When your kids hurt...at the hands of another church
I got the call this morning. Our daughter is living and teaching in Atlanta. She is trying to reconnect to a church and found a large Presbyterian Church with great music and classic architecture. She goes alone, but has been pretty faithful. She recently became engaged and asked me to officiate. I said "YES" and asked them both to find pre-marriage counseling somewhere in Atlanta, since it is nearly impossible to do it at a distance and as a dad.
Yesterday she got up the gumption to ask the pastor of the church in Atlanta. She had to wait for him after the service. A woman asked if she was new to the church. "No" she said, "I've been coming for a year." And with that answer the woman turned away from Liz (she found out that the woman was the official greeter for the day!). When the pastor turned to Liz, she told him that she'd been attending there for a year, was getting married to a man who did not attend church, and her father would officiate at a service in California. She explained how I, as a pastor/father, requested that they get pre-marriage counseling in Atlanta. Would he be available to do counseling with them. Long pause, "Hmmm" he said, "You'd better give me a call at the office this week and we'll have to think about it." And with that he blew her off. She called my wife Sunday afternoon in tears. She had been evaluated and found extraneous. There was nothing in it for that church. She was a bother and an interruption. And, in spite of its excellent music and architecture, she's never going back.
Clearly, the dad in me is angry. But the pastor in me is angrier and sadder. In a day when young people have an already tenuous relationship with organized religion and churches, it takes precious little to send them back out the doors. On paper this church has it all, but in practice it is cold. She asked me to help her look for a new church in Atlanta. Too bad for them.