I’ve been pretty vague about some of the issues we’ve been facing lately at our church. I have only blogged about how stressed out and broken-hearted I am about it… and even then, I didn’t blog much because I didn’t feel free to explain myself. Fortunately, though, a lot of progress was made last night, and I think now I’m finally free to explain the situation, at least in part, and let you in on what our family has been going through.
There was a very contentious budget meeting back in December. A portion of our church was opposed to giving money to a new church plant that the association was beginning, and to show their opposition, they made several phone calls and came out en masse to attack the pastor. When the budget came to a vote, they lost the vote, and several of them since then have been angry and bitter. Wes has had people yell at him on the phone and in person, he has people regularly refuse to shake his hand or speak to him when they arrive at the church, and he has been the object of much hate-filled and malicious gossip around town. A few people have simply stopped coming to church, a few more stepped down from positions of leadership, and while there have been bumps along the way, we felt that things were slowly improving and that our church was going in a new and better direction.
Yesterday, two men came to Wes’s office and told him, “you can either resign or we can have you fired.” Neither of these men have any authority to do these things. This was just another scare tactic and game play, much like what they’ve been doing for the past six months of our lives. The majority of the church has moved on, but there is a small contention still gossiping and stirring up trouble where there simply is no trouble. I can count on one hand those who still mean harm to our church, but unfortunately, they are also among the loudest in the church.
This presumptuous, slanderous meeting yesterday morning was the breaking point for Wes and for several other people still in leadership in the church. Wes shared last night, from the pulpit, what happened in his office yesterday. And overwhelmingly, those gathered there for church stood and said that those men didn’t speak for them and that they would stand by Wes.
We’re tired of being a church in conflict. We’re tired of sitting by while gossip ruins this church. We’re tired of getting criticized and slandered when we attempt to minister to those in our community in a relevant and meaningful way.
And we are done with troublemakers.
I’m not naive enough to think that troublemakers are done with us, however, and while I can’t imagine it getting any worse than it has been, I know tougher days may be ahead. While we have been deeply betrayed by those we thought we could trust, we have also been greatly encouraged by those who want to see God honored in this church. We’re very certain that while we’re still in the midst of this, this is what God has ordained for Western Heights. WHBC could not have continued on as a church in conflict, which we believe it was long before Wes stepped into the pastorate here, and I firmly believe that God is allowing even this evil to transpire so that it will be exposed and cast out of this church.
We still believe, even though this has been the most hurtful season of our ministry, that God intends it for good. I think this is the best time to be at WHBC, as Christ goes before us, and we stand as a unified body against those who would do us harm. We are so excited about moving forward and ministering to our community!
So, whew. That’s what’s been going on, for those who were wondering why I wanted to brush off my kickboxing skills and go to town. (Kickboxing is an excellent skill for any pastor’s wife to know and practice, FYI.)
Please pray for our church in the days to come. I firmly believe that now that these underhanded schemes have been brought to light, things are going to get better.
Even if they don’t, though, we’re going to keep trusting God.