Bentonville, TN – O be careful little mouth what you say.
The Southside Baptist Church congregation, which had Sunday morning attendance of 500 at the beginning of 2007, dwindled to 150 by the start of 2008, prompting the leadership to call an emergency meeting last month.
Everyone agreed that false rumors about the pastor were the cause of the demise, but how could such be stopped? With cell phones, email, and coffee shops all around, the task seemed insurmountable.
Pastor Wallace Greenly made the suggestion to hire a private investigator to determine the source of the rumors, and all agreed.
The findings were startling. After detailed interviews with over 300 “exit-ers” there was no doubt of the common source. Every single one of those who have left after believing a rumor about the pastor could be connected (by at most 3 people) to Devin Bacone.
Sociologist Halton Forester, Professor Emeritus of the University of Chicago’s Dept. of Sociology, explained “Marconi articulated the earliest explanation for social networks via his transmission experiments of radio stations after the turn of the 20th century. It’s a small world phenomenon. All humans can be connected with no more than 6 degrees of separation. Southside’s discovery that one individual is responsible for disrupting a small population of 500 with no more than 3 degrees of separation is not only possible, but quite probable.”
Devin Bacone is a reasonably athletic, somewhat articulate, and always helpful 49 year old man who came to Southside in the summer of 2006. Was it really possible that this middle aged man could be responsible for all 350 people leaving?
TBNN representatives conducted our own research by interviewing someone we thought would be unlikely to have discovered the information from a middle aged man such as Devin Bacone. Ms. Gladis Walker, a 30 year member in her mid 80s testified, “I left two months ago in April because that Pastor is trying to run the show down at Southside. He thinks he owns the place.” We asked Ms. Walker for an explanation. “I was visiting my niece, Milly Sexton, and I heard first hand information about the pastor from Janet Wilkens who was there visiting my niece.” TBNN left a voicemail for Janet Wilkens. We received the following quote by text message: “I heard firsthand information from Tom Parker, my second cousin.” Through further investigation, we discovered that Devin Bacone and Tom Parker are regular hunting partners.
So there it was. There were three degrees of separation from Devin Bacone to the “exit-er.” Devin Bacone to Tom Parker to Janet Wilkens to Ms. Gladis Walker.
O be careful little ears what you hear.