This September will mark 3 years since we left our previous church. We loved that church. We had been there for 8 years, 4 with our now retired pastor and 4 with the replacement pastor. We loved Pastor D. He was a wonderful man and spoke to our hearts. Pastor M was someone who didn't sit real well with us from the very beginning. We thought it would iron out, but 4 years later and with much church drama, we quietly slipped out the back door.
You see, we were very frustrated by many things.
1. The pastor would preach through one book/section of the bible at a time, not deviating for things such as holidays or events such as 9/11. The last Mother's Day sermon we were there for was titled, "Gouged eye, severed hand." It went on about wives needing to be submissive, addressing unfaithfulness in marriages and how woman, quite frankly, dress far too provocatively. After the sermon, there was a line of people waiting to speak to him. I chose to e-mail a letter telling him that those are sensitive subjects and that while anytime would have been a little tricky, to do so on a Mother's Day where moms have brought their children as guests with them, I probably would have chosen a less controversial and chewy subject.
2. It was his way, period. Because of this, he just removed people from their ongoing projects without speaking to them. Those people left. I understand that people need to change things when they come in. That's fine. It's not fine to run the congregation over.
3. There was a lot of talking behind the backs of others, particularly two women who had been cheated on. They were not the cheaters. Their husbands were invited to remain in the church while they were going to be asked publicly about the incident/s and asked to leave the church before the congregation. Hmmmm, my bible talks about unfaithfulness differently than his does.
4. His wife never attended anything and if she did, she acted put out by it. As a pastor's wife, I know you can't attend everything, but your attendance is required in some circumstances.
5. They wouldn't leave their children with anyone for anyone to watch-- not even in our nursery that was manned by qualified parishioners.
We had remained removed from the church up until just a few weeks ago. K wanted to attend VBS there and I was fine with it. She went to 4 days of the 5. The day that I dropped her off, the preschool director snubbed me. When I went to leave, I reached out for her elbow and said, "I hope that you have a good day." I was sincere. Truly. I was on the preschool board with her and we had done a lot of different things together in the church. Her giving me the silent treatment stung, but I knew that I would get some of that when coming back in.
The end of the week brought the VBS family picnic of sorts. We came up the back hallway, I waved at the youth pastor and he snubbed me. I waved two other times at the preschool director and was snubbed again. There were other folks that I saw and smiled at. I didn't want to continue with the awkward wave thing. There were some people who just turned away from me. Quite Christianly of them for sure.
There is always a "however."
1. K was treated wonderfully and truly enjoyed her week. Her class was taught by the retired pastor's wife.
2. One of the younger parishioners grabbed me up and hugged me.
3. The woman who I previously directed VBS with grabbed me up and hugged me. We got to talk for a good while. I found out that she was co-directing with the preschool director. "You know, I just haven't been able to catch Karen this week. Please tell her thank you for me."
There have been times I've run into people from our previous church. There were times that they were just wonderful. There were a few people who attended the rummage sale that I was in charge of just 3 weeks ago. There is a parent who I kept running into at the summer library programs. I've run into a few people at the grocery.
I did run into a couple at the grocery. The husband was talking to me, the wife came up and started singing the praises of the new pastor. I told her that I heard that he was just wonderful and how happy I was for them. When I said that we were attending the Methodist church across the street and came forward for membership a couple of years ago, she literally turned on her heel and walked away. Wow.
Will K attend VBS there any more? Absolutely. I have no problem with that. She enjoyed herself and learned a lot. Will I be jumping in line to attend anything there? Nah. I'm good. We have a church home and people who accept us for who we are.