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* 1. As a group of First Baptist Church Naples members, we are concerned regarding several issues that warrant urgent attention.  We represent a cross section of the church, and have banded together with the goal of restoring unity and honor to our church, and to bring about reconciliation among church members, leadership and staff.

We now invite all FBCN members, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who love our church, to join us in signing this petition with the goal of attaining a “special business meeting” where prioritized topics can be discussed.  If we gather 10% of member signatures via this petition, then according to FBCN bylaws, a meeting must be granted.  Some of the issues we would like to address in such a meeting are:

1.     The need for true church-wide and God honoring transparency and accountability surrounding many issues and recent events pertaining to the Church. We believe that our church leaders are to conduct themselves in a manner beyond reproach, and that their decisions should be able to withstand the rigorous scrutiny that comes with transparency.  Many questions remain unanswered and the untold answers to those questions have serious spiritual implications regarding the future of our church.  Without transparency there can be no expectation of trust.  Without trust there can be no expectation of unity, or restoration of honor, nor can there be any expectation of true reconciliation among FBCN members, leaders and staff. 
2.     A review and careful consideration of our current church governing structure, which is absent any vetted group of Spirit-led Elders who oversee the Mission, Operation and Accountability of our church leadership.
3.     That FBCN might carefully consider retracting, correcting and replacing the official FBCN exit statement concerning Dr. Wicker’s departure with a more appropriate one, and retracting, correcting and replacing the FBCN emailed video statement. At present, due to the specific choice of words used in the exit statement issued by our church leaders, there is reason for concern that our church may be liable for significant damages should Dr. Wicker not be able to procure employment elsewhere.
4.     Consideration of temporarily postponing the pastoral search/employment efforts until these issues can be addressed and a path forward is established.   
5.     The importance of immediately initiating the process of hiring an interim temporary senior pastor to assume the role of shepherding the congregation until the right person is permanently selected.

Your personal signature of this petition is vitally important!  Beyond this petition serving as part of an official written request to the FBCN clerk for a special business meeting, it is also a powerful demonstration of how strongly our membership is concerned and devoted to resolving these issues.  This is a “defining moment” in the life of our church!

After signing, we ask that you take a moment to either forward the survey email of this petition, or a link of this petition to as many FBCN members as you can (of 16 years of age or older as per church bylaws), so that they also might have the opportunity to join us and to make their voices heard. 

With your agreement and support of the above, please go ahead and fill out your information below, then scroll to the bottom of the page and hit "Done" to register your support.

PLEASE NOTE: Your name, email and phone number will be kept in strict confidence, only being shared with the church administration, if requested, upon the church body’s requesting the “special business meeting”.

In advance of our meeting and if you need greater context, we have provided below some background information below that may help.


Many church members have significant, rational and perfectly legitimate concerns about multiple matters pertaining to circumstances leading up to Pastor Wicker’s early resignation, about how his departure was clearly forced and handled in such an inexplicably abrupt and impersonal manner, and about the series of shortcomings in the official responses from church leadership regarding these matters; all leading to more and more troublesome questions.

Sadly, multiple calls for transparency and outward expressions of legitimate concerns about these events and other issues (in accordance with Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 18), have been met with unreasonable and openly hostile responses by certain church leaders and staff.  Individual church members expressing these legitimate concerns have been repeatedly admonished, mistreated, intimidated, and publicly marginalized.  This treatment is alarming, misguided, and objectively unmerited, and has led to deep division within our church.  Ironically, instead of promoting any genuine unity, this type of volatile response only serves to foster what many perceive as an unnecessary, unbiblical, and wholly inappropriate spirit of factionalism and intimidation in the church.  

Furthermore, this atmosphere of intimidation only serves to undermine the credibility of the supposed unity of the church staff and of the committees.  In light of the leaders’ volatile responses, it would be unreasonable to expect that church staff and members of the committees could actually do anything other than tow the “party line”.   To make matters worse, this unfortunate dynamic of the presumption of infallibility of our current leaders and committees, the atmosphere of intimidation and the avoidance of transparency only serve to promote further cynicism within the church.  All of this is terribly unnecessary and harmful to the staff, the church body and to its individual members.

Instead of leading on this issue, the current church leadership has simply canceled multiple FBCN meetings (in which these issues might have been addressed with the Church in a transparent manner) without any commitment to reschedule.  Even when the assistance of a third party specialist was offered to help mediate, the leadership declined his assistance.

Much of this has unfortunately been done under the guise of “unity”.  As Christians we can all certainly agree that, all things being equal, unity is good, desirable and certainly biblical.  However, a unity that is in error is self-evidently not good and unbiblical.  Furthermore, had Jesus placed greater value on immediate unity over righteousness in the house of the Lord, He never would have overturned the tables of the money changers, nor confronted the hypocrisy and error of many prominent and well-respected religious leaders of the day.  Legitimate expressions of concern and disagreements with our brothers and sisters in the church leadership, when based on principle and done with pure intentions, should not be dismissed or categorized as “divisive”.   We think Jesus’ example of standing on principle is quite clear on this.
Regarding the search and calling of a new pastor, we believe the only prudent path is to temporarily postpone the search process until we can sort out this confusion that the current leadership has imposed upon our church.  Firstly, it would be morally unconscionable for our church to knowingly uproot a pastor and his family from where they reside now, and place them in the middle of what remains a very tangled situation.  Furthermore, any incoming pastor would presumably remain beholden to the very committee members and certain pastoral staff who appear to be actively avoiding transparency and crafting their own unique narrative of events.  We maintain that this cannot be a healthy arrangement at this time and especially given the lack of a body of church-vetted elders.  We believe that postponing the hiring of a new pastor right now is the only path our church can take in good conscience, both for the sake of our church and for the sake of the on-boarding pastor.  The fact that the leadership has not acknowledged this highly unfavorable dynamic and not taken measures to postpone the search of a new pastor, is also noteworthy and worrisome.   We believe that any discussion of bringing in a pastor now should be in the context of a possible interim pastor to serve as a “bridge” during this time, until the new full-time pastor search is completed.  It should be noted that the new pastor will not, and cannot be expected, in and by himself, to solve all of our current internal problems.  We, the FBCN family, must take a measure of responsibility.

Therefore, we ask that you join us in signing this petition requesting that FBCN grant the church body a “special business meeting” (in accordance to church bylaws), to bring church-wide transparency, and to address several urgent issues.  We believe that actual church-wide transparency, revealing truth to these matters of concern, and discussing them openly is the only way by which the actual roots of the church body’s legitimate concerns can be addressed, and the only way by which lasting unity and honor can be restored and reconciliation achieved at FBCN. 

As stated above, if you are in favor, please sign the petition by filling out your information in the boxes above, and hitting the “done” button below.  Likewise, please do your utmost to forward the survey email to anyone else from the church (16 or older as per church bylaws) who might be interested in supporting these modest and reasonable requests to restore unity, honor, and bring Holy Spirit-led reconciliation at First Baptist Church Naples.

Blessings to all the saints at First Baptist Church Naples, and Glory be to God Almighty,

Mary Astles
Paul Astles
Danielle Bockus
Colleen Brophy
Nancy Brown
Bob Caudill
Katy Caudill
Ramon Chao
Neomi Chao
Suzi Cobb
Craig Couture
Jeannie Couture
Joan Dever
Mike Dolan
Teri Dolan
Steve Edmondson
Inez Edmondson
Lou Falorio (former member)
Cindy Falorio (former member)
Andrew Forderhase
Karen Gibson
Linda Green
J. Patrick Kelly
Patricia A. Kelly
Robert C Kevern
Annette Kevern
Sharon Lennon
Kathy Maines
Jon Maines
Rae Manchester
Bob Manchester
Andrew Manchester
Jeanine O'Brian
Rich O'Brian
Corrie Ritz
Brian Ritz
Jose Santana
Robert Statile
Jody Statile
Bonnie Taylor
Chuck Taylor
Danae Woodall

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