Why Buck Marshall left #ourCOG

I apologize it has taken me so long to post this. It was quite a lot to write out. Not only that but I wanted to make sure it was accurate. I also had several meeting the last two days. But, I never meant to draw this out.

I appreciate everyone’s patience and trully floored at the prayers that have been offered up to the Lord for my family and church. To the best of my ability…this is the time line of events that led to the most heart breaking decision of my life. It is long. I couldn’t help that.

PREFACE

When I first came to the Ennis CoG we had refinanced the church. The elders had agreed and the church voted and 100% agreed to refinance. The church was in disrepair and it needed to be re-launched. It wasn�t to just make it pretty but to repair it as well. So, we did. But, I made some TERRIBLE decisions that first year. I will contend that they were born of inexperience (thought that is an understanding not an excuse) but not mistakes of the heart. We were growing as a church and expanding in our reach of the city but we were behind on EVERYTHING. The overseer and several men met with me and we borrowed enough money to bring us current, especially with the ToT which was the biggest part. We also all took a 10% paycut and reduced the staff.

3 years later I was at a place where we had lost 25 people (which was spiritually a blessing but a financial hit) and I called the overseer to ask, �Do you want me to pay the ToT or the mortgage because I don�t have enough for both?� He said to pay the mortgage. Several months later I was called into the state office to meet with a board of inquiry and with the new overseer. I was living 2 months behind on the mortgage and had not paid the ToT for months. I began by saying, �This is my fault.� I was in covenant with the CoG and I should have been paying the ToT. They asked that we let go of some staff. We let 2 go and everyone took a 10% cut�including me (my second time to do so). The overseer said that I couldn�t let this happen again. I committed to pay the ToT no matter what even if it meant getting behind on the mortgage.

2 years and 10 months later. I have kept my word. We have paid the ToT every month since. I never intended to get behind again on the mortgage but at the beginning of the year a Doctor in my church closed his practice, a restaurant owner moved, and two members are together making $120,000 less this year than last year. I kept praying. I told the church. I took extra offerings. I fasted. I kept believing that God was going to give us breakthrough. Last month we informed another employee that we were letting them go. But it was obviously too late. That is my fault. I thought you should know up front.

The Timeline of Events Leading to My Resignation

6/20/2013 � Thursday � 9:36AM
Received text message from***: �Hello Pastor. I would like to meet with you ***orrow, Friday afternoon.� To which I replied: �Yes sir, what is the earliest we can meet.� Later I received a call from his secretary asking when I would like to come in. I chose the morning.

6/21/2013 �Friday- 10:00AM �

  • I traveled to the state office to meet with Texas AB,***.
    Wayne *** informs me that due to the fact the church is 2 months late on mortgage payments with a third payment currently due �I would be removed as pastor effective the following Sunday morning (less than 48 hours later).
    When I asked why being late on the mortgage constituted removal he informed me that the note had been called. He had received an email stating so. It was my understanding that foreclosure began with a certified letter. He said that he had an email and a voice mail message that said they were calling the note.
  • Bishop *** informs me that he couldn�t say whether or not I would receive another paycheck and that there would be no promise of severance pay. He said that he would try but that I �couldn�t hold him to it.� He said he would try to work it out so my family (two children � ages 6 and 9, and my wife) and I could remain in the parsonage if chose to remian in Ennis I would have to move out.
  • The overseer mentions the possibility of an appointment to some other church in Texas or that if I wished to go back to Tennessee He would call the AB of TN. I told him that I couldn�t imagine going to another church because I am called to that city and those people in Ennis, TX. He said I can help you but I can�t help you there in Ennis.
  • Three times throughout the meeting the overseer said to me: �I have been given a directive by the state council to remove you as pastor and I have no choice.� He conveyed that he didn�t want to do it. That it hurt his heart and that he didn�t want me to hate him.
  • I informed him that I had quite a bit of things in the church that belonged to me personally (mainly Christmas Production resources). I told him that three years ago the elders wanted to create a list that spelled out what belonged to me personally. I mentioned some of the bigger items and he said that he had no problem with me recovering those things.
  • I asked if he had my Ordained Bishop�s license in the office. He said that he would like to give it to me but that he didn�t want me to lay it down. He gathered it and then asked me to stand. I declined stating that I didn�t want to do some sort of ceremony at this point.
  • I called *** within minutes of leaving Bishop ***�s office and told him the story.
  • Pastor *** asked me to call Bishop *** and ask him if he would allow me to remain if:
  • I raised the money for the 3 payments and terminated the two remaining support staff people �(One is the youth pastor and ministry assistant and the other is an �everything� person �maintenance, sound, lights, computers, video, etc.) This would more than compensate for the $3300 per month mortgage payment.
  • Bishop *** responded, �No, sir. I have been given a directive from the state council. I have to remove you.�
  • I called the bank and spoke to the Vice President on the basis of the conversation I had with Bishop ***, and with the assumption the bank had begun formal foreclosure procedures. This is the same man that I speak to each month in an effort to keep him apprised of our status financially. Based on the information from the state overseer, I asked him if I could pay the three payments would that stop any proceedings. He replied, �It would be a board decision, but I would certainly think so.� He also said that due to a death of a family member of someone in the bank he was turning over our account to another man. He didn�t have my file in front of him. He said he would have him call me.
  • That man called me and said that they would be willing to meet with me and the trustees and discuss bringing the note current. He said they would be willing to drive and meet us halfway such as in Rockwall. (He did have our file and it appeared it would not be a board decision).
  • I called the elders and asked them to meet me the next morning (Saturday) at 9AM.

6/22/2013 �Saturday- 9:00AM �
[*]I met with the elders and our church clerk to inform them of what had transpired. They were understandably upset. There primary concern was for my family. They indicated that we may need to leave the denomination. We agreed to call for that evening a church wide emergency meeting to inform the congregation.
[*]In the interim, the overseer called me to say that he wouldn�t remove me but that he would suspend me with pay so that he wouldn�t �be crossways with the council.� I told him that I looked forward to talking to him in the morning with the elders.
[*]I met with the church and informed them of all the details of what was transpiring including details from the last 6 � years of financial difficulties, decisions, mistakes, etc. and that personally accepted responsibility for where we were financially. After the meeting, many people helped to move out the things that belonged to me personally.

6/23/2013 �Sunday- 8:00AM �

  • I called General Overseer ***. I told him that after 40 years in the church it seemed that I would have to turn in my credentials that morning. He talked very kindly to me and listened as well. I had a bit more emotion than I had intended and yet he was very gracious and understanding. He asked for more time. He asked that I pause and pray this week. I agreed to do so. He then asked if he could pray for me. It was then that it occurred to me, that this was the first CoG official to pray for me in the last few days.
  • I met with the State Overseer along with my elders and clerk at 9:30AM. The overseer informed us that he would not be removing me or suspending me as pastor. He didn�t even need to stay and meet with the church. He said he saw no need to throw a bomb off in our church. He said he believed that I was telling the truth about what the bank had said but he wanted to verify it. He promised that I would remain the pastor through next Sunday no matter what.
    The elders asked several questions.

    1. What had the overseer heard from the Holy Spirit concerning these matters. The answer given was that he felt he needed to talk with the bank to see why there were saying different things. This question was asked again with the same answer. It was then reworded to, �Have you heard from the Holy Spirit concerning this matter?� He said that he was still listening for that.
    2. Had the overseer received a certified letter, because we had not? He said that he had not received a certified letter from the bank stating that foreclosure had started. He said that he had received an email and a voicemail. The elder said that a certified letter was the necessary component to illustrate due diligence and the clock to start on foreclosure, not an email or voicemail.
    3. When the state council and the overseer came to the moment that they decided to remove me as pastor did they stop and pray? He said they had prayed at the beginning of the meeting but once the decision was made they had not stopped to pray.
    4. Another elder asked if he or the state council thought that removing me would bolster the church financially? He said they did not.
      When the overseer made mention of the state council �recommending that he remove me� I stopped him to point out that was not what he had said to me on Friday. He had said three times in his office and twice on the phone that he had, �Been given a directive by the state council and that he had no choice.� He confirmed he had said that but said that he should have said recommended because our minutes state that only the overseer can appoint or remove a pastor. But, he added, �What pastor or overseer in his right mind would go against his council?� And, �If they (state council) are going to be responsible to pay the entire note then I can�t ask them to let the pastor remain.�
  • I told him that I had spoken with the General Overseer and that I had agreed to pause and pray. That the elders and I had intended to leave the Church of God initially but with the hour by hour changes and at the request of the General Overseer, we would be more than happy to have time to fast and pray. With tears I stated that I had never wanted to leave the Church of God or this local church as my family had been in it for 50 years, my mother had worked there for 42 years and I had been dedicated as a baby within that church.
  • I said that I couldn�t promise that I would stay in the CoG and he said he couldn�t promise he wouldn�t remove me as pastor after next Sunday. I asked him to stay for service and speak to the people which he agreed.
    During the worship service I brought the church up to speed on all the details before we received the offering. Primarily because I felt that they might withhold their giving. They needed to know the new developments.
  • I preached out of Numbers 13 & 14 the beginning and ending of which I had in written form so as to clearly and intentionally convey some very important principles to the body. They are as follows:

 

      • Intro: The next few moments are critical to who we may become in the days that are immediately before us…
      • There are precarious dangers here this morning due to this being a defining MOMENT of direction for our church…
      • We should approach this moment with a deep sense of PAUSE and REFLECTION…
      • The danger is that PAUSE and HOLY HESITATION be perceived as an absence of faith or certainty.
      • We should also approach this moment with certain sense of BOLD DECLARATION…
      • The danger is that BOLD DECLARATION be deteriorate to PRIDE and spiritual ARROGANCE.
      • A danger of a dynamic and declared faith is that it becomes a self-centered, self-serving, ego-centricity that devolves into spirit elitism.
      • A danger of failing to act boldly on principles from the word of God is that our faith languish to the point we lose a sense of God’s unique purpose in each of us…and we come to believe we are simply just another expression of random events and such atrophy of faith finally separates our CONCEPTS of FAITH from our ACTIONS of FAITH-FUL-NESS.
      • SO please listen to the following words carefully and know that I have no misgivings that neither New Hope Church nor I am the center of the universe. However, we are most certainly part OF this universe and God has a unique part for us to play.
      • CONCLUSION: One year ago, as I was leading a Worship and Arts Camp for a group of teenagers, I was present in a Wednesday night service on June 27th, 2012. In that service Pastor *** spoke to kids at the close of the service and shared something that I felt was prophetic to me (us) at the moment. The word was from

Numbers 13

      • and 14 regarding facing giants and trusting God beyond the limits of your fear or circumstances.
      • God spoke to mark the day on the calendar that by this day next year God would require of us a trusting that would fly in face of our deepest fears and biggest giants…
      • The prophetic emphasis of the message was, “When the Moment Comes…”
      • When the moment comes…that God calls us to step into new points of PROMISE (i.e. the Promised Land) He will also require new points of faith and trust that conquers the dictates of fear and failure…
      • When the moment comes…every report around us will not only tell us there are giants…but that we are grasshoppers. The fact is, there are giants, but we are not grasshoppers. The grasshopper mentality ultimately makes EVERYTHING gigantic and makes us small…but not EVERYTHING is a giant.
      • When the moment comes…we will determine which voice we will listen to and whose word we will trust. Will we trust the word of God ….or not.
      • When the moment comes…
      • Today is June 23, 2013…….Thursday of this week will be the date which was prophesied one year ago.
      • I did not see this date coming.
      • I did not plan this date.
      • I cannot tell you I have not had to deal with my fears…but I can tell you that fear will not have the final word in what I do next.
      • I am not a grasshopper…and there have been attempts to make things look gigantic that are no giants at all.
      • The failure to boldly declare the word of God and to hold to the promise of God resulted in 40 years of wandering directionless in the wilderness. I have just finished my first 40 years of life…and I do not intend to spend my next 40 wandering directionless…
      • It would take quite some time for God’s people of promise to finally learn…that while there are indeed giants…
      • There are also slingshots and rocks…
      • Slingshots and rocks waiting for a new generation of believers to come along and pick them up…
      • God will do the rest…
      • I’m not quite sure what is on the other side…but I do know…
    • The moment has come.

 

  • I then introduced the State Overseer who began by telling the church that �everything that your pastor has told you is true.� He said that he was going to meet with the bank to determine what they actually were going to do since we had conflicting reports. He said that the Church of God cares about people and not buildings. He said that he was for us and not against us. He said that he and I were friends and that our hearts were knit together. He wanted to see us get past this. He also said that when people leave the Church of God that that follows you. He didn�t see any need to entertain questions.
  • I then asked if anyone had questions for him. No one did. He then began to apologize to my wife. He said that he was sorry he didn�t have time but had to give us such a short amount of time on Friday. He said that some overseers only sent a letter or came on Sunday unannounced and removed pastors with no notice. It was not really an apology. And, it upset many people including my wife.
  • I asked him if I could meet with the people and he replied, �You�re the pastor.� So, he was driven back to the airport while I met with the church who had quite a few questions for me.
  • I answered questions to the best of my ability. Mostly they wanted to know that if we paid the church off completely�could I still be removed by the State Overseer if he wanted to. I said yes he had that authority.
  • I called the church to fasting and prayer to honor what the General Overseer had asked of me. I announced that no matter what we would be there Wednesday and Sunday. I also told them that we need to receive another offering because they had given half as much as usual. I asked them to trust me. They then gave the other half.

 

6/24/2013 �Monday-

  • The state overseer called me to let me know that the bank had confirmed everything I had said. He asked them why they were talking out of both sides of their mouth. He said that because they had sent that email he had began to remove me as pastor and that the church was ready to leave the denomination. They then informed him that they would start foreclosure at Noon on Thursday. If we gave them not only the 3 payments but also $4000 of late fees over the life of the loan (which began two pastors before me) before noon on Thursday then everything would continue forward. If not, they would call the note and not accept anything else.
  • I told the state overseer that from an integrity standpoint I was responsible for the money. We were in the building in April, May and June. We owed it. Whether I stayed in the denomination or not�I would find a way to pay the money.
  • I met with the elders on Monday night and brought them up to speed on the day�s developments and they all agreed we owed the money and should pay it no matter what. We were thankful for the time to pray and seek God for what we might do next.

 

6/25/2013 �Tuesday-

    I had called several people to ask for help with the funds. Several people said they would help me. But, I called one person and asked if they would wire the money. They were the only one I knew who could do it now. This member of our church said that they could not give it all but would do it if I asked them to. I told them that I would do everything I could to repay them. They said that they would donate whatever I couldn�t pay back. No paperwork. They had a full understanding that there was no guarantee they would ever see a dime of it back. We wired $14,044.40 to the bank.


6/26/2013 �Wednesday-

  • I called the overseer to say that I had confirmed with the bank that they had received the money and that everything was satisfied. His first reply was, �Great, when�s your next payment due.�
  • I told him that I felt that things should have been handled differently. He told me, �Hold up brother Marshall. I have over looked that meeting you had on Saturday and the way you took the offering.� I said that I had the meeting on Saturday because I had no time to communicate with the church and they deserved to know all that was going on. I took the offering they way I did to guarantee that we would have an offering. He contended that I had told them not to give. That was simply not true. I had told them that everything we do should be with integrity and we should be clothed with humility. He continued that we could talk about things being done differently the last five years. I said that I had no problem owning the fact that in the 6 � years I had been the pastor there I had made many mistakes. He said, �Then let�s not talk, woulda shoulda, coulda�let�s just go on from here.� I said ok.
    We had church Wednesday night. The church was appraised of the further developments.
    Late into the night, several adults helped me move my personal belongings (which were off property) into a storage building I had rented.

 

6/27/2013 �Thursday- 5pm

  • Three men from the state council showed up unannounced at the church and began questioning the clerk who called me.
  • I came over and sent her home. They asked to shake my hand which I declined. When pressed for a reason why I explained to the finance chairman that I was aware that he had called one of my members two weeks before and discussed incorporation, whether or not the parsonage was part of the property and if our people were �stable.� He denied doing that. I have since confirmed that he in fact did have that conversation and asked those questions.
  • I asked them why they were here. They told me that the state overseer had sent them because someone had called and said they had talked to someone who heard�that I was leaving the denomination and stripping the building. I told them very forcefully that I was very angry at them. That anyone who thinks that I would trade my integrity and righteousness before God for STUFF�doesn�t know me. I had informed the State and General Overseers that I had a lot of things in the building that belonged to me personally and was told it was fine for me to take them. I was not sure how much more candid I could be. Moreover, to come down and treat me like a thief was outrageous. They said they had to see if the rumors were true and if I was leaving. They had heard I was having a church wide meeting that night. I told them I was not. I was meeting with the elders to tell them whether I was turning in my credentials or not. It was a meeting set at the beginning of the week when everything was still up in the air.
    One of the men said they had been the one to call the overseer because someone, they wouldn�t say who, had called and said they had heard�so he called the overseer.
  • Another man asked why I was upset at him specifically. I told him that I was told that he and the other men on the council gave a directive to the overseer to remove me and that the overseer felt he had no choice. He said, �Well, you need to know how it was conveyed to us on the council.� When the chairman objected, he replied, �No, if we are going to tell the truth, let�s tell the truth!� He said that the state overseer had told the council that the note had been called and that the bank would no longer deal with me as the pastor. They had no choice but to remove me. This was the exact opposite of what I had been told by the overseer who had told me on Friday that he had hoped to work with me but the council was adamant.
  • They said they didn�t need to see the building but I said that I insisted. I took them through every room. Everything was there. Everything was working. Everything was clean. The church was completely set up and ready to go on Sunday. They admitted that what had been told to them was untrue and that for two of them that had been there several weeks before�the church was exactly the same. I then shook their hands and they asked to pray for me.
  • I did not ever hear from the State Overseer.
  • I met with the elders that night and I informed them that after much prayer I believed that God wanted me to leave the denomination. I could not and would not ask that of anyone else. They all decided to resign as well. We would leave the Ennis Church of God and continue forward with New Hope Church.


6/29/2013 �Saturday-
The General Overseer called me. He had not talked to Bishop *** or heard anything since Monday. He was unaware of the events on Thursday. I told him all that had happened. He apologized to me and agreed that it was not handled the way he would have handled it. I appreciated the kind words he spoke, his listening ear and the powerful prayer he prayed over me.
6/30/2013 �Sunday-

  • We held service, received the largest offering of the month (which was deposited in the account) and I preached. At the end of service I informed them of everything that had transpired and of my decision to leave the denomination along with the resignations of every elder and staff member. I read my letter to them. It was:
      • To Whom It May Concern:
      • It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write the following words.
      • After spending my entire life in the Church of God�
      • �and after realizing a childhood dream of being a Church of God pastor�
      • �and after being prophesied over as a child that I would one day be the pastor of the church of my childhood�
      • �and after seeing that prophesy fulfilled�
      • �and after realizing the incredible honor of receiving my Ordained Bishop designation�
      • �after laying on the floor of our church last week and travailing before God, in the very spot on the floor where I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues�
      • �after having wrestled with this matter as deeply as any before me�
      • I am resigning from my current position as Senior Pastor of the Ennis Church of God and I am surrendering my Ordination with the Church of God.
      • I would like it to please be noted that I am current in my ministerial reports, church reports, payment of �Tithe of Tithe� moneys to state and general headquarters, and mortgage payments on the Ennis Church of God church building and parsonage. Further, may it be noted that I am in no violation of any church or ministerial guidelines as set forth in the Minutes of the General Assembly of the Church of God, and that my actions are not on the basis of any moral failure or sin on my part. I am in good standing with the Church of God in all matters to which I pledged as an Ordained Bishop.
      • Please accept this resignation and surrendering of my ordination effective on July 1, 2013.
      • With a heavy heart,
      • James Buck Marshall
      • Ministerial #******
      NOTE: I have prepared a detailed log of the events that have lead to this decision that I will make available to anyone who may have interest or need of it. If so, please email a request to XXXXXXXXXXX.

 

7/01/2013 � Monday-

    • The General Overseer and the First Assistant G.O. emailed me expressing deep regret and prayers. They affirmed me and my family.
    • The State Overseer called and left a message. It began with, �Brother Marshall this is Brother ***. I received your email (concerning my resignation) this morning and wanted to get with you to see about getting the keys to the church in order to move forward with the church.�
    • Later that day when we talked on the phone I reiterated my belief that this could have been handled differently. He said that he thought we had turned a corner. I said, �Yes and then you sent those men down here on Thursday.� He said that he would have come himself but was on vacation. I said that I would have called directly. If I am the pastor and we are moving forward then I should be trusted. You send down people unannounced to inspect the building when you don�t trust someone. You must believe they are capable of stealing. He said that he didn�t think that but just needed to check out the rumors as he had received more than one call. I said that

Matt 18

    • says we should go directly to the person first. I asked, �Why would I pay $14,044.40 and then steal tvs and chairs?�
    • He said that even now I didn�t have to leave. I didn�t have to do this. I contended that through his handling of this he had created an environment of suspicion and fear that was so toxic that I couldn�t trust my family and the sheep to his leadership any longer.
    He has allowed me to stay in the parsonage two weeks for which I am grateful.


Last:
I accept full responsibility for the financial condition that was created by my leadership. No doubt I should have made tough decisions earlier, decisions of the same nature I have had to make at even earlier times, in terms of terminating positions to adjust our cash flow. We were however in the process of refinancing the existing loan to lower the interest from 9.00% to 7:00%.

For me, the points of departure were the result of my inability to continue to trust my family and my calling to the processes and actions of Church of God leadership:

  1. The sudden revelation of the power over my life, for someone to put my family and me on the street with less than 48 hours notice. And the seeming absence of concern for the trauma it would cause my family.
  2. The absolute refusal to reconsider my remaining as pastor, even if we made the payments and the additional positions were terminated immediately.
  3. The �ambush� of distrust on Thursday by three members of the state council which, I regarded as a final and irrefutable opinion of how they viewed my character and brotherhood.
  4. The unwillingness of those in leadership to accept any responsibility for their knee-jerk reactions to our situation; that they were not completely informed prior to making such a weighty decision; and that a state council could exercise such force as to disregard the office of the state AB as being the final voice of my appointment.

2015 UPDATE New Hope and Buck Marshall in Ennis

It has been a while and I wanted to let everyone know what’s been going on with us. We have been doing well. There have been quite a few developments since I last shared. There are several organizations that have partnered with us the last few months.

We moved into a new facility in the heart of downtown in June. It’s a historic building and no one can live or work in Ennis without driving by our church. We have grown in influence and in number. The local Christian radio station 95.5FM actually moved to our facility and now we are live on the air every Sunday for free.

MTC is an accredited Bible College offering bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in Theology. I have been named dean. My wife and I teach there we are excited about what God is doing. This college focuses on training pastors in 44 countries as well as local students from all walks of life.

I am going to Nicaragua in December to teach 170 pastors for three days and then we have a graduation for 70 students there. These pastors also travel from those countries for 21 day intensives right here in Ennis! 30-50 at a time come and take 5 classes a day and then they go to church on Sunday at New Hope. The last group was 34 strong from Nicaragua. The next groups are coming from Mexico and Ukraine.

Also, New Hope Children’s Foundation has a school from 1-12 grades on 200 acres complete with a gym and even a radio station that broadcasts to the Nicaraguan Indians. Not only that but we also have come together with a licensing agency for independent ministers all over the world. But, it is especially widespread in Africa. We just licensed 34 minsters in Ghauna and 16 in Nigeria. It’s almost like God has given us our own world

Missions department!

We are in the final weeks leading up to our Christmas Production which is going to be held outside on Main Street. The city is shutting down that street for us and we are doing the largest one yet. 2-3,000 are expected to attend. Finally, Rhea has made an album that will be released in January. Exciting things happening with it. She goes next week to record several sessions for a Christian television network and was invited to sing at the Potters House. It’s a lot to take in for us.

I have felt discouraged many times but right now we are in a season of harvest. I am very grateful. Thank you to all who prayed for my family and me. God has brought us through and after being hidden away for a couple years has set us front and center in the city. All of this is a result of us focusing on prayer. We major in it.

We have weekly prayer meetings that are well attended on Tuesday night. I’ve just finished a 12 week Wednesday series on it. And…we have stopped making ministry decisions and started getting instructions!!! We pray over every decision big or small. It’s been revolutionary. I’m excited! Thanks for reading.

 

 

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