(RNS) — Services at an influential Nashville-area megachurch were disrupted Sunday (Aug. 29) after the wife of the church’s founding pastor stood up and accused his successor of conspiring against him.
During a 9:00 a.m. service at Grace Chapel in Franklin, Tennessee, just south of Nashville, pastor Rob Rogers apologized to the congregation for an ongoing conflict with the Rev. Steve Berger, Grace Chapel’s founder.
Berger, who nearly three decades ago founded the church — whose members include Tennessee Governor Bill Lee — stepped down as lead pastor at the church in January in order to start a discipleship program for influencers in Washington, D.C.
But according to Rogers on Sunday, the transition between pastors had not gone well, and news of the conflict between the two men had spread through the church in recent weeks.
Rogers said that during the transition, he had “pushed too hard and fast,” leading to conflict between himself and Berger. “Offenses have been taken, wounding has happened on both sides and there’s been a level of skepticism toward one another in this process that is neither right nor good.”
That conflict led both Rogers and Mark Bright, executive pastor at Grace, to offer to resign.
The apology from Rogers was repeatedly interrupted by outbursts from the congregation — including one church member who called for a prayer of repentance. After that prayer, Sarah Berger got hold of a microphone, walked on stage and began berating Rogers, who she said had not repented “for sinning against my husband.”
“It has been made manifestly evident that there’s been an endeavor to cancel the founding pastor of Grace Chapel,” she said.
Berger accused Rogers and Bright of labeling her husband as a “Christian extremist” and said the couple would be leaving the church, where Steve Berger had assumed an advisory role as “founding pastor” after naming Rogers as his successor.