By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 31, 2000
From Henry Lyons' letter to Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church:
"Brothers and sisters I have sought the Lord in every way that a man can seek him. I have repented of the crimes, sins and wrongdoings over and over again. The Lord God has said to me directly, that He has forgiven me."
"The heaviest cross I've had to (bear) has been forgiving myself. When I think about how good God has been to me. The work he placed in my hands. For me to repay the Lord with such foolish behavior on my part. To let so many people down and ruin my father's good name, which I labored to exalt. Oh how foolish, how foolish I was! At times, I feel God should never release me from this life of bondage and chains."
"I reflect on how the church stood by me when you could have (turned) your back and thrown me out. I must say to you through the only means that I have, this letter, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Nevertheless, I was shocked when you took such strong decisive action on me and my situation when I entered the Dept. of Corrections. Admittedly, it was a surprise when you declared the pulpit vacant so quickly. For I had not yet exhausted all my appeals in the courts, per our agreement."
"I ask to be restored as a member of the Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church.
I seek reconsideration of the premature vote taken shortly after my entering the D.O.C. (prison).
That you would consider delaying your search for a new pastor until a time can be established after litigation as to my possible availability to serve."