Schism Ch. 1 – Pt. 2: Lost Respect

Last Time: The February 2010 Call Meeting began with the Deacon Board airing their grievances with Pastor Cyrus Payton. In the end, it was Sister Bertha Cooke who warned Pastor Payton, the Deacon Board, and even the church members that she better not hear people talking out the church leaders in a negative way.


February 29th, 2010


We were almost three hours into the meeting when Pastor Payton recounted what happened during the Christmas season, “I called each of the deacons during Christmas. None of them really wanted to carry a conversation with me. I’ve tried to communicate with the deacons, but they won’t try in return.”

Deacon Dewey Holly vocalized his view of the communication breakdown between Pastor Cyrus Payton and the Deacon Board, “The fact is that the deacons have wanted to meet with Pastor Payton, but only have had one real meeting in the past one and a half to two years. I just feel that the relationship between myself and Pastor has changed since I became Chairman of the Deacon Board; and don’t understand why.”

Pastor Payton knew exactly what meeting Dcn. Holly was referring to.

According to Pastor Payton, the 2008 meeting Dcn. Holly was talking about went downhill fast, “It was a tragedy and a complete attack on me. The one thing that hurt me the most was Deacon Holly telling me, ‘I have lost all respect for you.’”

“I didn’t say I had no respect for you,” Dcn Holly hastily retorted with Vice-Chairman of the Deacon Board Roscoe Calhoun playing cheerleader in favor of his fellow deacon. “I told you, ‘Don’t make me lose respect for you.’”

After Deacon Bill “Asphalt” Richards brought up the subject of rumors being spread about him between church members to Pastor Payton and his wife, Dcn. Richards and Deacon Carlton Stevens agreed that, “…the church is movin’ nowhere.”

Dcn. Holly stood in agreement with his fellow deacons while questioning Pastor Payton over the fact that Payton didn’t send those same gossipers to Holly, Richards, or whomever they are talking about to straighten possible situations out.

I raised my hand, gaining the attention of Pastor Payton so I could speak, “Deacon Holly, you brought up the fact that people don’t show you proper respect by not confronting you when they hear something about you. Earlier, (Holly) said that we need to confront the people that have wronged us and explain ourselves, and what we’ve heard. But you haven’t done that because you’re still talking about it in a manner that suggests you haven’t made any resolution between yourself and the people who are talking about you behind your back. If you know the source of the negativity, you should’ve confronted them instead of holding it in your heart. Pastor Payton [now turning in his direction to the right of the Deacon Board], it was up to you to settle the matter between the person and Deacon Richards if you have someone coming up to you instead of Deacon Richards. Rather than being the man to run and tell Deacon Richards what this person said, you should’ve called a meeting with Deacon Richards and the person to straighten this stuff out instead of allowing it to go on.”

Neither Pastor Payton nor Dcn. Holly had a rebuttal for my comments. Church Secretary Caroline Bower and Juanita Greene both agreed with my sentiments as Dcn. Holly and Pastor Payton sat with stone faces. Deacon Samuel Travis abruptly spoke up again, blaming the lack of respect for the Deacon Board started with Pastor Payton making decisions without the deacons’ approval. Travis also said that Pastor Payton allowed the people to talk to him about church decisions instead of directing those individuals or groups to the deacons for a collective assessment. Like Dcn. Travis’ suddenness to speak, Pastor Payton stated that this part of the meeting needed to end now because it had gone on far too long.

Dana Carey – who was responsible for the church taxes – took everyone’s attention off of the Deacon Board and Pastor Payton by asking how a meeting could be held regarding the use of 1099 and W9 tax forms without her knowledge. A three-way argument between Carey and Trustees Sinclair Millard and Ronald Brooks saw Trustee Brooks reveal that they had received an application to replace Dana Carey as the church’s tax worker.

The stunned look on Carey’s face was only matched by her follow up comment, “So they have someone ready to replace me, and I didn’t know about it.”

Chairman of the Trustee Board Millard told Carey after her distressed statement, “It wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t getting paid for every 1099 form you fill out. We’ve had that happened before when Ruth Sanford was doing the same thing you’re doing; and the money didn’t turn out right.”

“So I’m just like her in your eyes?” Carey said, becoming even more upset than before.

Pastor Payton tried to settle matters and clarify what Trustee Millard meant, but Carey refused to let her good name be sullied, declaring, “I have never taken money to do this job. And I won’t until I’m gone.”


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