Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Church Saga - why we left

There was this incident where I was disappointed by the pastor. I had trouble believing that this guy was the same pastor who had acted so firmly before. In talking with friends it became apparent that many others were concerned with different things going on in church. Many members were leaving without explanation.

Eleven of us met to talk and pray. We started the meeting with prayer and with a piece of paper. On the paper we were asked to list the top 3 issues we thought existed. Each of us listed honesty, manipulation, and deceit. Obviously not qualities you want in a church leader.

As we discussed specifics, we became more concerned. We realized just how few people who had helped found this church less than 15 years prior were still members. This group committed to make sure we focused on facts and not rumors. We decided to spend time making sure we had the truth in front of us. We would then decide what to do with it. So we called people, read church documents and got back together. What we learned was outstanding. Bylaws were ignored. Financial policies were violated or just ignored. Deacon elections were manipulated so that strong-willed people were not permitted to serve. Then there were the outright lies to cover all of these issues up.

We researched the Bible and determined we would act in accordance with Biblical standards. Since the deacon chair had already tried to discuss the issues with the pastor, we decided two additional men would go with him. It resulted in the pastor storming out of his office and yelling at these men in the parking lot.

The pastor then refused to take calls, return emails or even make an appearance in his office. He claimed that the "parking lot debacle" had "gotten physical" forgetting that he was the only one yelling. He organized a meeting of all deacons, except the chair, my husband and another one he suspected of being in cahoots with us. The purpose was to "vote out" the deacon chair for daring to discuss any church business with us. Our phones rang off the hook.

In all of this, two interesting things happened. When describing a meeting I had with the pastor of the Mitch incident, I mentioned how the pastor acted odd. He asked to speak with me and we went to his office. When drafting church policies, he told me he never, ever met with females alone in his office. I had never met with him alone in his office. On this day, he took me in his office and shut the door. In my profession I have met with many male clients in offices. So I was fine with this. Until he walked over to the window that faced the parking lot and shut the blinds. He said, "I don't want people to see us meeting." Then instead of sitting in the chair behind his desk or in the two armchairs facing the couch I was sitting on, he sat next to me on this 2 person couch. That struck me as odd. He was sitting back, relaxed. I immediately scootched forward and turned sidways.

Alarms went off in my head but I kept pushing them aside because I became so focused and mad about what was being said. I didn't think much of it later because I was still so mad about what was said. It was only when mentioning this off the cuff, that it struck me just how inappropriate this was. My husband and the other men in our group were really mad. My husband wanted to go give the pastor "what for."

Our group also chose to tell the others in our group about Mitch. The same gentleman who had gone after that sex-abuse couple, who is the same man who was blackballed as a deacon, is a hot tempered man. He was furious. Everyone else was trying to calm him down. I didn't want to see anyone get hurt. But I did like seeing him get mad. It was healing for me to see a man get mad about something like this.

The pastor refuses to admit he did anything wrong. He, and some of the church members, believe he should run the business of the church as he sees fit. Our group disagrees and think that a church who organizes itself as a "priesthood of believers" with bylaws and policies, ought to follow them.

I never thought leaving a church would be so emotional. But it sure has been.


Kahless said...

I am sorry that it has reached this.

misssrobin said...

I am sorry about your experience. Religion and spirituality are such personal things. So intense. So pivotal.

I hope you find what you are looking for.

And I agree. The rules are there for everyone, even those in charge.

lawyerchik said...

Wow. You've been through a lot. Any ideas on why this pastor is/has been behaving the way he has?