This is the first email from one of the church elders to the pastor along with the rest of the elders and deacons and their wives. For multiple reasons we have removed all names from the email. Hopefully you can can still follow it.
Date: October 28, 2015
Subject: Re: Life and work
Dear XXXXX, Elders/Deacons and Wives;
I am sorry to inform you that my family and I will be leaving Grace Church, as of today. We are leaving for reasons of neither sin nor shame in us, but because of erosion of trust, over years of time and most immediate as a result of the method and content of our recent meetings. Three months ago I argued, and raised my voice with XXXXX because I had not only lost respect, (which I said in that last meeting) but trust. The argument’s topic is irrelevant, as the reason simply comes down to trust. I have attempted to speak about my concerns and I have persisted in prayer and tried to overlook offensive experiences.
In my experience over four years in leadership, I have been part of many conversations and meetings with XXXXX. I have witnessed a consistent violation of people’s trust and negative talk about our church members and my friends. It has affected me personally and effectively made me look down on these people without cause. I also feel that there was a lack of personal respect that I will no longer excuse. It doesn’t match up with being a dear friend or a Godly pastor. I have been confused, felt guilty and blamed myself as if this was my problem; I cannot do that any longer. It is not only the above, but the method and control that are used, to consistently correct out of what seems a frustration or irritation with myself and our church’s people.
Examples of trust violations that you witnessed in our meetings were:
- One of our body (whom I refuse to name on electronic paper) is a severe pornographer (XXXXX stated him by name and that he “has done worse than that”)
- Another man’s mom had an affair for years.
- My wife’s private confession to XXXXX was made public by coercion right in front of me, “for the good of the church”.
- XXXXX and XXXXX difficulties over their home purchase
These violations of trust are ungodly, unacceptable and in need of repentance by XXXXX to those who have trusted him. These recent examples are a pattern of behavior that explains why I lack trust.
I have persisted in leadership and at Grace Church in spite of my concerns, because I would see hints of change and sorrow, and because none of us are perfect. When times were good, they were really good and yet when times were not good, my tolerance and trust seemed to be less and less.
The most recent meetings were something that I believe no church should have in its history nor be proud of. They were not of grace. Your accusations and assumptions about me are inaccurate. Rest assured that I am not the hypothetical person in the prophecy that was spoken to XXXXX in the past. There is no hint of whoever that person is in me. I believe that God will defend me. I am not worried about what you think. I pray with the greatest of sincerity that you will turn forevermore from that type of meeting.
XXXXX, you are so much better than what you showed everyone in those meetings with aggression/control/and intimidation, and it must stop for good. Your authority will dwindle and you will fall otherwise. As an elder that you appointed, I say to you, that you need to humble yourself before the Lord for abusing his sheep, and in the very least for subduing them and teaching others how to do so. Watch how you correct. Do it, please, or this church is going to pass away, even if slowly. I am wishing to protect followers through my appeal to you. There are too many people “going through tough times”, at Grace Church, that are induced from truth telling. It doesn’t have to be that way; live up to the name.
On a last note; I believe that leadership should never tell any minor (XXXXX) not to talk to their parents about difficult things that they are going through during an internship, or otherwise in ministry. Those entrusted to us need help and not only the church leadership. They need their parents.
Finally, I am devastated that there is much pain in my family over this decision and from your actions. I know that this also likely brings you hurt and anger, and I am truly sorry for that. I have included you all in this because you were there and because XXXXX included you in this thread of emails to me. Every single one of you has been special to me and my family. We will miss you. I believe that many of you said things in that last meeting that were very hurtful, yet meant no harm; but it all broke something in my wife and me. XXXXX and I forgive you.
May we all continue to live and grow in God’s grace. There is no good way to part in this whether slow or immediate. It all hurts. Please respect our privacy in this tough time, as we continue to determine the direction for our family.
May God Bless and protect you,
Dear Ladies, Elders and Deacons,
This is XXXXX. I felt like I should add to this email. I am broken over all this. I know that this little paragraph may seem pathetic, but I simply have no energy to put into this. We never thought we would be leaving Grace and the relationships we have made. I have complete trust in my husband and in our decision. This decision is something that has taken some time to pray and to work through. We have prayed and talked a lot and believe this is clearly how God is leading our family. I will miss you and your families very much. We will be praying for you.
Sincerely and with love,