Almost thirty years ago, I resigned from a church I had been pastoring in Mt. Perry, Ohio for eleven years, and accepted the co-pastor role at Community Baptist Church in Elemendorf, Texas. A man named Pat Horner — a former Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) who started the church — would be my fellow pastor.
I first “met” Pat in late 1992. He was receiving a newsletter I published, The Sovereign Grace Reporter. He had also listened to tapes of my sermons that Somerset Baptist Church made available through the mail via the CHARIS Tape Library. In early 1993, Pat extended an invitation to me to preach at Community’s annual Bible conference. I accepted, and in March 1993, Polly (who was seven months pregnant) and I, along with our five children, piled in a rented Chrysler automobile and drove 1,400 miles to Elmendorf, Texas. I preached several times during the conference, and all in all, we had a delightful time.
In the fall of 1993, Pat Horner and his family and Jose Maldonado — the pastor of Hillburn Drive Grace Baptist Church in San Antonio — and his family drove to Ohio to speak at our Bible conference. Again, we had a delightful time. Weeks later, Horner called me and asked if I would be interested in moving to Elmendorf to become Community’s co-pastor. He was looking for someone to jumpstart the church’s evangelism efforts and start a grades K-12 Christian school. I was well suited for both tasks. I told Horner I would pray on the matter and get back to him. A week or so later, I called Horner and turned down his offer, saying God still had work for me to do in Mt. Perry. Keep in mind, Horner had already talked to the church about me becoming their pastor.
A week or so after that, after a deeply emotional experience in my study that I attributed to the Holy Spirit, I called Horner and asked if he was still interested in me becoming Community’s co-pastor. He said yes.
In early 1994, Polly — who recently had a baby — and our three youngest children, traveled once again to San Antonio to preach and meet with the congregation on two successive nights at John Sytsma’s home. Sytsma was one of the church’s elders. Once again, we had a delightful time. I answered lots of questions, ate lots of Mexican food, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Polly would say the same, if asked.
Horner later called me and said the church voted unanimously to call me as their co-pastor. I accepted their call, and in late February of 1994, we packed up our meager belongings and moved to Elmendorf — a small non-descript rural community outside of San Antonio.
I looked forward to becoming the church’s co-pastor. The church bought us a brand-new mobile home to live in and paid me a living wage. No benefits, no insurance, but roughly $26,000 a year — twice as much as the church in Mt. Perry was paying me.
I hit the ground running. During the seven months I was co-pastor of the church, I started a street preaching ministry, a nursing home ministry, a visitation ministry, started a Christian school with fifty-five students, and started two churches, one in Stockdale and another in Floresville. While I certainly had help, I was the primary engine that drove these ministries. The fact that many of them ceased to exist after I left speaks volumes about who was the prime mover behind them.
One young man in the church was a man named Tim Conway. Conway had recently moved to San Antonio from Michigan. He married a woman in the church named Ruby. Conway later left Community Baptist and started Grace Community Church in San Antonio. Conway, who has no formal theological training, is a hardcore Fundamentalist; a Calvinist through and through.
I had numerous conversations with Conway. He would often join group discussions I had with the men in the back of the church after Sunday evening services. I typically preached on Sunday nights, so these discussions were an opportunity for me to interact with the men about the content of my sermons and any other theological question they might have. Horner was not interested in interacting with congregants as I was, rarely joining such discussions. In fact, Horner rarely interacted with anyone outside of the services. I visited church members in their homes, hoping to get to know them better. I had always done this in every church I pastored. I also stopped by local hospitals to pray with members before having surgery and visited with them afterward as they recovered. Again, this was my custom, as a winsome, friendly, down-to-earth preacher — a people person. Horner was none of these things. He and I had very different personalities. I made a grave mistake when I either ignored these differences or wrote them off as “different strokes, for different folks.”
Our personalities crashed from the get-go. Horner could be temperamental, and, at times, a bully. I could be temperamental too. At first, I ignored or quietly suffered his ill-behavior, but over time, I began to push back. It was not long before I came home and told Polly that we had made a huge mistake coming to Texas.
I decided that my best option was to leave Community and pastor one of the churches I started. At this point, I didn’t want to move back to Ohio. Instead, the proverbial shit hit the fan. Horner and I met with fellow elder John Sytsma to try to hash out our difference, without success. That meeting ended with me throwing Horner out of my office.
The next day, Horner held a secret meeting at John Sytsma’s home to discuss what he was going to do with me. I found out about the meeting and crashed it. Things quickly turned ugly. Horner told me that I was no longer qualified to be a pastor; that I had to return to Community and sit. Voices were raised, accusations were made, and I finally decided I was done. I said to Horner and other men, “I resign.” Horner replied, “you can’t resign.” My last words to him were “watch me.” And with that, I left the meeting, returned to our mobile home, and told Polly that we were moving back to Ohio. Two days later, as we drove out the church drive for the last time, Horner had called a meeting to deal with the “Bruce Gerencser problem.” The church excommunicated me.
I did not attend the meeting because there was no need to do so. I had already resigned, and I had no interest in butting heads one more time with Horner. After we left, Horner did his best to smear my name, even going so far as to say that congregants in the next church I pastored were all unsaved. His gossip made its way to me through other preachers, much like an angry ex-wife’s words about her former husband.
In 2010, Tim Conway preached a sermon titled, Wolves and a Snake. This sermon was published on June 3, 2023 on YouTube.
Here’s what he had to say:
This is exactly the kind of situation that happened down at Community Baptist Church. When Craig and I were down there, a man came in from outside the church — and way too fast. He was made a co-pastor in the church. Made a co-pastor, it was back in the mid-90s. And you know what? He would do and say basically what Absolom said. If he found one of the brethren with a grievance against the pastor of the church, he would say, “you are good and right.” Just like Absolom. Kinda like, “Oh that I were a judge in the land, I’d take care of this thing. You’re right to find fault. You are right, there’s an issue.” He would basically take people’s gripes and people’s grievances against the other pastor, and he would give ear to it. Not only would he give ear to it, he’d fan the fire. Folks, I’ll tell you what eventually happened. God’s man rose up eventually and said, “these charges that are being leveled against me out there in secret,” — and that’s where the wolf operates. In secret. Now sometimes when they get enough of a following, they will come public because they believe, like Absolom did — did he not? Once he had a big enough following, what does he do? He comes public and he drives David out. But typically, they start out in kind of subtle fashion. As soon as Pat called this guy to the floor, “if you got charges against me level them publicly,” the man didn’t even come to the meeting, and he left the church. And that’s basically the conduct of a wolf.
Listen, you know what this tells you? And I can remember this when this man came into Community Baptist Church. I’ll tell you this. Pat Horner was God’s man. But Pat has some rough edges. And what happens is, the smooth guy comes in and he hits those rough edges. and what happens is, when the guy, the true God-called man, with his rough edges, comes to confront Mr. Gentleman, guess what it looks like to people. He’s just being a hard guy. He’s beating up on Mr. Nice Guy. And you see that can even go to swelling that following. Let me tell you this, when the wolf comes, and you have to confront him, you are generally going to get bit when you do it. Because you’re going to come across as the bad guy. Because this person has got a following. They’re nice, they’re smooth, they pull people after them. Brethren, be aware, be aware. Watch out for them Learn to spot them. How do you spot them? Well, folks, they divide. How are they divisive? Typically, when you are alone with them, there in your house, you are in their house, you are somewhere off, walking with them, you’re wherever. Even out in the parking lot. They are like Absolom. They question things. They don’t outright attack many times. But they will question things.
Let me be clear, Conway is a liar. There’s not one ounce of truth to his claims, outside of him saying I was Mr. Gentleman and Mr. Nice Guy. I will even cop to being a smooth guy. I took my job seriously. If my sermons came off as well-crafted and smooth, that was on purpose. Is it my fault that some members were more attracted to me and my sermons? I suspect Horner was jealous over the favor I had with some members, especially younger congregants. I did nothing to court this other than be myself.
Conway voted to call me as co-pastor, as did every other member. Why didn’t any of them, including Horner and John Sytsma, discern that I was, as Conway says later in his sermon a dog, false Christ, false apostle, false prophet, false teacher, deceiver and antichrist, enemy of the cross, demonic, a man who led people to hell and destruction, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, driven by my lust? Sure must of been a bunch of weak, shallow-minded, carnal people if they couldn’t discern that Satan was in their midst. Either that or Conway is lying.
Conway accuses me of trying to get people to follow me. Again, this is absolutely untrue. My goal was to extricate myself from a very bad situation, akin to being married to the wrong person and trying to divorce him. I wasn’t interested in causing harm to the church, nor Horner, for that matter. I just wanted to get the hell out of Dodge.
Conway conveniently forgets that I met with him and his wife at their apartment two days before we moved back to Ohio. I made it clear to Conway that I had no interest in splitting the church (which I could have easily done); that I had never been part of a church split, and that I didn’t plan to do so now. Conway asked me to reconsider leaving, saying that if I stayed and started a new church in San Antonio, he would go with me. So much for me trying to draw people away.
Conway owes me a public apology. Of course, none will be forthcoming. Conway’s metaphorical car doesn’t have reverse gear. He is a hardcore Fundamentalist, a Calvinistic version of a garden-variety IFB preacher. Why he has a pathological need to periodically mention me in his sermons I do not know.
In November 2015, Conway 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.
In the same year that Conway first preached his Wolves and a Snake sermon, his buddy Jose Maldonado preached a four-part sermon series about me.
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.
If you would like to read the sermons and not listen to them, here are PDF transcriptions of the sermons.
I have written extensively about my tenure as co-pastor of Community Baptist Church. If you want a complete explanation of what happened in Elemendorf, please read the following series, I am a Publican and a Heathen:
To Tim Conway I say, I may be a [hot] dog, false Christ, false apostle, false prophet, false teacher, deceiver and antichrist, an enemy of the cross, demonic, leading people to hell and destruction, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, driven by my lust, but one thing I am not: a liar. I will await your retraction, and if not received, I will conclude that you are not a true Christian. Just remember, Tim, all liars shall have their part in the Lake of Fire. You can disagree with my atheism all you want, but you don’t get to smear my good name and attack my character without being called into account.
Do better, Tim, do better. And for the love of Loki, find some sermon illustrations that aren’t thirty years old. 🙂
I left a comment on Conway’s video, providing a link to this post. It was immediately deleted. 🙂 Makes one wonder what they are trying to hide. Maybe you will have better luck leaving a comment.
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 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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