Lavish lifestyle and excommunications are hallmarks of Pastor James Welch’s tenure as pastor of First Baptist Church Ft. Lauderdale.
Pastor James Welch embarrasses dying woman over loud oxygen machine during services at First Baptist Church of Ft. Lauderdale.
A former Southern Baptist church planter and now pastor of First Baptist Church of Ft. Lauderdale James Welch is enjoying the best of life even as FBC Ft. Lauderdale experiences financial turmoil sparked by his tyrannical moves and free spending policies.
The church excommunicated about 200 members who attempted to terminate the pastor for numerous breaches of his pastoral duties. On April 30, Welch announced the expulsion of an undefined and unnamed group of FBC Ft. Lauderdale church members. The announcement is simply stunning in its breadth.
“The Trustee Board recently voted to terminate the membership of all church members who have identified with, participated in, or supported any actions of the Advocacy Group and/or Concerned Members group against First Baptist Fort Lauderdale, its pastors, trustees, deacons, or members,” the email said.
The excommunication applied to anyone who “supported any actions” of the dissident group.
This violates all biblical admonitions for due process. It is overly broad and could arbitrarily apply to anyone. A biblical model for justice requires specific confrontation to an individual before escalating to this type of last step action.
I’m not a fan of 9Marks—it is too far given to the Woke movement—however, this article on biblical church discipline is a good overview of the proper response that moves from private confrontation to removal of the unrepentant via action of the congregational church body. All of this was missing in Pastor James Welch’s arbitrary actions.
In fact, Welch and FBC Ft. Lauderdale lied in the letter announcing excommunication as the church said, the dissidents “refused to respond to the church’s attempts to resolve their dispute with leadership through biblical peacemaking and mediation as mandated by the Church Bylaws.”
The Capstone Report was told by members of the dissident group that repeated individual and group meetings with the pastor were offered, delayed and never rescheduled. The same for attempts to get into mediation.
So, not only did the church err in by not having proper congregational involvement for the practice of biblical church discipline, Pastor James Welch lied in the excommunication announcement.
Hardly, the right way for a pastor to act.
Oh, and for good measure, a former church trustee and author of FBC Ft. Lauderdale’s bylaws was expelled from the church in Welch’s purge. This story was related to the Capstone Report by dissident members—and it is included in a critically important Florida Bulldog story.
However, what might be the most stunning, depressing and unchristian act by Pastor James Welch involved a woman dying of cancer.
The Florida Bulldog reports, “Shirley Klass, a member dying of cancer, was rebuked from the pulpit because her oxygen machine was making a clicking sound,” the letter says. “She was ushered out of the sanctuary and never returned due to the embarrassment. She died a short time later.”
Financial Questions swirl around James Welch and FBC Ft. Lauderdale
As attendance declines amid the turmoil at FBC Ft. Lauderdale, financial questions arise including questions about the lavish spending by Pastor James Welch.
FBC Ft. Lauderdale’s spending priorities included $77,000 on hospitality expenses for staff, the Florida Bulldog reported. “Each pastor had a mini-fridge stocked with Perrier and special faux foil-wrapped Cokes,” as reported by the Florida Bulldog.
The Florida Bulldog report raises other serious questions about financial relationships. For example, why was a New Orleans tax accountant who may be associated in some way with the purchase of Welch’s former church property in New Orleans hired by FBC Ft. Lauderdale as a consultant? Noreen Marcus reported:
“Orleans Parish records show that in August 2018, the Harbor church property valued at $1.3 million was transferred for $100 to an LLC associated with the mailing address of a tax accountant named Tim Baudier. Welch has described Baudier as his friend.
“After Welch started at First Baptist, Baudier made an appearance as a ‘consultant’ and the church paid him ‘thousands of dollars,’ said a former First Baptist Church of Ft. Lauderdale deacon.”
What is striking is how thoroughly anti-Baptist Pastor James Welch’s behavior is. There is little to no involvement of the congregation in important financial matters.
According to the Bulldog, “Smith said the deacons used to get monthly reports and summaries, which the bylaws require, but that practice ended with Welch’s takeover. So did congregation-wide budget meetings.”
If there is nothing to hide, why keep this information secret?