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Told fiery style is no fit, pastor is ousted

Little more than a month ago, some worshipers at Blanton Baptist Church said their congregation was "on fire" _ touched by the spirit of God.

At Sunday services, rows of people would clap, sing, raise their hands toward heaven and pray with all their might. It was the kind of church that some said helped deliver them from lives of sin and led them to be born again.

In just 1{ years, Pastor Glenn Hendley built the congregation from a cluster of fewer than 30 worshipers to a faithful group of about 300.

But not everyone approved of Hendley's fervent, spirit-led style.

About a month ago, a group of church leaders decided Hendley should take his preaching elsewhere.

Hendley's supporters wouldn't let him go quietly. He said they pinned small signs to their shirts that said, "I support Pastor Glenn," and packed a Wednesday night worship service April 1 wanting answers. In particular, Hendley said, they wanted to know why their church trustees, in consultation with other Southern Baptist leaders, decided to dismiss their pastor.

The answer, though, was drowned out amid shouts as the gathering deteriorated into what one church member described as being "close to a lynch mob." No one was hurt, at least physically. But those who stayed at Blanton Baptist Church and those who left with Hendley to form a new church, the Blanton Family Worship Center, say the split left behind wounds that have been slow to heal.