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Ghosts of Conflicts Past

This church had been stalking its pastors for generations. Now it was time to stop.

My wife and I moved from a youth pastorate in Tucson, Arizona, to a senior pastorate on the Canadian prairies just in time for winter. Here the high temperature on Valentine's Day can reach a romantic 30 below. But the weather wasn't nearly as chilly as the reception we received at our new church.

One month into our new ministry, "Marlene" called my wife, furious that JoLynn had used the word "intimacy" during a private marriage counseling session. (The fact that Marlene called on behalf of another offended woman should have warned us how bad things were about to become.)

"We don't talk about those things up here," Marlene said. "I knew we shouldn't have hired an American! You're all the same. I've been to California, you know. They do that kind of stuff in the streets!"

Amazing, I thought. I grew up in California. Guess I've driven down the wrong streets!

Marlene was only the first. In my inaugural year at Elim Chapel, I was criticized for using the wrong pulpit and sitting in the wrong pew. ...

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