Our church as it appeared in the 1930's . . . . . . . . . the "new" church and sanctuary
I don't remember a time my family didn't attend church on Sunday and some of my very first memories of music were of singing Bible School songs when I was about five. I've always sung in church and it felt as natural to me as talking. I've held membership in only three churches in my entire life - the first being the church in which I was raised and where Spouse and I were married - the second was the church we joined shortly after moving to southwest Ohio - and the third is the one where we have been members for 22 years.
Churches are made up of all sorts of people with various needs. Some feel the need to teach, some need to sing, some need the fellowship of others, while some simply feel the need to sit and be "entertained". Spouse and I never considered ourselves needy people but I suppose we needed to be needed. Through the years, we were elected to various offices and committees and eventually began to participate in contemporary worship as planners, leaders, and singers. Contemporary worship is where we found our niche and we were happier attending church than we'd ever been.
There's an adage that says all good things must come to and end, and so it is with church membership sometimes. Church people are simply flawed human beings who come together on Saturday or Sunday to join in worship and fellowship. Some might hold them to higher standards simply because they do attend church, but in reality they deal with the very same challenges everybody else faces.
Since churches are made up of flawed individuals with different opinions and needs, there can be clashes of ideas and so it is in my church. People are in turmoil right now about various things, among them, the church budget. Most people I know have been adversely affected by the current economy and our church has had its share of challenges as well. Many families have left our church in the past two years - some due to loss of jobs and subsequent relocations, but others left because they no longer felt their needs were being met in our church. Fewer families in church meant less money in the offering plate, to put it bluntly.
Unfortunately, during recent congregational meetings, tempers flared and otherwise kind, decent, caring people began to act as if their personal needs and desires were the only ones that mattered. That made for a most uncomfortable atmosphere. Spouse and I have always believed in trying to be part of the solution and we've offered thoughts and ideas we felt were logical and practical, but everything we offered seemed to fall on deaf ears and closed minds. There's now a tenseness in our church that we find almost unbearable. On Sunday evening, votes were taken on important budget issues which directly affected our pastor. To our dismay and sadness, essentially 2/3 of our congregation offered "no confidence" votes. We were stunned.
This week Spouse and I made the difficult decision to leave our church family. We cannot and will not continue to attend or support a church that does not value and respect its pastor. Our pastor knows, without a doubt, that my spouse and I support him. We'll continue to offer our support through our thoughts and prayers instead of in person. We are sad it's come to this, but we know this is something we have to do. After 22 years, it's hard to say goodbye.