For those of you who have followed this blog for a while, you probably remember the problems that led to my separation from my church. For those who are new this is the short version:
My family and I attended a church (LRC) for 15 years, felt very welcome, gave time, money and service to the church, our daughters went to Sunday School, etc. No problems. Then an interim pastor, with whom I had a short lived friendship that fell apart over her insensitivity to gay issues, went to the Elders with a strange tale about me obsessing over her. The Elders bought it hook, line, and sinker - and threatened to revoke my membership and ban me from church property. They did this without ever telling me what the issue was or even speaking to me once. I spent a lot of time and energy just trying to find out what happened and when I finally got to speak with the supervising pastor, he admitted to me that they had really screwed up. When I spoke to one of the Elders, Lauri, and said they would have never done this to a straight woman, she agreed and admitted that they had seriously mishandled the situation. But when I repeatedly asked to be able to speak with the Board of Elders to try to heal and reconcile the situation so that I might feel comfortable returning to church, they flatly and repeatedly refused. Now they will not answer an email. Nothing. Total rejection.
And this I sort of understand. No one wants a mirror being held up to them and their mistakes. In fact, Lauri told me they just wanted to bury the pain and not revisit it. They forgave themselves for all their prejudices and incompetency and left me at the curb. I have not attended church at LRC since.
Fast forward to this week -
Part of the tradition at LRC is to give the graduating seniors a Bible from the church. Beanie is graduating and is a confirmed member of the church in her own right. And so I emailed Elder Lauri to ask if she would be receiving one, and when that would happen. (since Beanie works on Sunday mornings she would have to request that day off. ) But Lauri did not reply to my question.
I tried one more time, stating that I realized that they were not talking to me, but Beanie was still a member, and I couldn’t believe that they would shun her just because they had issues with me. Well, apparently I was wrong. Once again I did not get a reply.
Really? This is how you model Christian love to a young girl? I went back to Beanie and told her that the church would not answer the question. And she simply answered “well screw ‘em”. Yeah. Screw ‘em. But I could see how hurt she was. (This after they “mistakenly” left her off the church birthday list) I’m sure she doesn’t care about the bible, but rejection can really affect self esteem, especially when you’re a teenager. And when you’ve done nothing to deserve it, it is difficult to understand. I believe this will be her lasting impression of how churches treat people. How very sad.
Something very wrong has happened at this church. They were once open and friendly. But that was under the leadership of a much loved,long term pastor. Once he retired, it seems that some cold hearted, power hungry people have been left to fill the void. When I talk to others who have left in the last few years, they invariably mention something by the Elders (or interim pastor) that made them feel unwelcome or unwanted or small. Which I find so ironic since the Elders are now turning themselves inside out trying to attract new members since their numbers (and financial support) have dropped so dramatically.
Yet I am still shocked and hurt that they feel free to treat my daughter so cruelly. No, actually I’m angry. She’s just a kid. How can they possibly justify that? I have forgiven and forgiven these people every single time their incompetency and prejudices have hurt me. But hurting a kid . . . I don’t know if I’ll get past this. Some things are just unforgivable.