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NEW SERIES: A Pastorate Derailed- lessons learned PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 11:48

Part 1- Church Politics

I was talking with a Pastor friend recently about “vision casting“. I shared with him my experience with this subject at my last church. Perhaps it might be helpful to some if I, for the first time, wrote publicly about my final last Pastorate which officially ended almost 4½ years ago. We are thankful for the opportunity to minister there and the many blessing that came out of that for a number of people, including my wife and me. It was also a very painful time for me from which I have yet to fully heal. I realize others may have a different perspective on what happened there; but this is what I remember and understand about some key issues. I believe it can be very helpful for others to read (lessons to be learned) and I write it for that reason. Part of me does not want to write this Series, but if doing this can benefit other Pastors and churches and prevent them from derailing, it will be worthwhile.
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 January 2009 12:08
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Part 2- The Importance of Relationships PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 11:36

I grew up in a family that moved a lot and I was 60 when we moved to Vermont from a city in Massachusetts, after a life time of experience in many churches, in many places.  I was not rooted in one town or place all my life.  So I was unprepared for a small town where most people had lived all their lives in extended families and had roots and traditions that went way back and way deep.  I did not have life long loyalties to a place or a people.  I had been an itinerant evangelist beginning in my college days.  I had been a church planter and a Pastor in struggling churches that needed revival.   I saw this Pastorate in Vermont as a way of serving Christ as I had always done, building up a church that had lost its momentum, and through the church, evangelizing an entire County of almost 30,000 people and on into the world through an active outreach and missions program. This was my vision and I was committed to it one hundred percent.  I was convinced that this was God’s will and that a church of 250+ with a full program was very feasible.  Achieving this was what I was all about.  I thought this was what the local members had in mind.  It wasn’t, it particularly  wasn’t for the core group, composed of the “people of influence“, who were primarily interested in getting a new building and some new people who would help pay for it.  

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Part 3: Tilting at Windmills- Challenging a Way of Life PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 11:31

This is the day when people increasingly devalue the local institutional church in favor of the wider, “invisible” or spiritual Body of Christ.  In the County where our church was there was (and is) a strong sense that all Christians in the area are the church.  Groups, especially in the small towns throughout the County, had their own buildings, of course, for Worship with family and friends and for Weddings and Funerals.  And the building often functioned as a community center for all kinds of non church activities important to folks who lived nearby.  Each Church supported a Pastor (often part-time) to care for their spiritual needs, especially  in times of crisis.  The important thing was for all these usually small churches to co-operate and never to compete.  All the churches were important and more or less equal in importance.  Most shared in common basic conservative Beliefs and Values.  

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Part 4: My Personal Journey- leaving the past, moving on PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 11:17

Finally, there was the matter of contemporary worship music.  This was not a major issue in itself like the others, but feelings were hurt and that seriously effected some of those relationships we have mentioned above.  This added greatly to the tension and friction during the last year.  To begin with, the large main room in the church was built as a multipurpose room.  That means the acoustics were poor, with sound reverberating off the plain walls with every gathering, not only Sunday Worship. We installed audio equipment we hoped would help and hung some banners and drapes.  But the problem remained and made it difficult for some people to hear and particularly painful for some people who also had real trouble with the type of music and instruments that the Praise team began to use.  If we had moved to Phase Two, that problem could have been eliminated in a new Sanctuary. The larger issue was not the sound, but Praise Music itself and the kind of worship that goes with it.  There are probably thousands of churches that have waged the so-called "worship wars". They were not unique to our church.  There were some serious confrontations over this matter and a number of people had their feelings hurt enough to leave the church.  I honestly tried to seek a middle road and I tried to be supportive of the youthful leader and members of the Team (although some did not believe I was trying to do that).  It was a no-win, polarizing situation.  We could not please everyone.  Some churches have not resolved this problem, but the contemporary praise music and worship  seems to be the dominant style every where today.  

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A Dishonest Appeal to Tradition PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Thursday, 18 September 2008 09:58
"Tradition" is one of those words that gets used to either defend one's own position or to condemn the position of an opponent. “We represent the Tradition of our Church, while you do not!”  The problem is that apparently the word, Tradition, can mean whatever the user wants it to mean. Conservatives, by definition, are those who want to conserve Tradition; but, it turns out, only that part of Tradition that supports their present position.

For example, Anglican Tradition for centuries allowed the ordination only of men to the Priesthood and therefore to the Episcopate. Anglican Tradition for centuries required Confirmation before allowing anyone to receive Holy Communion. The Liturgy of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and its direct descendants (up to and including the 1928 version used by TEC) was also the Tradition for centuries. Adherence to The 39 Articles of Religion was Tradition for centuries, too. The list goes on.

Both those who are currently in charge of The Episcopal Church and those who are unhappy with it, including those who have separated from it, affirm their allegiance to Church Tradition and accuse the others of breaking it. Yet, folks on both sides of the current divide, the so-called Liberals and the so-called Conservatives, do not abide by much of the Tradition I have just listed.  They hold on to only those parts of it which they can use to support their positions on current issues, particularly pertaining to the Marriage and Ordination of Gay persons and to certain exercises of authority in the Church and its Polity.

Many who call themselves Conservatives, therefore Traditionalists, do not support the ordination of men only to the Priesthood and therefore to the Episcopate, requiring Confirmation before allowing anyone is allowed to receive Holy Communion, the Liturgy of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer or its direct descendants including the 1928 of TEC) and adherence to The 39 Articles of Religion.

We should simply admit this selective and inconsistent or even dishonest use of Tradition and stop appealing to it and move on to the real reasons we support whatever our positions are.








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