GracePoint Church fires pastor; no reason made public

01/06/2011 12:00 AM

01/06/2011 6:12 AM

Bryson Butts, who led the building of GracePoint Church over the past eight years, has been fired by the church's board of directors.

Butts, 42, posted news of his firing on his Facebook page just before noon Tuesday.

"Last night, the GracePoint board voted 4-0 to sever my relationship as lead pastor," Butts wrote.

Church officials declined to comment on Butts' firing Wednesday, as church members debated the dismissal on the GracePoint Facebook page.

"We view this as an internal matter, and we are busy making sure our congregation is understanding what's going on," said Terry Johnson, a staff pastor at the church.

Butts also declined to discuss details, calling it "an unfortunate situation."

"But I wish nothing but the best for GracePoint, its people and its leaders," Butts said Wednesday. "Wichita needs a church like GracePoint."

The church sent letters and e-mails to its members, explaining the firing. Butts had been on leave from the church since October.

"I really feel like the church is about more than one person," GracePoint member Andrea Anglin said. "Bryson had a great vision for a church that would reach out to people, and I think he succeeded in that. I also think you have to do what's best for the church in regards to its leadership."

Butts started the church with 21 people in his living room in 2003. It grew to 350 by the time it opened as a United Methodist church in January 2004.

Butts remained with GracePoint when it split with the Methodists in March 2009 to form a new, non-denominational church.

The church held services at various locations, including Northwest High School. It purchased the former Cinemas West theater at Central and Tyler in June 2009, its current home.

The church became known for its devotion to community service and its non-traditional worships, which included energetic music and were broadcast live on the Internet.

GracePoint also became known for savvy marketing, including online social networking. Its "Church Doesn't Suck" campaign appeared on billboards around the city.

The church continues to have between 700 to 800 members, Johnson said.

Butts said he had no immediate plans to start another church.

"I have no desire to be part of another church split," Butts said. "I'm sure I will end up pastoring at another place sometime. But at this point, we're going to wait and see what the Lord has in store for us."

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