Anonymous critique of Rev. Bill McAtee after his guest sermon
at a church to which he'd been invited to come as a minister,
scrawled by an anonymous parishioner

(Number 1 of 6)

Posted: 9 September 2013
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In early 1964, the end of Rev. Bill McAtee's first 5-year "call" at the Presbyterian church in Amory MS was nearing, though he wasn't yet actively looking for a new position. A seminary friend of his, who was also a friend of a member of the Columbia Presbyterian Church, gave Bill's name to the church's pastoral search committee. Three members of the committee, including its chairman, Buddy McLean (who in 1965 became the pivotal mayor of Columbia), flew up to Amory on March 1, 1964 to meet him. They met in the airplane at the airport, and three days later invited him to meet the full committee in Columbia, which he did on March 10. While there, he preached a trial sermon, "The 20-20 Vision of the Church," to 45 members of the congregation. A congregational vote was taken on March 15, and a sequence of mail exchanges ensued. I am including the first five in that sequence. This is the first, essentially a not-so-veiled attack.

  Columbia, Miss
March 16, 1964
Dear Sir:

   This is to inform you of the vote cast at the Columbia Pres. church March 15.

   There were 59 votes cast by standing vote. (If it had been secret there would have been a vast difference.)

   43 for you
   16 against.

of those against four were your elders (out of 8 on the session! 50% against you already!!)

   Two were deacons!
   one a member of the pulpit committee!!

   Before this vote was taken - after hearing you and learning of your views, four different people said that if you did accept this pulpit they would not bother to come. They would listen to television instead.

   I guess you know this whole thing has been railroaded - it was decided at a fish camp - (We don't run our Lord's work at that place.)

   In other words - if you do take this, just know some want you. They like you as a friend. But there is a big % who don't want you - and if the vote had been secret you would have had at least ten more against you who didn't have g__s to stand up but had already said they did not want you.


    Too Bad.

Just a church member - not a fisher

(Note: that last underlined word is apparently a reference to the "fish camp" mentioned above. Rev. McAtee describes it as
"a fine building with a high vaulted ceiling in the main room," which belonged to Buddy McLean's brother-in-law.)

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