Far from the Black: Massive Budget Shortfall at Embattled FBC Naples

Over the past few days, the leadership of First Baptist Church of Naples (Flordia) has been busy excommunicating members who rejected a proposed candidate for the pastoral office named Marcus Hayes. Ostensibly, those who voted against affirming Hayes did so out of racist motives. However, personal testimonies and leaked emails provided to Pulpit & Pen and Reformation Charlotte indicate that racism was not the reason Hayes was rejected. Hayes was rejected because of theological and professional concerns. Nevertheless, the pastoral staff and deacons of FBC Naples are taking opportunity to remove dissenters. The accusations of racism obfuscate a different story: the church has not been unified in seeking a replacement for former pastor Hayes Wicker, who departed the church in a cloud of controversy after 27 years of employment at FBC Naples. During the 10-month pastoral void, the church has descended into a financial crisis. Through the end of October, the church has suffered a 27% budget shortfall.

Giving at the church is nearly $800,000 under budget. All the while, church leaders are skipping the Matthew 18 church discipline process altogether to remove members who disagree with their choice for new leadership. The fight for control of FBC Naples has become very public. One side appears to be making false accusations of racism and throwing scripture to the wind in order to enact perverted church discipline and take control of the church and its valuable assets. Members of FBC Naples should carefully consider where their allegiances lie. It appears that many have already decided that the church’s leadership is compromised and cannot be trusted to steward their financial contributions.

What of bringing the accused sinner before the church as Christ commands in Matthew 18? Why would a pastor remove someone who is supposedly in unrepentant sin from church membership and suggest they seek membership elsewhere?

*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.

Seth Dunn

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