. . . posts on faith and life
With a silent blog for a week one might assume I was at the International General Assembly of the Church of God this week. The truth is that it was my middle school job, and not my denomination that arrested my time this week. It sounds like I missed quite an historic meeting in Texas. Since G.A. wrap-ups currently abound in the CoG Blogosphere I will not try to do my own version here. But if you’d like to read some good ones I recommend reading this or this or this for starters.
One thing that is noticeably absent from most of the reflections that I have read is the thing that I consider to be the biggest disappointment of the meeting. That is, the failure to pass the resolution to allow women on Church and Pastor’s Council in the local church. In my opinion the outcome of this vote does not accurately reflect the predominant sentiment of the majority of Ordained Bishop’s in the CoG, but until we open ourselves up to something like internet voting I will never know if I am right about that. I also recognize that in many ways this rule forces virtually no restriction on me or any other potential pastor in the denomination. A local church does not have to even have a Church and Pastor’s Council. Furthermore, it can be governed by any council agreed upon by the church, and as long as that church does not give said council the name “Church and Pastor’s Council” it can be 100% female.
Nonetheless, tonight my therapist is grieving, and I’m reminded again that I am not even half of the therapeutic presence for her that she always is for me. I’m sad tonight because I don’t know how to comfort the daughters, mothers and sisters of our denomination. Emily is an Ordained Minister in the CoG. She spent much of her life reared in the denomination’s flagship church, and most of the rest of it in that church’s most famous church plant. She was educated in the denomination’s flagship training institutions–Lee University and the Church of God Theological Seminary. Even her Ph.D. program at the University of Wales is being guided by one of the CoG’s most famous biblical scholars. She is a direct descendant of R.G. Spurling, the founder of the CoG, and the mother of two 7th generation CoG daughters. Her experience in each of those places led her to believe that our denomination viewed her one way, but slightly more than half of the one thousand O.B.’s able to stand on the floor of the General Assembly this past week just told her something completely different.
I’ve heard people talk about the CoG as if it were a family. I’m glad they have experienced it that way. I have heard people who attended this General Assembly express genuine “love bursts” as they talked about healing and change that happened in Texas. I’m glad they experienced it that way. As for me, I don’t feel like much of a family with the CoG. Not when it continues to slap my real family around. Do I really want to raise my daughters in such an environment? I know we talk about all getting along with different opinions, and speak of having rich cultural diversity. But does it really make sense for someone like myself to stay, knowing that I will have to continue to watch the one’s I love get so hurt? That’s not a rhetorical question. I honestly wonder if it would be best not just for me, but for the CoG as well, if we just slipped out the door and found a movement where we could actually compare our experience with our denomination with our rich experiences with our families. Better for me for obvious reasons. Better for the CoG because it would not have to worry about its wounded daughters. Out of sight, out of mind…as the saying goes. Since the daughters are obviously already out of heart, why not seal the deal and exit the house altogether?
Our house is indeed too small. I can handle cramped quarters. But anyone has a natural flight reflex once suffocation begins.
My therapist points out that we always wonder why some spouses stay in abusive relationships, and then asks me with teary eyes why she should stay in the CoG. Why would she stay? Why would any of them stay? Why?