Pastor Charles Wetherbee of Victory Baptist Church of Weatherford, Texas — The Betrayal of a Christian Friendship

The Betrayal of a Close Christian Friendship

When we moved from Indiana to Weatherford, Texas in 2010, one of the principal reasons was Victory Baptist Church and pastor Charles Wetherbee. We had been visiting this church on our family visits to the area for fifteen years.

We felt that it was enormously providential that after looking at houses for three months, the one with the greatest appeal to us happened to be just few doors from the Wetherbee’s home on the very same street. We did not know this when we bought the house.

It was not long before I began spending a lot of time with Pastor Wetherbee. There were several reasons for this. I had pastored two churches, and so being a fellow pastor, there is always a unique bond that can quickly develop between preachers. Secondly, with an earned Ph.D. in theology (Philosophy in Religion) and two other degrees in Pastoral Theology (B.S., Th.M.), Wetherbee welcomed spending time with someone with whom he could engage on doctrinal and church issues. Additionally, this man did not know one end of a wrench from the other and was incapable of even the slightest repairs. I was always more than willing to come to his house with a trunkfull of tools and constantly help him with repair projects, building projects, and a host of other tasks which his mechanical ineptitude kept him from tackling. This was a weekly occurrence for the fourteen months we spent at Victory. (He once called me over because his riding mower would not move, only to find out that the gear lever was in neutral.)

We also both owned Harley Davidson Motorcycles and often rode together. On these rides we would always stop for lunch and engage in lengthy conversations on church matters, church people, and the many church problems that he brought up that seem to have been bottled up in the man for some time. It was in the course of these conversations that I was able over time to detail for him the unimaginable levels of abuse that we had endured in churches. These were church experiences in which we had dared to point out the failures of leadership to hold accountable those member who had preyed on the innocent, particularly children. He was shocked and horrified as I recounted story after story that had concluded with guilty jury verdicts and long prison sentences for church leaders, and my role as member-whistle blower. (These experiences resulted in three books, two TV documentaries, and dozens of newspaper articles from major media outlets nationwide.)

It was only as these stories unfolded one by one in our time together that he began to understand the damage that this had all done over the years to my wife and I, and the extant miracle in our lives that we were in fact inexplicably ready to place our trust in yet another church. I remember one statement that I made to Wetherbee that he later told me finally helped him to understand the level of distress that had been inflicted upon our Christian lives: “Once you have been in a train wreck, there are no completely enjoyable train rides.” That statement, by his own admission to me, helped him to finally understand what an extraordinary thing it was for us to be in any church given the record of our past experiences in churches stretching over twenty-five years. My wife became very close friends with Wetherbee’s wife, Shelley, and shared with her many of the same stories about our past church experiences. What she did not share was that her faith in their church and in her husband pastor was not anywhere close to the level of faith that I had forged with this man and his institution through our personal friendship. Call it a woman’s intuition, call it innate suspicion, call it a matter of a lesser level of ecclesiastical idealism, or anything else that you may choose to call it, my wife was 100% correct and I was as wrong as I have ever been in my life about any church. Please do trust me when I say that, that in fact this is really saying something for me. I have more former pastors, Bible professors, and deacons that have gone to prison for their crimes in churches than I can count on both hands.

Without a doubt, the most untenable insensitive, callous and difficult demand that Pastor Charles Wetherbee made of me and my wife in our fourteen months at Victory had to do with an evangelist and church member who occasionally preached at Victory Baptist Church. This man displayed what I have come to call the “Fundamentalist Swagger.” I saw in him an inordinate expression of self, a boastful spirit, and a complete lack of humility. All these things were a monumental flashback for me to my days at the heart of the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement under my former pastor and once mentor, Jack Hyles. The first time I heard the evangelist preach in one of Wetherbee’s frequent absences, I almost walked out. I will just say that the spirit in me did not testify to the spirit in him.  Moreover, his preaching was ever so shallow.   I was inexpressibly grateful that my wife was in the nursery that night, as exposure to this boastful, prideful man would have set her spiritual healing back months, and perhaps years. It could even have marked her last foray into the church world.

I did the best I could to carefully explain all of this to Wetherbee. He would hear none of it. He told me that I was by virtue of my position or role in “HIS” church   fully expected  to attend all of the services, including the times when this offensive evangelist preached. That said, Wetherbee added in passing, “I have never personally cared for the guy’s preaching myself.” I could certainly understand that. This was one of these old-school evangelists whose Systematic Theology (a term he had probably never heard) was what I have called, “a mile wide and an inch deep.” I have also used another terms to describe it: “Bumper Sticker Theology.” In the end, nothing mattered to my pastor except Charles Wetherbee imposing his will upon us regarding our lack of Christian liberty that I strongly believed was our biblical prerogative in matters such as these. I did not budge, and thus began to see the handwriting on the wall. I was not willing to sacrifice my wife’s fragile spiritual health to any man’s arrogance or blather, or to any pastor’s compulsion to crush my freedom under a juggernaut of dictatorial demands on a church member that a pastor was not entitled to make. The irresistible force had met the immovable object. There was no question in my mind as to what would be the outcome.

So the unmistakable fact in all of this for us is that Pastor Charles Wetherbee fully knew in almost every detail that the faith that I had placed in him and in his church was a very fragile entity with a weak pulse and on a complex regimen of life support. The man KNEW. He knew that my faith in the institution of the church was hanging by a cobweb. He also knew that I had written twelve Christian books, and that my testimony had been made into a radio drama and heard by four million people in thirty-seven countries and was a compelling and riveting account of one man’s journey to faith. He also knew full well that by the grace of God Almighty I had the ability to bring the kinds of results from the pulpit that churches pray for. In the end, NONE OF THIS MATTERED. What mattered was that I did not have the level of compliance and malleability as a church or staff member that Charles Wetherbee required in his church as the price to be paid for the privilege of serving under him. In fact once while sitting on my back patio and trying to iron out our differences, he was even so bold as to put it in plain and unmistakable terms for me: he looked me in the eye through dark aviator sunglasses and in a stunning expression of unbridled human pride, with his hands folded over his expansive stomach said these words to me: “JERRY, THE MEN IN MY PULPIT HAVE TO REFLECT ME.” After having heard those words, I understood fully that I could not serve with a man like that under any circumstances. I did not immediately tell him so, but I did seal my fate at Victory Baptist Church of Weatherford Texas by responding with these words: “Well, preacher, you and I are going to have to disagree on that one. You see, I have this crazy notion that when I step into a pulpit and open my Bible before God’s people, that I am supposed to reflect the Lord Jesus Christ.” What Wetherbee was in fact telling me in shockingly plain terms was that the sentiment of the church was not, “Sirs, we would see Jesus,” but in fact, “Sirs, we would see Charles Wetherbee.” It is my belief that any Christian who participates or lends themselves in any way to that kind of usurpation of God’s glory is dishonoring the Lord Jesus Christ in ways that are close to being quite simply blasphemous.

After we left, we were of course shunned by the entire church in typical Baptist fashion. All the folks that had hugged me and pumped my hand every week for fourteen months and told me how much they loved me and how God had blessed them the few times that I had taught or preached there now disappeared from the radar of our lives. I could have been face down in a skid row bar for all they cared, or in intensive care, or rehab. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I was no longer a part of their religious social club, and they had heard that I had disagreed with their pastor. Those were the qualifications for Christian fellowship in their minds and in their church. My own belief is that having Jesus Christ in common was what is required for Christian Fellowship. That is not the case at Victory Baptist Church regardless of their words to the contrary.  We judge by actions.

What followed were subtle comments about Jerry Kaifetz not being a “team player.” Strangely, I have never found that term in the Bible. I suppose its expression may have been the province of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, as it was certainly how they thought and governed. I derive great satisfaction that this accusation of Wetherbee’s accusation was, at least in spirit, applied to every one of the Old Testament Prophets.

Now, several years after all of this, one thing stands out for me: THE BETRAYAL OF A CLOSE CHRISTIAN FRIENDSHIP. Wetherbee knew that we had many wounds inflicted upon our family in the battles for righteousness that had characterized my ministry and our Christian lives, and in advocating and caring for many, many victims of sexual abuse , in churches.and that these wounds had not all fully healed. He knew that we came to him and to Victory Baptist Church in a fragile condition, especially my wife. In the end, NONE OF THOSE THINGS MATTERED AT ALL. All that mattered was that he had seen me as a man who was unwilling to pledge complete loyalty to a pastor on the level that he demanded. Then, ultimately , rather than walk down into the ditch as did the Samaritan with bandages and expressions of compassion, he came with his sword. It mattered far more to Charles Wetherbee that I had expressed an inability or an unwillingness to be molded into the form of another one of his staff “Yes Men,” and that I thus posed some kind of existential threat to his most lucrative pastoral career ($100,000 a year salary & luxurious mansion, luxury cars, frequent vacations) than it did that I had been given by God the ability to be instrumental in a significant way regarding something that they prayed for every week: REVIVAL. (It has not happened at Victory Baptist Church, and I do not see how it ever could.  I am not alone in that belief.  A man on staff came to that conclusion before I did and gave me his reasons.)

In the end, it was the willingness to betray a friendship that I, at one time, considered one of the greatest spiritual assets of my life, humanly speaking, that impacted me the most. Of course God always can and in my case has unquestionably compensated for that human betrayal in ways that only God could. As I look back now, however, and see those days and that person for what and whom they were, the realization of what in fact took place is actually quite stark and powerful for me. Then when I think that this dagger into our lives was deliberately wielded in a highly calculated and precise manner by a “man of God,” a , a Pastor, a shepherd of God’s people and one whom 300 people call “Preacher,” the hurt gives way to first revulsion and then sheer amazement, and then a desire to expose this charlatan for who he is regardless of how many good people he has managed to dupe.

God has since surely blessed us. I am reaching more people for the Lord Jesus Christ than at most any time in any church ministry (over 10,000 a month). I am talking about seeing lives transformed by the power and mercy of God on a weekly basis. I have seen reinforced what I have heard since childhood: God is good, and it matters not how poorly, inadequately or despicably He is misrepresented by religious careerists and ecclesiastical professionals and impostors. He is fully capable of making it all right, of compensating for the damage done in His name in compelling and often completely unexpected ways. God is regularly wrapping His arms around those who are hurting in ways that give full evidence that there is healing love in the divine hugs that He has in great abundance for those who will open their arms and extend them upward toward Him. It is only in that embrace that the wounds heal.  That is where I live today.  I have managed by the grace of God to lead many others to that embrace from some of the darkest places and tortured lives that a person could live.  I am now blessed in my ministry in ways that I will not even try to describe.

About Jerry Kaifetz

Christian author, c.e.o. Omega Chemical Corp.
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18 Responses to Pastor Charles Wetherbee of Victory Baptist Church of Weatherford, Texas — The Betrayal of a Christian Friendship

  1. Marty McCoy says:

    Jerry, it is amazing to me that this man is able to walk into his pulpit, ANY pulpit and face people with a life full of PRIDE such as he has! When you related how he said the men in HIS pulpit must reflect HIM, I felt a chill go up my spine. First of all, and this is one of the evident problems with an IFB preacher, the pulpit is not his! It is the pulpit OF THE CHURCH. And the church can vacate it any time they say. Now, the church I pastor allows me to use it and I am free to invite other, scriptural preachers to use it from time to time, but I know that they have complete control over who preaches here and they have entrusted it to me to preach TRUTH. As long as I do that, then great, but if I deviate from that, then I could be looking for a “real job” very soon. I remember hearing Jack Hyles say, “this is MY pulpit and this is MY throne” in 1981 the only time I ever attended the church in Hammond, Indiana. Second, he wants just a group of “yes men” on staff. That is the sign of a very insecure man and doesn’t want me to honestly help him, they are supposed to “rubber stamp” his decisions. If you look at the great men of history, presidents, generals and captains of industry, they surrounded themselves with me who would be honest with him and had the freedom to disagree with him if necessary. The failures, Adolf Hitler, Stalin and other demigods were failures because they had men who would only agree with him.

    It is very strange indeed for me to hear of a man such as this who has been given the title of “pastor” of a local, NT church. This man is NOT a shepherd, he is a cowboy and that is not what our Lord wants for HIS churches. He wants men who can be led by the Spirit, humble in spirit with a desire to minister to the needs of his people and to reach the lost for Christ. God bless you for reminding me of what I am supposed to be as a pastor.

  2. Jerry Kaifetz says:

    Pastor Marty, here is the irrefutable proof of what you say. After leaving, I contacted everyone on the church registry and told them that their pastor had lied to them about his son’s adultery (the son was also a pastor at the time). I told them I had the proof, and I surely did. While the son (Jason Wetherbee) denied the affair, I spoke to the pastor who had counseled with him and with his soon-to-be ex wife, and the adulterous partner afterward . I offered the church folks this pastor’s phone number. I also provided them with the .mp3 file of sermon Jason Wetherbee had preached where he makes it evident that he had the affair when he makes the statement, “It is not right that ten minutes of indiscretion should cost a pastor his career.” (This is a paraphrase, but quite close to what the man said.) NOT ONE person out of the over 200 whom I contacted expressed ANY interest in having access to this body of evidence, INCLUDING THE ENTIRE DEACON BOARD! How can God ever bless a body of believers like Victory Baptist Church?

  3. Marty McCoy says:

    Jerry, yes, how can God bless ANY body that will tolerate sin? I don’t know. I am a student of history and used to teach it on the college level. When I read that about the pastor’s son, I could almost hear the “sieg heil” chant to their “fuhrer”. That’s not one of the Lord’s churches, it’s another cult.

  4. Jerry Kaifetz says:

    They certainly have some compelling, cult like tendencies. Sadly, there are a lot of otherwise good, Christian people to be counted in their numbers who have bought into this concept of overarching human and institutional loyalty. Very sad.

  5. (A comment via e-mail on my articles about Victory Baptist Church)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Hello Dr. Kaifetz,
    I just read your blog on “Why I Left Victory Baptist Church”, it is nearly 23:00 and I have to get up at 05:00 in the morning for work. I should have been in bed several hours ago. I don’t remember how or why I was on your website tonight. Probably because you are still a major inspiration and the only pastor that I know that I can trust to give me a biblical sound education.

    I was captivated (again) by your article. I have one question for you.
    Do you think that there are any churches anywhere that adhere to
    following the bible? Your article reflects most of my experiences. I
    haven’t been to ________ Baptist Church for nearly a year now. The new pastor at the church did not impress me and his demeanor left me doubting his motives and his Christian beliefs. Other church parishioners must have the same impression since the church membership has shrunk by nearly half of what it used to be. I was active in the church as the CEO and Chairman of the Trustee Board, and on numerous other committees prior to resigning several months after he became pastor.

    Since I resigned my duties and have not attended a service for close to a year, he has not contacted me even once to see how I was doing and invite me back to the church. He rarely attended any of the board meetings. Excuse was that he forgot. The meetings are always on the first Tuesday of every month. He is on vacation more than anyone I know. Usually schedules his vacations during
    major church events, i.e. vacation bible school. Our church used to have a very good youth ministry. Pretty much gone now because of his negative attitude toward it.

    I need to get some sleep. I just wanted to say thank you for posting
    your article. I have been to frustrated and disappointed in church leadership to write you when you ask me about our church.
    I wonder if Pastor ______ at _______ Baptist Church is familiar with Mathew 18:12?

    Mathew 18:12 How think ye? “If a man have a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?”

    Thank You Dr. Kaifetz,
    Judd , Illinois

  6. Baptist says:

    Jerry,

    I believe it is very sad that after these several years you believe it is your duty to continue attacking this church. I understand you were upset and maybe there were some mistakes along the way with some of the staff and the members, but why do you feel the need to dig up all the dirty laundry and place it out there for everyone to see. This is a great church, but not a perfect church. I know you well and have been in your home many times. I have great respect for you, but to leave kicking and whining about this and hurting the church I love and that has made me into the man I am today is just wrong. I have prayed for you continuously the last several years and read all your posting on here. Bro. Wetherbee is not perfect, but he is not the monster you make him out to be. He is one of the most humblest men out there. Please just leave it alone.

    • Never, ever will I “leave it alone.” I believe that God commands that we hold abusers accountable for their sins. Wetherbee is an unrepentant abuser a proven liar and a hireling. I believe that God is light and in the end he reveals all sin. he command men to “pursue righteousness,” and I have studied that phrase a great deal and believe in my heart that it requires me to expose men like Wetherbee. he has an obligation before God to reconcile with me, and I am ide open to that. Since he will not, I have no reason based on my understanding of the Bible to give the man quarter. I am sorry that you place institutional loyalty above loyalty to God’s principles of righteousness, and I am also sorry that you did not have the courage to sign your name. Wetherbee is NOT a humble man. NOBODY was as close to him as I was. You have been fooled, brother. He will destroy anyone who threatens his control, his leadership or his pension. I am not angry, have gotten over the hurt and the betrayal of a friend and brother, but I will not relent in holding an abuser responsible. Read the OT prophets (20% of the Bible) to see the spirit that motivates me.

  7. Baptist says:

    Also, Shelly is a Proverbs 31 lady and flips houses and has made some money from that. So most of the accusations on here are suffering from incomplete knowledge and partial understanding. Obviously your church doctrine is quite a bit off for the church to promote most of your books and material. I am not trying to attack you. I still consider you a friend, but VBC is not a church for everyone. Sorry you had your feelings hurt. I believe that was unintentional, but harming God’s instrument for this age is not the way to approach this either.

    • This is NOT about having my feelings hurt. That is just a simplistic and ignorant. Shelly quit her part time secretarial job years ago and has never “flipped” one house that I know of. My church doctrine is solid and on a level that you and others at VBC can never rise to, including Stewart. VBC is NOT “God’s instrument.” It is in my view a horrid testimony in this community and bordering on a cult. The cause of Christ is not served by VBC, but Wetherbee’s pension surely is. You have paid the man MILLION DOLLARS” over the years . ARE YOU BLIND ????? Also, for someone to0 say that “this church has made me into the man I am” PROVES MY POINT! JESUS CHRIST, not ANY church has made Jerry Kaifetz into the man he is. DON’T YOU SEE THAT YOU ARE D-E-I-F-Y-I-N-G THE CHURCH???????? Holy Cow . . . I could have not made that point any better if I had written a book about it! Oh . . wait a minute . . . I have written a book about it . . .

      • Baptist says:

        I do not want to go tit for tap with you. I have respect for you. I count you as a Christian brother. We have personally had several theology discussions together in your home. I am loyal to Christ first. God has called me to my church. I love my church, but I do not blindly follow Bro. Wetherbee. I disagree with him baptizing children for instance, but this is the church God has called me to and the pastor He has set over me right now. I just disagree with your statements, your desire to hurt God’s church, and your veiled attack on its members. I will continue pray for you, brother.

        • Baptist says:

          I also have great respect for your father-in-law who is a great member of our church. He is one of the pillars of the church. He is a great prayer warrior and one of the most genuine people I have ever met.

        • I rarely have exchanges with people who will not sign their name, but I am doing so here only to illustrate you biblical error, which in fact is obvious to many. Your church has shunned me and my family for four years and refused numerous efforts to engage in the reconciliation that God commands as the protocol for Christians in conflict. I told Wetherbee that I was going to make my story public if he did not accept my numerous offers at reconciliation or follow other biblical protocols in our situation (Gal. 6:1). he ignored everything I offered. The result is proper, correct, just and biblical., all the whining notwithstanding.
          You canot know that God has called you anywhere. You can only believe. God sets a very high standard for the pulpit and I have presented detailed, corroborated evidence where Wetherbee has fallen far short of those pastoral standards and DOES NOT qualify to be a New Testament pastor. That is a biblical fact. Victory is NOT “God’s Church.” I have never been more sure of anything in my Christian life. Wetherbee is a liar (proved it), a hireling, he is lazy, and in my personal and sincere opinion a disgrace to the cause of Jesus Christ. I have no “desire to hurt God’s church.” Jesus reserved his harshest words for organized religion, and so do I. I don’t veil attacks on anyone, I say what is on my mind and what I know I can prove. Your desire to defend the indefensible is unfortunate at the least, and wicked and reprehensible at the outside. All Charles Wetherbee has to do keep the world from seeing his filthy dirty laundry is to do what God commands: RECONCILE! I have always been open to that path, and I know how to forgive others as Jesus Christ forgave me. (btw . . . (God has stated in Matthew that He will not hear the prayers of those who refuse reconciliation with a brother.) Wetherbee’s pride is mountainous, however, and he will never surmount the formidable barrier that it poses in his life and his ministry. Those are the facts as I see them. I offered every member of Victory Baptist Church the irrefutable evidence that their pastor had lied to them about his son’s adultery, and NOBODY wanted to see it. How I could respect a church like that, much less consider it “God’s church” is a bizarre and distasteful concept to me. My peace with the man lies on the OTHER side of his repentance, confession and at least him being open to reconciliation on neutral terms and for the right reasons. Short of that, I will make sure that what Charles Wetherbee has done remains a part of his legacy, and that I present a warning to the community about your church’s conduct in the past. I believe that to be my right and my responsibility before God. You will not win that argument with me, biblically, intellectually, practically, or any other way. You will lose, you will lose badly, and you will lose publicly.

  8. Jerry Kaifetz says:

    You can not know for certain whether God has called you to any church. It is only a belief. You won’t know until Heaven. Wetherbee, as you surely know, has lied to the whole church about Jason’s adultery and seen fit to put him in the pulpit after the fact. My God has unequivocally said such an unrepentant man is unqualified for any pulpit. God called me to leave that church. Would He really call you to stay in light of what has been brought out and corroborated? And just what do you mean by saying God has “set pastor Wetherbee over me?” That is an unequivocally skewed and disturbing understanding of biblical pastoral authority based on Heb. 13:17 (see my video). You are seriously misled in this , brother. You are also HIGHLY presumptive in several ways in saying I have a “desire to hurt God’s church.” THAT IS PURE ROMAN CATHOLICISM, brother!!! You cannot know my motive, so STOP!!!! I have a desire to expose abusers in pulpits, and CHARLES WETHERBEE IS ONE! Ask God and He will show you. That is my goal. I have no other. Stop lying and presuming! That is called “gossip,” pure and simple.

  9. Tim Campbell says:

    Jerry,

    I have, through the years, read most everything you wrote. My background is from charismatic mega church and the events you tell…almost identical. So sad.

    Had I not always pursued a course of independent biblical learning, education, etc…I would have abandoned the church and maybe Christianity. But, I knew, these disfunctional models did NOT represent most of the “ordinary” pastors/churches who are faithful and humble.

    I wish you’d write more. If you are ever in Orlando/Tampa area, would love to buy you a meal and fellowship.

    Tim Campbell
    Grace Church/Lakeland
    http://Www.hisgrace.com

  10. Allan says:

    I do not know that Pastor. And I have never visited that church. My observation on what you have written is that you are very combative in simple conversation. The tone that comes across from how you write. Or it could just be my skewed perception.

  11. Allan says:

    And then again it might just be the Limburger cheese you have in your mustache. Everywhere you look everything you see stinks.
    Lol

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