I am a church member
I have been reading a small book titled "I am a church member".
At the same time as I was reading this book three friends from my previous church in Essex contacted me about severe upset taking place in the church. Two of my friends have left the church. One of them is so upset she has abandonned going to any church ever again. The other of this pair has retreated to a 'safe distance' and I have been in contact with a vicar friend of mine in Essex and placed this friend in his tender loving care for a bit of respite recuperation. The third friend is made of stern stuff and has decided to fight. I applaud him, sometimes Jesus 'lost his rag' with the usurpers of the faith, he threw the money lenders out of the temple, turned over their tables and sternly reminded them 'my Father's house is a house of prayer'. Nothing meek and mild here then!!
Back to the book.
To be an active, positive, church member the book suggests that 6 pledges be undertaken. It explains exactly what you are promising to do IF you undertake to seriously stick to the letter of each of the pledges. [note to self - this is but an introduction to this subject of being an effective church member SO don't get too bogged down in detail at this present time] So how seriously do you have to take each pledge??
Back to my friends.
The cause of all the upset in the Essex church is the incumbant! I know that is hard to believe vicars are 'nice people' they smile, offer tea and sympathy, bless children... This one is the anti of all that. Pinning sunday school work onto the display board he was heard clearly to say [during a service I might add] 'more of that excrament.' He told a member of his congregation who had lost two husbands to cancer that she must have led quite an evil life to recieve such a fate... I know reader. At this moment you are thinking Paul is making this up, this cannot possibly be true of this CofE vicar! I don't blame you for thinking this, were I you I would be thinking the same thing.
A friend told me in confidence something about her sister. My reaction was to think "Okay, fine, I can hate the sin but still love the sinner" and say 'I hope I meet your sister one day and chat to her about her life and how I could help' The vicar from hades told my friend she should pray for her sister as she was certainly going to burn in hell and suffer eternal damnation.
His God and my God are NOT the same.
Now where does this take us?
Pledge number 4
In the Essex Church scenario I could not sign this pledge. The book tells me that unless I do sign up for this article my church will NOT PROSPER. The church will not grow, it will not be attractive to new members and bring 'not yet christians' into the fold.
My only conclusion I can possibly draw is that 'the vicar from hell' must be shown the door and a new leader 'worthy of support be found.' Now I bet you are thinking 'anyone with any common sense would have come to this conclusion' and I applaud you for thinking that but.. there are dark forces at work here, this is a church we are talking about.
IF IT IS JUST A MATTER OF COMMON SENSE THEN WHY IS THIS ESSEX CHURCH SPLIT IN TWO?
Half of its congregation still want their vicar to stay and there very laudible argument is that God forgives everything, yes the vicar has made one or two mistakes, said things in the heat of the moment, can't you find it in your heart to give him a second chance, he is only human after all.... etc. And on and on
I CANNOT BE THE DEVILS ADVOCATE. To me its easy, I am in the care of the good shepherd, "he knows his sheep, they hear his voice and they follow him".
If you have found this challenging, then great! For me it has been a journey where I wrestled with God and my self to arrive at an answer.
Christianity should challenge us, make us different, make us certain.
IF IT DOESN't THEN WHAT THE HELL USE IS IT?
That note to self above about this being an intro - not quite true, the purpose of this article was to talk about making the correct choice of a leader. The choice of leader in the CofE is largely down to the Arch Deacon who recommends available clergy to the Church Wardens. The Church Wardens get to know the candidates [along with The Verger] and this group make recommendations to the Parish Church Council [PCC] this triggers further debate and then a vote to either accept or reject the candidate. If I wanted shot of a vicar that badly then if approached by the receiving church... "oh I would highly recommend ... he has done great things, the ministry has been beyond belief..." I would not exactly lie BUT any vicar is probably better than no vicar And so I would highly recommend you take him, his works have been great [i have just left out who for] and yes some vicars do have unbelievable ministries... unfortunately two words come to mind over the above Essex Church - hood & winked.