Beach Church members gathered on a Facebook page called "Beach Church Together" in an effort to support and reinstate their pastor following his resignation from ministry.
According to Religion News, the church's elders have been at odds with the Rev. Todd Elliott for many years about who should lead the nondenominational congregation of around 1,600 members.
The report said that David Dodge, the chairman of the elder board, informed members that both the church's bylaws and the Bible gave most of the power to the elders. Elliott did not see things the same way and felt that the pastor should be in charge. Things had finally reached a breaking point and Elliott tendered his resignation.
In turn, on July 11, the 50+ Rev. Todd Elliott delivered his farewell message.
Before telling the congregation that Elliott was leaving, one of the elders stated, "This is a sad day for our church."
"I just want to thank you," Elliott remarked to an audience that met his gratitude with overwhelming support.
"Thank you for letting me serve and be your pastor and teacher over the last 14 years," he said.
After his speech, he and the elders reportedly joined together in prayer before stepping off the platform.
Nevertheless, a faction of infuriated churchgoers banded together on a Facebook page called Beach Church Together and were determined to take back Elliott.
Because of this, within a few days, the Beach Church elders decided to step down.
RNS noted that the church replaced the locks and that the doors were opened for Elliott's readmission to the church.
Elliott stood in the pulpit again only one week after he resigned, and during his sermon, he delved into the church's history. He laid blame on the bylaws for dragging the church, forcing prior pastors to quit.
He told the church would see better days if the pastor be allowed to assume control over organizational affairs.
"You will not see a church that will be kicking down the gates of hell like Beach Church will be," he was quoted as saying. "Because I'm telling you, baby, you're going to want to invite your neighbors, you're going to want to invite your friends, you're going to want to invite your co-workers and your family because we're going see God move freely in this church like it's never been seen before. I'm telling you that right now."
Elliott said that if the church and the bylaws could accommodate his concerns, he'd consider coming back as pastor to lead the church again.
The rivalry between Elliott and the elders of the Beach Church has brought turmoil to their church. In the wake of all the elders resigning, staff and supporters of Elliot held an emergency meeting to suspend the bylaws and establish a transition committee to keep the church running smoothly.
Conversely, the church's leaders believe their resignations were illegitimate, arguing the church rules did not permit their resignation as a whole. In addition, the elders say the transition team's actions are illegitimate due to a violation of church rules.
Because of this, the church now has two competing factions. Disagreements between the two parties were to be discussed on August 23, but the meeting was postponed.
David Dodge, who chairs the Beach Church elders board, said they had been working on achieving mutual understanding with Elliott for many years.
When talks between staff and elders broke down, Elliott convened a meeting with elders and offered his resignation.
According to Dodge, Elliott presented a paper with the elders outlining two options: He could step down as senior pastor and become a teaching pastor while looking for work, or the church give him one year's salary in exchange for his promise to not compete and not criticize the group.
The elders opted for the latter option.
The church was shocked when Elliott resigned, which happened unexpectedly. They were unaware of the specifics of the squabbles.
Dodge thinks that Elliott has broken his "severance agreement" by attempting to return. He went on to state that the elders are big believers in following the Bible's guidelines, which he says provide a blueprint for how to manage a church. Unfortunately, a charismatic pastor trumps them.
The church's transition team came to Elliott's defense in a statement sent to Religion News Service, stating that Elliott participated in discussions to establish a respectful working culture that allowed for both his position as pastor and the responsibilities of elders and church members.
Also, the transition team claimed that the church went rogue when members unexpectedly banded together on Facebook in order to "support one another and to seek, if possible, to find a way to remove the elders from their position and attempt to persuade Pastor Elliott to return as Pastor of Beach Church."
But with Elliott and the elders gone, the church staff stepped in to fill the leadership vacuum. An emergency meeting was also held to amend the bylaws.