In what seems to be an all too frequent occurrence in Black churches, Union Grove Baptist Church in Elberton, Georgia revoked the membership of Genora Hamm Biggs, a 103-year-old woman who has been a member of the church since she was 11 years old. Biggs received a letter on Aug. 2, 2015, which was signed by Pastor Tim Mattox, Deacon Glen Jackson and nine other church officials. It stated that she could not attend the church and “any membership or associations that you have had with this church are now officially revoked.” Further, she may not attend the church “for any reason what so ever.”
Despite this un-Christian statement, Biggs did return to the church the next Sunday and someone called the police on her. However, the responding officer did not arrest Biggs or take any other action, deeming the issue a civil matter. When the police refused to remove Biggs, Mattox decided to take matters in his own hands. This so called man of God stopped church service, dismissed the congregation and turned off the lights in the sanctuary, leaving the elderly woman sitting alone in the dark sanctuary.
The outrageous behavior directed at Biggs is centered on the issue of the direction and doctrine of the church. According to Biggs, Mattox was hired as a baptist minister but in fact he revealed himself to be a holiness preacher. Biggs is quoted as stating, “He is a holy sanctified minister or so he says. We voted him in and we didn’t know it until he was there. We are Baptists and that’s what we want to stay.” In addition to banning Biggs, the church also banned her grandson Eliott Dye, a 30-year member of the church and ordained minister. and church member Kevin Hamm. Hamm stated, “To disrespect a pillar and a mother of the church… How can we sit back and watch something like this go forward?”
Biggs is a retired schoolteacher and has taught many of the residents of Elberton. The news of her removal from the church upset many in the town including police chief Mark Welsh who called Biggs a “well-revered person” and stated, “We’re not going over there and throwing a 103-year-old lady out of her church.” Church officials have refused to comment on the matter.