Baptist Home representative travels state courting money from Missouri Baptists
By Bob Baysinger
April 27, 2004
WESTON – The Baptist Home’s board of trustees voted to become self-perpetuating in 2001, seizing control of the agency and its multi-million-dollar endowment from the churches of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC).
Apparently that wasn’t enough.
The Pathway has learned that The Baptist Home has representatives contacting Missouri Baptist churches and elderly Missouri Baptists, pleading for financial help. The Baptist Home is one of five breakaway MBC agencies embroiled in a legal battle with the MBC over the trustees’ action. In recent months two of the rebel agencies — Word&Way and Missouri Baptist College – have asked Missouri Baptists for money.
Wayne Malone, pastor of First Baptist Church, Weston, said Verlyn Bergen, a former MBC employee, recently called for an appointment to discuss The Baptist Home situation.
“The purpose of the meeting was Bergen trying to get us to designate funds to The Baptist Home,” Malone said. “He brought out some nice, pretty brochures. When I talked to some of the ladies of my church to warn them about these guys, I learned that they had already been contacted by representatives of the institution.
“They said Larry Johnson (Baptist Home president) had contacted them and had been soliciting funds. They said they were told that ‘somebody has to take care of the elderly people.’ In my opinion, this is taking advantage of the good heartedness of some of the good ladies in my church.”
Bergen, a product of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s liberal era, was employed by the MBC for 23 years in the areas of small groups, church growth and leadership development.
Bergen has also teamed with Roger Hatfield, another former MBC employee, to form MinistryConnect. The new organization, which uses the Intentional Interim program to place preachers in pulpits, has formed a partnership with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) of Missouri.
Hatfield affirmed the partnership with the CBF in a recent issue of Connect, the fellowship’s newsletter.
“It is increasingly difficult for churches to find the right leader for their settings and it can be frustrating for ministers seeking opportunities for service,” Hatfield said. “CBFMO will offer scholarships up to $250 to churches and search committees who choose to use MinistryConnect.”
According to Malone, the meeting at Weston was not cordial.
“This man representing The Baptist Home came to my church office to talk with me and our chairman of deacons about the institution he was representing,” Malone said. “His presentation was so full of deceptions and outright lies that our deacon finally said to him, ‘Sir, when are you going to quit lying and just tell the truth?’
“Bergen asked the deacon if he were ‘insinuating’ that Bergen was lying. My deacon replied that ‘if the shoe fits, you gotta wear it.
‘You have been sitting there talking with us for over an hour,’ my deacon said. ‘You have told one contradiction – or lie — after the other. I have read the Word & Way and The Pathway. I personally believe the folks at The Pathway because they do not fill page after page with contradictions and outright lies.’”
When Bergen continued with his line of reasoning, Malone said the deacon abruptly walked out.
“I’m absolutely incensed that this agency has been sending letters to individual church members – generally older ladies and gentlemen – soliciting financial support,” Malone said. “Not only have they been sending letters, they have been personally visiting these people for the purpose of getting into their bank accounts. Some of these people are easily deceived.
“I’m upset because people who claim to be Christians are acting in such a lying and deceitful manner. If they want to be CBF, Baptist General Convention of Missouri (BGCM) or whatever, that’s fine. But they ought to leave our pastors and our members alone.”
Malone said he had also received mailings from other members of the five breakaway entities – Missouri Baptist College and Windermere – along with a letter from William Jewell College requesting financial help.
“I wish they would get the message that I am not leaving the Southern Baptist Convention, the Missouri Baptist Convention or the church God has placed me in until He is finished with me,” Malone said. “I praise God for what He is doing here in Weston. This past Sunday (Easter Sunday) we had 79 in Sunday School and 137 in worship.
“People are being saved and many others are rededicating their hearts and lives to the Lord.”