I am to meet mid week, this week, and at that meeting I am going to need to be able to explain to another person just what it is about Fairfield Uniting that I believe needs fixing and why.
I am going to make available, if necessary, copies of documents which cover specific events of concern to me, and many others, which have occurred, in particular, since 2009.
This meeting may, and I hope it does, lay the foundation of a process of repair. If it does not then it will mean I will need to make a decision the likes of which I would never have thought necessary for any member of a Christian church to make.
I am aware the early Christian church had many problems of its own and, as history has proven many time over, we humans seem to not learn from history and make the same or similar mistakes over and over again.
In my struggle with the issues at Fairfield Uniting I have looked at, repeatedly, passages in Romans, Galatians and others and tried to use these as a guide, and they are, but they also add to the frustration; because the leaders of Fairfield Uniting must also know how many passages in the bible challenge us to follow a true path of Love, support and fellowship with of our fellow man in all the connotations that entails. But I don't see those traits radiating from Fairfield Uniting, nor its current leadership. Why?
I do hold out some hope for this meeting but its starting point has possibly been marred/compromised by the actions of Fairfield Uniting's leadership. Having some idea of what may have happened after I left the Sundays service before the one just past I was interested to see what may happen last Sunday.
Led by Rev. Choi it turned out to be a service of considerable value with both the childrens' address (presented by Pat Tweed*) and the main message having a focus on forgiveness: Mathew 18: 21-35 with the nod given to forgiving not three (3) times, nor seven (7), but 70x7 times. The question was asked of parents, how many time had you forgiven your children? ;-)
At the start of the service we again experienced a 'technical glitch' with our 'music' and Rev. Choi floated the idea/suggestion about having a music group lead the service. A point to make here is this: less than twelve (12) months ago we had an organist. A person who had been a part of Fairfield Uniting for eighty (80), give or take, years. Ruth also had other roles in the church life until..... it was decided by the Church Councillors she was to go. Ruth was un-ceremoniously shut out of all her roles to the degree she has left the congregation. I have written about this in other forums: highlighting it as a classic case study of the failure, of our Elders and Church Councillors, to ensure/provide pastoral care to church members as a primary function/concern.
Ruth's treatment was a shocking display, which still has not been correctly addressed (even by and made worse by Presbytery) and, in the light of a service dedicated to the topic of forgiveness, also begs the questions was the Love for your neighbour or forgiveness considered, by the Fairfield Uniting leaders, before they pushed Ruth away.
Do we need better musical leadership in Fairfield Uniting? Yes, and had our leaders thought. prayed and behaved more thoughtfully we may still have had an organist instead of the disastrous canned music we now often need to bear.
Again, we all, as a congregation, sat through a very pointed, relevant and valuable sermon. One I took very personally because I believe forgiveness is a key component of my faith and my up-bringing. “The forgiven should forgive”, said Rev. Choi. There would be few - Christians - who would not agree with that statement; but how does that understanding play-out at Fairfield Uniting. Well, in my opinion, not very well: for as I left the service two, of the congregation (one an Elder), chose to make comments to me, which displayed no hint of forgiveness; quite the reverse actually. Why?
But that is and has been for along time standard fair at Fairfield Uniting. Often the message given is directly applicable and yet seems to simply ignored. Why?
Returning, briefly, to a point made by Rev. Kava, several Sundays ago; “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” Romans 12:21 (KJ ver.) I saw this as a very important point. Rolled together with the 'notion' of 'un-limited' forgiveness it gives Christians (and Fairfield Uniting) a pointer as to how to forge ahead, against the odds, always aiming for and to follow the teaching of Christ in a daily lives. (think Ruth etc.)
To me, there is definitely 'evil' at play within Fairfield Uniting; overcoming that evil requires faith, forgiveness, kindness and consideration and, that applies to me as well. Herein, for me, is the conundrum. With all the evil and nastiness at play within Fairfield Uniting it is understood the necessity to forgive must never be 'off-the-table', but there is something important needing recognition before forgiveness can play its part. That recognition is understanding just what and who may be standing in its way.
I repeat the following questions from an earlier post: Is it me who rocks-up to church and verbally bullies people? Is it me who slanders people, family and church members? Is it me who tells people they are not welcome at church and to leave?
I add; is it me who is not wanting to sit, talk and resolve whatever it is David Tweed has accused me doing wrong as far back as 2009 and who has NOT – to this day - despite being asked too, David Tweed (an Elder) has NEVER told me what he maintains I have done wrong to 'the church'? Is it me who is not prepared to sit down and discuss the issues which surround the Solifoni family split?
The answer is NO to those (last two) questions and to not wanting to fix other issues like the in-appropriate treatment of Judy, Ruth, Janet and Jessie etc., just to name just a few.
Let us take a different tack:
Let's just assume, for the moment, all the discord at Fairfield Uniting is the responsibility of one person – ME. Let's take on board the attack on Judith was MY fault, that Ruth leaving is MY fault, that the attack on Rev. Wakefield was MY fault, the fact that members of David and Pat Tweed's family and my family have left because of MY actions. Lets also assume for the moment the split in the Solifoni family is also my fault and MY fault alone and the (Church Bus) traffic fine is MY fault: then let's ask the following questions;
One) What evidence is there to show how, and what effort, suggestions, proposals. guidance and counseling, have the Fairfield Uniting Elders and Church Councillors have worked towards a 'solution' to prevent those people leaving and to outline to ME what I am doing incorrectly. NONE!
Two) What evidence is there which demonstrates the Fairfield Uniting Elders and Church Councillors have done all in their 'power' to repair the damage I have caused to all those people (and more) such that it would be their choice to return and, once again, worship at Fairfield Uniting. NONE!
Because the Fairfield Uniting Elders and Church Councillors have a vested interest in not having the/their problems resolved. Why(?): as is often said, is the 'million dollar question'. I offer the suggestion it is because they are finding it too difficult to take on-board it is their actions which are the root of Fairfield Uniting issues and their 'problems'.
It's not and never was about ME, that has always been a smoke screen, used by the leaders as a diversion to hoodwink the un-thinking. Even Presbytery's leaders and management have fallen for and un-wisely allowed the smoke screen to cloud their vision and commonsense. Which in turn has empowered the evil to continue!
At no stage have I not been prepared to discuss theirs or my missteps to look for solutions and to try and head off a worsening situation. To a 'man' the Elders and Church Councillors REFUSE to take the opportunities presented and worse, they REFUSE to create opportunities to resolve 'the issues' and problems; because it is in their interest NOT TOO.
Behind an appearance of a caring Christian community (the diner/shop primarily) power and control, of Fairfield Uniting, is the primary mission of Fairfield Uniting Church leaders!