Thursday, March 15, 2007

Phil's Confessio (Part 2)



The Threat of Removal, and Counsel from the Counsellors and a VP



After our District Supervisor exploded in anger, and feigned spiritual insight by declaring that "something deeper was going on here," I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and took it at face value when he said that he was only a phone call or e-mail away. Perhaps he was just a hothead (okay even his closest confidants said he was a hothead, so I knew that was true) but perhaps he would cool down, and he meant it when he said that we could talk. I sent an e-mail requesting to get together to be able to discuss how we had been offended by being accused of being aberrant in theology and practices, having that information e-mailed around the denomination, never a retraction given when we proved our case, and this on top of the fact that we were never even approached with a discussion of the issues with which we falsely charged. It all had come out of the blue, and we were seeking reconciliation with our detractors.

I asked for a meeting, but stated that I would be talking about how the manner in which we were treated was in error, and that there was a need to begin to work toward solving the problems it had caused us. I even went so far as to say that I was open to hearing how the District Supervisor's position might have been the only option he had, and if so, I was willing to accept that.

I hit send. As the e-mail made its way across the optic fibres, and telephone lines to the District office, I stood up, walked away from the computer into the kitchen, and a voice in my head said, "I'm gonna take him out." The words felt like the words of my District Supervisor. They did not have a New England accent. They did not carry tone and volume, but appeared to carry a meter, and an emotional intent which I identified with the person who would be receiving my letter. I shook off the words as feelings of trepidation in pursuing this sensitive subject once again.

Had I made a mistake in pursuing to rectify this injustice against us? Was God actually calling me to suck it up, and allow lies to continue unabated? or was I called to walk this two-fold path of defending our ministry, and simultaneously pursue reconciliation. Along the way Jeff and I had felt that each step of the way our hand was being forced to speak up, but we never were comfortable with doing so.

The next day, I received a terse reply saying that I was unrepentant. Unrepentant concerning false allegations?! Yikes! How does one defend themselves against such a silly accusation? The reply stated that there would be no meeting with my District Supervisor. I was informed that two leaders would be sent to speak to me about my "future with the Salem Foursquare Church." To me this read like a threat, and seemed to mirror the voice in my head which stated "I'm gonna take him out."

I forwarded the e-mail to a denominational counselor with whom I had asked for advice every step of the way. The moment he read the e-mail, he called me - off hours, from home, and with urgency in his voice. He had never contacted me in this manner previously. His short almost immediate response was, "Phil, whatever you are going to do - do it now." He read the letter in the same manner which I had understood it. The District Supervisor was going to attempt to remove me from the church, because I wanted to talk to him about how we had been offended. As much as we had previously been through, I was still surprised at this response. I could not believe the depth of insecurity, and abuse to which this leader had sunk.

Shortly after I spoke with the denominational counsellor, I also communicated with a denominational Vice President whom I had known for over twenty years, albeit more like an close aquaintance than a friend. I was sure that he was a man of integrity, and someone I could trust. He advised me to appeal our situation to a Senior Supervisor.

And so a new stage of our trials had begun. We were now in need of appealing to higher authorities, and we would discover who up there, like God, had an ear for those without an advocate.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Not god's annoited..."

Oh, and noticing your tongue in cheek quote last post re: bad boys of a denomination, I just wanted to state for the record, I don't state the following lightly, none of the leaders mentioned are "god's anointed." Though, "I am only a child," these folks clearly have renounced their anointing as Saul did. Though worse has happened in other "denominations" throughout the centuries, I would say it would follow the same biblical pattern as was so ironically shared at a Foursquare conference years ago -> The first generation will be "Saul." The next, "David," the next "Solomon," and we know what happens after that...

It'll be interesting to see. I've got a good message musing about "Zero Authority" actually being God's idea and the best model of "authority." Once I figure out how to enable comments on my blog I'll explain "Zero Authority" more in detail and try to demonstrate how it actually works out to be the best model of "authority."

mikeofearthsea said...

Actually, Hatcher probably is at "Rehoboam" stage...

Hatcher has self-proclaimed - in his public testimony - that he has suffered from depression. Depression does not disqualify one from being a pastor, but as I am expertly familiar with depression and the impairment it brings on one with regard to the decision-making process, as well as the impairment anti-depressants - which treat the depression, have on the decision-making process, it's sad that a church with as much resources as Foursquare has cannot adequately assess and restore someone to spiritual leadership.

-moes

Mike/Cern said...

'It'll be interesting to see. I've got a good message musing about "Zero Authority" actually being God's idea and the best model of "authority." Once I figure out how to enable comments on my blog I'll explain "Zero Authority" more in detail and try to demonstrate how it actually works out to be the best model of "authority."

Sounds like the Taoist approach to leadership. :)

BB

Mike

mikeofearthsea said...

Mike (Cern)! Don't say that! Are you trying to get me excommunicated from the Gathering!?!

;-)

Pastor Phil said...

Gee, and I thought it sounded like Christian Anarchism.

Anonymous said...

The more I read Hatcher's article in Advance magazine, his self-disclosure about his personal chronic pain and depression, and the more I read about his behavior, it seems more and more like the case of a guy having problems with his pain medications and anti-depressants. All the classic symptoms are there: paranoia, megalomania, drastic mood changes.

And what's worse, Foursquare still doesn't know how to - or isn't willing to - deal with it.

Just a thought.

-moes

Adam Gonnerman said...

Phil,

I'm really glad you are posting this, even though it is as painful to read now as it was to read the first time on someone else's blog.

On a personal level, are things starting to look up now?