The following article is the third of a three part testimony about my experience with the cult of Freemasonry at my former church, Rowland Spring Baptist Church. Rowland Springs Baptist Church is a Southern Baptist Church in Cartersville, Georgia and is a part of the Georgia Baptist Convention and Bartow Baptist Association. Part One can be found here. Part Two can be found here.
It was Easter Sunday 2017, I had just finished teaching my final Sunday School class at Rowland Springs Baptist Church (RSBC). I was sitting in the sanctuary with a friend from seminary, who came to church with me to provide moral support on what was a very trying morning, before the worship service started. I glanced to the back of the sanctuary to find Alton Kay, the Worshipful Master of Cartersville Lodge #63 staring right at me. Another church member was pointing me out to him. There were quite a few Masons in the back of the church that day. Alton, although he had been ordained a deacon, didn’t come to RSBC much. He was, however, a long-time member with an extensive family history at Rowland Springs. According to an interview Alton gave to the local paper on the occasion of the church’s 150th anniversary, his grandfather started the church the 1800s. Alton had been coming to RSBC for seventy-four years.
Educating the church about the wicked nature of Freemasonry was going to be a challenge. Not only was I freshly dismissed from my Sunday School teaching position, but the routes of the lodge ran deep at RSBC. Educating ignorant people about a secretive cult is hard enough when their friends and fellow church members are not members. At RSBC, many long-time members were Freemasons and Lodge officers. In my opposition to Freemasonry at Rowland Springs, I had no support from the church’s pastor, staff, or Deacon Board. It was up to me, still relatively new to the church, to stand for biblical truth over and against the reputations of prominent long-time church members who had been respected in the church for years. I think the Freemasons and the hireling pastor knew this. That Easter Sunday, the Masonic intimidation factor was on full display, but I didn’t intend to turn tail and run. It was my biblical responsibility to bring the matter up to the entire church whether I thought they would listen or not. When the Lord gives you a hill to die on, it doesn’t matter whether or not you think you will manage to make it all the way to the top, you just charge.
Summer and Winter, Springtime and Harvest
The next year at Rowland Springs was a long one. The fellowship of my weekly Sunday School class, which was one of the primary factors that encouraged me to join RSBC, had been removed. I think this was strategic on the part of the Pastor and Deacon Board. Any influence that I had at Rowland Springs was a danger to the unity they had achieved through compromising with the Masonic Lodge. The Pastor, the hireling Joe Ringwalt, seemed more concerned about potential disagreement between church members than he did with the holiness of the church he was tasked with shepherding. I think a lot of people would leave a church after the embarrassment of being dismissed as a Sunday School teacher. Yet I didn’t and didn’t plan on doing so. I had to wonder then, as I do now, how many people had left Rowland Springs and similar churches in the past after being condemned in the kind of quiet, basement meeting that the Pastor and Deacons had with me. As an accountant, that math was very apparent to me. My family represent one tithe, the Masonic household represented eight.
Walking in each Sunday, I knew that I wasn’t welcome by the leadership. The congregation, I think, was generally ignorant about what had gone down in the wake of my calling the Freemasons to repentance. At the same time, I believe the leadership was ever vigilant that I would again bring up the matter of Freemasonry, this time to a larger audience. Periodically, I would receive a call from the hireling Pastor criticizing me for something I had posted on Facebook and asking me to consider leaving the church. He and the Student Minister even went as far as to suggest other churches that I should join! Each time, I responded that I had a right to share my opinion as long as I wasn’t in sin, belonged to Christ, and should thus be welcomed as a member of Christ’s church. So, my family and I continued going to our church, despite the persistent discouragement from our pastor, not willing to be quietly shooed away when no one was looking. I also began to save money. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to raise the issue of Freemasonry to a church of hundreds but I knew it would be costly. I was wrapping up the last of my seminary work and was scheduled to graduate in December of 2017. When that was over, I knew that I could refocus on the cult that permeated my local church.
One particular Sunday, after the worship service, I was walking with Grant McDurmon, the Chairman of Deacons, to the children’s area to retrieve our kids. We were talking Falcons football; the Masonic Lodge was the farthest thing from mind. Then, I saw Jim Moore (the Chaplain of Lodge #63) sitting at the end of the children’s hall working security. Jim was wearing a ball-cap with a Masonic emblem, a pagan symbol, smack dab in the middle of God’s house. I pointed the matter out to Grant but he was noncommittal in giving his opinion on the matter. Jim started towards us. As he walked by Grant said nothing. I spoke. “Jim,” I said sternly, “get that pagan symbol off your head in the Lord’s house.” Grant remained silent. Jim, full of anger, snapped back at me coldly, “Why don’t you just go back to First Baptist…don’t you ever talk to me again.” Jim was as indignant about wearing his pagan symbol at church as he was about being the chaplain of the false Masonic Temple. Grant looked at me, saying nothing to Jim, and told me that what I had done was inappropriate. This was the environment the pastor had cultivated at Rowland Springs. I was being rebuked by the Chairman of Deacons for telling someone not to wear a pagan idol to church! Adam Burrell, the Student Minister, walked up to me as Jim walked away. I explained to Adam what had happened and he agreed with me that Jim shouldn’t have worn the hat. He told me that he was going to talk to him about it. I was somewhat dumbfounded, Adam was the same man who had months earlier told me that Masonry was a matter conscience. Somehow, though, it was not okay to wear a Masonic emblem to church.
Word spread of my incident with Jim. A few days after it happened, I was invited to lunch by a Deacon named Ben Thompson. Ben and I had talked denominational politics a little bit in the past but had never really hung out. I considered him to be a fair-minded man. I thought it was peculiar that he was asking me to lunch after never having done so in the past two years. I figured that it wasn’t just to chat. Before lunch started, I resolved to say nothing of Freemasonry to him unless Ben brought it up. It didn’t take long for him to do so. He had heard what happened with Jim and wanted my side of the story. Jim, according to another church member, was threatening to leave the church over the incident. I explained exactly what had happened that day. As with Adam, Ben agreed that Jim should not have worn the hat. Furthermore, Ben agreed with me that Freemasonry was a cult and that something needed to be done about it at Rowland Springs. This was music to my ears. Perhaps the matter wouldn’t have to be brought before the church after all. Perhaps this Deacon could go as a “2nd or 3rd witness” to address the sin situation at the church. Ben advised me that we needed to “build a coalition” to deal with Freemasonry at RSBC. He also chided me about the direct approach I had previously taken in dealing with the matter and recommended a softer tactic. He told me that he would again raise the issue of Masonry with the Deacons and I left the soft tactics up to him.
After a few weeks I followed up with Ben. He said that he had brought up the Masonry issue at a Deacon’s meeting but that it had been “tabled”. I could see that, even with Ben’s support, the hireling Pastor and the Deacons were still not going to act to excise Freemasonry from the church body. It was clear to me that all the church members would have to be educated about Masonry before anything else was done about Masonry. I devised a plan to do just that. I took the money that I had been saving over the year and ordered a copy of The Facts on the Masonic Lodge by John Ankerberg for every household in the church. I used Amazon to have a book delivered to every family in the RSBC church directory. In this book Ankerberg and his co-authors, clearly explain, using facts, evidence, and scripture, just how unchristian the Masonic Lodge is. There would be no more ignoring Freemasonry in back room meetings. Every single church member was going to be made aware. The facts were coming to everyone’s house. Having finally graduated from seminary (my school requires a church endorsement) , I was prepared to face the very high possibility of being excommunicated from Rowland Springs.
One Easter Later
My final Easter as a member of Rowland Springs was filled with greater Masonic aggression than the last. I was sitting in a chair the lobby waiting for my wife to get out of the bathroom. The service has just ended. The first two people out of the door were Jim Moore and his wife Betty. Jim looked me dead in the eye, didn’t say a word, then turned his head to the site and made a spitting motion…right there in the church lobby. This was the utter contempt that this man, this Mason, had for a fellow church member in the house of God.
It didn’t take long for the hireling, Pastor Joe Ringwalt, to call me to ask about the incident. He asked me the name of the Mason who had spit at me. I told him it was “the chaplain of Lodge #63.” That gave Joe no help. He didn’t even know that his own church member was the chaplain of a pagan temple. I told him it was Jim Moore. “Jim isn’t the man we all think he is,” Joe said, as he apologized for what happened. It was the same way he talked behind Jim’s back when we had first discussed his involvement in Freemasonry over a year prior. At that time, he called Jim “an insecure man.” It struck me how willing Joe was to talk about Jim behind his back but how unwilling he was to confront him over the sin of being a member of the Masonic lodge. Joe Ringwalt is a gutless coward who is unqualified to sit in the pastoral office of the local church. I practically begged Joe to stand against Freemasonry at Rowland Springs but he would do nothing. He said he didn’t support Masonry but he supported our Masons. He said Masonry in the church “wasn’t a hill to die on.” To me, it was clear, the most important thing to that hireling was keeping his job.
It was during this phone conversation with Joe that he asked me if I knew anything about a book on Masonry that a church member named Harold Barret had received. I told him that I did indeed know. I further told him that I had sent one to every household in church. The hireling was, to say the least surprised. He asked me where I had gotten the addresses, as if I had done something wrong. I informed him that he himself had sent the address list to every church member and that I had taken the liberty to use it to educate our congregation about the Lodge. “That’s your right,” Joe said. I could tell Joe was upset. The problem he had been trying to avoid for over year was coming to the mailbox of every church member. It took Joe less than a month, before all the books could even be delivered, to have me summoned to yet another Deacon’s meeting.
The issue to be discussed at this meeting was, ostensibly, my divisiveness. During the meeting, Joe insisted that Masonry was not the the reason I was called before the Deacons. He then proceeded to being up my stance on Masonry. At that meeting (which was recorded and is available on my podcast), I was railroaded, in complete unity, by the Deacons.
No matter how sinful and wicked Freemasonry was, the problem was Seth Dunn. No argument was good enough, the Deacons had long ago decided the matter. Ben Thompson, who had earlier suggested to me creating an anti-Mason coalition, sat beside me and said nothing in my defense and nothing in regard to the wickedness of Freemasonry. Grant McDurmon asked me, on behalf of all the Deacons, never to come back to Rowland Springs. I told him I would be there until they voted me out. A regularly-scheduled church conference took place that night. It was announced at that conference that Alton Kay and his wife, for what reason I do not know, desired to transfer their membership to an Independent Baptist church down the street. The church then voted to approve their transfer of letter to Gateway Church. “One less freemason!” I exclaimed upon the conclusion of the vote.
After my meeting with the Deacons, a special-called church conference was scheduled for the following Sunday night for the express purpose of bringing me under church discipline.
I was accused of the nebulous sin of “sowing discord.” At that meeting, I was voted out of the membership of Rowland Springs Baptist Church, with the unanimous recommendation of the Deacons, by an overwhelming margin.
When I got the parking lot, two police officers were waiting for me. I was given a criminal trespass warning and told never to come back. Ben Thompson signed it as a church representative.
My stand against Freemasonry at Rowland Springs had run its course. The snake that I stepped on had bitten. The hireling, Joe Ringwalt, is still preaching at Rowland Springs to a church full of Freemasons. Adam Burrell, ironically, went to work for Pray’s Mill Baptist Church in Douglasville, Georgia where its pastor, popular blogger and conference speaker Josh Buice, has moved to prohibit Free Masons from church membership. I am attending another Baptist church in Cartersville.
The Blackball Rolls Downhill
I attended Sunday services at Tabernacle Baptist Church on April 29th, seven days after I was disfellowshipped from Rowland Springs Baptist Church. Having been run out of Rowland Springs, I needed another place to go. My wife suggested Tabernacle. I was baptized at that church. I was married there. Tabernacle endorsed my application to seminary. My children have attended PreK there for two years. My parents are members.
On April 30th, I was informed that I am no longer allowed on the TBC campus for Sunday worship services. Richard Brown, the very pastor who performed my marriage and signed my seminary endorsement called me Monday morning to tell me that TBC’s security personnel had been informed to be on the lookout for me. The pastoral staff has, in Richard’s words chosen to “protect the flock” from me because I “sow discord.” Part of this protection is to ensure that I don’t so much as set foot on the property of Tabernacle Baptist Church, to sit in its pews during Sunday Service. This treatment was warranted by my stance against Freemasonry at Rowland Springs.
Such is the blackball. This is the kind of thing I knew could happen if I stood up against Masonry. It’s a powerful network. I stood up anyway. No network is more powerful than the God I serve. When it comes down to it, I will not assent to the idea that I committed the nebulous sin of “sowing discord” because I wouldn’t put up with a demonic cult being part of God’s Holy assembly.
And I never will.
*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.
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