08 March, 2008
Bartels, KY-- It was to have been a regular evening sermon and routine song service at Old Roads Baptist Church where Eugene Hargner served as pastor. But no sooner had Pastor Hargner sat up in his living room recliner when he received a phone call around 4 pm on that Sunday afternoon from Head Deacon Mason Witchel telling him not to come to the evening service.
Head Deacon Mason Witchel informed Pastor Hargner that his tenure as pastor had been terminated, effectively immediately. Former Pastor Hargner told TBNN, "He told me 'You can get your 2 week's severance in the church office on Monday morning. There is no need to come to church this evening.' That's how I found out!"
Hagner said he chuckled at first, sure that this was some kind of joke. He and the deacon's often had fun with each other, joking around. But, Witchel apparently made it clear that this was not a laughing matter.
When Hargner picked up his check on Monday morning, a severance letter was attached. The letter was the very first indication of the reason for his dismissal. Apparently, he had failed to say, "In Jesus' Name" at the end of his closing prayer on Sunday morning.
Former Pasot Hargner immediately requested a copy of the service to verify the accusation. He listened closely to the final prayer. He realized what had happened. It was a very short prayer that went: "As we just come before you Father in the only way we know how, in the name of our Lord Jesus, we just ask that you bless and guide us until we meet again. Amen."
It was true. There was no "In Jesus' name" given at the end of the prayer.
Former Pastor Hargner spent the rest of the day trying to explain that "In Jesus' name" isn't required at the end of the prayer. He told Deacon Witchel on numerous occasions that, if he would only listen to the entire prayer, it would become clear that the prayer was asked in the name of the Lord.
But each time Hargner asked, Deacon Witchel had only one question, "Did you or did you not say simply 'Amen' at the end of the prayer?"
TBNN representatives visited Old Roads on March 2nd with digital recorders to investigate prayer endings. We took the recordings back to the TBNN studios equipped with a very sensitive sound analysis system. We also had to put our best ears to the test to determine how the prayers ended.
We noticed that most prayers ended abruptly and quickly. But almost every time, prior to the very end, there was a short pause as if the prayor had ended. But then a quick burst of several slurred syllables. Under further review using slow-notion phonography, to the best of our knowledge, the 5 prayers that day ended with:
(4) enyuhnemwe pruh
With precision measurement, the length of the endings were meausured within a small range of from 0.08 seconds to a maximum of 0.34 seconds.
We brought the tapes to Deacon Witchel on Pastor Hargner's behalf to show that absolutely no one said "In Jesus' name" at the end of a single prayer on the morning of the 2nd. Deacon Witchel was surprisingly willing to talk. "All of those endings were perfectly acceptable. It's not the actual words you use, but the heart that matters. Each of those prayors obviously had it in his heart to properly close the prayer."