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WHEN A PASTORAL COLLEAGUE FALLS

How one staff person and church responded to their pastor's failings.

My mouth was dry and cottony. Each syllable, one by one, had to be forced out. These were tough words to say to my pastor, boss, and ministry colleague: "Last April when I came across you and Linda arm in arm, I felt hurt that you had betrayed your marriage and your ordination."

I'd thought out my lines the day before, and they'd been reviewed by the intervention counselor from the alcohol and drug abuse treatment facility. Now, speaking to Phil, I'd begun with reassurance: "Phil, I'm here because I care about you, I care about Carol and your children, and I care about our church." But still, I hesitated.

I had scrawled the word "eyes" across the top of my script because I wanted to be sure to maintain eye contact with Phil across the large conference table at the presbytery office. After our suspicions and hurts of the past two years, I wanted this encounter to be clean.

"Two weeks ago on a Tuesday afternoon," I continued, "you came into the church office. Your speech was slurred, and I ...

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