The beginning of the end, part 2…

I was already a member of my church when my wife, then a single mother, was called to be their minister. Years later, when we began dating, she warned me that, especially if our relationship led to marriage, I could not be a member of this church in the same way and that my role would change significantly. I tried to remember that, but I selfishly clung to this church as my spiritual home. I did not make the transition well. The next closest UU congregation is 45 miles away, so that was not a practical option. I did not reach out to the UUMPS (UU Minister’s Partners & Spouses) group early on and I didn’t really know what the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF) was at that time. I was a member of the church’s Board, but appropriately resigned after we started dating. However, I still remained in leadership positions, like chairing committees that were foundering. But I have a full-time job and being a support for my wife is another full-time job, not to mention just being a husband and father, so my leadership was really ineffective.

I described in a previous post the dangers of unhealthy communication. Today, I can more openly write about the situation that prompted that post. The unhealthy communication in this church took an ugly turn a few months ago, when a small group of discontented members gathered enough support to call for the dismissal of the minister by demanding that the issue be put to a vote. The result was that the congregation was immediately polarized. My wife (and I, to a lesser degree) received an outpouring of love and support. They were very angry that this had happened, but many of them knew this undercurrent of discontent existed. Some of them did their best to steer it in a more healthy direction but it wasn’t enough. This all had a profound effect on my wife and our family.

My wife was able to get some support to figure out what the best way forward would be. Many in the congregation urged her to go forward with the vote and pledged their support and reassured her that she would “win” this. I was also very adamant that she would prevail if this was taken to a vote. But we came to realize that even if the vote went her way, her ministry has already been undermined. The congregation has a lot of work to do to recover from the damage created by this action, and as long as she is there, that work cannot be effective. So, she negotiated a termination with the Board that would allow for a positive leave-taking and the space the congregation needs to move forward.

So, what does this mean for me? Well, I will support my wife, as always, through her last few months with this congregation. I will tie up loose ends in the activities I am involved with at the church. Then I will take my leave of the congregation, as well. Beyond that, I will begin the new adventure with her of going through the search process to find a new congregation (more about that in future posts). I will also re-examine my role as the minister’s spouse and my relationship to the church where she serves. I have a few talents which I have shared with this congregation and would be interested in sharing with futures churches, but I need to figure out what my boundaries are first. I will also recommit myself to Unitarian Universalism and to growing into and living my own faith.

I am so disappointed that this happened to this congregation and I do not envy them the road that lies ahead of them. But I have faith that all will be well in the end…for them and for us.

~)-{ In peace…
rob

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