Breaking Christian News Source: World, Business | The Gospel Herald : Top News

Monday, December 27, 2021

Staffers quit Venue Church after confronting pastor with allegations of affair, misconduct

 t least eight employees of Venue Church, a fast-growing congregation based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have reportedly quit their jobs over alleged misconduct by Pastor Tavner Smith, who is allegedly shown kissing a woman who is not his wife in a video that recently surfaced online.

Last Friday afternoon, staff and volunteers confronted Smith about the video recorded in North Georgia, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported. 

Two former employees and four volunteers or members previously connected to the church told the newspaper that the eight employees quit after confronting the pastor about a rumored affair with a church employee. 

Venue Church did not immediately respond when contacted by The Christian Post on Thursday morning. But a spokesperson for the church told the Times Free Press that no comment will be made until after the severance process for staff was finalized.

Court records show that the pastor and his wife, Danielle Smith, who have three kids, began divorce proceedings in May, according to The Times Free Press.

Before the report, several individuals who said they are former members or employees of the church publicly made significant allegations of pastoral abuse and misconduct against Smith and his leadership team, including what they suggest is a pattern of marital infidelity.

Former Venue Church employee Colt Chandler Helton wrote in a Facebook post Sunday that he has worked for over 12 churches throughout his career — from North Point to Hillsong — and was hired by Venue Church in its early days to “set up its systems and structures and model anything an adult would experience on a Sunday morning.”

“In hind sight I taught the ‘Iranians how to make nuclear weapons,’” Helton, who worked for the church for nearly a year beginning in 2014, contends. “I gave a man who had very very bad intentions the ability to make a mega church.”

He shared a lengthy list of reasons why he left Venue Church, including what he claims to be financial abuse and witnessing domestic abuse in an atmosphere where there are “zero elders or accountability.”

“I witnessed on many times the lead pastor have ‘alone time’ with females on the worship team and congregation,” he wrote, while pointing out how the church’s theology devolved into something resembling the “prosperity gospel.”

“When I went to report the physical abuse, I was told I was not allowed to speak to the lead pastor unless I was spoken to. Because he was so close to God and his closeness couldn’t be put in jeopardy by speaking to commoners,” Helton claimed.

According to cached data from Smith’s website, the Smiths met in 2003 while attending North Greenville University in South Carolina. They got married the following year.

At the time, Smith worked as a student pastor at a church in Greenville, South Carolina. He continued working around the country until 2008 when he became the executive student pastor at the Ron and Hope Carpenter-led Redemption Church in Greenville. 

“We had no intention of being anything but members,” Pastor Tavner recalled.

Four years later, in 2012, the Smiths moved to Chattanooga and started Venue Church, one of the fastest-growing churches across the country.  

“I never wanted to be a pastor of a church,” Pastor Smith said on his website. “This was not my plan. Actually, right in the middle of what I thought was our perfect plan — God spoke. He called me to start a church here in Chattanooga… He said ‘Shift.’ Danielle and I were scared to change our plan, but God continued to solidify in us that this ‘Shift’ — to live here in Chattanooga and start a move of God through Venue Church — was what He has called us to do.”

Helton contends that there “could not be a more dangerous man and or organization than Pastor Tavner and Venue Church.”

“He currently has cheated on his wife with his assistant and lead worship leader,” he claims. “His staff have almost all quit and he refused to step down. This is in part due to no elder system or any leadership to force him out.  This isn’t how the church is or should run.”

Jesus' birthplace closed to foreign Christians this Christmas due to omicron variant

 An Orthodox Christian priest prays at the entrance of the Church of the Nativity in the biblical West Bank city of Bethlehem on April 18, 2020, while the church is closed due to a lockdown imposed to stem the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic

Christian pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land, including sites in Jesus’ birthplace of Bethlehem, will be inaccessible to foreign Christian travelers again this Christmas due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent surge in the omicron variant. 

The Israeli government has been accused of discriminating against Christian tourists during the busy Christmas holiday season by shutting its border to foreigners but giving an exception to young Jews.

Israel has mostly restricted international tourists since March 2020, when many countries began implementing lockdown policies in response to the pandemic, and had only started admitting fully vaccinated foreign visitors in early November. With the emergence of the omicron variant, travel restrictions have been reimposed. 

A ban on foreign travelers to Israel was again instituted at the end of last month for two weeks and was later extended. In addition to banning foreign travel, Israeli officials have also restricted residents from traveling to several foreign countries to curb the spread of omicron. 

While Bethlehem lies in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, the only way for most foreign pilgrims to access the town is by flying into Israel. 

Bethlehem is a popular destination for tourists over the holiday as many Christian pilgrims visit the ancient site, notably Manger Square.

The now-crippled tourism industry in Bethlehem and other sites throughout the Holy Land have been devastated. This will mark the second consecutive year that foreigners will not be able to visit the region. 

In mid-December, Israeli officials made an exception to the foreign travelers’ ban for young Jews worldwide who want to travel as part of an exception for “birthright.” But restrictions still remain in place for other foreigners, including Christian pilgrims who want to travel to historic towns roamed by Jesus during his earthly ministry. Those include Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. 

A spokesperson and adviser to churches in the Holy Land, Wadi Abunassar, took to social media to claim that various Christian denominations are not happy with what they view as discrimination against Christian pilgrims. 

“Racist discrimination should never be accepted in any way!” he wrote in a Facebook post, as reported by The Associated Press. “I urge the Israeli authorities to treat all those who want to visit the country equally without any discrimination between religion.”

An official with the Catholic Church told the AP that the church has requested Israel’s Tourism Ministry make an exception for Christian pilgrims during the Christmas season.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

When confronted by our deployed Florida law enforcement at the southern border

When confronted by our deployed Florida law enforcement at the southern border, roughly 70% of illegal border crossers said that Florida was their ultimate desired destination. If allowed to continue by Biden, this mass migration will be a major strain on our social services, education, medical system and taxpayers.

President Joe Biden on Thursday plans to slap targeted

MIAMI — President Joe Biden on Thursday plans to slap targeted individual sanctions on Cuba regime officials, bucking the progressive voices in his own party who called for an end to the embargo.