Listening to the conversations and stories today has surfaced memories I’ve not thought about for a long time… at least not in this way.
I’ve been an active Presbytery member (a lay member) since early 1990’s and in the mid-late 90s a member of Presbytery Executive.
I have a vivid memory of being the individual Presbytery person who had to go to a small rural congregation’s Sunday worship, lead worship, and announce from the pulpit that the previous day Presbytery had removed their minister, as the congregation and the community were no longer seen to be a safe place for her.
This young lesbian minister had recently married—and had invited several of the congregation to the wedding. Reactions in the community (with several more fundamentalist congregation and 1 UCC congregation) was strong and critical, with lots of negative comments and some verbal threats—the Presbytery Chair and Pastoral Relationship Committee—decided that the pastoral charge was no longer a safe place. The minister was to leave town immediately, and would be supported until a next placement started in 6-8 weeks. An interm minister would be the next step for the congregation.
I regret this action happened so suddenly, with limited and almost no dialogue between minister and congregation, or even just with the congregation. Potential for a shared learning for healthy dialogue and for growth was delayed for several more years.
I wish we’d had taken time and had the courage for authentic conversation instead. Rather than fuelling the fear and distrust it could have been a step toward increased understanding.
Signed, Anonymous, in the Canadian Prairies
(Shared with permission. Photo: Wix.)