Okay, so this is rather long, but I would like some feedback from someone who is not emotionally involved in this.
My family has been attending a small UCC church for about 8 years. In that time there have been 3 pastors, the first one who retired, an interim pastor, and now the current pastor. We loved the first two. We haven't been so fond of the current pastor, but I kind of think of it as something to get through, not a make or break situation. However, due to this person, there has been a major exodus out of our church.
We have been very active in the church with the exemption of the last year. My FIL was dying of cancer, and we had a lot of responsibilities with him. We also didn't really jive with the pastor, so we kind of got lax about our volunteering. We still went to church and did some things, but not to the extent as before. Not sure if this is relevant, but it gives some background.
I am on the church council. I have one more year to serve. Due to all of the issues with the current pastor he has decided to retire. It would seem then, that the problem we've had will be solved right?
Well, one of the reasons we go here is that we like the UCC message of accepting everyone. This is a message that is often spoken about and spread and put into action at our church.
There have already been discussions on finding a new pastor. I was told that it will be difficult because so many "women and gays" have become ministers and that this church will be having none of that. I was just devastated when I was told that by other council members. It goes against everything my family believes in, and I thought it went against what people at this church believed also.
So, do we continue going to this church and use our voices to express the message of accepting everyone, or do we find another church that truly does so? There are 11 other council members. I think definitely 1 or 2 would be accepting of a woman or homosexual pastor, but the rest, I just don't know. I think a majority would not, based on what I was told. (It was told to me by 3 of the other council members.) Please understand that they are saying they wouldn't even consider the application of a woman or homosexual pastor.
There's the part of me that wants to stand up for all people and then there's the part that says, "You're not going to change these people's minds." However, if we do leave, I will be honest about why we are doing it.
Please, tell me honestly what you think.
Personally, I would go. I would want my children in a more accepting environment as my family shares your values on this issue. But, as you said, I would make my reasons for leaving loud and clear. However, I sometimes consider myself too lazy when it comes to social change, and I do wonder if this is a place for you to try to make a difference. Could you reach out to others who you suspect share your views and find out if they would be interested in trying to change the climate with you? Certainly if it would be just you against the whole church I wouldn't advise it. Even one or two others seems like a very small group to entirely change the tide--can you gauge the sentiment of the congregation at large, not just the council?. I think that leaving because of the bigotry makes a statement in itself, but I do wonder if it's enough. I'm interested to hear what others have to say.
Breastfeeding, cloth diapering, vegetarian, working mama to DD (10/2010) and wife to a wonderful, opinionated DH . We love and our.
Annaknitsspock, yes, I am guilty of being lazy about social change too. Also, I HATE confrontations. So, I'm not sure if I would be the best person to fight this fight.
Jgallagher66 - This is a super small church. In fact, I think in another couple of years, it will be forced to merge with one or two others because of financial difficulties. (Not enough people to support the running of it...) There are 7 families around our age with young children/teenagers. From what I know of them, I think 4 of the families would be supportive and 3 would not. But that is a guess. The remainder of the congregation is late 50's to 80's. As I thought about this after I was told it, I realized that, duh, most of the older people would not want a woman or someone who is homosexual. We are not living in the most forward thinking part of the country, if you know what I mean. However, I don't think a merger would be a bad thing, and it might force some of the congregation to be more open in their thinking.
Thanks to both of you for your views; I really appreciate it, It gives me something to think about.
So, do you think we should leave now, or should I stay until I fulfill my council obligation? I feel that if I leave now, I will leave them in the lurch because not many people want to be on the council. However, it will be hard to bite my tongue if they start discussing possible replacements. I think that I SHOULD speak my mind on the replacements, but if I'm planning on leaving anyway, it would seem weird.
My term is up Nov. 2013. The interim pastor should be installed in January sometime. However, there has been talk that the UCC does not allow churches to start their search for a new pastor until the old pastor has been gone a year. So, I don't know if the search criteria would come up.
I think I will stay, and when (if?) we leave, explain our reasons. I will also make sure to be honest about my beliefs regarding a new minister when we have meetings.
Thanks so much for your helpful advice!