Web Statistics Regional Church History

 

GL HOME     GL BIO      THE LANIER COMPANY      eMUSIC FOR WORSHIP      eMEDIA FOR WORSHIP

HOUSE OF LANIER PUBLISHING      SETH RECORDS      BROADWAY RECORDING STUDIO      GRACE PLACE INTERNATIONAL

 

The History of Regional Church

Churches are established for a variety of reasons. A historic look at Regional Church reveals a God appointment that seemed unusual in 1995. God's purpose for Regional Church was to set an example for church governing as a theocracy, not a democracy with member voting and business meetings. Thus, this historical writing will show how Gary Lanier, Founding Pastor, and the Charter Members established Regional Church.

 

In May of 1995, an injustice was done to a Christian family seeking membership in a local church. Due to a democratic governing structure, with bylaws that allowed member voting to rule, this family was denied membership in a church causing great hurt, hostility, emotional damage, and division in the Body of Christ. Regional Church began because of this injustice.

 

Gary Lanier, on the staff of the church, resigned, not because it was required, but because he believed the injustice was so great, and the democratic rule was so strong, that the injustice could not be changed at the current time, or in the future due to the governing structure of the church. And he believed God required it of him. He did not leave to begin a new church. However, over 70 people left also. These were gentle, loving people that did not, and still do not, like confrontation. But, the injustice was great, and God required it. Though all personally grieved for the family that had been rejected, the purpose in leaving was not only for them, but for the principle and all that would come after them. They found Gary, and joined together to seek Godís direction for their lives. Thus, Gary began a journey that lasted 15 years as Founding Pastor and Worship Leader for the new Regional Church of Southeast Oklahoma.

 

Of the original Charter Members that began Regional Church, few remain actively involved today in the Regional Church ministry. But all Charter Members will remember the devastation caused to lives by a democratic governing structure, ruled by voting members. Though uncertain of what the Regional Church governing structure would be in May of 1995, everyone agreed, it would not be governed through a democratic member voting structure.

 

 

In May and June of 1995, the small group of Believers met on the large deck that surrounded the home of Dr. Bill and Kim Herron. In that there was no governing structure in place, the small group discussed the future and how to proceed.

 

 

Reluctantly they voted... to purchase a tent that would graciously be placed on the Herron home land, and began worship services under the tent.

 

Beginning in June through July 2, 1995 Charter Members were received.

 

 

1995 Historic Establishment Events

 

July 2, CHARTER MEMBER SUNDAY

July 9, GARY LANIER ORDAINED AS PASTOR

(click to view the documents)

July 9, DEACON ORDINATION

(click to view the documents)

July 9, FIRST BAPTISMAL SERVICE

 

July 19, MINISTRY GROUPS DEVELOPED

(click to view the documents)

Gary Lanier developed 18 service groups, allowing people to sign up for areas of ministry where they were called.

 

July, GOVERNING STRUCTURE MEETING

A meeting of all interested members was held in the home of Bill Herron to discuss possible governing structures to consider. Two such were: 1. Democratic, member voting; 2. Deacon governed. It was agreed that these would not be the governing structures for Regional Church. Within the Ministry Groups, one was designated as Ministry of Church Government. Valleta Lanier and J. T. Wilcox were part of this group and asked to research, and recommend, a governing structure for Regional Church.

J. T. Wilcox was charged with researching current governing structures of other churches, and Valleta Lanier was charged with researching the church governing structure as represented in the Bible. This would take time to develop, and yet there was a need for an immediate structure. Gary Lanier was asked to form a temporary governing structure.

 

July, ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

(click to view the documents)

The process began for establishing Regional Baptist Church as a Non-Profit Corporate. Individuals volunteered to serve as the Board of Directors/Trustees, for corporate establishment, until the church could elect a governing board. The original Board of Directors was:

Gary Lanier, Gladysann Benson, Terry Gates, Bill Herron, Weldon James, Bill Smith, and J. T. Wilcox.

The Corporate Charter was officially registered with the State of Oklahoma in September, 1995.

 

July 26, FIRST GOVERNING STRUCTURE

(click to view the documents)

The first governing structure was presented to the church by Gary Lanier, as a theocracy, with a Ministry Council handling all ministry and business decisions for Regional Church. The Ministry Council was also the Board of Directors for the church corporation, signing all legal documents (click to view the documents) needed for the corporation. It was agreed there would be no member business meetings, and no democratic member voting. Even though voting would not be part of the Regional Church governing structure in the future, it was decided to select members to the Ministry Council by vote of the church membership. It was understood, by all, that this would be a beginning Governing Structure, and J. T. and Valleta would continue to research and refine, as they gained knowledge.

 

August 3, MINISTRY GROUP LEADERS

(click to view the documents)

Each Ministry Group elected a leader, that would work closely with the Pastor.

 

August 6, LYDIAN DEDICATION

(click to view the documents)

Lydian Ministry was a service group for women. Those desiring to serve signed up and on August 6th a dedication service was held.

 

GOVERNING STRUCTURE & MINISTRY COUNCIL/BOARD OF DIRECTORS

A new Ministry Council/Board of Directors would be selected from the Church Membership, Deacons, Lydians, and Ministry Group Leaders, with the pastor automatically serving as part of the council.

The vote was through written ballot as follows:

August 13, LEADERSHIP VOTING

(click to view the documents)

Leadership voting consisted of Deacons, Lydians, and Ministry Group Leaders

casting their vote in the proper category.

August 16, CHURCH MEMBER VOTING

(click to view the documents)

Church Member voting consisted of all church members

casting their vote for four (4) representatives.

The Governing Structure, previously presented by Gary Lanier, was unanimously received.

The new Ministry Council, voted in by the entire church membership, was:

Gary Lanier: Still serving as Pastor and Chairman of the Board

Bill Herron: Faithfully served, leaving the Board of Directors and church in 1997

Weldon James: Faithfully served, leaving the Board of Directors and church in late 1996

Linda James: Faithfully served, leaving the Board of Directors and church in late 1996

Steve Blankenship: Faithfully served, leaving the Board of Directors and church in September, 2003

Foster McLain: Faithfully served, leaving the Board of Directors and church in December, 2003

J. T. Wilcox: Faithfully served, leaving the Board of Directors and church in March, 2004

 

By the end of August, 1995 it had been decided, unanimously, that the Regional Church governing structure would be a theocracy, with the Pastor, Gary Lanier, and the Ministry Council/Board of Directors as its governing board handling all ministry and business decisions for Regional Church. It was further agreed there would be no member business meetings, and no democratic member voting. In its history, the members of Regional Church have only voted three times:

1. Purchase of a worship tent.

2. To establish a theocracy governing structure and put in place the Ministry Council.

3. To purchase 108 acres of land in March, 1996.

 

Continuing their research, Valleta Lanier and J. T. Wilcox both confirmed that the church was not a democracy, but a theocracy. The church was not to be ruled by people, but by God. The challenge was how to conduct the everyday business, required for living in the world. It was acknowledged that Christ is the head of the church, the church is His body, with the pastor as the Leader. The responsibility lay with the people of the church, to be yielded to the will of God.

 

In the years that followed some resigned from the Ministry Council/Board of Directors to serve in other churches and others were replaced, base on the original vote and in agreement with the pastor and serving Board. From 1997 - 2003 the Ministry Council/Board of Directors was:

Gary Lanier: Pastor, Worship Leader and Chairman of the Board

Steve Blankenship: Faithfully served, leaving the Board of Directors and church in September, 2003

Valleta Lanier: Director of Ministries and Board Member

Foster McLain: Faithfully served, leaving the Board of Directors and church in December, 2003

Brad McLain: Faithfully served, leaving the Board of Directors in December, 2003.

J. T. Wilcox: Faithfully served, leaving the Board of Directors and church in March, 2004

 

Due to a reduced congregation, beginning in April, 2004 the Ministry Council/Board of Directors was reduced to three, the required minimum. The 2004 - 2010 Regional Church Board of Directors was:

Gary Lanier: Pastor, Worship Leader and Chairman of the Board

Valleta Lanier: Director of Ministries and Board Member

Terry Gates: Faithfully served, leaving the Board of Directors and church in October, 2009

Mike Stephens: Faithfully served from October, 2009 through April, 2010

Additionally, in 2004 a Financial Council was added, consisting of two members from the Regional congregation. Their responsibility is counting all offerings, filling out Weekly Offering Report Sheets, and receiving Monthly Offering Reports and Quarterly Financial Reports.

 

On May 1, 2010, after serving Regional Church as Founding Pastor, Worship Leader and Chairman of the Board for 15 years, Gary Lanier resigned due to a calling to international ministry. His wife, Valleta, joined him with her resignation. Believing God had used them to establish a new church in Southeast Oklahoma, with thanksgiving in their hearts for the opportunity to touch many lives, they joined together to take the music and message given to them over the past 15 years to the world through Grace Place International.

 

The ministry and business goals, decided by the Pastor and Ministry Council was implemented by the Regional Church Staff, some paid and some volunteer. These people will be rewarded by God for the service they gave to the Kingdom through Regional Church:

Gary Lanier, Pastor/Worship Leader (Still serving)

Valleta Lanier, Teacher & Ministry Director (Still serving)

Foster McLain, Minister of Finance

Oleta McLain, Secretary/Treasurer

Brad McLain, Minister of Family Activities

Leah Lanier, Minister of Worship

Steve Blankenship, Minister of Evangelism

Eddie Vandiver, Little Israel Development

Bill Smith, Minister of Land & Development

Curtis Lewis, Building & Maintenance

Mike Stephens, Home Gathering Director

 

From 1995 through 2003, the above Regional Church Ministry Council faithfully served to oversee the purchase of land, sale of land (click to view the documents), developing the land, building the Worship Center and additional buildings, determining annual financial operating budgets, annual ministry goals, and the everyday financial, business, and ministry needs of Regional Church. Responsibilities were set before the Pastor and Ministry Council, decisions were made, not by voting but through discussion and coming to a mutual agreement. Final decisions were presented to the Regional Church Staff and they conveyed those decisions to the congregation.

 

After various meetings to determine the governing structure, and the three congregational votes determining the governing Board and purchase of land, for the next 14 plus years there was never one congregational business meeting or vote. Together, Gary Lanier, the Ministry Council, and the Regional Church Staff kept the members informed of ministry and financial goals. From 1995 - 2003 Foster McLain as Minister of Finance, and Oleta McLain as Secretary/Treasurer did an impeccable job of meeting the ongoing responsibilities of serving Regional Church in financial matters. It was the belief by all, that the primary purpose of the church was of a spiritual nature, not a business nature. Taking care of the business of the church was important, for the health of the ministry, but was not the focus.

 

J. T. Wilcox and Valleta Lanier continued to study and develop the governing structure of Regional Church. In 1996 The Church Ministry Structure (click to view the documents) was developed and adopted as the governing structure for Regional Church. At the same time spiritual foundations were being laid and, over time of study and searching the Word, were put into The Regional Foundations (click to view the documents). As the ministries of Regional developed and changed, there was a need for ministry training. By 1999 Valleta Lanier had developed The Regional Foundations (click to view the documents) into a training class, which presented the ministry and business governing structure of Regional Church. Though there were several changes that occurred through growth and knowledge over the years, the basic governing structure of a theocracy with a pastor-led governing board has never changed, and still remains the governing structure for Regional Church.

 

Every person serving in ministry was required to attend the Regional Foundations Class (click to view the documents), and all new members were encouraged to attend. In this class it was, and is, clearly stated that Regional Church is not a democracy with member voting and business meetings, but governed as a theocracy, with the Pastor and governing board taking care of the business needs of the church. It also states that Regional Church is a corporation. The Regional Church Foundations (click to view the documents) has been developed into a book and is available to all.

 

As a theocracy, Regional Church believes that God governs the church, not man. In His government, He places people in the Body of Christ, where He wants them, and appoints people to ministries, where He wants them. It is the responsibility of man to listen to God for direction, through the Holy Spirit. This requires an active relationship with God, faith in Him as the Leader, and willingness to follow.

 

There are many questions that come to man, in seeking to work with God through a church governed as a theocracy. Man usually wants to have control, and that is not a theocracy. Regional Church, through the development of its Regional Foundations and Bylaws, has sought to uphold a theocracy, honoring the wishes of its founding principles and purpose, and the Founding Pastor and Charter Members. It does not allow for man to remove leadership put in place by God.

 

Regional Baptist Church, Inc is defined in the By-laws, Article II, Section 3 as a Non-Voting Member corporation. It further states in Article III, Section 1 that all business affairs of the corporation will be managed by its Board of Directors. The specifics of vacancies on the Board of Directors are set forth in Article IV, Section 8, and do not involve member voting, as the corporation is made up of Non-Voting Members. In that the corporation is a church, its membership is based on membership in the Body of Christ, through belief in Jesus Christ, and has nothing to do with the business affairs of the corporation. The By-laws uphold the founding purpose and principles of Regional Church, the Founding Pastor and Charter Members, and The Regional Foundations, seeking to honor God through a theocracy, and pastor-led governing board.

 

Having given a historical overview of Regional Church, it is easy to see the establishment of a Theocracy Governing Structure, designed within a corporation structure. Some would say you cannot have both. However, both requirements have been met through the current Regional Church bylaws, upholding a pastor-led governing board through the Board of Directors to govern the business activities of the church, and a non-voting member structure.

 

Regional Church owes a great debt of gratitude to those that joined hands and hearts to establish this great church, with its theocracy governing structure. It is recognized that it came at a high price, and this is not taken for granted. Though many are not currently worshiping and serving in the Regional Church ministry, we are forever connected as Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, and as co-laborers in the Kingdom, having honored God through the ministry of Regional Church.

 

© Copyright 2009-2012 by Gary Lanier. All rights reserved.