ok I got a situ for ya... It goes a little something like this...Oh and its long...
eta: I copied and pasted this from another christian forum I belong to. I wanted as many perspectives as i could get. Thanx!
Our pastor situation has come to a head for me. Its all so strange. Ive never dealt with a situation like this among christians. I was more then willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, assuming she was under a lot of pressure.
Im trying to think of where to begin with this. I told them yesterday I will not be coming back to that church for the forseeable future. Im going to try to recount events from beginning, the important details (in my eyes) so I can see them outside of my own head. Im not using fake names either, it doesnt matter.
I have been attending this church pretty much on, sometimes off (bc of ill health), for two years. We were baptised there last year, my girls, dh and I, at the harvest service and that was a very special day for us. They had been looking for a pastor since just before I started going there. I had some issues with the church, but they were minor. Mostly to do with not having an in house pastor and actually more to do with the fact that it was a mostly elderly congregation and the worship 'style' was so not what I was used to or preferred. Old hymns that I didnt know. Over the two years I did get to know some of them a little bit, some more then others, but I felt accepted, loved and nurtured, very much so... by most of them, actually all except one. That one woman was a woman closest to my age (in her 40's) who I actually liked. She seemed lovely and she actually was one of the two who baptised me. She never let herself get close to me. She would be very polite and sometimes pray for me but kept her distance. I think I mentioned before that I assumed it was down to work committments. She later revealed to me, in form of an apology, that she thought I was intense and that frightened her. . She is called Ruth.
So over time I become involved with a tiny bible study group with Marion. She was the church secretary and her and her dh did a lot for the church, gave up so much of their lives to keep it running, along with others also, but they were the backbone. Such humble people, I found as I got to know them. We started a bible study with a young single mum, committed christian, but rather young in the faith. She had been a christian for 3 years and had never heard of Joseph. She was also new to this particular church. So we are meeting up and growing and fellowshipping. It was lovely and what I consider true fellowship.
That started in spring of this year. In September they hire a new, rad, dynamic and energetic preacher, Sarah. Her preaching is spot on. Everything is going fine, its quite exciting (not going into whether women should be preachers here. Dont mind discussing it, for learning's sake, but lets deal with everything else first). She had a lot of wonderful ideas for outreach into this community that needs ot hear about the Gospel, about salvation, about Christ. Everyone is excited, including myself.
The first few encounters with Sarah were fine, warm, welcoming. Then one day I noticed something. There were several personal incidents that confused me a little. It started to happen that whenever we were in a social situation that whenever I opened my mouth she would pull this face of disgust. One time during the welcome party at her house, that was the first time I noticed her seeming off with me. I had done nothing to warrant it. I didnt want to bother her, I wanted to give her her distance to settle in but I looked forward to getting to know her. Then there was an incident at a meeting discussing the way forward with the church. She reacted to all my suggestions with a fake grin, like 'Yeah... OK NEXT!' Do you know what I suggested? Everyone was suggesting things like groups for the community and mens groups, youth clubs. I mentioned good hearty bible study. I felt the church needed its foundations fixed and solidified before we plowed on into the community, bc the church had NO way of handling any kind of influx of new believers. I also said I thought it was wonderful how the church kept it going thru some very lean years, dwindling and dying congregation etc. Then she actually pulled that same face of disgust at some of my suggestions. It was so obvious I said 'Look at your face! Whats up with you?!'
One sunday I notice Marion's husband, Ronald, struggling with the computer/projector. He didnt know the words to the new songs and obviously hadnt been taught by the new dynamic pastor, aka, Cool Rev Sarah, how to work the thing. He was just given the song list and had to figure out how to upload the songs, and when to click on the different verses. He was really struggling. I couldnt let him sit there and struggle thru the service when I had done that very job at my last church, so last minute I stepped in and saved the day, lol. He was so thankful and said I was an angel. He is the most lovely, gentle, sweet gentleman I have ever met. So quiet and soft spoken. Ive since learned he wasnt always like that, a real follower and lover of Christ, evidence of what it means to be a changed person thru the power of Christ.
Now, Ronald would sit next to me during the service while I got used to this system. He also picked me up, with Marion, to go to the bible study with Cheryl. I noticed during the services that he seemed frazzled, upset sometimes. He said 'The Lord's challenging all of us with the new things Sarah's doing, but its all good'. Thats how it started out. He never had a bad word to say about her. The whole church was being challenged. Then, when asked how their week was during the ride to bible study, they'd say something like 'Oh... Challenging...' I had NO inkling that it was getting harder to work with Sarah. This was all alongside what was going on between Sarah and I personally.
So one day I just said to Ronald on the way home from bible study 'I sometimes feel like I misunderstand Sarah.'
Ronald said 'Oh!!! You and me both!!!' 'So, its not just me then?'...
No, it wasnt. I watched Ronald and Marion become more and more upset, but not very noticably, only bc I worked so closely with them. We didnt discuss anything, we didnt gossip, I didnt ask anymore questions.
One sunday, shortly after the 'tea' incident (when I asked for a herbal tea and she pulled a face and made a snarky comment to the other tea lady, she also threw the tea bag into the cup, and said 'thats 30pence' I hadnt any change and she said snarky like 'go and buy something then and bring back the change'. it was the christmas fair)...I witnessed something that shocked and upset me. Sarah would often come onto the stage before church started with a face like thunder. She was bossy, 'Where's my mic?!! Who's in charge of the sound!?' ... 'Who's book is this?! It shouldnt be here!!!' all with the face like thunder. Im like I only witnessed it bc I was there early doing the visuals. This sunday she storms onto stage demanding where her mic is. Ronald gets up to get it for her and says in his usual gentle manner, 'Its exactly where you left it.' and hands it to her, turns around to walk off stage. She's very obviously angry about something and is storming around in such a manner that she trips over Ronald's feet, she makes a two fists behind his back and is silently seething. She made like she wanted to grap him and throw him off stage. They both tripped up a bit and she says 'Sorry, sorry' all to his face, when he turns around she seeths off back into her office.
He didnt see that. He only knew she was angry and says to his wife 'Im going home.' They both leave. They have since left the church, their responsibilities. There have been many incidents like this. Ive see how she's treated them and it is SO lacking in christian love its disgusting. I started having a strange feeling, even before this incident. I would walk into church and feel myself well up, but I didnt know why. I can only explain it as spiritual. I started to feel very grieved. After that last incident, directly after that service I went up to Sarah and gave her a big hug and said 'Id like to talk to you.' I said it was about her, not me and that I had witnessed what occured just before the service.
I emailed her during the week and she reluctantly set a date for that thursday.... Which she promptly cancelled saying something very important came up. I found out later that nothing came up at all. So I emailed her. I expressed my concerns but was encouraging as well. She didnt register the encouraging bits. Another thing I noticed was that she was very polite and thankful towards me when my dh came to church with me. It was only when I was alone without him that she treated me like that.
I had done the visuals since Ronald left. Very little contact or input from Sarah, emails ignored and such. Only the basics, what songs we're singing.
So saturday night I ring Ruth bc I needed to get into church early sunday morning. I say Id rather not be up there alone with Sarah bc I dont like communicating with her. I dont like the snarky remarks about the songs should be in there etc. Id rather go thru someone else. So, we get thru the service and it was good. The best nativity service Id been a part of in all my years as a christian. After the service I tell Sarah that it was good, that Id like to give her a hug, but... and she says 'But you're afraid of me and dont want to be alone up here' Virtually word for word what I said to Ruth the night before. I tried to explain how I felt, that I didnt feel comfortable and she said maybe it was the emails, that I was too intense (I did say one thing I shouldnt have, I dont regret saying anything else). But that too was a comment Ruth said to me. I get the feeling they were talking about me behind my back and that made me feel sick. She also said 'Obviously you were friends with Marion and Ronald and have been influenced by them.' Which I havent, and being misunderstood like that is very frustrating. If that were the case, Id have followed suit and left with them! I felt like I was being targeted by Sarah with her attitude and unpleasantness bc of my association with Marion and Ronald.
I made the decision that she would have to find someone else to do the visuals. She had mentioned that morning she had someone else in line to help out. But I get home, talk to Denis about it and he suggests I stop doing it effective immediately. I couldnt do that, but I did get to thinking that I didnt want to do it over Christmas. I wanted a relaxing christmas with my family. I didnt feel like that church was like my family anymore. I went into the evening service, did that, and told Ruth that I wouldnt be doing it anymore.
I start clearing the computer up, Im upset bc I did love the church and the people, I just felt rather hurt and confused. I hear Sarah shout 'Are you serious?!?! RUTH RUTH!!!' I think she's being bossy and bullyish and I just carry on and finish up and go home.
Ruth's mother phoned me this morning saying that Linda (the new church secretary and only piano player/proper musician) was in the middle of a mini stroke when Sarah shouted. Linda had lead the service that evening, but after couldnt remember anything that had gone on beforehand.
I emailed Sarah, a very unintense email saying that in light of the present circumstances I would be willing to do the computer if they needed me to.
Satan is really having a go. I just pray for Linda and the whole situation. That Linda's stroke isnt serious. That there arent any long term damage. I pray that everyone is at peace, calmed down and can see what's going on for what it is. I pray that we are all able to humble ourselves and just get on with the work we need to do.
Now, bc of the stroke Linda had, I felt very bad about quitting on them like that. In fact during the service yesterday evening I started feeling guilty and like I should just do it all and be quiet about how I felt. But during the songs I felt moved, encouraged by God, I think, to go thru with it, strengthened to do it. I hate letting people down, I really do, I went back and forth between not wanting the confrontation to feeling encouarged and strengthened to go thru with it.
By this morning I felt I had done the right thing. All the while I hadnt known Linda had a blinking stroke! I was tempted to feel silly. I have gone back and forth between thinking it was me being overly sensitive, and believing something is just not right here. I dont know if I did the right thing last night. I do know its not as important as what happened after I left. I also feel like there is most definately something wrong with the way Sarah behaves and treats people and I am genuinely concerned that she will drive people away as quickly as she can bring 'em in. I dont like working with people like her. She called me intense! lol. I heard her shouting about something yesterday morning from her office before the service started. Its embarrassing, it shows a basic lack of love, the Main fruit of the Spirit. I guess I cant abide when christians, especially, cant demonstrate a genuine love towards each other. It just seems wrong to me.
I guess Im learning thru this too. I really do pray for Linda and I dont want to make assumptions about what God is doing by allowing all this to continue. I do wonder if its to do with growth. We can blame a lot of it on Satan's active desire to thwart all God wants to achieve but ultimately I believe God IS in control. When His people are moving according to His will satan cant win, even tho he tried and even tho God doesnt always stop him.
Anyway, Im off to pray, that is the first thing I need to do now, the main, maybe only thing I need to do.
Actually, I have a lot to say about what it seems God is accomplishing in me atleast. It all seems so confusing. On the one hand it seems God is strengthening me in some areas, growing me in areas I know have been ignored in recent years down to circumstances, confidence, self esteem; But also humility. I am really humbled by what's happened. I could save face and refuse to help, be stubborn about it, but that would be completely ignorant. Also, the fact that I see something different about Sarah that I personally find hard to ignore, where Ruth and Linda are ... well, very close to her and see something completely different. I see her stomping around, shouting before service, I dont care what I dont know about what's going on behind the scenes! Its just wrong! New congregants arent going to care about what's going on behind the scenes, it all looks very false to hear the pastor shouting about something in her office then come out with that fake smile on her face and preach a 'good sermon'. Ruth and Linda, how they can turn a blind eye to it, is beyond me!
Well, I guess I am in awe and wonder at how God can love a creation like this. Anyway...