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FACING COMMUNITY FURY

How one decision about a church nursery school ignited a firestorm.

Memorial Day weekend 1988, we hid our children across town out of concern for their safety. Saturday night we walked the perimeter of our house with flashlights in hand, checking for bombs. It wasn't a normal weekend of ministry.

What do you do when a situation gets out of hand, when you can hardly keep ahead of the press, when people accuse you of terrible motives and deeds? In tense situations, ministry takes on new dimensions. This is the story of what happened when one church's board of elders decided one Tuesday evening to redirect the church's nursery school.

Over a Nursery School?

Sherman Oaks Presbyterian Church is a moderate-sized congregation in Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley, just over the hill from UCLA. The two of us had served the church as co-pastors for five years, seeing growth and other good signs.

The community of Sherman Oaks is upper-middle class, predominantly Jewish, and tied closely to the entertainment industry. Several television celebrities had placed children ...

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