Thursday, July 26, 2012
Ask the Matriarch - When People Leave, but Don't Really Leave Edition
Most, if not all, of us women who are ordained have come face-to-face with men and women who do not believe in the validity of our calling from God. Sometimes the result is that the person(s) choose to leave the communities of faith we have been called to lead; at other times, they stay, or stay on the periphery. Such is the case with our sister in Christ who writes today.
I have a problem that many of our sisters might be familiar with. When I began my current appointment, just over a year ago, two male members and their families left because they didn’t want a female preacher. I am not the first woman this church has had in the pulpit, but these folks probably joined in the years between.
The concern I am having is that one of these men remains teaching a Bible Study that is considered to be a church event. It is off site and was originally sponsored by our men’s group, though now one woman attends. This man is a self-styled expert, accountable to no one. I realize that people like him exist in many churches.
My husband went to the Bible Study a couple of times. He thinks this man is arrogant (in my one meeting I found him the same), but said that the only people who went to the study were a few of the “old-timers” who have been members of the church for a while, and who get along with me very well. Now, however, some new prospective members have begun attending. When I met this man at a church event recently (the only thing he has attended since his departure), he told me about this couple coming to his study, how he believed they needed additional “tutoring” and he is working with them individually himself.
I didn’t want to deal with this issue while I was the “new pastor” in my first year. Now, however, I wonder if something should be done. Is it worth ruffling feathers to say that this study should not be a church event and be taken off our calendar and other publications? (Our calendar keeper is one of the few who attend and invite others.) Also, what would be the precedent set about using other non-members as volunteers at our church for things like VBS, music, etc. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!
Several of the matriarchs are enjoying some much-appreciated vacation time, while others are leading mission trips and the like. As a result, Muthah+, who blogs at Stone of Witness is our sole respondent this week:
Dear Second Year Pastor,
First of all, I would suggest you talk to the members of your board. They are the ones who called you. Tell them of your concerns. If they think that you can ignore him, do so. The less you can give him credence, the better off you will be.
If he is running this study as an activity of the congregation, your leadership should end it if this person is not going to make himself part of the worshiping community. Explain to your board what your fears are. The more that the congregation can take responsibility for this breach the better you are. Try not to be in the middle or triangle in this situation. It is really those who called you who should do something about this guy.
If they cannot or won't do anything, ignore him. He does not choose to be accountable to the church, so don't give him a second thought. This is one of those 'shake the dust of your feet' type of situations and you are better off if you do not have to deal with him.
Have you faced a similar situation? Do you have some insight or advice for our sister? Please join the conversation by posting your comments below.
The Matriarchs' mailbox is empty again, so it's a great time to send your questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
May you live in God's amazing grace+