Today I had an unusual experience at church. Not only did I get a wonderful sermon for my weekly dose of religion, but I also got an unexpected dose of politics.
A little background:
I was raised in a very Catholic family and was a practicing Catholic through college. I deflected when I decided my views did not match those of the church. For a long time I did not claim to belong to any organized religion. I consider myself a Christian and always will. During my time of no church, I explored other areas of religion, Buddhist in particular. I have found that my style is a great blend of both of the principles of each religion. About 2 years ago I decided to go back to church and choose one that friends of mine attend. One of my friends is the Associate Pastor in the church as well. My son and I attend regularly, I have also begun teaching Sunday School to his age group once a month. We love all the friends we have made at this church.
Leading up to Sunday:
Last year, our Senior Pastor left the church to pursue another opportunity for himself. Ever since our church has been in search for a new Senior Pastor. This is a process I was not used to. In the Catholic Church, when a Priest leaves the church, another is simply appointed to our church by the Arch Bishop. I had no idea the process other denominations went through to find a new Pastor. In December, it was announced that my friend who has been Associate Pastor at our church was being recommended for the Senior position. This was wonderful news to me, I have a very strong bond to this pastor and his wife. I consider them friends and he is a wonderful spiritual leader for me.
Today was the day, we as a congregation would vote on my friend to become the Senior Pastor. I was excited, even my son was excited to know the outcome of the vote. During the service today he preached a wonderful sermon about Epiphany and the vote was to take place after our service. Once the service was over, it was time. I was so ready to cast my vote for him. The chair of the search committee went to the front of the chapel and gave us some background information on the search and on the pastor. The motion was on the table to proceed with the vote. Then there were people who asked to get up and speak, they were talking about why we should not vote for my friend. They were upset about the search process, non-trusting of the leadership of our church, and not speaking kindly of my friend. I felt horrible. I sat next to his wife in the pew to lend her some support, as I knew she had been anxious about the vote but these speeches had totally blindsided me. We ended up casting our votes after much discussion and tension filling the chapel.
Once we all left the meeting and shuffled our children off to Sunday School, there was much chatter about the speeches and the vote. I learned of some of the campaigning that had gone on against my friend and I felt hurt and betrayed. I feel that politics do not belong in my church. Now, my feelings about some members has changed. Since I don't know, nor do I want to know, how people voted I don't know how to approach some members now. I don't yet know the outcome of the vote. I am sure I will find out soon this week, but this is bothering me very much. I can't believe how some people can act this way toward each other, aren't we supposed to be Christians?