Posted December 23rd, 2011 at 09:25 AM by Lois
At first, what had led me to seriously consider leaving my UPC church was not doctrine or standards but a mess of problems stemming from the church owned day care where I was employed. My best friend at the time was the head teacher and we'd been experiencing difficulties in our relationship. She was hardly there and didn't teach (we ran under her teaching credentials). One thing led to another and I turned in my resignation, which was effective at the end of our summer session. During this time I started to feel that it was no longer my church as the day care events seeped over into church- a terrible feeling after almost 13 years as an actively involved member. I still recall speaking to one of the pastor's daughters, who was no longer a member of the church but worked at the day care, and saying that if things didn't change I'd have to think about leaving the church as well as the day care.
Needing to be able to think clearly, I took off and crashed at a friend's home in West Virginia for about 3 weeks after I resigned and spoke to them about what had been happening. It was a couple I'd met in the late 80s who had spent time at the church and knew the people and how the pastor operated. They'd become like a second set of parents to me, arriving shortly after my mother had passed away and my father had moved out-of-state.
While I was in West Virginia, the pastor at my home church had taken an entire Thursday night service and played a tape of a Christian radio broadcast that a former couple from the church made on the topic of spiritual abuse. The pastor's reasoning was to show them what people were saying about us. The church members seemed very upset by this couple. One would not have known what church they were referring to unless they had known the couple since no names were mentioned. I didn't like what I was seeing and was curious to hear this 'horrid' tape (anyone interested can read the transcript in the experience section of the spiritualabuse.org site under Mike and Linda Ventura). I borrowed it from the pastor and listened to it in the privacy of my home.
My reaction was far from that of the many church members who heard it while I had been away. Though I disagreed in areas, I understood what they were saying. And it made me start wondering about the validity of standards taught in the UPC.
From here I ventured to Pennsylvania for a couple days to stay with another couple who had previously left our church and whose present church had dropped out of the UPC. I took the tape with me, played it for them, and while they listened and agreed with all that was on the tape, I paced the floor. It was starting to really hit home about some actions made by the pastor and I was realizing he did some very wrong things. It was quite upsetting and hard to come to grips with the fact. Here I had been seeing first hand the other side of what had happened...