Last Time: Following the October 2011 Call Meeting, the Deacon Board scheduled another call meeting for five weeks later on the first Saturday in December. There, the Deacon Board hoped to settle the greatest question plaguing the church – whether or not Pastor Cyrus Payton should remain as the church’s pastor. And so began the final chapter of “Schism: The Not-So-Righteous Church Story”.
December 3, 2011
Emotions were obviously high as members started filing in. Suddenly, the local sheriff’s car pulled into the church’s parking lot. Without explaining why, the sheriff entered the church’s foyer and waited there through the meeting’s duration.
Deacon Dewey Holly moderated the meeting. Following a devotional period, Dcn. Holly announced that we’d vote about the church continuing under the pastoral leadership of Cyrus Payton. Stepping aside, Dcn. Holly revealed that we’d use a covered ballot box to vote rather than by a show of hands as we had done during previous votes. Dcn. Holly also made sure to emphasize that only active members could vote (members that had come to church at least once in the last month).
My father informed Dcn. Holly and everyone else who didn’t know that you had to be reinstated after three months of inactivity before you can be called an “active” member according to the bylaws.
Deacons Holly, Roscoe Calhoun and Samuel Travis corrected my father by saying that the whole “…restoration/reinstatement…” thing wasn’t in the bylaws.
Pastor Payton – who was sitting in the back of the church – verbally followed my father’s proclamation, only to be met with the deacons and a few members telling Pastor Payton that he was wrong and shouldn’t speak. Rather than start an argument with the Deacon Board, Pastor Payton took his seat.
Dcn. Holly suddenly shouted, “There will be no discussions today!”
Sister Hope Boykins told Dcn. Holly and the rest of the Deacon Board that they couldn’t, “…manhandle us around, and take away our rights as members of this church. You know that’s wrong.”
Upset, Deacon Bill Richards explained to Sis. Boykins that they (presumably the Deacon Board) had the sheriff outside ready for people like her if someone wanted to get jumpy.
Former church trustee Allen White condemned Dcn. Richards for thinking of doing something like have a church member escorted out of the church for speaking his or her mind, “We don’t need some cop in here! What’s wrong with you, Deacon Board?”
Dcn. Holly yelled for order with the reiteration that there would be no discussions. Sister Lily Walker tried to remind everyone about the October Call Meeting’s motion to vote to keep or get rid of Pastor Payton was never followed through due to the Deacon Board leaving when the votes were being counted. Dcn. Holly refused to go into the last call meeting’s happenings, asking Sister Bertha Cooke to get in position at her table in front of the choir’s seating area and hand out the voting slips.