catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 15 :: 2007.07.27 — 2007.09.07


Forgiving at church

I believe all of us can trace our steps through life and find many
situations when we either needed forgiveness or should have
forgiven.  At 61, I’ve had way too many to discuss in this article
and they would likely make for a rather boring book.  However, a
relatively recent forgiveness/healing process has occurred that I’d
like to share.

In 2003, my fiancée, Rebecca, and I were still trying to find a
church that we could call our common spiritual home.  Our
religious upbringings were significantly different; and, neither were
very fulfilling for us at that time.

In early September 2003, we went on a personal growth weekend. 
Because of his various comments on attitudes, Rebecca started taking to
the facilitator during the breaks and found that he was an ordained
minister with the Association of Unity Churches International
While the weekend was not religious in orientation, Rebecca was
impressed enough with the facilitator’s outlooks that she decided to
see if we had a Unity Church at home—we had two.  Rebecca decided
that she would go to Unity Church of Practical Christianity the next
Sunday, September 21.  I said, “Let me know how it is” because it
was 25 minutes from home and I wasn’t interested in driving that far
every Sunday morning.  Not the right attitude towards God!

A foreign car that I had ordered in March was delivered to the
dealership the week after our personal growth weekend.  (See a previous article
on my need for forgiveness of my financial foolishness.)  Over the
course of six months, the salesperson and I had spoken somewhat
frequently, and on a variety of tpoics.  By the time I picked up
the car on Saturday, September 20, we had a fairly good personal

At the end of all of the paperwork signing, Chuck said:  “When
I left home this morning, I told my wife that I was going to ask you to
attend our church tomorrow”.  It turned out that Chuck attended
Unity Church of Practical Christianity.  Rebecca and I looked at
each other and started to laugh.  We told Chuck the story and said
that we would both be there the next day.

When we walked into the church’s front door, and were warmly greeted
by a few of the members, we both sensed that we had found the spiritual
home we were looking for.  Rev. Beverly’s sermon confirmed those
feelings.  We stayed for the coffee and cookies fellowship

We came back week after week and, in a very short period of time, we
asked Rev. Beverly if she would marry us.  (We had already set the
date and were going to have a civil ceremony.)  We also took a
class from her; and, we became members on November 16.  When the
wedding was a few weeks away, we already had a strong bond with Rev.
Beverly.  She was so much on our wavelength that we didn’t make
any changes to the service outline and vows that she had
prepared.  She married us on December 18, 2003.

By December 2004, we were even closer to her.  But, as the
church minister and leader, many of the members were very dissatisfied
with her three years there and felt that they had to do
something.  They became very selective in who was invited to their
(outside of church) meetings to discuss their displeasure.  The
end result was a petition to the Board of Trustees for her removal.

Rev. Beverly could have fought it; but, because of prior
confrontations, and the draining effect on her, she decided to leave in
order to avoid any further division in the church.  Rebecca and I
both felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under us and our
spiritual leadership and atmosphere had been taken away in a “back room
and back alley” manner.  We weren’t too happy with many of those
involved, including some to whom we had grown close.

I was truly feeling a spiritual void and needed to go back to church
after not going for three months.  We went to the other Unity
Church; but, the warm atmosphere of our
church and its congregants just wasn’t there.  Eventually, I went
back to our church, where we now had guest speakers.  Rebecca
followed a little later.

Over time, we both came to learn of some of Rev. Beverly’s
shortcomings—many she personally told us about.  We also
recognized that many members of the “ouster” leadership hadn’t come
back to the church since Rev. Beverly left.  And, we still found
the spiritual warmth and energy among the rest of those to whom we were
previously close.  We also found the love, compassion and respect
of those involved in Rev. Beverly’s dismissal; and, we forgave them
because, even though we may not have approved of the manner in which
she was dismissed, we believed that our fellow members did it for what
they felt in their hearts was in the best interest of their
church.  And, more importantly, like us, they are all children of

Because of our forgiveness, we are again active at the church; and, we are back at our spiritual home!

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