Statement regarding the circumstances of my resignation from FBC Dickson

I have felt God’s tug away from First Baptist Church of Dickson for quite sometime now.  I have been reluctant to step out on faith. The events of the past six weeks have caused me to realize that the time to end my relationship with FBC has come. On March third, I was admitted to Centennial hospital with heart palpitations, I condition I have lived with my entire life. Usually, this racing of my heart would subside after twenty minutes or so. This time, it would not. I was admitted with a heart rate of 167, down from 220 an hour earlier, but still way too fast. After a nuclear stress test, an ultrasound of my heart, and a heart catheterization, it was determined that the issue was not mechanical, but electrical in nature. It seems that I was born with an electrical passageway that was backwards in my heart. I was scheduled for an ablation procedure the following Monday which was successful. As a matter of fact, I have never felt better in my entire life. I can breathe unlike I ever have. I have a sense of peace in my body that I have never experienced in forty-nine years. It seemed that God had gotten my heart right in more ways than one. After the procedure, I took some time off to rest and recuperate. It was during this time that I began to assess my life situation and came to the realization that I was not allowing God to use me as He wanted.

 

I lost my temper with another member of our staff on March 26th. I immediately apologized, asked the Lord for forgiveness, and assumed incorrectly that all was well. I had been asked by Pastor Mike to play at Tanja Bauhs’ funeral which was to be held the next day, Wednesday, March 27th. Ironically, March 27th, 2019 was five years to the day that I lost my wife, Christine to a stroke. To play piano for a funeral on this day was a challenge, yet God saw me through. I worked on Thursday and was off per usual on Friday of that week.

 

Saturday morning at 8am, I received a call from Pastor Mike. He expressed his concern for me and suggested that I take some time off with pay to work through some things. He asked me to come to the church at 1pm to meet with he and some of the other staff members. I agreed, so Lori and I drove to the church. She went to her office and I went into pastor’s office. When I arrived, I was greeted by Pastor Mike, Patty Goodwin, Administrator; Steve Shepard, Associate Pastor of Worship and Music; and Troy Martin, Chairman of the Deacons. I was informed at that time that I had been relieved of my duties with pay in order for me to participate in a behavioral assessment. I was told that the conditions of my leave of absence included no contact with any member of FBC, and that I was not allowed to set foot on the property until the successful completion of the analysis. I was required to sign a document stating that I understood and agreed with these conditions. The document was also signed by the four other people in the room. Might I add that in the nearly five years of my employment at FBC, the issue of my having a temper has never had to be addressed in a Performance Assessment. After this, everyone left the room except Pastor Mike and me. My wife, Lori was then called in and briefed on the situation. During this meeting, Pastor Mike suggested that I read a book entitled “Necessary Endings” by Henry Cloud. I told him that I would. After the meeting ended, Lori and I returned to our home in Charlotte and I downloaded the book and began reading it.

 

As I read, I began to realize that there were some Necessary Endings in my life that needed to be addressed before I could truly be used by God as He desired to use me. Lori and I agreed that one such necessary ending was for me to let my deceased wife, Christine go. Her ashes had remained in my house in Burns since 2014 and they had made the trip to mine and Lori’s new home in Charlotte in January of 2018. We made the decision that it was time for me to spread her ashes and move on with my life. Sunday morning, March 31st, I embarked on a solo journey to Ft. Morgan, Alabama, a Summer vacation destination that Christine and I frequented during our life together, all the while listening to an audio version of the book Pastor Mike had recommended. Through the chapters of this book, I became increasingly aware that it indeed was time to move on from FBC as well. After speaking with Lori on the phone, I sent the following email to Pastor, Patty, and Jane Edwards, Chairman of personnel on Tuesday, April 2nd:

 

FBC Dickson,

 

After much prayer, I have decided to resign my position of Director of Media and Communications and the Music and Worship Assistant effective Sunday April 21st, 2019. Thank you for the opportunity to serve. Please pray for me as I seek other alternatives to do so. 

 

In Christ,

Jeff Martin

 

 

Tuesday evening, I released Christine’s ashes into the Gulf of Mexico. I returned to Tennessee the next day.

 

Having resigned from my position, I no longer felt the need to participate in the behavioral assessment that was recommended for me. Additionally, I longed to see the people of FBC that I had been forbidden to contact as a condition of the leave of absence. On the way home, I contacted our Administrator, Patty Goodwin to let her know my feelings. She responded on Thursday, April 4th with the following text:

 

Jeff,

I met with Pastor Mike and Steve to share details of our conversation. We all remain concerned about you and since I am the only one who has spoken with you, we ask that you meet with us Thursday morning at 10. (April 11th)

 

Until that meeting, we ask that you follow our original plan discussed last Saturday.

-Talk with {Counselor}

-No contacts/communications with church members

 

We need to meet and outline next steps.

Patty

 

I responded to her by text that I felt that an additional week away from my friends was too long. She responded with the following:

 

Thursday is the day we can meet. Contact {Counselor} and follow the decision we agreed on last Saturday.

 

Knowing that the Men’s golf outing was to occur on Tuesday of this week, I responded to Patty on Sunday, April 7th with the following:

 

Since I have resigned effective April 21st, I no longer intend to participate in the behavioral assessment you recommended for me. Additionally, I intend to play golf with my friends from church on Tuesday morning. If this is a problem, consider my resignation effective immediately.

 

She responded by text allowing me to play golf and keeping the resignation date of April 21st intact.

 

Yesterday, April 10th, I received a letter signed by Pastor Mike, Patty Goodwin, and Steve Shepard communicating a few things to me about the process of resignation to eliminate the possibility of misunderstandings. Most of the letter contained bullet points which are typical of any such letter regarding, insurance, retirement, etc. However, the first bullet point cut me to the quick:

 

  • Steve Shepard, as Minister of Music, has the authority to determine who participates in the Music Ministry and/or assists with leadership in the worship services. You will not be allowed to play or participate in the Music Ministry or worship services. Steve has contacted people to backfill the roles that you were performing.

 

As I do not intend at this point to return to FBC Dickson, this bullet point is moot. However, I do not see in this the mercy, love and compassion we so readily preach and sing about at our church.

 

In Christ,

Jeff Martin