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athomeontheprairie
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We've been members at our current church for many years, population 70-100, half of which are kids (and most kids are homeschooled. This fits VERY well with us!). We agree with the constitution even if we don't always agree 100% with every member in the church on doctrinal issues. Both dh and I have been active in the leadership of the church. There is so much good in this church. I really love it. I love the teaching, I love the people, I love the commitment, I love the singing, I love how the youth are treated and respected. I love the gazillion little kids. I love almost everything about this church. However there is one issue.... And it's new. 

Two years ago our pastor left. Nearly a year ago a new pastor arrived.

 

He has introduced an issue that we disagree with (dh slightly, me strongly). They've made it a salvation issue (though it should not be), and since I disagree with their stance I'm going to hell (learned this yesterday during SS :huh: ). This teaching is being taught diligently and systematically during Sunday school for all ages (this is where my problem lies. If it was just dh and I we could deal. But the kids are taught separately.) The issue has always been a problem for me at this church-but since it's always been an issue that isn't discussed it wasn't ever a problem. I simply remain silent on the issue (as were the others who believed as I do. It was better to stay silent than to cause division).

 

WWYD? Continue to go for Sunday School? Stop going to Sunday School, but stay for services? Find a new church? (I almost wrote-talk to deacons, but we spoke with them prior to the change in curriculum and it was met with deaf ears. So talking to the leadership isn't going to get me anywhere.)

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I would leave, no matter how painful...I believe it is very, very harmful for children to be told by people (who they consider to be authority figures) that their parents are going to hell for what they think. It's not very good for adults either; Sunday worship should be about worship and community, not about condemnation. If there's no peace, what is your religion even for? My two cents, as someone who had to leave an authoritarian, abusive church environment - go, and go quickly.

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I'd find a new church.  I've found people and procedures, etc, I've loved in multiple churches.  While we've disagreed here and there on doctrine, I've never had anyone teaching my kids I'd go to hell with my beliefs.  That'd be a deal-breaker for me.  You might find others move too.  We now happily worship in a different church with others from some of our previous congregations.  

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I would be looking for a new church.  If it was just a disagreement about some position that was not one about salvation, I could see staying there and just skipping Sunday School.  Actively teaching and preaching about how a doctrinal position you hold makes you ineligible for salvation-- leave.  There are very few positions that I feel would make you ineligible for salvation but I think I know the issue that is being made into a salvation issue.  If so, I definitely agree with you that it is not and I would have a big problem attending such a church- not just because my personal stand was contrary but because the issue was being raised to a salvation issue.

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Sadly we have also experienced this. After several years we were suddenly told that if we didn't believe XYZ (actually two separate, nonbiblical points of doctrine), we probably "weren't really saved." [ETA these were points introduced to the church the last year we attended, so not part of the doctrinal statement when we began attending there]

 

We moved on. It was painful at first for the kids, but we are now at a church where we are loved, healed, and taught truth with grace.

 

I'm sorry you have to go through this.

Edited by Seasider
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Are you saying that this is an issue that the denomination as a whole believes, but that wasn't often discussed until recently? The new pastor is turning it from a non-issue into an issue?

It is not held by the church, either locally or corporately. But is a common belief in Christian circles.

Many of the members of our local church either hold this view or don't have an opinion.

To be clear, it is NOT a salvation issue. Not at all.

It IS an issue that the pastor and several of the deacons feel strongly about, but they've never taught it. Though occasionally it would come up in discussions.

It is NOT being taught during services, only ss.

Edited by athomeontheprairie
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I considered myself pretty well informed on issues in the church and I can't for the life of me figure out what this issue could be. The leadership would consider you an unbeliever for disagreeing with them?

I can think of a number of things I've seen over the last decade. It's usually disagreement on a secondary issue, rather than something essential to the gospel.

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It is not held by the church, either locally or corporately. But is a common belief in Christian circles.

Many of the members of our local church either hold this view or don't have an opinion.

To be clear, it is NOT a salvation issue. Not at all.

But your local church leadership is now saying that it is? Am I understanding that correctly?

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I would leave, no matter how painful...I believe it is very, very harmful for children to be told by people (who they consider to be authority figures) that their parents are going to hell for what they think. It's not very good for adults either; Sunday worship should be about worship and community, not about condemnation. If there's no peace, what is your religion even for? My two cents, as someone who had to leave an authoritarian, abusive church environment - go, and go quickly.

Agreeing 100% with Tibbie. When things like this happen it is confusing to children, even scary, and creates problems in the home.

 

We are currently without church family, though we have a couple of churches we bounce between because we don't like "not" going at all. We just haven't found somewhere to land permanently. We had to leave the previous one where we had been attending for ten years due to a change in leadership who made a salvation issue out of a non-issue, and were in the face vocal to our kids about, "Don't believe what your parents believe. They are sending you on a one way ticket to hell." Actual quote from the senior pastor. That is a pretty subversive thing to do to kids and parents.

 

And here is my advice. You can't worship freely where you can't trust the leadership. But, in my experience, no one wants to hear what you have to say. So you go, you go quickly, you don't make  ruckus or a scene. If you are currently serving in a position, you say something like this in an email, '

 

"Dear pastor so and so,

 

Due to a recent sudden change for our family, we will no longer be able to continue attending church X. I am resigning my position effective immediately, and am very sorry that there is little notice of this. Unfortunately, this isn't open to discussion because I need to do what is the very best I can for my family. I am sure you understand. Life circumstances and all that....I wish this church family all the best in the world, and pray God's blessing on them.

 

Kindest regards in Christ

XYZ"

 

Framing it this way should make it clear that it isn't negotiable and make the break clean. If you get a phone call, just simply say "Oh, I'm sorry that my email wasn't clear. Again, it really isn't something that DH and I prefer to discuss. We are doing what is best for our family. May God richly bless your week. Bye bye!"

 

Then when you find somewhere new to attend, make that a clean start. Don't talk about your previous experience, don't dwell on it. Just move wholeheartedly forward.

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I considered myself pretty well informed on issues in the church and I can't for the life of me figure out what this issue could be. The leadership would consider you an unbeliever for disagreeing with them?

The two times I have heard of this, the issues were:

 

Creationism - must believe in a literal six day creation or one is headed to hell in a hand basket.

 

The other was homosexuality. This particular pastor made people sign a statement that they would disown forever a child if that child confessed to being LGBTQ. If he found out you had a relative that was LGBTQ, he would confront the member and demand that they cut off all contact with said relative.

 

There might be others; these are just the ones I know about having happened locally.

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- literal 6 day creation

- patriarchy/male headship

- hierarchy of membership/strict pastoral authority

- must be baptized as an adult (as an act of salvation)

 

Those are a few I've seen first hand.

 

ETA

Oh, I almost forgot, any counseling outside of the church gets you on a watch list. Abusive church "discipline."

Edited by Seasider
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Does your denomination have a higher body to which you can appeal? If there is an authority structure so that the pastor/leadership could be corrected, I would likely pursue that option especially if there are others in the church who feel as you do and are willing to participate in the process.

 

If not, I'd be gone. 

 

 

I have seen this happen with regard to YE creation. Very common to have it become a litmus test of orthodoxy. I have also been in a church where this got started and the pastor and elders squashed it thoroughly. Lovely to see. 

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I would have difficulty staying in a church that was teaching a non salvation issue as a salvation issue. I don't agree 100% with everything that has ever been taught in my church, but I do feel like the leadership has addressed my concerns appropriately. They also haven't been about big picture things either though.

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I've also seen political issues, Calvinism, and random weird things like staying with abusive spouses or cutting non-Christians out of your life treated like this.

 

 

ETA: and the belief that no one who's not part of this individual denomination has ever been saved.  Including early church founders.

 

These sorts of beliefs are one thing that more education tends to rule out.  The churches where I've experienced this sort of thing were all "led by the spirit" churches without denominational oversights or a requirement for bachelor and master's degrees.  Also, the study of theology tends to be looked down upon because education limits hearing the spirit.  While you can have a few amazing pastors who do diligently study the Bible, listen to God, and are fantastic, IME when the pastor changes bad things can happen.  It's difficult to reign in ridiculous doctrine without denominational oversight.  Biblically, it is probably best to go as a couple and talk to the pastor about this.  It's possible there is something going on that you don't know about that is the reason this is a sudden push, and they don't mean to be pushing people out of a church.  Once I had a pastor go on a crazy rant about abortion (and I don't mean sermon, I mean rant), and several women left, never to be heard from again.  The next thing we heard was that the pastor's daughter was pregnant, and that rant was solely intended for her.

Edited by Katy
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It sounds like it's time to leave. But I'm a firm believer in approaching the leader(s) of the church to explain why you are leaving. I think they deserve to know and understand the full reason why, and also to know that you're officially leaving. Some people just leave without saying anything, and that's harmful to both sides.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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If you are saying the denomination doesn't hold this as a salvation issue, but the new pastor IS teaching that way, I'd approach him with an email clarifying that. I'd say our denomination doesn't hold that, and by pushing it you are making it difficult for us to stay here. See what he says. 

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sorry - apparently, I'm in a weird mood . . . .

 

 

ok.

   if they're introduced this sort of a controlling change, sending a message like this children,  especially if it's not something your governing organization does - I wouldn't wait around to find out what controlling change is next.

Edited by gardenmom5
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- literal 6 day creation

- patriarchy/male headship

- hierarchy of membership/strict pastoral authority

- must be baptized as an adult (as an act of salvation)

Those are a few I've seen first hand.

ETA

Oh, I almost forgot, any counseling outside of the church gets you on a watch list. Abusive church "discipline."

The two times I have heard of this, the issues were:

 

Creationism - must believe in a literal six day creation or one is headed to hell in a hand basket.

 

The other was homosexuality. This particular pastor made people sign a statement that they would disown forever a child if that child confessed to being LGBTQ. If he found out you had a relative that was LGBTQ, he would confront the member and demand that they cut off all contact with said relative.

 

There might be others; these are just the ones I know about having happened locally.

Wow. And I've had some crazy church experiences myself.

 

OP, my DH and I would not stay in a church that taught anything other than salvation by faith alone. DH has tried to talk to leadership before leaving a church, but frankly that didn't go well. We now understand why people quietly leave. Honestly, in my opinion, if they care and want to know, they'll ask when you stop showing up. I feel that's sometimes the best route.

Edited by ifIonlyhadabrain
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WWYD? Continue to go for Sunday School? Stop going to Sunday School, but stay for services? Find a new church? (I almost wrote-talk to deacons, but we spoke with them prior to the change in curriculum and it was met with deaf ears. So talking to the leadership isn't going to get me anywhere.)

 

So they've adopted a new Sunday School curriculum for all ages, and the problem lies there? I'd really like to know what curriculum this is, if you're comfortable sharing. 

 

How is your church leadership organized? Do they have meetings at which member concerns can be raised? If there are others who agree with you, could you bring up the subject at a meeting and make it clear that this has been turned into a salvation issue?

 

IDK. Good churches are hard to find. If this situation could somehow be turned around for the better, I might be tempted to try.

Edited by MercyA
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When you disagree with the leadership on what constitutes a major issue, it's time to leave.

 

Have you signed a church membership covenant? If you did, the steps for leaving are different if you don't wish to be "disciplined" for your disagreement and decision to leave.

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My husband's childhood church went this way and his parents went along with it at church.

 

It came across as hypocritical to my husband.

 

It also turned him away bc they were very controlling of youth (it turned this way) and started making examples of people to keep them in line.

 

Really sad. A tough position for my husband. He wishes his parents would have left.

 

My MIL also questions my salvation.

 

I take my kids to church. Not my husband. My FIL stayed with us a while and the secret is out, lol (but it is not funny).

 

This Christmas my MIL was questioning my new BIL's salvation.

 

I think you should think twice before authorizing your kids to think they may sit judgment on other Christians and decide if they are really saved or not.

 

The issue with my MIL has to do with faith versus works.

 

I say if you have faith it will show in your life.

 

I am not backing down in it, either.

 

My MIL thinks this means I think I am saved by works and not by the grace of God.

 

That is not what I think. She is just picky about it and has to have things worded a really certain way.

 

But just the idea that if I don't agree with her on this she will bring up that I am probably not really saved I really dislike.

 

One of the times she brought it up she was upset with me and brought it up to my husband.

 

I think she was upset like I wasn't talking properly to our child.

 

It was just so strange. My husband had to tell her not to bring it up again.

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So they've adopted a new Sunday School curriculum for all ages, and the problem lies there? I'd really like to know what curriculum this is, if you're comfortable sharing.

 

How is your church leadership organized? Do they have meetings at which member concerns can be raised? If there are others who agree with you, could you bring up the subject at a meeting and make it clear that this has been turned into a salvation issue?

 

IDK. Good churches are hard to find. If this situation could somehow be turned around for the better, I might be tempted to try.

I agree with Mercy.

 

Don't leave without knowing for sure that the rest of the congregation doesn't share your belief.

 

I'd make a stink about it and ask why this is suddenly a salvation issue when it wasn't in the past.

 

Normally, I would say to just leave, but you seem to love everything else about the church and it fits your family so well other than this one thing. Obviously, if you don't get the response you need, it's time to leave, but why not find out if others are in agreement with you.

 

In the meantime, don't send the kids to ss.

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If you choose to leave, and you've already spoken with leadership, I would just slip out quietly. Send a very brief letter of resignation only if you previously signed a membership covenant. One of the new practices of some hyperauthoritarian church leaders is to contact leadership at your next church home. The premise is that as your shepherd, they are on the hook for making sure you find a new church home. If this is the direction your current leadership has gone (hyperauthoritarian), I wouldn't give them any help figuring out where I'm headed next.

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I've been to churches where they have strong opinions about salvation but don't quite cross the line of saying it's required, and that I can put up with if everything else is fantastic.  But otherwise, sadly, I would go.  Once it gets to the point of being legalistic and presumptuous and assuming to know God's exact mind, it's time to find a new church home.

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I've been to churches where they have strong opinions about salvation but don't quite cross the line of saying it's required, and that I can put up with if everything else is fantastic.  But otherwise, sadly, I would go.  Once it gets to the point of being legalistic and presumptuous and assuming to know God's exact mind, it's time to find a new church home.

 

ETA:  I like what Mercy said.  I would do that first, before what I suggested.

 

ETA again:  Actually, I meant to quote what Mercy said, not what I said.  Oh well! 

Edited by J-rap
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If you choose to leave, and you've already spoken with leadership, I would just slip out quietly. Send a very brief letter of resignation only if you previously signed a membership covenant. One of the new practices of some hyperauthoritarian church leaders is to contact leadership at your next church home. The premise is that as your shepherd, they are on the hook for making sure you find a new church home. If this is the direction your current leadership has gone (hyperauthoritarian), I wouldn't give them any help figuring out where I'm headed next.

 

How crazy is this??! Never heard of it but don't doubt is being done. They are treating congregants like minors who need to be supervised.

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I'd find a new church.  I've found people and procedures, etc, I've loved in multiple churches.  While we've disagreed here and there on doctrine, I've never had anyone teaching my kids I'd go to hell with my beliefs.  That'd be a deal-breaker for me.  You might find others move too.  We now happily worship in a different church with others from some of our previous congregations.  

 

This.  

 

In the long run this is very bad for your children.   I would leave, but I would tell the leadership why.

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It's possible there is something going on that you don't know about that is the reason this is a sudden push, and they don't mean to be pushing people out of a church. 

 

Something happened to a school teacher in our congregation last year. The teacher was fired for sharing this belief in the school (separation of church and state). I feel this is in direct response to that incident. Since it can't be taught at school, they'll teach it at church. Additionally, the pastor's family has used, and liked, this curriculum before. I think it's a combination of these two events.

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I tolerate different beliefs within a church. Quite a wide range honestly. And thankfully people tolerate me, which is nice since some of my beliefs are instantaneously visible (I headcover, and that leads to many assumptions even beyond my covering). As long as they're not directly promoting sin I can overlook a lot. Church can be a diverse community, any which isn't diverse usually has some serious underlying issues at hand. The whole body of Christ thing, if everyone is a hand, how can we walk? If everyone is an eye, how can we listen? Different interpretations of the lesser issues lead to different priorities, ideas, roles and motivations, which can be a great thing.

 

But, teaching anything other than faith in Jesus as a salvation issue is a dealbreaker for me. Directly saying any specific person in the congregation is unsaved is a massive red flag. Having someone directly tell my CHILDREN that my husband and I are unsaved and telling them to rebel against our parental authority and teaching? I admire the self control shown in this thread, because my husband would be liable to throw a punch for that. Absolutely not ever would I allow it. If it was a member who said it I would have serious discussions with the pastor. If it was a LEADER who said it, I wouldn't be back. 

 

Let the leadership know why you're leaving. If you're not the only family who does it may let them learn from their mistakes down the road. But, no amount of good in a church is worth that kind of false teaching, or leaders telling your kids you're going to hell. 

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He has introduced an issue that we disagree with (dh slightly, me strongly). They've made it a salvation issue (though it should not be), and since I disagree with their stance I'm going to hell (learned this yesterday during SS :huh: ). This teaching is being taught diligently and systematically during Sunday school for all ages (this is where my problem lies. 

 

For me, that would be a major doctrinal issue. I would have to find another church. 

SaveSave

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For those recommending discussing it with leaders: have you ever personally witnessed this approach having any effect at all?

 

I ask because I have not. I left a church one time for very specific reasons. Hand delivered a letter similar to what FaithManor suggested to all persons directly effected by my resignation. Gave a complete explanation to a few friends. Neither the minister nor anyone else in leadership ever enquired as to the exact reasons.

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The other was homosexuality. This particular pastor made people sign a statement that they would disown forever a child if that child confessed to being LGBTQ. If he found out you had a relative that was LGBTQ, he would confront the member and demand that they cut off all contact with said relative.

 

 

 

If someone told me I had to, even hypothetically, abandon my family but especially MY CHILDREN, I wouldn't just leave.  Hell hath no fury like this mama told to abandon her children.  As it was, we left a church when they encouraged my gay brother to seek a different denomination.  If my brother ain't good enough for you, neither am I.  

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For those recommending discussing it with leaders: have you ever personally witnessed this approach having any effect at all?

 

I ask because I have not. I left a church one time for very specific reasons. Hand delivered a letter similar to what FaithManor suggested to all persons directly effected by my resignation. Gave a complete explanation to a few friends. Neither the minister nor anyone else in leadership ever enquired as to the exact reasons.

I believe that the method for dealing with false teaching is outlined in the Bible. And it involves talking to people, including leadership, to try to work things out.

 

- said as a pastor's wife who has confronted leaders in other churches where we were serving. And no, they didn't listen. But we were then able to leave with a clear conscience.

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Something happened to a school teacher in our congregation last year. The teacher was fired for sharing this belief in the school (separation of church and state). I feel this is in direct response to that incident. Since it can't be taught at school, they'll teach it at church. Additionally, the pastor's family has used, and liked, this curriculum before. I think it's a combination of these two events.

 

Ah.  Under those circumstances, it sounds like leadership is On A Mission to Spread This Teaching.  Given that, I think it's unlikely they are going to change based on your concerns.  I am sorry.  At this point I think your choices are telling them why you are leaving, and not telling them why you are leaving.  I wouldn't stay. 

 

I hope you are able to find a better fit for your family.  

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I believe that the method for dealing with false teaching is outlined in the Bible. And it involves talking to people, including leadership, to try to work things out.

 

- said as a pastor's wife who has confronted leaders in other churches where we were serving. And no, they didn't listen. But we were then able to leave with a clear conscience.

Would you say that rises to the level of an obligation? What if the issues did not include false teachings?

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Would you say that rises to the level of an obligation? What if the issues did not include false teachings?

If the issue didn't include false teaching then I wouldn't think it necessary to confront anyone. After all, people can legitimately leave just because the church isn't a good fit even if the teaching is accurate. But adding to the gospel is not something that I would let go.

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I wish you the best in your search for a new church family. I agree that your only real decision is to tell them why you are leaving or just leaving quietly. I'm the type who would just leave quietly; I'm not good with face-to-face confrontation unless my kids are involved. My community is really small and it is hard to avoid the local pastor and other people who go to our church.

 

Knowing there are other homeschoolers there, I'd probably let my close friends know we weren't comfortable with the new curriculum and teachings of the current pastor and that it was a very tough decision.

:grouphug:

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For those recommending discussing it with leaders: have you ever personally witnessed this approach having any effect at all?

 

I ask because I have not. I left a church one time for very specific reasons. Hand delivered a letter similar to what FaithManor suggested to all persons directly effected by my resignation. Gave a complete explanation to a few friends. Neither the minister nor anyone else in leadership ever enquired as to the exact reasons.

 

Only once, at it was because an older pastor who was a mentor of this pastor from a different church backed me up.  Usually when something goes this far they are already so far outside the bible they no longer care what it says.

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If someone told me I had to, even hypothetically, abandon my family but especially MY CHILDREN, I wouldn't just leave. Hell hath no fury like this mama told to abandon her children. As it was, we left a church when they encouraged my gay brother to seek a different denomination. If my brother ain't good enough for you, neither am I.

AMEN!

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