Reach-Win-Grow and the “I’m-All-In” financial campaign started a year ago at FCCF. The campaign was given much fanfare and FCCF even held an “Influencers Event” were Pastor Wingfield explained the plan and the push for commitment and higher levels of giving.
Although the plans were highly promoted by the staff and seemed to go over well with many church members, there were a number of thorny issues that never received answers and were ignored by FCCF leadership.
The issues kept percolating under the surface and culminated June 15,2015 in a letter to the elders with 118 member signatures asking for Senior Pastor Steve Wingfield to step down from the lead pastoral position.
Rather than replace Steve Wingfield, on July 26, 2015, Stanley Dubose and the elders announced that Pastor Wingfield would accept a paid six-month sabbatical to get “counseling”. When asked, the elders flatly stated that Steve Wingfield would definitely be back in the December 2015 time frame.
Many of the issues that caused the request for resignation letter were never addressed:
- The defamation lawsuit is still active.
- Members of the church are still banned from FCCF property.
- Elders still don’t return phone calls or emails.
Keep in mind that the turmoil that brought many of the problems to the surface started as a private letter to the FCCF leadership from Professor Doug Lay, March 3, 2015. This was the first edition of the FCCF case study on sexual child abuse. The elders and senior pastor ignored the case study and did not respond to Lay.
Instead, FCCF used its political clout to try to force Professor Lay to be quiet. Paul Wingfield (Steve Wingfield’s brother and pastor of White-Flag Church) made a terse call to the president of St. Louis Christian College (Professor Lay’s employer). In that call, he told Dr. Veech that White-Flag has pulled their financial support because of Professor Lay’s “agitation”.
Paul Wingfield’s 3/23/15, angry call to Dr. Veech at SLCC was probably precipitated by Kari Benton’s “Open Letter to Steve Wingfield” posted on Facebook 3/20/15. In that letter, she lays out the reasons that Wingfield should step down as senior pastor. “You, Steve, are not fit to be lead pastor of the First Christian Church of Florissant and you need to turn in your resignation as soon as possible.” Further into the letter she says “Titus resigned from First Christian only because he could no longer work under your poor leadership.”
Not being able to work under “poor leadership” is a polite way of saying that the senior pastor treated employees badly, more like a tyrant than a boss. The employee treatment problem got so bad that two different elders (who have since resigned) tried to counsel Steve Wingfield and were soundly rebuked by the senior pastor.
Between March 2015 and October 2015, FCCF has lost between one-third and half of its membership. It’s not just attendance that is “down”. Families have left FCCF and found new church homes.
As you listen to Eugene’s video, keep in mind that nothing has really changed. When January 2016 comes, it will be “business as usual.” Church members will still be banned, the lawsuit will still be active and the leadership will still be pushing problems under the rug. But, don’t forget your two-year commitment to giving.
It would also be wise to remember Einstein’s quote that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.