It's a side issue with some interesting connotations; suffice to say, good one Graeme Tweed you really did put your foot right in your mouth eh! :-)
How blest, or fortunate, are/were we, at Fairfield Uniting, to have as part of our congregation (yesterday) two (2) good Ministers. Rev. Dr. Choi led the service and Rev. Kava – who has led services over the past weeks – was welcomed into membership of Fairfield Uniting along with his family.
The last time we were blest with two ministers in the congregation was when Rev. Mau Mau Monu and his family used to attend?
For a number of reasons, Sunday 7th September was, for me, a bitter sweet day.
Rev. Choi, in commencing the service, asked “what did today represent”? Several responses indicated Fathers' day; however, Rev. Choi reminded us, it was a day to (meet together and) worship the Lord. Was that, I wondered, the thought foremost in ALL our minds: has that been the leading thought in the minds of the Fairfield Congregation for a long time? If, worshiping the Lord and following the teachings of Christ is 'the mission' of Fairfield Uniting would it have been possible for me to record that which I have in this, and previous posts?
Rev. Choi's message was anchored in a scripture verse read from Zephaniah 3:17; “The LORD your God is with you: his power gives you victory. The LORD will take delight in you, and in his love he will give you new life. He will sing and be joyful over you.” (GNB Ver.)
So why a bitter sweet day. It was a day to worship together but, for Judy and I worshiping at Fairfield Uniting is like being in a 'lions den'. There are those who still treat us cordially as members of the congregation; but there are those who would prefer we no longer attended Fairfield Uniting. Those people are the current leaders of Fairfield Uniting and as can be gleaned from what happened after the service that un-welcoming persona was yet again revealed.
Fortunate for families who had their children worshiping with them on that Fathers' day. But for me neither of my children, nor my grandchildren were there; they would have been there 'normally' except the environment which is Fairfield Uniting drove them away – not that long ago. I was not alone is this situation of having family members 'deliberately absent'; our leaders were 'in the same boat' and for the same reasons. The difference is – it could be argued – my family members were missing because of the actions of the Fairfield Uniting's leaders failed pastoral/leadership care and theirs were missing; for the same reasons! A sad an undeniable 'fact'* needing repair.
*'That fact' – missing family members – brings the focus of my posting directly to the core of what is one of the main troubling issues which exists within Fairfield Uniting and which is central to what is seen as an issue 'between' Fairfield Church Councillors and me! Both the Tweed and Solifoni Elders/leaders had family members missing yesterday for reason which are intertwined. Some might say complex, or even cultural, which ever way it is viewed the current situation is couched in selfishness wrapped in a vindictive veneer totally devoid of any sensible or forgiving thought and, has degenerated into stupidity. From NONE of those leaders has come even a modicum of effort to prevent, fix or forgive their situations and the effect that has had on many in the Fairfield Congregation. Despite both time and many opportunities/requests to addressed and rectify their positions, the leaders of Fairfield Uniting have stoically worked to keep their rage and hurtful regime in the forefront and ahead of the Christian value of forgiveness and commonsense. Their rage, and desire to control (the Ministers and congregation) was, again, on show yesterday**.
*Rev Choi, in his way zeroed in on Fairfields Uniting's (broken family) issue; by design, accident or because it was fathers' day I do not know but it was an important and poignant sermon referring to the importance of “fixing relationships”.
“Meet together (with your children/families) to sing, rejoice and praise God in the name of Christ”. Rev. Choi followed with, “forgive children with no limits or conditions”, children should also forgive their fathers (parents ed.) he intoned.
If Rev. Choi had fired, those points, as arrows at the congregations hearts there is no way they could have missed their mark. But, as we have seen so often before, the preachers words seem to last no longer than the time taken to say them. As with Rev. Kava's poignant sermon one week earlier there seems to be no effort by the Fairfield Uniting leadership to accept and practice what is laid out clearly before them!
Let's take Rev. Choi's comments a little further and apply them to ME only. The first point is particularly important because there was a point I chose to separate myself from worshiping, at Fairfield Uniting on Sundays, with those of my direct and extended family. That was a response to how, I felt at being un-justly accused of wrong doing and causing the church much trouble. Statements made by (Elder/Church Council Chairman) D. Tweed, which have never been substantiated or detailed (despite my requests); which would have allowed me to correct “my behaviour”.
As I detailed in my previous post, partly, as a result of Rev. Wakefield's visitation, I did return, to worship at Fairfield Uniting, only to receive the hostile welcome I did and, to experience shortly thereafter, due to the pressures brought to bear by Fairfield Uniting leadership, my children, grandchildren and extended family members then were compelled to leave the Fairfield Uniting congregation.
It is important to say, at this point, my family where not the only ones to leave Fairfield Uniting, in disgust, in that period of time. There were many other long term congregational member and, significantly, *one individual directly connected to our Church Councillors. It is that association which is going to be the most un-palatable issue to be faced by the (Ministers), Elders and Church Councillors of Fairfield Uniting. Face it square on and address the issue, appropriately, they MUST or it is going to ruin their lives for some time to come. It also brings, directly into question, the efficacy of their positions as Elders and Church Councillors in the Uniting Church in Australia.
The leaders of Fairfield Uniting have worked hard to destroy families: however, the outcome of my families 'worship separation' though has not been as 'total' as they may have hoped for; but it has been very damaging for the Tweeds and Solifonis. Judy and I do get to see and have occasionally worshiped with our children and grandchildren within another congregation.
Rev. Choi's second point: “forgive children with no limits or conditions”. Again if applied to me first; at the risk of being seen as 'cockey' I have naught to forgive my crew for; as we have not split or separated in any way, there is no reason to forgive. For some of our leaders/congregation there exists many reasons to forgive to be forgiven. As disappointing as it was for me, to have my family (and extended family) leave the congregation, I must say the example being set by the Elders and Church Councillors of Fairfield Uniting are not examples of conduct, I believe, are appropriate in a Christian church, and are certainly NOT behaviours, attitudes and actions to which my grandchildren (or others' children) should be exposed.
I have and will rejoice with my 'crew' each time we have the opportunity to meet and worship together. It is the Fairfield Congregation which is missing out on the sparkle my two grandchildren bring to any room they walk into. They enjoy their time with other children at church and it shows. It is a sinful shame and a terrible indictment that Fairfield Uniting's leaders ruined what my wife (as their Sunday school teacher), our grandchildren, and other young children (who not that long ago attended) had and could look forward too, at Fairfield each Sunday.
I am going to take the vexing issue of 'split families' into a different realm now, and do so in keeping with my intentions that these posts are a record (for the future) of events – at Fairfield Uniting, their causes and consequences. In particular I am going to now focus on only two families; mine and the Solifonis, with a side salad of Tweeds, Presbytery, Synod and the Assembly.
These post have detailed the fact I (and my family) attract particular attention from Rachael and Foni Solifoni (a Church Councillor). In particular I have mentioned - without great detail – the un-truthfully vindictive and slanderous comments made by these individuals to me 'at church'. For those who have read these posts, what I have said must seem almost sci-fi. Christians would not do such things. A comment frequently heard recently in the press associated with the child molestation inquiry. In the main, I must admit, I was in no way prepared for the deterioration I have witnessed in the behaviour of people who were welcomed into our congregation some time ago.
But there is a reason, and a very un-palatable one it is: and, as can be the case, it involves family 'expectations'. To be truthful, 'the problem' was and is entirely fixable but, what makes it so bad, is it was entirely avoidable. The actual problem I am going to leave alone, for the moment, but what I am going to reveal here is that it is me who is being blamed, bullied, vilified and held responsible for what has been the decisions, and actions, taken by others and the Solifonis. There is a 'twisted' thought in the minds of the Solifonis it is my responsibility to order other adult individuals to do that which is contrary to their belief, wishes, their safety and indeed against the law.
It is also my contention the Solifoni family was very poorly supported by the Fairfield Uniting Church, as a whole. Hindsight has its benefits but I am going to say much of what has happened could have been seen coming and indeed it forms one of the 'issues' between the the Elders P&D Tweed and me. Whenever I tried to raise the issue (on the side) to encourage they 'step in' I was roundly rebuffed – why? For me it was no brainer, but there proved to be a stumbling block; and a classic it is. You see when verbally bullying me it is what others have done that is the key subject and driver. What they have failed in, as leaders of their family, is in some way my fault: but the twist to this saga is that what they are experiencing, as a family, they believe is 'their problem' and of NO business of the church. Indeed this attitude is also reflected in the actions and statement coming out of Presbytery. Are you now confused?
As reported in the minutes of a meeting convened and Chaired by the Secretary of Presbytery, our Minister of the day (Rev. Lunney), the entire Fairfield Church council and myself it was stated “At this time a matter concerning the Solifoni and Waddington families (not relevant to Fairfield UC issues) was raised, causing considerable distress to some in attendance.” “The chairperson called a halt to proceeding.”
Now the first of those quotes, when I first read the minutes, incited considerable anger in me. I responded in a form I am not particularly proud of but I was insisting the minutes be corrected to reflect the TRUTH.
I stated there is not a 'matter' between the Solifoni and the Waddington families. There is little doubt Rachael and Foni Solifoni are un-justifiably holding me (and my family) responsible for an issue/matter of concern for them but it should not have be couched in the callously dismissive way it was by the Chairman who knows full well, in depth, what it is about. This is NOT a family feud its a Fairfield Uniting – Solifoni issue, not mine!
I, and my family, have NO case to answer to or for the Solifoni family issue outside of what the entire Fairfield Congregation and leadership also bears, a point I have tried to make, to all and to Elders Tweed, to no avail, long before it got to where it is now.
The Presbytery Secretary's comments were and are insulting and, I must point out, my requests for the correction have been ignored as have requests to Presbyteries leaders to provide me and my family an apology.
But lets look a little more closely at an end result of what was a very stupid (under the known circumstances) move/statement and, what have been the consequences of the Presbytery comment; this blog and it contents are one of the direct consequences.
You see the truth – about Fairfield Uniting – and all who sail in her and about all who have been thrown overboard needed telling (in part at least) and recording for the future. More importantly though it is my only outlet, why? Well because where do I turn to within the Uniting Church for assistance. The Elders and Church Councillors have gone 'rogue' and provide absolutely NO SPIRITUAL/PASTORAL CARE OUTSIDE OF CONTINUING ANGER AND ABUSE. Presbytery, Synod and the Assembly leadership have all either ignored or dismissed my requests for help. Those facts I have already mentioned earlier.
Is the Uniting Church in Australia a Christian church in anything but name? I question it is and I know, for a fact, Fairfield Uniting would struggle to claim competency if its leaders were audited academically for Christian duty, community mission and pastoral care.
But the greatest un-truth revealed in those Presbytery minutes is the statement “(not relevant to Fairfield UC issues).”
The fact is, what Presbytery was so quick to dismiss, is a MAIN issues for Fairfield Uniting, Rachael and Foni Solifoni have actively set out to make it so; that is patently apparent in their reported actions and comments. They are using 'their family issue' to assert control over the Fairfield Uniting congregation in the mis-belief more control will solve their problem. In doing so they have dug the entire Church Council and congregation into a hole from which extraction is going to be painful, painfully slow and fraught with added complications.
They have destroyed their friendships and hurt families but the loss has been mostly one-sided, theirs and the Tweeds. For whilst they have caused people to leave, Fairfield Uniting, they have not broken the family and friendship bonds of those who have left as a result of their bullying – quite the reverse, as you would expect. They have simple forced those people to into other congregations (Fairfield Uniting's loss) leaving the Church Councillors' family names and actions as a bad taste experience and a poor reflection on those who continue to support, or ignore, their actions.
There is no doubt now the Fairfield Elders and Church Councillor, D&P Tweed, F&M Solifoni carry, almost entirely, the burden and blame for Fairfield Uniting's 'issues'. There is no way forward for Fairfield Uniting until that group of people face the fact it is their attitudes, policies and actions which have brought Fairfield Uniting to where it is and, nothing will improve until they each face their demons, accept their personal responsibility and responsibilities and make good the damage they have caused.
In time there will be forgiveness but only if they accept what they have done and do what I believe they must by way of apologizing, in writing, publicly and in person, to the entire congregation and those forced away, who have not already passed away or can no longer be asked for forgiveness. I personally believe, in accepting their fault, they must also disqualify themselves from holding office within the church as well. Only then Fairfield Uniting will be able to return, fully, to its mission.
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” Romans 12:21 (KJ ver.)
It's very difficult to remain at Fairfield Uniting, amongst the evil; I remain, for the moment only as an obligation. However, bearing in mind the passage (above) from Romans, a key component of Rev. Kava's previous sermon; I have asked both he and Rev. Choi to meet with me as (possibly) a final attempt to bring Fairfield Uniting back onto the straight and narrow; the result of those requests will, I trust, unfold over the next week.