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62 Responses

  1. j2theperson says:

    So, what do you think the place in the church is for a person who is not simply has mental health issues but is destructive as a result of those problems? We’ve got a person in our church who, in my opinion, pretty much engaged in a sustained campaign of harassment and abuse. He made weird, low-key, mafia-like threats against some vestry member’s families, and threatened my husband with being held personally liable for issues at our church. And he also creeped around the kids in the Sunday School and nursery for who knows what reason. Our previous rector was a flaming progressive with less leadership ability than a wet paper bag, so everything just spiralled out of control. When our rector left, the bishop stepped in and this person is no longer acting out. But, he still claims he wants to be a part of our church (I think he just wants to hang around so he can find more ways to cause trouble), and the bishop is considering minimally lifting some of the restrictions he is currently under to see how things go. Our bishop thinks this person is a christian and it’s the responsibility of fellow christians to let troubled people into the church while also setting the boundaries for them that they can’t set for themselves.

    But where does repentance come in to all of this? My thought is that this person has a personality disorder of some sort which would make repenting/apologizing for anything extremely unlikely. But, does having a personality disorder mean the Bible’s teachings on repentance don’t apply?

    I feel like if we’d had an actual leader in charge when this had started that things wouldn’t have spiralled out of control and this person could reasonably remain in our church without actually repenting of everything, but as it stands, after several months of harassment and legal threats is it reasonable to try to integrate someone back into the church when they won’t apologize? And when they’re probably pathologically incapable of not acting out again in the future?

  2. Michael says:

    I wouldn’t receive him back until he showed the fruits of repentance and squared away those relationships.
    Without him taking responsibility it’s an open invitation to ruin the church

  3. Em says:

    As i read what j2 relates, i am concerned that this person could do physical harm… ? Can a church get a restraining order?

  4. j2theperson says:

    That thought has crossed not only my mind but other people’s as well. I looked him up on pacer and the Wisconsin circuit court systems and saw no record of violence. I think he probably causes destruction through lawsuits and legal means instead of physically. But, the very fact that I and other people have had this thought gives me pause. Research bears out that people’s gut reactions are accurate more than they aren’t.

    I’m pretty close to leaving my church over this.

  5. Duane Arnold says:

    j2

    What is the attitude of your interim? Has he made representations to the Bishop or the Transition Ministry Officer?

  6. j2theperson says:

    We’re in a weird situation there, Duane, because we don’t have an actual interim (which are increasingly difficult to get these days). We have a long-term supply priest, and he’s actually scaling back his time in the new year to only Sundays (had been Wednesdays also). I don’t know what if anything has been communicated between him and the bishop.

  7. Duane Arnold says:

    Ah, that explains it. In that case, a joint statement of concern from the vestry to the bishop may be your best bet… if (big “if”) the majority of the vestry concurs…

  8. London says:

    Wouldn’t there be some kind of legal responsibility on the part of the vestry to report their concerns up the chain? If this guy does do something, God forbid, won’t the church be liable for lawsuits if they did nothing to try to stop it?

    Dunno, just wonder

  9. Nathan Priddis says:

    As I glanxe at the headlines this afternoon, I think we believers may be soon called upon to govern our lives with wisdom and discretion. Normally, I feel I can go about my private life ad I wish. I am after all, unimportant. No one is watching my life.

    Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people… is coming to mind. The news has carried a few hard statements, and now I see a TSA walkout. People are getting frustrated, but I feel the need for respectfulness and restraint. We are in the World, but not of it.

  10. Em says:

    Entitlement – mentioned often these days as a prevalent national mindset… Someone sent me a beautiful Xmas video, very devout and full of good thots, but it ended with good wishes for the new year because “you deserve it.” Say what? A generic video, it has no idea whether ” i deserve it. ” IMO. 🙆
    1 Peter reminds us to be sober and vigilant … I think Nathan P. is on to something….. Dunno, tho, do i?

  11. Eric says:

    j2theperson,

    I know of a few cases a bit like yours.

    In on case, a mentally disabled person had abused a church staff member so she was banned from church. As she couldn’t easily get to church herself, it wasn’t a problem keeping her away. She has since moved out of the area and attends a church (and now thankfully has better treatment).

    At my church a decade ago, there was someone with some mental issues who was keen to serve in many areas of church life, even where he wasn’t wanted or well-suited. Periodically he would get upset with something and leave for a while, although there were some times when he was around when we wished he wasn’t. I didn’t envy the pastor who regularly had to talk to him.

    A difficulty is in an organisation like a church, whether within the congregation or at the denominational level, even when most of the decision-makers are in agreement about there being a problem and how to deal with it, sometimes things are held up while waiting for the next meeting to discuss it. And a church is decentralised – regardless of what church polity, much of the power of the church is in the members who, regardless of their place in the church, seek to love and include all kinds of people, and bad actors sometimes take advantage of this and it is hard to exclude them from places they don’t belong.

  12. Jerod says:

    In my understanding, people have always gathered I churches for a measure of community and safety in numbers. It shouldn’t be any different today in the US.

    There has to be a measure of decorum … like not creeping out the kids.

    We had a pastor who wanted to invite the homeless, drug addicts, and alcoholics into Sunday morning services. There was no way to ensure the safety of parishioners or the children. He is no longer pastoring.

  13. j2theperson says:

    The bishop is meeting with the vestry in a few days to discuss it. My feeling is nobody on the vestry wants this guy around but I don’t know that they will be able to effectively voice their concerns and not allow themselves to be convinced that trying to ease restrictions is a good idea.

    Our diocese has a 14 page rulebook on recognizing, preventing, and responding to sexual abuse and harassment. It angers me that there is zero guidance on dealing with non-sexual abuse and harassment.

    Being in leadership sucks when, ultimately, you don’t actually have any authority. My husband has all the responsibility of a senior warden but he is not allowed to just send this guy a certified letter telling him he’s not allowed on church property. There must be some kind of special priest blindness that ordained people suffer from in these matters because our rector and now the bishop don’t seem to be taking the wardens seriously even though both of the wardens have been freaking out about this from day one and saying things need to be handled more strongly. It’s like the bishop is setting up a situation where both his wardens pretty much have to quit because they aren’t being taken seriously and they’re tired of facing all of this crap when they have no ultimate authority and are just updated volunteers. It’s hard to see how that would be good for the church.

  14. j2theperson says:

    I meant “are just *unpaid* volunteers”.

  15. Jtk says:

    I’m sorry,J2. That STINKS!

    I would pray, and ask many others to pray.
    I’ve seen that work in other awkward and potentially hazardous situations. It can take awhile, but it’s effective.

    Is there a good book on mental health anyone recommends? These problems don’t seem to be getting rarer..

  16. Jtk says:

    And I WILL pray

  17. Duane Arnold says:

    j2

    Note the last sentence…

    “Officers of a parish. Two wardens are typically selected to serve with members of the vestry. The wardens are generally ranked “senior” and “junior.” The mode of selection and duties of the wardens are determined by state law, diocesan canon, or parish by-laws. The senior warden is usually the primary elected lay leader of the congregation, and serves as a principal liaison between the parish and the rector. The junior warden is often given responsibility for the upkeep of the parish buildings and grounds. The senior warden typically presides at vestry meetings in the absence of the rector, and the junior warden presides at vestry meetings if both the rector and the senior warden are absent. In case of clerical vacancy, the senior warden may be the ecclesiastical authority of the parish for certain purposes.”

  18. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Open Blogging – today is the 12th day of Christmas (look for the drummers drumming) – in an attempt to show ecumenical good will and peace, I share a quote I am sure all Christians can heartily agree –

    “Christianity is not about moving away from vice to virtue. It is about moving away from virtue to Christ.” – Rod Rosenbladt

    Tomorrow begins the season of Epiphany – what is your favorite Epiphany hymn?

  19. Babylon's Dread says:

    j2 – I have 40 years of experience telling jerks to stop or leave. Churches are magnets for troubled people but in my world personal responsibility trumps excuses based on diagnosable behavior dysfunctions. In other words being sick doesn’t mean you get to make everyone sick. That is just the way human systems work. Individual needs are indeed paramount but group safety is not comprisable for that end.

    For me repentance just means STOP and clean up your mess, if not we MUST stop you so we can clean up your mess.

    Progressive churches and doomed on this stuff – except they too will FIND their limits though there may be no church left when they do

  20. Michael says:

    Traditionally the seven virtues are chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility.
    I think in our theological wranglings we would agree that we are not saved by virtue.
    However…it seems to me that if we have come to Christ, that we will be growing in these virtues, even if minimally, as they are all biblically commended.

    Popular theology has swung away from legalism, and that is a good thing.
    I’m thinking it’s swung too far and we’re headed toward labeling a lot of license “grace”.

    There’s a balance that needs to be struck…

  21. Michael says:

    Jtk,

    Aaron Smith’s “Cultural Savage” is a raw look at living mental illness…

  22. Em says:

    London’s 3:22 has me thinking… If this were where i fellowshipped, if i were a warden, i would send a registered letter to the bishop listing ALL events that have led to the concerns that have been raised and the request that this person be dealt with in a manner appropriate to the welfare of the congregation…. It might be called a CYA, but hopefully it would wake the bishop up to the fact that this is more serious than a personality clash… might get the warden a purple heart medak, but…

  23. Jerod says:

    Importance of paying attention to the seasons

    Isaiah 46:9-10 proof we should declare him God and give thanks.

    Romans 1:23 – 28 what happens when we don’t

    Matthew 24:32 – 33 the adjuring to pay attention to prophecy

  24. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jerrod, my church pays very close attention to the seasons We know when it is fall as we see the changing colors… of the license plates.
    We are snowbird country in the winter and our church population can almost double. Spring is marked by the emptying of the parking lot as they return home in April.

    Today I think the last of the late arrivers has taken place as those who wait for the holidays to be over. Interesting this morning we had 5 new arrival couples, who had not come before and all were separately fleeing Minnesota. Must be getting cold.

  25. Jerod says:

    MLD

    Waka, Waka…! 🙂

  26. j2theperson says:

    Duane, where is that excerpt from? Our local, diocesan cannons don’t say anything like that. My husband has been told by both our bishop and our supply priest who is a former bishop that senior wardens can discipline congregants–only priests can.

  27. Duane Arnold says:

    J2

    From the TEC website on canons…

  28. j2theperson says:

    Also, as far as praying goes…is is uncharitable for me to pray that this guy chokes on his communion wafer?

  29. Em says:

    J2 … Somebody should slip that guy a note containing the warning about partaking unworthily. 😉

    Doesnt seem appropriate for posting on the prayer thread as this s political, but we now have 3 women in congress who hate our government. One from India, one from Palestine and a Puerto Rican cutie pie. They are bold, loud and crass. The press loves the action and their battle cries will be very disruptive to the serious business of this Union. No matter our politics, we need to pray for them and our nation… IMO dunno

  30. bob1 says:

    3 women who hate our government? Seriously?

    It’s called the First Amendment — freedom of speech. Look it up.

    Besides, if you want to talk about who REALLY hates government — just look to our current President and his party. Trump’s done everything he can to discredit government — everything from currently holding 800K government workers hostage to his idiot wall, to trying to obstruct the rule of law in all kinds of ways, shapes and forms, to his lawlessness.
    He’s about the ,most anti-Christian president we’ve ever had.

  31. Jean says:

    When someone says a congresswoman “hates our government,” if what she means is “hates our current President,” then give or take a little on the hatred, that congresswoman is in the majority of the electorate in our country currently, and is likely representing the views of her district well. As of this morning, FiveThirtyEight.com has the current president sitting with a 53.5% disapproval rating.

  32. Jean says:

    “One from India, one from Palestine and a Puerto Rican cutie pie.”

    Why is the national heritage of the congresswomen relevant to the discussion?

  33. Dan from Georgia says:

    My 2c…their heritage doesn’t bother me. We live in a multi-racial society and it only goes that eventually that will be reflected in our government.

    Em, honest question…why would you say they hate our government? You offered no proof other than saying they are “brash” and mentioning their heritage.

  34. Xenia says:

    I, too, look at our current government with complete disgust.

    And if you are a supporter of Trump, you do not get to criticize others for crass language. You’ve lost your moral high ground.

  35. Dan from Georgia says:

    Xenia,

    I wasn’t going to say it, but “bold, loud, and crass” is the same thing Trump does, like you said.

  36. bob1 says:

    for crass language. You’ve lost your moral high ground.

    And them some!

  37. Em says:

    Interesting using the heritage of these women as anything other than their identifier…..
    Here is the problem, they are grandstanding and very disruptive to real progress… if anyone has ever had any experience teaching (i know that is Xenia’s profession), you know that you can’t accomplish your purpose if there anyone who disrupts the class by whatever means or motive
    Let me back up, perhaps they don’t hate our government, just show great disrespect for order and decorum – isn’t that one of the criticisms of our present POTUS?
    My point was that we need to pray for them as, no matter your political lens, they need better, reasoned public behavior than their press grabbing outbursts which cause only chaotic scattered disruptions …. they really do. 😐
    If one hopes the next government that will replace our dying Republic will be a democratic form of socialism that is all the more reason to pray for order. … Or so it seems to me…

  38. Jean says:

    Em,

    Could explain for everyone why it’s okay for the President to grandstand, show disrespect for order and decorum and engage in press grabbing outbursts, but that type of behavior is not okay for congresswomen?

  39. Em says:

    Jean, strange off the wall supposition @ 2:45… don’t think i have ever said anything about Trump’s conduct…
    That said, the issue that i am concerned with is disruption of the orderly conduct of the nation’s business… It is pretty clear that we are transitioning to a whole new “world order.” Pray that all in positions of power now would bless and not curse the nation… Chaos is not likely to bring a goid outcome…
    someone up the line mentioned Trump’s christianity? Simply put and always relevant, the kingdoms of this world (temporal and temporary) are not the kingdom of our God… No matter who in the Faith choses to promote any government employee at any level…. .😇

  40. Michael says:

    There’s only one person who has shut down our government…if that’s not disruption and chaos I don’t know what is.
    I don’t see any real transition… we have real issues that we need to address, just like many other times.

  41. bob1 says:

    It is pretty clear that we are transitioning to a whole new “world order.”

    You’ve been brainwashed…

  42. bob1 says:

    Said with respect.

  43. Jean says:

    Em,

    “Jean, strange off the wall supposition @ 2:45… don’t think i have ever said anything about Trump’s conduct…”

    Maybe not today. But in the past you have been quite approving of Trump’s penchant for (1) not being politically correct, and (2) bringing his tool kit from the rough world of construction contracting into the political arena.

    You also have dismissed his disgusting treatment of, and speaking towards, women on the basis that in his industry that type of speech and behavior is quite common.

    Lastly, you have indicated that the world is full of bad guys, and thus we ourselves need one down at the level of the other bad guys around the world to keep our nation safe.

  44. Michael says:

    I was disheartened by the profane speech used by one of the newly elected…because she lowered herself to the level of the one she opposes and the word overwhelmed the issues.
    The solution to any of our stresses is not to become as base and ignorant as possible in speech and action.

  45. Jean says:

    I totally agree with you, Michael. May all of us be consistent in our expectations of the language that our political leaders use, regardless of party or issue.

  46. Em says:

    Well, Jean, there is nothing wrong with not being politically correct and i have no problem with the can do and git er done attitude that prevails in construction and the honest guy who works in the shop manufacturing our stuff…
    I love decorum and good manners, but not when used to hide nefarious plans or hypocrisy…
    Is Trump wrong? Time will tell, but it won’t be because he wasn’t up front….
    Some wag said that we should all refuse to pay our taxes until Washington straightens out and does business. 😏

  47. Jean says:

    Em,

    “I love decorum and good manners, but not when used to hide nefarious plans or hypocrisy…”

    The Mueller probe has obtained 7 guilty pleas or convictions and 26 indictments. We could list all the names of Trump associates and appointments in these categories, but I’m sure you get the picture. And, we’re not even finished yet. So, what do you have to say about the nefarious plans and hypocrisy of Mr. “Law and Order” and “Mexico will pay for the Wall?”

  48. Em says:

    There is a puzzling naivete in the focus on Trump’s associates….. the hunt for the rotten fish
    You could haul out most – maybe all- of the world’s major players and find similar, but more influential, corrupted characters… including the Pope, i suspect …. dunno

  49. Jean says:

    Em,

    You wrote,

    “Is Trump wrong? Time will tell, but it won’t be because he wasn’t up front….”

    Let’s talk about up front:

    1. Mexico will pay for the wall?
    2. Repeal and replace Obamacare with great insurance for all?
    3. Tax cut for the middle class that will be terrible for guys like him?
    4. My favorite: I can easily solve the murder rate in Chicago?

  50. bob1 says:

    maybe all- of the world’s major players and find similar, but more influential, corrupted characters… including the Pope, i suspect

    Again…what basis does this have in reality? Anything?

    Have you read anything about the new Pope, anyway? He’s working on cleaning up the RCC.

  51. Em says:

    Jean, the fact that Trump’s proposals can’t get past congress has nothing to do with him stating his objectives going in…
    We worry and pontificate about the Trumps, Obamas, Bushes, Clintons etc. and cant seem to see our bloated, wasteful, dishonest bureaucracy …
    I don’t anticipate rational governance anytime soon – but i pray
    Apologies to those who honor the present Pope… should have said “papacy” thru history
    I’m gone now… We’ve got a cougar (animal) stalking about up here and horse is troubled

  52. Michael says:

    His objective is power and nothing more.

  53. Xenia says:

    We worry and pontificate about the Trumps, Obamas, Bushes, Clintons etc. <<<

    This is what people are saying now. It's not what they were saying when they tried to shame me into voting for Trump in 2016. At the time, it was of utmost importance. Now it's "Oh well, all presidents are corrupt." It's a refusal to accept responsibility for who was put into office. It's the old "We are all sinners" trope that we don't like to see when applied to adulterous pastors.

  54. Em says:

    No, Michael and Xenia, we focus on certain personalities and that keeps us from the the big issue, IMV that big issue is the fact that we cannot vote the scoundrels out, no matter the office…. Lust for power? Well, duh…. 🙎
    Yes, I do realize that national sentiment has swung from independence to a desire for a change to representative socialism – i pray it has a good outcome as power and greed are hard to control – Jesus didn’t even bother when He was here…. hopefully, the Church has learned that lesson and, if we work, we work within the kingdom yet to come

  55. Em says:

    Accept responsibility for who was put in to office? Well, i gladly accept responsibility for keeping Hillary out.. But it is clear that the nation responds, as people do, to smiles and smooth talk and, if Trump survives until the next election, the victory of 2016 will be overturned in 2020. … those who hate him, be patient, the other side is hard at work 🙆

  56. Michael says:

    The big issue for me is that we have an incompetent, unethical, immoral, idiot in the most powerful seat in the world.

  57. Xenia says:

    You forgot senile.

  58. Em says:

    The thing is we haven’t had a President who didn’t fit Michael’s description for more than a decade….

    Senile? This 82 year old resents that remark. 😧 LOL

    God keep

  59. Jean says:

    A difference in policies does not render someone in the class Michael describes (with Xenia’s addendum duly noted). Stack up all the prior presidents in the last two decades and together as a sum they haven’t hatched as many lies or as much unethical conduct as the sitting president.

  60. Michael says:

    I would not like the policies of a Mike Pence…but I wouldn’t worry about him sending the world into chaos on a whim.
    Trump is nothing like any other president…with the possible exception of Andrew Johnson…

  61. Em says:

    Guess i’ll go check the horse and go back to worrying about cougars…. which, btw, we wouldn’t have in our back yards if it hadn’t been for a government policy of “let it burn, it is nature’s way.” But i’m not blaming Obama or governor Inslee…

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