So after the spiritual crisis I described in the last three posts–here, here and here–I went back to my church and there was a General Assembly, later than usual, and scheduled last-minute. My own issue with the priest had been resolved; I caught wind of a few complaints over the past many months, but didn’t think it was of much importance. To my shock and dismay, the General Assembly turned into a verbally abusive tirade against the priest, along with a litany of complaints–none of which had anything to do with my own issue. They all seemed to be about him not doing things exactly the way some people thought they should be done.
Now, I’ve been there long enough to see two other priests, and there have always been complaints about something or other that the priest does or doesn’t do. I was not expecting this level of vitriol, or the division. I have to wonder if things were percolating in the four months I was gone, and that’s how I missed it all.
Another thing I learned is that despite his praise of things said at the local Ephraimite monastery, Father does not seem to be an Ephraimite himself. It’s just one person who is an Ephraimite, a new member of our parish, and their views are not shared by others. (I explained Ephraimites here.)
As of today, it’s been a month since that General Assembly, and we have no priest as of yesterday. There is a shortage of priests. I have no idea what’s going to happen with our church. The parish president, my beloved friend, assures me that not only am I still welcome there no matter how liberal my beliefs are now, but that we will get through this and survive as a church. But I still doubt because other parishes have closed around us. There is only one other church left near us, and that’s in the next county. I fear that despite my hard decision to return to my church, there soon will be none left and I’ll still end up going back to the Protestant world. The local ONA UCC church would be my refuge, as–in his latest sermon–its preacher said it has been for others in the community. But I would be heartbroken to have to leave my beloved church of about 17 years, and all the relationships I’ve formed there. It may be a crazy family, but it’s MY crazy family.
Please pray for my church and for me.