I find it amazing how little respect I get from my own pastor. I think that if it wasn't for others in this diocese, like my Bishop, I would no longer be in the Episcopal Church, or I would at least be at another congregation. Every Sunday I sit in a congregation that is dead, and nobody seems to want to do anything able bringing life back to it. The place is full of excuses on why it can't do anything, and leading the pack is the pastor. Now I don't want for him to be removed any time soon, as he does do some good things, but I already see him taking full credit on something that if it wasn't for me, he wouldn't be involved in. Let me go back in time.
I grew up in a family who was involved in the church, regardless of whatever congregation we were in. My mother was involved with the Altar Guild and other things. My father was the Sr. Warden and involved with a number of other things, and even my sister got involved. I did my best not to get involved, but I found myself involved with a number of activities.
When I moved to the west coast, I didn't attend an Episcopal service for a few months, but one Sunday I awoke and had to attend a service. With the help of someone, I found one of the local congregations and attended. I walked into it and knew that I was back home. After the service, I spoke with the vicar and he was excited to have me there and of the things that I had done in the church. Before I knew it, I was involved.
Some changed occurred at the church, and I had moved to another part of the city. I went to the congregation that was closest to me, mainly to see what they were up to, and before I knew it, I was a member there. I tried to remain in the background, but before I knew it I was involved with different thing. After a few years, I managed to get it so that I was mainly doing what I had wanted to do ever since I was a child, and that was to just sit in the pews. After a few years, I found myself back active again, but this time it was much deeper. Now let me speed up.
The Vestry put together a committee to work on the rental of the campus in different areas. After not meeting for several months, I took it upon myself to rewrite all of the rules, and came up with several pricing items. I brought this to the committee (who still hadn't met,) and they looked over it. It was then brought to the vestry, who passed it. It was then said that the committee should be given a hand. As the applause was going, someone mentioned to my pastor that I should be given the credit. He then said “That doesn't matter”. When I brought up what had happened in order to protect the church in case something should happen, and after a discussion, the vestry voted that I was owed and apology. After the meeting, my pastor walked up to me and said,”I thought that you were on the committee,” then turned around and walked away. I still haven't heard an apology.
I was asked by the diocese to be apart of a group to put together a strategic plan for multicutural and multiethnic ministry. At the first meeting we talked about many things, one of which was to take a look at other plans that had been put together. They thought that my pastor could get one of them and that he could present it to the group several months down the line. When he came to the meeting that we wanted to talk to him about the plan, he came without the plan. He got involved through the rest of the process. The Sunday after the Diosean Convention passed what was created, he took full credit for his involvement and how great he was on this, but didn't mention that I was involved even though I was sitting in the church. A few years later, we had an Assistant Bishop come to visit. Part of his job was to be the head of the MultiCultural & Ethnic Ministries. He, my pastor and I were standing in the altar area, when he brought it up and that he had questions about it. I said that he had two of the people standing with him that had worked on it. My pastor then said that I had very little to do with it, and that it was mainly his work. I just walked away.
I asked that “Lift Every Voice and Sing” be sung during Black History Month. He told me that it didn't fit with the liturgy. I asked the next year and was told that we sing other Black songs throughout the year, so no reason to sing it. I have found it funny when I have gone into other congregations (even Euro congregations,) they sung it during the month. Funny, when I changed the last hymn of the service last February to it, people walked up to me afterwards saying that we should have been singing it each week during February.
Not to long ago, I passed him a note asking that we do the “Stations of the Cross” during Lent. Now we had been doing it the last couple of years, as I have found some interesting versions. Now I had to get through his “Oh, that's a Spanish thing” several years ago when I brought the idea up. I also explained that it is something that I do for my Personal Spiritual growth, and even if I did it by myself, it would help me in my growth. We this time he wrote back that we should do this bilingual. I said that I will explain why we shouldn't on the way back. on the way back, I explained why I did the Stations, and he kept insisting that we do it bilingually. In other words, what he was saying to me was that he didn't care about my Spirituality.
The diocese runs a program called Nightwatch. He got mad that he wasn't invited to be apart of the planning team. He came and brought some of the youth the first year. I know that he was hoping that it was such a problem that he could jump in so he could claim that he saved the day. The kids loved the program, and the program went off well. As a result, the youth group at the church began meeting again. I asked the youth what they wanted to do, and I even showed them a list of events that the diocese had for youth. He didn't like it, so he ignored what the youth wanted and made up his own things to do with them. After a bit of time, the youth group fell apart. It was sad to watch, as at one point he all but told the youth that they weren't permitted to talk with me about things that they wanted to do. Because of things with the Assistant Bishop, people involved in the group he wanted me to have people involved with the planning. My pastor proceeded to say to be after the meeting that we should take the event away from the others that I was working with over. Now that we are working at putting the next Nightwatch together, he has lied to me about how someone else (one of his friends) got involved. People have told me that the two of them want to try to relive there supposed glory days of youth work, and now I know that they are going to attempt to drive out all of the people involved who won't do things the way that they want away from future Nightwatches, and will try to do the same with the other youth events. They won't listen, and sadly the youth stuff for the diocese will vanish. I already know what will happen after the event is over. He will stand before people and claim all of the credit for the event for himself and his friend. If I try to say anything, he will do his best to minimize my involvement.
Time and time again he has shown no respect to me and others. The vestry said that he had to take three consecutive weeks off between January 2009 and September 2009. He thought that he could come back with a list of times that he will be away during the week over months ahead, and I am sure that he was mad when it was mentioned that he also needed to take three consecutive weeks off. When it came to the September Vestry meeting, he still hadn't taken the time off, and when we tried to work with him as to when, nothing but excuses as to why he couldn't. I resigned from the vestry after that meeting. I wrote out why I resigned, and from what I have been told he minimized what I wrote as to why I resigned to the Spanish speakers on the vestry. He doesn't want them to know the truth.
When one tries to bring up Stewardship and giving of monies to the church to, he gives a sermon about Stewardship having nothing to do with money. His response to me when I said “Joyous Kwanzaa” to him during the Peace was “Oh That”, then walking away. Telling the congregation that Black History wasn't important. He has done so much stuff and taken credit for works of others that I am now finding it funny. The Diocese has come up with a great idea and is calling it Area Ministry. He has found a ton of reasons as to why it shouldn't be called that among the Oakland congregations, but Shared Ministry. I get the feeling that if it is successful under that name his will claim all of the credit for it with tons of excuses as to why it isn't Area Ministry.
But I am glad that others in the diocese have said “Thank You” to me. It makes me realize that people do care. I have thought about leaving the congregation to join one that wants to survive, but I think that I need to sit back and watch the destruction of this congregation. I don't want to diocese to remove the pastor either, as I have said, he does do some great work. It's just a shame that he has driven a number of natural leaders away, not only from the congregation, but even from the Episcopal Church. I know that he has no respect for me, but all that I can do is pray that I get my reward in Heaven. I wonder how he will answer to the Holy Trinity for the things that he has done, not just to me, but to others?
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