Methodists/conflict in a smail church
Good evening, I attend a small family UMC church. My grandfather along with family helped to build the original church. Our church burned down in a fire July 2014. We have rec'd the okay from the UMC Building Committee to build a new church. The pastor of our church has elected to make himself the Project manager for the new build without being voting. I have been in this church for over 35 years, and my dad's remaining family also attends cousins, etc. The problem is our pastor is dividing the congregation with lies.I called him/her a week after a church meeting and informed her that my dad has decided he wante4d all of us to change membership and until we found a new church that we would still be attending our church. The pastor immediately removed us from any positions we held in the church. My sister was the secretary/accountant/Financial person, the pastor drove another member to bank to have her name removed from the accounts. What can we do? I never told the pastor that we weren't attending services anymore, but when I called the DS he said that he rec'd a call from our pastor stating that we were quitting church. Again what should be our next step? They have been having meetings about the new building construction and not telling us about the meetings.
Your request is among the more difficult that I have received. Here is what I suggest.
1. Document everything. Your outline above is a step. Name names and note dates. Have copies of letters and notes on phone calls dated.
2. It appears that the District Superintendent needs to be drawn more fully into this
situation. He is in a difficult position but this is why the Conference pays him a salary. Put your concerns in writing and keep copies of all letters. At some point you may wish to send copies with a cover letter to the Bishop of the Conference. Smaller churches easily disappear from the radar screen of church leaders. The conference also should have a chancellor or other personnel for resolving local situations.
3. I am sounding like a church lawyer. At one time I had that role. You have to stand up for yourselves. There are so many psychological factors underlying what is going on in addition to the politics of it all. The Book of Discipline of the UMC, 2012 edition, has all the legal and procedural rules. It is complex. See if you can find someone who is acquainted with The Discipline, perhaps a nearby pastor. Ask around.
4. Take care of yourself. Consider a counselor for you and possibly others. If there is a Conflict Resolution committee in the Conference or in a nearby community, make use of that resource.
You are in my prayers.