Monday, 4 August 2014

I am going to start this post by saying the sermon delivered by Rev. Semisi Kava was a very good sermon. Bread and fish being feed to the masses gathered to hear Jesus speak formed the anchor to his sermon. Rev. Kava made the statement the story was a demonstration, to all, about looking to what can be achieved in preference to what cannot be done. The disciples’ protestations, about not having anything to feed the people with, were more than adequately counted by the actions of Jesus. A clear indication of taking the small amount of what you do have, along with a strong faith, to satisfy real needs.

Rev. Kava went on to make other very good points, some of which were; Christians should confront problems not try to ignore them. Christians should not avoid providing help when needed and, if a need is seen we (Christians) MUST respond. I emphasize, as Rev. Kava did as his spoke, the word MUST.

Rev. Kava’s sermon was a poignant piece of sensible advice delivered to a congregation mired in sin, hurt, revenge and an overwhelming desire, of a few, to destroy others.

I thank(ed) Rev. Kava and against the important backdrop of his sermon I am now going to outline the remainder and contrast of my Sunday morning experience at Fairfield Uniting Church. The contrast is provided by Fairfield Uniting’s leadership and three particular members! However, before I do that, I must say I left church yesterday feeling unusually buoyant and more at ease than in a long while, why? My guess is I genuinely know who ‘has my back’.

Prior to the commencement of the service, standing alone enjoying the sunshine, I was approached – on her arrival – by a particular church member, the same member, mentioned as threatening me in the previous post. The purpose for the approach: well as before it was to harass and bully. Her foul rhetoric was delivered with the usual threats of harming me and causing me much trouble and telling me I have no rights. It included statements about members of my family brainwashing her children (sic) and that I should stay away from them and continued, denigrating my children, vehemently stating they were un-educated trash and that should, they appear, she would put them in that (indicating/pointing toward a council street bin) rubbish bin.

You might be asking yourself were these actions seen; did nobody try to stop this tirade. Well yes it was watched by other church members and yes it was eventually stopped by the woman’s husband, who, approached and said to her leave it, he’s not worth it, adding other denigrating statements. As we entered the church, the husband, now at the door of the church, told me I was rubbish and he had no idea why I even bothered to come to church.

This is the contrast I mentioned; that abuse and those accusations were followed by Rev. Kava’s sermon; both those people listened to the same sermon and one might reasonably expect an improvement in how I would be treated after the service. But it is Fairfield Uniting I am reporting about, the only thing normal here is the abnormal.

It is important to point out here ‘the husband’ is a Fairfield Uniting Church Councilor, one who it is advertised, and claims, to be a church Elder, but who was never elected – by the congregation – to that position of ‘respectability’. More about that in another post ;-)

Having listened too and learned from a good sermon, the service concluded and, we moved to leave. Part of the ritual of departure, as it probably is in other churches, the congregation files past the Minister/Elders/Leaders shaking hands in greeting and passing pleasantries. That may be so for some but not for all at Fairfield Uniting.

I shook Rev. Kava’s hand and thanked him for his sermon. I then offered my hand to the person standing alongside Rev. Kava, an Elder/Chairman of the Church Council, it was ignored and he attempted to look away. I left my hand in place out-stretched and, whilst continuing to ignore my hand, the Elder then said, “I don’t shake hands or talk to bloggers”, followed by, “don’t you blog me again” (sic).

Well David, this post I dedicate to you. The stated reason for this blog is to put on the historic record the leadership of Fairfield Uniting as it currently exists and has existed for some considerable time! Thank you David for the reason too, the fodder and fuel ;-)

Outside now and awaiting to take an elderly member home I am again approached by the Husband/councillor from the earlier encounter. An interesting mix of statements and un-truthful comments flowed from him, part of which was to enquire about whether or not I was going to continue to pick-up the elderly parishioner I was waiting for. I answered “yes”.

Now the person we were referring to is the person I mentioned in the previous posting; the one who had been ignored, by the church leaders, and not picked up by the church bus. We know something of the reasons why and I described that situation in the earlier post.

The response to my answering “yes” (I was going to continue to pick up the person) the leader then responded with this little gem; “well if you’re going to continue to do that if you don’t (I guess if I am away, sick or whatever) then I won’t”. Lovely: another great example of compassionate Christian leadership. That comment was then followed with a verbal barrage similar to that which I experienced before church; I will spare you the details…..

Toward the ending of that barrage I was approached and greeted by a person arriving for a church service, which is conducted by another denomination, in our church after our service. As we exchanged greetings it was obvious he had witnessed and heard some or all of that which had just transpired. As he moved to enter the church he was greeted by the same person had just berated me who then said to him – indicating me - “I don’t know why you would bother with him he is nothing, nothing but rubbish”. Somewhat taken aback the person returned to me and we talked about what had just happened. Several others of his church then arrived, we exchanged greetings and, as my passenger was now ready to leave I drove away with some interesting thoughts about how to absorb a morning at church like the one I had just experienced. Abuse followed by a good sermon followed by abuse and then greetings and conversation (with members of another church).

Now this reflection of last Sunday (yesterday) morning requires some balanced reporting. There was an incident for which I must take responsibility.

Church announcements, such as they are, are delivered in church by the same Elder mentioned in the ‘passing out’ parade incident.

Announcement are prolonged and a confusion of preaching, paper shuffling not very relevant or repeated ‘news’, long gaps/pauses between ‘subjects’ etc. In the morning service, subject to this post, it also included several questions, to ‘a part of the congregation’, asking does it get cold in Tonga and how do they cope with our cold? Duh!
During one of the protracted pauses I asked David to “tell us about the bus”. His immediate reply, “I do not answer questions of that type here Paul, in the hall”, (pause)… indignantly, “with that I will close”. He sat down.

The congregational responses (I know of) to my interjection: one person said, “well at lease we now know how to shut David up; ask him controversial questions”. Another person asked my wife “was I trying to cause trouble?” My answer is no: however, and I will not turn away from the fact the Fairfield Uniting congregation is being very poorly led and is being misled by the current Church council. If exposure means causing trouble then that is what I am doing!

Is what I am doing right or wrong? (As a person reading this post) your answer will be based on your personal views/opinions, involvement etc. If you measure what I am reporting, and recording, against the aims of the Uniting Church in Australia, Christian ethics and Rev. Kava’s sermon in the same way I do then, I would hope you would not stand for and would also speak out about the conduct of the Fairfield Uniting’s leadership.

In one final piece of news, (about which for the moment I believe the leaders do not yet know as I write this post – but they soon will), I have been told, Fairfield Uniting Church has been served an infringement notice, by the Police, for breaking NSW road rules in relation to our church’s bus. It’s going to be interesting to see how that situation – when known - pans-out; more fodder for my next post ;-)

In closing: our church needs prayer: our leaders need prayer, a severe dose of reflection, counseling and, much more besides.

Fairfield Uniting is a ‘reflection’ of the wider church’s failings. The Uniting Church in Australia’s leadership should reflect on the damage Fairfield Uniting represents in human terms and from a ‘corporate image’ point of view.

Prayer is definitely needed; substantive action is also needed and, looooong overdue!

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