It was a brief union indeed! Our church was once a part of the East Coast Baptist Association which is part of the Canadian National Baptist Convention. At the time, I had a business client named Terry Branscombe; he’s also a Pastor. By his own admission, the United Baptist Convention Pastors here in Atlantic Canada don’t take well to him; this should have been my first indication that something was off. Nonetheless, I was cordial with Pastor Terry Branscombe. He seemed to be a great guy; a happy go lucky man. Nothing wrong with that! Pastor Terry is a very personable individual; I can state from the get-go that he’s very good at connecting with people. He’s a people person.
Our church was going to hold a block party for our city, with a specific focus on a poorer community. As I was looking into getting equipment such as bouncy castles, etc, for the Block Party Outreach, Pastor Terry Branscombe commented that the East Coast Baptist Association would give us their Block Party Trailer for next to nothing.
I consulted with two Pastors over Terry’s offer. One Pastor commented to accept the offer while another flat out told me to refuse Terry’s offer; he was basically telling me to stay away from him. I had to make a decision.
I went to bed and God gave me a dream which I shared with members of our church at the time. In the dream we were at the Block Party and Terry Branscombe’s church was with us. Kind of. In the dream, he and his church were on one side of the park – all dressed in black with hoodies over their heads – while our church was on the other side of the park. One of our members wanted to go mingle with Terry Branscombe’s people but I touched his arm and said, “No; leave them be”. I woke up.
I knew what the Lord was speaking to me. He was saying, “Accept the offer for the trailer; do not come into a union with them as a church.” In other words, accept their offer to provide the trailer and to help… but do not go beyond that.
Terry asked me soon afterwards what the decision was I accepted.
The moderator of the Association at the time, Derek Jones, who is a godly man, also had my wife and I out to dinner. It was a pleasant evening and it was clear that Derek was a man of integrity and deep holiness. His Calvinistic views aside, I liked him. He was like a father to our church. I signed our church into the Association and from that point on, the pressure was on! While the intent was good, the direction that Derek was taking our church was not the ditrection that the Lord had for us.
I remember on one occasion when we were holding a meeting and God’s Spirit was moving powerfully that Derek came to it. He claimed he enjoyed the meeting… and I know he did and praise God for this. As I preached and was coming to a close, I was nervous as I knew that prayer and ministry time would be “very Charismatic” in nature; that’s simply who God has made us to be. I was not looking forward to Derek Jones being there for that aspect of our meeting. Thankfully, he had to head out and so the meeting continued in his absence. I can only presume that had he stayed, we would have been ousted from the Association then and there. Why? Because while this Man of God is warmed up to the Gifts of the Spirit, he’s not yet come into a full and complete revelation of what it means to be Charismatic. I don’t say this with an attitude of “He just doesn’t know any better” but rather an attitude that understands that while he may not endorse the Charismatic flavour he certainly knows Jesus Christ in a very personal way. On one occasion in our church he made the statement about tongues being “gibberish”. I never forgot that statement. Don’t misunderstand me; I do not and have not held it against him; I did, however, keep it in my mind and pondered on it from time to time. It was a statement which showed me something beneath the statement itself, that Charismatics, while accepted by him, were also held in a bit of …suspicion.
Pastor Terry Branscomble of The Refuge Church in Riverview, NB, and now moderator of the Easy Coast Baptist Association, is by no means Baptist. In fact, he’s more akin to the Vineyard Movement’s style of ministry yet like a chameleon knows how to “change his colors” depending on the audience he’s interacting with. Years ago, Pastor Terry Branscombe had a church in Riverview, NB, which was fully Vineyard/Toronto Blessing. I know of Baptists who are Charismatic who will not associate in ministry with Terry… and I know why.
Pastor Terry came to our church once and ministered, at my invitation. I made the mistake of not putting conditions down; I in fact told him that he was free to ministry “as God would have him minister. This was quite a long time ago; I was more timid among older ministers and saints. Today, no such thing would occur. As he ministered, he came to prayer time. It was an ungodly display of false anointing. While the teaching seemed to be good … the “ministry time” was anything but good! I remember one instance where he looked a new believer in the eyes and said to her, “You hate yourself”. She was shocked and repulsed by such a statement. He laid hands one of our vulnerable girls and proceeded to speak to her about how she didn’t have a good dad, etc… you know; the Vineyard/Toronto Blessing deception. I cannot express in words what kind of dark and ungodly spirit was working in the meeting that evening; yet I am not alone in this assessment. Needless to say, Pastor Terry Branscombe was never invited back to speak.
As we progressed with the East Coast Baptist Association, I felt at the time to make full disclosure of the prophetic gifting in our church to the East Coast Baptist Association’s moderator at the time, which was Derek Jones. I made it clear we would move and flow as the Holy Spirit led us; that we would not be prevented from operating according to how God called us as a local body. I spoke much of the prophetic, etc. Derek did not respond. When I asked Terry Branscombe about this, he told me that Derek indeed received the letter and was pondering it. Still… no courteous of a response for a long time.
Through a series of events and attitudes, on all of our parts, I decided to break with the East Coast Baptist Association. Looking back, I see many areas where I failed in my attitude; where my responses were not Christlike. I see the same on the side of the ECBA as well. All parties involved came to divide in a manner which I do not believe was God Honouring. Thankfully, the Lord forgives and forgets and brings spiritual maturity as we progress in faith.
Pastor Terry Branscombe and I, through mutual business dealings, came to disagreement as well. I learned that he would take our business dealings to people I had no dealings with; he would spread gossip and speak in private conversations in a way that was very unbecoming of a Man of God. Granted, at that time I was immature and made decisions which were not beneficial; I look back and see a foolish young man! That said, it’s disappointing to know that this behaviour takes place among Men of God yet I also believe that restoration is possible. Why? Because we serve a gracious and compassionate God!
Pastor Terry Branscombe is a man who, if he or another party “burn bridges”, will have no issue engaging in gossip. This is a fact. He has slandered my character, my business and did so outside of my presence. This is unbecoming a professing Believer. His church website, the Refuge, states they believe in “building bridges”; I do not see this as a truthful statement but on the contrary, a statement of no substance. Terry will, of course, dispute this… obviously. regardless of what Mr. Branscombe states, he’s a man who’s words are sweet but who’s actions – if he considers you an “enemy” – are contrary to the spirit of unity.
I hold nothing against the ECBA, Derek Jones or Terry Branscombe. I write this as a blog post only; a public testimony to my time and our church’s time within this Association. While I do not endorse denominationalism nor sectarian divide, I also feel to warn my readers that the ECBA is now moderated by Pastor Terry Branscombe, a man who I do not believe serves the interests of the Kingdom but rather his own interests. He carried an anointing which is not of God; of this I am absolutely certain. He’s a crass business man who knows how to speak, organise and get things done. Inwardly, there’s no true life of Christ; there’s a substitute present and this was evident in my personal dealings with him as well as in his ministering at our church. I think back and can even now sense the darkness of that meeting. There was something very eerie taking place.
I caution any Pastor reading this. I would not caution you against joining the ECBA but rather in submitting to Pastor Terry Branscombe. I would caution you, dear reader, to be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove in any dealings with this man. If you mess up, make mistakes and/or upset him in any way, your mess ups, mistakes and yes, sins, will be spoken of by him to others; others you may not even know, as he did to me. If you allow him to minister in your assembly, it may go well, yet if you’re Charismatic he may produce a false anointing in your church of which you will need to repent of and cast out. I do not say any of this in anger or out of a heart that seeks to “get him”. If this were the case I would be revealing private conversations that would most certainly embarrass him. I instead make this statement to you, dear reader, to understand the danger of accepting anyone or anything without a proper and full investigation into their integrity and ministry. I wanted to share my own personal fact based experience and errors so that you will not do the same.
If at any time Pastor Terry Branscombe reads this and wishes to discuss the issues listed, I am more than willing to build a bridge and see God move in healing, restorative grace. I pray that he can/has forgiven me for past immaturity; looking back, in retrospect, I see where I erred many times, both in ministry and professionally. I have no ought against Pastor Terry Branscombe and pray God’s best for his life.
As for the ECBA itself? I believe God is using it and that there are godly, sold out leaders within it’s ranks. I pray that God raises up many more church plants through this organization. I know God has huge plans for the ECBA!