A team of elders from the Woodstock Church of Christ in Georgia who threatened to expel one of their members after she divorced her husband and made her new lesbian relationship public are now coming under fire online for trying to live according to their religious beliefs.
On Sunday, the church member, Krystal Cox, published a letter on Instagram dated April 1. In the document, Woodstock Church of Christ Elders Rick Reynolds, Gary Kyle, Don Williams and Eric Dotson explain how they have tried to reason with her about going against the church’s teachings on sexuality since last December.
“As we have previously stated, we feel it is crucial to remind you that our Lord considered it vital that no one can be involved in homosexuality and be in a pleasing relationship with God," the letter stated.
“We sent you a letter in the second week of December 2020 that was confirmed by the USPS as delivered on December 10, 2020. A copy of that letter is enclosed. In that letter, the Eldership requested an opportunity to discuss with you this situation and the condition of your soul. We have not received a response to that letter."
Material published on Woodstock Church of Christ’s website notes that: “Our authority in religious matters is found only in the inspired Scriptures. Therefore, we seek to be governed in organization, faith, worship and work by God’s holy Word.”
The nondenominational congregation, which seeks to model itself after the New Testament Church, also takes a minimalist approach to worship with their congregational singing “without the accompaniment of mechanical instruments.”
“This may appear strange to the first-time visitor, but many consider this is the most inspirational part of our worship. This type of singing is used by the New Testament church (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). We believe that following their example is pleasing to God,” the church explains.
The local congregation selected the four Woodstock Church of Christ elders to serve as pastors or overseers of the church and "teach and exhort the church in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict the truth.”
“Elders are involved in the lives of the members, providing spiritual guidance, prayer and visits in time of sickness, comfort and support in times of bereavement, counseling, and spiritual nourishment as members experience the realities of this life," the church explained on its website, which has since been disabled.
"Elders are to lead by example and will provide instruction for ‘equipping the saints for the work of ministry’ as well as provide the edification needed for healthy relationships within the church (Ephesian 4:11-12). These men are shepherds of this congregation and their primary interest is helping the souls of this congregation reach heaven together."
Since Cox was unresponsive to their appeals, the elders gave her an ultimatum.
“If we fail to hear from you by April 30, 2021, we would understand you are not repentant and do not desire to be forgiven of your sinful behavior," the elders wrote. "That being the case, an announcement to that effect will be made to the Woodstock Church of Christ on the following Sunday. We will announce that we have withdrawn fellowship from you following efforts to establish a dialogue to persuade you to repent. Your name will be removed from our membership role [sic] until you decide to make your life right with the Lord."
“It is important that you understand after fellowship has been withdrawn from you, Christians must not interact with you except to encourage you to repent and seek forgiveness (1 Corinthians 5:11-13 and Ephesians 5:11),” the elders added.
Cox, a longtime hairstylist who owns the Hair Bar Salon in Woodstock, told CBS 46 that she was “enraged” after reading the letter from the elders.
“Well, when I opened it, I was kind of enraged. Like, why am I getting picked on and getting called out when everyone has sin?” she asked.
“The fact that they’re going to point it out and release my personal business to the entire congregation of the church and tell them that I can no longer come there, I just don’t feel like that’s right,” Cox added.
“I feel like it’s not wrong. I look at my relationship and how much love I have with her and think, how can people think this is so wrong?”
She insists that she does not want her former congregation to be attacked for their beliefs.
“I just really don’t want anything bad to come out of this," she said. "Like I want it to be good. I don’t want people to be saying ugly things to them and sending them ugly stuff. I just don’t want that. That was not my intent."
Since Cox publicized the letter, Woodstock Church of Christ has disabled its social media accounts and website. Calls made to the elders and the church by The Christian Post on Tuesday also went unanswered.
LGBTQ advocates are now slamming the church online with negative reviews and have driven down the church's rating on Google to two stars.
“Incredibly judgmental and close-minded," wrote reviewer Alyssa Bowden. "Very rude. God must be very ashamed."
Many reviewers, like David Patterson, gave the church five-star ratings before Cox’s letter was made public.
“Came to Woodstock last October out of a really bad experience. This is truly a family of believers trying to help one another get to heaven," he wrote in a review five years ago. "The church has a wonderful group of elders and the preacher is truly book, chapter, and verse, but makes sure everyone understands the everyday applications of whatever the lesson in our daily lives. There has been an emphasis since we have been there on teaching the lost in the way New Testament did in the first century. If you are looking for a church to call home, COME TEST IT FOR YOURSELF."
Another reviewer, Kristi Busby, wrote on Tuesday that the church is a "loving congregation that adheres to what the Bible says."
"We have many personal friends who worship here,” wrote Busby.