Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 13, 1956
NUMBER 32, PAGE 7-9b

A Later Report On The East Bakersfield Trouble

George (Randy) Dickson, Bakersfield, California

A report signed by five former members of the East Bakersfield congregation appeared in the October 16, 1956, issue of the Firm Foundation. This report contains so many grotesque misrepresentations that space would not permit a reply to all of them, but I do want to notice a few.

The first false statement to which I call attention is: "...pressure was exerted on the elders by Moyer and Randy Dickson, the local preacher, to allow teaching on sponsored church cooperation."

This deliberate perversion of truth is signed by five men, but only one of them, T. A. Spivy, could have any information at all as to what took place in the elders' meeting which discussed whether or not Moyer was to teach on this subject. And here is an affidavit signed by the other two elders who were present in that meeting (there were only three elders of the congregation):

"After studying with Brother Lloyd Moyer on the 'centralized control' issues, i.e., the sponsoring church type of cooperation, it was our decision that we would have the subject preached on. 'Pressure' was not exerted by either Brother Moyer or Brother Randy Dickson to have us make such a decision. As we remember the words of Brother Moyer, he said, 'This is my position (which had been declared unscriptural by J. D. Rothwell); if you want it spoken on in a special sermon, I will be glad to do so. If not, fine. You now know my position'."

(Signed): James H. Hill J. F. Padgett

(Elders: East Bakersfield Church of Christ, now meeting at 134 Goodman St.)

Brother Hill, Brother Padgett, and Brother T. A. Spivy were the three elders who talked to Moyer and studied the "centralized control" issue with him. Of the five men who signed the October 16th article in the Firm Foundation, Spivy is the only one who had any first-hand knowledge of what took place. If he still insists that "pressure" was exerted to have Moyer preach on the subject, well, that will hardly be surprising in view of the repeated falsehoods otherwise in the report he has signed.

As an example of additional false statements, consider this:

". . . . Prior to this meeting (Moyer's meeting at East Bakersfield) all congregations in the Bakersfield area were in complete fellowship, and this issue had never been introduced."

Gentle Reader, keep in mind that T. A. Spivy signed his name to the above declaration, and then compare it with this other statement to which he had previously signed his name:

"To Whom It May Concern: This statement is to certify that the Elders and preacher of the Central congregation, meeting at 425 South H Street, Bakersfield, California, notified us that they would not fellowship the East Bakersfield congregation in its meeting with Brother Lloyd Moyer. They refused to announce the meeting and stated that they would not attend.

"The reason they gave for this action was the report of Brother J. D. Rothwell, their preacher, of Brother Moyer's opposition to 'sponsored church cooperation' in such works as the Herald of Truth program, Orphan Homes and 'Missionary projects,' thus making a test of fellowship over these issues.

"This statement is given to forestall any possible reports that Brother Moyer caused a break in the fellowship of these congregations over these issues."

(Signed): Thos. A. Spivy James H. Hill

Frank Padgett

(Elders, East Bakersfield Church of Christ)

Now, one of the two statements signed by T. A. Spivy is false. In one statement he declares that Central Church "broke fellowship" before Moyer's meeting ever started; in the other he declares that there was "complete fellowship" among the Bakersfield congregations until Moyer introduced the issue! From my own personal knowledge I know that he told the truth when he signed the statement declaring that Central DID break fellowship before Brother Moyer ever even arrived in Bakersfield. I further certify that Central Church DID put pressure (all they could bring to bear) on the East Bakersfield congregation to get Moyer's meeting cancelled; and the pressure was such that T. A. Spivy and a few others wilted under it, thus splitting the congregation. One humorous aspect of the whole affair is that T. A. Spin signed the above statement "in order to forestall any possible reports" — exactly like the report T. A. Spivy is now circulating!!! It will really take a "promotin' brother" par excellent to make the "constituent elements" of Brother Spivy's "total situation" look like anything other than what it is — an unvarnished lie.

Now consider the claim of the Firm Foundation article that "prior to this (Moyer's) meeting, this issue had never been introduced." But take a look at the following:

"But as long as men are not satisfied with the simplicity of God's word and the power of the local church, (It is not the power of a universal organization), this we will have to continue to fight for the AUTONOMY of the local congregation. Any work larger than the local church is too big for any elders to oversee. We should bring the church back to its place and work in regard to the Gospel of Christ. Let the local church be the only organization through which to do the work of the church."

(From "Truth Seeker," local bulletin of the East Bakersfield Church of Christ. LeRoy W. Thompson, Editor, issue of August 29, 1953.)

From the same bulletin, issue of July 31, 1953, we quote:

"When most of us became members of the church the big institutional missionary programs: the big institutional schools, and the institutional orphan homes. through which the work of the church was and is being done were already in operation. We have taken them to be all right without any question. This is the sad situation today we find ourselves in. If we had only studied God's plan for all the work of the church, this situation could have been already remedied. Now it is, and certainly has become mighty power over the church and her preachers. Any church that will not go along with them is branded as not being faithful. Any preacher that will not keep his mouth shut about them is shut up by being CUT OFF by these brethren."

When these above quotations appeared in the East Bakersfield paper, at least four of the five men signing the Firm Foundation article were members at East Bakersfield. They KNEW they were signing a falsehood when they stated that the issue had not been introduced in Bakersfield prior to the Moyer meeting. They deliberately perjured themselves in the statement, just as Rothwell, Franklin, and others did under oath in the court trial. These brethren are really "on the march" — but I shudder to think where they are marching to.

Another false statement in the Firm Foundation Article is:.

"Brother Hill ...attempted to tie up the church funds."

The truth is that Brother Hill made no such attempt, nor did he tie up the church funds. The church funds were tied up when, and only when, T. A. Spivy, Elba Hamilton, and R. B. Thompson, the withdrawn from members, as "trustees" ordered the Bank not to honor checks bearing the signature of Ray Bennett, the church treasurer! It is further stated that Brother Hill tried to remove T. A. Spivy's name as "co-signer" of checks. That, again, is false; Spivy never was a "co-signer." He was authorized to sign checks as an alternate; one signature is all that was ever required.

Still another falsehood in the Firm Foundation article is that the withdrawal of these four rebellious brethren was made for the sole purpose of gaining control of the church property, and that the action was a surprise to them, etc., etc. If that be true, then why was the fourth man (never a "trustee") withdrawn from? Probably there has never been a case of discipline where the withdrawn member attributed the right motives to the elders. T. A. Spivy was withdrawn from because of rebellion. He was "walking disorderly." All the congregation was warned that any who joined him in his rebellion, giving him encouragement and sympathy to continue his fight against the congregation, would be dealt with in the same manner. Every man who was disfellowshipped DID have warning. In spite of this warning, however, these rebels threatened the elders of the church with "drastic legal action" unless their demands were met. Let them deny this and the proof will be forthcoming. They know the proof is a matter of record; hence, they will not deny. In effect, they are saying, "We were justified in ignoring I Corinthians 6 because we as trustees did not agree with the elders," and "legal actions were necessary to protect those responsible for the corporate property."

One interesting "omission" from the Firm Foundation article was the failure to explain why Judge Howden ruled that the rebellious men should be restored to "legal" membership in the congregation. It was because of the testimony of Brethren J. D. Rothwell, Elmo Franklin, Woodrow Gann, Earl Warford, and others that no decision of an eldership in a Church of Christ is binding until and unless it has been ratified by the "bulk" of the congregation! And since the East Bakersfield elders had not given opportunity for the congregation to vote on the matter, and decide by majority vote that the "bulk" of them would support the elders' decision, it was ruled that the withdrawal had not followed the "procedure" outlined by Rothwell, Franklin, et al as the standard practice among Churches of Christ. (Since Brother Lemmons prints only that which he judges to be "truth," and since he gives editorial sanction to the report he carried, he no doubt agrees that there must be majority rule ("the bulk of the congregation") to govern the Lord's churches!!!!

Another interesting "omission" from the Firm Foundation article was a description of how the withdrawn from members with their mob of relatives and members of other congregations took control of East Bakersfield's building and property. They came into the assembly of the saints with the preacher from another congregation, Elmo Franklin, hooting, jeering, whistling, stamping their feet, and putting on one of the most disgraceful exhibitions of "mob spirit" that one could possibly imagine. They refused to allow the congregation to continue the worship service on the Sunday morning of August 5, 1956, but declared they were there to "be heard," and in the words of their leader (Franklin) "to straighten out this congregation."

The real motive of this mob action becomes clearly evident when we find them labeling the East Bakersfield church as a "faction" in standing by the elders. The Firm Foundation article did NOT report that the reason the elders decided to move the congregation to another location for worship was because the mob made it unmistakably clear that they intended to put on a similar show every time the church assembled for worship in our building. Obviously, the faithful congregation could have "out-voted" the mob, and could have forced them to obey the decision of the court to the effect that the congregation with her elders was to retain possession of the property; but after prayerful study it was the judgment of the elders that the cause of Christ would be better served in our city by surrendering the property rather than by engaging in the lengthy court trials necessary to retain it. The mob leaders boasted that they had built up a "war chest" of thousands upon thousands of dollars, and were prepared to keep the case "in court" for years and years if necessary. Under such circumstances, rather than see the name of Christ dragged through newspaper headlines for many years in such fashion, the elders decided to surrender the property, and let the mob steal it rather than contest their action and enforce the decision of the court in the case.

One other thing in their report: It was very obvious that these brethren were determined to try to injure the reputation of Brother Yater Tant and myself in their false charge that we had testified that it would be right for elders to make decisions "by the flip of a coin" and to introduce instrumental music into the worship. Neither of us testified to any such thing as being either right or scriptural; we were rather saying that elders had the POWER to make decisions; and that those decisions did not have to be ratified "by the bulk of the congregation" (as Rothwell and Franklin testified) before they were binding. We both emphasized that no eldership has any scriptural right to make any decision contrary to Bible teaching, nor to arrive at that decision by any methods contrary to Bible teaching. The fact that scores of church buildings were lost to the digressives in past generations by elders' acting contrary to the scriptures showed that they had the POWER (not the scriptural right) to so act; and for this cause brethren put the restrictive clause in their church property, to curb or restrict that power. Both Brother Tant and I were testifying as to the legal power which courts in past years have recognized as residing in an eldership; we were not testifying in that point as to the scriptural or moral rights of an eldership. A quotation of our testimony would have shown this clearly; but obviously one does not expect that kind of fairness from men who are bent on stealing a church house.