Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Ouch... that one's going to leave a mark

I am a pcusa minister. Like many mainline denominations we have our fair share of controversies. Currently our denomination is very active in the NCC and in an effort to divest from certain companies who are active in the Middle East. We also argue yearly over ordination of homosexuals, etc, etc, etc... Our higher governing body tends to lean a lot more to the left than the religious right that fills a good part of its pews. The pastor - especially the pastors of smaller churches - get caught in the crossfire.

I have just been nicked. Actually right now it feels like far more than just a flesh wound. Long story short is that I have stood firm that this church will continue to pay its dues to General Assembly. The governing body of our individual church has gone over and over what to do about GA and has come down on focusing on what this individual church can do in this community rather than focusing on what will ultimately divide us.

We have one powerful member who does not agree with this stance. He has just informed me that he and his wife and other members of his family are leaving our membership and want to be taken out of the directories and off the newsletter list.

I should be triumphant - yeah, he's gone. But I am not. I am so sad and hurt and pained. I am pained for this church, I am pained for his family and I am pained for our friendship.

He was on the committee that chose me to receive this Call. When he was downsizing his furniture business he had us come in and pick what we wanted so he is the reason why our house is furnished with reasonable looking furniture and not pieces of plywood set up between crates. I love him and his wife so much and now they are being ripped away from me because of stupid politics and money. He believes in the power of the purse and I refuse to let that power dictate our church.

There is more. I am worried for him because I think he is slipping into the grips of dementia. He and his wife are in their 80's and in the past few years you could see him slipping mentally. I think this pcusa thing is what he has chosen to cling to. So how do I communicate with his wife that she can turn to us when he is soon too far gone. We are the church of Christ and we will NOT turn our backs on them. How do I get this across when I am no longer welcome to visit or to call.

Ouch. This hurts. Ouch. This hurts. Ouch.... Lord hear my prayer.


Girl said...

I'm sorry, I'm so sorry to read this.


Songbird said...

Could you write her a note?
I have a couple like this, too, and I just made a point of reaching out to the wife so that she would know I was not the one burning bridges.
I'm so sorry that you have suffered this particular injury.

Purechristianithink said...

Good for you for not giving in to ultimatums. If it's not GA it's something. Apparently one family left our church years ago because they lost the "what color paint do we use in the sanctuary remodel" battle.

It's hard when it's someone you care about. I'm sure God will provide ways you can communicate with this family when the right time comes. The temptation is to want it to be all better/resolved right away. And that probably won't happen.

Songbird said...

Hey, pcit, we had the same thing at Small Church, before I got there. And 15 years later, we still have bare plaster in the Sanctuary.

will smama said...

It is unreal what folks get upset about, isn't it. Songbird, the bare plaster in the Sanctuary makes me chuckle.

The shutters surrounding our Sanctuary windows (not stained glass)came loose during a storm and broke about three of them. Our Property Chair at the time was going to run right out and fix them but two women had a hissy fit about finding glass that matched the 'antique' glass that we already had in the other windows.

We went for weeks with the windows being boarded up until finally they tracked down the guy who fixed the windows last time. The 'antique' glass was merely bathroom glass - like the kind you put in a bathroom window so no one can see in - found at that very rare antique dealer, Home Depot.

NotShyChiRev said...

Do all of us in small churches right now have a couple like this?
For now, he is not here, she is....but who knows for how long?

Blessings on you and your congregation.

Emily said...

Oh, much empathy on my end.
So many of us have stories like this these days.

With you in prayer.

Apostle John said...

On the family that left the church...

I have noticed that one of the most potential problems in a church will somehow involve the PNC members, especially the chair, perhaps years later. It is as if they think they hired you, therefore they control you.

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

I commend you for wanting to stay in touch with these people, no matter what. They are still in God's family. In our family, a couple left their church due to one of the preachers being more liberal than the husband. They attended church off and on, but never really bonded with a church. The wife became a partial shut-in, so they didn't make the effort to go out on Sunday morning. Now she is completely a shut-in with a devastating disease, an unfortunately negative attitude toward faith issues, and no church or pastor to bring the Good News. I actually emailed their former church, mentioning no names, but got no reply.