Colossians 3:1-2: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
While the whole sorry saga surrounding the future of the financially stricken Wrightbus, and the Green Pastures Church so closely linked to the owners which has benefited from around £16 million of donations in recent years from the struggling firm, has played out, there is an even greater shame than the mess which has filled newspapers for the past number of weeks.
It is absolutely tragic that the jobs of so many people, affecting so many families, could be left hanging by a thread.
Mercifully, it appears these jobs will now be saved following an announcement of a deal in principle having been struck.
A lot of ire has been focused on Green Pastures, the church ran by self-proclaimed “visionary” Jeff Wright, who also happens to be the majority shareholder of the Cornerstone Group which owned Wrightbus.
This has included peaceful protests at Green Pastures these past few Sundays, and much of the anger surrounds the frankly eye-watering level of financial support the church has received.
£16 million could pay for a lot of hymn books and pews, not that a church like Green Pastures would favour such old-fashioned items like that.
The generosity of Wrightbus seemed to fly in the face of conventional wisdom as well, given they made a “charitable donation” of more than £4 million to Green Pastures in the same year as Wrightbus recorded a pre-tax loss of £1.15 million.
We are far from being financiers or hot shot business leaders, but surely even a child would understand that doesn’t make a great deal of sense?
The anger and frustration of workers was further exacerbated by what seemed to be the glacial pace discussions over a rescue deal for the business from an English investor seemed to be progressing, with the “visionary” Pastor Jeff Wright again drawing a great deal of criticism.
The reason for this was due to the seemingly rather bizarre arrangement whereby the Wrightbus premises are owned separately from the manufacturing business and held in a company called Whirlwind Property Two, which is not part of the Wright group and is therefore not under the control of the administrator.
That property company is controlled by Pastor Jeff Wright.
Pastor Jeff Wright is one of the most senior figures, if not the most senior figure in Green Pastures and his church issued a statement on their Facebook page on 27th September, two days after it became apparent just how much of a hole Wrightbus was in.
Given his status, it is hard to imagine how he didn’t play a role in the composition of the statement, which could merely state how grateful Green Pastures was for the eye-watering donations it has received.
They said: “As any church would be, we are devastated by the huge number of job losses at the Wright Group and we are especially heartbroken because of the impact this will have on so many individuals and families in our local towns and communities.
“We understand the hurt, anger and confusion felt by so many, as many within our own congregation have been personally affected by these job losses and we are doing all we can to support them at this time.
“As with any donation we receive as a church, we are incredibly grateful for the support the Wright family have offered us. They, along with many others, chose to be generous when their family business enabled them to do so.
“The leadership, staff and people of Green Pastures Church will continue to love and serve people in our community in and through these challenging times.”
Cold comfort was the theme of the more charitable responses by those responding to the statement on Facebook.
And while Green Pastures and Pastor Jeff Wright have been on the receiving end of scathing criticism throughout this saga, we want to address something else about Green Pastures and Pastor Jeff Wright.
That is the leading role that Green Pastures and Pastor Jeff Wright are playing in the increasingly prominent charismania movement in Northern Ireland.
Green Pastures is typical of such churches in that services are more akin to rock concerts and where all forms of traditional worship are eschewed in favour of worldly entertainment.
And they welcomed into their midst in the spring one of the leading characters in the wretched American megachurch, Bethel Supernatural Ministries.
There are so many issues with Bethel it is hard to know where to start, but some of its dreadful charismatic excesses can be seen by clicking here.
Havilah Cunnington (or Havilah Cunning-one, pictured, below) of Bethel Supernatural Ministries performed at Green Pastures and claims to be a “prophet” and even sells a “Prophetic Personalities” course for $49 which apparently leads people to be “unleash[ed] into a bold life of hearing from heaven”.
Colossians 2:8 bears a warning for us of falling for the nonsense spewed out by the like of Havilah Cunning-one. It says: “Beware lest any man (or woman, in this instance) spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
We have highlighted her outrageous claims and ludicrous excuse for prophesy previously, which you can read about by clicking here.
To recommend Havilah Cunning-one to anyone as a spiritual guide is reprehensible and yet that is what Pastor Jeff Wright has done by having her at Green Pastures.
While there may well be justifiable criticism of both Pastor Jeff Wright and Green Pastures over their role in Wrightbus’ collapse, there is much more fault to be found in promoting such disgraceful nonsense in the name of Christ.
The elevation of so many characters with no theological training in so many churches, particularly those in the charismaniac movement, is reminiscent of the religious situation in the days of the evil king of Israel, Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
1 Kings 13:33: “After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places.”
“Whosoever would” became a priest, and that appears to be the chief qualification to become a ‘pastor’ in so many of these churches.
Such a selection process was considered a symptom of Jeroboam carrying on in his “evil way” and the result was the dreadful pollution of religion in the land and the promotion of paganism and idolatry.
This is what we are seeing in Ulster today, sadly.
And what this does is leads to widespread ignorance, an environment in which all manner of false teaching can flourish as the listener is stripped of the power of discernment.
Hosea 4:6: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
Creating such an environment at Green Pastures where so many people are taken in by the bright lights, loud music and razzmatazz is what this church should be receiving most criticism for.
Dear reader, make sure your voice is heard audibly and continually sounding forth against such churches as that of Green Pastures.
Let us never be afraid to speak out against any fellowship which fails to abide by Biblical standards and any church which promotes heretics like those who find their home within the likes of Bethel.
Let us guard our separation diligently.
2 Corinthians 6:17: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you”.