A meeting among members of Greater Bellevue Baptist Church turned violent as discussions on firing Pastor David F. Stephens, Sr. continued. Allegedly, he and his wife, LaShanna, live together, but are “not together.” The pastor is accused of marital infidelity, but reportedly has confessed and asked forgiveness from his wife and church. As the conversation intensified, a violent brawl erupted among congregants seeking to remove the pastor and those wanting him to remain.
The purpose of the meeting on Monday, May 1, 2017, was for the members of the congregation and deacons to vote and possibly void the minister’s contract or allow him to remain as Pastor. Church trustees requested deputies attend the meeting because of the tension that surrounded this ongoing conversation. However, chaos arose despite the presence of law enforcement. Officers suspended the voting process after opposing sides became irate and a violent brawl erupted.
It was not long into the meeting process before things took a turn for the worse and decorum decayed. With 150 members in attendance, chairs toppled, people shoved and punches flew as the deputies radioed for backup. The fight dissipated and the church emptied out around 8:40 p.m. after additional law enforcement answered the call.
On Friday, May 5, Bibb County Sheriff’s Department officially charged Julian DeWayne Coker with inciting the riot. Tensions were running high prior to the meeting, as the future of Rev. Stephens remained uncertain. Coker turned himself in on Friday afternoon was booked into jail that evening. The fight at the Mumford Road church became national news after someone posted a 35-minute-long video that quickly went viral.
Although Coker holds blame for inciting the riot, some members maintain the sex scandal led to fighting due to the pastor’s infidelity. Once unnamed source said:
The fight broke out last night because somebody called the pastor out about sleeping around on his wife and the pastor came and attacked him … the pastor and the first lady are living together but not together and the pastor is seeing someone else.
Both sides of the coin spoke out at the meeting airing grievances and allegiances. People began shouting out right before chaos erupted. When speaking about the events surrounding the violent brawl, another source, who said the church has a history of voting out pastors, alleged:
The pastor slept with another woman. But, he confessed and ask forgiveness from his wife and church. They have been busy trying to get rid of him by degrading him on social media. More than half congregation forgave, but others haven’t, so they determine to get him out.
Greater Bellevue Baptist Church was established in 1895 and is located at 4041 Mumford Road, right in the heart of the Bellevue Community of Macon, GA. According to Facebook, the church holds worship services every Sunday at 8 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., with one exception. On the fifth Sunday, it only has one service held at 10:45 a.m. Additionally, Greater Bellevue has weekly Sunday School classes at 9:30 a.m., Bible Study meetings on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and on Wednesday mornings at 7 o’clock, as well as a weekly Prayer Conference Call.
The pastor, who worshiped as a Catholic for 23 years, said he enjoyed the transition into the Baptist denomination. In 1997, Stephens formally of Mississippi, received his license to preach was ordained in November of 1998 as a Baptist minister. In 2007, Stephens preached the annual Watch Night service at Greater Bellevue and on the first Sunday in January 2008, his official message as Pastor of the congregation.
Due to the violent brawl, the meeting ended abruptly and the voting process shut down until a later date. Stephens is still pastor and his fate is yet undetermined. In the interim, some members are angry over the behavior of the pastor, while others are afraid of losing their “gifted, talented, and anointed” leader.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Christian Post: Fistfight Erupts as Church Members Seek to Fire Georgia Pastor Accused of Adultery
Gain Former: Greater Bellevue’s New Preacher Thirsty For Baptist Doctrine
The Telegraph: Brawl breaks out at Macon church
Top and Inline Images Courtesy of Facebook – Greater Bellevue Baptist Church
Featured Image Courtesy of Alan Levine’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License