That was some week. When we came back the following Sunday, we could tell that some people (it's a small church) did know by then what was going on, but we did not. Long story, short: The pastor has had an ongoing gambling addiction, and had stolen money from the church to support his habit.
This past week we went again, and we are learning that most of the families plan to leave, or to stick it out for another week or so... just to "see what happens." No one seems to want to stay, except a few of the older, core group that was not the pastor's extended family. It was run mostly like a "Mom-and-Pop-Shop" type of laid-back, family-feeling kind of church, with the same group running the place for the past 35 years. And this revelation of the pastor's long-term behavior has left the whole congregation in a shambles.... what will be left? Probably not much, honestly.
My husband and I want to think of our commitment to what's left of the church, but we also want to consider our young children. There don't seem to be any families with young kids who will commit to stay and work it out. We don't feel quite "released" yet, so we'll see.
Here's my ISSUE, something I just HAVE to get off my chest. I'm really sorry if someone out there doesn't understand why I need to say this to cyberspace, but here goes...
I feel that because this issue was based on years (decades) of secrecy, years of the family knowing and not "telling;" because the two men who finally did bring it out into the light have been condemned by others (but not by us); because the district denominational people are also trying to keep it "out of the mainstream," that is, out of the press (understandably, I suppose); and because the pastor had the opportunity to address, and confess to, and ask forgiveness from, the congregation while it was intact, but declined to do so -- for all these reasons, I feel like... I WISH, strongly, that I could pick up the phone and call the local county prosecutor, or the local papers, and say, "Hey, did you know that this pastor has allegedly misappropriated church funds for years, according to his own reported admission, and is getting nothing more than a denominational reprimand?"
Yes, he loses "his" church and his credential. He has another job, so it's not like he's lost his main livelihood. He loses his reputation, only to the extent that the small group of people who know about it know about it...
Why am I struggling with this so mightily? Why? I could just let it go, let them get on with their lives and counseling and "rehabilitation program." And say nothing to the powers that be, and let the pastor and his family save face, at least that much.
Why does this seem like less than right to me? Like more "sweeping it under the rug" -- again? I feel like I'm lying to the world by not letting the community know... Does that make sense?
Please don't pummel me too hard, it's been a rough month around here for us all.
UPDATE: We contacted the proper legal authorities and informed them of the situation.
Edited by Sahamamama, 18 February 2011 - 09:32 AM.
Update: We contacted the legal authorities.