Orlando Church Reaction to Henry Kriete's Letter
(as told by Chris Haddock)
I think I did this right- I posted this under another thread, but wanted to give people an understanding of what Orlando is now going through. It's healthy, and good.
Last night (Monday) was the beginning of the many things being addressed here in the Orlando Church. I have posted before- not in this specific string- that I came off of the full-time staff here 2 months ago. For three months I have been studying many of the issues that Henry has addressed and have had the extreme negative response. Well, I do have great relationships with the staff b/c of my time in leadership over the years and they have now responded.
I have first begun to repent by addressing specific sins I have committed and hurts that I have caused. Sadly, many did not even know what I was talking about b/c they are so used to the way things have been enforced. We had an open discussion- I guess "town hall" meeting- last night. It was planned by the elders here to hear the people and just simply listen. Well, some people I feel were still feeling afraid to be bluntly honest- after beginning with many people praying (it was suggested that anyone who would like to pray stand, and they would get their chance- I did and prayed that the leaders would be humble to the people and that it will be totally spirit led- many people prayed the "grateful for the Kingdom" prayer, but had no idea what was in store).
The elders closed out the prayers and opened up the floor- two people shared before I had to stand up and share what had been going on with me and how the leadership- some of whom were in the room- have tried to quiet me to some extent by telling me to only voice my concerns with them. I shared that I was afraid and a coward for obvious reasons (1 John 12:42-43). Well, after the much time I had been studying out these things- God gave me boldness as He confirmed in His word the truth of my suspicions. Then I believe the letter Henry wrote has encouraged many within to speak up- not that there is a following of Henry, but of his example- though many like MYSELF had been speaking up! In any case, last night, I stood up among the multitude and told of how the leadership had done that with me- tried to keep me down- and encouraged many to go to the word instead of relying on the leadership to make the changes on their behalf.
Well...many stood up and the meeting that was supposed to go from 7:30pm to 11pm went on until 1:30am! The Hotel we were in allowed us to stay. Everyone would be heard- and this was only the first one- there will be another open forum like meeting Friday. Emotions were strong! I don't know how many times I cried at the dozens and tens of dozens of people who went to the mic and called out the leadership on racism, "We have too many black people and not enough whites, our baptisms should reflect the demographic of our area- reach out to more whites." There was no holding back. People who were overweight, some because of becoming sick and having to go on steroids for treatment shared that because they were not under a size 14 they were told that they could not sing- although they have the most beautiful voices and one of them is recognized with a choir that won superior on the state level- apparently, they were not good enough for the local choir b/c of their weight. They were told, "once you get under control" they would be considered- also in terms of leadership.
Some refuted the idea of going from discipleship partners to "prayer partners"- a change recently made. One sister stood and said that it was the same beast with a different name. Deep anger and hurt were among many when they talked about the re-construction they had gone through in the early 90's. They said that the Porter's must come back and here what we have to say and demanded an apology from them. They actually called out that many leaders needed to come back and face the music by apology and hear of the hurt they have caused. I couldn't believe my ears- on and on and on... The more people spoke the more stood up! It was blow away. Many also said that they expected radical change- some said they were on the brink of leaving if we stopped at words.
Answers were demanded- "what are you planning to do?" was a question directed to the elders with respect to many issues such as: calling back and apologizing to those who have been labeled as fallen away, Church autonomy i.e. not being told what to do and what to give by a church 100's or 1,000's of miles away, how the leadership would respond if we as members decide we don't want an assigned "partner", how to handle the fact that Al Baird has publicly denied any such accusations to the public media and now has to admit his lie's in that, and on and on...
Many could hardly speak through their tears as they remembered being called a wolf in sheep's clothing when they had been cut off at one time along with a brother named Rick, who, during the re-construction were asked to leave, he rallied many who were asked as well and they enjoyed fellowship together and converted people still. They were never apologized to, even when they were "allowed" back in. I have notes of all the things people shared- practically every single person- from the leader's kids, to those who have been in the hospital b/c of the anxiety and stress the church had caused- married, campus, everyone.
Obviously this was a time for the leadership to hear it. I know they weren't ready for how much was felt and how much hurt there was. Indeed I was encouraged and saddened at the same time that so many spoke up and that so many had been damaged. I have been getting together with the staff in separate occasions for some time- before the letter and before the meeting. Of most encouragement to me, the leaders apologized to me for making it tough for me and the hard time I went through because of their agenda approach. I will be getting together with the lead evangelist, a good friend, this Thursday again to discuss these things and what I plan to do (I have not allowed anyone to be my discipleship partner and have not placed myself in any ministry for a couple of months now- and they just kinda let me go- I think in the hopes that I will just fall back in line.
Well, the line is now being re-defined). Much more to share- and I will. For now, I am praising God and forgiving those who have been apologizing to me for the cold shoulder I have received. I have never become bitter, and have tried through prayer and fasting to stay humble and open to my own faults as a hypocrite. As I was walking out around 1:30am- one elder sought me out to greet me and give me a hug- I think it was his way of showing me love. No doubt, my name had come up in staff circles since I left the ministry, and now I am not alone- though I have never been- God being the Rock that has helped me- but the spirit has stirred the multitudes and an uprising has been sparked- with a promise from the leaders to do nothing without the consultation of the fellowship as they work together with them to repent and come to solutions. From the response of the leaders- or rather the humble apology after apology, and tears of them, and more notably their silence as they realized they did not know all of the answers being in the "system" themselves, they acknowledged they need help and desire the input and suggestions from the Church.
I have tried my best to share as much as I could as it truly was. It was obviously more intense than any explanation could give. It was encouraging, refreshing, frightening, and emotionally draining. And so in Orlando, Fl. God has heard the cries of the saints. I am not a pioneer, nor do I desire to be, I am among many, of which I know now are standing up. Even some among the leader's have shared from the mic their cowardice and fear to speak up. One of the elders had been baptized three times--He, being pressured! I know I am as guilty as many have shared personally they are as well. I share that to try my best, to make certain I do not come across as being "self righteous". If I have, forgive me.
Pray for the Church here- we are looking for the fruit of repentance and the glory truly going to He who truly deserves it- Our Great God in Heaven!