I open this blog/conversation/vent with an outline of the primary role of the blog, which is, to place on the public record something of the horror Fairfield Uniting Church has become. I am doing it now, in this manner, as a last resort; as the ‘pursuit by conventional means’ has proven it not possible to adequately address critical issues.
Importantly, it is to place on the public record an historical/time link to the current leaders of Fairfield Uniting and the wider Uniting Church in Australia. Doing so will ensure the actions of those leaders, (who are responsible), will not, in the future, be apportioned to other than those directly involved and those, who may continue to allow the practices of the current Fairfield Uniting leadership to continue without change, apology and or restitution. It will also prevent those same leaders distancing themselves from the truth and or to attempt to change or distort the facts.
Of greater importance though is to make an example of Fairfield Uniting: a warning to other (Uniting) Churches, leaders and congregations; an example of how a congregation should not function!
As part of the ‘make an example of them approach’ my following posts will publish specific details of discussions, meetings and letters relating to the issues of Fairfield Uniting. There is no reason why anything relating to what has happened, to me, my family and close friends should be considered confidential. As embarrassing as it may be, for me/us, it surely will be of more embarrassment to our leaders and those of our community who have supported our church in complete ignorance of the sinful undertone within. It is necessary to expose Fairfield Uniting to the disinfection exposure provides.
Hopefully other church leaders and Presbyteries - with issues similar to Fairfield Uniting – may look at what will be revealed herein and, having done so, will take a looong hard look at what damage they may be causing to individual congregational members, their congregation and the Uniting Church in general.
If it is the mission of a Uniting Church congregation to follow the teachings of Christ, support their members and congregations and to reach out to the community radiating Christian behaviour then Fairfield Uniting is NOT the example to follow.
A visitor or casual observer, walking in to worship at Fairfield Uniting, will not notice the hostile attitudes in play. Whilst projecting a congenial outwards persona (and community involvement) it would take only a short period of time for an astute observer to uncover some very disappointing truths. If Fairfield Uniting ‘s ‘personality profile’ fits, in any way, your congregation then please take immediate steps to restore your church to one of faith, love, support and outreach else you will go the route of Fairfield Uniting.
At the core of my concern is a non-inclusive church: a church without a spiritual heart, a church with an autocratic leadership whose ‘pastoral care skills’ border on brutal. Over time, if you participate/follow my ‘conversation’ you will learn more about why that is so.
That said there is one additional point I am going to make here which goes, some way, to explaining how Fairfield Uniting ‘was allowed’ to descend to the level of sinful decay it has. It has a lot to do with people ‘not wanting to cause waves’: reasonable to a point but wrong if it means bad practices are ignored, go un-challenged or are allowed to propagate, to the degree they ultimately impact detrimentally on individuals and the life and witness of the church. Locally that is bad enough; however, it is made worse when those ‘higher in the church’, for reasons best known to themselves, choose to ‘pass by’, and not help when asked to do so.
This is precisely what has happened and it has shaken my faith to its core. Simply put, I can accept Fairfield Uniting’s problems are ‘self generated’ and there is some considerable history but when Presbytery, Synod and The Assembly are asked to help and don’t, won’t or do not know how to, what hope do individuals in a congregation have, whilst being bullied, to bring things back on track?
Let me give one example of why I have made the statement I just have. Asking for help I wrote, simultaneously, to the leaders of the top three tiers of The Uniting Church of Australia. Two of those leaders have not responded (even months later) not even to acknowledge the receipt of my letter. One leader did respond but did so on the basis he believed “the matter is being dealt with by…..”, continuing with “it is not one in which the ….. should become involved”. Really – let me think, think…..ing, think….ing ;-) what was that road to Jericho story about…..?
So from this ‘beaten-up and damaged travellers’ point of view, I can only conclude I/we must wait until a ‘good Samaritan’ appears ;-) or, alternatively, a real leader can be found within the Uniting Church in Australia who has conviction, the space in their heart and schedule, who is prepared to step on to a very ugly plate, hold their ground and, help and guide/lead a congregation which is failing in its primary mission.
In closing (this post): the ‘problem that is Fairfield Uniting’ has for a long time been an ‘invisible’ problem of The Uniting Church in Australia. It has been wrongly believed, by those who should know better, Fairfield Uniting could be dealt with behind closed doors. Flawed thinking which has empowered and facilitated the consolidation of dictatorial rule within the congregation. Flawed thinking which has meant many have been very deeply hurt and have walked away from the church.
Fairfield Uniting must change: in the absence of appropriate leadership and support from the Uniting Church hierarchy or a ‘Samaritan’ this public record may or may not provide, “through exposure to sunlight”, what I am seeking but, what it will do, for the historic record, is correctly apportion ‘the credit’ to those responsible.
R. P. Waddington.