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Saturday, March 6, 2010

I keep asking myself...

What would Jesus do? I know he would say "forgive him and move on." I try. Really, I try. After all, he is a man of the cloth, a pastor, a man of God. He is the Pastor of my mother's church, formerly my church. At this point in my life, I can't even enter that church. What would cause me to be so bitter and unforgiving? I've had many issues with this man, but this is what broke the camel's back.
My father died in March of 2005. Dad gave his all to this church. He was in charge of the sound for the radio broadcast on Sunday morning, he was there to record the sound for all church events, weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc. The fee for his services was always given back to the church, he never kept a dime. He was a deacon for many years, headed up the puppetry program for Sunday School and special events, wrote the scripts, spent hours on sound. He never missed church except when ill, and tithed every dime brought into the house. He was a true man of God.
When there are funerals, the Mission Guild and the ladies of the church would put on a pot luck meal for the families after burial services, as I'm sure most churches do. It's a mission, and a biblical call to take care of widows and their families. When this pastor took over the helm, he saw funeral luncheons as a way to line his pocket. I was at the council meeting, ( I was council secretary) when he brought up charging the widow-widowers $3 a head for the luncheon. I strongly objected, and was told this wouldn't be for faithful members of the congregation, but for those outside the church using this service. Still not totally on board, the resolution passed.
When my father died, I was shocked to find out that my Mother would have to pay $300 for the funeral luncheon. Against my better judgement, the family agreed. Mom didn't have that kind of money, and the tab was picked up by the grandsons. After the luncheon, NO leftovers were given to the family. Some was given to each helper to take home. Instead, this pastor SOLD the leftovers of the food we payed for, to the Wednesday night supper. Wonderful Wednesdays as they are called, have dinner that costs $3. So, he made double the money on my father's funeral. Does this money go back to the church!? Absolutely not! It goes into his pocket. He buys the meat, the ladies of the congregation bring food and dessert. His argument? It costs more than $3 to go out to dinner.
So here is my complaint. We aren't talking about a casual night out to dinner. We're not talking entertainment. We are talking about a mission to take care of widows after the death of a spouse. I thought this was just that, a mission. Not a chance to take advantage of a family in a time of tragedy to line pockets.
Can someone out here explain to me where this is right? What is the procedure at your church? Can this be justified or am I unnecessarily upset? Please talk to me. This is swallowing me up and has been for 5 years. It's effecting my prayer life, my health, and with the anniversary of Dad's death on the 12th, it's all come to surface. My mother is sorry I feel this way. I'm sorry she doesn't.


Tolentreasures said...

Wow, that is really not a good policy for a church as far as I am concerned, but then I come from a church and personal belief that NOTHING should be bought or sold in the church, NOTHING, no fundraisers, no charges for dinners, etc. and no one gets paid except the pastor. However, my advice for you would be to forget it and forgive it. I always try to remember these two quotes in situations like this.
"To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and to realize that the prisoner was me" Corrie Ten Boom
and "Refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and hoping that the other person dies" I have to repeat them over and over to myself at times.
I would find another church or group of believers to worship with, that one doesn't seem to "fit" anyway.
Good Luck!

Jayne said...

Wow Laurie. That's so very sad to me, and no, it's not OK. Not OK in the least. That man would not be the one I would look to to help me be fed spiritually, and I could not, in good faith attend a church where policies like this are embraced. No way. No how.

I would replace the anger and hurt you feel with pity and sadness for the person he has not grown to be, and for the "gospel" he's preaching.

I'd have to respectfully find another place to worship.

Diane said...

Laurie, I haven't commented because I was mulling it over. I would say that regardless of your family ties I would try to walk away from that church. You're trying to pull yourself up and reinvent yourself in more positive ways and this is just dragging you down. Diane

Kim said...

What a tough situation. Your pastor is definitely in the wrong! In our church the family of the deceased has some choices of what to serve. They pay for the meat and the ladies of the church donate the rest. Leftovers go home with the family. I have always believed that you stay with your church when someone rubs you the wrong way, but that would be hard when it is your pastor. Is it about time for him to move on? If so, try to forgive and forget and pray for a new leader. If not, then maybe you do need to find another place to worship.

Melinda Cornish said...

I think it is pretty shady myself...what I wouldnt do, or try not to, Is let it keep me from another church...people are people, their are good and bad....you just have to try and find the good ones...I am sorry this happened to you and your mom.....

Pearl said...

Very shady indeed Laurie, this pastor needs to be confronted by many not just you. Don't let it eat you up though Diane is right, it's not good for you but this pastor is so in the wrong that one cannot think where did he come from? He is certainly not walking the path that Jesus gave to us. Good Luck and God Bless you.

Terri's ThreadArt said...

Dearest Laurie ~ Must get to bed but had to say as I read this I truley know how you feel. I will email when I have more time but it is a hard blow when it comes from a pastor.I walked away from a church 15 yrs ago that we were VERY involved in.It's hard but let the Lord lead you and then don't look back!

JS said...

Re: What the pastor did.
1. Yep, that stinks! I don't understand why he bought the meat in the first place. I can't imagine a congregation who, when asked, wouldn't jump at the chance to love on the family of one of their own by bringing all the food themselves. (As, in fact, both my church AND my parents' church did when my dad passed away two months ago. And he sounds a lot like your dad.)
2. But if this is how it's always done, then that's church policy, and perhaps the church board/elders should revisit that.

Re: Your reaction.
1. While I agree with you that the principle was all wrong, and I understand righteous indignation, there is no money out of your pocket, so you really weren't robbed in any sense, nor was your mom.
2. You can't change what happened. Since you're not a member of the church, you probably can't change how this is handled in the future, either. The only thing you *can* change is your response. To that end, I offer a few suggestions:
A. "'Vengeance is Mine,' says the Lord." If this man deserves vengeance, God can do a much better job of it than you! Let God be in charge of that. You be in charge of the mercy.
B. One thing I've learned is that when someone really and repeatedly gets under my skin, if I think about it long enough, often their behavior is a reflection of how I myself have treated God at some point. And God is using that to get my attention about it.
C. "Forgive one another as God forgave you." The only way to put others' sins in perspective is to remember how far *we* have fallen short of God's standard, and how generously He has forgiven us.
D. Lastly, I echo those who say forgive for your own sake, your own health. This is eating you up, not him. And who do you think is happy about that? God? No, but Satan sure is!

So you know where I'm coming from... I have forgiven an ex boyfriend who used to stalk me. It took me a few years to realize that the power he still held over me in my mind was only because I continued to give it to him. Once I decided to forgive, for the first several months, I only did it by a force of will. When I was tempted to nurse the wound, I would stop and say, "NO: I've forgiven that, and handed it over to God to deal with as He sees fit." The feelings of forgiveness didn't follow until a year or two later. But they did come! I encourage you to hand this over to the Father, and set yourself free.

Wendy said...

I just found your blog and had to respond to this post.

My husband and I have been in ministry for 16yrs. and never have we or will we ever charge for feeding the widow and her guests after a funeral. This should be a service from the church and those in ministry to those who are suffering a loss. In no way should a ministry or minister make a profit off of someone's tragedy. To me this is a shameful act on the part of this particular minister. He has taken advantage of a situation and profited from it. That does not reveal the love of God to those who are hurting.

Second, for your own spiritual health you should forgive the pastor and those who made a profit from this. To do so will help you and release you from all the anger and bad feelings. When you hold unforgiveness and bad feelings against someone it only hurts you not them. I am sure he is not losing sleep and is happy in his own choices. Yet, this is affecting you and causing pain in your heart. Free your heart of the pain and hurt by the simple act of forgiveness. As you have already left the church and have found another church home you can grow and flower in your spirit without the hindrance of unforgiveness in your heart.

May God richly bless you and your family. May Gods' peace rest upon your shoulders and may you find a rest in Him (God) that sooths your soul.

We all must learn to forgive even when we have done nothing in return. If we harbor unforgiveness it will eat away at our spirtual self like a cancer does to a body. We must choose to walk in forgiveness so that we can be forgiven when needed.

I hope this helps you in some way and I will be praying for you.