by Bob Wickizer

True Religion
Bob Wickizer
Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2,7-10; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23

Once or twice a month I have a conversation with someone that goes like this: ''Our family attended XYZ church for years. We went on Sundays and Wednesdays. Then the youth pastor had some 'problems' (you know what I mean) with one of our young sons. It was incredibly painful. The church denied any wrongdoing and rallied behind their popular youth minister. They acted like they didn't believe us. So we left the church. Now I cannot get my wife and children to attend any church. We just stay home or go to the lake on Sundays.'' I listen to their story and try to let some of that pain come out. I know it has been a long time since either mom or dad has felt comfortable talking to any kind of religious figure. I know it has taken some courage for this parent to even talk to me.

First I apologize to them on behalf of the wider church. Not on behalf of Grace Episcopal but because we are one, holy, catholic and apostolic church including those religious groups we have little in common with outside of Jesus, I apologize. The church has erred grievously. I believe that when one church causes harm then ALL churches including Grace Episcopal share the blame. This is because we are the body of Christ. ALL of us.

The opportunities for church leaders to betray their congregations are as varied as human nature. Molestation of children is perhaps the very worst form of misconduct because it affects the most innocent and the very people that adults are committed to nurturing and supporting. But people are wounded by churches for all kinds of reasons: financial, sexual, inappropriate acting out, arrogance, bullying, lying, gambling, alcoholism, drug addiction, narcissism, you name it.

I come home after a conversation like that and even hours later I am reeling from the pain that was shared with me. Maybe that is part of my ministry to go around and gently hear t ...

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