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.
As some of you may remember, five individuals filed a lawsuit against our church contesting our election of elders last summer. While we are grateful this conflict is no longer a part of daily church life for most people at MBC, the conflict continues to cause harm and resolution is still needed in accord with God’s Word for the glory of His name and the good of His church. As Elders, Lead Pastors, Location Pastors, and Central Ministry Directors, we want to take extra steps to strive toward healing in our church.
To that end, we strongly encourage active members of our church family to engage in the following two meetings:
As the next step in this significant moment at MBC, we have the opportunity during our June Congregational Meeting to affirm biblically qualified Elders to lead our church into the future. Voting on elders, as well as voting on new members, will be available electronically and/or in person for active members June 1-5.
Join us on June 1 at 7 pm at mcleanbible.org/congregationalmeeting.
God’s Word is our guide, and over many months we have been prayerfully considering how to apply His Word to this situation in our church.
As previously shared with our church family, last summer six individuals (it was later reduced to five) filed a lawsuit against the church contesting our election of elders last summer as part of an effort to remove leaders from our church, and to take the church in a different direction.
While we respect differences of opinion on the church, we believe according to God’s Word in 1 Corinthians 6:1-9 that these matters should not be handled in a secular court of law. God has given us clear commands to resolve such conflicts in the church for the good of each other and for the honor of Christ (Matthew 5:38-42; Romans 12:14-21; Hebrews 12:14). For this reason, we have sought to meet with these individuals for peaceful restoration, mediated by an independent, trained Christian conciliator. Unfortunately, they have not responded to our attempts at peace and have continued to pursue this matter in court.
All told, these individuals have asserted several claims, all of which have either been dismissed by the court or withdrawn by the individuals themselves, with the exception of one claim challenging the validity of our church’s elder election last July.
At present, the lawsuit 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, 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). We eagerly desire the name of Jesus and His church not to be dragged through secular courts. While we believe that 1 Corinthians 6:1-9 does not necessitate that in every situation matters should be settled out of court (in criminal cases, for example), we have come to the conclusion that in this situation, we should work eagerly toward peaceful resolution within our church family (Matthew 5:38-42, Romans 12:14-21, and Hebrews 12:14). Such resolution would enable us to heal and move forward together bringing hope to the nations, starting in our city. Because the individuals in this lawsuit have not responded to our reconciliation attempts, we would now like to recommend a plan for resolving this conflict together as a church family.
As part of a special online Congregational Meeting on May 18, at 7 pm, active members of MBC will vote to approve new members and to either approve or reject a “Plan for Lawsuit Resolution” that is recommended by our Elders, Lead Pastors, Location Pastors, and Central Ministry Directors. According to our church’s constitution (Article VIII, Section 2), a simple majority of active members present and voting in this Congregational Meeting must approve this plan for its implementation.
In order to peacefully resolve this lawsuit as a church family, this plan includes accommodating specific petitions that the plaintiffs have requested in their lawsuit against the church. None of these procedural petitions are actually mentioned in the MBC Constitution, which is why this lawsuit is without merit. More importantly, the lawsuit is without merit because the plaintiffs are essentially asking a secular government to mandate procedures for a local church in a way that directly contravenes the actual leadership of that local church.
However, in spite of the lawsuit’s lack of merit, we believe that the plaintiffs’ requests can be accommodated in the spirit of Romans 12:18. We are already scheduled to hold an elder election in June, and it is possible to conduct that election using these petitions that plaintiffs have requested. Further, the elder nominees who were affirmed by our church family last year have graciously agreed to resubmit their names for nomination this year, and they have written a letter to you HERE. Assuming the MBC family is willing to move forward with this “Plan for Lawsuit Resolution,” we believe this will go a long way in helping us pursue reconciliation and move forward together as a church family without further harm to the name of Christ and His church.
Voting on this plan, as well as voting on new members, will be available electronically and/or in person for active members May 18-22. We will send an email to our active membership database on May 18 at the conclusion of our Congregational Meeting with a link to an online ballot. Members can vote through the link in this email anytime between Wednesday night, May 18, and 1 pm on Sunday afternoon, May 22. Alternatively, members of the church can participate in this vote in person on Sunday, May 22, between 8 am and 1 pm, at any of our locations. All active members who vote electronically or in person 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.
We are committed to caring for you in every way we can in your life, your family, and in our church, and we would love to help you, pray with you, encourage you and answer any questions you might have.
In an effort to keep MBC members informed and in the loop, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions.
We invite you to speak to a pastor at your location if you have any additional questions.