastors/elders that was just made public. It is encouraging to see men respond with such humility.

http://repentantpastor.com/confessions/letter-confession-bent-meyer-paul-petry/
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« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2014, 06:29:24 pm »

Linda,
Thank you very much for posting this Mars Hill apology letter.  Yes, there actually IS a true apology in their letter.  They actually consider the damage to the persons wronged and publicly regret their WRONG actions.  They don't appear to minimize their blame.

I'm not well informed on this organization's history, but from a snapshot view I would imagine these guys still wished they had written a whole lot sooner.  That is, before the doors closed.  

I would guess some even wished they had never gone ALONG with their dismissal.  It takes supernatural strength sometimes to serve GOD rather than men.  Apparently that's what Bent and Paul possessed to stand against spiritual abuse in the first place.  


GCx leaders, your organization has not reached its finality yet of being publicly shamed, disgraced and dissolved for its longstanding and gross spiritual abuse.  But, it will.  Why not be honest with yourselves, your fellow leaders, and your people about the misuse and abuse of power you nodded to and participated in.  This COULD BE your finest hour.  To voluntarily humble yourself and step forward and confess.  So many on this site would certainly take you into our hearts.  It may be the hardest thing you've ever done, but I have a confident notion it WOULD BE one of the greatest things you could ever do.

Very soon, men's opinion and exultation will mean very little compared to the heavenly standing ovation you might receive.

Janet

« Last Edit: November 03, 2014, 08:19:26 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

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