Friday, January 18, 2013

If They Only Knew They Were Slaves, II


"I'm from the district office - and I'm here to help."

Ichabod – I can relate to your article:

"If Only They Knew They Were Slaves"

I was at one time, of a CRM status; or, at the least promised so, by the then LCMS Michigan District President, in 1996. When I refused to agree to sign the Michigan District legal papers that they were attempting to shove down my throat; that CRM promise was apparently jerked out from under me. Essentially I was "stabbed in the back" with Judas-type precision. [Apparently, I was unaware at the time, that there were “conditions” to my resignation; and “signing my life away” was one of them]

It wasn't good enough that I voluntarily agreed to resign, (when I determined, staying, was not worth the anguish for my family and me), with the promise to be able to be duly called in the future as an LCMS parish pastor, elsewhere. That was not good enough for the Napoleon-run district. It was also not good enough that I allowed the congregation which had called me, to work out the severance package, in a congregational meeting. Hence, by the ill-will treatment by District, I was not only greatly "slighted," but District's action was a "kick in the face" gesture to the local congregation, that they weren't autonomous (enough) to deal with my resignation and severance disposal.

Consequently, in that last congregational meeting that I was present; I told the congregational assembly, that if they didn't learn to start making their own decisions, rather than relying upon the pushy LCMS Michigan District, that they would not be a congregation in 50 years. This was back in 1996. Since then, I have learned, that this (same) congregation has dwindled to an attendance of 40 - 45 a Sunday; the parsonage is rented out; and, they co-share a pastor with the neighboring LCMS church, 5 miles away. Also, I learned that the average age is 60 and above.

It wasn’t good enough, that when I was pastor, that the attendance would range from 90 to sometimes 120 for this rural congregation. It wasn’t good enough (for the small minority of church pillar alligators) that I resisted their plea to hack off what they considered to be “the dead wood,” – those church members who would gladly meet with me, the pastor, upon visitations to them. It was these same members who had problems (challenges) sitting in the same pew with some of the alligator holier-than-thous. It wasn’t good enough for those alligator holier-than-thous to be told by their pastor [me] that Scripture says: [Paraphrase] “that if anyone comes in Christ name; and, if they are received as such; that Christ, is being welcomed.” No – instead, they wanted to shove this “dead wood” out!

Please note, that I only share the (above) as feedback and input to this article posting. What I relate may help some present-day parish pastors; CRM status, or not. I don't care to think back (too long) at one of the most grueling, difficult and sad periods of my life. Not experiencing the support of the then District President, was a very distinct "downer" angst and slap in the face, who told me at Concordia's call night, (3 ½ years prior) that he had wished to send me to a better place. Then when push came to shove, he abandoned me, when he had been (apparently) aware of the congregation’s problems, challenges and history. His actions of abandonment were designed to make me the scapegoat, rather than coming along-side and assisting to work out the challenges, involved.

However, having stated the above, I will be quick to add here, that according to the Scripture of 2 Timothy 3:1-5, I have avoided these people that have brought so much hurt to my person and family. At the same time, I must add, that it has taken (me) years to be able to forgive (from the heart), not only the district president and his lackey VP; but, 3 circuit pastors who were used by them in their anti-loving and anti-Scriptural "posse hanging process."

Since all this has taken place; I've run into a few of the (then) "alligator" church members, and have kindly spoken to them, wishing them well. I have forgiven them, from the heart, also; although, realizing at the same time (according to 2 Timothy 3:1-5) that no reconciliation is possible. [Louis Smedes book, “The Art of Forgiving” helped me deal with this particular life’s tragedy and move on; realizing that forgiving does not necessarily translate into reconciliation].

I could say more, but will decline. But, I will hasten to add, that present day pastors have my prayers, as they are clearly subject to all types of congregational (church member) snares who, in private, do not bat an eyelash to visit circuit and district "officials" behind the parish pastor's back, playing second fiddle (in the process) to the evil one, himself.

Nathan M. Bickel




***

GJ - I know many similar stories, essentially the synod pulling the rug out from under the pastor in a deceitful, cowardly, and duplicitous fashion. Because district officials obtain their positions through flattering some and sand-bagging others, they are one in spirit with congregational counterparts. They bond especially well with adulterers.

Mrs. I used to ask, "Why are the district officials so fond of adulterers? There must be some reason."

The congregations that go along with these practices will pay the price, becoming sicker and smaller. The districts and synods think they are in business, but if they ran a business so poorly, they would be fired as incompetent managers.

The Holy Spirit says, through Paul, that ministers are only to be judged by their faithfulness to the Word, as stewards of the mysteries of God.





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