Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Offer of Good Faith

I publicly make this offer of good faith and it is now up to him to make amends beyond this. I have tried to extend the very grace that was not extended to me. But if Tom Patton will reinstate Facebook by December 10 (he made a compromise then ended up breaking his end without justification even though I had in fact kept my end until after he broke his end) and have ONE conversation so we can clear the air, then I will retract, delete, and even apologize for the things I have said since he broke the compromise and broke the biggest and most important promise he has ever made to me. 

The thing is, he has spread falsehoods about me, and it has cost me dearly, not only with the church which has also spread some falsehoods via misinterpretation or misunderstanding, but in the community at large. However, if he reinstates me and talks with me so I can get the answers I need that only he can provide, nothing further will happen and despite the fact that I have only posted the truth, I will retract and delete it. 

We have tried to extend grace to them and they have not done the same for me. 

Right now, the most gracious thing I could do has been done and is being done. I didn't want to do it, but Tom broke his end of the compromise without justification and without explanation, so I had to do it. Not out of retaliation, but out of love. 

The most gracious thing he or that church leadership could do and should do right now is to place me under the proper order of church discipline. Believe it or not. But I am tired of them not doing what is biblically correct and acting against the BCO.

Tom could very well have said okay let's talk. He could very well of left the friendship intact on Facebook, and I would not have had to go to the proper authority about it. He could have done that and I would have never have had to report it. But he didn't. So I did.

Where is the grace? The mercy? The justice? The love? The forgiveness? 

When Tom broke the compromise, he repeated the pain I suffered when my own birth father disowned me. And it's a pain that I can NEVER recover from. 

NOTHING dictated that he sever the Facebook friendship. I had done everything right. I didn't do anything to warrant it. I kept my end of the compromise. I have witnesses. But he still broke the compromise. As a result, the truth came out.

When the shepherd lost just one sheep, he left the others to go in search of it. That's what a true shepherd does. But Tom threw the sheep under the bus. He then spread falsehoods about it. And to make things worse, he then threw it out the window. The sheep has been battered and abused. And Jesus has been hurt because this particular sheep has a handicap. 

Jesus is unwelcome in that place because one of the least of these was bullied. Instead of sticking up for what is right, and Tom knew what is right and acknowledged their wrong, he joined the bullies. It saddens me. 

When leaders don't apply scriptures equally and repeatedly target an individual and bully and abuse the individual, they bring down the entire organization to a very dark and corrupt level that God cannot stand. 

Power. It's often a power hunger that causes it. There are a lot of interesting articles pertaining to the bullies of church leadership. 

Abuse. When instead of exercising the biblical principles of conflict resolution, they either ignore it or do what they did to me, that's corruption as well. Often also due to being power hungry.

Destruction of friendships. Power hungry bullies who want to control everyone under them will do what it takes to destroy relationships. They are usually jealous of the friendships. 

But here's my prayer:

That Tom and I do get the needed meeting and that the Facebook friendship will be restored. 

That somehow a meeting with the church will take place so that all the misunderstandings which were made abundantly clear by Tom's own actions can be cleared. 

Grace is a beautiful thing once you start grasping it and desiring what I want and need like this. I just wish they would extend the grace they say they believe in. 

Justice. It's definitely a desire for justice. And justice by the world's standards say that I should forget trying to extend grace to Tom or even them and just bring action. But justice by God's standards say that I am to extend grace. What grace looks like right now is exactly what I am doing, have been doing since he broke the compromise, and will continue to do until things are made right. 

Holiday hope. It's all I got right now. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Corrupt Leadership Makes an Equally Corrupt Church

In this particular case, ONLY THREE correct scenarios exist:

1. Neither Tom nor I are subject to the document presented last year IF they truly removed my name from membership. At this point, because I never received any written notification that it was done, I honestly do not know. But if that is the case, and if they did, then neither Tom nor I are subject to any of the restrictions. Now it's a matter of Tom doing the RIGHT thing and engaging in II Corinthians 13:11 with me so we can restore a friendship that NEVER should have suffered from the corruption.

2. Tom and I can have restricted friendship (FB only) AND I can attend Sunday worship as per the document they threw back up. Again, I have NOTHING else in writing saying I cannot do that.

3. The church session MUST enact official church discipline. When church discipline is done correctly in accordance with scripture and the BCO, it is a VERY REDEMPTIVE process.

ANYTHING outside of these three parameters is supposed to be delivered via an action of the session and followed by official written notification.

Tom's incorrect actions have made him as corrupt as the rest of the leadership. And a corrupt leadership makes for a corrupt church. A corrupt church is NOT something God can tolerate. Look at how he handled those corrupt churches in scripture. He was NOT very kind to them or their members. 

Because of Tom's actions, unless he opens his eyes and his heart and does the RIGHT thing, I have to seek justice by the world's view of how one goes about getting the justice he/she deserves.

But it is my heart' sprayer and desire to not need to resort to that.

Here's another reality:

Member or not, the BCO defines my current situation as being still under the jurisdiction of the session on which Tom sits. That means that the above scenarios are the ONLY correct scenarios that can truly exist.

Sadly, also according to the BCO, in chapter 34, the presbytery is responsible for handling complaints against ministers. 

This week's agenda in effort to restore peace and purity to an already very corrupted church includes e-mailing the elder who was asked to HELP, and was in fact, the ONLY person who I OFFICIALLY asked for help from. Asking for help or intervention in a volatile situation is NOT dragging them into something. Oh, how Tom's eyes need to opened to how incorrect his perceptions have become. After knowing me well for 10 months, he should KNOW better than he has evidenced with all the lies and untruths that have surfaced lately. 

It baffles me how they can be so corrupt and how he could just join in the corruption after the past ten months. And it hurts. 

ALL he had to do was talk with me, talk to me, and we would NOT be where we are today. 

A corrupt leadership makes a corrupt church and I have experienced the corruption and inequality of scriptural application firsthand. 

Inequality? Yes. After all, the Bible is clear about church discipline and it applies to EVERYONE EQUALLY. Yet the church failed miserably. 

I have made an offer and I now make it publicly so that anyone reading this can not only hold me to it, but also convict them to hold to it.

IF Tom will talk with me either before Thanksgiving or at least schedule something by Thanksgiving for immediately after Thanksgiving holidays AND reinstate me fully on Facebook, THEN I am willing to retract and remove any and all posts that I have made, regardless of the truthfulness of them, from wherever I have posted them. Furthermore, IF the church will uphold the very document that they threw back at me and allow me to attend church worship OR place me under church discipline, I will write a letter of retraction to the outside sources as well.

If not, then I will pursue justice against a select few of the men with whom I have experienced the corruption, now including Tom, in the way the world permits justice to be served. 

But I make this offer because I would much rather see the REALITY of the "peace and purity of the church," something they falsely accused me of violating once because I asked for help resolving a conflict at one point and the person it was with chose to exacerbate things more just like Tom did this time. 

I have identified within the leadership FIVE specific bullies who became more corrupt after I was diagnosed with autism. And we know what Jesus says about the way you treat the least of these. They have bullied Jesus as well. 

I am prayerfully engaging this week though as something needs to be done to stop them from destroying the church even more than they have already. 

I'm sad that such a level of corruption exists at all, especially in a church. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Truth

Since Tom Patton clearly chose to violate his end of the compromise he made with me without telling me directly himself and unfriended me and blocked me on Facebook without justification as I so diligently kept my end of the compromise for the past month, I am no longer obligated to uphold my end of the compromise and therefore am within my rights to make public the violations of Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church. 

At this point, I have nothing else to lose because it is has become clear that Tom Patton lied to me the past 10-11 months about being my friend because a real friend would NEVER do what he did. Also it has become clear that neither Tom nor the church care about scripture when it comes to restoration (II Corinthians 13:11) or discipline (Matthew 18) or the least of these (Matthew 25).

I would not ordinarily drag names into a post, but I will no longer protect the offenders. However, for those who were only trying to truly help, I will only use initials.

For those that have ever read my earliest posts I chronicled about the tensions with Bob Flayhart and why I ultimately left Oak Mountain in December. I chronicled about the abuses that I personally experienced.

Well, let me tell you what the past 10-11 months have brought me through. 

A time of self-discovery. A battle with health. Glimpses of God.

But God is unattainable. But God remains out of reach to me. Because to me God might be a bully just like it turns out Tom and those leaders at the church were and are.

Tom said I hadn't had a meltdown in six months. And this meltdown was certainly the first one in the one month I visited Oak Mountain this time.

So I ask where is that grace they talk so much about when after one mistake they threw me out without just cause and without EVER having exercised proper church discipline?  

Somehow though apparently to them church discipline is only applicable to people who do not have autism. 

Last year I posted a picture of their document.

As I learned in the days that followed their action, when I became a member at Oak Mountain in 2009, my agreement was a legally binding document. They expected certain things of me but I also expected certain things of them. 

One of the things I expected was that if I truly caused offense that they would exercise Matthew 18 regarding church discipline. But they NEVER did. Instead they waited until the conflict had gotten so bad before they ever assigned anyone to me.

Then the care team said its purpose was restoration. Instead of restoration, I got handed a document that was very much divisive. A new contract if you would. A contract that was deemed as bullying and declared immoral. A contract that Tom Patton said neither he nor I would be subject to if I withdrew my membership, a contract that remains unsigned because of the undertones, a contract they have now bound Tom to by threatening to fire him for being my friend because they retaliated when I sought help, a contract they are trying to bound me to now as a non-member, a contract they have breached. The contract says that even unsigned, I may attend Sunday morning worship services yet after one meltdown that did not actually happen at church therefore did not disrupt church, they barred me from attending worship and threatened police force. The contract also says that if I violate any boundaries that the church session must conduct official church discipline (again they did NOT). 

The meltdown? Tom exacerbated it when he broke a promise to me by acting before explaining. Which he has now done again which is now why after nearly a month I am finally telling the truth about what happened.

Tom kept saying words that hurt me. It was when he attached the friendship to it though that things got worse.

I was already in a meltdown from all kinds of things including what Tom said.

Tom then exacerbated things. Is it possible that I overreacted? Yes. But he also knows he was at fault when he exacerbated things. 

I got in my car after trying to find someone to talk with me through the initial crisis of what Tom did to exacerbate things. I started my car and checked my messages. That's when giant Gordon approached my car. I was about to leave after checking my messages and he approached my car. I trusted him to help, not make things worse. Tom claimed that I dragged him into it, but I didn't. He approached me after I had already started my car. He then detained me until after a friend and her son drove up to ask me to lunch. 

Tom told my mom that he recognized that it was after my diagnosis that things at the church got worse. He actually wrote that as well. 

He also claimed I asked SR to go to the bathroom with me. I did not. I was already on my way to the bathroom when she ran into me also going to the bathroom. In the bathroom, she noticed I was distressed. She offered assistance I needed when I needed it and helped defuse a meltdown. She did the right thing. 

Tom was supposed to talk with me about what happened but before he had a chance to do so, I got a phone call saying I couldn't return to church and police force would be used if I did. 

So after having gone to the one person who worked on conflict resolution with Tom and me in the past, and doing what I was instructed by Gordon, and Tom's half-hearted attempt to explain what he did after the fact that he exacerbated the meltdown, they jumped straight to that?

So I contacted the higher authority. I asked what can be done if a church skips the entire order of church discipline and jumps straight to barring a person from worship? 

I wrote this:

"When Tom Patton asked if I believe in church discipline, here is what I finally got around to saying:

'U asked if I believe in church discipline. I believe if church discipline is done according to the outline in Matthew 18, then it is reasonable to perhaps shun a person, but never to bar them from worship b/c God might actually use worship to bring the person back around. I was NEVER brought under church discipline as a member nor a nonmember and so this is skipping all the way to the last step. And if that keys to the kingdom thing means that a person is going to hell then is that not assuming that man can somehow judge a person's heart? Tom, either I misunderstood you or the church definitely screwed up this time? Or both?'

"His response:

Turn off ur brain'"

I asked for a meeting. The e-mail was forwarded and the leaders retaliated by threatening to fire Tom for being my friend. All because I asked for help.

The leaders at that church have a pattern of doing that.

Tom wrote a very beautifully worded honest letter to advocate for me when I had to do court last month (probably the biggest disruption and factor in the meltdown).

I am going to share the two paragraphs that are relevant and even acknowledge how the church's document was misguided. 

These also make me cry because it seemed like he finally got it, yet his actions of last night proved that neither he nor that church will ever get it.

He wrote: 

"Susan is extremely bright. The first couple of years that I dealt with her, I struggled to understand why she would respond or react so strongly in certain situations and circumstances. After the diagnosis, it became abundantly clear. Susan does not handle stress or ambiguity or confrontation well. In an effort to help "mainstream" Susan, our church formed a small care team to work with her and coach her. Over more than a year, that team spent innumerable hours trying to help Susan grow in a number of areas. They sought to coach her towards developing a number of socialization skills. She struggled the whole time and in the end left the church in frustration. In some ways, I think our expectations were askew. It was as if we were asking a paraplegic to walk.

"Susan has capacities and capabilities but she does have tremendous struggles with social interaction. Those challenges are magnified when she is put in stressful, demanding or highly relational contexts. Others struggle as well because they don't know how to relate to her in a helpful manner. It has been our experience that this compounds the stress and frustration on both sides and can become quite counter-productive."

Tom was spot on in that. Too bad he failed to remember it when they retaliated against him and when he chose to violate the compromise and thus cause permanent damage which now means that the chance of relational restoration may be impossible now save for attorneys to walk everyone through where they went wrong and work on arbitration with them before they have a chance to hurt and abuse and bully more people with autism and other special needs. 

Jesus talks about the least of these in Matthew 25. According to that passage, the leaders at Oak Mountain are goats. 

How can you effectively minister and do missions when you fail to exercise your mission statement to share grace and show grace to all? You can't. 

It is with a very sad heart that I am writing this. One that has been broken beyond repair. 

And because of Tom's actions of last night where he violated the compromise he made with me altogether even though I had diligently kept my end of it, now there is another chance that he could still lose his job if and when the leaders retaliate against him and me again. 

But maybe he needs that this time because maybe then it will open his eyes to his own mistakes in all of this.

You see, I have a whole lot of people who rallied for a meeting to happen between Tom and myself. ONE meeting for closure. ONE meeting that could have prevented this blog post from being done, attorneys being contacted, letters to both the session giving them a chance to correct their mistakes and the presbytery showing where the church went wrong and filing an official complaint and asking for a court. But he refused. Repeatedly. He did not do II Corinthians 13:11. He did not do Matthew 18. And now because of him, the truth is out there and he has damaged the church in more ways than I could ever even begin. 

Are there consequences to this post? Probably. But I don't expect that the biggest consequences will be to me at this point because I really have nothing else to lose since Tom did what he did last night. 

ALL of this could have been avoided if Tom had just talked with me though. If he had just shown grace and talked with me. 

But he didn't and they didn't. And they probably never will.

Jesus is sad today.

Because when Oak Mountain denied the least of these and abused the least of these, they denied and abused Jesus. 

Is there ever going to be a truly SAFE church for adults with autism? 

Because that's what we need.