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Gone but Not Forgotten: 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

Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.

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 (Sovereign Grace) 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” with all those who crossed him. 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 Apostle Paul’s and Jesus’ teachings when errant, unrepentant church members were excommunicated. Numerous members were “disciplined” during my tenure at Community. 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 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 ministerial colleagues, 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 ex-communication from Community Baptist Church was justified. See! See! See! Bruce Gerencser never was a “real” Christian! One would think, having thrown me out of the church, that would be the end of the 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 storyline. Horner could lie about me, and there was little I could do 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 daily, and rarely a week goes by without someone searching Pastor Pat Horner, Pastor Jose Maldonado, Pastor Tim Conway, Grace Community Church San Antonio, Hillburn Drive Grace Baptist Church, or Community Baptist Church Elmendorf that brings them to this blog. 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, then 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 the Apostasy and Its Awful Consequences! (also titled “why Bruce Gerencser Was NEVER, EVER a Christian!) series on Sermon Audio.

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 years later? What is it about my story they find so threatening? Perhaps they just want to use my story as a 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.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

26 Comments

  1. Avatar
    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.

    • Avatar
      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.

      • Avatar
        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.

  2. Avatar
    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???

  3. Avatar
    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!).

  4. Avatar
    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.

  5. Avatar
    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.

  6. Avatar
    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 ?

  7. Avatar
    DRL

    Mr. Gerencser – I know Pat Horner very well. My family was either the third or fourth to join CBC after it’s beginning. This was well before you came along, and well before Joe Maldonado as well. A number of years later, I was living 150 miles away, having left CBC in good standing. However, I was eventually “marked” by Pat and CBC for meeting with a man that had left CBC against Pat’s wishes. I protested this “marking” to no avail, so all I could do was ignore it and hope for better things eventually for Pat and CBC. I was privately contacted by two members of the church that expressed personal regret and who viewed the “marking” action as unfair and untenable.

    Unlike you, this sour experience did not serve as a springboard for departing the faith. I carried on. Did some preaching myself, though I was never ordained. Some dozen or so years later, I called Pat and arranged to meet him at home. He admitted he had been hasty, and expressed regret. To my view, Pat had mellowed a great deal, and actually seemed humble. I was happy about his progress and forgave him and bore him no animosity for his earlier error concerning me.

    I am older than you, now in my mid 60’s. I’ve not seen Pat for many years. Pat made many mistakes, having pastored too earlier in his Christian experience (in my estimation). He was too autocratic. He did not, at least in the early days, have sufficient ground in Scripture. Pat was like many Christians I have known, myself included – too proud, too smug, and too impatient.

    However, for all Pat’s failings, I am certain he is a Christian. I am sorry you are not, and never were. You may win acclaim and kudos from the angry atheists who visit your site and glory in your faithlessness – but to me you are a sad man, a man who lived a Christ-less life in self-deception that ended in disillusionment and bitterness. Unlike these pitiable atheistic men and women who glory in your unbelief, I actually know CBC, Pat and Joe – and though I fully acknowledge the faults and failures of these men – I do not seize on these things as an excuse or pretense to justify any failure on my part. Nor would I pretend that any spiritual lack in myself is due to anyone BUT myself.

    I am sorry for you, honestly. May God yet give you light and life. Clearly you have never known either.

    Best Regards

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      You really should do some more reading of my writing. That way you don’t come off as an ill-informed, judgmental ass.

      Did Horner actually apologize to you for excommunicating you from the church? Did the church make any attempt to publicly restore your good name?

      You admit that you haven’t seen Pat, Joe for years, yet you know them? No you don’t. Like me, you know them at certain point and time in history. All I am doing with this blog is telling my story, much like Maldonado and Conway do when they use me as sermon fodder. The difference is that I want the telling of my story to be a warning, a blaring siren that says stay away from men such these; stay away from their churches.

      I pastored for another decade after leaving Community. I remember hearing rumors about Horner telling people I was an unsaved pastor pastoring unsaved people. I wrote Horner several times suggesting that we both made mistakes, and that we both should admit that we had. No response, other than to tell me (once) he had done nothing to repent of.

      If you have not done so, please read: https://brucegerencser.net/series/i-am-a-publican-and-a-heathen/ I think you’ll find that I’m very honest about my own shortcomings and culpability over what happened in 1994. I have tried to tell my story openly and honestly, warts and all. There are, however, some things that happened at CBC that I haven’t written about, things that would certainly paint a darker picture of the church and it’s leadership. I don’t write about these things because of the harm they might cause to others.

      Community and Horner had little to do with my deconversion. Again, do some reading of my writing and you will be better informed as to the reasons Jesus and I got a divorce.

      Your closing paragraph tells me you, Horner, and Maldonado are cut from the same cloth. What saddens me is that you cannot see that you were abused by Horner and CBC; that even now , three decades later, you give them a pass.

      I wish you well. Please consider this your first and last comment.

      Bruce

    • Avatar
      The angry, pitiable atheistic Zoe who glories in Bruce's unbelief.

      I am sorry for you, honestly. May God yet give you light and life. Clearly you have never known either. ~ DRL

      Because that’s the first time we’ve ever heard those lines.

      • Avatar
        Brian

        Zoe, you clearly do not know the true Lord and clearly never did because if you had you would realize that Bruce never knew what you never knew too; that’s true, hoop-de-do-de-do. Furthermore, all this was planned before time was time and you were you or Bruce was Bruce and so forth. You have to get the official nod to understand any of this very very deep stuff. Once you get the nod (you never got) it all falls into place and you can honestly and truly feel sorry for poor, pathetic Bruce. Dear #POTUS understands it all. You can tell by how he says, ‘The Bible is the most special thing…’

  8. Avatar
    David Leach

    Mr. Gerenscer – I had long since forgotten about you, but in cleaning up “saved sites” on my computer, I re-discovered your little cesspool of anti-Christian vomitus. You wrote “please consider this your first and last comment.” No, my shallow and easily intimidated friend – THIS will be MY last comment. Print it or not, I don’t care. Respond or not, it’s of no concern to me. I will NOT be returning.

    Contrary to your completely made up assertions, I do indeed know Joe. I see him 7 or 8 times a year, and last saw him about 5 weeks ago. I think it’s safe to say I know him far better than you do. It is true I do not see Pat these days, but no matter – your judgement about all Christians appears to be skewed by your festering hatred of all things Christian. Pity, that.

    That you consider me an “ill-informed judgmental ass” will not be keeping me up nights. The moral and spiritual assessments of reprobate, morally bankrupt, angry men never moves me much. You hate Christ, why would I expect better than abuse from you? In fact, I do not. The ugliness and darkness you hid as you feigned Christian faith is no longer concealed. You dropped your disguise when via some dark inner prompting, or preference you decided to quit pretending. So, you are free (for a season) to spew your absurd and putrid nonsense as pleases you.

    You say ” I want the telling of my story to be a warning,” In a small, sad way your wish is granted. You do serve as a warning. Your departure is a grim reminder of the veracity of I John 2:19. You are a warning against spiritual smugness, pretentiousness and presumption. You are an object lesson of reprobation. I shall seize on your example, as God gives opportunity – of how deceived the human heart is capable of being. This is not gloating or some childish tit-for-tat – indeed, I am grieved for you, for your family, for the sin and destruction you leave in your unholy wake. Yours is a sad, tragic story. No matter how bitter, and mean-spirited and nasty you are – I am indeed sorry for you. How dreadful will eternity be for you.

    As for the rest of your description of your behavior in reference to Pat Horner – I’m not all that interested. I am not an apologist for Pat Horner, before his own Master, he stands or falls. Nor do I need to be persuaded concerning his ability to make mistakes…I am well aware. Pat jumped into public ministry way too early in his Christian life, and his immaturity did not serve him well. But Pat, warts and all, is a Christian. When we spoke last, many years ago, the past was behind us. All was forgiven. As an anti-Christ, I understand genuine forgiveness is not a primary concern of yours. Too bad for all concerned – especially you.

    Finally, you indicate you and your Jesus (whoever that “Jesus” might be) got a “divorce.” Well friend, it seems to me that you and the true Jesus were never married….no matter your complaint, objection and obfuscation to the contrary.

    Now know I will not again reply. I will never again visit this creepy little anti-Christian, anti-God blog. Rail against me as pleases you. Mock me among your equally pathetic God-hating companions. It’s of no consequence.

    PS – If I do “give Horner a pass,” I would say that is in keeping with the Master, eh? You may remember this verse from your days playing at the faith and public ministry:

    Matthew 6:14-15 “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

    The Lord have mercy on your blighted soul.

    • Avatar
      Brian

      Matthew 6:14-15 “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

      Yeah, Christians and the the Christian USA has been very good at this one! I guess that explains why USA is the most militant and dangerous country on earth and threatens the well-being of the whole planet, huh, David Leach? It astounds me how utterly blind you choose to stay to the the drones of war, the hatred of foreigners, the basic concern for bipeds. Your words demonstrate that you have no intention to fight wrong but support it and feel sorry for Bruce because he cannot hate properly as you appear to hate. I for one am content to see the last of you. Have a glorious trip into self-destruction, into your double-think demise. Jesus sure saved you. He guides you like a drone operator guides the missiles to harmothers you know nothing of and could care less about. Your love sounds like hate to me, Mr. Leach. Can you fathom that with any biped logic or do you have to dump me under your Sunday School bus?

    • Avatar
      GeoffT

      This David Leach is a fool, an embarrassing example of what happens to the mind when it becomes infected by religious superstition. What on earth is the point in coming to an atheist forum, something I like to think is based on reason, and then to start trumpeting ‘Christ’ (who perhaps never existed) and dishing out bible verses? By all means come and argue from reason; perhaps you have non-anecdotal evidence of the efficacy of prayer, or can demonstrate the superiority of religious morality over secular morality (just joking, of course he can’t!). But to come and start quoting the bible is ridiculous, just as it would be ridiculous for someone to quote the Book of Mormon or the Q’ran to you, and expect you to be convinced.

      Doesn’t matter that he’s not coming to visit any longer, as others can read his silly nonsense.

  9. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    Bruce, I am seriously impressed. You are living rent-free in these people’s minds, soaking up their energy, even after all these years. And since every bit of time they waste thinking about how horrible you are is time not spent pestering real, live people in their world who don’t need their BS, you’ve done well.

  10. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    I looked up this David Leach character. He indeed does sound smug and mean-spirited, as does Pat Horner and Jose’ Maldonado. I can’t fathom why Horner was so damned angry all the time, unless it was that he was raised in an angry, abusive household. He was quick to threaten to shoot pets belonging to Bruce, that was the giveaway to me that Horner is a toad. He may have changed a bit, maybe not. People CAN make you lose your faith, or if not that, the idea of going to church anymore. I want to ask Leach this : how come there’s never any admonishing towards abusive people who are part of the church system, and demanding they not mistreat others ?? Why wasn’t this Horner ever taken to task even one time ? I read the series. It was a sad read, and Bruce did his best to hang on and serve the people he was assigned to serve. It was Horner who pestered Bruce to leave Ohio and move down to Texas, when life would have been far easier if Bruce didn’t make that long hard trek to the South. Bruce was kind to the parishioners, and was well liked. Horner was jealous, and excommunicated him for it. That’s plain for all to see. While I wasn’t there, I’d love to point this out to Leach. And his rabid Americanism. That’s what comes through, not the love of God.

  11. Avatar
    Julie S.

    That David Leach sounds just like the Pharisee in his King James Bible. It’s surely a nice quality, as well, for him to be able to determine who “is a Christian” and who is not. His entire diatribe flies in the face of everything his Bible teaches! Leach is a Pharisee.

    Luke 18:10-14

    10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

    11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

    12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

    13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

    14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

  12. Avatar
    thesaveyscoundrel

    Hi Bruce.

    I just want to say that I am really sorry for the abuse you received at the hands of christians, genuine believers or meerly professing, I do not know.

    I know that I am a Christian, I gather that makes me unpopular here in the comments section, but that is ok. I was raised an atheist. Yet, somehow, I found faith or it found me, whichever you like, at around 16, and I am still a believer almost 30 years on and no regrets.

    That is despite personally experiencing some behaviour very similar to that which you have described, and from pastors who are/were connected to that very same “reformed” circle :(.

    For some years now, I have been part of a support group for others who have suffered abuse in this way. I hear certain names and churches repeatedly cropping up in people’s stories, and though you and I do not see eye to eye on Jesus obviously, I certainly have no reason to doubt what you have shared or to question your motives. It is your story and you have every right to tell it.

    The things these ministers do, when they behave this way, are so, so obviously wrong – but yet many of them remain in positions of power simply because they know how to work the crowd, or have heads full of the right knowledge. Regardless of public image, good works, or teaching skills, I doubt greatly that people… anyone… can know the loving God they claim to serve, when I see lies and abuse and cover ups and the damaged lives they leave in their wake. I know you don’t want prayer, but of course I can’t help but pray! I know what it is like to be on the receiving end of all that crap, and it sucks.

    I cant offer any excuse for what has happened to you, there isn’t any. It was wrong, regardless of what you did or did not do.

    As part of the church, as in worldwide church, I can only say I personally am really sorry for all they did that was wicked and selfish and very wrong, and especially in the name of the God I myself believe in.

    It grieves me greatly that you had to go through all that, and that it was a part of your experience as a believer too. Self-serving power- hungry leaders do not reflect the God I know, or the teachings of Jesus, as well you must know yourself, but that doesn’t detract from the power the church let them have and the damage the church has allowed, even facilitated, as a result of such people remaining in leadership roles.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Bruce. I may love Jesus, but I also know all truth is important and it should never be hidden or glossed over. From a believers perspective, there are plenty of verses to show that these people – and abusers of every kind everywhere for that matter, for that is what these type of pastors and preachers are; abusive – need to be held to account asap. The church is wrong to ensure they are protected, supported and allowed to continue. They need to repent or be outed.They are the dangerous ones. They do harm to both the church and anyone else they encounter.

    Thankfully, I do want to add that not all preachers or ministers are controlling and morally warped. Many are genuine and really do care about all the members of the church they oversee, not just their/their church’s reputation. I know plenty who are not afraid to say they are wrong and who are willing to listen to those who disagree with them etc. and are humble and kind as a rule, though not perfect of course. but then as you would say, who is?

    Thats all I wanted to say, thanks for giving me a voice on here, that is if of course you choose to post my long winded comment.
    I sincerely wish you, your family, and your blog followers all the best the future has to offer.

    Tara x

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Bruce Gerencser