Our first visit was on a Sunday night. The church was having an open discussion about the church, its future, and how best to reach their community — especially young people.
The pastor said the following:
Let ask our visitors. They are fresh meat. What’s your opinion?
After getting over the shock of being called fresh meat, I gave my typical pastor answer (they didn’t know I was a pastor): sound Bible preaching. Evangelism, etc., etc., etc.
The pastor then turned to my oldest sons, then aged about 23 and 21, dismissed what I said, and asked them what they thought. They repeated some of the things I had said. He laughed, and then asked them what they “really” thought. What kind of things did they like to do? What kind of things did they think were fun?
In other words, my sons were lying or simply repeating what their father said. In this pastor’s mind, when it came to teens and young adults, it was all about making church “fun” and “entertaining.”
The conversation moved on to music. Several members — most of them were 50 and older — were against using contemporary music. One old codger suggested the church give the young people a steady diet of southern gospel music. After all, he liked southern gospel music, so why wouldn’t they? Such logic, right?
Needless to say, we crossed this church off our list of potential churches to attend. It didn’t take long to turn the fresh meat into burnt steaks.
The church is still open. Elton Spurgeon is its pastor.
In 2010, the church made the news due to the arrest of nine members of Hutaree (Christian warrior) — a Michigan militia group. Two members of the group were members of Thornhill Baptist Church. Seven of the militia members were acquitted of all charges. The two who were members of Thornhill were found guilty of weapons charges and sentenced to time served. In a 2010 Detroit Free Press article (link no longer active), Spurgeon was quoted as saying:
The arrests this month of nine members of Hutaree — a militia in Michigan whose members called themselves Christian warriors — have brought renewed attention to end-times theology.
To the Hutaree, the world was in the seven-year period of tribulations that comes before Christ’s return, said the head of the church they attended. They believed “the government is already influenced by the antichrist,” said Elton Spurgeon, pastor of Thornhill Baptist Church in Hudson. And so the time to fight was now, members believed.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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