Thursday, September 24, 2009

CHURCH...An Explanation

I think I have mentioned recently that my church went through a terrible split. This has been a devastating occurrence in my life. And, coming so soon after Mom's journey to Heaven, it has felt like another death to me.

I have written no less than 10 posts about what transpired. But, chose not to publish any of them. I wondered if they were too harsh. Or were they too angry. Maybe, they seemed too sad, or maybe, not really saying what I felt. I guess the truth of the matter has been...I haven't known just exactly what I really have felt. All I could say for sure was that it hurt...big time.

I have been at Southside since I was in the 6th grade. I have become the person I am today within the walls of those buildings. I have formed my thoughts on life and the way to live it properly while listening to great men of God speak from the pulpit. I have struggled with problems in my life while being supported by the congregation there. I have faced my own personal battles while keeping 'one foot in the door' so to speak.

But, this, this breaking apart of the family of God is one of the hardest things I've ever faced. There has been anger and hateful and hurtful talk between both groups. It is so hard to take. It has split up friendships, partnerships, families. It has driven wedges between people where none has ever existed before. It has devastated.

In examining why I feel compelled to address this on my blog...I think it is because I have wanted to document every major life occurrence here. But, I have agonized over this incident and how to best explain it. I am usually not so careful with what I write. While I am always on guard to never knowingly write something that would hurt another person, I tend to pretty much write the way I talk. And, that is usually speaking my mind and saying whatever comes up. But, I am so aware in this matter, that I do not want to do or say or write anything that is not honest and true. I would never want to harm the cause of Christ. And, I think in the life of Southside Baptist Church, it has been harmed too much already.

And, so, I choose to not say anything about the particulars of this tragedy. Some of the dearest people in my life are now attending another church. And, I must respect that. Just as I wish them to respect my choice. Honestly, Don and I were torn in our decision. But, I will say this...this did not have to happen...and that is the biggest tragedy of all.

Pray for us...those who stayed and those who left. We all need it. We need to look closely at what has transpired. We need to ask questions, and get answers. We need to examine everything and make decisions based only on what God would do. I do know this: "...for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the Saints." 1 Corinthians 14:33 NASB I know He is not pleased with this occurrence.

I hope that this will fill the need I have had to write about this. As I said earlier, I do not want to offend. Everyone who stayed or who left had their own decisions to make. And, we all had to come to our decisions based on our own set of criteria. And, that is as it should be. The pastor of Southside, before this happened; and the pastor now of this new church was very good to my family. He has a heart for hurting people. He was so kind and faithful to pray for Alex, and he was so comforting to us during Mom's death and funeral. He was there as she died and was a source of peace and comfort to our family. We will always be grateful to him.

There is not a winner in a situation like this. We all lost something very precious. We lost fellowship with our church family. Those 'ties that bind our hearts in Christian love' were broken. I miss the people that have been in my life since I was a child. I miss those people that gave me a hug every Sunday. I miss those people who I knew could be called on for anything...anytime. I wonder if they miss the fellowship that we had at Southside. I wonder if they miss those of us that stayed. I wonder if think about those who were hurting before they left and are hurting still. I wonder about lot of things...
I miss my it was.


Kat said...

Hi sweet friend!

Oh, can I feel your pain. This happened in our church about two years ago. I never did a post about it either for the same reasons you expressed. It's so hard! And for you I know it's extra hard since you've been attending for so many many years. Church is the one place we should feel safe and not have to worry about a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. It feels like a death when something like this happens. I'll pray for you.

I've sure enjoyed catching up with you this afternoon. Love, love, love the new family photos!!! Your road trip posts were fun to read.


Musicaljean said...

I'm so sorry this happened, Tonja. Our church had a much smaller scale "leaving" about 20 years ago, and just like with you, most of the ones who left were my very dearest friends. I know and understand the pain and the void and the awkwardness,

Our Lord must also be so grieved when His body divides like this.

Paula (SweetPea) said...

Yes, it is a very sad thing when God's children are fighting, dissolving, and splitting. He, I'm sure, is very sad. He's laid with more sadness than we could ever have. This is not how He intended it. This is not a showing unity as ONE church. I've seen my share of splits and been involved in church dischord that is very painful.

Keep your eyes on Him. I too hope this satisfied that need to write.

racheld said...

I'm so sorry for this division amongst good people, and for the sadness it brings to you.

It's so hard to experience such a divorcing, and the fallout is so lasting in lives which could have been so different. It's like what I imagine little children go through when their parents go separate ways, and the small ones just keep hoping for things to be as they were, and all of them wondering what THEY did to cause the undoing.

I know the feeling firsthand, of losing my Church home, and it leaves a lasting remembrance, and a what-might-have-been feeling for always.

Prayers and hugs for sweet peace and comfort for all of you in this trying time, especially to you, Dear Friend.

Anonymous said...

Tonja, I am so glad you posted this. I know how you feel, and I feel the same way. Southside has always been a part of David and I and we couldn't leave. IT breaks my heart over it because we have had people leave that I thought never would. I wish you would come join our Sunday School class. I know your closest friends are not there anymore,but we would love to have you. Love' Monty

Anonymous said...

I am so very sorry - for the situation, of course, but especially for your pain. Imagine how Christ feels - it is His Church!How very interesting Heaven will be!!
Just want you to know that I really respect you, and will pray.
God bless!
- Cyndy

Jillian, Inc said...

I am not a church attender, though I am a strong and true believer. I just get worn out on the politics of church and the hypocricy of it all. Some of the most terrible things in history have been done in the name of Christianity (or The Church). I am not qualified to judge, and of course I know I am a sinner. But, unlike the majority of people I know, my faith has grown immensley since I've freed myself from the bricks and mortar and all the church cliques that live within. (And I know you know this isn't written as a criticism of people who go to church and love their church. I totally get that and respect it).

Gail said...

I'm truly sorry for your pain. This is going on all over and it's so sad to even think about. I guess it's Christ we must keep our eyes upon. However, I understand the grief you are sharing with this split. I pray that you will feel the love soon and things return to some type of normal for you. God Bless.