Those opposed to the Kirk’s disaffiliation from the PCUSA attribute a great amount of power to me. Some see me as a mad, Rasputin-like (yes, someone actually used that term) demagogue.
I don’t usually read unsigned letters, but one was so good that it is in circulation around our staff. They particularly like the description of me with which it ends:
Somehow, you’ve been able to entice and mesmerize a group of well-intentioned parishioners to adopt your own personal agenda as their own….Get over yourself, Tom. Take a long, hard look at what you’ve done and what you’re doing. For your sake, I hope you are seeking the care of a mental health professional. Your behavior and the delusional influence you’ve captured over your constituents borders on massive paranoia and unparalleled egotism. You’ve lost control of your ego, and I hope you’ll get help before you lose yourself and your own well-being.
This anonymous writer may enjoy the fact that the staff thinks I should "get over myself," too.
According to various writers, I’ve
- Single-handedly convinced the Kirk congregation that the PCUSA is in the wrong.
- Told members they cannot attend EOP meetings.
- Insisted on being “worshiped” as a “hero.”
My congregation will be thrilled to hear that they are such a mindless mob. I can think back on all the occasions where I’ve held sway. My favorite was the first time I tried to move the choir from the balcony to the front of the sanctuary. Then there was the second. I was so successful that there probably won’t be a third try.
Truth is, members at the Kirk are intelligent, independent, highly educated, opinionated, and vocal. They are also faithful, generous, prayerful, studious, and loyal. Their loyalty is to Jesus Christ before any denomination or pastor. They are the least likely congregation to blindly follow a leader of any I have known.
One thing that critics are ignoring is the possibility that those who are staying in the denomination are the ones being misled. I know of those who remain who do so knowledgably, still in the fight to renew the PCUSA. They have my deep respect. But how many other congregations have really examined the PCUSA and what it believes? How many are there just because they hear one side about the denomination, or nothing at all? What do you think would happen if all the facts were put forward and every congregation had the chance to vote?
The problem critics are having may be that this has been such a unified decision of our congregation. I was actually amazed at how substantial the vote was, even though I knew it would be a sizeable majority in favor of disaffiliation. I believe that the response shows that our move is a Godly one.
The fact that it is Godly does not make it simple. We wrestled with the alternatives. We’ve been told from the beginning that this may mean the property will revert to the EOP. We knew that some people would leave the Kirk, whichever decision we made (even, perhaps especially, if we did nothing). I have spent sleepless nights and expect more to come. I do not believe that our disaffiliation is a panacea; no denomination is perfect, and even independency of a church is fraught with problems.
This decision has not been easy at any point. I don’t expect the path ahead to be any easier. Critics abound, but the truth remains, and we must remain faithful to it.
Keep praying--keep the faith,