We are facing a significant moment as a church family. We have an opportunity to move forward together as a thriving, united church bringing hope to the nations, beginning right here in metro Washington, DC But this vision depends on members’ involvement in two important congregational meetings and votes over the coming weeks.
Over the course of the last year, we have had multiple physical disruptions in our Congregational Meetings, worship gatherings, and other meetings, some of which have required our security team and/or law enforcement to escort individuals out of the meeting and evacuate people sitting near them. One of the last physical disruptions not only occurred in the church building, but continued in the church parking lot, where an individual involved in the disruption inside the church building shouted at and physically opened the car door of our elder chairman on multiple occasions while our chairman was attempting to leave the church parking lot.
In light of the above, church leaders together have made the decision to hold Congregational Meetings online until such time as we feel confident that these gatherings can be conducted with the order and peace that God desires and requires for His church in 1 Corinthians 14.
Yes. Congregational Meetings on May 18 and June 1 will both begin at 7 pm on each respective Wednesday evening. They will then be available for viewing online HERE from Wednesday evening through the following Sunday morning. We desire for these meetings to be as accessible as possible to as many of our members as possible.
Active members of MBC may vote as part of these Congregational Meetings electronically or in person between each respective Wednesday and Sunday. We will send an email to our active membership database at the conclusion of each Wednesday online Congregational Meeting with a link to an online ballot. All active members who vote electronically through this link between 7 pm each respective Wednesday (May 18/June 1) and 1 pm each respective Sunday (May 22/June 5) or in person on each respective Sunday (May 22/June 5) between 8:30 am and 1 pm at any of our church locations will be counted as present and voting for each respective Congregational Meeting.
Please do not hesitate to speak to a Location Pastor, Associate Location Pastor, or Regional Pastor if you are unsure about your membership status. For example, if you believe you are an active member of the church, but you are not currently registered as such, please set up a meeting with a Location Pastor, Associate Location Pastor, or Regional Pastor as soon as possible.
Our Elders, Lead Pastors, Location Pastors, and Central Ministry Directors are unified in our support of this plan for moving forward as a church family. If a majority of church members do not affirm this plan, then we will evaluate next steps and communicate to the church accordingly.
We will provide specific information about elder nominees during our Congregational Meeting on May 18. According to the “Plan for Lawsuit Resolution,” as part of the June Congregational Meeting, we will re-vote on elder nominees from 2021 in addition to voting on additional elder nominees in 2022.
Our church’s constitution outlines the following process in the event of having less than six elders (plus the Pastor-Teacher):
The “Plan for Lawsuit Resolution” contains a process that our church will affirm as being in alignment with our church’s constitution, and will implement as needed.
We want to address differences among us in biblical ways that honor Jesus and one another and reflect the biblical picture of love for one another that we see in 1 Corinthians 13. We want every follower of Jesus to know that even amidst disagreements, it is possible to be a church family. We want MBC to be a place where people with all kinds of convictions on matters of conscience can thrive (Romans 14:1-15:7). So wherever possible, we want to pursue reconciliation and move forward together on mission even with our different perspectives. When moving forward together may not be possible and Christians find it necessary to part ways as Paul and Barnabas did in Acts 15:36-41, we want to do so lovingly, holding onto the hope of reconciliation, relationship, and partnership together in the gospel in the days to come.
This is why church leaders have reached out to members of the group above in efforts to pursue peaceful restoration with them. Specifically, we have offered to enlist an independent, trained Christian conciliator to mediate those discussions. Unfortunately, they have not responded to these attempts at peace, and instead have chosen to sue the church and conduct online attacks against church leaders and their families.
Nevertheless, our church leaders want to take extra steps to pursue reconciliation and unity as a church through the process outlined in these two Congregational Meetings.
Our church leaders welcome any questions or concerns from church members. If you are a member of the church and you have any questions or concerns, we invite you to reach out to a pastor at your location. We are committed to addressing questions and/or concerns in as biblical and Christ-honoring way as possible, always praying and working together with an eagerness to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, in all humility and gentleness, bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Our Elders, Lead Pastors, Location Pastors, and Central Ministry Directors have complete confidence that our church’s elder election last July was valid and conducted with integrity. Further, church leaders and our church’s counsel are as confident as they can reasonably be that a court would draw the same conclusion. However, God clearly tells us in His Word that even if we “win” a lawsuit, we are already “defeated” for going to court (1 Corinthians 6:1-9). This is why, for the glory of Jesus’ name and for the good of His church moving forward, church leaders believe this conflict can and should be resolved within the church.
Six members of “Save MBC” filed a lawsuit against the church and its individual elders in connection with our election of elders in July 2021, arguing that the election result was invalid and in breach of the church’s constitution. This suit is without merit. After plaintiffs amended their complaint to drop one of the six members as plaintiffs in the suit, the court granted the church’s motion to dismiss the individual elders from the suit. The court also granted the church’s Demurrer challenge to the breach claim. The plaintiffs then amended their suit a second time adding a claim of fraud, which the court dismissed with prejudice. The only claim that is still pending is the plaintiffs’ breach claim against the church in their second amended complaint.
We should note that the plaintiffs also filed a request for emergency action by the court to prevent any new members from joining MBC during the last year. After hearing from the court, they ultimately withdrew that request, but this is yet another reason why we have objected to the court’s jurisdiction in the first place. If the plaintiffs had their way, a state government would determine which MBC members are (or are not) allowed to vote on elders in their church.
Throughout the pendency of the lawsuit, the position of the church has remained the same:
The only reason the above lawsuit is even possible is because the individuals filing this lawsuit have used a section of our church’s constitution to allege that the only way one’s membership status can be changed at MBC is if a person misses eight consecutive weeks of services without a reasonable explanation for their absence, at which time the church may declare them inactive. This would mean that former members and inactive members should still be allowed to vote and determine the future of MBC even if they 1) have moved out of state; 2) now attend or have officially joined another church; 3) communicate specifically to pastors that they have either moved out of state and/or are attending other churches; or 4) expressly state to church leaders that they no longer attend MBC. We believe this is an unbiblical interpretation of church membership.
At present, the lawsuit still does not have a trial date. Church leaders and our church’s legal counsel are as confident as they can reasonably be that a court would verify the validity and integrity of our elder election. However, we want to take extra steps to pursue reconciliation out of court and we have prayerfully proposed a plan for resolving the claims of this lawsuit within our church family, beginning with a special Congregational Meeting on May 18.
No. The “Plan for Lawsuit Resolution” implements the church’s constitution by explaining how the congregation would, as stated in the constitution, appoint a six-man governing board in the event the Board of Elders fails to receive at least 75% affirmation by the church in a vote of confidence, or if at any point the church is without elders (see FAQ #6 for more explanation).
Yes. Among the duly elected elders is the pastor-teacher, having been confirmed by the congregation through a three-fourths (3/4) majority of votes cast and serving as an elder with full voting privileges (Article IX, Section 1).
We use a secure, third-party electronic voting system that ensures that each vote comes from an actual member, but voting administrators (and church leaders) cannot see how individual members voted. Even still, if members do not feel comfortable voting electronically, they can do so in-person on Sunday morning between 8:30 am and 1 pm.
As an added measure of accountability, counting of ballots cast through this electronic and in-person voting system will be monitored by an attorney tasked to provide oversight to ensure a fair and accurate counting of the votes. This attorney does not work for the firm representing MBC in the litigation.
We should also note for our in-person voting last July (we did not use electronic voting at that time), similar measures to the above were taken to ensure the integrity of our elder election. As described in FAQ #9, all vote counts were overseen by an attorney whose sole task was election oversight. This attorney also did not (and does not) work for the firm representing MBC in the litigation. In addition, no Elder, Lead Pastor, or Location Pastor has information about who voted or how anyone voted last summer (unless an individual personally and voluntarily shared that information with church leaders).