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Cloud of Witnesses

In this new column, Montana pastor Dave Hansen reflects on how reading pastors from the past can mentor us today.

The congregation had recently endured a bitter fight. It fractured every which way, the ecclesiastical equivalent of a California fault zone. I paid one of my first pastoral visits to an octogenarian teacher and church saint. She was dying. She gathered her strength, sat up straight in bed, fixed her eyes on mine, and spoke a warning I would rue ignoring: "Be careful; this town kills teachers and ministers."

She laid her burden down, and it came and rested on my shoulders. It was a lot for a first-timer to hear.

What do you preach when every conceivable stance involves taking sides with people you don't agree with and against people you desperately want to pastor? It's one thing to stand up for what you believe. But what heals? What redeems? What unites?

A few sentences from Dietrich Bonhoeffer provided me with perhaps my only option: "Upon Christ, however, who is the proclaimed ...

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