SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
A Resolution by Morris Memorial Primitive Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee.
To Whom it May Concern:
Because of much wrong information and conflicting reports that have been widely circulated, we feel the following should be published. This is concerning the action of Morris Memorial Primitive Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee, in disciplining one of its members, Zack Guess.
Therefore, Morris Memorial Church, while in regular conference on September 18, 1997, did agree to have a true report made and published in THE CHRISTIAN BAPTIST paper. These facts are recorded in the church minute book on October 13, 1966.
Furthermore, recent events are also included in this resolution.
Be it further resolved that it be clearly stated that Zack Guess is NOT an orderly ordained elder of the Primitive Baptist church. He was excluded from church fellowship on October 13, 1966. The reason is that, after much patient labor and judgment by an orderly Old-Line Primitive Baptist church, to wit, Morris Memorial Church, this church excluded him for the following reasons:
Brother Zack Guess had been frequently used in opening the services and was given a regular appointment in which he was exercising what was thought to be a gift of preaching. This is recorded in the church record book in November 1965.
This record states that, on that date, Elder R. J. Shepard was called to serve as pastor of Morris Memorial Church. Brother Zack Guess, along with others, was called to handle the other preaching arrangements. This shows that Brother Guess did have a regular preaching appointment.
On June 18, 1966, Brother Guess asked Morris Memorial to get someone to preach at his 2nd Sunday appointment. He wished to take a short vacation. After this, Brother Guess, along with other members of Morris Memorial Church, began to affiliate with one or more churches considered by Morris Memorial Church and other orderly churches to be disorderly. Prior to this, Morris Memorial Church had passed a resolution asking its members not to visit the church Brother Guess was affiliating with.
In April 1966, Pastor R. J. Shepard advised Morris Memorial Church members not to take part in the dedication of Whitehaven Primitive Baptist Church's new building. By his continued affiliation with this disorderly church, Brother Zack Guess disturbed the peace of the church of his membership, Morris Memorial.
Brother Guess was lovingly confronted regarding this matter and was asked by his home church to refrain from this practice. However, Brother Guess rebelled against the admonition of Morris Memorial Church. After he was further labored with, he agreed to submit to the counsel of several church members. These members met in the home of Brother Stan Rawson, a deacon of Morris Memorial Church. These brethren advised Brother Guess to not rebel against the advice of his home church.
Instead of submitting to the counsel of these brethren, Brother Guess went back to fellowshipping this disorderly church. He attempted to join Whitehaven Primitive Baptist Church on a forthcoming letter of dismission from Morris Memorial Church.
Below is a copy of the proceedings of Morris Memorial Church's conference on October 13, 1966. Other names of members mentioned are omitted because they are not being considered in this article.
Sixth. Call for New Business:
1. Two letters from Whitehaven Primitive Baptist Church were read advising that Brother Zack Guess [and others whose names are omitted here had joined Whitehaven on forthcoming letter, and, if that letter was not granted, then membership would be accepted by relation.
A motion was made that Morris Memorial Church not grant the letter of dismissal to Brother Guess, but to withdraw fellowship from him for leaving Morris Memorial without regular dismissal and by joining Whitehaven Primitive Baptist Church, which is not in affiliation with Morris Memorial Primitive Baptist Church. Motion was seconded and carried.
>From the above, the reader can see that Zack Guess was excluded from Morris Memorial Church on October 13, 1966. This is his situation today - he is an excluded member of an orderly Primitive Baptist church and is not an orderly ordained Primitive Baptist minister.
THE MEETING AT MORRIS MEMORIAL CHURCH ON APRIL 3, 1997
It is important that the record be set straight about Brother Zack Guess recently talking to representatives of Morris Memorial Church. Brother Guess wrote on March 14, 1997:
Several brethren have suggested to me that I contact you brethren [of Morris Memorial] and offer to sit down with you and discuss the things that have separated us. I would suggest Thursday, April 3, 1997. I could meet any time on that date. I would want to bring two or three brethren with me as witnesses to our conversation. I would suggest you do the same.
Please note that he did not say that he wanted to make an apology to get restored to fellowship with Morris Memorial Church. Also, he said someone else had suggested he talk with us. It was not his idea!
Morris Memorial Church, in conference on March 23, 1997, agreed for representatives of Morris Memorial Church to meet with Zack Guess and his friends. Any Morris Memorial member was permitted to sit in this meeting. The church agreed to meet at Morris Memorial Church at 3:00 p.m. on April 3, 1997. This was not a conference meeting. It was reported to the church at our next conference meeting.
There were four men who came with Zack Guess on April 3. From Morris Memorial Church: the pastor, Elder J. W. Perry; clerk and deacon, Brother Bill Welch; deacon, Brother Upton Couch; and several other members were there.
After prayer by Elder Perry, Brother Guess was permitted to speak. He was very courteous in his remarks. He asked what he would be required to do to be restored to fellowship at Morris Memorial. Also, he wanted to know if he would be required to be ordained into the gospel ministry. Also, he asked about the status of any he had baptized and the churches he had assisted in constituting.
Brother Guess was informed that he would be required to come to a regular Morris Memorial conference and apologize for departing without proper dismission. If the church agreed to restore him, he would be just like he left: a regular member and not a minister. Later, if he proved himself to be orderly in doctrine and practice, he would be given an opportunity to speak in preaching. If, after a time, he proved to be orderly in doctrine and practice, the church would likely call for his ordination as a regular, orderly Primitive Baptist minister.
Furthermore, Zack Guess was told that any person whom he had baptized who wished to be an orderly Primitive Baptist member would be considered whether or not they qualified. They would then be baptized by an orderly Primitive Baptist minister. The same would be required of any church that wanted to be an orderly Primitive Baptist church. They would be examined, and, if they qualified, they would be organized by orderly Primitive Baptists.
Brother Guess said that he would prayerfully consider what he had been told. On April 9, 1997, he wrote to Morris Memorial Church that "he could not and would not comply with these requirements."
CONCLUSIONS: For the benefit of those who are interested, Morris Memorial Church will state that:
1. Brother Zack Guess remains excluded from fellowship for the reasons given above.
2. This problem is not the result of a church split, but an act of discipline, and this action has been recognized by all orderly churches in fellowship with Morris Memorial Church for some thirty (30) years.
3. Morris Memorial Church has always remained open and will continue to remain open for the resolving of this matter. If and when Brother Zack Guess repents and corrects his serious errors and comes back to the church, he will be reinstated to fellowship as he held when he left as a regular member.
Some of the members who also joined Whitehaven Church at the same time as Brother Guess did make necessary corrections and apologies some time later, and the church agreed to take them back into fellowship and gave a proper dismission by letter to another church in order.
It has always been understood by orderly Primitive Baptists that no church can, or should, dismiss a member by letter except to another church of like faith and order. Nor should any church try to take any person in as a member of their church unless the church of their membership agrees to so grant letters of dismission to move one's membership to another church.
The fact that the church asking for a letter of dismission further states that they would receive said persons without a letter if the request is not granted commits nothing less than act of offense against the church they petition for letters. Such acts can only be considered as acts of seizure and usurpation. Furthermore, such action is, in itself, a threat and declaration against that church whom they petition in such manner. There can never be peace or fellowship fostered by such contemptuous actions!
Elder J. W. Perry, Pastor/Moderator Brother Bill Welch, Clerk