A 103-year-old woman who has been attending the same church for nearly her whole life said she has been banned for disagreeing with her pastor’s way of service.
Genora Hamm Biggs joined Union Grove Baptist Church in Elberton, Georgia, when she was just 11 years old and now, almost a century later, she was told she was “not to come back to the church, not even on the ground,” she told ABC News today.
She and the Rev. Timothy Mattox have disagreed on his way of preaching since he was hired six years ago, she said, but their problems came to a head when he put out a motion to remove her from the church the first Sunday of August. This motion came after she and some other members held a church business meeting where she voiced her concerns about him not answering or returning her phone calls.
“We tried to get him away but he’s determined to stay. After that motion was made, the next week I got his certified letter saying I was not to come back.” Biggs said. “I was sad and unhappy. Very unhappy.”
Biggs did not like the way Mattox’s service was “different than the real Baptist [traditions],” but she went back to church after being banned along with other long-time members who also received letters, she said.
Mattox threatened to have her and the other members escorted out, she said, but they refused to leave. When police declined to get involved in the dispute, she said, he canceled the service.
“The lights went out while we were sitting there. Finally we got up and filed our way out and we left. But they went back in there after we left and started the service,” she said of some remaining congregation members and the pastor.
Although Biggs said about 20 long-time members have left the congregation, including a deacon who was told by the pastor he would go to jail if he came back to church, she has been going back, she said.
Mattox could not be reached for comment by ABC News.