Saturday, April 07, 2007

Phil's Confessio (Part 4)

As the fourth part in a continuing series, you can follow the first 3 parts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

A Grand Opening Surprise

March 19th came, and we held a grand opening of our new facility. A morning service, followed by an invitation to friends and acquaintances in the community to visit our space throughout the day, as live music, food, and free Dream Interpretation was being offered. In the evening we had a Storyteller's event, with a friend who played the bassoon in an orchestra who performed solo, and an another friend who was a recently celebrated local poet.

This was billed as the grand opening of The Vault - the new home of The Gathering - The Salem [denominational title here] Church. All over town invitations had been given out highlighting this opening with the denomination's name upon it.

The mayor attended the morning service, and celebrated our Grand Opening with us. Our friends from Streams Ministries came to support us, and provide the Dream Interpretation following the service. The service was attended by a few new faces, but disappointingly few for all our work, but shortly after the service that all changed. People began to pour into The Vault from noon until 5pm. Friends, city employees, friends of church members, neighbors, local business people all came to check out the new place. They laughed, they ate, they listened to live music performed by a variety of friends who came to support us with their skills. Kids ran around, people walked through the old vault. They played chess, and checkers, and had dreams interpreted. All afternoon the fun went on. As it wore down at about the 6pm, the room filled again. The lights went low. and Storytellers began. It was a magical evening, and the day which started so slowly, ended wonderfully. We laughed with friends, developed new relationships, and spoke gracefully of Jesus to the community.

Certifiable Insanity

We rested that week from the hard work which led to the success of our grand opening. To our surprise we had not had any response from the people in our own denomination. Invitations were sent to all the churches in the District, and to friends out and beyond as well. Distant friends wrote congratulations, and wished they could be present. Two of the nearby churches responded. Both regretted their inability to attend and wished us well. Not one person in leadership in the denomination either responded or attended. It had seemed that we were not on their radar screen - forgotten, ignored, or treated as wicked step-children who were expected to been seen and not heard.

Five days after our Open House I discovered why were ignored by our own denominational family. It came in the form a certified letter. On the 24th of March I was notified that our church, The Gathering, no longer held status in the denomination, and that my ordination had been removed.

The absurdity of this action was unbelievable on at least two counts: 1) This had required an action by the National Board, which took place while I was appealing actions taken by our District Supervisor. The action was taken without notifying me that the issue was before the Board, and without allowing my voice to be heard. We were removed without warning, or representation. 2) We held our grand opening on the 19th of March publicizing the local church with its denominational title, and now on the 24th of March I was notified that the Board decision had been handed down on the 8th of March and had been effective immediately. The day we held our Grand opening we were not members of the denomination, and we did not even know that this was the case!

No one in the denomination had the integrity, or courage to inform us that were being removed from the denomination. After over 20 years of service, I was dropped with a cold certified letter, ending in the sick, self-righteous sign-off "blessings."


cerndeosil said...

Heh, you didn't even get the kiss on the cheek that Judas offered to Jesus when he betrayed him.

I still think this will turn out to be a very good thing, for all the pain and anguish it has caused. The 'denomination' have shown their true colours at a crucial point in time. They have freed you to serve your God and your community without having to play their politics in order to do so.

The blessings won't come from the denomination. But did they ever really come from the denomination before, or was there a higher authority that has blessed your ministry?

Hugs Bro



Webb Kline said...

My sentiments exactly. Couldn't have said it better. Ironic when you think about it. You received their blessing and God honored it. No longer do you have to sing, "One of these days I shall be released." It is finished.

It's just the idea that true believers take it to heart when they are faced with having to enter eternity without being reconciled with their own. That is a bitter pill for sure. But, you can rest in the peace that you did your part as best as you could. Maybe one day the veil shall be removed from those who perptrated this darkness.

Kanani said...

I have recently stumbled across your blog and find it insightful. It's so sad to me that not only do most denominations speak against other religions or denominations, they even turn on each other. It's sad when something that is supposed to be so sacred becomes nothing more then a weapon to punish.

Nice meeting you.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Mike,

Actually there is a part of the story which has a great Judas' kiss similarity, but that's for another post, another time.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Webb,

"It is finished." Seems someone else said those words around this same season.

Pastor Phil said...


It is sad, but I guess in two milennia things haven't changed much. Jesus got the same treatment from His own. Thanks so much for checking out the blog. Blessings on your journey.