It started with a simple request: "Will you come and moderate a special business meeting at our church?"
As presbyter for 30 churches in the San Francisco area, I agreed to assist. At the time I did not realize this would plunge me into a conflict that would nearly destroy a congregation.
A year after Bill was called to pastor this church, he wanted to change the by-laws to eliminate the periodic vote of confidence and establish an indefinite term of office for the pastor. He aggressively campaigned for a special congregational meeting to approve the idea.
Some in the congregation felt Bill's campaigning signified a shift from pastoral leadership to personal agenda. Rather than leading the church, they felt he was driving it. This polarized the congregation. By the date of the meeting, many membersâ€”tired of the politicized atmosphereâ€”had already left the church.
Bill had called me because he thought that a neutral party would restrain the hostility and allow the meeting to proceed with ...1