Greg Locke and the Two Buses

“I wouldn’t give Greg Locke dung if he was a blind tumble bug.  Jimmy Hayden 

It was January 8th and Alabama was losing 13-0 to Georgia at the half of the CFB National Championship game.  I had kind of, and quite foolishly, given up on the game.  Normally, I wouldn’t make a Pulpit & Pen related phone call (really any phone call) during an Alabama game.  That night I did.  Right about the same time Henry Ruggs caught Alabama’s first Touchdown pass, I scored some information from a nearby pastor who had reached out to Pulpit & Pen in the wake of Jordan Hall’s article Greg Locke divorces Wife, Finds New Girlfriend.  Before concerned church members from Locke’s church reached out to us about their pastor’s recent and concerning behavior, the only thing I knew about Greg Locke is that he had written and retracted a forward for Clayton Jennings’ now cancelled book.  Locke’s association with a characters like Clayton Jennings and Blake Reynolds didn’t paint the prettiest picture of him in my mind.  The pastor I was on the phone with didn’t paint a pretty picture of Greg Locke either.  This pastor (who has asked to remain anonymous) stated that he had went to school with Locke.   According to him, Greg is a pathological liar who originally aspired to be a rapper and went as far as to borrow the background story of another man in that line of work.  Unwilling to put something as nefarious as purposely putting his wife out of the house past Greg Locke, the pastor reacted to Jordan’s article by reaching out to Pulpit & Pen and providing the name of the Georgia women’s shelter where Greg’s wife has been living for the past few months.  

And that is how I found the whereabouts of Melissa Locke.  

Melissa Locke on the Bus 

Tracking her path backwards to Mt. Juliet, from Murfreesboro and Georgia would take me nearly two weeks.  I first contacted the director of the women’s shelter.  She confirmed to me that Melissa Locke was indeed in her care.  In a later phone call she described the situation as something Greg had done, chalking it up to a Satanic attack.  My next phone call was to Judy Sumner, Greg Locke’s mom.  Judy told me that Melissa was not forced to go to the Georgia shelter by Greg but chose to go there after leaving Murfreesboro.  According to Judy, Melissa had rejected a home offered to her in Murfreesboro in favor of the women’s shelter.  I was unable to verify Judy’s claim, until I obtained the Locke’s divorce court filings.  Their divorce was filed in Rutherford County, Tennessee, the location of Murfreesboro.  This perplexed me given that the Locke’s make their home in Wilson County.  Examining the divorce documents closely I learned that Melissa has listed a Murfreesboro address as her home address.  This was the home to which Judy had referred.  It is the home of “Aunt” Martha Kemle, who for years ran the Good Shepherded Children’s Home in Murfreesboro.  As a troubled teen, Greg Locke had spent time there.  In fact, it is where he would meet his future wife, Melissa.  Melissa worked for Martha at the children’s home as a teenager.  When Melissa left Mt. Juliet in the midst of her marital separation, Martha opened her home to her.  Melissa was to help take care of the aging Marth Kemle while she resided in her home.  When I reached her by phone, Martha, a graduate of Tennessee Temple University, told me three things in no uncertain terms: (1) she believed that Greg and his church secretary Tai McGee were having an affair, (2) Greg coerced Melissa into filing for divorce, and (3) Greg coerced Melissa into leaving Murfreesboro for the Georgia women’s shelter. 

This is a screenshot from the Facebook feed of the director of the shelter where Melissa has been staying. She is exhorting Greg to ask forgiveness.

The two women who had been sheltering Melissa since her separation from Greg told me similar stories, Greg initiated the divorce.  Greg ran Melissa out of Tennessee.  I for one don’t have the inclination to doubt one woman who has dedicated her life to taking care of at-risk women and another woman who graduated from one of the most respected bible colleges (Tennessee Temple) in the South and has dedicated her life to taking care of at-risk children.  Both of these women have known the Lockes for years.  Neither support Greg Locke in his actions.  Of course the story they tell is not the story that has been put forth by Greg Locke. 

Melissa Locke Under the Bus 

On January 30, Pulpit and Pen published Greg Locke and a Great Disappointment, an article which included the testimony of (Global Vision Bible Church) member Arlene Greer.  Arlene’s testimony, like the numerous others share with Pulpit & Pen anonymously, did not paint Locke in a pretty light.  The next morning I received an email from Leonardo Blair, a reporter from the Christian Post.   Blair had been working on a Locke article of his own and wanted to have a discussion with me.  Blair and I conversed that morning as I commuted to work, comparing the information we’d received from sources.  Blair informed that he had been in touch with Locke, who, had denied sending his wife away and coercing her into a divorce.  On February 1st, Blair published his Locke piece; the headline read, “Pastor Greg Locke Admits his Wife Struggles with Mental Illness, Is Living in a Shelter.”  The claim that Melissa Locke suffered from mental illness had not been unknown to me.  However, given that Mrs. Locke was currently residing in a women’s shelter and had been in and out of the hospital since her arrival in Georgia, I did not deem it prudent to comment on Mrs. Locke’s mental health as a part of Pulpit & Pen‘s coverage of Greg Locke and Global Vision Bible Church.  Locke revealed his wife’s alleged mental state to Leonardo Blair in an interview with The Christian Post: 

She’s been in and out of mental health facilities but that is not where she is right now. She is at a place that helps ladies get on their feet again. The only reason why she is there is that the lady who runs it is like her grandmother, and so she’s there. She’s only there because of the comfort…It is a shelter there is no doubt. But it’s not something like a homeless shelter. She’s with the lady who runs the place.

Greg Locke alleged that his wife is mentally ill in an interview for all the world to see.  From my perspective, a defensive Greg Locke, seeking to justify being a pastor going through a divorce, threw his wife under the bus.  In keeping with what I’ve been hearing out of Mt. Juliet, Greg Locke’s primary concern seems to be Greg Locke.  It’s also worth noting that the pastor who originally shared Melissa’s whereabouts with me commented on her mental fragility.  Greg’s comment to the Christian Post makes it sound as if Melissa is staying in the home of the shelter director, her close friend.  This has not been the case according to our source; Melissa is in such a touchy state that she must reside in the shelter.  Who could blame her?  She is away from her husband, her children, and her home.  Melissa Locke, mentally ill or not deserves our prayers and sympathy.

Whether they be real or metaphorical, buses have not been kind to Melissa Locke lately. 

If Melissa Locke is mentally ill, does it make sense to blame her?  If Melissa Locke, in the throes of mental illness misled her caretakers about her filing for divorce then Greg Locke is telling the truth and the truth is that Greg Locke agreed to an “irreconcilable differences” divorce from his ill wife and let her flee the state and should not therefore  be a pastor.  If Greg Locke forced the divorce then he should not therefore be a pastor.  Yet he remains in the pulpit.

Greg Locke and Tai McGee 

Much has been said about the alleged romantic connections between Greg Locke and Tai McGee, his church secretary.  More could be said.  Pictures speak more than words, however.  The video below was provided by a source in Mt. Juliet.  According to the source, it was taken at Mt. Juliet High School on Friday, January 5th by a relative of Tai’s.  The video clearly shows Locke and his female church employee attending a basketball game together.  Viewers can draw their own conclusions about the propriety of a married pastor (despite his claims to the contrary, Locke’s divorce is not final) attending a basketball game with a woman in this manner. 

Where are the Elders? 

Global Vision Bible Church (GVBC) does not appear to have meaningful membership or eldership. A source from inside GVBC shared the following with me:

The elders were picked by Locke, 3 quit over the course of about 3 years mostly because of bad communication and lack of interest…The other 2 left in November after Greg announced his divorce. (The elders) would meet on Wednesday night after church but many times (they) would go months without meeting at all. (They) could say a lot in our meetings but Jarrod and Greg made all the decisions, (the elders) had very little say. The church was given to Greg, it’s Greg’s church and there has never been any deacons or budget committee. No overseers or accountability. The biggest problem was a lack of COMMUNICATION which lead to most of (the elders) stepping down or just giving up on being an elder. People want the TRUTH AND PROOF to come out and for Greg to humble himself so the forgiveness can begin. People like Greg, he’s done a lot of good for people in the church but like any man has fallen.

Greg Locke seems to rule without accountability at GVBC.  Many have expressed misgivings about the way Greg and his Executive Pastor Jarrod Almond spend the church’s money, especially Almond’s recent purchase of a Nissan Maxima and a Nissan Quest with church money.  There is nothing illegal about this action.

GVBC obtained a new church bus in October according to the local who provided this picture.

If Greg Locke has legal authority over GVBC, at it appears he does, he can mangage the church as he sees fit.  No one should hold their breath waiting for him to fire the church’s embattled pastor.

Would you fire yourself from your job, one that comes with a company car,  and a tax-free home rental allowance? 

Papaw Jimmy: Witness to a Mismanaged Household 

Paul, in his first epistle to Timothy, prescribed that one who fills the office of pastor must “manage his own household well,” asking the rhetorical question, “if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?” (1 Timothy 3).  Greg Locke is going through a divorce.  Locke admitted to the Christian Post just yesterday that he is “flat broke in every way imaginable.”  Preliminary inquiries by the Pulpit & Pen indicate that he has a bankruptcy in his past (court documents have not been obtained).  Some of his children have been residing with his mother for the past couple of months.  His estranged wife is in a women’s shelter.  Does the evidence of his life in any way indicate that he has managed his household well?

Today, I spoke with close Locke family friend Jimmy Hayden.  He’s like a father to Melissa Locke.  Locke’s children call Hayden “pawpaw.”  Hayden, aged 80, has often taken on the loving responsibility of looking after Melissa Locke while Greg is out of town.  According to Hayden, Locke, who frequently travels on the preaching circuit, has often gone on the road and left Melissa Locke at home alone with their children, little money, and no transportation.  He’s witnessed Melissa struggle to obtain groceries in Greg’s absence.  He’s also witnessed Melissa be a supportive pastor’s wife, never speaking ill of her husband, a man, according to Hayden, who could barely be bothered to take out the garbage.  Haden wants the world to know that “Melissa Locke is one of the finest people he’s ever met” in his entire life and that he dearly loves her.  He also wants to warn people to stay away from Global Vision Bible Church.  After attending the church for years, almost from its start, Jimmy wants no part of GVBC and its pastor.   

Jimmy Hayden would have walked through fire for his pastor in times past.  Now, like so many other disaffected friends, he has lost trust in the man and has chosen to warn others about him.

Why Greg Locke Matters 

Greg Locke isn’t the first pastor to have marital troubles.  Greg Locke isn’t the first pastor to borrow sermon material from another preacher.  If he’s dating his secretary, he’s not the first pastor to do that either.  He’s not even the first man to basically found his own church and set himself up as a “pastor” with no accountability.  So why does he matter?  He has over one million followers on his Facebook page.  He is marketing himself as a “bold” and “outspoken” Christian.  He’s the face of Christianity for many in this nation.  Before the story of his troubles broke, CNN was planning to feature his church in a national story.  Just last week, Locke released a viral video which garnered him local new coverage.  A pastor who is a media darling should first look after his darling wife.

Greg Locke is, in my theological opinion, utterly unqualified for the pastorate.  His sermons should have no influence on his national following and he doesn’t need to be the face of the American Christian to a lost and dying world.  He is, in the opinion of one New York reporter, a “wise guy.”  People, like Jimmy Hayden and the other disaffected members of GVBC are hurting.  They need a pastor, not Greg Locke.  In my mind there isn’t much difference between Greg Locke and a entrepreneur who open up BBQ restaurant, except for the latter doesn’t purport to be in the care of souls and live off of their donations. 

A Simple Hypothetical Question 

Imagine that you are a pastor and you are concerned that your wife is mentally ill.  Do you:

  1. A. Step back from vocational ministry, the speaking circuit, and internet video fame in order to take care of your wife and family.
  2. Sign divorce papers, put your wife on a bus to Georgia, take your kids to your mom’s house, and take your secretary to a ballgame.

Greg Locke chose B. 

What will you choose if such a choice ever comes your way?  Without the grace of God, you will fare no better than choice B.  There is forgiveness for Greg Locke.  God can restore his marriage.  God can forgive Greg Locke. 

God can forgive you, too.

Greg Locke has made a lot of enemies with his politically charged internet preaching.  I fear that they are taking joy in his failure.  Locke may be hurting, his family is hurting, his friends are hurting, his church is hurting.  Why take joy in that? 

Without Jesus, you are hurting.  Repent or you will likewise perish.  There is forgiveness for sinners in Jesus Christ.  I hope everyone reading this finds it. 

I hope all the GVBC members and Locke supporters reading this find a new church and find a new spokesperson.  May they look first to the Bible.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use. 

**The preceding story is the product of interviews with and submissions from numerous sources local to Middle Tennessee.  The truth of the reporting here is dependent on the accuracy of the information reported by those sources.  Pulpit & Pen is confident in the accuracy of the information provided.  Anyone with first-hand information about Pastor Greg Locke, his actions toward Global Vision Church and or his wife, is encouraged to contact Pulpit & Pen attalkback@pulpitandpen.org.  A special thanks goes out to Arlene Greer and all the witnesses who continue to put aside fear and come forward. 

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Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Society
Member of the Evangelical Theological Society
Certified Public Accountant

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