The following quote is taken from:
- Our mision (sic) ...To nurture women as an affirming influence for Christian growth and as a result, positively affect the people in their lives.
- Our vision... A haven where every woman feels that she belongs. A place to be empowered spiritually, socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually.
- Our plan... Foster relationships with women through small groups, open events, with emphasis on recruitment and follow-up.
I just returned from a worship service at the Worthington SDA Church near Columbus, Ohio where I had been expecting some action on my request to have my membership transferred from the Berrien Springs, MI SDA (PMC) Church to Worthington.
* Red = Added after the first posting...Some very special family members have questioned and will question why I feel the need to attend church. They don’t think that I need religion, and they are right! I believe that for most, if you haven’t already found Your God, you won’t find IT within four walls. I want to be accepted by a unity of people where I can give back joy and peace. Where I can enjoy the socialization of a group of people who want to offer a safe harbor. Enough said.
About 10 days ago I got a call from the senior pastor of the Worthington Church asking if I was still interested in becoming a member….
“Why?” I asked. “Was there any question about my written request?”
“Well, I haven’t read your blog, but some of my church-members thought that you didn’t want to be a member after they read your blog.”
I should have suspected treason right there. The pastor hadn’t read my blogsite, but took the time to call and ask the question. We talked for 31 minutes (according to the timer on my cell phone) and when we hung up I thought he had an understanding of what the story on my site http://dustyangels.blogspot.com/ was all about.
This is where I post my personal ideas about life. Like the private diaries I've kept for my whole life. But now I share with the world. My book, "Dusty Angels and Old Diaries" chronicles the first 50 years of my life.
Right about now, my sister Sandra, who had SDA force fed and hammered into her with firewood and brimstone, will drop right down the comment section with a rebuke that will clear up any misunderstanding on anyone’s part. That will precede a scalding reprimand to me for any notion that religion and church are at all related, and she will suggest that my darkening the doorway of an SDA church again is grounds for putting me away at the funny farm.
Many who read my story, “I Went Back” thought I was being harsh with the Worthington SDA church as I wrote to compare the difference between how I was RAISED a SDA and how it is now with all the rules eliminated or completely changed.
The comments on my blogsite seemed to have forced a confrontation between the pastor and some (or at least one very effective church member), who took it upon themselves to decide that I didn’t want my membership there - or was it really the other way around?
It could have been ANY SDA Church I wrote about, but because I mentioned Worthington SDA church by name, several members from that church wrote comments after the story to complain about my comments - or to defend their loving membership and welcome me into the congregation.
In my story, I compared how the SDA services and church rules have been livened and lightened up over the years. The former strict dress code is non-existent. Strict diet rules eliminated. Admittedly, I was harsh on the senior pastor who seemed sincere and quite proud of his diverse church membership. But in a second story, I explained I meant nothing personal, and I complimented several things I do like about the church.
So, after I submitted a simple written request for my membership to be transferred from the Berrien Springs SDA (Michigan) Church to this church, I wondered how that request would be handled.
Then came the call from the pastor confirming I still wanted admittance into his church.
“We pride ourselves on welcoming anybody who wants to attend….We even welcome gays and drug addicts…. We’d rather have them here than on the streets”, the senior pastor explained. And, I assured him that would not bother me to see those kind of people in church.
But it seems a condition of my acceptance into church membership is that I ‘apologize’ to certain members who took offence to my stories on the website.
“I’ll introduce you to a couple members after you are accepted. You can talk to them.”
We had agreed that my name would be in the bulletin and voted for consideration today. While the church board may vote me in, the church membership has a first and second reading, and votes as a whole on names being accepted for membership and transfer. The second reading was scheduled for today as I assured the pastor that my work schedule would permit me to attend church today.
So, even though snowsqualls roared across the city on this Easter weekend, I gulped down an extra dose of cough syrup and kissed Jim good-bye. "I'm getting adopted today, I said.
I could be wrong here, but I got the feeling I was expected to make peace with those members who took offence to my "I Went Back" story. But I’m soft. I’m gullible.
I won’t tell Jim I had to say I'm sorry, I said to myself..
I walked in just in time to see the, “incoming” and “outgoing” names listed on the large movie screen at the front of the church.
My name was not listed. It was not in the bulletin that i held in my hand either.
Tears banged against my eyelids as I realized that I had been rejected. Shattered glass exploded in my head.
I held my breath as the senior pastor welcomed the new members and asked if any new members were in the congregation. The list was moved and accepted. Not until the man left the platform did I conclude that I had really been overlooked and perhaps betrayed.
After a stunned moment to collect myself, I got up and following the pastor out into the foyer, I introduced myself and asked why I was not on the incoming list.
Realizing that answer was not going to suffice, he offered that his secretary was on vacation. “To the Grand Canyon”, he boasted as if the Grand Canyon was excuse enough to forget that some old lady who wrote scathing stories about his church and his sermons wanted to become a member.
When that answer didn’t back me off, he suggested that maybe he could get my name up there today. “Maybe it’s not too late to do it now.” And then he politely ushered me back into the sanctuary where the choir’s soothing music precluded soft prayer and the children’s story.
But, was he bluffing or lying or both? I believe that he has no intention to satisfy my request today or any day.
Yep, the beckoning bonfire recommended by my born-again pagan (BAP) husband roars loudly in the background, and the pastor’s handshake feels like a lump of coal in my hand and in my heart.
My husband comments over the edge of the newspaper, “The open-arms policy seems to have their hands tied behind their back”.
Going back was hard enough. Going back again is stupid on my part.
If my name is up for adoption in two weeks, someone reading this please tell them to take it off. If Kevin or Dr. Jones or Bonnie feel badly, so be it. No one feels more badly than I do. I had a dream of being a part of a group of people who share my faith and exchange gifts of acceptance and love. I had great expectations. It’s Shattered Glass now!
Please don't write to offer excuses. Anytime someone says, "I forgot", there's always more behind the "I forgot" then they are saying. I'm not going back to find out what that is. I need to read my own book again!
My book, "Dusty Angels and Old Diaries" tells about the power of forgiveness and urges women to be strong. That includes learning how to take care of yourself and not go back for more hurt and rejection. It includes finding the power to forgive yourself and move on!
Last week, an old roommate from Laurelbrook School near Dayton, Tennessee called me on my cell phone right out of the blue. I was at work and couldn’t talk long, but she invited me for a girls-only weekend to enjoy the lovely forests, waterfalls and camping in the Tennessee Mountains. Her comment, “I’ve gone back to the church” has left me slightly baffled. I hope to understand her position better when we can talk.
*By the way, if you click the worthington sda link, then click the survey posted there, don't be shocked! After complaining about my website, they post questions like this for anyone to read? http://www.worthingtonsda.com The survey points one in a rather odd direction, and non-members (like BAP) are shaking their heads in wonder. If they need a survey done about what members believe these days, they could direct them to my website. I'll bet that survey comes down real fast.
Yes, I went back to church too. But, I’m not bragging about it. I’m running the other way as fast as I can.
Sunrise Services in a Gopher-hole, anyone?
Feel free to leave me a comment before you leave. (Click the word 'comment' below and another window will pop up. )Take Care on the Journey,
~Linda (A very heavy-hearted Linda)