Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 20, 1952

Commerce (Texas) Church Makes Announcement

W. W. Freeman, Commerce, Texas

In view of the action and publicity of brother Byrne Shofner covering matters pertaining to Christian faith and worship that corrupt the practice of the New Testament, it becomes the duty of the elders of the church in Commerce, Texas, to announce as follows:

(1). Brother Shofner came here commended by some who had known him for several years, and while here preached some excellent sermons.

(2). Sister Shofner showed herself, and still is, a faithful Christian and an able teacher, especially liked by the women's class.

(3). With an apology for lack of pulpit eloquence and expression of a desire to write, brother Shofner in November announced his purpose to leave the ministry and return to business enterprise.

(4). Against considerable objection from some members, the officers had in April extended his tenure to the end of the year, hoping he might then remain or else go to some larger field of service.

(5). In a class of young people on December 23 brother Shofner read materials condoning the use of instrumental music in the assembly as on a par with having a song leader.

(6). When asked concerning what he advocated in this class, he prepared a statement the officers did not see until he had left town.

(7). From San Antonio he mailed other copies to various members of this congregation.

(8). On February 18 the elders learned that essentially the same material had been published in Ernest Beam's paper in California, with a heading of "Commerce, Texas, December 30, 1951."

(9). Meanwhile the elders replied to an inquiry from a gospel preacher in San Antonio congregation as to why he had left the ministry.

(10). In this reply the need was urged for time and discretion to save the brother from his error to New Testament practice in the church of the Lord.

(11). Two editors were asked not to publish any criticism of Shofner or of his pamphlets until the congregation in San Antonio could affect a possible restoration.

(12). Next came reports from mutual friends as far away as St. Louis that brother Shofner had "quit the church" and thought he would "never set foot in one again."

(13). Also came word that Sister Shofner was at tending the Lord's day services alone while her husband perhaps went elsewhere. These are pertinent facts to February 20.

Considering the independence of every congregation in regulating its affairs in harmony with the faith revealed in the New Testament, and the duty of the elders to decide congregational procedures, especially those involving joint participation as in the present instance, including incidentals and details not revealed, the elders at Commerce have merely stated the facts. The publication mentioned and the pamphlets circulated will give the views of brother Shofner if anybody wishes to investigate them.

The congregation at Commerce follows the precedent among churches of the Lord for over a century in that in Christian worship "we walk by faith" and not by the opinions of any man. We condemn the effort to mislead a class of young people when as the local minister he had not consulted the officers of the congregation, and that they were opposed to any such perversion of New Testament practice. The elders approve of his withdrawing from the ministry to engage in secular work. They deplore his dropping such unwarranted matter into the mails just when he was leaving town, and his continuing to send such materials to local members when he is no longer subject to the elders. They also protest his sending such an article, with a Commerce heading, to Ernest Beam's paper when its readers could not know this congregation does not approve its contents.

The elders which the brother might learn "not to go beyond that which is written," and that in any local church he should have Christian regard for the elders in their responsibilities, for him as well as for others. There is sincere regret the brother could not go on preaching Christ and him crucified, which he and all others admits is safe and scriptural, rather than be carried away with the "wind of doctrine" and "make shipwreck of the faith."

The above lengthy report is given that any concerned may see the dangers and know the facts rather than simply read a signed report from the elders here that brother Byrne Shofner is not in good standing with the church.


Elders, Church of Christ Commerce, Texas