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Sins of the Family

(In the following true account, names and some identifying details have been changed.)

He's going to smother me. Cari's face was pressed against Pastor Roland's chest so tight she thought her mascara would smudge his starched white dress shirt. He seemed so huge--like a jumbo Santa Claus without the beard.

When he released his patented bearhug, he said, "See you Wednesday in my office," and turned to talk with the family behind her.

Cari left Meadowbrook Church feeling a little better than when she arrived. She always felt drawn to Pastor Roland's large, warm presence. He wasn't the senior pastor at Meadowbrook, but Cari thought he should be. He was the pastor everybody saw when they needed pastoral care. He was the grandfather, the statesman who balanced out Jesse, the younger, more intense senior pastor.

On Wednesday Cari emptied a box of Kleenex telling Pastor Roland her life story--her alcoholic father who sexually abused her until her twelfth birthday, her abbreviated first marriage, ...

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