In 1988, we had a fiasco that got called ‘the Big Bang’ by much of the congregation.
Don’t get me wrong, it was big, impactful, and spoke plenty about the fallen nature and disintegrity of many of the leaders.
The two top leaders of MCF (Melbourne Christian Fellowship), including the ‘founder’ big dog himself, Ray Jackson Snr were found to be in immorality, one with the other’s wife and the other with someone else . . not his wife.
And many people suffered horrifically under that regime and were taken advantage of, side-lined or much worse.
But, somehow, because of multipe eldership, and the solid basis of the strong restorationist word, at least half the congregation – including us – stayed. That’s what multiple eldership is for! Jeff Hammond had shown – in his Masters thesis – that the early church ALWAYS had multiple elders, and CRITICALLY, these elders WERE the pastors and teachers and apostles. It’s not like today where often the elders support a pastor and his team. The elders ARE the team, not withstanding deacons and so on.
Anyway, but the whole Big Bang was a big issue. Vic Hall came down from BCF (Brisbane Christian Fellowship) and helped clean it up presumably.
But we felt the rest of the eldership team were fantastic, upstanding men of God.
And our restorationist vision of God working through a ‘priesthood of ALL believers’ and Jesus’ prayer for unity being fulfilled needn’t die just because one or two ‘old guys’ fell into temptation.
Unfortunately life is never as simple as that. It turns out that almost all of the eldership of that time had known since the late 1950s that the founding elder had been mixed up in affairs. How? Because three well-respected elders including Kevin Connor, Bob Holland and Tony Lyon (2 out of 3 of who I have first-hand evidence for), and multiple women, had reported it between 1959 and 1980 to the other elders.
These men, unfortunately, are the current, presently retiring, elders of MCF. The ones who have chosen mostly Yes Men for the present MCF presbytery. These are the same men who let Vic Hall, a known egotist, take over the whole franchise in 1992, even leading Ray Jackson Jnr astray.
If only we had known these little tidbits earlier.
Jeff Hammond, a young-ish missionary elder at the time, finally had enough of Vic Hall’s apostasies, spoke up and got sacked in 1995, on the day of my wedding actually. He has continued to grow from strength to strength in the same original restoration and multiple eldership word, ministering in Indonesia, Australia, Yemen and eastern Europe. It was Jeff who ministered to the Bali Nine as a chaplain bringing large numbers to the Lord through Andrew Chan. And now Jeff and Annette are back in Australia half the time ministering to church leaders and workers.
Well, Jeff and Annette tried to gently explain to us why they were suspecting Vic Hall’s word of heresies but we felt torn in two directions. It took until 2016 before we left.