‘“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’’ —Rev. 3:1-6
Per the church’s termination agreement with my father, both parties were supposed to meet to draft and agree on a joint communication to the congregation about what happened. 42 emailed my father in mid-December, asking whether he had gotten the following letter. He hadn’t, nor was he even aware the ‘council’ had written and posted it (of course, it’s been practically admitted that one of the CVs wrote it, not the council–which makes it all the more offensive that the same CV had previously insinuated to the Classis that Pastor T. had been ghostwriting communiques for both 42 and ekklescake!). If it weren’t for 42, who again had left A. but got the letter in the mail, who knows how long it would have been before my father had been informed of it! While I wasn’t shocked that they broke the agreement** by drafting it without consulting him, I am still surprised that no one on the council phoned just to let him know that it had been mailed to all the current members of the congregation (but not to him, to my sister, nor to me). If 42 had not gotten in touch, my father may well have found out sooner than the council intended (if there was any intention or intentionality), since some of the letters came back to the church, having been sent to the wrong addresses.
NB: the concern over the financial cost of this decision, noted here and in my later letters to the council, was evidently mitigated by funding from Classis, some of which has been used, for example, for a recent community breakfast and Easter Egg hunt. Do the other churches in Classis, or any donors to ministry shares, know that Classis money is diverted to churches who terminate their pastor so they needn’t bear the consequences of subsequent leavers (like 42 and others whose consciences were violated by this action on the part of their leadership whom they are totally powerless to hold accountable), who take with them their tithes? And that that money is then used for such ‘outreach’ activities rather than for resources which will help the church do real self-assessment (the whole point of bringing in the church coach last summer) and ‘heal pain’? Oh wait, I forgot–my dad was the only problem, so the leadership don’t need to do work on or for themselves anymore, including getting counseling for all the hurting members in the congregation …I suppose, though, that it could be that they have taken further steps in the self-assessment process (like doing the denomination’s official survey; I would welcome any correction or clarification on this point).
Comments drafted 23 December 2015
Letter to the A. Congregation (Vivisected Edition)
- I often put “Council” in quotes, as I don’t believe this is representative of all members of the Council, nor do I believe the Council was at one in this decision.
- Permutations of/fantasies on the theme called “Painful” will be bolded throughout the citations of the original text.
- The passages of the original text are numbered; commentary on each portion follows, bulleted with letters.
dated December 17, 2015; the commentary I wrote 23 December 2015
Letter to the A. Congregation From the Council
1. This has been a painful time for us all, and this letter is to address the many questions you have.
a. This has been a painful time for us all: “For us all” is disingenuous, considering the behavior of certain Council members in consistory meetings, the complaints apparently lodged against the pastor to the VP of Council, those complaints committed to paper (in the Request for Article 17-a and in the CVs’ “overview”), and the persistence of the “Council” and the CVs in this course of action after other parties practically begged them to slow down the process.
b. to address the many questions you have: Does this mean this official communique would not have been issued if people hadn’t had questions?
2. On Tuesday, December 8, Classis NM approved Council’s request for what is called an “Article 17-a,” which is a separation of a pastor from a church, according to [the denominational] church order. For us as Council members, it has been an agonizing step, and one that we actively tried to avoid taking.
a. which is a separation of a pastor from a church: It’s a termination. It’s a firing. More on that as only one option among multiple later.
b. For us as Council members, it has been an agonizing step: The evidence suggests that most of the Council don’t even understand the ramifications of this decision, on either Pastor Templar’s career prospects or even on their own relationships with him. For one Council member, it’s been pointed out over and over again that he was very anxious to get PT out as soon as possible—the other two elders admitted as much some weeks before the Article 17 Request was drafted. How could it have been agonizing for those who haven’t taken it seriously, or for the one who spoke so optimistically and cheerfully (even enthusiastically) about “journeys” at the November congregational meeting?
c. and one that we actively tried to avoid taking: I have personally asked the following question multiple times to the supposedly “impartial third party” in this: “What was done to try to avoid this?” There is no answer. Because, I assume, the answer would be, the Council threw together their imprecise and incoherent list of demands and gave PT three weeks to consider and respond to them, after which time the rules changed without warning and he was illegally suspended. This is “active avoidance”? And it has been pointed out by more than one person that this took all of seven weeks—hardly any time at all, and with no serious interaction between the pastor, Council and church visitors all in the same room together. How can this assertion be accurate, in any sense of the word?
3. Many people wonder why the Council made this decision, and there are many rumors. It is frustrating for us as a Council, because so much of this process is confidential; so, people can say a lot of things and make accusations, but we, just by Christian policy, cannot respond in detail, for the sake of everyone involved.
a. Many people wonder why the Council made this decision, and there are many rumors: How could there not be? There’s been no transparency in the situation at all. The “Council” made this decision with no consultation of the majority of the congregation, with no forethought as to how it would affect the church, even how it might upset the people who would be blindsided by it, and only offered platitudes about journeys and some acontextual excerpted bits of the Request Grounds at the congregational meeting, then left the congregation to speculate. Honestly, what did you expect? When you do things that affect such a large number of people behind closed doors, and then won’t tell them anything about it, they’re going to ‘wonder’, and they’re going to talk amongst themselves and try to figure out what’s going on! Perhaps, though, you are surprised that some people in A. are not so self-serving and shallow as the grumblers who couldn’t wait to throw out PT—some of them may very well object to the firing of their pastor without sufficient reason, and with little to no consideration given by the leadership to what the church will do afterward, especially now that there is a budget shortfall and people have left.
b. It is frustrating for us as a Council, because so much of this process is confidential: Confidential? Confidentiality wasn’t so important when PT’s emails were being passed around without permission, and when the CVs’ overview was written, full of slanderous and insulting innuendo and accusations, and references to events (replete with misrepresentations thereof) that happened in the Council room, to which the CVs often were not privy. I hate to say it (well, actually, I don’t), but to assert the importance of confidentiality here is awfully convenient [author’s note: and hypocritical? 19 April 16]. As for the first part of this line, some might even argue that this wasn’t the Council’s choice to make in so short a span of time (despite the insistence that it was a protracted period of agonizing over options, which are not listed), with the congregation completely in the dark as to what was going on. The “Council” is frustrated? Perhaps they should have taken more time, as people requested, to make this decision, as they obviously were not prepared for the consequences.
c. so, people can say a lot of things and make accusations, but we, just by Christian policy, cannot respond in detail, for the sake of everyone involved: Again, this is so convenient. How many times have people who have made accusations against PT (or against those who have tried to support him) been allowed to throw them out there, and then run for the hills without the accused being able to answer or defend himself? The whole basis of the Article 17 Request was people’s “accusations”—“PT does this or that, and makes us feel this or that”. (See Appendix iv.) Apparently that was fine, all that biblically unsound grumbling and hearsay, but the tone and wording of this clause seems to be, now, that “saying a lot of things” and “making accusations” is petty or inappropriate. And the “Council” is just too wedded to “Christian policy” to respond, and for the “sake of everyone”. The self-righteousness is nauseating—how can anyone be held accountable according to this reasoning? In the Bible people do answer charges against themselves, and if those accusing are doing so knowing the accusations are false, or are guilty of companion sins, they’re called out on it. I don’t buy that this is “Christian policy”. I don’t even buy that this is the “Council” being classy—there’s a huge difference between this missal and the documents previously produced, and the “Council” (or their ghostwriter?) have been more than happy to vilify, defame, discredit, belittle and insult (plenty of resources available on this). This lame attempt at graciousness (read: ‘we’re too Christian to answer you’) and the way PT and those “questioning” the “Council” have been treated—even in this very letter, people who disagree with or question the “Council” are, albeit very subtly, attacked by insinuations that they lack spiritual maturity or are simply gossips leveling “accusations”. That is inappropriate. People just want some honesty and transparency—they want the Council to be able to explain its decision and demonstrate that it was justified—even that it was righteous. How can they in good conscience commit themselves to a church where the leadership doesn’t have to do so? The last few words, “for the sake of everyone involved” is especially sickening; those at the vanguard refuse to even speak to the other side.
4. We can say this: This process has been long. Starting in 2008, the elders began noticing problems and addressing the concerns. Even as regards the events of just this year, 2015, Council has been at work since early Spring in these serious matters. Obviously not everyone agrees with this decision, but the Council was responding to a large number of deep, serious, and long-standing frustrations in the congregation. Also, people were leaving A. Church, and Council was listening carefully to them, and also to other who were on the verge of leaving. We knew we could not continue on our current course.
a. We can say this: This process has been long. One of the most glorified mantras in the movement. Many times discredited, yet still repeated. Credibility shot. Integrity nonexistent.
b. Starting in 2008, the elders began noticing problems and addressing the concerns. It is odd that while the mantra mentioned in 4a. keeps appearing with no revisions to wording, the time when the problems supposedly started keeps getting earlier. In the recently disseminated “overview”, it was 2011. Now it is 2008, the year PT was installed. All I can say here is, “Wut.”
c. Even as regards the events of just this year, 2015, Council has been at work since early Spring in these serious matters. This weird sentence says very little with many words. Not even sure what it contributes to the overall thrust of the passage, since it’s just been asserted how long “all this” has been going on. Maybe the point is to say that the real activity got underway this year, which is actually true. As for the claims about the long-standing nature of the issues, it is worth asking, ONCE AGAIN, why PT wasn’t aware of them, and worth pointing the reader to the documents written by 42. “Serious matters” is vague, but typical of the MO of the “Council”. We’re still not allowed to know what they are, but the “Council” insists, “Trust us, the matters are serious”.
d. Obviously not everyone agrees with this decision, but the Council was responding to a large number of deep, serious, and long-standing frustrations in the congregation. At least there is this concession. No, it wasn’t universally applauded, like some may have been led to believe. Still, there is no recourse or explanation offered to those who disagree—merely an implication that the people who were “frustrated” always mattered more than they did, and they were the ones to whom the Council “listened” and “responded”. I personally would like an enumeration and definition of the following: “large number”, “deep”, “serious”, “long-standing”, and “frustrations”. Were these frustrations due to godly and biblical priorities and expectations being violated? We can’t even get that most basic question answered, and those who were “frustrated” are still anonymous, which doesn’t seem very Christian to me. At every turn, it seems there is ample protection for those who forced this decision, self-congratulatory rhetoric for those who caved to them, and nothing but lectures and a dismissive attitude for those who want an explanation from the Council who is supposed to represent them in leadership.
e. Also, people were leaving A. Church, and Council was listening carefully to them, and also to other who were on the verge of leaving. Was the “Council” listening more carefully to those who left than to those who stayed? How much does loyalty count? Also see 42’s breakdown of the reasons leavers gave at the time of departure. This sentence is an inexcusable misrepresentation, as it has already been demonstrated that the vast majority of people who left A. during PT’s tenure did not, at the time of their departure, declare they were leaving because of him.
f. We knew we could not continue on our current course. I assume “current course” = “people leaving in droves ‘because of PT’”. See 4e. Also, it was asserted multiple times by one of the elders in October 2015 that A. “can’t afford to lose any more people’.” Therefore, they ought not to have fired PT, because it is now a known, a sure thing, that firing him led to more people leaving. Those threatening to leave may have been bluffing. Perhaps there should have been a “deeper searching” for a third option that may have actually kept people in the pews.
5. Some say that the Council was hasty and unfair. However, we did pursue other courses of action and worked to avoid this outcome. Yet it only became more clear that the vision on the heart of the pastor for his ministry and the Council’s vision of what the congregation needed and hoped for were far apart.
a. Some say that the Council was hasty and unfair. Why would anyone say that?
b. However, we did pursue other courses of action and worked to avoid this outcome. So, this is the answer to the accusation, but not in detail. We’ll never know what those courses of action were. We just know they didn’t take long, either to come up with or to implement.
c. Yet it only became more clear that the vision on the heart of the pastor for his ministry and the Council’s vision of what the congregation needed and hoped for were far apart. “It became more clear” (that should be ‘clearer’)? It’s written out for me right here, and I don’t even know what “it” means! I would like to sit down with all, or any one, of the “Council” members and ask them to define “vision for ministry”, and then ask them to explain what they think is the difference between the pastor’s supposed “vision” and their “vision” for the congregation. I also would ask them what they think the congregation needs, whether it is what the congregation “hopes for”, and ask them to evaluate the “hopes” of the congregation biblically. Perhaps it would also be helpful to discuss whether the whole congregation “hopes for” the same thing! This bit of soggy mush is an oversimplification and says nothing meaningful. Also, if this is the official line from the Council to the congregation, with the official reason for firing PT being, “He has a different vision for his ministry on his heart” (shoot me please), well, I ask two questions: Is this a fireable offense in the church of the living God? And if all it was, was a difference of vision, and the Council is interested in keeping as many people as possible as well as in the welfare of all involved, again—why did they not just ask PT to take another call?
6. Nor was the Council casual about decision. Every aspect of this deeply painful and wearying process was done in accord with CRC church order. Though the decision was ours, the process was watched over and advised by Classis Church Visitors, but the Classis Interim Committee, and by the Denomination’s Pastor-Church Relations Office. The process was intensely reviews and then approved by the Classis and by Synodical Deputies at the Classis meeting on December 8. As awful as it has been to go through this, the Council has sought to do its work humbly before God, with unanimous conviction, and with honesty and integrity.
a. Nor was the Council casual about decision. See 1a. [I’m assuming there is a missing ‘the’ intended.]
b. Every aspect of this deeply painful and wearying process was done in accord with CRC church order. What about the suspension? What about the concerns raised in correspondences, especially by 42? And what about the Word of God? Note: deeply painful and wearying. Imagine how it was for the target of the hostility!
c. Though the decision was ours, the process was watched over and advised by Classis Church Visitors, but the Classis Interim Committee, and by the Denomination’s Pastor-Church Relations Office. And the incompetence is systemic. Wait, CIC? Was that that guy who was so unprofessional, biasing the delegates in his thoughtless emails, and then, once called on it, wouldn’t give PT the time of day? And PCR [Author’s note: this is an error–54 is affiliated with Home Missions, not PCR, 25 Sept. 2016], whose coach produced that lazy, uninformed and misleading summary report? And the CVs, who produced that vindictive, apastoral “overview” of early December, broke confidence with A. parishioners on multiple occasions, and unprofessionally have agreed to advocate for the “Council” by writing everything for them? I’m swooning, I’m so impressed with the official sanction the “decision” has received. (By the way, how is a process “advised”?) [author’s note: see Exhibit H.; they weren’t there to oversee or advise in the beginning, and midway through, they insisted that this was ‘all on the council’. Now here, in a letter written by a CV on the council’s behalf, history is altered again, and the CVs are invoked as advisors to do…what, exactly? cover for the council? 19 April 16]
d. The process was intensely reviewed and then approved by the Classis and by Synodical Deputies at the Classis meeting on December 8. How can the process be “intensely reviewed” in only two hours after having had only a few days to look at the wealth of documentation whose dissemination was (deliberately?) delayed? This must be a joke, surely! [See Exhibit T.–how could it be intensely reviewed when the different parties weren’t allowed to speak or interact with each other’s claims? 19 April 16]
e. As awful as it has been to go through this, the Council has sought to do its work humbly before God, with unanimous conviction, and with honesty and integrity. “As awful as it has been…” Really, does the “Council” think they are the ones to be pitied? This is ridiculous. Humility is self-questioning, and it is open to challenge and exhortation. The “Council” (and CVs) made up their minds, and then put the pedal to the metal to ram their decision through the denominational red tape. In spite of thoughtful, biblical appeals that they take their time to do the right thing, to learn the truth, and to seek God, they pressed on, without even responding to, or adjusting their published rationale to reflect, the appeals of the other parties. This is not honest, nor does it show integrity—rather the opposite. As for “unanimous conviction”, this is another well-beloved and threadbare mantra. And it’s a lie. The writer of this letter has himself been told by one of the elders that he knows he ought not to have gone along with the rest of the “Council” in this. How can he continue to assert “unanimity” as if the argument still holds? (Though a group can in fact be unanimous and still be wrong—you know, like the Pharisees who wanted Jesus dead.) Honesty and integrity are mere flourishes here—they mean nothing. Those of us who wanted the “Council” (and indeed the Church Visitors, who were supposed to be objective third-party advisors who put God’s Word first and seek His leading in how to help in this) to act honestly and with integrity were rebuffed, blown off, treated like nonentities or given lame excuses and therapeutic verbal tripe, then told to accept it and go away.
7. Also, the Council has taken great care to be generous to the pastor. Although it will exhaust our budget, and will require massive financial assistance from the Classis, the Council has offered extended financial arrangements to the pastor that last twice as long as is typical in our denomination. Also, provisions for use of the parsonage have been extended to Jan. 31, and beyond that, money for other housing has been offered until the end of June, 2016. Given the pastor’s health concerns, Council desired that his health insurance be paid through the end of 2016. And, his pension will be paid until June of 2016. All of these arrangements are, by every outside estimation, above and beyond the norm. Keeping these commitments will take sacrifice from all of us, and from the Classis. The Council made the arrangements for no other reason than the care of the pastor and his family.
a. Also, the Council has taken great care to be generous to the pastor. Although it will exhaust our budget, and will require massive financial assistance from the Classis, the Council has offered extended financial arrangements to the pastor that last twice as long as is typical in our denomination. Also, provisions for use of the parsonage have been extended to Jan. 31, and beyond that, money for other housing has been offered until the end of June, 2016. Given the pastor’s health concerns, Council desired that his health insurance be paid through the end of 2016. And, his pension will be paid until June of 2016. All of these arrangements are, by every outside estimation, above and beyond the norm. EXCEPT YOU FIRED HIM! None of this would be necessary if it weren’t for the actions of the “Council”. One has to wonder if this celestially generous gesture serves the dual purpose of balm for the consciences of those who are disturbed by the decision, and that of glory trumpet for those who think they’ve achieved some great success in ditching the ogre who was depressing everyone. If there was so much concern for PT, why didn’t they just ask him to start looking for a job in another church? All these words and self-aggrandizing claims to generosity and “Christian love” just don’t ring true, given people’s ACTIONS. As far as strain on the budget, perhaps that should have been considered before the Request was finalized.
b. Keeping these commitments will take sacrifice from all of us, and from the Classis. Is it just and right that Classis should have to sacrifice for the whimsical foot-shooting of a renegade “Council”? Their interests are not represented by the Council; this is a completely irresponsible use of Classis resources. If we apply political forms of thought, we can say it’s stealing from other congregations who are not responsible for this Council’s choices—there was no time for the delegates to assess the situation, hold the Council accountable, and decide whether their congregations should have to pony up: No taxation without representation! And let’s not get started on even those at A. who didn’t want this and are now being ordered to “sacrifice” for it.
c. The Council made the arrangements for no other reason than the care of the pastor and his family. I can’t get the VP of the “Council” or the CVs to even talk to me. That’s how much they care. And they care so much they wanted to force PT and my sister out by New Year’s Eve. The only reason the meagre extension happened was because of Classis. If the “Council” was so caring and loving, that decision should not have needed amending. The real reason for all this is to make the “Council” look good, and to cover rears after the fact—an attempt to veil coldness and godless pragmatism by throwing money at the abused person.
8. The Council knew very clearly, with painful awareness, that by making this decision, some people would leave A. Church. Yet the Council also concluded that if we continued going as we were, there was no hope for the survival of our congregation.
a. The Council knew very clearly, with painful awareness, that by making this decision, some people would leave A. Church. Not the impression I got back in October. The only risk then was in keeping PT on. I don’t think the “Council” even realized there would be blowback until 42’s first letter. After that, “they” (or rather, their ghostwriter) had to include an empty acknowledgment that there was a possibility that people might leave if they fired PT. They did it anyway, and it seems the immediate reaction to people leaving was surprise, and then dismay, if not panic, at the impact of the departures on A.’s budget. There was no awareness that people would leave. They paid the remote possibility lip-service in the Article 17 Request, but when it actually happened, there was no sign that this was even seriously considered as a likely consequence of the “decision”, nor were there any contingency plans in place for responding to the departures. Even now, the fact that the “Council” is thoroughly unable to explain itself illustrates the reality that they thought there would be no questions asked, and did not take the time to make sure they had a solid apologia for their decision.
b. Yet the Council also concluded that if we continued going as we were, there was no hope for the survival of our congregation. It’s worth pointing out again that those who have already left, and those threatening to leave, to whom the “Council” have been “carefully listening”, are inherently more valuable than those who have left in response to the Council’s decision. Those who were “frustrated” with the pastor are essential to the “survival” of the congregation, while those who are “frustrating” the “Council” are not. Again, since the frustrations of the former are not explained, there is no way of verifying if the “Council’s” assessment of relative worth of the two groups is valid or based on biblical values.
9. With this letter, we have sought to carefully and appropriately address your concerns. We also are calling for the help of all who remain in the life and ministry of A. [denomination] Church. The future is uncertain, but we can only commit ourselves to God and His Gospel, and serve Him with glad and willing hearts. We believe God has placed many gifts in congregation, and that there is a ministry in us that can be a blessing to the world.
a. With this letter, we have sought to carefully and appropriately address your concerns. Nothing should even need to be said in response to this. Is there anything careful and appropriate here? Is there any addressing of people’s concerns? Have people’s concerns even been articulated? Oh, and, the concern about the “Council” being “hasty and unfair” doesn’t count, since it isn’t interacted with, simply dismissed.
b. We also are calling for the help of all who remain in the life and ministry of A. The future is uncertain, but we can only commit ourselves to God and His Gospel, and serve Him with glad and willing hearts. I pleaded repeatedly with the writer of this letter to talk about how God, the Gospel, and Christian service fit into all this. No response. So what does this mean here? Since none of it mattered in the consistory room, where evil ran rampant, now in the aftermath with all the “uncertainty”, we have to move forward, and to do so, re-adopt Christian vocabulary? Okay. And what about glad and willing hearts? Were the grumblers exhorted, over the many many eons that PT was here, being a problem, to serve God in such a way, rather than gripe that the biblical sermons weren’t squishy enough?
c. We believe God has placed many gifts in congregation, and that there is a ministry in us that can be a blessing to the world. These would be…? Generosity and care? It would be interesting to observe the reaction of readers, in A. and out, to a letter written to [my sister] by one of the gifted, loving women of A. As far as being a blessing to the world, who is that? Evidently PT is out of this world!
10. We call upon your for your prayers to sustain us all, including Pastor Templar and his family.
a. We call upon your for your prayers to sustain us all, including Pastor T. and his family. I don’t want your prayers; I’d settle for honest dialogue. Use of independent critical thinking skills would be big bonus.
11. We ask for your trust and support. None of us, as a Council, wanted this. We tried to avoid it. We have grieved over it. We have tried to be truthful and reasonable. In the end, however, we had a unanimous belief that this decision was right.
a. We ask for your trust and support. Well, the “Council” would have to be sure to ask explicitly for that, since all this has been so secret that the congregation has to take their word for everything.
b. None of us, as a Council, wanted this. We tried to avoid it. We have grieved over it. Then why did you do it? It’s not like there was no alternative. Come on, guys!
c. We have tried to be truthful and reasonable. Let’s get a definition of “truthful,” since, again, this is full of assertions and arguments that have been challenged and debunked. They are reiterated as if the opposing arguments don’t even exist. That shows zero regard for truth. See 11d. below. As far as being reasonable, it’s reasonable to be mature and forthright, and to explain yourself to your fellow believers. It’s also reasonable to give a fellow believer the chance to answer allegations against himself, or even to give his perspective, listen to it, and respond in a thoughtful way. This sentence is among the most offensive. Neither of these qualities has ranked high on the “Council’s” list of priorities.
d. In the end, however, we had a unanimous belief that this decision was right. Wasn’t it just asserted that the “Council” has tried to be truthful? This is the second time this LIE is repeated (see 6e. above). Besides that, this is overall incongruous. Why was it so painful? The decision was right, and the “Council” has provided for and cared for PT, so, why is it so hard? Why was it grieved over? If there was so [much] emotional sensitivity about this, why was it done just days after Pastor Appreciation Sunday? And why have so few people even bothered to check on PT? Though it shouldn’t be a surprise that really, people don’t care, because over the last year, self-interest has been the name of the game, and no one will even speak to him or answer his questions, i.e., treat him like a human being.
12. We call upon the congregation of A. Church to an attitude of cheerfulness and faithfulness before our Lord. There has been a lot of loose accusation, discouragement, and rumor thrown around against us as a congregation. This has been hard on the good reputation of our church. We can only now move forward, shoulder- to- shoulder, with grace, dignity, and optimism, in accord with I Peter 3:8-16.
a. We call upon the congregation of A. Church to an attitude of cheerfulness and faithfulness before our Lord. See 9b. above. (There seems to be a verb missing.) Is this is a sort of chiding for those who have been upset by the “Council’s” decision? [author’s note: 4 months later, this is just too rich–why weren’t people called to this years ago? 19 April 16]
b. There has been a lot of loose accusation, discouragement, and rumor thrown around against us as a congregation. What does it look like to throw discouragement around against someone? And, is “accusation” without substantiating evidence “loose”, and is that a bad thing? With the turns of phrase revised, “PT” could easily be substituted for “congregation”. Situational ethics?
c. This has been hard on the good reputation of our church. See second and third sentences of 12b., reading “church” for “congregation”.
d. We can only now move forward, shoulder- to- shoulder, with grace, dignity, and optimism, in accord with I Peter 3:8-16. Is this supposed to be a pep talk? It sounds very political. What is grace, and what is dignity? How have these been offered to the much-maligned pastor of A.?
13. Finally, although this is a difficult and awkward time, we desire to express and share Christian grace. The Council is tentatively planning a farewell open house for Pastor Templar on Sunday afternoon, January 3, from 1-3 p.m., here at church.
a. Finally, although this is a difficult and awkward time, we desire to express and share Christian grace. “Although”? Does that mean that typically, in difficult and awkward times, expressing and sharing Christian grace is not obligatory? Gee, that’s “awkward”! How profound.
b. The Council is tentatively planning a farewell open house for Pastor Templar on Sunday afternoon, January 3, from 1-3 p.m., here at church. This is expressing and sharing Christian grace? How? By making things more “awkward”? Even in positing this here, without having consulted PT, the awkwardness is increased. And since PT wasn’t even notified of this letter, how could he have been aware of the expectations or plans? “Finally”, does an abuse victim typically get invited to a barbecue by the perp after the latest beating? So insensitive, this expression of “Christian grace”.
The Council of A. Church
**A further comment on the contents of the termination agreement: there is included a disparagement clause, binding on both parties; the pastor’s obligation is enforceable by the cancellation of his severance. The congregation’s/church leadership’s is inherently unenforceable. Given what I’ve heard from some folk still attending A., it doesn’t sound like everyone is abiding by the clause–since the ‘council’ put out their own statement without even notifying Pastor T., in breach of that aspect of the termination agreement, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they probably don’t care much about the disparagement component either. Because, again, well, unenforceable. Meanwhile, Pastor Templar has had to be a good boy, and keep absolutely mum–his severance is on the line. So, on account of money, the victim must submit to a gag order; the perps can say what they want, and there is no way to hold them accountable. Figures. One must wonder if there’s more sanity in the World.
Open letter from ekkles’ sister (with minor revisions), written 20 December 2015:
‘The whole church was sent a letter by the “council” (we know for a fact it was written by another pastor who’s been in the VP’s pocket all this time). My dad and I, even though technically still members of the church, were not copied on it. But  and his wife showed it to us.
Below is the “letter” I wrote in reaction, which I will not send. As you may deduce, the council’s letter made some misstatements. This is just something I fired off quickly, in the heat of the moment. There’s a lot more that can be said about the factual/historical errors, exaggeration, excuse-making, outright lies, etc. in it.
Members of ________ Church,
I am writing to you out of my own indignation; these are my own words and feelings.
I would like to inform you of a view other than that expressed in the recent letter sent by the council. I will keep this short and only address a few things.
Pertaining to the matter of how urgent this was, and how it was the right decision, the pastor had to go because his “vision for ministry” was not in line with what the council thought the congregation needed: even if that were true, did it necessitate throwing him out so quickly? Could he not have stayed on a few more months, given time to pursue another call? Why does the pastor, with cancer, one leg, no family in the area, have to move in the middle of winter?
That would seem to put the lie to the idea that the council really cares all that much about him and his family, contra what they think the severance package proves. Another item that puts the lie to it is the fact that two of the deacons were in our small group, active for over three years. They, their wives, and one other couple were the closest friends I had in our congregation. Since this has happened, not one of those people, not even the wives, mothers, has stepped forward to offer any word of encouragement, concern, or compassion to us. Even if they think my dad is a bad person not deserving such sentiments, what about me?
Moreover I feel I must address the matter of the council not wanting to do this. My father was informed by two of the elders that the third  “wants you gone”. That was said to him as far back as summer.
As to the matter of the council having “a unanimous belief that this decision was right”, just last week I heard from one of those two elders that he “threw in with” the rest of the council because he was “just scared I guess”, and he feels terrible about it now. He went against his conscience. And he also said that to the man I believe, with good reason, to be the real author of the council’s letter. He even went so far as to say “I’m sick of !” I think I’m justified in saying that whoever wrote that letter is lying.
Now, one more thing. About the “tentative plan” for an open house on the 3rd of January. Whether such a thing happens is more up to my dad and the council than it is to me, but if it were up to me, I’d say “hell no!”
The pastor’s youngest daughter’