Sunday afternoon, I attended a family baby shower for my cousin Philip and his wife, Robin. While there, I was speaking to another cousin, Johnny.
Johnny told me he used to know a guy who worked where I did and then asked me if said person was still there. I replied he was and as we talked about how Johnny knew him (the guy was in his wedding and vice versa) I was struck once again by the feeling that while Nashville is a pretty good sized city, in a lot of ways its the world's largest small town (second only to Knoxville where I could go to Wal-Mart any hour of the day or night and be guaranteed to run into someone I knew).
I've been struck again by this feeling of the world's largest small town this week with the news
about David Foster, the former pastor of Bellevue Community Church. For those of you not in Nashville, this story has been front-page news around here.
Foster was the founding pastor of the church until sometime last week when the elders of the church terminated he and his wife, who worked as the church's youth pastor.
Which the church does have four services and a membership of over 2500, but I still have to sit back and wonder why this is front page news. I know if I were to be fired from a job, I wouldn't exactly be pleased that it was plastered all over the front page (or even any page) of the newspaper and reported in the various local media outlets around town. Now, I can't say if Foster courted publicity or talked to the media or if someone from the church did. But from what I can tell, this decision is splitting the church and creating some hard feelings on both sides of the aisle--those who support Foster and those who don't.
But why is it news? I mean, how does this affect any of us who aren't members of the church? What interest do I have in why Foster was asked to not be pastor at the church anymore? And does this kind of publicity really do any good for any side?
And then I wonder if this were a shake-up at, say, some large local business would there be the same level of interest and coverage of it?
The thing is the church is made up of and run by human beings. And, unfortunately, we human beings are flawed creatures. We make mistakes and do stupid things. I can't say who did what or to whom or what went on over at Bellevue Community Church and quite frankly now the news coming out seems to be more of a game of point the finger and look at how bad the other side is.
Which isn't necessarily what that church needs right now. I've been through a church in conflict and what is not needed is rumors and innuendo but instead a coming together as a community, frank, open and honest discussion and healing. I know that right now the wound is pretty fresh and the scabs can easily be pulled off, but it will get better. That is, of course, assuming the wound is cleaned and allowed to heal.
Another part of this that saddens me is that it only reinforces the stereotype and misconception some people have of the church. Yes, organized religion is flawed--again it's made up of flawed human beings. But it breaks my heart when I hear of people who say, "See, the church is bad because of things like this..."
I just find the whole situation sad for everyone involved. And all I can offer the church is my prayers for the healing they will need in the days and months to come.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 8/02/2006 02:42:00 PM