Monday, August 2, 2010

Church Saga - twisted up

Dealing with the church drama came at the same time I weaned off all depression medication. I still have a prescription for xanax but committed to not taking it for anxiety more than 2x a week (I sometimes take a half at night to sleep).

So here I am, med-free, with emotions all over the place. I've never cried so often or so much. I've punched pillows in anger, thrown a whole Sunday newspaper of wadded up paper, and yelled into pillows. I've also laughed uproariously with this group of 11.

This Pastor has been like a father-figure to me. Aren't pastors supposed to be? When I finally allowed myself to see the impropriety of the meeting with the pastor (
here) I was upset. My emotions and feelings were totally validated by seeing the concern, and even anger, of those around me. I was angry that the children's policies committee was supposedly voted out. I was angry at how the situation with Mitch was handled. I knew the pastor's take was that I was being "too sensitive." It helped that those in my group didn't see me as over-reacting. It felt good to be part of a group that was supporting each other. It was so healing to see these strong men lead their families in making decisions. To see these men meet together and then go confront the pastor. To feel protected by this group. To be a part of Godly women who met to pray while our men were out fighting for us. It was a great feeling of safety.

The pastor refused to return phone calls, emails, etc. Canceled a meeting. So I drafted and sent a resignation letter. It was professional. I wrote one that was several pages long and very emotional. I then redacted everything personal. I kept it to just the facts. Several other people resigned. Suddenly the church was without teachers for 1st through 6th grades; 4 deacons, 3 of 5 trustees and almost all the tellers. Rumors began to stir and our phones again were ringing.

Through it all, the group stayed together and refused to engage in any gossiping or rumor-mongering. If someone contacted us, we kept to a very brief version of the facts.
The pastor's defense is that his actions in deciding who should be deacon (ignoring the will of the congregation) was made in confidence with only the deacon leadership. Instead of admitting wrong, he claimed some pastoral privilege and shifted the focus to the deacon chair in breaking confidence by telling others. He called this chairperson (my friend) a "Judas" and a "liar" and a "master manipulator." Instead of dealing with the issue of Mitch and the policies, he was intent on keeping things quiet so no one got uncomfortable and left.

A church member, sensing a huge church split, suggested mediation. So one of our couples met with the pastor and a mediator. I expected the couple to contact all of us after and update us on what happened. After an entire day went by, we got an email from this couple that there had been an impasse and that it was time to move on and put the past behind us.

My emotions were again in turmoil. I was being told to cover things up, exposing things were wrong, and to put the past behind and move forward. All of these messages are ones I heard throughout my childhood. I'm trying to sort through all of these messages and determine what fits where.

I wonder if every crisis and big event in my life will step on my toes like this and get twisted up in the emotions of my childhood? If all of life's emotions will be filtered through events of the past?


lawyerchik said...

That sounds very much like something is going on in your pastor's life - not to excuse his actions, but just that the change in his behavior sounds like something "happened." People don't usually make the kind of turnarounds that you've described in a vacuum.

Aside from that, though, what does your church constitution say about the appointment/election of deacons? If the process was not done according to the church constitution, then regardless of the pastor's beliefs about his decision, he should be made aware that he didn't act according to the church's constitution.

My own pastor and his wife are ... well, they're my friends and my pastor and wife, so it's sometimes a difficult line to walk. I know that they are committed to seeing people come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, but I also see a focus on church "growth" (which I believe is coming as much from the denomination as it might be coming from within the church), and it's causing friction.

Numbers mean money, and money means programs, and programs - to some people - mean any of a bunch of different things. To some, they mean power - leadership positions do tend to cloak those holding them with a degree of power. To others, they mean a chance to bring in people who will help them out-vote people they disagree with. Shouldn't happen in a church, but it does......

I'm so sorry this is happening, Enola!! Church politics are the worst thing about being a pastor's daughter, at least from my perspective, and it doesn't seem to get any better when your dad ISN'T the pastor. (Sigh!)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you've had that group of people to give perspective and support in the midst of some painful testing. DM

purple cupcakes said...

wow it sounds really hurtful and sounds liek a lot of people out there have bene effected by this pastor. We sure hope it gets resolved soon.

misssrobin said...

I am totally with you. Anytime someone says anything about covering something up, alarms go off in my head.

I spent most of my life hiding things. Believing people when they said I was being too sensitive. Pretending things didn't affect me. Hiding things that should be discussed because others were uncomfortable with it.

I am done. I will not do so again. I am proud of you for following your heart even when it was very difficult.