‘They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.’ –Jn. 16:2
Summary of and excerpts from email sent me by my dad the night of the council meeting, 27 October 2015, two days after Pastor Appreciation Sunday:
I arrived at the Council room a little before 7; much to my surprise, a
few minutes later, who should walk in but the …ChurchVisitors….
To say I was caught off guard would be an understatement! It was all I
could do to keep a straight face. I almost wanted to say, “What are you
doing here?” I told them that I wasn’t expecting them, and some of the
other council members seemed surprised. There were questions about
whether they were supposed to be there– was this a good night– is this
a regularly scheduled council meeting– should we come back– etc. Then
it came out that 13 and 21 had talked (I gather they talk a
lot) and that 13 knew or expected them to come because after all “this
is a continuation of what’s been going on and I think they should be here
so they know what’s going on” or something to that effect.
He did mumble an apology about the confusion and people not knowing that
the church visitors were going to be there. So then we had a vote and
almost everyone voted that the church visitors should stay. Although I
spoke up and said I didn’t know why they needed to be present! So there
was more awkward conversation, with 21 pointing out that they
weren’t there to tell us what to do or anything, that what happened was
up to the Council and pastor and that we would have to decide what we
were going to do, blah blah blah. So the decision was made to have them
stay, because, as 13 said, “There’s no point in having them go up and
down the road,” and besides, “we need to deal with this, we can’t keep
kicking the football down the road.” (And all this time, I thought it was
13 made it a point to let everyone know that “the pastor and I don’t
talk. He doesn’t talk to me.” [author’s note: see Exhibit D on one particular
incident; prior to that, my dad had sent several emails and made several phone
calls in an attempt to talk over the issues; when a conversation did take place,
like in Exhibit D, nothing was actually discussed; 13 would just get angry. In
addition, I will further catalogue my own experience of trying to connect with
13 and being ignored.] And then he made a couple more comments
which I don’t recall. I really don’t mean to bore you with all the
details, but at several points, 13 was rude to me, misrepresented my
position, and lied about me. I guess that’s plain enough!
I spoke up in response to 13’s assertion that we don’t talk/ I don’t
talk to him. I simply had to point out that I PLEADED with 13 to talk
to me in early August, and he REFUSED to do so! Then he said, “We
disagree” followed by “I’m-not-going-to-argue-with-you-or-debate-with-
you,” the same phrase he used several times on August 2nd! This was said
in an angry, condescending tone, along with some other declarations of
what he wouldn’t do. I will also note that there were two or three other
instances when I questioned something or wanted clarification, and he
expressed something more than irritation, suggesting I was argumentative.
Well, let’s cut to the chase. After getting off to this auspicious (!!)
start, they needed to discuss how the meeting was going to go. I had
planned the agenda so we would do our routine stuff first, and then close
with a discussion about my response to their instructions.
That wouldn’t do since the Visitors were there, so we agreed to discuss
my decision right away. At this point, 21 weighed in and tried
to summarize where we all were and how these recommendations got written
up and that I was given three weeks to decide if I would agree to them.
He asked if he had a copy or if 13 had given him a copy or some suchthing.
He also pointed out to me that even though I think 13 is the one who
has issues with me, I need to know that “it’s not just 13, the whole
Council, (no doubt, every last one of them!) agrees with these
recommendations.” 21 looked at the group and asked, “Isn’t that
right?” Their heads bobbed up and down. You may wonder why 21 would
inform all who were present about my thoughts regarding who has issues
with me. I certainly did.
When I informed the group that I was prepared to discuss their
recommendations, 21 wanted to know if such a discussion was
necessary. It seems that he thought I was handed the list and that I was
to inform the Council “yes” or “no” on the whole package.
What followed was something on the order of a “straw poll.” This was
conducted on the spot by 13 to determine if, in fact, the intent of the
Council was to have me agree to all of their recommendations or not! This
was certainly 13’s understanding, by golly, and he said so! So
then, 13 went around the table and asked each Council member if that
was his intent! One by one, just like polling the jury, each member said,
After he finished polling the Council, I said, “But that wasn’t my
understanding at all. No one specifically said that this was to be
handled as a package deal.” 13 then shot back, “Well, all six of us saw
it THIS way.” Or words to that effect. To which I replied, “Yes, you may
have all had that assumption, but that was not specifically stated.”
We finally agreed that since I had copies for everyone and had taken the
time to write a response I should go ahead and read it. I mean, “shoot,”
as they say. What the heck, and all that. It’s the least they could do,
So I read it, just about straight through. I made a couple comments here
and there, but not as many as I intended, because I could tell they
really didn’t want to be bothered with it. (They really didn’t give a
d*mn about it?) At one point, 13 and I got into one of those things he
really doesn’t like– a discussion– and after that went on for a few
minutes (13 managed to include some accusations that I was not allowed
to refute), 21 redirected me to my write up, which I finished.
Within mere moments, they (13? The Council?) made the decision to meet
without me to discuss my response. So I, along with the Church Visitors,
were shooed out of the room. I was to be secluded off stage in a sound
proof booth– sorry, that’s the Newlywed Game– rather, we were to be
“excused” for approximately 15 minutes. So, I went to my study and made a
Then I waited. And waited. By 8:30, over half an hour had gone by. Soon
it was 8:45. Then 9:00. By this time, after much thinking, waiting, some
praying, and more thinking, I decided “I’m going to get my jacket and
ball cap with the Old English “D” and go home!” Or thoughts to that
effect. I figured to leave a note asking for the offering schedule and
including a quick “bye bye!” A few minutes later, 22 came toward
the hall and said, “There he is.” Finally, after an hour and ten minutes,
they were ready for me.
When I sat down, with my jacket on and my bag in hand, ready to leave, elder 12
said that they were going to finish the offering schedule
and adjourn the meeting. They, the Council, had decided, by a UNANIMOUS
VOTE — he was sure to point out that they had voted unanimously– that
because of “all the tension and conflict” that I was to be suspended from
the pulpit until November 15. There was some garbled stuff about “because
we’re divided” or some such run-on sentence, but I can’t remember. Deacon 16
closed in prayer, asking the Lord to help us love one another and averring that
sometimes life is hard and how we all look forward to the
time when we’re in heaven so we won’t have to go through these hard
When he finished his closing petition, 21 piped up. He seemed to
feel the need, as a representative of the Classis, don’t you know, to
tell me that I “might want to go to church somewhere else the next few
weeks”, because “relations are strained,” and “of course, I can’t tell
you where to go to church,” but we’ll want to make sure that we “conduct
ourselves in a godly way over the next few weeks as this goes forward.”
He also recommended (lots of recommendations in this room!) that both the
pastor and church act humbly at this time.
21 also made one more reference to the Classis, but it’s 1:30,
and I can’t remember what he said. I’m surprised I remembered this much.
Anyway, when he finished with his prophylactic warning, he paused and
looked at me, waiting for a response. I simply looked at him for a
moment, and didn’t say anything. Then I got up, picked up the coffee
decanter, and walked out the door with my bag in the other hand. I didn’t
say a word to anybody.
And that’s how it ended. For me, anyway. Now it appears that I’m
“suspended” from the pulpit for three weeks.
Some obvious questions: How will this be announced on Sunday? What are
people supposed to think– that I’m guilty of some crime or malfeasance?
What have I done to deserve suspension? Is there just cause for this? How
do I come back/conduct myself after this shabby treatment?
This is so UNDERMINING! I can’t help but think one of the driving factors
was to “show me” that the Council is in charge! (After expressing my
convictions that it’s inappropriate for the Council to “Lead” the
pastor!) And. What am I supposed to say? Will I ever, ever get my day in
court? Or get to face my accusers, or explain my point of view?