There are days of clarity and hope and there are days like today. Today brought another wave of profound sadness. I think I know the culprit.
It’s graduation time. Two years ago at this time, our first child was graduating from high school and the occasion should have been much more joyful than it turned out to be. We did enjoy the day, but there was a cloud of sorrow and imminent danger that hung low and threatened to steal what joy we were finding in the day. Just a few months earlier our church leadership had forced one of our ministers to resign in a cloud of manipulation and secrecy. And now they had turned their sights on two more ministers. One of them was the Music Minister.The same day our son was graduating, the first child of the Music Minister was graduating from the same high school and his family was in turmoil because they knew their ministry and his job were in jeopardy. Our family was heartbroken as we watched their family try to celebrate the milestone in a way all parents dream of while trying not to allow the swirling rumors and uncertainty of their future steal the happiness of seeing their daughter graduate and begin her life as an adult.
The timing of the actions of church leadership and some members was insensitive at best, but I’d call it more along the lines of cruel. A few days prior to graduation, the minister received a couple of anonymous letters…one suggesting he leave town and another being a Xerox copy of a Bible page with the verse marked that read: “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are…”. Just over a week after graduation, their fears became realities as the Music Minister was forced to resign. Their recently graduated daughter was on a church mission trip in Romania. Her parents had to relay the message to her while separated by thousands of miles. The trip was to be a special trip with the Music Minister’s wife going with their daughter, but his wife made the difficult decision to pull out of the trip at the last minute, fearing her husband might be fired while she was out of the country. The decision to send their daughter on the trip alone during such a turbulent time was a painful one, but their intuition was right. And, as it turned out, they had to deal with the horrific chain of events while their family was separated. My husband was on that trip to Romania with our recently graduated son and witnessed the heartbreak as the teenagers on that trip had to try and make sense of what was happening back home amongst the adults at the church who had sent them on the mission trip.
Now, two years later, that same family has another child graduating…this time from a school that was never really his as he was forced by our actions to move during his senior year. They live in a different town. They are in a new church. They have unhealed wounds. The rumors that were started, perpetuated, and allowed to stand are still circulating in this community without anyone in leadership at the church addressing them publically. The church leadership, according to the interim pastor, has no desire to reconcile with the family. The family has been discarded by this church. So, they will celebrate the graduation of another child this week. If I’m feeling the weight of the memories and sorrow, I wonder how they are feeling.
I’m ashamed again. That I wasn’t more honest with myself about the church I called family for so many years. That I knew the capabilities of those in leadership for many years and sat idle. That I wasn’t able to get anyone to recognize the warning signs that were so obvious as the destruction was slowly unfolding. That I was part of a church that condones a culture of deception and refuses to open their eyes to the proof that the deception even exists.
Note: I’ve never addressed this before, but I want to clarify a couple of things in regards to this blog. 1.) I write these posts as I feel personally moved to write them. 2.) The families of the ministers I mention are not aware of my intent to write a post or the content it contains prior to it being published. Contrary to what some church members might think or say, the ministers and their families do not influence my blog content. Personally witnessing their ongoing struggles is what moves me to write. 3.) If a minister or one of his family members comments on a post, it is unsolicited and can go a long way toward answering the question: “How are they doing?”