Well I Lost My Shepherding Elder; Did You?

A letter from an irate church member…

Brothers and sisters, when talking with many of you over the past few months, I kept hearing the theme that the politics on the Session don’t really matter that much; they don’t affect the day-to-day lives of the congregation. Politics is always messy, but as long as there’s solid preaching, sacraments, and programs, then what’s the big deal?  I once thought as you do, but now I thoroughly disagree with this view. 

What has happened at Midway has driven me past this. The problems in the Session have now leaked out and are directly affecting at least a third of you who now have lost your Shepherding Elder. This, my friends, is but one sizable side-effect of the actions that stream from this broken Session.

My shepherding Elder, the one that was tasked to, and did for years, get to know me well and provide wise counsel, is now suspended from all his ordained duties. How many of you out there are now in the same situation? How much of this church was under the shepherding care of Elders Scott, Barnett, or David (or Dudt)? It is a lot of you. I am outraged that I have lost my Elder. What’s worse, the Session did not even let me know. I had to learn about it at this website.

In contrast, the Session wasted no time alerting the congregation to the suspension of Elder Dudt within hours of his trial’s conclusion. Why the difference here?

But so what?

I, for one, cannot accept a simple re-assignment to a new shepherding Elder. The good, prayerful, wise, and compassionate man that is no longer my Shepherding Elder cannot be replaced overnight. Furthermore, I do not and can not blindly trust an Elder on the remaining Session. With a few exceptions, I do not know which remaining Elders are, or are not, complicit in this heinous manipulation of God’s church government.

1 Timothy 5:17a says “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor.” That, dear friends, is a two-edged sword. It is just as valid to take the reverse inference that elders who rule poorly are to be considered worthy of double dishonor. This recent vote, pushed by Elders Whitaker and Fish, is disgusting behavior with very real, tangible consequences. Elders Scott, Barnett, and David have done nothing to warrant this abuse. These men have now been cast aside as was Elder Dudt. At the end of the day, these men, who have been anchors in this church for years, have been stripped of their duties for apparently no good reason.

Take It Seriously…

Elections in churches sadly tend to be popularity contests. People vote for candidates simply because of name recognition or appearances, but there are consequences to putting men on the Session that are just the pastor’s hand-picked yes-men. Please, my fellow congregants, take future elections seriously. Prayerfully consider the candidates. Talk to the candidates. Figure out whether they have a mind of their own or whether they just want to join the club. What we have now is what happens when too many of the wrong men entrench themselves in church government. In Presbyterian polity, the church leaders are elected by, and work for, you. They are accountable to you and can be called to account by you. Don’t be purely a consumer. Be actively involved in your church; watch, guard, and pray for your leaders.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Midway Guardian.