Closing Ranks and Leaving Me Hanging

Last week I told my employers that I “do not trust God” and without an improvement/drastic change with my “Relationship w/ God” that there was little reason for me to stay pastor of the Church.  The men were in such shock that they couldn’t decide on anything at that meeting, so they scheduled another meeting for tonight.

Unfortunately at this meeting I couldn’t lie.

Elder A: I’m just going to ask you point blank, and please forgive me for this, but do you honestly see yourself as being able to recover from this and return to the church as the pastor?

Me: [Gigantic fucking sigh] I… uh…um… I don’t know. Unless God really communicates with me…unless there is a drastic change in the dynamic of the relationship with me and God…then no.  Not that it’s impossible…but…um… I find it unlikely.

Elder A: Ok then.  I thank you for your honesty.

And the meeting continued, without me.  At home, eventually it was getting late and I hadn’t heard anything from the employers.  I text the youth pastor:

Me: Hey man, are you guys done yet?  What happened?  What was decided?

YP: Well Derek is supposed to get back to you to let you know that there is another meeting tomorrow night.

Me: So, what happened?  How did it go?

[no response, and I’m using Facebook messenger so I can see if he read my message]

Me: Hey man, did you decide anything?

[no response and Facebook says he hasn’t read the message]

Me: Don’t leave me hanging man, this is my life.  This is my family.

[no response, Facebook says he hasn’t read the message}

I know you’re seeing my messages on your notifications dude.  Don’t you fucking ignore me!

I send a message to the Chairman:

Me: Call me when the meeting is over, I’ll be up anyways.

[30 mins later]

Derek: Hey John, the board is holding another meeting tomorrow night at 7pm.  We’ll see you then.

Me: So did you guys come to a decision?  How did the meeting go after I left?

[no response]

Me: So is tomorrow night’s meeting called to let me know what you have decided?

[no response]

I know exactly what they are doing.  They’re closing ranks.  They’ve issued a gag order preventing any of the council members from speaking a word to anyone, including myself, about the meeting’s outcome.

I’m being fired.

Well, kinda. You see, they can’t fire me per the church by-laws and my contract.  They have to have 75% of the congregation’s vote to dismiss me.  But since there’s been no congregational meeting they can’t fire me.  So they’re going to ask me to resign.  I imagine that they’ll ask to me to resign and offer a severance package as long as I comply.

Well, let’s see the severance package.

Because if I can’t take care of my family with what they’re offering then I don’t have to resign.  They have to get 75% of the congregation to agree that I should be fired.  I only need 25% plus one!  If 100 people show up to the meeting, then I only need to convince 26 people that I deserve a better severance in order to force their hand.  They’d have to convince 75 people. The odds play in my favor.

But that’s not what I want.  I don’t want to play politics, I just want to take care of my children.

***IF*** they’re asking me to resign, I trust that they have appreciated the work I’ve done over the last 10 YEARS, that they’ll want to take care of my family as I leave.  These men, while their job is to look out for the church, are my friends.  I trust that they love me and my kids.  But this closing of ranks and keeping lips sealed worries me.  I’ve been in their shoes.  I’ve been a board member when we needed to dismiss a pastor.  Not returning my text, not answering my questions…this is what you do under a gag order.

I plan on laying the guilt on HARD on the few friends I have on the council, to see if at least one decent person can give me the heads up.

This sucks.  Your friends have decided you need to be fired.  It’s not that I disagree, I just want someone to let me in on this before it happens.

Sorry, no time to edit this post.  I’m slightly drunk and very depressed.


13 thoughts on “Closing Ranks and Leaving Me Hanging

  1. I’m so sorry. I’ve been in a similar (but much less serious) situation before and there’s just no way around the sense of betrayal by friends. But of course we know that they are “waiting on the Lord” and “seeking the truth in prayer” and so on, and as you know, that always trumps common decency.

    Liked by 1 person

      • You know, some people really step up. I hope some of them are on your board. Good luck!

        Btw, something I’ve been meaning to mention- last week, because of the confidence I’ve gained through reading this blog, I straight up told a new friend that I believed to be a somewhat conservative Christian that I am an atheist. I told her that I am stuck lying by omission in two close friendships and that I couldn’t do it again and had to come right out with it. She laughed and hugged me and it turns out we’re pretty closely aligned despite her own upbringing! Now we’re even closer friends. You’re changing lives one blog post at a time.

        Liked by 4 people

      • Just remember that those with common decency will mostly end up as Universal folks or atheists. Just what I’ve observed in my experience. These are the people who would flick God off and say He is being immoral when he ask him to kill his friends/family ala Abraham style.

        Will definitely be good to keep these guys as friends for life.


  2. John, you ave my sympathies. I will be looking at my finances, and, if I can swing it, I will be signing up as a Patreon for you as soon as I can. My wife is in the middle of a job transition right now, and we jut had some major expenses (had to get a new aka used car – as she requires it for her job). But if you need to talk, I’m here. I know what it’s like to have people you call “friends” turn on you (if that happens – which I hope it doesn’t). I had a business stolen from me by some “friends”. Left myself and my wife homeless and in debit. I’m sure you won’t be that bad off, but I will be able to empathize, should the shit hit the fan.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Does anyone in the upper echelons own a business? Would they hire you and solve everyone’s problem? (This would give you breathing room even if the job wasn’t a perfect fit.


  4. This is a terrible time for you and it can be frightening to realise how quickly the dynamics of decade long relationships can change. Perhaps you should try to make a mental list of all the good things you have done to strengthen the community you have been a part of for the past ten years. Try to be objective and behave as if you were reviewing another person’s career. At least you will be prepared if it comes to addressing the congregation. I am trying to think of what I would do in your shoes and I think that I would say that I was telling the truth as I respected them too much any more to continue. I’m sure that someone must agree that you deserve a good package, even for your wife’s sake. Good luck at this awful time. At least the worst is over; you have told them and it’s down to brass tacks. Date: Wed, 19 Aug 2015 07:26:20 +0000 To:

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We all knew it would be coming eventually, though I’m sure that doesn’t help the stress of the situation. But you have had time to prepare; you’ve got the steadily growing Patreon, you’ve got job applications out there, and you’ve got yourself already in gear to move forward. That’s huge! I know the pressure for the finality of this job must be overwhelming, but don’t count yourself short for what you’ve done to prepare. Hopefully the severance package will be decent without a struggle, and you can get out of this as smooth as possible.

    And once you’re out, I’ve got a feeling it will be a huge weight off. You won’t have to hide anymore, you can be honest and go public again. With the amount you’ve got backed on Patreon from having a limited audience as long as you have, I’d bet with going public again, you’d get a huge swell there.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear J.J., it’s so impressive, being more open with the Board than it sounds like you were expecting to be. That is huge integrity. I think they will “get” your concern for your children — that it’s not all about you.

    When the super-important practical questions of this period are behind you all, everyone will have in their memory the indelible imprint of a human being in the process of staying honest. That is rare, valuable, and won’t be forgotten.

    I’m thinking about the Ojibwa saying:
    “Sometimes I go about in pity for myself,
    and all the while
    A great wind is bearing me across the sky.”


    Liked by 2 people

  7. (PS I am glad you left the door open with the Board to a “mystical message” : ) I’m remembering Marcus Borg’s experience:

    “The second set of events was the most decisive. In my early to mid-thirties, I had a number of experiences of what I now recognize as ‘nature mysticism.’ (Note that the ironic sequence of my leaving the church and starting to have religious experiences should not be considered a ‘religious recipe.’) In a sense, these experiences were nothing spectacular, at least not compared with those described by William James almost a century ago in his classic The Varieties of Religious Experience. Yet the experiences fundamentally changed my understanding of God, Jesus, religion, and Christianity. They were marked by what the Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel calls ‘radical amazement.’ ” )


    Liked by 1 person

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