Another crucifixion

Well, I just returned from the crucifixion of another good pastor. Rev. Mary Martin, of Wallin Congregational United Church of Christ in Grand Rapids, Michigan was just dismissed by a congregational vote after months of conflict including legal actions and a lock-out. The meeting could not even be held at the church but was held at a firehouse and a Michigan Peacekeeper team was present to help avoid violence which almost broke out.

What was Mary guilty of? Being a black woman who preached the gospel and led a Spirit filled life. Of not being under the control of the old guard who want to avoid change. Of bringing many new members into the church, a number of whom are gay and lesbian and allowing them to assume leadership positions including one who is now in seminary. Of being a force for positive change in the church and community.

As a pastor friend of mine said, “Today, a pastor has to choose between integrity and job security.” Mary chose integrity. She will carry on in ministry with those who support her.

The saddest part is that in the United Church of Christ there is no protection for pastors who minister faithfully but invoke the ire of a few disgruntled, closed minded members. Christ have mercy.


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