Wednesday, May 25, 2005


"The Lutheran Church of O___ R_____ was itself suffering from a certain neglect. Having been through a very public scandal involving pastoral immorality in the early 1980s, followed by a brief and unhappy pastorate of a man who was not a good match for a congregation that had been through the trauma it had, the congregation became vacant and dwindled in size to the point where they were seriously thinking about closing down. If it had not been for the care of a retired pastor in the area ... the congregation would never have been built up the point where they felt strong enough to try calling a full-time pastor. "
-- Taken from the website of a church my father served in mid-eighties

My father is the pastor referred to in the "unhappy pastorate of a man who was not a good match" phrase. I think this borders on slander. My father almost left the ministry because of this church. The congregation lied to him almost from the start. His first paycheck bounced as a result of no money to pay him. After we had left we found out that they had stopped paying his health insurance and for over six months we as a family were not covered.

I have half a mind to write a letter to the pastor of the church and demand an apology. It has been 19 years since we left the congregation (I say we because pastoral ministry is a family affair, don't let any one tell you different). It was not an "unhappy" pastorate, but it was very trying for my father and for us as a family. The stresses my father faced in this congregation were many. I will never forget the night of the infamous voters meeting where they cut my father's salary by half! HALF! He became, in effect a "worker priest" he started substitute teaching in the local highschools to make ends meet, but he soldiered on. He ministered the best way he could.

I am sure there is more that happened that I'll never know about. I was in elementary school when we were at this church and I think my parents kept things from me which is fine.

Here is the church building. It is in an 19th century mansion. The church is on the bottom floor and the "parsonage" is on the top two floors. It looks out over the Hudson River.


Anonymous said...

Have I ever told you how happy I am that I decided not to become a pastor?

(There are probably a lot of other people who are happier.)


Jim said...

It does make you wonder what the state of the this particular congregation might be. To post something like that almost certianly reflects the inner turmoil that probably has never been resolved. Which is true for many churches. I would guess there is two sides to the story. There could have been some things your dad did to upset them. You were his young son. Your only supposed to see him as your hero at that point in your life. On the same note. I am not sure who I would punch first if my congregation voted to cut my salary. I guess I would take that as a hint they didn't want me there anymore. It is hard to serve when you feel like your being taken advantage of. How good of shepherd can you be when right out of the gate your family is suffering because of a bounced check? Which probably wasn't the first or the last time it happened. When you write your letter, which I think you should, write it from a perspective of the Gospel. If your point is to do to them what they did to you, then I would say to pass and don't waste your time.

rebekah said...

usually i'M all for writing angry letters, but then i'M a bitch.

you're far More level headed than i, so good luck with that letter

jillymae said...

i definitely think a letter would be in order. just come to peace with the issue, with God and yourself, first so you don't say something you'll regret. there's nothing wrong with calling out a brother/sister for accountability. just don't do it out of anger.

(totally easy for me to say, harder to do)