"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Grace under Siege 51: From the Watchmen of Grace

There will be an informational meeting Sunday, January 22nd. Please come and pray with us, for GBCLB. (For details, contact one of the Watchmen named in the copy of this letter you received by email.)

     We believe the current dispute and division is due to changes that began about 20 years ago when certain GBCLB [Grace Brethren Church of Long Beach] leaders’ beliefs, teachings, doctrinal diversions and pastoral practices became man and ego-centered and were no longer based on God’s Word, the GBC Statement of Faith, Bylaws, and motto: The Bible, The Whole Bible and Nothing But The Bible.  As a result, there are four major areas of well documented concern, outlined below.
1.       The Mistreatment of People
-    Misuse of Matthew 18 to intimidate anyone who questions the leadership’s beliefs and practices
-    Verbal abuse of those that have questioned error and/or hold to the current GBC Statement of Faith
2.       The Teaching of Doctrinal Error
-    Failure to teach all of the scripturally based doctrines set forth in the current GBC Statement of Faith
-    Viewing and teaching scripture through the distorted and ungodly lens of very liberal theologians
-    Failing to actively encourage support of the Great Commission and the GBCLB missionaries
-    Taking the Gospel out of the children’s curriculum at GBCLB
3.       The Failure to Accept/Believe/Teach all Tenets of the current GBC Statement of Faith
-    Failure to teach prospective new members all requirements of GBCLB membership
-    Allowed unqualified people to become elders (any whose beliefs do not agree with the GBC bylaws)
4.       The Failure to Enforce the Current Bylaws and Proposed Changes to Them
-    Failure to fully and properly vet all pastors and elders and remove same for cause as the bylaws require
-    Failure to follow/adhere to all GBC procedures as set forth in the current Bylaws and EBOE Manual
NOTE: The proposed changes to the current GBC Bylaws can be viewed on the [WatchmenofGrace.com] website.  They would:
Ø  Dramatically change the Statement of Faith, delete parts of it, including the role of the Holy Spirit
Ø  Dramatically shift power away from the congregation and give most of it to the senior pastor
Ø  For example, Members would no longer vote:
o   To send and support Grace Missionaries
o   To call or dismiss Senior Pastor
o   To approve church’s annual budget
o   To approve EBOE Elders (Board appears self-governing) 
Ø  Statement of Faith is entirely rewritten based upon Covenant theology. Therefore, anything regarding “end times” is eliminated due to this belief system. Note: “end times” (#9) from our current Statement of Faith has been eliminated from Grace Membership classes since 2002.
Ø  Under Additional Theological Positions section, the entire “Beliefs” section is removed, including the church’s biblical responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission.
Ø  Water baptism by immersion - no longer required.
We believe that the proposed bylaw changes are an attempt by the church leadership to retroactively validate their violations of the bylaws and the California Corporations Code.

On or about September 12, 2011, Richard Byrd (a long time member, teacher, former elder and former pastor) delivered a 14 page letter to the Executive Board of Elders (“EBOE”).  That letter listed a number of concerns.  The EBOE issued a totally inadequate response on or about October 24, 2011.   Richard Byrd then resubmitted his concerns on November 8, 2011, asking the EBOE to respond to each concern separately.  Once again, the EBOE failed to issue the requested response.  Since the EBOE failed to act in good faith, the Watchmen of Grace was formed to address these concerns.  Rick’s letters and the EBOE responses are on the website. 

From the beginning, Rick has asked the Pastors and EBOE members to state what THEY BELIEVE.  They have refused to state their beliefs. Their beliefs are a secret to this day.  One of the major concerns that Rick brought to the attention of the entire Elder Board was Pastor Lou’s obsession with N. T. Wright. Lou Huesmann’s Recommended Reading List ends with this statement: “I follow those who recommend finding someone in church history whose writings and thinking has been influential and then read everything you can about them and by them.  I have chosen Jonathan Edwards (past) and N. T. Wright (present).” This emersion in N.T. Wright, by Pastor Lou, has led to such liberal theology being proclaimed from our pulpit in contradiction to our Statement of Faith; but even more damaging is that it has now become the undergirding of our children’s Sunday school curriculum, harming impressionable little minds turning them away from the simplicity of God’s revealed and authoritative Word. The EBOE, even when warned of this, refuses to take action to protect our congregation, and our children, from this assault.

A second area of concern is the belief system, as gleaned from the pulpit ministry, does not proclaim God’s Word as authoritative; therefore, the necessity to preach to the unsaved the need to receive Jesus Christ as their personal savior is not deemed mandatory.  There has been no need to follow Christ’s instruction, given in the Great Commission, to make disciples nor to preach the need of repentance from sin and to accept God’s free gift of eternal life. The EBOE refused to allow any questioning of Pastor Lou or themselves in regards to what they believe.  

One of the concerns was that members of the pastoral staff and members of the EBOE have not been following the church’s bylaws, which, by law, they are required to do.  One example of failure to follow the bylaws included teaching contrary to the church’s Statement of Faith.  They also allowed individuals that do not qualify to be members of GBC to be placed on the membership roll.  Further, some individuals that do not accept all the tenets of the GBC Statement of Faith include some of the GBC-LB pastoral staff, EBOE, and other elders.   Additionally, we believe that there may be some individuals teaching Adult Bible Fellowships (“ABF”) and teachers in the children’s ministry who are also teaching contrary to the Statement of Faith.

We believe that the above actions (allowing people: whether they be pastors, elders, or members who do not accept as true our church’s entire Statement of Faith) by the GBC-LB pastoral staff and EBOE violate the bylaws and the California Corporations Code.  This practice of sin has caused other non-Christian behavior, including anger, and resulted in broken relationships, division, and mis-using the Matthew 18 reconciliation process to punish those who do believe the current Statement of Faith, but are “teaching contrary to the pulpit ministry.” 

The website contains several accounts of mistreatment by GBC-LB pastors and/or elders toward those who have raised issues of theological concern or asked legitimate questions. In one case, a person was accused of distributing a booklet and making a comment at a women’s tea party.  Her accusers were never identified to her and she was humiliated by being yelled at by two elders in the church plaza.  Others have come forward with their own stories, but prefer not to revisit their pain and publicize their experiences.  A definite pattern of mistreatment has been established against those considered to be a threat to the current leadership. If you have been a victim of this behavior, indicate that through the website.  If you know of someone else that has been a victim of this behavior, please have them contact us through the website.

These failures are totally responsible for the lack of unity that we now face. The GBC Statement of Faith and bylaws define this particular body of believers.  If they had been followed, none of the issues that we now face would have arisen.  We earnestly ask you to pray for everyone, petitioning the Lord to direct our paths so that we, in unity, do what God wants.

These are very serious matters that must be taken seriously by all parties involved.

Please inform yourselves and pray, asking God to direct you. Do what God wants you to do, no more and no less.  God is sovereign and He is able to rule and overrule in each and every situation.  At the moment there is strong disunity.  We believe we should love each other and trust God for GBC-LB’s future.  We do not hate any of these people (many have been close friends for many years) but sins must be dealt with in a God honoring way.  So it is with love, first for our Lord and Savior, and second for our brethren at GBCLB that we must faithfully and humbly pursue these matters to the glory of God. Please pray without ceasing to be molded and used by God to make a difference in this battle for souls of the brethren and the future of GBCLB. 

Thank you Lord for your faithfulness to us with each breath and heart beat and in meeting all of our needs.  This is your battle.  Prepare us and use us today to shine the light of Your Word on the Darkness at GBCLB.  May we be a part of the healing and restoration You are offering for a limited time.  Thank You that You are with us as we STAND in Christ today.

(Here follow the names of 99 current attenders and 69 former attenders of Grace Brethren Church)     

The Watchmen of Grace

(Note: This statement was emailed yesterday to everyone in the church. It is somewhat abridged here.)


  1. Why is the Watchmen of Grace website password protected?

  2. You'll have to ask the men who set up the website. I would only be speculating. By now you should have the watchmenofgrace.com username and password so you can ask online.