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My church's response to COVID


MercyA
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5 minutes ago, MercyA said:

Yes, the children would go to another class or sit with their parents during Sunday School time, I suppose.

Short of the leadership promising to take care of sending them to parents or another class, I certainly would not assume that to be the result. 

They could stay in your SS room forcing you to choose between walking out at that point or ? physically pushing them out ? — either way you could then be accused of harming them by leaving them alone or by wrongfully touching them and excluding them. 

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I commend you for trying to hold up to your commitment.  My question is, are you willing to walk out of Sunday School on day one when people are not complying with your mask policy?  Because if you aren't willing to do that then the only safe option for you is to step down now.  If you are willing to do that you need to make that 100% clear that you will leave if that happens, assuming you hear back from your most recent email.

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9 minutes ago, MercyA said:

I will. Still waiting. I've asked or tried to ask at least three times, "Am I going to be allowed to require masks?" and I can't get a straight yes or no.

 

I think you already got a straight answer.  

 

They believe that wearing masks is optional.

In your personal freedom you can require them.

And in other people’s  personal freedom they can comply or not. 

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It's so hard but you did the right thing. The fact that he isn't responding to your direct question is very telling. 

He wants it both ways which is impossible and he is going to blame you for rocking the boat. It's a classic way of manipulating people. 

The sentence from his email is ridiculous. Would you be applying judgment if you said that the kids needed to wear shoes in Sunday School? 

This really sucks and I am SO sorry that you must go through this. 

Remember that they are putting you through this. It is not the other way around even though they are blaming you. If concern for you was at the top of their list, they would not do this to you. This is not how we treat people we love. 

 

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If he says you will be allowed to require masks will he back you up if you must follow through and refuse to allow a child to be in class? I don't know your church but I'm sure that would be a disaster. Parents will be very upset and they will run to him. Will he have your back? I don't know how but based on what you've written, I don't think he will. 

And then you will be left high and dry. Those parents will think they beat you because the authority figure (pastor) backed them up. You'll have been betrayed by this pastor who will likely keep trying to manipulate you to keep you in line. 

It will be even more public and dramatic than if you resign before Sunday school. 

Prepare yourself to be the bad guy no matter what you do at this point. 

 

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For those of us who have lived through spiritual abuse, there are common markers. That's why everyone is saying the exact same thing:
 

*You have got your answer. Wishy-washy non-answers are answers, when they come from people who don't want to take the responsibility to spell something out.

*There will be no formal statement of support.

*There will be no backup when people don't like it.

*When conflict arises, you will be treated as the source of it, and heavy religious terminology will be thrown in your direction -- as a manipulation tactic to make you question your own motives and stand down out of confusion and hurt.

*All of this, mostly because the Pastor does not want to make overt statements or displease anyone -- that is, anyone but you, if necessary. If there's a fork in the road where he has to choose between angry congregants and the one with the different stance, he is practically screaming at you to PLEASE read the flashing neon signs: In that moment, it won't be you that he defends. You will be under the bus SO fast.

 

You wouldn't see this unanimity in responses if we hadn't all been through something like it, although none of us have been through it in a life or death pandemic (because we haven't HAD one in 100 years). But only the issues and the names have changed. We know. 

Please also note from this likeminded response that we also believe your child would not be in the best hands, in this religious environment, if sent to church on her own. We've BTDT with that, too.

 

 

Edited by Lang Syne Boardie
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This certainly does sound like spiritual abuse to these ears @MercyA

I expect this church--one you've obviously invested in deeply--is going to turn on you. And it will not be pretty.

Stay strong. There are people who deserve you in their lives more than these folks.

Bill

 

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2 hours ago, MercyA said:

Okay. I have replied and said that if I am allowed to require masks, I will honor my commitment to teach. I know that is not what you all are encouraging me to do, and I don't disagree with what you are saying. I just believe it is the right thing to do at this time.

I don't trust the leadership anymore, that's for sure.

It's been an hour and I haven't heard anything back. 🤷‍♀️

Why would you attend a church where you do not trust the judgement, wisdom, discernment, or character of the pastor?

Why would you put your daughter under the leadership of someone you do not trust?

What do the scriptures say about putting yourself under leadership of such a person?

 

Edited by Ktgrok
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Quote

*When conflict arises, you will be treated as the source of it,

 

Quote

PLEASE read the flashing neon signs: In that moment, it won't be you that he defends. You will be under the bus SO fast.

 

Quote

Please also note from this likeminded response that we also believe your child would not be in the best hands, in this religious environment,

 

 

Quoting to emphasize all of these. 

 

things could even happen like if a vulnerable member of the church gets very sick, it being blamed on you— for example as a reason because your lack of faith in God to do the protection and turning instead to a belief in worldly masks caused god to foresake the  group. 

Edited by Pen
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Mercy, as someone who has BTDT with church gaslighting, please think about what your hill to die on will be. Think now, in advance, and before more manipulation is applied, about what sort of thing, if any, could make you walk away. 
 

Then, write it down, tell your DH or a close friend who will support you, and promise yourself that you will listen to yourself if it comes to it. If things continue to go against your position, I can imagine that there will be a lot of pressure to push that line out a little more and let things go, to forgive...to submit...

I was lucky because it wasn’t the church I grew up in and we had few deep relationships. I know it must be unbelievably hard to deal with this kind of thing in a place that’s been home for a long time and includes real family. FWIW, my DH would have stayed in our situation. Maybe men don’t get the same level of disrespect and pandering so often in certain types of churches and so are more willing to see isolated events when we see danger and a pattern? Or maybe my DH is atypical...but I have much firmer boundaries than him in general.


 

 

 

 

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25 minutes ago, MercyA said:

I know this kind of thing can and does happen, but the reluctance to wear masks is more of a political thing than a faith thing in my church, I think. 

 

🙂  try to hear the general idea that you may find yourself blamed for anything, no matter how unreasonable  🙂

 

or not....    

 

but lots of us have had btdt experience...

 

idk ...  maybe each has to go through it for herself  🤷‍♀️  

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2 minutes ago, Pen said:

 

🙂  try to hear the general idea that you may find yourself blamed for anything, no matter how unreasonable  🙂

 

Oh, I know I'm going to be the bad guy. I have to just not care what people think of me, and do the right thing.

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Praying for you. You must truly love teaching these kids to endure so much to do so.

Just remember, if things go south on Sunday, ask yourself "is this worth fighting for?" If the answer is no, give yourself permission to put up boundaries to the treatment you are receiving and leave. 

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Having read the whole thread I have to say that this situation strongly reminds me of the modern parable about the man on the roof in a flood. Three times he refuses the clear offers of help. When he reaches heaven and asks why God didn’t help, He says that help was sent - three times - and the man didn’t avail himself of it.

Mercy, you prayed for clarity and you’ve received it. I don’t think God’s answers get any clearer. Please don’t be the man on the roof. You and your family deserve so much more than this church and the spiritually bereft, nay abusive, leadership.

Your church’s leadership will allow you to require masks in your classroom. Your church’s leadership simply won’t back you when you refuse to allow unmasked children in your classroom.

Don’t be the man on the roof...

Edited by brehon
Order words something means
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I am so sorry this has happened. I am deeply, deeply concerned about the content of that email and the likelihood that it will cause all kinds of misplaced anger to be turned in your direction. Just as it's important to honor your commitment to the church, which you did, so too is it important to honor your commitment to yourself and your family. I hope you take some time over the next few days to decide where your line in the sand is WRT that commitment too, just in case things get ugly.

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6 minutes ago, MercyA said:

Honoring my commitment to teach and doing everything possible, in my classroom, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If schools are going virtual in your area, due to rising cases, is it the right thing to facilitate sunday school, at all?

 

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Oh honey.  I am so sorry.

47 minutes ago, brehon said:

...Mercy, you prayed for clarity and you’ve received it. ..

Your church’s leadership will allow you to require masks in your classroom. Your church’s leadership simply won’t back you when you refuse to allow unmasked children in your classroom.

This.  That is the space you're in.

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29 minutes ago, MercyA said:

Honoring my commitment to teach and doing everything possible, in my classroom, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

 

It sounds very honorable. Bless you.

But the two parts seem opposed.  

In person Sunday School isn’t “everything possible “ to prevent spread of infection in a pandemic.  In 2020, that would look more like Zoom or similar.  No in person group gathering Is “doing everything possible” to prevent spread. 

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Gently, your first commitment is to your family.  Your first God-given ministry is your family.  Are you doing right by them in this situation?  What are the consequences to your family of this decision?  And are you putting this Sunday School commitment above your obligation to your family?  Food for thought.

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An Indiana website:

“The spread of COVID-19 in Indiana is shifting to community transmission, as expected. The best ways to protect yourself are to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you're sick, cover your cough or sneeze and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.”

 

not just stay home if you have proven cv19, but “Stay Home when you’re sick” (my cellphone randomly adds caps etc.) .  Your church congregation isn’t following that.  Masks don’t make up for that. 

Your presence as a teacher, masks or not, contributes to the functioning of an entity that is acting against public health . 

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MercyA, do you feel like if you stepped down from this Sunday School position that  your daughter would not be welcomed there? Or are you responding to the comments encouraging you to leave?  

If the latter, I understand. My dh and I have had discussions about our issues with the church and ultimately one reason we stay is because of our teenagers. 

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9 minutes ago, MercyA said:

My husband and I have had our eyes opened very wide, trust me. I hear you all and I don't disagree. 

However. We have an only child. She is homeschooled. The majority of her friends are at this church and she loves it. I prayed from the time she was a little baby for her to have good friends, and she does. They are sweet and kind and fun. She's been friends with one of them for about eight years now. Maintaining those friendships is very important to all of us. 

 

Yes.

That’s a hard situation. 

Would they still be her friends outside of church?

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7 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

Can she continue to attend, without you being involved in teaching, attending, etc?

While I'm sure nobody would say that Mercy's daughter would not be welcomed if Mercy was not attending, I can also understand that that might be very sticky socially in a church like that.  I hate the situation that Mercy is in, but I can't say I wouldn't do the same.  Church politics can be sooooo toxic.  

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I totally understand. We also have an only daughter so I understand the friendship dynamic. 

I hope everything works out for for the best. You're probably right that your daughter's friendships would be affected if you left. It's a shame but it is what it is. We left our church and our daughter lost one of her friends. 

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19 hours ago, Paige said:

FWIW, my DH would have stayed in our situation. Maybe men don’t get the same level of disrespect and pandering so often in certain types of churches and so are more willing to see isolated events when we see danger and a pattern? Or maybe my DH is atypical...but I have much firmer boundaries than him in general.

My DH didn't see our situation for what it was until we were gone. I think distance = clarity. He was also in a ministry that wasn't likely to generate much controversy--choir. You show up and sing. We also continued to receive communications for a bit as we didn't make any big announcements that we were leaving or even talk to leadership about it. Some of those communications were odd, and it helped for my DH to see that. Some were things that even people who stayed found odd--I wanted so badly to say, "This is how everything is, you just can't see it in the other contexts." 

As another poster alluded to , there is so much truth to the idea of leadership not wanting to make people uncomfortable, except you (or the outlier). Our former church started adding so.many.hoops to things in the name of solving a problem that they wouldn't address head on, and it was damaging. We were urged to "take one for the team" when these things happened, but it just never stops.

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Yes, it will be interesting how this looks a month from now, six months from now. As others have said, you may be getting some interesting answers from this that you didn't expect.

I was feeling iffy about our church around the holidays and into January and February for multiple reasons. 

Then our church shut down entirely during the at-home orders. I felt thoroughly abandoned at a time when I needed them. They said to worship at home with the the father of the family in charge. Well, no father in my home because I'm a single parent.  Now they being loosely-goosey with masks as I noted earlier. There's also a focus on politics that I'm unhappy with and some oddball things I heard in sermons when we started meeting again.

I come away from just going to the first meeting every Sunday now with the thought "these are not my people." I dunno. Not sure what is next though because none of the churches in my area are being picky on masks. Some are still only online. 

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1 hour ago, Bagels McGruffikin said:

I’ve been reading along and holding comment, but please know it’s a tough situation and I know you’re trying to do your best in honoring seemly intractable sides. God sees your heart on this, and theirs too. Big hugs and prayers that the families involved are understanding, too.

You see the side of the people who refuse to take basic precautions to stop the spread of a deadly virus in a congregation that includes vulnerable elderly congregants and young children who could live with the repercussions of Covid 19 for the rest of their lives???

Some fine people on both sides :blink:

Bill

 

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Just now, Bagels McGruffikin said:

For your information, you pot stirrer, I was implying to Mercy that her good motives and their selfish motives were both visible to the God we serve. And that I hoped the families she is trying to love will understand this as well.

Go away if you’re just going to make baseless unkind comments.

No one said or implied any such thing. Look in the mirror before you accuse others.

Bill

 

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