It’s been a long time since I posted. I apologize for the length of time I took off from this blog. As you can see, I am no longer employed at the church. My NDA has expired so I can finally tell my story. I worked there 9 years and 4 months. I have weathered transitions, upheaval, organizational changes, etc. While all those things swirled around me, I had my core team, and my family with me and I knew it would be ok. Until it wasn’t.
A few years prior, we hired a new boss. Our old boss was a humble, caring man who left his door open in case we needed to talk. The new boss replaced that door with a wall and created a new door in his assistant’s office. Whether he meant to or not, a chilling message was sent to us. We weren’t welcome. As time went on, it became apparent that there were certain teams he valued and some he didn’t. I felt that I and local outreach both fell on the didn’t side of that equation. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully, it was very early and treatment was relatively easy. However, it was still daily treatment and I was very tired. I expected that the leadership and the elders of the church would reach out to check on me and offer prayers. I expected someone to say if I needed to take time off, it would be ok. I worked each day for months. But I had my team family. They were there when my husband was ill and when my Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. They were there for me when she died. During this time, I had a conversation with one of the elders about the fact that I didn’t feel that I or my ministry was valued. I felt that both of us might be in danger. I was assured that this simply wasn’t true. We were both valued. Then we weren’t.
After covid, the church began making decisions and cuts to staff benefits. One of the first things they did was get rid of traditional health insurance and replace it with a health share ministry. This move saved the church money, but not the individuals. That was followed by ending our paid time off roll-over benefit. It was only 5 days, but it sent a message. We were waiting to be warned about cutting ministry spending to essentials only, but that hadn’t been talked about.
Monday, October 31 started out as a normal Monday. And then it wasn’t. I received a cryptic email about a meeting at 3:30p. I told two of my teammates and they were shocked. My third teammate, my team lead, could not be found. And that’s when I knew for certain what was about to happen. I found out that one of my friends received the same email. Then we found out another friend did too. It turns out that one-by-one, five of us were told that we weren’t needed. We were assured that this was not a purely financial decision, but it was strategic. 90% strategic in fact. The church has lost so many attendees that they felt they needed to “right-size” our staff. They handed us a severance agreement and NDA to sign. Then they told me it wasn’t personal. The elder I spoke to, he chose not to come to this meeting. We were told not to be in the building when they told the staff we were gone. No one, not one leader in that meeting prayed over or for any of us. I didn’t expect an apology, but I thought a church would do that at least. The men were told that they would help them find employment. The women were not offered any assistance at all.
I left the meeting and went to my office to pack. I shut the door and started packing the boxes. My team lead came to see me and was crying. It was the most touching reaction I have ever felt. I love that team so much and I couldn’t cry. See, I had cried enough for the last few months and I didn’t have anything left. I had been emotionally supporting my Dad and my husband and some friends during this season of loss. I had nothing left but anger. Until I didn’t.
A couple of days later, the five of us got together to talk about our meeting experience. We shared our frustrations and there wasn’t too much negativity. Mostly we felt linked and our friendship deepened. We decided to call ourselves the misfit toys. We checked in with each other and celebrated when jobs were found. But mostly, we prayed with each other. I am sad that we aren’t seeing each other as often, but I am so happy that they were with me at the end. In part 2, I will tell the story of my job and how I got here. But in the meantime, know that I am still pursuing ordination with a different church and will keep talking about the chaplaincy and the ordination process. Thanks for reading.
2 thoughts on “Major Changes Part 1 (or how I was asked to leave the church)”
I’m so sorry I wasn’t aware of SO MANY PARTS of this challenging journey! Forgive me my friend for not being in contact. I love you and Bob so much. God loves you even more. Can’t wait to hear about the great plans He Has for you…🙏
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There is nothing to forgive Debbi. You know we love you too.