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Forced Out

The phone rang, and Pastor Andy's ministry at First Presbyterian began its predestined end.

The call was from the presbytery, the denominational board that oversees congregations and pastors within its jurisdiction. Andy was told that for several months a small faction of disgruntled members at his church had been airing their unhappiness in each other's homes. When their frustrations hardened, they bypassed Andy and the session (the church board) and went straight to the presbytery.

Their charges? Andy hadn't visited church members enough. And the visits he made were "unsatisfactory." Andy also hadn't given enough personal attention to a mentally disabled confirmand. And he had "made too many changes without going through the session."

After its call to Andy, the presbytery alerted the committee on ministry (the subcommittee that oversees pastors), which quickly brought the two sides together in a series of meetings. But the denomination wielded as much power as a United Nations peacekeeper ...

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