Gone but Not Forgotten: 22 Years Later San Antonio Calvinists Still Preaching Against Bruce Gerencser

Jose Maldonado Bruce Gerencser Pat Horner

Pastors Joe Maldonado, Bruce Gerencser, and Pat Horner, Somerset Baptist Church, Fall of 1993

In March of 1994, I became the co-pastor of Community Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. I have written extensively about my time at Community in the series I am a Publican and a Heathen. My seven-month tenure at Community quickly turned into buyer’s remorse and in late September I resigned and returned to Ohio. Community is a Calvinistic Baptist church, started by Pat Horner — a former Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher. Horner ruled the church with a rod of iron, using church discipline to “deal” will all those who crossed him. Of course, Community’s disciplinary practices weren’t viewed as a tyrant’s attempt to silence those who refused to play by his rulebook. Instead, church disciplinary meetings were dressed up with Bible verses meant to give the illusion that the church (Horner) was following the teachings of the Apostle Paul and Jesus when errant, unrepentant church members were excommunicated. Numerous members were “disciplined” during my tenure. People were excommunicated for everything from not regularly attending church to refusing to submit to pastoral authority. On the day that I resigned, Horner informed the me that I could not resign without the church’s permission. Taking a “watch me” approach, I packed up my family and moved back to Ohio. As we were pulling out of the church’s compound, Horner was addressing the church about the “Bruce Gerencser problem.” I was excommunicated and to this day I am considered a publican and a heathen (Matthew 18:15-19).

Fifteen years later, I wrote the letter titled Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners. In this letter — which was sent to numerous pastors, family members, and former church members — I detailed the reasons why I was no longer a Christian. Of course, the Calvinistic preachers in San Antonio — men such as Pat Horner, Tim Conway, and Jose Maldonado — saw my letter as “proof” that my excommunication from Community Baptist Church was justified. See! See! See! Bruce Gerencser never was a “real” Christian! One would think that having thrown me out of the church, that would be the end of story. However, what Horner and his fellow Calvinists didn’t count on is me publicly writing about my time in San Antonio. When Horner and the Church excommunicated me in 1994, they could control the story line. Horner could lie about me and there was little I could about it (He told several people that the church I was pastoring in Ohio was filled with unsaved people). The internet, of course, changed things dramatically, allowing me to tell my side of the story to thousands of people. Karma’s a bitch.

I check the search logs on a daily basis, and not a day goes by without someone doing a search for Pastor Pat Horner (2), Pastor Jose Maldonado (2), Pastor Tim Conway (10), Grace Community Church San Antonio (16), Hillburn Drive Grace Baptist Church (5) or Community Baptist Church Elmendorf (7) that brings them to this blog (Google page ranking in parentheses). To combat the influence I might have on people, the San Antonio Calvinists have taken to mentioning me in their sermons. Here are two examples:

In November 2015, Tim Conway, pastor of Grace Community Church, San Antonio preached a sermon titled The Futility of the Mind. In the sermon Conway said:

Futile, vain, empty, pointless, to no avail. And right here in Ephesians chapter 4, futility of mind is the characterization of the Gentiles. That’s how you are no longer to be. Christian, we are to put away futility. No longer. You must no longer. Futility of mind is a picture of people using their mind in ways that are just a waste of time. They are a waste of effort. You want some examples? Brethren, I know this about all of us. We all want to be happy. That is what mankind is striving after. Mankind wants to feel good, and mankind strives after that. You want an example of futility of mind? Futility of mind is man who is forever and always trying to figure out how to be happy while he is an enemy of God. That, folks, is futility. That is vain. That is worthless.

….

Or how about this: The futility that people walking around just spending their time; I was thinking about, some of you know about Bruce Gerencser, who was one of the co-elders down at Community Baptist Church when Ruby and I were down there, who apostatized and basically became an Atheist. What futility to spend your life trying to convince yourself there is no God. You see, these are the futile ways or futility that comes to nothing. Nothing at all.

Conway mentions me at the 25:48 mark.
Video Link

In 2010, Jose Maldonado, pastor of Hillburn Drive Grace Baptist Church, (link no longer active) preached a four-part sermon series about my apostasy.  Here’s a short audio clip from one of the sermons:

If you have the stomach for it, you can listen to Apostasy and It’s Awful Consequences! on the Sermon Audio website.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

If you would like to read the sermons and not listen to them, here are PDF transcriptions of the sermons.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Why are preachers such as Conway and Maldonado still preaching about me 22 years later? What is it about my story they find so threatening? Perhaps they just want to use my story as warning or a cautionary tale, as Ralph Wingate, Jr. did in a 2013 sermon at Calvary Baptist Church in Normal, Illinois:

Audio Link

Whatever the reasons, my story remains a burr in the saddle of those who once considered me their colleague or pastor. Numerous prayers have been uttered on my behalf, yet God has not seen fit to save or kill me. I remain a red flashing light reminder of the fact that pastors — men who once preached the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ — can and do apostatize. And if men of God can lose their faith, well, anyone can.

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9 Comments

  1. J.D. Matthews

    Church of Christ does this kind of thing too. They get hung up on their schisms and rivalries for decades. I remember when I was doing the profit prophet thing, one of the members asked me to preach a Sunday sermon on “the Crossroads movement” which happened in 1979 and birthed the ICOC (a cult branch of the COC.) I just sort of smirked and said “I was THREE at the time” and just kinda went on. Since I was a kid, they’ve been talking about Rubel Shelley, Jeff Walling, Mike Cope, Joe Beam, etc. A few of them, like Carl Ketcherside, have been dead for 30 years, but they still preach sermons on them. I can go on any COC discussion board or group and still find these names being bandied about and preached upon. Hopefully, someday, they can include my name in their bitchfests.

    Reply
    1. Michael Mock

      And it isn’t just churches, either. I swear, if I hear one more government scandal referred to as whatever-gate, I’m gonna stab someone. The sixties were fifty years ago. Get. Over. It.

      Argh.

      Reply
      1. Becky Wiren

        Ha! The Watergate scandal happened 40+ years ago in the 70s. I remember being fascinated with the government train wreck, and how journalists brought the whole thing out. Now, of course, I doubt there is a single journalist who would try to pursue anything like this, since they seem to be bought and paid for.

        Reply
  2. JR

    From a non-christians perspective you can say this Pat Horne chap is an overbearing dick. He is an arse hole – lots of us humans are. He is not a special case.
    But if you are fundamentalist christian how do you describe him? People like him turn people off christianity. They are supposed to model jesus to others. So perhaps fundamentalists should describe him as a pawn of satan???

    Reply
  3. Aram McLean

    What a futile sermon 😉

    Reply
  4. Geoff

    I only listened to snippets, especially the part where he refers to Bruce.

    He goes on and on about futility but I get the impression he doesn’t know what the word means. When he says that not believing in hell is futile I really don’t get his point. Surely believing there is no hell is much pleasanter, and certainly less stressful, than believing, so it is hardly futile. And this I can tell him with a level of certainty that is exceeded by nothing else in my mind; there is no hell (well not the sort he means anyhow!).

    Reply
  5. Brian

    The futility of futility! Imagine someone not believing in Hell! Or God! Or Heaven or pink elephants in treetops or little silver fairies tickling your earlobes! The futility… When I worked in the emergency department of a provincial psych hospital, I watched a guy run all the way across the waiting room at full speed and dive into a waterfall. The waterfall was a picture on the wall. He hit the partition wall so hard it flexed and threw him halfway across the room, dazed, amazed. He believed in a real waterfall, you see. It was futile to try to explain to him what had just happened. Delusional thinking is delusion thinking is…. What gives me slivers is people who are dim lights to begin with, adopting holy tones and blathering on in judgement. Religion poisons pretty much everything… It does not make one psychotic but it sure feeds delusional thinking. And it makes the dull bully Conway, dangerously dull with scriptural ammunition and a very bad aim. That a certain Gerencser is named and judged by this dud comes to my ears as a special award, a kudo, a trophy. Well done, Bruce. Thank-you for telling the truth you know and not spreading lies.

    Reply
  6. Connie

    I find it interesting these men have provided so much real estate in their brain to one Bruce G. Wow. What power you have Bruce!!! LOL

    You are living your life – free from their dogma and hubris – while they worry at the fact you escaped. They remind me of a terrior who cornered a squirrel. You may live in pain my friend, but the air you breathe is sweeter because you have claimed you for you.

    Riding the wave. Hope life is treating you better.

    Reply
  7. Steve

    Personally, I think Tim Conway was better off when he was on the Carol Burnett show when I was little, making us all laugh, rather than bashing you now. Sucks ?

    Reply

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