Open Letter to Pastor Holt and Royal Missionary Church from a Disheartened Member (Please read)

Pastor Holt:
I hope you receive this letter in the Spirit that it was sent. While I am aware that you might or might not be aware of this situation I was brought up that the Pastor of the church is the under-shepherd and the needs and doing of his flock are at the end of the day his responsibility. In having that understanding I feel it imperative to address you in this letter. In addition I have been trying to be more open in my own life. I feel that pride will sometimes keep you quiet and that often times we are quiet through the test when we should be talking either to uplift another or just to let them know they are not alone. Perhaps even to avail ourselves to the Lord’s blessings.

On Friday you posted the following on your Facebook page “DEEP FRIDAY: God will always send somebody in your life to challenge your contentment. Somebody that will look you in your eye and tell you…”you can do better than you doing”. So stay humble my friend so when it comes it won’t hurt so bad.” I pray this helps and doesn’t hurt.

I am a single mother of four. One in college (Out of state), one in elementary school and two in head start. I am the co-creator of Online Fellowship a non-profit website that spreads the word of the Lord free of charge. From preachers, to poetry, bible studies and even my own writings its on there, including Royal (because we support and spread the word of those we believe are focused on God’s commandments). I grew up in Detroit in a family full of Pastors including my grandfather. I am a member of Royal as of January 2014 but attended since I have been in this area roughly 4 years. I believe in living in a kind manner. I love people and typically believe in the good of all people. This often times leads me to being disappointed and sometimes hurt but rarely discouraged or disheartened. However never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would be so disheartened by Royal.

I believed when I joined Royal that I was casting my lot with a Church that believed in the same principles that I value in the Bible for example: Proverbs 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”– when you already have it with you.

What is she talking about?
When I joined Royal I never thought that I would have to ask for anything. I am accustomed to being able to provide for myself and my family. There was even a time when I worked three jobs while in college to make ends meet. I have worked since I was 15 years old and I am much older than that now. I joined because I believe in the fellowship of one or more being gathered in His name. I believe in connecting with others that have the same belief in helping, in serving, in sacrificing.

I thought I joined a church that was growing in an area of North Charleston where there is so much help needed that they would never close their doors because there had to be much work to be done. That’s where I needed to be. See I was working in that area helping the children of Charleston County who had suspected developmental delays and I was a Parent Educator both helping parents become their child’s first teacher and advocates in determining if there was a delay that needed to be addressed. I reached out to you then and stated that I would be willing to come to the church and screen the children free of charge so that they could get referrals if needed and never heard anything back. That was my work and this was my church so I wanted to get in there and be of service. However all of that changed in May when I unexpectedly lost my job. See this has been a really tough year for me. I unexpectedly lost my father in February and at the same time I lost about half of my pay for a month. Then just as I was bouncing back from travel expenses etc. I lost my job. Because of the way our payroll was processed that Friday was my last pay. I am not receiving unemployment and all I needed was a little financial assistance.

Being a private person I asked all of the other resources I could think of before trying Royal. I have never been great at begging and thought well at least try with the folks you won’t have to look in the face every Sunday first. Not like anyone there knows who I am, right? At any rate all other options fail. I call the church and as I speak with the church secretary I am first told that you do not do rental assistance. Wait, you sit in one of the poorest areas of North Charleston and are building a million dollar facility? How can you not do rental assistance? But ok. Ma’am not even for the members? Oh you are a member in that case you need to speak to your deacon and he will tell you the process. My deacon? Who might that be? (For privacy sake lets just say Deacon umm BLUE). Ok might I have his number?

I call Deacon “BLUE” who asks me a few questions, do you attend the church, what happened, etc etc. I explain yes I am a member. I lost my job and haven’t found anything else yet. That I am from the North so I do not have family here to assist and that I am just in financial peril and looking for August rent. That my daughter needed extra money because she transferred to an out of state college for her major and that she did not get on-campus housing so what I had I needed to use for her to get a home at school. Was I supposed to leave her homeless? He inquired well what will you do next month? Next month? At this rate I pray not packing. I do not know? I am looking for work, maybe my unemployment will be approved anything. I don’t owe next month yet but I am behind this month. OK he says I will get back to you after I meet with “THE COMMITTEE”

Three more conversations and a Sunday later I am called back. I’m sorry he says, but the committee met and reviewed your case and they are not willing to help you. They said that they looked at your financial record and it looks like you only gave 1.00 since you joined and you are not on any committees or anything so they decided not to help you. Excuse me Deacon can you repeat that last part again? This time slower he repeats, you are not on any committee and you are not contributing to the finances of the church so there is no help for you. (Camille, Deep breath please don’t start the sentence off with that word.) I needed it to be repeated as a pinch to wake me out of my disbelief not because I couldn’t comprehend. I sat stupefied for a moment in utter shock and heartbreak as to what I just heard. He then went on to say that they have a employment thing on Saturdays to come there. Ok that sounds good but the emergent need is now. What about that, I have a bunch of suggestions and until one of them pans out. My main focus is keeping a roof its hard to focus on much else. I am looking Daily!

My response to him was as follows and I need to share this with you all. I am disheartened by your decision. I have given to the church on many occasions (sometimes scrapping the bottom of my purse for the last bit of money I had) but I never put it in an envelope because I was giving it to God not to man so I didn’t care about a tax receipt. I thought I was joining with a part of the body of Christ not a credit union where I needed to give in order to receive. I am so disappointed, as a matter of fact Pastor to use your own words “you can be doing better than you are doing”.

I am hoping that you can help me understand because if you read my writings on here you will learn that I don’t believe in the business of the church not being dynamic. I tell people when they say church is a social club that it is not. That it is where you go when you are trying to be be better and that part of being better is sacrificial service to others. But what are you doing when you can tell a mother with small children who is trying no because she didn’t give? Do you have any idea what it took for me to pay for daycare alone when I was working? No you don’t because that wasn’t part of my interview for credit approval. But I gave what I could. Do you have any idea how much stress and pressure I have been under? No it wasn’t part of the credit approval process. But I gave what I could. The deacon didn’t even ask to pray with me. I guess a dollar doesn’t buy you prayer. I have heard you ask the congregation for money for this new building so many times. Do you realize how much money the church would have on any given Sunday if you asked the church to give 50 cents for a special offering for those in need? .50 cents not even a dollar?

See I come from a family of preachers and I watched my grandmother cook almost everyday and serve plates out the back door to people in the neighborhood and we would sometimes eat green beans with tomatoes on top because she had given them all the chicken. I watched my grandfather give the church 10.00 when all he had was five. I watched the deacons go into their pockets and give people who wondered in on off the streets money for food and a ride to the store. I also saw them rarely go without for long. So I believe in giving my food away when I see a homeless person or giving them my last bit of money because it is who God calls us to be. I believe in servicing those who are ignored or treated poorly. I believe in caring for the least of these. So understand I am having a hard time understanding why I should stay associated with a church that says no because I didn’t give money. Now if it was because I wasn’t on the choir or usher board etc. I was still working for the church through my work with Online Fellowship. Humbly and quietly. Also while I love to sing and sing loud in the congregation I do not have child care because I have no family here. I also used to leave my house at 6:20 am dropping children off at school and not return until 7:00 pm and still need to cook dinner and check homework. I wish I could have been on the choir but I didn’t know that it was a requirement to be considered worthy of assistance in time of need.

A few months ago I received an email from another member. She was reaching out to our site to say that she was leaving Royal because of the way she was treated by the deacons when she needed help (Let me know if you want to see the email, I will forward it to you only). She stated she reached out for help and in turn the deacons threatened to call agencies against her. Because I was a member and because I know that one bad run in with a church can unfortunately turn people away from Christ. I reached out to her. At the time my job gave me access to a lot of local charities and support agencies. I offered her clothing for her and her daughter, food and help with transportation and utilities. I explained to her that I was not trying to influence her decision to stay at Royal but I wanted her to know that GOD is love and ever helping, He doesn’t abandon us based on what we can give Him and that there are children of His who believe in that. I told her I wanted her to know that as my sister in Christ that I loved her even though I had no idea who she was but I was there to help. I told her I hoped there had been some misunderstanding between her and Royal and to never give up on Christ. However I sadly now know the reality of the committee.

I know many members will give and never have to come to you for help. I know that you are building that big fancy new building and that you have big plans for it. I also know that none of that will impress God. That the same standards that we judge by are the standards by which we will be judged. Imagine that getting to heaven and asking to come in and God saying, “No, the committee said you didn’t give enough”.

I’m writing through my emotions and trying to speak from a place of love and reproach. I hope I wrote this well and wasn’t too long winded. I hope you understand that I am hurt but do not wish to hurt or embarrass you or the church. I hope to challenge your contentment with the way the least of these are handled. As well as to display my own weakness and need for Gods hand in my life. God bless you all and keep you.

Matthew 25:31-46
The Sheep and the Goats

31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Be Blessed,
C. Brown
I would add my member id but like i said I don’t know where those envelopes are.


7 responses to “Open Letter to Pastor Holt and Royal Missionary Church from a Disheartened Member (Please read)”

  1. Hi Marie:Wow! I can identify with your sglutgre all too well. Ordinarily the inclination would be to say Sorry for your troubles , but I cannot. I cannot because I know that your troubles are only temporary, and better days will come, I promise you that. As Sonja did, please allow me to share a bit of my story.When my husband and I married, he was assistant to the CFO at one of the island’s largest corporations. He is an accountant by profession. I, at the time, was a principal of a private school, and did very well financially also.Our first two months of marriage, we had little money because we made sure that the wedding, rings, honeymoon, and everything else were totally paid for. We both hate having bills hanging over our heads, so this was a must for us. Neither of us had college expenses, thankfully.After the two-month drought, we had the luxury of using our finances in any way we wanted, and we did. Having a combined income was awesome, and yes, we were in the six-digit range. We built a modest house within our first year of marriage. We had only one car by choice (We found that having one vehicle provided for us to spend more time together). We could have bought another one if we wanted. But we spent our money on expensive vacations, gave liberally to those in need, and saved quite a bit of it as well. We had it made!My husband, at the time, was a youth pastor as well, and much of our resources had been invested into that ministry. We believed then, and still do, that when God provides, it’s not just for us to hoard for ourselves, but to give back for the sake of the kingdom.Our lives were better than great financially, until about a few years ago. The Lord called my husband into the pastorate. Here, in the Bahamas, it is not unusual for a pastor to also have another job. But Henry’s (my husband’s) calling was to full-time ministry. This created a dilemma. He was apprehensive to even to talk to me about it, because of what he thought I would say. He had provided for us well over the years, and this would mean that for at least a while, we would be living on just one income mine. We did have a good deal of short-term savings as well, thankfully. I could see that God was doing some great things in our lives and I was expecting more. As a pastor’s kid myself, I knew all too well the sacrifices that come along with being in the pastorate. It is a lonely road most days. I also knew that God’s way is best, and I certainly was not going to be Job’s wife. I told him that I would support him 100% in whatever it was God had for him and me to do. He had supported me 100% in my personal endeavors over the years, so it was an easy decision for me to make.In a nutshell, after a couple years in the pastorate, we had depleted most of our savings, except for long-term savings that have conditions with them so they really can’t be touched for many more years.Our church is not able to take care of our financial needs, because it is a new church. Our ministry is to the un-churched. We do not turn folks away who would want to be apart of us from other churches, but we believe that our ministry is to go out, get folks saved, and then have them become apart of us. We are for expanding God’s Kingdom, not just having a bunch of numbers in some building. Because of our philosophy and calling, after two years, we have seen about sixty or so folks saved, and we have a following of about maybe one hundred, give or take a few. So, it is easy to see why we cannot rely on the church only for our needs to be met, just yet.A little while after our monies were gone, we experienced tremendous financial depression. This was a very trying time for us. And we learned some valuable lessons, one if which is that if your troubles don’t drive you apart, they will bring you closer together as a family. Fortunately, for us, not only did our sglutgres bring us closer together, they also made us stronger.We laugh about it now, but we remember having to go to the grocery store with $30 and making that work for the entire week. We remember living without electricity in our home for 4 months a feat that I never in my wildest imagination would think it possible for me! There were many sglutgres, but this gives an idea of what we went through.There was one day, I had gotten off from work a little early. I went down to the church to my husband, and he was praying with a young man whom he had just led to the Lord. I began to cry. I stood there at the pulpit area and looked out over the empty seats. I asked the Lord, how He could allow us to get to a place where we were pretty much penniless. I was depressed beyond words. God had a quick come-back for me that day.As I stood there crying and looking over the empty seats, God helped me to see the mother of 4 in our church whose husband had left and she and her kids had lived without electricity for 6 months. I saw the young couple who had 3 kids and one on the way who only had $40 for groceries each week. I saw the family of 6 whose home was about to be taken by the bank. God showed me all of these things, and then I realized!How were we to ever minister to these people about a real God who is able to meet needs and who is able to sustain, if we had never experienced Him as Jehovah Jireh? How were we ever to be a testimony about the goodness of God without having gone through the test?I stopped crying after the realization. Although my eyes had been full of tears, I had never seen more clearly in all my life. The understanding that God had allowed me to go through this test so that, in the end, He would glorified, and I would reap the benefits, brought a peace over me that I’d never felt before and haven’t felt since.Today, Marie, I can say that we are back on track financially. We don’t have all that we used to have, but we are better than okay! God has been really good to us, and He will do the same for you.Marie, this is only a test. Do yourself a favor, and pass it! It’s not easy, I know, but if God has really called you into this, He’s not going to stop until you pass the test. I don’t know about you, but I hate exams. I believe that we’ve passed ours (that one). We’ve learned the lessons that God had for us and can now move on to something else.Hold on, Marie. Better things are ahead for you. I don’t why God is allowing this in your life. The reasons for you may be different than they were for us, but rest assured, there is a purpose in it all. Be encouraged my friend. You will be better for it in the end!Jeremiah 29:11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

  2. Wow! I’m so sorry that this happen to you. I truly believe this was handled in the worst kind of way. I would like to speak about this on my blog if it’s alright with you?

    1. RiverAngel42 Avatar

      Absolutely not a problem. I just ask that you would please link back to the original article. Thanks for your kind words. This is an issue and as a body we need to find a solution, I think discussion and understanding is just the beginning we need to be better.

  3. RiverAngel42 Avatar

    For me the question remains what does the Bible say? It does say to be good stewards so I do not believe in being irresponsible with the churches or anyone else’s finances. I believe that even when the repeat person comes to you there is an open opportunity to plant the seed.

    There are many organizations in the Charleston area that provide training for non-profits etc that will aid in learning how to discern while also understanding how to address the emergent need and to position the person for future independence and sustainability. Here Trident United Way offers the class free of charge and a free database so that agencies can interact with one another. It started specifically for faith based organizations. I’ve taken the training and used the database for others both the training the meetings and the database are excellent.

    Part of what I understand is that there are several people in the church who have the heart to help and the desire to be good stewards however it doesn’t mean that they have the proper training and knowledge needed to assess need based assistance especially when coupled with the mandate by God to take care of the least of these. Nor the active listening skills to be able to hear what someone is really saying, because if they ask for one thing chances are they need you for more.

    Pastors while they are called to preach just don’t jump in the pulpit, they should be educated first on how to under-shepard and even then there will be mistakes. Same with every other part of the church. If you are responsible for the churches outreach passion and calling are great but be open to some sort of formal education so that you can learn how to speak to those you serve. Because at the end of the day you aren’t really giving a handout you are serving them and humble to them. In coming from that perspective even if you have to say no they should walk away feeling as though they have been in the presence of someone who loved the Lord and in turn Loved them. That wins souls. Thoughts?

  4. RiverAngel42 Avatar

    This was a comment left in a Fbook group that I was given permission to share. Thank you for your comment and allowing me to share!
    From Ms. Nance
    “I heard your heart in every word. I am so sorry you went through such a challenge.

    As a church leader, I have been on that ‘committee’ weighing matters, such as this. Tough stuff to wrangle indeed. So many considerations to undertake …

    From what you described, I am of the view that The Deaconry did not handle your matter in a thorough way. Even with a ‘no’ it did not seem other direction was provided, especially prayer BEFORE and AFTER the news he shared. There is a very delicate dance between business and ministry. When finesse is absent it results in church hurt. This hurt makes it hard for leaders who earnestly seek to be balanced in their decision making to connect with the souls we still need to minister to.

    I’ve given the ‘yes’ vote to families who needed assistance and once they received it we never saw them again. We later learned one of these families made a career out of this behavior. As a result I helped establish a formal benevolence policy along with other resourcing in the event we could not aide a family in need. We made sure it was widely promoted so the membership, regular and casual, understood that their church was there to help in times of need, however the church also had a spiritual and fiduciary responsibility for proper stewardship of the funds it received.

    There is much more I could say but more importantly I am praying for restoration by God’s hand for your needs. Much love, sis.”

  5. Shalawn Avatar

    I too moved here from the North and my church family had to become my surrogate family because my nearest family member is 700 miles away. I pray and believe that if I went to my church for financial help, they would help me without looking at my record. We are a church for the community and that is who we serve. This was handled all wrong and I pray your Pastor responds. Church is not a building and who can build the biggest church. It is about the people. I could go on and on! Please contact me offline and let me know what I can do to help.

    1. RiverAngel42 Avatar

      Thanks for commenting Shalawn. You know my reasons for writing the post is so as a body we can start to openly have these discussions. I am sure there are many people in many churches who have run into the same issue. We have to ask where can this line of reasoning be found in the Bible? I love God and I love the church I would never turn away from either, however that doesnt mean I turn a blind eye either. I hope someone will respond…. We will see

Leave a Reply