Tuesday, October 12, 2010

sorrow

Our church is really dear to us. It's 12 years old and our head musician has been there the entire time. His official title is artist-in-residence and he's a genius visionary with prodigy-level skills on cello and is a great producer and arranger. He takes old hymns and gives them new music sometimes, or makes his own stuff, or just uses old stuff, all with an orchestra and rad combinations of instruments and he refuses to use video projection or be corny. I've always loved so much that our church had a position on staff for someone just to make art. It has helped redeem church for me after all my church trauma.

Well, three weeks ago he was fired. The reason we were given is that the leadership "wants to reach a broader demographic" and they have written a new job description for what the next music worship leader should be like. Our church has about 300 members and we're all absolutely heartbroken. The congregation wasn't told about this beforehand or consulted so it's all a surprise. The lead pastors consulted the elders, which are 4 men whom we all have known pretty well for years, and we're told the elders weren't happy about it but they finally relented.

We've talked to two elders and one pastor and they say they feel God is leading them in this direction. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to grow a church but when you cause harm to people already in your community, that's a sign to me that you're going about it the wrong way. The leadership just have a seemingly-empathic head nod for me and their minds are set.

I can't describe the grief David and I are feeling. I'm frightened because this church has been my community for 12 years and I see it unraveling. I don't know what to do with how sad I am. I've been crying hard daily since I've heard the news.I can't believe this is happening. That's all I can say.

13 comments:

shelly said...

*hugs*

Jennifer said...

sorry steph.

Still Breathing said...

A special transatlantic 'Hugh Hug' on its way to you.

I know exactly how you feel - and yes I do mean that. I have been going to the same Baptist church since 1954 and we currently have a husband and wife ministry team but the wife has been very ill with depression / ME so has hardly worked for a year. He is older (67) and has been doing both jobs and looking after her during this time. They went away for 2 months in the summer to rest and pray about their future and when they returned Jim announced from the pulpit that even though Julia was still ill they were convinced God had told them to stay.
Imagine my surprise on getting back from a week's holiday to find out that they had resigned because the deacons had gone to them and told them that they believed their ministry should end next July! This was announced at a church meeting while we were away despite the church rules clearly stating that only a special church meeting can ask for the resignation of a minister.

I have spent this week gathering the signatures required to call a special church meeting to get the deacons to explain themselves!
It is going to be messy but at least we have a way forward.
Jim and Julia's ministry has been very special and is the only time in my life that the church has actually grown so you can imagine there are a lot of very upset people around at the moment.
Guess who has to deliver the letter to the church secretary :(

God bless and just remember that although humans can mess things up it is, in the end, God's church and He is in charge.

Lots of love and prayers across the pond.

Hugh

P.S. Sorry to go on at length here but this is a locked blog and mine is too public to say anything.

LKT said...

I'm so sorry about this. Such bad leadership, imo. My prayers go out to you.

Laura

Michellica Productions said...

i am right there with you on this. talked to the ol' therapist about it, too. we should do pancakes on saturday...

chrissy said...

Stephy, It sounds like they're going corporate. 300 people is a wonderful size for a congregation. "Reach a different demographic" always sounds sketchy and corporate. It's also vague. Like what is the actual problem? What is the specific goal? Use your words, people!

Maybe God just wants Phil to get big in Japan :) And maybe you'll become a pastor and David can be a stay at home, pastor's husband :) But really, I'm sorry this is happening. Know that you are not losing your whole community. All the great friends you have made will remain your friends. They are your community. Change is difficult, but you don't need to fear the outcome. Whether it is a desired outcome or not, we know "God works all things for the good of those who love him." If it means your church becomes what you hate, it's ok, because you know who God is and who he is not, and he never changes. Grieve the change, suffer the loss, but do not fear it. We do not know if this change will bring good or evil, but it doesn't matter. We have already won. "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world." It will be OK. He promised. And he can't lie.

stephy said...

Thanks guys, so much. I'm grieving this so hard. The evasive behavior by the leadership is the most disheartening thing. I'm actually looking forward to community change because I feel dangerous people could possibly be being exposed by this process so we can protect ourselves from them. I just hate that this is the type of thing that turns people off to church forever, and for good reason, and it's happening in my precious community, where my children are being raised and have their community too, that's where my grief is really stemming from. Pastoral sin fucks up a lot more people than just regular people's sin, it seems.
I love you guys.

spinning said...

the more i find out about this situation, the less sense it makes. and i can't help wondering what might be going on behind the scenes re. personality conflicts (or just plain old outright hostility) and more.

many hugs; i can understand why this is so painful. (reminds me a lot of things I've been through...)

Kara Root said...

I'm so sorry. I hope you can keep being honest and that there are people you can trust, and that you have a community of support within it.

ekwetzel said...

I just read this post. ;o( I'm so sorry about this. I feel sadness for you and your community, even though I am not a part of it.

Spinning in Air said...

i can't help wondering if there's a nepotistic hire in the offing? (yeah, i know I'm cynical, but...)

Aaran said...

Ouch, sounds like this little church is going to market. What demographic are they going for? What is the current demographic? Do you have many youth?

300 is a good size, why not do a church plant if you want to reach more people?

stephy said...

Aaran, I'm not sure which demographic they're going for exactly, they just say they want to "reach a broader slice of Seattle." But they got rid of the most Seattle thing about our church, the born-and-bred music leader. We have zero youth, unless you count kids under 10. Then there is a whole slew.