Saturday, April 7, 2007

Misunderstandings and Misinformation

The Lutheran Church of Australia demands at least three months notice for a resignation of a pastor. I had negotiated this down to six weeks, but I still had to act as a pastor for six weeks, and preside over five more invalid Eucharistic ceremonies.

Over the next few weeks I exhausted myself getting around to every single person who asked me to talk to them about my leaving. I cannot recall everything I said during those long personal exchanges save that I took great pains not to share anything that might undermine their faith or say anything I would not have said as a faithful Pastor of the Lutheran Church of Australia.

I believe I did everything I could to be as gentle and understanding to my people, hearing their anger and hurt without attempting to justify myself. While I still wore the mantle of a Lutheran pastor I was resolved to be faithful to my vows to the last day of my pastorate.

Where there was anger and hurt, I accepted blame. Where there was confusion, I attempted to answer directly from the Lutheran Confessions, or by referring people to other reliable pastors for pastoral care. Where people asked for my personal reasons I answered that I was no longer convinced of the Lutheran position and so I felt it was not honest to continue. I constantly and gently assured every parishioner that I had never knowingly taught anything that was not clearly taught by the Lutheran Church of Australia.

Although this was a painful and exhausting time, dealing with the pastoral issues created by my resignation distracted me from the real pain of conversion for a time.

About this time the district president printed a series of comments about myself and the other pastor who had resigned. The comments were to the effect that I had acted deceitfully and behind his back in seeking entry into the Catholic Church, and had rejected help offered for psychological issues.

Ironically I later discovered that when he had met with the Archbishop to ask him to 'call off' his priests, the Archbishop had given a guarantee that no priest would come seeking contact with Lutheran ministers, but said 'if they come knocking' they would find his door open. The district president then reported this discussion to us as "[The Archbishop] says the Catholic door is closed to you until you are finished with the Lutheran process."

I wrote to the district president asking him to clarify his comments in light of several hundred e-mails I had sent and received, records of hundreds of phone calls and other correspondence showing that I had been up-front and open about my questions until specifically told to be more discrete by himself.

The reply I got was a brief and terse phone call suggesting that I not push the matter while they were still considering what to do about my car loan and seminary loans.

Next: In Between Worlds

1 comment:

The Epiphany Artist said...

All I can say is WOW. You all are an inspiration to me. God will bless you and your family. Amazing Grace- praise God!