As promised, here are your responses to our request for scary ministry tales.

Have a safe and happy Halloween, in celebration of our real holiday tomorrow!

From K.W. Leslie:

Back in high school, during youth group night, the youth pastor told us about how a young man, someone really close to him, had tragically and accidentally died. And how it really shook his faith. And how he's quite sure he doesn't believe in God anymore.

Pause. The room got really quiet.

"Now, that's something your friends might say..."

Took us a second before we realized he didn't really mean any of it. This was fiction, meant to get our attention. It did indeed do that. But as a kid, it was horrifying that the pastor would just quit God like that. As an adult, it's a lot less surprising.

From Greg Moore:

I was fairly new at music ministry in a growing church in Arizona - growing enough to have Easter service, including a choir cantata, in a rented hall seating a thousand. Rehearsing the soloists, using tapes and "ghetto blasters" was nightmare enough, but

as the service started I felt in every pocket of my coat and found – nothing. No background tape for the choir cantata! I had been using it for practices in several different rooms, all of which I scoured in the final two minutes before service. And the piano was against a wall somewhere. The happy throng began to give out praise and song, but sheer terror gripped me as I pretended to happily lead them (along with anger about renting this place, which was only half-filled and awful for music). Where on earth did that tape go to? Finally, it was time to start the musical, so I raised the choir up, still with no idea what to do next. Then my eye caught the tiniest glint of something shiny beneath a stack of bulletins. I swooped down, snatched the shiny thing, and it was the right tape (!), which I inserted in the untested machine, as if one did this sort of thing every day, and it played. It played.

From Hannah:

Finding myself not quite a Calvinist while still involved in a hardcore Calvinist ministry.

Greetings from China!

And the most macabre tale comes from yours truly:

In high school, I helped lead worship and do groundskeeping at a tiny pioneer church in rural Oregon. When founded, it was the first Baptist church west of the Rockies. The church building was older than our state (built in 1840, if I remember), and had a rambling, historic cemetery.

The graveyard featured the grave of the first white child born in Portland, numerous Oregon Trail families, and even an ancient Indian burial ground in the far corner. I was responsible for mowing the acre or so parcel of hallowed ground, and weedeating around the headstones.

Because of the age of the plots, and early pioneer customs of using wooden markers, there were more graves than there were markers. Many unmarked graves could be identified by coffin-sized depressions in the earth. When the grass was short, the whole lawn around the back of the church and the parking lot was pockmarked with the dips. Hard to run a mower over.

Anyway, the church grounds had a mole problem. Morbid when you thought about what they were tunneling through, and annoying when the heaps of brown dirt popped up across the already lumpy lawn.

One Sunday as I prepared to lead worship, a woman in our church came running in from the cemetery. She was excited, and showing her hands off to people. On her little finger was an antique gold ring.

"Found it out back" she said. "Someone must have dropped it while they were visiting the graveyard. It was just sitting in the dirt by a big mole hill."

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