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Dear flock,

I miss you all so much. For the last 16 years it has been my absolute privilege to be the spiritual shepherd, leader, and preacher for you. Even before that, I was honored to serve as youth pastor and associate since 1995. All told, I’ve spent nearly half of my life loving, serving, preaching, praying, teaching, and growing with you. As I’ve said many times, “me and Eastview grew up together.” It’s true. God has done so much in our time together.

During the time I served as your senior pastor, God allowed us to witness life change through over 3,500 baptisms! I was privileged to baptize 400 or 500 of you personally. In these last sixteen years, we became a congregation moved by the word of God. In that time, God gave me strength and passion to preach over 700 unique sermons, over 2,100 times, through 25 books of the Bible. I was honored to pray over and dedicate 1,000+ children, officiate over 300 weddings, and conduct hundreds of funerals.

We have accomplished so much good in this world and community feeding thousands yearly through our food pantry, becoming the local epi-center of relief during Covid, sending millions of dollars overseas, and launching dozen of people into full-time ministry. In short, we were becoming a fearless church of Christ followers whose ridiculous love and dangerous witness was irresistible. Until recently, I believed that in my final four or five years (I’m 58 years old), God had some amazing work for us to do through “Love McLean County” and it saddens me that I’m not there to help achieve it. But most of all, I miss hugging you, crying with you, praying with you, and celebrating victories with you.

Unfortunately, six weeks ago, our relationship came crashing to a halt through a series of

events that I can only describe as a personal, spiritual, and emotional hurricane. This letter is my attempt to clarify many untrue, half true, or assumed communications that are being

circulated concerning my departure. Several close Christian friends have counseled that you, my former flock, should hear the truth from their trusted shepherd. So, this is my attempt to answer two questions. “Why did I resign?” and “Why did I start a local ministry called Song and Sword?”

First, some context for these decisions. In the last six weeks, my family in Arizona went through a crisis that ripped me and Sara’s heart out and crushed many dreams. A week later this was made very public through an announcement at my sons’ former church. Sara and I flew to see my son, my daughter-in-law, and our granddaughters in Arizona to help start the healing process for our family. A few days later, two former disgruntled staff members started a social media fire storm filled with lies, innuendos, accusations and half truths that engulfed our family and the church I still worked for. Four days later, the elders of Eastview unwisely, and unbiblically (I Corinthians 6) announced that they would move forward with an investigation In the process they slanderously associated me and my family with words like “sexual abuse”, “trauma”, “power dynamics”, and “cover-up.” All based on the accusations of two former co-workers and social media.

My resignation was announced as my unwillingness to review events from seven years ago

making it seem as though I had been and continued to be part of some sort of cover-up. Both are absolutely not true. This was followed by national and local news stories that defamed my character after 38 years of ministry. As if this weren’t enough, I faced legitimate safety concerns based on some local twitter posts prompting a report to both Normal and

Bloomington police departments. Finally, my mom was placed on hospice and passed away just before Easter. It’s been quite a six weeks!

I can still testify, that my God is faithful and has used hundreds of you to carry Sara and I with your prayers, encouragement, and financial support. Sara and I have found that when Jesus is all you have, that is enough. And he often works mightily through his people. Thank you for being Jesus’ hands and feet to serve us in our greatest time of need. And now to the questions.

WHY DID I RESIGN? My resignation really goes back to my evaluation given by the elders in the summer of 2020 in which after exhausting myself to keep the church going even though it was closed for three months for Covid, they gave me the worst evaluation I’d ever received. My wife’s heart broke and she frankly lost all respect for these men who she was convinced had taken me for granted, disrespected me, and not supported my leadership role at the church. Still, she rallied and recommitted to Eastview as we led through Trump, Vax, Masks, shut down, re-open, race riots, etc.. through the end of the year. In hindsight, we should have resigned then, but I loved Eastview, so we gutted it out.

Fast forward to this past fall. The elder team received a letter from the former staff member

mentioned above which I’m sure many of you have read. The elder team (me included)

decided that her conclusions were unfounded or inconclusive and that we would not revisit

seven years ago, but instead would focus on the health of our current staff culture. I told them in September, “Brothers, I don’t have the emotional strength for this, so if we go back, I will not be able to stay as your Sr. Pastor.” They all affirmed me as their leader and said they had no intent or need to review seven years ago feeling we had led by the Spirit and in a biblical manner. In the meantime, they tried to arrange a meeting with this young lady, but her rhetoric was such that a lawyer advised us not to have further dialogue with her.

Two months later an HR audit was not stringent enough for some elders. I disagreed, but in the spirit of submitting to others, we decided to embarque on something stronger. Still, we all agreed in December the goal of this assessment would focus on our current staff culture and again, I said, “Guys we have to move on from this, it’s distracting my leadership and our ministry AND I can not stay as the Sr. Pastor if we go back.” As late as January, the elders affirmed me as their spiritual leader and gave me a vote of confidence. Then this soul hurricane hit and the elders made a series of decisions that they knew would force my resignation.

  •  The elder team had a series of meetings without my knowledge or participation. Which is a violation (at least in spirit) of the leadership model we agreed to and the biblical principle of unity. Meanwhile, one of the elders, who is a spiritual father to the former staff member mentioned above participated in all meetings. I naturally felt disrespected and hurt.

  •  On Wednesday before the Sunday they publicly maligned my son, the chairman of the elders, in a phone call to me in Arizona, hem-hawed around asking on behalf of the elders what I was going to preach on Sunday. Remember “God has a plan” from the “hope” series? They wanted to be sure I wasn’t moving too fast toward forgiveness (apparently for my son). The elders had never asked to see what I was preaching ahead of time. The lost trust in these men mounted.

  •  Finally, on Saturday morning, after a phone call from our Executive Pastor, the chairman of the elders decided to remove my “mike talk” from the Eastview’s web site. Didn’t tell me. Didn’t ask me. We were supposed to meet Saturday afternoon to talk about a communication plan for the church and the current situation. But I didn’t need the meeting. I submitted my letter of resignation.

  •  In full transparency, the elders say they tried to keep me from resigning in that Saturday meeting and were willing to let me preach that Sunday. I did not hear them say it and I don’t believe they did. At any rate, I wouldn’t/couldn’t preach after they publicly torched my family as they did.

That’s the truth on why I resigned. And now for the next question.

WHY DID I START A NEW MINISTRY IMMEDIATELY? After I resigned, I realized I was a preacher who was still called to preach, but I had no place to preach. I also was suddenly not very marketable in the preaching world. Who wants to hire a preacher that will bring an immediate media firestorm to your church? I also didn’t trust the elders treatment of me following my resignation to take care of my family financially into the future. So, I started a ministry called Song and Sword to allow me to continue preaching and teaching as God has gifted me and perhaps make a living doing so.

The day after my resignation, I asked the chairman of the elders for an exit interview, a meeting with the elders to come to an agreement on my severance package, and a desire to allow me to retain my intellectual property since my computers were quickly disabled and access to all my files were denied. I had also hoped to be able to come and get my stuff from both of my offices because my swipe card was disabled. I have heard that “Mike didn’t want to come to the office and see the staff.” Instead, I was told by a staff member that it would be best not to come into the office making me feel as though I was not welcomed. Here’s what happened next:

  •  My offices were packed for me without my consent or knowledge and delivered to my home in 57 boxes. I still have not found all of my personal stuff and many personal files and notes of mine were confiscated. I still have no access to hundreds of sermons and three book transcripts. No one during my tenure was denied the courtesy of cleaning out their own office!

  •  The elder team did not communicate with me in any way for three weeks. Silence! Finally, after three weeks, I received a scripted email informing me that they determined that my contract (with outside counsel, ie lawyers) only required one month pay and benefits. Suddenly, I had no income or health benefits - they did offer me to pay for COBRA and to continue my pay checks until the investigation was completed if I complied with conditions that essentially would have prevented me from preaching in a live setting. I had no input. Take it or leave it. I left it.

  •  Finally, after five weeks (five weeks!) three elders met with me and Sara face to face. This was the Matthew 18 meeting we had been hoping for all along. Sara and I shared how we felt “they had sinned against us” hoping for repentance and a chance for reconciliation. We haven’t heard a word from any elder since, except for condolences for my mom’s passing. At the end of the meeting, they informed us that they were no longer obligated to pay us because I had organized a sunrise worship service for Easter Sunday!

Thankfully, in those five weeks of silence, by faith, we invested our entire savings, a major

portion of our retirement, and received financial support from many of our flock so that we

believe I can make a living doing what God has called us to do. We are now an official 501c3 organization registered with the state of Illinois as a non for profit as Song and Sword, Inc. If I had not taken these steps during the silence, I would be jobless, out of preaching, and without a way to make a living for my family.

What’s so hard about this is I still love Eastview. I helped build her and pray for her continued success and influence in this community. I never dreamed I would start a church in this community and honestly don’t currently have the energy to do so. However, there are many sheep from Eastview that have been injured, scattered, and are in need of a shepherd. I will never intentionally steal sheep from another church, but as a result of recent events and decisions, there are hundreds who still consider me their shepherd and recognize my voice. If they end up in my field, I will feed, lead, and nurture them.

My dear flock, for the foreseeable future, I and my family will remain in Bloomington/Normal,

so if you see me in public, say “hi” and if you want, I’ve got a hug for you. In the meantime, I’m praying for you as I hope you’ll pray for me. If you want to connect, you can find me at Eastview, I will always hold you in my hearts. I will always be thankful for you and how you’ve changed my life. And I will always sincerely say and mean…

Love ya,

Pastor Mike

15,413 views27 comments


Unknown member
May 20, 2023

Mike and Sara,

You are preachers called to preach. God bless you for not backing down from this trial. Regardless of what happened, who is at fault, partial fault, any fault at all, God will bless this situation. God will make Eastview better and God will bless Song and Sword, because He is much greater than both Eastview and Song and Sword!

God bless this ministry, if it is supposed to succeed, it will. If it is suppose to run it's course, it will. If it starts fast, ends fast, starts fast and never ends until you're in heaven - then either way is a win for God's kingdom. God is on the move, Hallelujah! God is on the …


Unknown member
Apr 20, 2023

Mike and Sara,

You guys are Amazing People and we're grateful Mike you are still our Shepard. Alot of us would be lost with out Mike Talks and Weekly Sermons by you. You have spiritual guided us as a Family and Married Couple for our 16 years of our , and continue too. You will always have our support. Song and Sword will be our choice of Ministries for Years to Come. Thanks for Being here for us and Loving us. Amen and God Bless to You and Your Family. Your Post was well spoken.


Unknown member
Apr 19, 2023

Mike and Sara,

Even though we've lived in Dallas for almost 10 years, Eastview has always been "home". We have a home church here but have continued to follow your teachings...because you are still our shepherd! Our hearts break for you and your families. I wept as I read this... breaking my heart all over again. I cannot imagine from your perspective. Please know, we love you and will continue to lift y'all in prayer from our southern (little to snow involved) home here in Texas. We do make it back to Btown from time to time and I would love nothing more than to run into you and receive the gift of hugs!! Finally, I'm sorry for the loss…


Unknown member
Apr 19, 2023

love you all so very much


Unknown member
Apr 19, 2023

Much love! I will pray for you and Sara and the whole family. You all are the best! God is not done with the Bakers, and you are going to love your ”New Thing” that God is doing with you now! Much love, OB & Bear

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