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Church Led by Conservative Baptist Network Leader Ordered to Turnover Financial Records

Scott Slayton | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Thursday, June 9, 2022
Church Led by Conservative Baptist Network Leader Ordered to Turnover Financial Records

Church Led by Conservative Baptist Network Leader Ordered to Turnover Financial Records

A Louisiana judge ordered the spokesman for a group seeking to "change the direction" of the Southern Baptist Convention to hand over church financial records as part of a lawsuit brought against the church by a segment of its members.

In late May, Judge Charles Smith of the 26th Judicial Court in Bossier Parish ordered First Baptist Church Bossier City and their pastor, Brad Jurkovich, to turn over a litany of documents dating back to 2013.

According to Religion News Service, the group alleges church leaders diverted funds meant for Southern Baptist missions to the new Conservative Baptist Network. The CBN claims that it exists to fight against the "liberal drift in the nation's largest Protestant denomination, including what it sees as a softening on female preachers, Critical Race Theory, and LGBT issues."

The trouble began last summer when some members sent Jurkovich a list of concerns, such as staff turnover and what they perceived as a "lack of transparency." The group claims Jurkovich told them, "you either trust and follow the leadership or you do not." He allowed some of them to see a portion of the records, but the group alleges that he forced them to sign nondisclosure agreements so they could not discuss what they saw.

On October 3, the group emailed a letter to Jurkovich, signed by 161 members, calling for his resignation. The letter cited staff turnover, lack of financial accountability, personnel decisions, misrepresentations, and an inability to lead.

The judge's order forces the church to turn over bank statements, W-2 statements, paid invoices, purchase orders, bank deposits, bank transfers, housing allowance figures, loan documents, nondisclosure agreements, and a list of staff with church credit cards and cell phones. He did not allow the group access to church donor information or church servers.

In a separate action, members allege that Jurkovich illegally changed the church bylaws, allowing him to remove members from the church rather than the decision coming from the entire congregation. They claim the vote should have taken place with 30 days' written notice and that members should have been provided with a copy of proposed amendments.

The two cases refer to the plaintiffs as "members of the church," which Jurkovich disputes. He responded to a request for comment from Religion News Service, saying, "These lawsuits represent an attempt by former members of First Baptist Bossier to inappropriately litigate an internal church dispute." At a June 5 worship service, Jurkovich told the congregation that "nonmembers were causing trouble." He said they were involved in "a spiritual battle" because "Satan wants to absolutely destroy this ministry."

The plaintiffs disagree. They believe the church diverted funds to the CBN to cover "operating expenses" and to "increase Dr. Jurkovich's standing" within the network. Jurkovich serves on the CBN's Steering Committee. A recent CBN video promoting its slate of candidates for office at the Southern Baptist Annual Meeting next week features Jurkovich as the only speaker.

The Court will rule on the allegations that the 2014 bylaws vote took place illegally on June 21.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Vladimir Cetinski

Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”

Church Led by Conservative Baptist Network Leader Ordered to Turnover Financial Records