Exhibit C. ‘For the Record’, July 2015.

[Return to Table of Contents.]                                                          [Exhibit D.—>]

‘…it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus…’   –Luke 1:3

I wrote this document in the summer, most of it following the events of 4th of July weekend. This was both for myself and for posterity, and tells of the recent events from my point of view, as I spoke and emailed with my dad often. I am glad in retrospect that I wrote so much at the time, before my memory had been cluttered by the messiness of the fall and winter. Again, I had become one of my dad’s confidantes, and the majority of this is from our correspondence. It may be alleged to be hearsay; I am happy to be corrected on any point of either presentation or interpretation. Again, I admit that is my take—I am sometimes suggesting my conclusions, and sometimes I am sarcastic, but I do admit my biases (devotion, religious or otherwise, requires bias). However, I again offer as many of the facts as possible, so you can judge for yourself, and feel free to speak to those on the other side. And of course, my admission of subjectivity is more than plenty of others in this drama are willing to admit about their involvement, or the rot they produced, on which so much hinged, while this is me telling my story, with no power to change anything.

author’s portrait of Luke, Burney MS.20, f.142v.

This document is unaltered from the time I last edited it, in August 2015, save for four things: a note added in ch.32, hyphens added in ch.34, the word ‘not’ removed from ch.39, and all names changed to numbers or letters.

FOR THE RECORD.

  1. I won’t be the first one to observe that evil prospers while good suffers. The Psalms and Wisdom Literature tell us so, plenty of times. And so often in a silent battle, the good slinks away with nary a word, nary a complaint, while evil sings its own triumph. No one remains to tell the truth, to level a charge. Evil gets away with so much because good is too embarrassed to say anything. In many cases, good is afraid it will be blamed, or shamed—told it is making too big a deal out of something, told it should have done something differently… any number of things to excuse failure to execute justice.
  2. This time is going to be different. There will be a record, the story will exist, in writing, as a history, and those who ignore it will bear the consequences of their actions in willful ignorance. I don’t claim independence, or lack of bias, no—but here it is, so judge for yourself.
  3. I am a Christian and an academic. What I want most in my Christian walk is to please God; the height of my worldly ambition is to be a great writer and an honest scholar. My bread and butter is research, so what you will find here is a compilation of a great deal of evidence, and of different forms—timelines, correspondence, autobiographical passages, and narrative, perhaps even some poetry. Some evidence must of necessity be omitted or streamlined—complete records of correspondences of involved parties are, unelegant though it sounds, archived in a gmail folder called ‘A. saga’.
  4. A few points must first be clarified before I begin the narrative proper. First, it is a fact that man is born to trouble, and as much as the sparks fly upward, affliction follows the righteous. The experience of the church and pastor recorded here is not unique; many pastors have suffered this type of affliction, and this pastor has suffered it more than once. These events have not occurred in a biographical vacuum, nor a locational one: the pastor has a history, the community is a context. Both must be kept in mind as you read.
  5. The biographical information will be scattered throughout the record; it will suffice to give a bit of information about the community in which the events take place here. The community, as much as any other rural Midwestern American settlement originating in the late 1800s, is for purposes of description, hard-working, conservative in values, tight-knit, family-oriented, and Christian. It is overwhelmingly ethnically Dutch; the denominational disposition of the churches in the area reflect this. The Christianity, however, is determined more by the local culture’s tradition rather than by personal conviction. This is borne out by the fact that in the area’s recent history, young people leave the church, never to return—many of these are young people who have been educated in the local Christian school, yet are abjectly ignorant of basic tenets of the Christian faith (not very different from their parents, it turns out). They sit under the preaching of the word week in and week out for years, and yet none of the parents can explain why they live lives of rebellion against God. It is a mystery.
  6. Among the adults there are problems as well. I am an outsider to the community—I was born in the southwest side of the state, in a big city, and grew up there and in small towns in the southern part of the state. So, I have no inkling of what happened between these people in the past. Tight-knit the area is, but there are deep rifts between families and branches of families, of whom representatives of both sides often continue to attend the same church, sitting on opposite sides of the aisle, and not speaking to each other, though the fellowship is less than 100 people. No one will speak of ‘it’ or ‘them’, so it is impossible to know what the original matter was. It perhaps wouldn’t be surprising that some of those involved no longer remember it, but act as if it were still a living quarrel. Unity and harmony of the body has not been stressed enough to motivate the parties to make things right.
  7. However, out and about in the community, you will not find a nicer, more welcoming people. They work hard, and should a neighboring farm have a disaster, like a barn burning down, they rally to help. They are excited to meet new people, and when we first came to the area, there was an outpouring of enthusiasm and support for new pastors when they took calls to the neighborhood churches. People brought produce from their gardens, made pies and baked cookies, sent fruit and gift boxes at Christmas, had the pastor’s family over for Thanksgiving. They really knew how to look after the ‘vicar’.
  8. After ministering in such an area for six years, with a not unusual number of kerfuffles (which may be mentioned in the story later), the pastor was looking to take the church to the next level, and began an evening series on Seeking the Spirit, with a goal of introducing the members to spiritual gifts, and should the Lord will, begin to tap into the gifts in that local body that would lead to a deeper experience of the Holy Spirit in the church and grow them. Dates and topics of this series will be appended to the record. Some months into this series, after reviewing a history of the charismatic movement, the charismata in church history, and finally the lists in scripture, looking at each gift one by one, an older couple in the church made a very public protest, disrupting an evening service by insisting that what the pastor was teaching wasn’t ‘reformed’, and that he was ‘stretching’ the word of God (this was after three other events which are mentioned in the timeline). The pastor sought to meet with them two-on-one to discuss the issue, but they made it plain that there was ‘nothing to talk about’. They knew what they believed, didn’t need the pastor to explain himself, and that was the end of it. The following Sunday morning, two of the elders met with this couple to address their behavior—they said they wouldn’t be back. Some weeks later, this couple sent a letter to the church council, detailing the pastor’s alleged heresies, asserting his dishonesty, and demanding the council seek to have him defrocked. They let the council know in this letter that they had appealed to the denominational authorities themselves. In a reply letter, the council ‘honored their request’ to render their church membership inactive, while disagreeing with what they said about the pastor and his teaching; the tone of the council’s letter was hardly chastening, and did not address what the pastor believed amounted to slander, as they [the leavers] had written that he was ‘not honest’. It was all the pastor could hope for; not all of the elders had read the letter, and one who had not[,] scoffed at the idea of it’s being at the level of slander. And no-one was willing to call them on their behavior outright, for fear it would do greater harm to a small church which was teetering ‘on the edge’. The matter thereafter was dropped, and in the minds of all but the pastor, and his adult daughter who had been present for the evening service, it was forgotten.
  1. This all came to a head in October 2014. Around Thanksgiving of that year, the pastor began to receive unsolicited comments and advice about his preaching topics, attitude, and music choices, from one of the elders, 13 (the one who hadn’t read the allegedly slanderous letter) and his wife, 14. It was actually during a Thanksgiving get-together at their house that 14 asked the pastor if he would change what he was doing, because the people needed ‘joy’ and ‘comfort’. It came out later that 14’s reading of the situation was that the pastor was ‘grieving’ over the situation with his wife, who had left several years before. It hadn’t seemed to occur to her that a much more recent trauma had taken its toll.
  2. In the pastor’s mind, the joy and comfort she, and later her husband, were seeking, were vague. Or, perhaps the better way to phrase it is, he didn’t know why they needed to be made to feel joy and comfort, or how he would have been able to that, if he could. Something seemed to have changed recently, and it seemed that they believed he had the power or responsibility to counter it by preaching ‘joy’ and ‘comfort’, though at the time, and even afterwards, when it had become a mantra, he didn’t really know what it meant, or what such preaching would sound like. And he didn’t know how what he had been preaching lately was joyless or comfortless. Appended are the dates and titles of morning sermons from this period; the pastor was simply working through the gospel of Matthew. The reader can consider this for himself.
  3. The annual congregational meeting took place around that time. One of the elders, contrary to the church order, ‘opened the floor’ for ‘any other business’. A member of the congregation, without consulting the council and without any warning, came forward and voiced her concerns that people weren’t getting involved, or weren’t committed enough. She mentioned something about doing a church survey. In response to what she’d said, a former elder stood up and said he appreciated all that, and that he knew there were issues, and that he and his wife had thought about leaving. [there is a past history with this particular parishioner which may be included in an appendix] The pastor was taken aback. The potential for harm in such willy-nilly handling seemed to be completely beyond both the elder who opened the floor, and the parishioner who voiced her concerns and complaints, valid though they were [author’s note: mark the fact that the parishioner pointed to other people’s lack of involvement as the church’s main problem; less than a year later no one in the congregation bore any responsibility for the church’s situation, 19 April 2016]. And the response from the other parishioner in the pews was not upbuilding to the body, but rather destructive. The damage had been done, but in God’s providence the meeting hadn’t spun totally out of control.
  4. Christmas came and went, and there were a few incidents worth mentioning. On two different occasions, one of them back at Thanksgiving [2014], the pastor had selected certain songs for the morning worship, and 14, regularly involved in the music as the church’s organist, asked the pastor to change them. They were sad or people didn’t know them—one of the songs he had chosen was labelled a ‘dirge’ by 13. Something unconnected with the pastor, but in this vein, also happened just around Christmas. The pastor’s daughter was assigned to do the worship order for a particular service, and had put a great deal of prayer and thought into the songs she chose. One she found was not available in the church’s hymnals, and after corresponding with a Lutheran friend in Washington state, she acquired both words and music for what she thought was an ideal, evocative hymn for the service’s theme. Without telling her, someone somewhere dropped the song from the worship order, because ‘nobody knew it’. She was considerably frustrated. [author’s note: I don’t mean to spoon-feed, but, ‘Double standard much?’, 19 April 2016]
  5. Council elections were on the roster for the new year, and 13 graduated to VP of the council. 13 and his wife 14 had to this point been some of the pastor’s most significant supporters, encouragers, even friends. They had the pastor’s family over quite regularly in previous years, and with their daughter and her family, who were also members at A.. If anyone could have been described as friends of, and close to, the pastor and his daughters, this extended family was it. 14 and her daughter had done the music for the wedding of the other daughter of the pastor, and both 13 and 14 had been the most welcoming of the pastor’s son-in-law. 14’s sister [author’s note: this ought to be amended to ‘brother & sister-in-law’, 19 April 16] offered her home to the young couple for part of their honeymoon, and 13 and 14 never missed an opportunity to visit with the pastor’s daughter and her husband when they were in the area—they always had them over for a meal.  Until their Christmas trip of 2014, when 13 never even spoke to this daughter. They had had a loss in the family, 14’s mother, so it was no surprise that they couldn’t host them. But the daughter was in attendance at the funeral, and 13 was the only member of the family who didn’t greet her. She spoke with 14, with 14’s daughters, with her [brother and sister-in-law]—she was in the hall a long time, and was unmet by 13. She didn’t think it strange until later.
  6. At any rate, 13 was now VP of the council. The voiced desire for more joy, for more comfort in the preaching, began to morph into outright criticism of the pastor’s performance, at first, only in one-on-one conversations. 13 told the pastor what had improved, what was closer to what they needed. And, the survey suggested by the parishioner, 28, back in the congregational meeting seemed to have been undertaken by her, with no consultation of the council, no parameters set for its focus, how it would be carried out, and what would be done with it once the results were in. There was lack of oversight, and lack of clear purpose. And when the survey was finished, it was stunning. She had pieced it together from samples she found online, and the questions and overall thrust of the survey were ominous—more than anything else, it invited negative feedback and criticism of the leadership and pastor. There was nothing to evoke self-reflection or introspection, nothing about the parishioner’s own role and responsibilities in the church or his own spiritual growth, and, strangely, no space for positive feedback. There was also no mention of prayer life, either the individual’s or the churches, nor any way to rank the maturity of the respondents. Was the opinion of the person who only came once a month to count as much as that of the most regular attender? There was no doubt she meant well, and had spent considerable time and effort in creating the survey. But it had had no direction, and the result was that it would do nothing to reveal the spiritual state of the church beneath the surface, which had been suffering since the débâcle with the couple who had left the previous autumn. In short: it was a mistake.
  7. When the pastor objected to the survey, 13 was flustered—he had wanted to take action, to move forward, get people joyful and enthusiastic, and the survey had been seen as a potential catalyst. When the pastor suggested slowing down, and getting denominational help to take inventory, 13 said he wasn’t going to ‘wait until May’ (this was now sometime in January or February), for what, it wasn’t exactly clear. For the survey, for change..? In response to this, 28’s husband, a deacon on the council, said, ‘If it takes that long, my wife is gone.’ Imagine the sinking of the pastor’s heart in that moment!
  8. It was around Valentine ’s Day that the pastor’s married daughter, living abroad, received a desperate email from 14, looking for feedback, prayer support, because A.’s situation was dire. The daughter called her and they talked awhile. 14 said that there was a lack of joy and comfort, and she though the pastor had been grieving, and that’s what everyone {in the church} was feeling, and that she had tried to get him away from the ‘sin sermons’ and ‘the Matthew stuff’. The daughter was stunned to hear this from an older Christian. For one thing, she’d been listening to the recordings of the pastor’s messages for the past several months, and had no idea what the ‘sin sermons’ were. And the second phrase, and the derisive tone in which it was said, took her aback. This woman didn’t seem to realize she was saying such a thing about one of the Lord’s gospels, much less the Word of God. She also said ‘13 has been trying to help him’, which explained what he believed about his own behavior in telling the pastor what he ought to do and change. At the same time, she was saying that she and 13 had ‘learned so much’ from the pastor’s teaching, but that now that he’d equipped the flock, he wasn’t letting anyone else do anything. That he was afraid to let go of some control. The daughter was stumped.
  9. 14 had mentioned her own daughter, 15, and her frustrations with the pastor. Not many days before, the worship committee, of which 15 was a member, had met, and it had been a strange experience. The pastor described it as a ‘weird atmosphere’. 15 and another woman on the committee, R, lamented, ‘what are we going to do?’. There seemed to be an eagerness to do something new and different; someone asked if they could watch a movie on a Sunday night rather than have a service. 15 had in her notebook a sticky note that she wanted to share—it was 3 points, all things she’d heard ‘people’ say: 1. Sunday nights are tedious 2. I wish I wanted to come to church 3. Where’s the joy? Again, imagine being the one on the receiving end of such faceless, nameless, contextless remarks. Not long after, both 15 and R announced, via 13 in a council meeting, that they were ‘retiring’ from the committee.
  10. At any rate, 14 was now telling the pastor’s daughter what 15 had been telling her—that the pastor didn’t welcome new ideas or let anybody do anything. When the daughter talked to the pastor about this, he said, ‘That doesn’t seem right. Are there any examples?’ (Note: cf. passage 12) He also mentioned occasions when he had very deliberately left the door open for others, especially for readings and themes at Christmas and Easter, multiple times—no-one ever took the initiative, and so he ended up doing them all himself. The older daughter, who wasn’t on the worship committee, did the Christmas candlelight programme herself one year [while home from college over the holiday break].
  11. The daughter later had one other communication with 14, via email, where 14 said she thought, again, that the pastor was doing too much, that he needed to trust people, and that letting them get involved would help them to mature. She also said she thought the church was sick, and that no-one ever sent cards to or visited shut-ins. She made some good points, and others that raised questions. The daughter (whom we’ll call A* [ekkles] from now on) delayed in replying, drafting answers and then waiting to send them. Sometime in May 2015 the pastor passed on that 14 had mentioned not hearing from ekkles in a while; ekkles then wrote two emails, but didn’t receive a reply.
  12. The Spring Sundays came and went, with 13 offering more ‘constructive criticism’ (bits of these conversations will be appended for reference), and proffering opinions at odds or contradictory to those voiced by the pastor in the youth Sunday school co-taught by them. Some such conversations are noted in the timeline. During these classes, the pastor began to note 13’s penchant for flattering and disproportionately praising and complimenting people (people not the pastor, it must be emphasized). Once he noticed it, it was hard to [stop] keeping track of it.
  13. After some awkward weeks of this, 15’s daughter 17, a high-school senior, stopped attending Sunday School. Other students were absent more and more often, and without word of notice to the pastor, or sometimes even to 13. But when the pastor asked 17 why she wasn’t attending anymore, she explained that she preferred to stay in the fellowship hall and ‘have fellowship’. Whether there was more going on than this, is not for the reader [that is, author] to say; but her parents, having permitted this decision, evidently did not think she should let the instructor know about it. The bigger issue raised is the meaning of fellowship, to which we will return later. Suffice it to say that, while ‘chilling’ in the fellowship hall with these folks is nice, sometimes very nice indeed, rarely does discussion ever go beyond the weather, community events, school, and farming [at least in the author’s experience].
  14. In April, the pastor was blessed enough to be able to attend a Dunamis conference. He’d been invited by the denominational [state] prayer coordinator, with whom he’d met in [city of denominational headquarters], with a group, to pray for A. The Lord spoke through the people with whom he prayed, both that day in [the city prayer meeting] and at Dunamis. He had several special experiences at the conference, including a particular confirmation of his calling, and that he heard from God. He waited for opportunities to share about this experience with the council, with the Care Group, but the time never seemed right, or, he admitted, he lacked the courage to bring it up when there was an opportunity. He feared being laughed at or dismissed, or treated like he was crazy for claiming to have such experiences of the Holy Spirit. He and a close friend, who’d been a major support to him, mostly because she herself was gifted in discernment and willing to be led by the Spirit, had tried to share about their experiences and perspectives in the relative safety of the Care Group before—no-one else in the room knew how to take it, and all seemed afraid [?] to show even curiosity. The pastor’s older daughter had once appealed to one of the care group members to get in touch to talk about her own spiritual experiences—and never received a reply [as of the writing of this document].
  15. Sometime in early spring, the pastor came up from the basement to the narthex, and found that a long table, which had for years sat just outside the doorway to the sanctuary, had been moved, and was now up against the wall just inside the west-facing doors going out the road in front of the church. It had been in its previous position a long time, with bulletins, notices, and other paperwork on it. Now this it was by the outside door, whenever the door was opened, the papers atop it would fly all over the narthex. But the question was, what was it doing there? Not long after, during prayer time in a council meeting, 13 thanked the Lord for new ideas, and perhaps opportunities or willingness to embrace change and what good that can be, just like moving that table into the narthex. The pastor was puzzled.
  16. It wasn’t long before it became clear. Some Sunday shortly after, the pastor was in the fellowship hall, and saw one of the women walking into the fellowship hall with a large coffee pot, from the sanctuary, and, he realized, from the narthex. They had started serving coffee in the front of the church, using that table, before the service. And he had never known about it. Not that it should have been a big deal, really, but, why? And why had the gentle breaking of the news come as a thanksgiving prayer for the option of moving furniture? [author’s note: bizarre! 19 April 16] The pastor never said anything, but there seemed to be several possible reasons that came down the pike—as a welcoming device before the service, as a second option for people after the service, who don’t want to go into the fellowship hall…since to date there has not yet been a conversation between the pastor and the group who led the coffee initiative or ‘coup’, or between the council and them, the ultimate purpose remains a mystery. Some weeks into the effort the pastor’s younger daughter was obviously bothered by the consumption of coffee in the sanctuary, for which purpose [perhaps one among several?] it turned out the coffee was being brewed, and had a conversation with a friend in the pew about [it]—the friend was pro-coffee in worship, and said that it was to ‘make it more fellowshippy’. Such raises questions about the nature of sacred space, separateness, worship, and fellowship, as well as appearances v. reality, cosmetic changes to  [address] spiritual deficiencies, etc. [author’s note: others besides the pastor’s daughter(s) have since expressed unease or objection to what they see as, among other things, irreverence, in having coffee in the sanctuary during a service; the author doesn’t believe that these people’s feelings or convictions were ever considered, as if it was impossible that anyone wouldn’t agree that it was a good idea, 19 April 16]
  17. At this point, it may be worth noting that, while complaints were voiced in more than one quarter that the pastor never ‘let anyone do anything’, people didn’t seem to have a problem with keeping him out of the loop or not ‘involving him’. And since it seemed to be assumed that his opinion, or that of the council as a body, didn’t matter when trying ‘new things’, why should anyone have been afraid that he would quash anyone’s efforts? It didn’t make any sense.
  18. In the meantime, the pastor had called in men from the denomination to help the church self-assess, set a direction, get an official line of communication on making changes (this was in lieu of or as a prelude to doing something like the survey). The men who came to the meeting with the council were 54 and N. 13 talked more than anyone else that night, and he evidently thought he had a lot worth saying. Among things he felt compelled to share were further criticisms of the pastor that had not been made previously known to the pastor himself, and as a result, to have his performance derided in front of the council AND in front of the official strangers was an incredible experience. It sent him reeling, and in the moment, put him in a very awkward and undermined position. This from and by a friend, whom the pastor had trusted. 13 did have time for positive feedback as well—‘everyone says the music is great, that’s a draw’. A consolation to him, no doubt, since his family members are major contributors to the church’s music.
  19. While the survey had been put on hold, 13, with one of the deacons in tow, had taken it upon himself to conduct his own survey, visiting members of the congregation to ask how things were going. At one point, there had been posted a council visit sign-up sheet in the narthex. It was posted for 3 or 4 weeks; no one signed up. One of the other elders remarked, at the end of the meeting with 54 and N, that he wasn’t going to visit anyone who didn’t want to be visited. 13 was not dissuaded, and apparently continued to arrange meetings when it had been evident that many in the congregation were not interested—it had to be done. He was very near to retiring by this time, and did retire in April 2015.
  20. In late 2014 there had been some sort of skirmish in the county seat, between 13 and someone else. It had apparently caused 13 a great deal of stress, and in February 2014, when 14 spoke to A, much of the joy and comfort they wanted was in part because of this stress. She also said she felt let down by the church because ‘nobody cared’ what 13 was going through, and how could the pastor be supportive or know what was going on with 13 when he didn’t read the newspaper? She really seemed to think that this indicated a lack of interest in the lives of those in the community, or that it must lead to ignorance about it. One might ask why a pastor, if he has been close to a parishioner, must be expected to read about that parishioner’s hardship in the newspaper rather than just talking to him about it. Very few sheep in a flock are going to be mentioned in the newspaper, and even what was in the paper about 13 were blurbs—hardly enough to get a handle on what was going on, or why it would have caused such stress. At any rate, he had made an effort in his last year as prosecutor to get something changed, and fought for it; the attorney general of the state of Michigan decided against him. At one point, it was said that he was going to appeal. All around the time of his retirement.
  21. In May 2015, the issue with the older couple who had left over the spiritual gifts series returned to the fore—they had asked for transfer of their membership to the sister church down the road, P—. The pastor did not feel it was right to simply forward their membership without addressing some of the outstanding issues, and he did take the opportunity at one point to say that the church had suffered the consequences of not doing the right thing when this couple were causing division and confusion. The council decided to forward their membership to P—-, but only after informing P—- of the history they had at A.. Again, it was the best that could be hoped for. And though people were reminded of what had happened, no-one yet understood the significance of what was a watershed event—it was a test of A., both how they handled the insurrection, and how they responded to the teaching about the Holy Spirit. And they didn’t pass.
  22. 13 shared a devotion at the council meeting after that on which the ‘event’ was discussed, something put out by Moody—but not the devotional reading for the date of the meeting, which was in the first week of June, but that assigned for the 24 June. The text was a passage in Job, and the thrust of the Moody reading and application was that Christians are not to call people to repentance. God is to do that. One conclusion quickly drawn after the recent history is that the pastor needed to know that he’s not supposed to call people to repentance—which he had apparently done when addressing the couple who had gone on to P—-. The pastor, who had not had a devotional reading planned, responded by reading a passage out of 1 Cor. 5. One of the deacons reacted with, ‘Why are you reading a passage about sexual immorality?’ No comment…
  23. In June, the pastor drove with his younger daughter to Wisconsin to attend the commencement of one of 13’s granddaughters. He was working on the worship order for the following Sunday, the second Sunday of the month, on which he would not be preaching. He contacted 28, who was supposed to be arranging the separate song service for before the start of the main service on the Thursday; by Friday, he’d had no reply. Come Saturday, there was a correspondence—28 said she was going to do it, but that she usually did the third Sunday of the month. The pastor wrote back to confirm, but reminded her that she had actually switched to doing the second Sunday back in May 2014. Her reply was, ‘Okay.’ That Sunday morning at A., in the fellowship hall, the pastor approached her in the company of some of the other women to talk about the schedule and make sure they were on the same page, see if she actually remembered the change—the only response was something to the effect of, ‘Whatever you say’ or ‘If you say so’. The pastor readily confirmed to himself he wasn’t crazy—the arrangement for song service leaders is a matter of record, on the bulletins, in emails. It had nothing to do with his ‘say-so’.
  24. In the meantime, the Care Group seemed to have faded away—nobody cared anymore, to reply to the pastor’s emails, or even to 28’s, when she offered to get it back off the ground with a bonfire [though the pastor himself did reply]. Sunday evening attendance by some of the most committed members had become sporadic; the attitudes of these committed members during services was different. Detached. And discontent seemed to be growing, but no-one was talking to the pastor about it. It seemed, if anyone was talking about it, it was to 13, and he would pass it on to the pastor, but more and more often in council meetings, without fore-warning, rather than in private. The pastor had tried to arrange a meeting to discuss issues with 13 back in the early Spring, but for various reasons, it kept getting postponed. Now, in early July, there still had been no meeting [see Exhibits D. and L.–in the latter 13’s claims about how ‘the pastor wouldn’t talk to him’ is patently false, 19 April 16]—and Dunamis had never been shared, nor had the pastor’s conviction that the church was neck-deep in demonic interference.
  25. The pastor’s concerns had of course grown in the interim, and he decided, in his next attempt to reconnect with 54, to let him know about the potential issues with 13. He emailed 25 June 2015. He heard nothing for some days, and sent a follow-up: when he finally got a reply from 54, 54 explained that he had been busy, but that he anticipated being in the area soon, and looked forward to discussing 13’s ‘recommendations’. The pastor didn’t know whether this simply meant what they had all discussed in the initial meeting, or more, but didn’t think much of it. His older daughter, in contrast, reacted with, ‘What is that all about?’
  26. Sunday 5 July. 13 approached the pastor with a handwritten-note, appended to the record (Exhibit B.). He said as he passed it off that they were suggestions from people in the congregation—that the pastor should just read it and think about, and that 13 ‘didn’t want to argue about it’. At least he had the decency to wait until after the morning service. Apparently he believed it to be fellowship-hall-appropriate. That same day, the pastor learned from one of the men who handled sound that 13 had asked for DVDs of recent sermons. Of course, the sound men didn’t have them; the pastor would take them home to put them on his computer and make mp3s to send to his older daughter. The sound man told 13 to ask the pastor, he’d have them. The pastor had not heard from 13 about this.
  27. That morning, 19, who’d been assigned the song service, wrote to the pastor, seemingly very angry. He had made adjustments to her arrangements, and she wanted to know why (the simple facts were that it was a load of hymns over the song and main services, and he took out one of hers, and one of his own, because he thought it was just too much). It didn’t occur to him that she’d be so offended. She wasn’t going to be there as she was travelling with her family, and another parishioner was leading it in her stead. She’d sent the email, explaining how much work and thought she put into the song service, and asserted that the pastor was ‘overstepping’ and ‘taking over something someone is willing to do’, and that the pastor needed to encourage people to lead and use their gifts, and he needed to understand that some people in the congregation are ‘capable’. ekkles, the pastor’s older daughter, heard about this email—the initial question and explanation, she could accept, sounded like 19. The ‘instruction’ and ‘admonition’ did not. The really strange part was the fact that 19 knew about it at all (perhaps through her mother, whom she said had chosen the songs with her and was playing piano that morning), thought about it enough to get upset, and thought it was necessary to inform the pastor about all these aspects and implications of what he’d done. And… this little event seemed to have made it to the very top of 13’s hand-written list. How? What sorts of phone calls were being made on Saturday? [author’s note: it occurs to ekkles that 28 & 19 were talking to each about this event and that described in ch.31… Were people really stewing about such things, and going to 13 demanding something ‘be done’? 19 April 16]
  28. At any rate, it was a double- or even triple-whammy weekend. Putting the email and the note together, daughter ekkles was eerily reminded of all that 14 had said, and what 13 had been saying. Either they were right, and everyone they’d spoken to, or whose thoughts 13 was reporting, agreed with them; or, they were wrong, and in the end it was simply their opinions that were represented in the note (though also in the email—19, it is the conviction of the writer, had been influenced). Wherever 13’s sentiments weren’t already growing, he planted them. It is my adduction that these mass diagnoses of the problem—the pastor, his personality, and his preaching—did not exist before 13 took it upon himself to make it so [author’s note: of course, some had had it in for him for a long time; these aren’t the people being discussed.  The people at the fore of the record are those who had in the past been supportive of the pastor and knew him well, 19 April 16]. It is very convenient that at the end of his self-conducted survey, the very wording by which he is representing the whole church (without express sanction or knowledge of the council) matches exactly what he and 14 have/had been saying all along. It is both convenient, and sick.
  29. 6 July 2015. The pastor replied to 19’s email, with both an apology, and an explanation for his decision. He didn’t mean to cause offense, or to negate her efforts. He spoke with ekkles, with his fellow pastor 44, and wrote to his friend J.
  30. 7 July 2015. The pastor decided, after advice from 44 (contrary to J & ekkles’s advice) to go ahead the council meeting scheduled for that night. He spent several hours on the phone and in prayer with ekkles. It was the second time in ekkles’ life that he’d been driven to tears in her ‘presence’, though over the phone. They received a word from the Lord (some of which was committed to writing at the time). They were encouraged to ask for a sign—the pastor asked that one of the elders might have a tangible experience of the Holy Spirit. The pastor decided he would write to 13, asking him not to bring up the note at the council meeting, and not to offer criticism, as it was undermining and hurtful; he also mentioned that they had yet to have a follow-up meeting between just the two of them. He sent this email to daughter ekkles and to his son-in-law, who read it and offered suggestions, then sent it with a prayer.
  31.  ekkles tossed and turned until after 2am her time, during which the council meeting took place. She got an update from the pastor the next morning: 13 spent a great deal of the meeting, certainly being positive, flattering everyone at the table every which way from Sunday. Everyone including the pastor, though the pastor himself, at this point, was not to be won over by such blandishments. It begs the question—was it strategic? was he trying to get people in his pocket? Did 13 try to make people want to be on his good side? It was a projection of power. He also belabored a point about getting more people involved, on committees, in efforts, making sure every committee had a council member on it, etc., because people were eager to get involved, were talented, and just needed to be asked. Apparently he’d had a different experience from the pastor. Was it true that people were eager to be involved? (cf. passages 15, 17) And it can’t be argued that they really are committed, but are confounded, because no-one ever approached the pastor himself with their issues, concerns, or accusations—there had never been a conversation [author’s note: of course, 19 had at least sent an email, but when the pastor tried to interact with it, and even apologized, she didn’t respond, so apparently the point was not to have a dialogue, 19 April 16], so how in good conscience, or even rationality, could people claim they were wanting to be involved, yet quitting or threatening to quit without even talking about it, and without talking to the pastor directly? It was making it very hard to know what to believe, or even know what people were really thinking—everything was coming at the pastor third-hand, and in odd contexts, without opportunity to follow up or ask for clarification. Also, would ‘involvement’ in ‘activities’ amount to more than just an illusory addressing of the problem? Was it really just a question of being busy?
  32. Finally, at this point, the pastor learned something more about how deeply his trust had been violated. On 25 June, the day he had written to 54, and thereafter not received a response, 54 had met with 13 at 13’s house. End-run? Pre-emptive strike? How else does one categorize the way in which it appears this elder and friend had gone behind the back of the pastor to talk to the denominational rep whom the pastor had brought in on his own initiative? It seemed evidence of strategy, and a game, and this was 13’s latest play.

<—Exhibit B.                                                                                   Exhibit D.—>

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7 thoughts on “Exhibit C. ‘For the Record’, July 2015.

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