Friday, September 30, 2011

No Longer to Protect Identities

Bob Flayhart instigated a conflict when he chose to break an agreement with me that I had diligently adhered to. He did it without warning. So I basically called him a grace killer because of it. But I reasonably expected him as a pastor to keep his word so when he broke his end of the agreement that we had made.

Mark Hunter deferred to a counselor as he was resigning then everything got thrown to Tom Patton.

Tom as it turns out has been deliberately blocking any attempt at moving forward toward restoration and resolution. He has been all along.

I tried repeatedly to get things resolved to no avail as BOTH Bob and I made numerous mistakes along the way.

But things escalated in March when Bob decided to do the very thing he swore never to do when we had initially made the agreement.

What was the agreement? It was that I was never to ask why or if he hated me on his wall. I never did. He said that was the ONLY thing that would lead to what he did in March.

I did not know because they never teach new people what to do when a pastor causes the conflict and a member has a grievance against the pastor, so I contacted the presbytery. AFTER Bob sent a text one evening saying if I texted him again that evening that he would have me removed from my activities. Well, I did not text him again but he sent me a text the next morning saying he was doing it anyway.

The next day he sent an e-mail saying that it was because I had tried to seek advisement from an elder. Which according to presbytery was what I was supposed to be doing.

So I wrote a letter after getting advisement with regard to two activities. Sunday school and LIFE group. To paraphrase what I was told: if it is an activity that is open to everyone including non-members then I was permitted to attend them unless I was under biblical discipline.

Instead of resolving anything, the counselor actually mucked things up when she ended up stipulating that in order to see her that Tom and I would have to be in regular communication.

Tom mucked things up when the first activity we agreed to for the summer was whatever was left with VBS. I got that cleared, but then Tom insisted he had to call and make sure but then had to wait to hear back. But then Tom removed from doing anything at all. Because of miscommunication and misunderstanding.

The commission that got appointed crossed some lines as well. I asked for help getting back in activities not with relational matters, but they apparently made some decision regarding that that they never informed me of and then used against me. Instead of clarifying a new communication agreement the counselor made with me and Bob which was not clarified until the next month despite repeated attempts at getting it clarified and only broken for two emergent situations during Tom's absence for a couple of weeks, I did adhere to the clarified terms.

The commission has not been adequate in terms of action. And frankly last time proceeded to destroy every relationship I have at church instead of moving anything toward restoration and resolution.

To make matters worse, they retroactively created an issue out of LIFE group and have essentially done what amounts to excommunication without process.

The biblical process of Matthew 18 stipulates that in terms of conflict, the "offended party," which in this case is Bob (actually me, but he refused to listen, so some others tried to approach him on my behalf), is to go to the person who offended him. Well, Bob, in fact, has failed to do this.

Because LIFE groups are described as the life blood of the church, even non-members can attend them and is where my friends are, all my relationships were in essence destroyed and I, in fact, have been excommunicated without process.

In the past couple of weeks, I did seek forgiveness from Bob who optimistically stated that it might be possible that things can be restored by the end of the year except that since I spoke to both him and Greg Poole last Sunday, they both understood that the first step on rebuilding trust on both sides was LIFE group.

Tom said he cares, yet in conversation, he opposed Bob and Greg and again deliberately blocked any attempt to move toward restoration and resolution.

I know I DESERVE to be brought under discipline YET they, despite continually saying if I don't comply with various demands they have made, I will be subject to church discipline. I do know in my heart that going through the process will in fact have better chance of bringing about restoration and resolution. So I have this challenge: Do it. Bob has to initiate by biblical definition. But clearly, it would be more gracious to start it then to not do it.

And that is my challenge.

In the meantime, I will write to Georgia and seek intervention since the local leadership has not done anything and has now repeatedly refused to even hear my case now.

Oh, and, well, what am I supposed to do? They keep saying I need to maturely state my case but when I do, Tom instigates an argument with me and they refuse to hear me.

Frankly, I am tired of this conflict and Bob made a promise he has yet to be able to keep but will keep when things get resolved and settled, but in the meantime, I am now forced into a position where I can no longer comply.

So, I'm challenging them now. Please if you want to demonstrate grace to me, to the church, please bring under the process.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

When a Church Goes Wrong

What do you call cutting a member off from community, fellowship, and the very thing they call the life blood of the church? What do you call it when they retroactively create an issue that never should have been an issue and in defiance of prior advisement from higher authority forbid a member from doing something that even NON-members are allowed to do? Merriam-Webster calls it excommunication. But what do you do when a church that teaches that they follow a biblical process of church discipline essentially excommunicates a person without following the process? You fight back. Well, now I have to write to Atlanta.

The thing that hurts the most is that they say it's about rebuilding trust and we started to move forward again, but they threw me this hurdle.

And now I hurt for him more than I do for me because when we talked Sunday, he was optimistic that things could be worked out and restored before the end of the year. Yet how can they be when there's GIANT obstacle?

Because of this, I am faced with having to quit church altogether. After all, there's no more reason for me to stay where I am being treated as less than a non-member.

So it is with heavy heart that I write this post. Heavy because I may have lost one of the most valuable friendships I could have because of hurt that he started and my reactiveness did not help.

I have made my apologies and asked forgiveness, but it is the inaction and the wrongful actions on the part of the leadership that have destroyed everything. I'm sorry.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Letter to Gomer in Hosea

Dear Gomer,

You know something? I get it. I really do. Probably more than most people.

Gomer, who hurt you? Who abused you or molested you? Who promised to never abandon you but still did? Was it your father? Was it a friend? It doesn't really matter who though.

I know you're hurting. I know you're desperate. I feel your pain. Because you and I are a lot alike. Well, except for the prostitute lifestyle you chose.

You see, Gomer, I have been hurt. I have been abused. I don't know for certain, but I may have molested. I have been abandoned. Several times. My "father." Friends.

I feel pretty helpless. Hopeless. Frustrated. Scared. Desperate.

Gomer, I started cutting because of it. Like you, I don't know what else to do. But unlike you, I don't think prostitution is the answer.

Gomer, I have been hearing about a God who supposedly loves those He chooses. And I have been hearing that this God also pursues those He loves and chooses. Like Hosea does with you.

Gomer, I say supposedly because I don't really know because I don't have that God in my life. You see, I have been hurt and abused and abandoned by those who say they love me and promise not to abandon me that I am skeptical about this God I have heard about.

But I am curious about that God. Because what I have is no different than the people who did all those things. And what I have heard says that what I have is not God.

But I want to know more about this God. Because I can see that this God is pursuing me like Hosea pursued you. And I need that God.

Gomer, maybe we should both stop trying so hard to run away. Maybe we should both stop running and let ourselves be caught by these pursuers.

I know it's scary, but maybe we need to do that.

Of course, it might help if some of the people in our lives could help us out a little bit and take our hands and help us with it. Sometimes we can't do it on our own because we have been wounded so much that we are literally paralyzed with fear. So if someone came along to take our hands and to go with us, maybe we can at least meet our pursuers in the middle.

Do you have someone who can do that? Or like me, do you need and want someone who can and will do that?

Anyway, Gomer, I just wanted to write you this letter to help you know that you are not alone. And even though I know that you will never reply to this letter because you lived a very long time ago, I wanted you to know that I get it. That I understand.


SE Spann