from Romans 15:
“We should not please ourselves. Instead, we should all please our brothers and sisters for their own good, in order to build them in the faith.”
Sunday 28 Sept’ 2014 back to worship at Fairfield Uniting and it was of no surprise the ‘welcome mat’ was not rolled out for me ;-) and, as we are well used too it was a morning of contrasts.
As I started writing this post a live show played by the Monty Python cast was on the television. Monty Python is a 'comedy' show of sorts often featuring very irreverent sketches which poke fun at religion; the show running in the background was no exception and I could not help drawing a parallel with Fairfield Uniting Church.
I have said before if these post were not recording the very serious state of Fairfield Uniting irreverence, they could be seen as a bad script for a tragic opera. There is a small group of individuals who have jointly combined to re-define the reverence of Fairfield Uniting from a church of love and friendships to one of personal vendettas. That group comprises the entire Fairfield Uniting Church Council, a rogue council; to a man and woman Fairfield Uniting's Church sunk today to a still greater low than before solely at the hands of the Elders/Church Councillors and one particular church member.
Picture if you will a cream biscuit: three layers. The outer two layers are brittle, none too sweet and crumble when bitten. The middle layer, creamy in texture, sweet and full of flavour. In truth, as it is described as a cream biscuit, it is the centre most are wanting to eat.
Fairfield Uniting service/sermon was the cream: led by Rev. Choi it was full of meaning, substance and a touch of a warning. The children’s message was delivered by Penny Solifoni.
The biscuit/wafers were Foni and Rachael Solifoni.
The morning unfolded thus but not in the order written;
The service commenced led by Rev. Choi with a greetings, prayers and a hymn. Penny Solifoni's talk was based on the reading from Exodus 17:1-7; a story outlining Moses following instruction to strike a rock to obtain water for those he was leading in the wilderness. Penny's 'punch-line' stated the thirsty were facing a seemly impossible situation which needed them to trust in God.
Here, yet again was a display of the contrast of Fairfield Uniting, a children's story delivered by a young member of a family who face some very real personal crisis and are deliberately using their problems, as an excuse/foil, to destroy the very fabric of Fairfield Uniting by blaming others for their shortfalls; by targeting, slandering and bullying other individuals. It is so terribly sad. However, until their stone hearts submit to the teachings of Christ and let God direct their thoughts and deeds they will continue to direct and inflict their pain, through their unjustified actions, onto others. A normal Sunday at Fairfield Uniting!
Rev. Choi continued the theme developing it more fully by initially outlining, then expanding on, two question he said 'confronted' him. “Have you ever felt desperately thirsty?” “Have you ever demanded proof of God?”
In the context of these posts, the answer too “Have you ever felt desperately thirsty?” is a resounding YES. Think of Penny's “impossible situations” and another question posed by Rev. Choi' “can we drink water from him (God) even in the hardest and most unlikely places?”
Fairfield Uniting's Elders and Church Councillors are the closest any of us will get to meeting the Pharisees of old. If ever there were any in need of drinking the life giving waters of the scriptures it is the entire congregation of Fairfield Uniting not withstanding the Elders and Church Councillors. There exist a huge need to quench the thirst for revenge - at play in the leadership at Fairfield Uniting. We need to quench that thirst with compassion, understanding and love as taught, and displayed, by Christ.
Rev. Choi finished with; “Use what you have in your hands, today, for the work of the Lord”
Let's now look at the brittle biscuit either side of the service. That is, what happened to me before the service and what happened in the aisle of the church as we were leaving.
Firstly on arrival, by virtue of circumstance, I needed to walk past several people standing near the entrance of the church. I offered my hand to the first person, who reciprocated with words of welcome. To the person standing beside him I then, also, offered my hand. Saying nothing, looking away and leaving his hands in his pockets he nodded only at my gesture. Rejecting a hand offered in friendship says much about a person but, when that person is a Church Councillor it says volumes about the person and Fairfield Uniting as a Church.
In his response, Foni Solifoni did not reject me, he rejected our Lords wishes, abdicated his responsibility as a Church Councillor and demonstrated to those around him just how brittle he is and how much guidance and support he is, personally, in need of. What more can I say or do except pray for Foni's heart and soul! One brittle wafer.
Now for the other: as we were to leaving the service, in the ensuring traffic jamb, I said good morning to a woman standing on the other side aisle. Her reply was initially indistinct. When I asked what she said I was told and she followed with a repeat that “we should leave the church for good”. Rachael Solifoni's reply was no surprise and, just as her husband did earlier, by rejecting a pleasantry Rachael demonstrated, yet again, just how brittle and bitter she is. Yet again Rachael Solifoni displayed how desperately she wants to blame and hurt others for her shortfalls. As with Foni, what more can you say or do except pray for Rachael's heart and soul!
So consumed, by their family and personal issues, are these two, they are completely abandoning the very principles taught by Christ whilst at the same time attending and participating in morning worship. Curious or.....?
“Use what you have in your hands, today, for the work of the Lord” said Rev. Choi. Both Foni and Rachael Solifoni used what they had in their hands/hearts: but were their actions/words the tools to hand Rev. Choi was was alluding too, were they working for the Lord? I think not.
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” Romans 12:21 (KJ ver.) Was a key statement made by Rev. Kava – in an earlier sermon – and is a great piece of advice. However, as with much else Foni and Rachael choose to NOT accept 'hands offered in friendship' because, as I said in previous posts, it does not suit their current purpose and they see it as not being in their best interest to do so.
Sad, but true, which means, of course, they – nobody else - are the single biggest stumbling block to finding a solution to their problems.
The tragedy Foni, Rachael and Ma'ata Solifoni represent, along with their partnership and the different tragedy Pat and David Tweed have created for themselves and their family, have combined as one in Fairfield Uniting's Church Council. The net result is that Fairfield Uniting's congregation is now defined by the Tweed/Solifoni combo: the 'problem' Fairfield Uniting has become, is because Fairfield Uniting's Elders and Church Councillors have moulded the Fairfield Uniting Church/Congregation into a form of themselves. Fairfield Uniting Church is all about the Tweeds and Solifonis: if it were not so I could never have written these posts.
If he belongs, where does Christ fit/figure in the Tweed/Solifoni hearts and church?
At the tail end of Rachael's comment was another gem, as usual; a reason Rachael gave for me going is because, Rachael says, “you have brought your bad mouth into church”. Was this a case of the 'pot calling the kettle black' or does it have substance. Others can decide and I know when the time comes there is only one judge who counts.
Rachael is, of course, mentioned through these posts as a person quick to bully and slander not only my family and others church members, but her own; and she does all this in front of and within the Fairfield Uniting congregation on Sundays. The reason these posts can exist, as a record, is in greater part, due to Rachael's (Elder and Church Councillor supported) behaviour. Without meaningful spiritual leadership within Fairfield Uniting there was a need to expose publicly and record, for future reference, what Fairfield Uniting has become.
“Always look on the bright side of life, always look on the bright side of life.....etc” as sung in Monty Python maybe a light-hearted finale to this post about Fairfield Uniting but I am going to add one more observation;
In the 'satirically contradictory' stage show which is played out, at Fairfield Uniting, each week - with a cast consisting of the Fairfield Uniting's Elders and Church Councillors, Pat & David Tweed, Foni and Ma'ata Solifoni + Rachael - just what is the show about, for them? Christ our Lord and Saviour, about what he did in dying for us all or, is it about what the main players can take by way of 'a thrill and reward'; for the hurt they inflict, the power they engineered and enforce over individuals and the Fairfield Uniting Congregation as a whole? What do you think?
For me it is sad to see people consume there souls in a fight they cannot win; they are fighting God's will. Fairfield Uniting Elders and Councillors need to stop, reflect and pray: they have already missed out on the opportunity to fix the damage they have inflicted on some but, there is still opportunity, if they choose, to restore some of the respect they have lost and fix some of what they have destroyed; with God's help.
From the previous post as preached by another minister;
“rebuke us (the ministry team/leaders) if 'it' becomes about us and not Jesus.”
“Partner with leaders. 'You' cannot do ministry on your own. Minister to one another.”
Pat & David Tweed, Foni and Ma'ata Solifoni and Rachael; accept the rebuke(s) in the spirit they are offered and for the opportunities it presents. Partner with God and the Fairfield Uniting congregation. 'You' cannot do ministry on your own. Minister to one another.”
You have tried to do 'ministry on your own', in 'your own way' and, its has failed. You have hurt and split your families and friends whilst strengthening those you have targeted and who you continue to want to hurt; sooner better than later, I hope and pray, you will see that more clearly.
Learn to Minister to ALL in preference to only those who you decide are 'worthy'.
“Use what you have in your hands, today, for the work of the Lord”.