Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Two men you wont meet at Middleberry

Man 1: Trevor had hit the last note of their set and Pastor Keith approached the pulpit.  Middleberry's sanctuary is the crowning jewel of their Church (which will come up again).  Stained glass windows line the back two walls, flooding the sunday morning gathering with beams of gold, amber, and ruby.  It is a breathtaking sight as it bounces off the floor and illuminates the building.  The floor is an old hardwood floor that is resplendent with dark grain and the old boards creak with every step.  The entrance to the sanctuary sets at the top of a flight of stairs.  One enters through an arched set of double doors at the very back of the sanctuary (the furthest distance from the pulpit).  Twenty Pews set the congregation on the slopped floor of the auditorium and a single aisle runs down to the raised stage where Pastor Keith would give his sunday sermons.

That morning was just like any other as Keith rose to speak.  He pulled his notes from his Bible as he stood behind the pulpit and began to give his sermon on the life of Christ.  After he had spoken for 15 minutes or so the previously silent building began to creak.  This movement came not during the altar call but in the middle of one of Keith's points.  With every footstep, the old wooden boards creaked under the pressure of polished combat boots.  Keith knew who was coming foreward.   A man named David was coming forward.  David had come in late to the service and head entered the back of the sanctuary.  He always wore his long black trench coat over his jeans that were tucked tightly into his black combat boots.

David had not been coming long, but was slowly being integrated into the body of Middleberry.  With no prior knowledge of church or the gospel, David was really the first person to come through the doors of Middleberry from the neighborhood.  David had been down front a couple times, but this time was a little different.  This time he was coming down the aisle  sporting a holding a large Bowie knife that shone in the Sunday morning sun that came through the sky light.  Keith directed his sermon away from the sight that was coming down the aisle amidst them.  A couple deacons who were talking outside the doors of the sanctuary had entered as David made his way down front.  They met him at the front pew and persuaded him to follow them downstairs.  David wanted to talk to Pastor Keith.  Keith capped off his sermon and headed downstairs to deal with the issue.  The Pastor entered the kitchen in the midst of the standoff and spoke with David.  David was de-armed and escorted out by the deacons.  David didn't have any issues; just wanted to show off his new knife.  He was a little off...

Man 2: Craig had stumbled upon Middleberry while walking the neighborhood.  He had a checkered past that followed him on his journey to the city.  Middleberry seemed just the place for him to be involved.  The checkers on his past had forced him to register as a child predator, a fact that had forced most churches to turn their backs on him.  Craig was doing well the first couple weeks integrating into this community.  Craig stayed away from the children's areas and sunday school classes.  Though he had never disclosed his crimes to the leadership, he aimed to stay above reproach.

Then a member of the congregation had found a picture of Craig on a website.  The knowledge increased exponentially.  People who had just visited Middleberry once were now hearing about Craig.  Congregants were threatening to leave the church if Craig was not excommunicated.  Significant families complained to Pastor Keith.  Craig was asked to leave.

It was at this moment (after the David and now the Craig incident) that Keith would make the claim that would summarize the rest of his ministry: "I must protect the flock!"  Pastor Keith decided that he would protect the church members of Middleberry with all that he is.  His ministry would be characterized by his unabashed protection of the church body at the risk of never reaching out (because who knows who that might bring in).  The members of Middleberry in a rough part of the city, had now set the precedence that would turn the entire church into  a inward-focused entity, whose biggest aim was to care for and protect one another with ambivalence to all those outside the inner circle.

Im not sure how I would have reacted to David or Craig for that matter.  Knowledge and information are the key to understanding the situation.  Churches can do background checks and observation must be a priority.  The big issue here is the precedent that was set in quick reaction to these two men. The precent that would doom this body was the "vision" (if you could call it that, or more like a attitude): "At all costs protect the flock!"

No comments:

Post a Comment