The Pathos of Epiphany

The Pathos of Epiphany

A Story by Knight in Armor
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A memoir of when my church split

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Ephesians 4:29- Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Leaving Faith Bible Church hurt. It was the church my dad had gone to ever since he was a kid and his family first moved to the area. It was the church I had gone to since I was born until right before I started high school, and the church that hosted Vacation Bible School that convinced me to become a Christian. My first best friend, Joey, had gone there until his family moved. Then Sarah, one of my oldest and closest friends, started coming to church with us and would be the only person there my age until her family moved to California. Most importantly, my Grandma’s funeral was there. She was my only grandparent I ever got to know. But my parents felt it was time to leave our church.

Faith Bible Church had struggled. Attendance was generally low. We would have fifty people on a special day. Some days, I would be the only person in the entire church between the ages of 4 and 44. That, however, wasn’t why we left.

My parents began to consider leaving the church right before Pastor Jackson retired. Pastor Jackson believed in the Grace Movement. My parents did not. The beliefs of the Grace Movement are fundamentally the same as the beliefs of Baptists, but my parents disagreed with it on some of the finer points. For instance, proponents of the Grace Movement feel the Old Testament is only useful to Christians as a history because, when Jesus died, he superseded the laws of the Old Testament. To me, that makes sense. To my parents, it does not. I was only 13 at the time, so I was entirely ignorant of the bitterness that was beneath the surface of the whole thing at the time. I just remember my parents leaving on very good terms with everyone, unlike some of the other people who had left the church before us.

 

Proverbs 15:4- A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.

We did a little bit of church shopping after we left Faith Bible Church. It was hard. It was complicated to detach from a church where so much had happened. Finally, however, after some of our hurt had healed, we started regularly attending Park Baptist Church. It was a little bigger than Faith Bible, though it was also healing from a hurt.

The first week we went there, several members left because they didn’t like the Pastor, Pastor Smith. We missed out on that split. Even despite losing around of a third of their members, they had other kids my age! It was shocking to me that there was actually a youth group there, even though I didn’t really get to know any of the other teenagers right away. Eventually, I did become very close friends with some of them, but right then, I was just enjoying a church where I wasn’t the only teen.

 

Proverbs 18:21- Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

For almost two years, we kept going to Park, and I didn’t notice any problems. I had heard whispers, but I never knew how much turmoil was boiling under the friendly surface.

Vacation Bible School had gone perfectly. You also would have thought the church had no problems if you had sent your child to that VBS. All the volunteers either pretended nothing was going on, or, like me, didn’t know how bad the problems were.

The first Sunday after Vacation Bible School, I couldn’t wait to hear the service. At that point, I was a little unsure about my own personal Christianity, but I knew that Pastor Smith was planning on preaching a service about the children in honor of how well Vacation Bible School went.

The service started. I did not tune out even a moment of his sermon, but I don’t remember much more than the Pastor being very, very hurt, and that coming out throughout his preaching. He was condemning himself very clearly, and apologized for any wrongdoing on his part. I didn’t know what his wrongdoings were at the time; I only knew that he was obviously sorry for causing the church any kind of trouble.

The sermon was not only directed internally, but also externally. I later learned that a very bitter divide had opened up between the members of the church who supported the pastor’s decision to temporarily stop evening services for the summer and the people who didn’t. It was perplexing to me that adults behaved so immaturely over such a petty issue, but a lot of things were confusing to me then.

I didn’t remember any of the sermon, but I remember my reaction to it. I almost started crying at the end of the service. I felt so bad for everyone. Everyone was hurting, and these were good people. How could God let this happen to them?

Pastor Smith finally closed the service, and he announced a short meeting after the service. I still hadn’t realized that he was about to resign. Before Pastor Smith could get a chance to even start the meeting, John Little asked everyone in the sanctuary to join hands in a big, united circle. A few people didn’t, but for the most part, we all stood together for the last time. John gave a short speech about the church needing to be united, but after John finished filling me with hope that perhaps the church could emerge from this intact, someone else decided to speak. After that person finished, someone else decided to speak too.

However, John had not spoken of the issues the church was facing at all. He only spoke of unity, with or without evening service. The next people who spoke let their biases show a bit more openly each time, until people were openly hostile. At that point, I couldn’t hold back my tears anymore. I didn’t know where God was, but he wasn’t in that church. As the hostility grew worse and worse, with many more than just me openly sobbing, I didn’t know what had happened to the good people I knew. I loved these people, they were my extended family in Christ! But Christ was not there that day.

After Pastor Smith turned off the microphone on a man who had been speaking to end the impromptu meeting, the hurt stayed there. The youngest children had been taken out by someone with the foresight to not let ten year olds see that, but our little group of teens sat together crying. We didn’t know where our families were in this split. We didn’t know if we’d see each other again.

I had always been fairly open about my diminishing faith, and that day I said over and over again, “I’m not a Christian, but I can tell that this is the furthest thing from Christian love.” No one disagreed with me.

© 2012 Knight in Armor


Author's Note

Knight in Armor
All names are changed, even the names of the church. The Bible verses were looked up on Bible Gateway.

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Featured Review

Wow... Sounds like you've been through a lot, I wonder sometimes how God can let things like this happen. Or perhaps it's just the views of the church, two different opinions under one roof could split that whole church apart, and I sometimes wonder how hard it must be to just let go and come to terms with each other. God bless, great job, made me think...

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I was really engaged in this story throughout.
Both interesting and heart wrenching.

Posted 9 Years Ago


Seems the innocent ALWAYS protect the "guilty" don't they? We write best of what we "know" because it is something we have more of a personal presence invested and tend to understand it more (we hope). All fiction is not necessarily 'fiction'. Some interesting and valid views are within this one. Worth the speaking over.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow... Sounds like you've been through a lot, I wonder sometimes how God can let things like this happen. Or perhaps it's just the views of the church, two different opinions under one roof could split that whole church apart, and I sometimes wonder how hard it must be to just let go and come to terms with each other. God bless, great job, made me think...

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on November 9, 2011
Last Updated on March 22, 2012
Tags: church, Christian, Baptist, Christ, love, hate

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Knight in Armor
Knight in Armor

Grand Rapids, MI



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I'm Shining Knight. My profile picture is Marvin the Paranoid Android. I'm afraid that nearly everything else about me is classified information, unless you ask nicely. If you send me a read request, .. more..

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A Story by Knight in Armor