Bachmann moved from Chattanooga in 1991 to lead Covenant Presbyterian Church. At the time, the congregation barely had 40 members. Under Bachmann’s leadership, the congregation grew to more than 2,000. By the late 2000s, they were able to raise funds internally to build a $15.5 million sanctuary on a hilltop overlooking southwest Nashville…. Now, Bachmann, 63, is leading a new congregation[Westminster Chapel] that meets on Sundays in one of the city’s public elementary schools.
In 2016, the Rev. Jim Bachmann lost his job as the top pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, which rose to prominence in Nashville under his leadership.
His supporters are now speaking up about Bachmann’s firing, which was preceded by at least two years of disunity in the Green Hills church.
They think he was unfairly treated and they want those who still sit in the pews at Covenant as well as the broader community to know about it.
“I would like for the truth to come out,” said Peter Rosenberger, a former church member. “Let people see what was really going on behind the scenes.”
Rosenberger, a former Covenant elder and another former church member are trying to bring it light.
They think some at Covenant and regional denominational leaders are to blame for pushing Bachmann out of the church he founded and served for 25 years.
“I love Covenant church,” Rosenberger said. “I think if these people there really new the stuff that had been going on without their knowledge and consent it would horrify them and they would have rushed to work this out.”
Covenant Presbyterian Church declined to be interviewed, but released a statement to the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee.
“Rev. Jim Bachmann previously served as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, and
now that he has a new church, our leadership and congregation wish him and his church members the very best,” said John Bryant, a representative of Covenant, in the statement.
Today, Covenant, a member of the conservative evangelical Presbyterian Church in America, has more than 1,000 members and currently is led by an interim pastor, according to the church’s website.
In an interview, Bachmann, who has since moved on to another church, said he didn’t want to go into specifics about this case. But he hopes something similar does not happen to future pastors.
“I think there were some significant injustices and I don’t want that to happen to anybody else,” Bachmann said.
Strife begins in 2014
The strife began in 2014 with conflicts and tensions among ministerial staff and Covenant elders, according to church documents.
“There was nothing going on that just truly couldn’t have been worked out over a cup of coffee,” Rosenberger said. “It would be one thing if there was some type of moral or financial or doctrinal misconduct, but there was none of that. This was just personalities.”
It ebbed and flowed throughout 2015 until Bachmann eventually offered to retire if the church would buy out the rest of his contract, Rosenberger said. They had yet to agree on a settlement when that all fell apart, he said.
Bachmann had sent an email at the urging of Covenant’s leadership to the congregation about his retirement plans, Rosenberger said. His email rubbed some members of the church the wrong way.
Church leadership asked the Nashville Presbytery to get involved, Rosenberger said. The Presbytery, a type of regional denominational oversight group, started an investigation that led to a church trial.