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Church treated unfairly, reader says

When First Baptist Concord’s expansion plans were first presented to the community, Jeanne Brykalski spoke and indicated that she held no anomocity toward First Baptist Concord and that she hoped the church would continue to be successful in it’s ministries. Yet, she now seems to be doing everything in her power to tear down the church and destroy its ministries.

In her recent letter to the farragutpress [Oct. 4], Mrs. Brykalski expressed disappointment due to a “lack of respect” being shown toward those opposed to the church’s plans. FBC has done everything within reason to alleviate or minimize the community’s concerns about its building program and it is unfair for Mrs. Brykalski to suggest otherwise. The church’s plans have been adjusted numerous times to accommodate community concerns. Yet, when attendees were asked at that initial meeting what it would take to make them happy, the church was met with undignified shouts from the audience of: “Just get out” and “Why don’t you just leave.” As they were told then, that simply isn’t going to


First Baptist Concord is a property owner in Farragut. The church’s ownership preceeds Mrs. Brykalski’s own. In fact, only five property owners in all of the affected neighborhoods combined have been there longer than the church. Forty percent of Belleaire’s residents have moved there in the last 10 years, arguably during the timeframe where the church was experiencing its most tremendous growth. Virtually everyone living in Belleaire moved into the subdivision with perfect knowledge of FBC’s presence at the entrance to the neighborhood. It is patently unfair that the church be asked to forfeit its ownership rights to accommodate the homeowner’s poor planning.

Similarly, homeowners in Derby Chase and Shiloh are frustrated that a road may come within 50 feet of their property line. In reality, these people chose to buy homes built with minimum setbacks from their property lines, anticipating that bordering property owners would continue to provide them with privacy by not developing close to their property, a poor assumption in an area experiencing the growth rates of West Knox County. Even so, FBC has tried to accommodate their concerns. As an example, Farragut code only requires a 25-foot setback from a road, but the church’s plans called for a 50-foot setback with a landscape barrier — all on FBC property — all paid for by the church. Does that sound like a lack of concern from the church? Does that sound like a disregard for Farragut’s “codes, rules or regulations?” Once again, FBC cannot be expected to bear the consequences of the property owner’s failure to plan properly. Certainly the church’s rights of ownership are no more important than those expressing concerns, but they are also no less important.

A perfect example of Mrs. Brykalski’s efforts to manipulate readers comes from her references to Doug Sager’s sermon on Sept. 30. In her allegations, she says that Dr. Sager called on the church to disregard the law — that he said FBConcord will do whatever it wants. In fact, Dr. Sager was discussing the power of God and the need for Christians to approach life without fear. Dr. Sager indicated that Christians shouldn’t be concerned about critics, papers, media, the MPC or authorities — that we should exhibit faith in God and wait patiently for Him to effect any changes necessary to continue the work and ministry of His Church.

Additionally, Mrs. Brykalski alleged that Dr. Sager’s sermon was all about raising money, and that he suggested that people should be willing to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No argument here. However, Jeanne Brykalski attempted to tie Dr. Sager’s appeal to commit $1.9 million on Oct. 7 to the church’s building plans. Once again, Mrs. Brykalski has taken a quote out of its context in order to promote her propaganda campaign. Dr. Sager’s appeal for a $1.9 million commitment was to fund the church’s annual domestic and international missions programs. Readers should know that FBC is one of the largest contributors to domestic and international missions in the entire country. FBC’s members are also among the most active people in the country in both foreign and domestic mission fields. Does this sound like an organization that has lost sight of its goal of serving Christ, as Mrs. Brykalski has suggested?

Mrs. Brykalski’s accusations against FBC’s leadership are disconcerting. Not because there is any truth to them, but because of the wreckless regard for truth she has exhibited. Her accusations rely on statements and interviews that have been taken out of their rightful context. Mrs. Brykalski seems to think that her allegations should be considered fact simply because she has spoken them. In fact, we live in a society where one is innocent until proven guilty. Mrs. Brykalski has reported that there is evidence to prove her claims. If she is so convinced of deceptive behavior among FBC’s leadership, then I challenge her to provide the physical evidence, not merely report its alleged existence. Further, due to her historical lack of regard for context or completeness, ...

I challenge her to provide the entirety of any interviews or conversations, not mere excerpts from them.

As for Mrs. Brykalski’s assertion that FBC and its leadership must “obey the same laws the rest of us do,” she is exactly right. Let’s look at the facts. The technical staff of the FMPC, led by Ruth Hawk, recommended that the plan submitted by FBC be approved, saying that the request met all local, state and federal requirements. Mayor Ford said during the FMPC meeting that he saw no reason to deny the request, yet the FMPC did just that, subordinating FBC’s legal rights to the emotional opinions of Mrs. Brykalski and others like her. The FMPC, led by chairman Bob Hill and Mayor [W. Edward] “Eddy” Ford III, have shown no regard for the rule of law. Chairman Hill has demonstrated his bias and, due to his residency in Belleaire, has an obvious conflict of interest. If he maintains any sense of ethical behavior, he must recuse himself from future hearings on this matter. FBC has met all the legal requirements for approval of their building permit and deserves a legal decision on the request. The members of the FMPC must, without prejudice, uphold the laws, codes, and regulations they are charged with enforcing by approving the church’s request.

In closing, in Dr. Sager’s sermon on Sept. 30, he did call on the membership of FBC to “make a statement.” Mrs. Brykalski was correct on this point, but she implied that he was referring to the church’s attitude toward the community. Careful attention to his message will reveal that he was actually challenging the church to show its commitment to God’s work through supporting the ministry financially. In other words, put your money where your mouth is. Surely, Mrs. Brykalski can support standing up for what you believe in. After all, she says that she and her supporters will “continue to stand tall and proud … fighting for our families … where we gain our strength and determination.” At FBC, we too will stand tall, fighting in the strength of Christ for His cause, until He comes again.


Stephen and Julie Arnold



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