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Kicked out of the House
a Local News Only.com exclusive
by Nelson Thibodeaux
Updated 05/25/13 06:53:59 PM

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March 3, 2006 Colleyville ..The following is the first in a series of articles on the recent developments at the First Baptist Church in Colleyville, Texas
The reason four prominent Colleyville residents have been kicked out of the First Baptist Church of Colleyville may puzzle you...the names will likely shock you.  " Disagreements over the perceived plans for a relocated "mega-church" results in four prominent citizens being removed from membership.

(l to r) Joe Deupree, Patsy Smith, Skip Mattson, and
Danny Walker.  Patsy Smith, still listed as a Trustee of the First Baptist Church of Colleyville, received a letter delivered by Fed Ex on February 20, 2006 stating that,
"...you are being removed from membership."
Click Here  All four members received the same letter on the same date. Click on photo to enlarge
Skip Mattson is a former corporate executive that joined the church five years ago when he moved from Tuscon. Danny Walker is a retired wealthy entrepreneur and long time resident of Colleyville.  Joe Deupree is known for his long time dedication to the historical preservation of Colleyville and former President of the School Board.

John Van Zandt was expelled from his church in Sharonville, Ohio and it took 145 years for the wrong to be righted.  Four members of the Colleyville Baptist Church hope it will not take that long for their plight to be examined by the fellow members of their church congregation. In June 2005, Harry Van Sandt, of Vancouver, told the congregation his great-grandfather was heartbroken when the church ostracized him and expelled him in the 1840s for harboring run away slaves. "To correct a wrong done many years ago always presents me with gladness and warmth of heart," he said. The congregation gave him a standing ovation.

Guest preacher, Rev. Damon Lynch Jr. of New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Carthage, told the assembly he is proud the church took action to rectify its painful past.  "Just being sorry isn't enough," he said. "Change and repentance are necessary if we are to be part of the kingdom of God."

However, in the case of the "Colleyville Four," a recent change in the bylaws seems to suggest that this group is unlikely to have their case heard and judged by the fellow members of their congregation.

The slick marketing material explains the project as, "Moving forward into the promised land," apparently located outside of Colleyville, and at least four members will not be invited to come along regardless of location.  Attorney, Laura Smith Lang, writing in response to Attorney Neal Adams, representing the four members, states on August 22, 2005, "The Joshua Project has been abandoned.." And concludes that the planning committee no longer wishes to examine a "relocation plan for FBCC."  Of the four members, Patsy Smith actually served on the Planning Committee, Click Here for a list of the committee.
In a high gloss, bound, full color brochure, complete with an interactive CD of a Dr. Frank Harber giving an opening statement, members of the First Baptist Church of Colleyville were informed in January 2005 that Harber and the "Long Range Planning Committee" ".. had begun "taking steps to relocate our campus."  
Click Here to see the letter.

Some members of the church strongly objected to the thought of the 50 year old church being relocated from its original home in Colleyville and responded by passing out homemade flyers to present a different view.
The concern about the loss of their church home resonated with enough of the Colleyville congregation that the "Joshua Project"  failed in a church vote.

However, following the vote, the leadership of the church changed the bylaws removing many approval rights from the congregation.  

In the 2005 brochure, the question of "Do we desire to become a "mega-church"? is asked.  

In response to the "mega-church" issue, the leadership seems intent to quash the concern, however does place emphasis on the need to relocate because of growth, in particular noting the number "2,000 or so."

The church's attorney further wrote in August 2005 about the need to "relieve space limitations to meet the growth at the present location."  "There have been no definite determinations made about what steps to take at this time.  Among considerations is the possibility of creating other "branches" or "satellite locations" similar to those utilized by Second Baptist in Houston, Texas," surmised Lang.

While seemingly interested in avoiding the "mega-church" label, curiously Lang invoked the example of the Houston church which is most commonly associated with two well-known mega-church pastors, father and son.

The father is Homer Edwin Young, pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Houston, Texas. He is the father of three sons, Ed , Ben (singles pastor at Second Baptist), and Cliff (lead singer of Caedmon's Call). Ed is Edwin Barry Young, pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas,  perhaps the best known mega-church in the area. The Fellowship Church, previously Baptist denomination, is now a huge non-denominational complex near Grapevine Mills Mall.

Frank Harber

Frank Harber has been the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Colleyville since July 2001. On a web site, for an organization called Got Life Ministries, Harber's bio information states, "Dr. Harber is a leading expert in modern apologetics. In addition to leading a rapidly growing congregation of 4,000 plus members, Dr. Harber equips Christians across the country to share their faith with Christian evidences."   

The primary reason for plans to relocate the Colleyville church or, as now stated, to create "branches" or "satellite" locations has been attributed to the "growth" of the Colleyville Church.

The actual number of members of the First Baptist Church in Colleyville has become a matter of dispute based on statements by Barrett Johnson, an associate pastor leaving the church to move to Georgia this month, who stated, in a bible study group in October 2004, recorded on video tape, that the actual membership was closer to 2,200.  On Harber's bio referenced above, the number of 4,000+ members is claimed, while the Lang letter states, in response to the question, "How many members did FBCC have at the end of the most recent financial year," answers "3,141."

Local News Only.com has obtained an audit for year ended March 31, 2004 done by the firm of Rhodes Osiek & Company.  The audit states, "The membership of the church has grown from eighty-nine charter members in 1955 to 4,748 members at present."   All of the most recent membership numbers appear to reveal that the First Baptist Church of Colleyville has actually had a significant membership decrease since 2004.

Harber addresses "Teen Track"

A search turned up another "affiliation" of Dr. Frank Harber, in addition to his tapes, books and other items available to the public.  Harber is listed as the, President of the the Institute for Christian Defense.  As of the date of this article no other information was found and the organization's web site states that it is being updated. 
Harber is seen at a 2003 conference in Kansas, City where the site states, "During a break between speakers, the crowd had a chance to purchase materials written by Worldview speakers to take home and study." Questions have been raised concerning the finances surrounding Harber's ministry and its relation to the Colleyville church by some members.

While Dr. Frank Harber has been identified as a charismatic preacher from the pulpit, some members have speculated that the flash opening of the church's web site, that states, "reaching Northeast Tarrant County, America and the World, " reflects Harber's ambitions and goals.  However, they state, he has not been an effective pastor of the local church.

The conflicts over direction, lack of information, personal finances, and bylaw changes have escalated to "Biblical proportions," at least in Colleyville, where Dr. Harber and his "Leadership Board" of six other individuals "removed membership" from four well known local citizens. Included is,  Patsy Smith, considered the "matriarch of Colleyville," not only listed as a Trustee of the Church, but who also is a Trustee on the Board of Dallas Baptist University.  All four have been guilty of disagreement with Dr. Frank Harber and asking consistent questions about finances, bylaw irregularities and a straight answer on the intentions of Harber and his hand picked leadership group.

While the allegations of the egregious actions of the four "de-churched" members is not specific, the letter references Article 5 Section 2 C.  The section basically states that any member including staff member that becomes an offense by reason of immorality, non-Christian conduct or by persistent breach of covenant vows.
may be dismissed from the membership of this church.  In an interview with all four members, they all insist that none of these allegations are true and, in the case of Patsy Smith, the statement that she was asked to meet with Deacons, Smith stated was not a truthful representation of facts.  

Jane and Joe Deupree on a trip with the Bible Class group and others, were still shown on the church web site. 
All four were members of a popular senior Bible study group that not only bonded in class but frequently met for other social events, luncheons after Sunday services and even trips together. The adult, (50 years old to over 80 years old) Explorer's Bible Class was also singled out for what appears to be retribution over the failed January vote due to their opposition of relocation.  On right, Joe and Jane Deupree were still shown on the FBCC web site last week.

In matter of fact, Joe Deupree, the elected leader of the group, was "fired" by Barrett Johnson, as Associate Pastor, in October 2005.  However, saying he had done nothing wrong, Deupree refused to step down and the class continued to meet through February 2006. However, on Sunday, February 19th, which happened to be the coldest day of this year's winter, the senior class was actually locked out of the Colleyville church.

The adult bible class, with members over 80 years old seen above, were actually locked out of the First Baptist Church of Colleyville on the coldest day of the winter, February 19th, when their leader Joe Deupree would not "resign" and the group, some 55 strong, continued to meet for their 8 am Sunday Bible Class. While the group shivered outside the building, they were told the group was a "non-entity" of the church and they could not utilize the facility.  Previously the church had  cancelled the group's planned Christmas Party in church facilities. One member of the group actually donated part of the land that the current church occupies today. The next day, after the February 19th photo above, four of the group received a Fed Ex telling them they had been removed from membership.  

Local News Only.com has conducted video interviews with the four removed members, obtained video of a Bible Class disrupted by a Church Pastor attempting to "fire" their leader and the video statements of Dr. Frank Harber concerning the initial plans to move the church.  Members of Harber's church have complained that financial information has not been made available, the senior pastor is not accessible and even fails to visit members in the hospital.

One local Baptist preacher, who will be identified in the follow up series, said,
"Knowing what I know now, and if I were in that community (Colleyville) and I was considering a church home, I would not want Frank Harber as my pastor. His influence has been damaged.  Ask people on the street, if you are going to a church and your pastor will not meet with you one on one, does not visit his own members in the hospital, does not minister but delegates others instead, do you want him as your pastor"?

In addition, in the follow up, the question of illegal bylaw activities at the church will be explored and actual video statements from members.

It is noted that attempts have been made to obtain statements, clarifications or input from the First Baptist Church for this series of articles.  The last attempt was on March 1st with a telephone call to the church office.  The office stated that Michael Ray would handle all media questions, however he was busy and I should leave a number, but received no return telephone call.

LNO visited the offices late Thursday afternoon March 2nd, however the offices were locked.  LNO has been informed that Dr. Harber no longer offices in the church offices on Pleasant Run but from his home, this has not been confirmed since no response has been made from the church. 

 LNO continues to provide the opportunity for Dr. Harber, to respond to questions about the removal of  membership concerning four prominent members of the community and answer questions concerning the church's specific accusations. Also respond to other questions including why the four have not been allowed to go before the body of the church and finally to explore questions concerning Dr. Harber and the church's finances and plans.

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