"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

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Grace Grieving 11: "Strike the shepherd" - Rick and Shelley Byrd

     "You will all fall away, because it is written, 'I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'" I think the Executive Board of Elders hopes to re-fulfill Jesus' prophecy in Mark:14:27.
    Last Friday they struck down Rick Byrd. (I nicknamd him "Faithful" in posts about his being hauled up before the EBOE. See "Ne-e-ex-t!"

     Chairman Carl called Rick, told him he was being removed from teaching the Agape adult Bible class which has been in existence since the early seventies and which he has taught for 15 years or so, and asked him to resign his church membership.
     Rick and Shelley have been members of Grace for 40 years. Rick served as Elder for 17 years, Member Executive Elder Board, Member Board of Pastors, Member Grace Seminary and Grace Bible School Boards, Taught Grace Bible Institute, Taught Agape Sunday School Class, Taught Married Again Sunday School Class, Taught High School Sunday School, Taught 4-year old Sunday School.
     Rick writes, "In spite of [Lou's] teaching of the four-week series entitled 'Living with Disagreements' it seems that people are allowed to have differences only if they do not express them and only if they do not disagree with Pastor Lou. I began that day to pray and ask my Lord Jesus what He would have me to do—this letter is the result. . ." [Jessica's note: I wish I could quote this letter in full.]
     "[T]his church under the leadership of the current EBOE has departed from its historical foundations.  The belief system as currently taught has, according to the chairman of the EBOE, made this church a different place from the church that I joined forty years ago. I concur with his assessment.  The question is why? And also, the question is how?  These are precisely the concerns that I raised with the Elder board months before.  The simple answer as to “why” is that the church, through its current leadership, has departed from the reliance on and the adherence to the Word of God.  As to “how,” they have adopted a man centered, culturally themed, and mystic synthesis which serves as their foundational truth. I, along with others, have at first privately and then publically called them to account—asking first for personal and then public repentance. They have refused. . .
     "Now as to my resignation from this church’s membership, I have sought to turn our church around from its current path that many, many other churches are also on and that our elders are thus committed, and return our church to its historical roots that puts Jesus the Redeemer at the head of His church and His Word at the forefront of the congregation’s heart. I must remind us all that the Bible encourages each of us to continually examine our hearts to verify that we are in the Faith.  “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2Cor 13:5). I am praying for our church and for many of you individually.  I will continue to do this as the Holy Spirit brings you to my remembrance.
     "I, hereby with a sad and heavy heart, will acquiesce to the desires of the EBOE and leave this local body that I have called home. I will never leave Him because no man is able to take me out of the Father’s Hand (John 10.29).

"In my Lord and Savior’s Service for all eternity,

"Richard Byrd
"(Dated: 2-19-12)"

     The Agape class will no longer meet at Grace at 11 AM on Sunday mornings. Instead, we will reconvene on Tuesday nights at a nearby home. Rick and Shelley, plus many of the 50-60 people who attended his class for the last (teary) time on Sunday, will be scattering, leaving Grace to attend other churches. 
     Over the next few weeks or months, I would like to honor other victims of Grace over the past two decades in a Wall of Rememberance.

1 comment:

  1. The first thing that came into my mind upon learning of this was the old quote from WWII:
    "First they came for the Jews....."

    Now they have come for Rick. I am confident that the Lord will continue to use Rick and bless him.