Kilpatrick takes hard line against dissenters

The Pensacola News Journal/November 17, 1997
By John W. Allman and Amie K. Streater

Pensacola -- The magnetic, persuasive pastor of the Brownsville Assembly of God inspires hundreds to hurry to the altar to be saved.

He wanted revival and he got it -- and along with it he received international fame, wealth and adoration. He is revered and respected, but he is also repudiated.

He is a man of God, but also a man to be feared and avoided, say neighbors, former friends and members of his own congregation.

Since the revival began in June 1995, Kilpatrick has seen many members of his church -- Brownsville Assembly of God -- walk out.

Some he has cast out, ordering them not to return.

Reason: They either did not agree with the revival and its manifestations and impartations -- passing on of the Holy Spirit through the preachers' touch -- or they were not living their lives the way Kilpatrick thought they should.

"He just has a real critical and judgmental attitude toward people he considers to be in sin -- which is not Christ-oriented at all," said a woman who left after years of faithful attendance.

"The message of love is not there," she said.

Kilpatrick can be a good pastor and a kind man, another former member said.

There was one time several years ago that she needed advice and called him. He prayed with her and showed her examples of Scripture to comfort her, she recalled.

"He said, 'This is for you,' " she said. "That really encouraged me."

But she has seen the pastor's other side, which is one reason she asked not to be identified when interviewed.

Kilpatrick, she said, is not a man you can "agree to disagree" with. There is one way -- his way -- that he expects members of his congregation to follow.

"There's no, 'We're all part of God's kingdom,' " she said. "There's none of that."

Kilpatrick has taught his flock to think within very strict confines, she said. Anyone with a different attitude is encouraged to leave or change.

"If you're not within those confines, then they'll pray for you to come back into the fold," she said.

Kilpatrick's dealings with his neighbors also draw criticism.

The pastor acknowledges he has been in a property dispute since he moved into a home in Seminole Landing, Ala., last fall.

Jeanie Bettcher, who lives in Winnipeg, Canada, owns the lot next to the house Kilpatrick bought last year from a Brownsville Assembly of God member. Bettcher is planning to build her retirement home on her Seminole Landing lot. But she said she has had trouble getting a construction loan because the lot has an encroachment.

When she visited her lot earlier this year, she saw that Kilpatrick was parking his 40-foot-long bus on her lot and using part of her land as a driveway for the bus.

Kilpatrick concedes that, but blames the person from whom he bought his home -- a member of his church. "The detached garage was already there. The previous owner built it over the set back line."

Bettcher complains that Kilpatrick not only used part of Bettcher's land as a driveway and parking pad, he had a crew cut down a stand of oak trees on her property because the trees were blocking his view of a pond, put a concrete picnic table on her property and had landscapers use railroad ties to terrace part of her land.

Kilpatrick says he had just one of her trees cut down, and he says the terrace and table were a mistake.

"I had some landscapers come out here because the back is steep. I had them put in railroad ties. When they did this, they went in on her property. So I had to get that all moved."

Bettcher recently had other Erin Pond neighbors go to her property and put yellow tape along the front and side adjacent to Kilpatrick's. The tape says: "No trespassing."

By coincidence, Bettcher recently learned that she is part-owner of a Pensacola property adjacent to Kilpatrick's church and that the church may be encroaching on that property.

Brownsville Assembly of God is building a large Family Life Center on land next to property that Bettcher and her aunts recently inherited. Construction on the Family Life Center has been at a standstill for more than a month because of the dispute over the property line.

Associate Pastor Carey Robertson explained the situation as "discrepancies in the surveys."

He said the church is not encroaching and has turned the matter over to its attorneys.

Bettcher is adamant about not giving the church an inch for free, not after her experience with Kilpatrick over the Seminole Landing property.

"He doesn't appear to be remorseful," she said.

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