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The Despair of Dead Ends

As we sat down for lunch, my bishop got right to the point: "You should definitely be pastoring: You preach the Word, you give good pastoral care, and your congregation respects you as a spiritual leader. But you don't belong with us. You should try to find a denomination that's a better fit."

With these words, my work in a small Anabaptist denomination headed toward its close. During the following months, I sought pastoral opportunities, first within the same denomination, and then anywhere that looked remotely possible. It all came to nothing, so we moved out of the parsonage and went to live with extended family. I was unemployed for a year, even though I continued applying for jobs and sending resumes to churches. The following spring, my oldest son was nearly killed in a mountain biking accident, and two months later, a close friend died suddenly and unexpectedly.

Today, more than seven years after that meeting with the bishop, I am still not pastoring.

My spiritual director, a Norbertine Priest, diagnosed the problem as impasse and gave me an article by Constance Fitzgerald on the subject.

By impasse, I mean that there is no way out of, no way around, no rational escape from, what imprisons one, no possibilities in the situation. In a true impasse, every normal manner of acting is brought to a standstill, and ironically, impasse is experienced not only in the problem itself but also in any solution rationally attempted. Every logical solution remains unsatisfying, at the very least. The whole life situation suffers a depletion, has the word limits written upon it….

This has been my relationship with the church for the past seven years—no way out of, no way around a sense ...

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The Despair of Dead Ends
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May 2013

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