Thursday, December 8, 2011

An Open Letter to the Church

Note - Just before Thanksgiving, our pastor announced that she is leaving us after Easter next year. This is not really something that anybody expected, or wants... Needless to say, emotions are running high, and there was a very fervent Town Hall meeting after church on Sunday to discuss the issues. I stood up and said my piece then, but I wanted to put something down on paper for the benefit of everyone who wasn't there, and to figure things out more clearly for myself. I am not a politician, and this is not a game. It's my thoughts and feelings on the situation as best I see them. The letter follows after the break. If this is relevant to you, please read it, consider it, and pray over it as much as I have this week. If it's not relevant to you, then thank you for your time and God bless you for bearing with me this far.

An open letter to the church

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I’m no pastor or religiously-trained person, I have no experience with UCC churches other than this one, and no official standing anywhere whatsoever… but after the meeting on Sunday, I feel moved to write this letter to you as a fellow church-member who loves you all. This is an open letter, NOT a private email, so I ask you to share it around freely, via email or on paper, so that everyone gets to read it.

Our church is facing a very difficult transition.  Things are going to change next year, whether we like it or not. Our choice now is to sit here kicking and screaming and saying ‘it’s not fair, this wasn’t supposed to happen, it’s got to be X person/s fault’ … to tear ourselves apart from the inside trying to find somebody to blame. Or to face the fact that life is all about change, and to move forward from here as a truly united congregation.

The very first moment we walked into the door of the church in February, we felt surrounded by love, joy, peace and acceptance. We both knew instantly that we had come home, and that we wouldn’t be leaving again if we could help it. I still feel this, but I am afraid of what could happen next.  If we start in on the ‘he said, she said’ all of that love goes right out the window, and we lose our secret weapon. What is more important in the long run? For some of us to feel ‘right’, or for us to be a strong family of God?  A family as disparate as ours is never going to be entirely in agreement…  there are too many different viewpoints, experiences, and lifestyles represented for us to be carbon copies of each other. And that is GOOD. If all of us were exactly the same, we wouldn’t have anybody to learn from, anywhere to grow… But it’s bad too, because if it all falls apart it’ll do so in a big way. We have to trust that the forces that bind us together are stronger than the ones trying to pull us apart.

What is it that binds us together? It’s not our sanctuary, magnificent old building that it is; it’s not our pastor, however much we love her; it’s not our preferred style of worship, or the extra programs we run… it’s one thing and one thing only – we want to be God’s love in the world, in this community, and in this building.
Much of the world is already against us simply because of who we are and what we believe God wants from us. Modern liberal Christians are an endangered species in the United States, especially in this part of the country. God is love… and since we are a reflection of Him, it is our duty as His children to spread that love around as much and as far and as often as we can. LOVE. Not hate. Not confusion. Not rumours and innuendos and gossip and fear. We have to love… and we have to trust in our loving God to watch over us and to guide us through the pitfalls and difficult transitions of our lives, including this one.

Like many of you, I dearly wish that Pastor Becky could be persuaded to change her mind about moving on from the church…  I feel very saddened and almost cheated that I will only have had one year with Becky, when the rest of you get three… it makes me wish that I had a time machine so I could go back two years and be there from the beginning. But we have to be realistic. However much you love somebody, you can’t tie them to a chair just to keep them with you. Pastor Becky is too much a woman of God to make a decision like this on a whim. If she decides that it is a time to stay, I will rejoice! But it is not my choice to make for her.

 I want to say something that is never said enough. Dearest Pastor Becky, if you are truly doing what you feel God has called you to do, then go in God’s peace. I love you, trust you, admire you, respect you, am a better person for having had you in my life, and I will be proud to stand before God and call you my friend and my teacher. Becky, we love you. I wish I had many more years to learn from you… but if four months is what it is to be, so be it. I hereby promise that I will make the most of every moment of that time and not waste a moment of it on recriminations or political games. And when you are gone, I will stand strong with my church and move forward into tomorrow knowing that whatever happens, it is God’s will, and not mine, that is being done. And I will always, always, ALWAYS remember you with love.

 Karen and John Gory, December 6, 2011

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