Sunday, October 30, 2011

Peggy Gets Fired

Read or purchase the series at The Gifted Book Series!
Okay, so I never worked for the county, like Peggy did, or any type of government, but I have worked for churches. The first church I worked for straight out of seminary was a great experience. It just didn’t end very well.
I was hired on as the Children and Youth Ministries Coordinator and was really enjoying myself. I loved the kids and teens and was making some great friends among the adults. They let me preach once a month during Sunday worship and teach an adult Bible Study class in addition to my student ministry responsibilities.
The problem came about a year and a half when one of the church board members began living with her boyfriend. As the Children and Youth Minister, I would visit the home frequently to pick up or drop the kids off after an event and so I was aware of the situation.
I didn’t say anything at first, but a few months later, when this board member was coming up for re-election, I expressed my concerns to the head pastor. Our church polity required board members to agree to live by certain Biblical and denominational standards, which this board member was clearly disregarding. My thought was that rather than dismissing the board member before her term was finished, it would be easier to simply ask her not to run again.
The pastor agreed to talk to the board member.
The next thing I heard on the matter was that the board member’s parents, long time church members, were livid. The pastor told them that she was not the one who had the problem with their daughter’s conduct, but that it was me who had the issue. She then suggested that I apologize to the entire family and leave the situation go. (This is the part that begins to resemble Peggy’s situation as Peggy’s boss, Tina, asked her to apologize to Lucy in order to avoid any negative repercussions for Peggy’s refusal to arrange Lucy’s abortion.)
I agreed to contact the family and wrote them an email explaining my position as diplomatically as I could, but this did not satisfy the family. The pastor demanded that I apologize or lose my job. Now, I had no desire to lose my job. Like Peggy, I felt like I was doing a lot of good in my position. I was ministering to and teaching a lot of kids with more students coming in all the time. I also wondered where the quality of teaching in the church would go if I left. Obviously (and I’m sorry to say this), the  board and pastor were not concerned with the spiritual integrity of the church if they were willing to allow a board member to serve who was engaged in unChristian behavior and fire the pastor who was speaking out against the situation.
I told the pastor that I would have to think about it, not that I was considering apologizing, but because I needed time to collect my thoughts on how to handle the situation. A few hours later, when the pastor came to my office and asked if I would apologize, I told her I couldn’t. That was on a Friday.
Sunday was awkward to say the least because both the pastor and the family were very upset with me. Monday morning, I was called into a meeting with the pastor and a couple of board members (not the board member in question). They asked me to resign, saying that it would look better for me when looking for another job if I quit instead of being fired. This made sense to me, of course, but I also knew that my quitting would make things easier on the pastor and board. Maybe I wasn’t being very graceful at this point, but I didn’t want to make things easier on them. If they wanted to get rid of me, I wanted them to realize exactly what they were doing and to make it as difficult as possible. They asked me a couple of times to resign, but I refused and finally said that we had talked long enough. They were stalling and needed to quit wasting time. They needed to do what they had called me in to do.
The pastor then fired me and told me that I had until the end of the day to clean out my office.
I still miss that church and especially my students, but like Peggy, I couldn’t compromise on something that was so obviously a matter of right and wrong. And like Peggy, God took care of me and led me to another position at a more supportive church.
Read or purchase the series at The Gifted Book Series!

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