When a Church Becomes a Threat to its Community. Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio Continues to Meet During a Pandemic While Public Anger Grows Toward the Church

In Monroe, Ohio a mega church is continuing to meet even when the county of Butler has encouraged them not to. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has spoken up about the situation. Despite that Lawrence and Darlene Johnson’s Solid Rock Church is continuing to meet even as people in Ohio become more enraged. This post is about the Johnsons a prosperity gospel pastor team who are leaches in the state of Ohio.

“With fools forbear to argue–better strive to wake the dead. “

Bhartrhari

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

Alexander Pope 

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

1 Peter 2:24 NIV

The coronavirus

Monroe, Ohio is a city in the southwestern part of the state not far from the Cincinnati metropolitan area. In a town on the edge of Butler and Warren County is a controversial mega church that has been the center of attention for a number of years. During the COVID-19 pandemic Solid Rock Church is in the news again for meeting during a pandemic and creating anger in the process in southwestern Ohio.

 

An Overview of Solid Rock Church

In 1978 the Middletown Evangelistic Center was founded. Solid Rock Church grew out of that when the Monroe, Ohio church opened its doors in 1992. The church was led by Lawrence Sr and Darlene Bishop who still guide the church today. Darlene is known for her testimony of being a shopaholic and buying 18 fur coats and two Cadillacs.  From my research this church appears to be involved with the prosperity gospel movement. Despite what she said about shopping she still likes to splurge at her favorite store to shop which is Saks Fifth Avenue. Solid Rock Church is one of the largest mega churches in Ohio, however when I checked the Hartford Institute for Religious Research it is clear that there are a number of mega churches the same size or bigger in Ohio. Solid Rock is known for having a strong political agenda and engaging in Christian nationalism. A sampling of Google reviews reveals a lot of people who left frustrated and others who walked away due to corruption. It appears that affairs were frequent in the choir and nothing happened to those who engaged in adultery. Solid Rock Church has also built an orphanage in Brazil and planted thirteen churches in the Philippines. They have exported their prosperity gospel outside the United States. And according to the Springfield News-Sun the Bishops salary is not public knowledge and not shared with the church. They do this while encouraging people to tithe. 

But Solid Rock Church was also known for a mega statue of Jesus that was one of the biggest in the United States. It was six stories high and referred to informally as “Touchdown Jesus.” Formally it was called “King of King”  and was one of the highest religious statues in the United States.  On Monday June 14, 2010 in what some say is a divine act of providence the statue was struck by lightening and Jesus burned to the ground. After the lightening strike with the skeleton frame work still standing it earned the nickname “Terminator Jesus.” Atheists got a good laugh out of what happened. If you want to read more you can do so in the following articles. 

  1. London Guardian, “Lightning strike destroys Touchdown Jesus statue.” 
  2. Journal-News, “Giant Jesus statue burned after lightning strike 8 years ago today.
  3. NBC News, “6-Story Jesus Statue in Ohio struck by lightening.” 
  4. Christian Science Monitor, “Gigantic 62-foot Jesus statue struck by lightning, destroyed.” 

The statue was rebuilt and went on display again in 2012.

 

A Church Continues to Meet During a Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic rolled across the United States many states started to be pro-active in response. One of the early and most efficient occurred in Ohio which is led by Republican Governor Mike DeWine. Wanting to keep the death rate low and contain the pandemic DeWine moved to restrict gatherings in Ohio to less than ten people. Though churches were given latitude it also applied to them as well and many churches responded and closed their doors and held virtual online services. Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio spurned those orders and still continued to meet. The church met on March 22, and live streamed the event which showed people standing shoulder to shoulder and violating social distancing guidelines. Then after the service the church destroyed the video and removed it from Facebook. You can read more in, “Area megachurch holds Sunday services despite coronavirus concerns.” 

The church continued to meet for the next couple of weeks clinging to Hebrews 10:25. On their website they explained how they were sterilizing and keeping the place sanitary. This is what Solid Rock Church said their COVID-19 webpage as they defended their continuing to meet. 

“So many have reached out to share their support and some to share frustrations with our church. We understand the misperception. Frankly, we have been so focused on continuing to provide comfort and support for our members and surrounding communities during this incredible time of stress, that we failed to fully communicate.

We agree that we must all comply with Governor DeWine’s administrative order and we are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of anyone who comes to Solid Rock Church. We have scaled back our normal services; and there are not large numbers of worshipers in the facility, but we are open and continuing to practice and sustain our faith.

Fortunately, our facility is large enough that we are able to easily ensure that everyone who is physically in the facility is practicing the physical distancing; we are providing additional cleaning and hand sanitizing stations; and we are holding some services outside to allow for more distance. We have canceled any youth activities; we are encouraging older members to stay home and access services electronically. We are not shaking hands or greeting members with hugs. There is no collection or communion in a normal sense, just prayer and worship. Our protocols are such that there is no contact. And we also use this time to educate and inform everyone on the best practices.

We are so grateful that Governor DeWine provided for places of worship in his Order, so it did not infringe on people’s religious liberties or the First Amendment. We can assure everyone that the health and wellbeing of our members, staff and community is critical and the top priority. Yet after prayer and spiritual reflection, we made the decision not to close our church for those who need it because right now faith communities play a vital role for our members and especially the most vulnerable. We are meeting that need but doing so in a way to ensure that it does not put people in harm’s way.

These are the following actions we have taken:

-All of our staff’s temperature is taken when they report to work each day and the temperature is documented.
-All Kid’s Church and Youth Activities have been cancelled.
-All Youth Groups have been cancelled.
-The Church is cleaned daily.
-The Church is cleaned by a commercial cleaner before every worship service and a chemical virus killing spray is used.
-Before every worship service, announcements are made to stay 6′ away from the person next to you.
-Hand Sanitizer is placed at each door that leads to the worship service.
-The Church has opened the Balcony for worship which has a seating capacity for 1200 people to insure the 6′ distance is maintained.
-The Church has also opened the gym for worship to insure people are spread out 6′ from one another.
-All Nursery Services for a worshiper have been cancelled.
-Sunday School has been cancelled.
-Signs are posted at each entrance door for worship reminding worshipers that Dr. Action and Governor DeWine wants 6′ separating all worshipers.
-The Church reminds worshipers to remain 6′ apart.
-Offering plates are no longer passed through the worshipers.
-Communion is no longer provided to the worshipers in the normal fashion it was during worship service in the past.
-The Outdoor Worship Space will be used beginning in April of 2020

We also acknowledge that this will be difficult for some people to understand, and that many people will make judgements based on limited information, but we believe that in a time of unfathomable crisis, as faith- based leaders we are called to meet the needs of our community and to address the fear and anxiety of those who rely on faith. These acts of service are an essential part of sustaining our faith and provide an essential service for our church community.

We are grateful for the strong leadership of Dr. Acton, Lt. Governor Husted and Governor DeWine and pray for their continued wisdom. We continue to ask God to be with our members, our community, Ohio, our nation and our world.”

One of the people most upset about Solid Rock meeting is Ohio Governor Mike DeWine who suggested that the church was abusing their exemption and placing the community at risk. On April 1, Mike DeWine said the following about Solid Rock Church continuing to meet. “It is not a Judeo-Christian tradition to hurt people,” DeWine said. “I’m sure no one intends to do that.” The Ohio Governor was working on more regulations to prevent the church and other organizations from meeting during this public health crisis. You can read more at, “Solid Rock holding services, DeWine says more restrictions coming.” The Health Director for Butler County General Health District has also spoken to Solid Rock asking them to discontinue their worship services in person until the pandemic is over. That happened by both in-person conversation and letter sent to the church. Solid Rock Church has disregarded that advice both times. The county has received a large number of complaints about the church threatening the public health for reckless behavior. You can read more about the county’s interacting with Solid Rock in, “‘It is not a Christian thing to do’: DeWine hints at action about large church gatherings, including at Solid Rock.” This blog is continuing to monitor the situation in Ohio to see how Solid Rock will respond to the state government in Columbus. 

 

Capturing Some of the Response on Facebook Regarding Solid Rock Church

On Facebook the outrage to Solid Rock Church still meeting has been strong and ongoing. They originally stated on March 22, 2020 that they were still worshiping and meeting in person. Here is how the church announced it. “We are open! Thankful the governor hasn’t placed restrictions on churches. Join us today! If you can’t make it or aren’t feeling well, watch us online at http://www.solidrockchurch.org.” These are some of the comments that people are leaving on Facebook.


Michelle Connor Shame on you for not practicing social distancing. Members of your worship team are sitting side-by-side. How selfish. What about loving your neighbor by helping to protect them from the spread of this virus?

Laura Mills Moore Please stop. God is everywhere. And God wouldn’t want you to gather in His name to risk thousands of lives. My husband and his colleagues are medical workers who will be directly impacted by this selfish action. The selfless, Godly thing to do is to help and love your neighbor by staying home!

Crystal Migneron Very disappointing solid rock. You are deliberately putting people in great risk by going against the 10 or less in an area rule that the GOVERNOR did in fact order. You have the ability to do service online from you’re home. You should be closed!

Rodney Muterspaw I have faith, I pray, but I also believe in common sense and precaution. You can do all this from home without putting anyone at risk, like other churches are doing

Amy Cox Abrams I always thought about visiting this church but with such irresponsibility on your part I definitely never will. This can only be about money. A lot of people are out of work what makes you any different. Stay home and pray about it like the rest of us. God is everywhere.

Amy Schowinsky Varchetti Thank you for being irresponsible and risking the lives of your members, others in your community, and the health care workers that are putting their lives on the line to save yours. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Remember thou shall not kill? If you care about the lives of God’s people, don’t put them in jeopardy.

Jennifer Lynn Smith I hope this is not true. For a church to gather right now in a large group would be a disappointment to me. Out of all people Christian wanting to gather when the rest of the world is doing their best to stay away from others to prevent spreading. Just a shame and selfish

Kim Harmon Loving your neighbor means not killing them. No one is impressed with your perceived holiness, because it isn’t actually holy. It’s reckless and goes against Romans 13:2. You’ve already experienced the judgement of God once; are you testing Him again? For the good of the entire community, please encourage your parishoners to gather together in groups of two or more in their own homes and watch the service online. God has said he’ll be there.

Tammy Lindsay The Governor has in fact placed restrictions on any place that gathers more than 10 people!! That would include churches!🤷‍♀️

Crystal Hollon Hatcher This really upsets me. Wisdom is a gift of the spirit as well. I know some are thinking God can protect you and heal you at church, but God can do the same at home. This is not a government conspiracy to take control over you. This is real. What you are doing is allowing the spread of this virus. Now your people will shop at my Kroger and expose me and my family. The government is pleading for us to do social distancing. This is a bad witness. This will not win people to Christ. This will say many negative things to the people in this area. You have the ability to do a live stream for all. I’m not sure why you have made this decision, but I hope you will consider sacrificing like the rest of us for the common good.

Sherry House You are risking everyone’s health and you are not abiding by the Governor’s restrictions of mass gatherings. You are putting health care workers and others at risk in the community. This is down right shameful! You all should be jailed and fined heavily.

Laura Beth As long as you get your money you don’t have to care about anyone’s health or safety. Come out of your little compound and look at what’s going on in the world. You are risking not just your parishioners but everyone they will be around. This has nothing to do with God or worship, it’s all about money. Makes sense why your first Jesus was struck by lightening.

Paula Brewer Vieira You are what is going to cause the immunocompromised & elderly to die! I hope you like that on your conscious!

 

When a Lightening Strike Takes Out Jesus Do You Think Solid Rock Will Respond Properly in a Pandemic? And Why Darlene Bishop is Not Pro-Life

When I was researching Solid Rock I had a good laugh when I realized this was the church that had the “Touchdown Jesus” statue. I recall that being discussed on Internet Monk years ago. Its just dripping with irony that it was a lightening strike that destroyed it. Isn’t the Lord’s sovereignty wonderful? 😀 In many other situations I would ignore that information but at Solid Rock Church its quite appropriate. In that situation Solid Rock couldn’t do the right thing and decided to build another statue that shows their arrogance and obsession with fame. This is a church led by narcissists. At this blog I wrote about how the dark side of evangelicalism would be revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read that in, “How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Going to Reveal the Dark Flaws and Systemic Issues of Evangelical Christianity.”  That article is describing churches like Solid Rock Church. When the coronavirus breaks out in the congregation because of the church’s recklessness people will turn against the church. When people are dying in the ICU in the Cincinnati suburbs people will become enraged when they realize that their are not protected by the coronavirus. The virus will not discriminate. It will target Muslin, Buddhist, atheist, Christian and so forth. What makes the prosperity gospel so cruel is that it lets people down phenomenally. Will the leadership of Solid Rock tell people after the fact that those infected lacked the faith needed? If they had the faith they would have the victory in the end? 

The reason why this church is open is for money. Lawrence Sr and Darlene Bishop need money and this is the main way they make it. People who run churches like Solid Rock are leaches who attach themself to you and suck out all your blood. In this case there is a  pressure and push to give. Lawrence and Darlene know they will take a hit in their pocket book if they move online. In this situation the church doesn’t care about people at all. To Darlene Bishop the people exist to serve and give money. That’s how this place should be viewed. 

What is also telling is the following. This church despite all their advocacy on abortion and more is not pro-life as they claim. Darlene claims that God gave her a vision to start a home that would work with un-wed teenagers and stop abortion. Here is how she described it on her webpage. “Several years ago, God gave Darlene a vision to build a residential home for teenage, unwed mothers as an alternative to abortion. After many court battles, Solid Rock Church was awarded the rights to build the Darlene Bishop Home for Life where now many lives of young girls are being transformed.” Darlene regularly talks about her opposition to abortion and how she was almost aborted. So here is what gets me. Darlene Bishop has played her hand it reveals a losing hand. She claims she is pro-life but this policy by Solid Rock Church shows that she is not pro-life. Darlene uses abortion as a political hammer and weapon. Simultaneously she has almost become an advocate for euthanasia or doctor associated suicide in creating a public health situation that will result in some people being killed. Darlene Johnson doesn’t care about life. Its only an unborn one and that is for political purposes. Otherwise if your older then she doesn’t care. The Johnsons’ are frauds. They are no different than Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. That is how they should be remembered. 

 

If People Have Stories to Tell About Solid Rock The Wondering Eagle Can be a Platform for them

Solid Rock Church has deep issues and is quite toxic. I barely scratched the surface as I remain focused on their response in the COVID-19 pandemic. But as I was reading up on the church all the red flags were going off in my mind. Christian nationalism, sexual abuse, prosperity gospel theology, and allegations of covering up shady activity. If there are former members of Solid Rock who want to tell any stories about this church this blog would be happy to give you the platform. If you want to discuss or tell your story about Solid Rock Church you can contact me at wonderingeagle261@gamil.com 

5 thoughts on “When a Church Becomes a Threat to its Community. Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio Continues to Meet During a Pandemic While Public Anger Grows Toward the Church

  1. Will the leadership of Solid Rock tell people after the fact that those infected lacked the faith needed? If they had the faith they would have the victory in the end?

    That IS the Standard Response to any failure of “Name It and Claim It”.

    When the coronavirus breaks out in the congregation because of the church’s recklessness people will turn against the church.

    Not the Solid Rock pewsitters themselves.
    (Never underestimate the blind belief and capacity for denial of a True Believer.)
    I fully expect Solid Rock to spin the above as PERSECUTION!!!!!
    i.e. Further PROOF of their own Righteousness.
    Especially if the Governor or County Health Department manages to shut them down for the duration. Then the Librul Gubmint Conspiracy card gets played off the bottom of the deck along with the PERSECUTION card.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Here’s a classic from the last time that mega got in the news:

        I mean, you build a steel frame with two upraised lightning rods in Tornado Alley and sheath it in highly-flammable foamed plastic…
        “WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?”

        Like

      • And Carpetbagger’s visit to its replacement, “Hug Me Jesus” or “Five Dollar Footlong Jesus”:

        Like

  2. Pingback: How Kentucky Dealt With Christians Who Violated Health Rules and Went to Church During a Pandemic. Plus an Ethical Question: Should Evangelicals Who Spurn Health Law Designed to Keep People Safe Receive Medical Treatment When They Become Ill with COVID-19

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