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<!---##CCI#[Text Tag=head Group=All]---><headfit>Baptist <P> church <P> sidelines <P> deacons <P> </headfit> <!---##CCI#[/Text]---> Baptist church sidelines deacons

By Kevin Eigelbach
Post staff reporter

Leaders of one of Northern Kentucky's largest churches find themselves on the sidelines after they heeded a bank's advice to look into the church's finances.

The First Baptist Church of Cold Spring, which averages at least 1,200 attendees on Sunday morning, voted to place all 11 of its deacons on inactive status, Deacon Chairman Ted Wallace said.

He interpreted that to mean they can no longer perform the duties of a deacon, which he said include overseeing the spiritual life of the church.

He didn't know exactly what it meant, he said, because he had never heard of it happening before.

How can the church run without deacons?

"I don't know the answer to that question," Wallace said.

Robert Reeves, communications director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, had never heard of inactive status for deacons.

After talking with some of his colleagues on Thursday night, he said, "That does seem to us to be a pretty rare situation. I can't say that it's never happened, but it's pretty rare."

"Obviously, that church is having some conflict," he said. "Churches have conflicts regularly."

The congregation took action against the deacons after they proposed putting the Rev. Larry Davis on administrative leave on Friday.

Davis, pastor of the church since 1985, declined comment Thursday night.

"My opinion is that this is an internal church concern, and until the church takes some action, I don't see that there's any news there," he said.

The conflict started when a representative of a local bank suggested that the church review some of its bank accounts, Wallace said.

"While we were doing that, the  deacons and some trustees thought it would be appropriate to put Brother Larry on administrative leave, with pay, until he could help us understand the accounts," Wallace said.

Davis was very willing to help explain the accounts to the deacons, but said he would "get back with" them on the administrative leave suggestion, Wallace said.

At the meeting Wednesday of the congregation, a trustee made the motion to change the deacons' status.

"In his opinion, the deacons weren't doing what they should be doing," Wallace said.

The church has seven trustees, who oversee the church facilities and purchasing.

But, as in most Baptist churches, the congregation is the final authority. It votes on everything from hiring a pastor to approving the church's annual budget.

Wallace, a member of the church for 45 years, said he hoped someone would address the deacons' concerns.

"I always like to withhold judgment until I know the facts," he said. "We hope someone in the church will continue looking into it."

He called Davis a very likeable, very knowledgeable, very intelligent person of quality.

"I'm not sure how this will shake out, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he's done an outstanding job since he's been here, based on the growth and attendance," Wallace said.

The church opened a new, $2.5 million sanctuary last Easter Sunday that seats 1,500 people. It was the church's second expansion since 1993.


Publication Date: 01-23-2004
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