Meanwhile, back at the ranch…Val Verde, that is.
Yes, we’re still here in Northern New Mexico, just past the middle of August and it’s wet.
Been raining pretty good for the last two or three days.
Cool too; 49 degrees at 7:30 in the evening.
How’re things, temp-wise, in North Central Texas?
Sorry ‘bout that.
A couple of weeks back, this column ventured off into politics (so what’s new?) and religion (I don’t go there as often).
Anyway, we had gotten to where a friend of mine up here (David), who general contracts in the area and pastors (shepherds) the small Eagle Nest Family Worship Center, had been contacted by a lawyer representing the New Mexico Baptist Convention (BCNM) to which the Eagle Nest church (ENC) had once been associated, lastly in 1997.
Yes, the subject denominational convention headquarters named herein happens to be Southern Baptist, but this kind of story could easily be happening in your (or any other) denominational bureaucracy.
Anyway, the long and short of the legal contact indicated the BCNM desires possession of the church facilities in Eagle Nest, New Mexico which, centers around a small standard church auditorium, includes several small adjacent buildings (used for Sunday School, etc.), a house serving as home for the pastor’s current family of eight and all the property on which these buildings occupy.
Why would the big ol’ NM Baptists want this little bitty property up in this sparsely settled Sangre de Cristo Mountain town?
Biblically speaking, looks like a David and Goliath thing.
And, could it be, filthy lucre and a bad choice between God and mammon being the root cause of Big Guys ganging up on a Shepherd Boy? (I Peter 5:2/Matthew 6:24)
During last year’s Christmas season, the BCNM legal arm, per instructions from its general director, sent summons to six members of the ENC and to 15 John and 15 Jane Does.
Their contention was that the ENC had dissolved 10 years ago, consequently, the church and all its property belonged to BCNM.
They probably knew better but, you know, filthy lucre, mammon…
What actually happened ten years ago was, in order to remove themselves from any entanglements with state (government), the church body voted to drop their 501(c)(3) status, necessarily relinquishing their incorporated status.
That’s essentially it.
Incidentally, through it all, ENC has not missed a single Sunday worship service in 14 years.
And, in the church decision of ten years ago, no change in the name, ministry, purpose, constitution, by-laws, or affiliation was made. But, after twelve years of no affiliation or contact between the BCNM and ENC, the convention, suddenly up and claims the church was dissolved 10 years ago…and now it all belongs to them.
Since I have not personally interviewed anyone from the NM Baptist Convention, their real (in their words) reason for going to all this trouble to assume possession of the little ENC, I cannot report.
Neither can I say why they have not responded, to three appeals from Brother Dave, "to align themselves with God’s Word," namely: "Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother…" Matthew 18: 15 - 17, and: "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?..." I Corinthians 6: 1 – 11, and: "He suffered no man to do them (His people) wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; Saying, Touch not mine appointed and do my prophets no harm." Psalm 105: 14 – 15.
The ENC has seemingly done everything it knows to do in order to continue its ministry in the little mountain town and throughout the Moreno (dark) Valley area.
They have even submitted an 85-page response to the BCNM and to the judge before whom the case is supposed to go on Sept. 12, evidencing that the little church has never been dissolved.
I gotta tell you, the church decision to get out from under the 501(c)(3) governmental yoke took moxy, was the right thing to do (in my humble opinion) and I take my hat off to them and wish them God’s speed and blessings in the continuing chapters of this drama.
If the case does go before the "unjust," will David or will Goliath prevail?
Be "thinking" about it.
You know what I mean (say a little prayer).
May God bless.