Tag Archives: children

What to do if Roy Moore comes to your Church

Roy Moore fashions himself a Christian. His Christianity includes literally making an idol out of the Ten Commandments and doing all he can to harass and malign non-straight people. Now he’s one election away from the US Senate. Four women have subsequently come forward to accuse him of sexual improprieties when they were teenagers and he was a high powered state lawyer. One of those women was 14 when Moore allegedly groomed her for sexual abuse.

I began to imagine what I’d do if Roy Moore came to my church. Then I thought, we do kind of have a game plan. We follow the two-person rule for Sunday school, our nursery has a window for observation (I can see it from the pulpit), our UMYF follows the 2-adult rule. There is known within the church the rules and people to go to should there be a complaint. But it can be better, for sure. Not all of the what-to-dos are actually done at my church. This moment of notoriety for Mr. Moore is revealing some holes in the safety net. Nevertheless…

What to do if Roy Moore or any alleged sex offender comes into church?

Note: I am assuming Roy Moore specifically where allegations are well-known.

  • The Pastor and the Lay Leader need to discretely pull him aside and let him know he’s welcome to worship, but we are committed to the safety of our children and youth. Hand him a copy of your child safety policy and mandate his compliance with the rules.
    • The assumption is that 1) you have child safety policy and 2) you have it in writing to give out.
    • Rules are:
      • 1) He makes NO contact at all with any child or youth in the congregation.
      • 2) He must accept the ministry of an escort, who will assure safety of the kids on premises while ALSO assuring Mr. Moore’s safety from his own temptations.
      • 3) Any deviance from these rules is grounds for immediate removal from the premises, using law enforcement if necessary.
    • Respectfully explain that while he is entitled to his due process rights under the law, the church out of an abundance of caution, must do what is necessary to assure the safety of children and youth.
  • Assign him an escort, someone of the same gender who will stay with Mr. Moore for the entirety of his presence on church property. That escort will never allow Mr. Moore to be alone on church property (yes, even in the bathroom), never allow him to interact with children or youth but WILL extend Christian hospitality otherwise.
  • In your welcome to the congregation as a whole, point EVERYONE to the safe sanctuary/child protection policy printed in your bulletin and/or posted in a public place. Assure everyone that children and youth are welcomed and their safety is paramount.
  • In a follow-up letter to all parents of children and youth in the congregation, alert them to Mr. Moore’s presence in the previous week’s worship.
    • Explain first the congregation’s child safety policy and the church’s strategy in ministering with sex offenders.
    • Explain how the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness is especially pertinent to Mr. Moore.
    • Invite people to share concerns, questions and comments.
      • If real conflict arose with established parishioners, I would side with those parishioners, but would work with other faith-group partners to find him a suitable worshiping community.
      • Barring any such conflict, I would allow him to continue worshiping as long as he remains with his escort and stays completely away from children and youth in the congregation. One strike rule would be in effect.
  • Preach the real gospel.
    • Preach on confession of sin and of repentance.
    • Preach on the inherent dignity of children and youth.
    • Preach on the inherent dignity of girls and women.
    • Throw in a millstone reference or two.
  • Do NOT withhold Holy Communion.
  • Offer all other aspects of the worshiping body EXCEPT for interaction with children and youth.

I’m grateful to be in a denomination that has been thoughtfully confronting this problem for decades through the pioneering work of Safe Sanctuaries and the concern of the Annual Conference to make these policies mandatory. Roy Moore is a sick man who has never admitted ever being wrong on anything. I believe his accusers and his arrogance only strengthens my belief in them.

This emergence of accusers of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, the #MeToo confessions, etc. has allowed me to see how nonchalant my congregation’s preparations are. And has allowed me to hone up on our preparations. Most Roy Moore’s aren’t named Roy Moore and aren’t plastered all over the news. If anything is to be learned from these rash of revelations, it’s that there is something fundamentally wrong with manhood that needs to be recognized and healed.

What do you think?

Missing Mommy: A Book Review

In a week of holy grieving, let’s remember that not all grieving gets resolved through immediate, physical resurrection. The very nature of death is that the deceased doesn’t come back.

Missing Mommy by Rebecca Cobb is a book for children who have lost a parent. It is difficult to read not only for the subject matter but for the stunningly gracious manner in which it is portrayed. The book is characterized by simple language and delicate illustration of the feelings and questions grieving children endure. Trite answers are spurned, thank God. But there is plenty of helpful advice, like the gentle nod to seek counseling and to look at pictures. I also appreciate how the grieving spouse is honored for the especial difficulty he faces.

I’ll probably buy the book and bury it on the shelf because it’s beautiful and useful. I hope I never have to give it to someone.

Humpday Devo: Children’s Sabbath

This week’s Humpday Devo is about Children’s Spirituality, in recognition of Children’s Sabbath: this weekend.


Scripture

Matthew 18:1-5

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.


Poem

Hello and Good-by, by Mary Ann Hoberman

Hello and good-by
Hello and good-by

When I’m in a swing
Swinging low and then high,
Good-by to the ground
Hello to the sky.

Hello to the rain
Good-by to the sun,
Then hello again sun
When the rain is all done.

In blows the winter,
Away the birds fly.
Good-by and hello
Hello and good-by


Music


Prayer

Gracious God, watch over the children. And help us be more like them. AMEN.

For Camille, a Thanksgiving, May you Rest in Peace and Never Know Hatred

A letter to my to-be-third-born, lost in utero last month.

Dear Camille,

Thank you. Thank you for doing what you did, even by just being for a short amount of time. You shook off of me a great deal of complacency and shone a light on my life. You showed me my frustration and dissatisfaction. Through this revelation, I have discovered my gifts and have renewed my ambitions.

I have learned how easily and unquestionably I am able to leave the church. For that month that you were here, it was clear to me that your mom and I were unable to support you and your sister and brother on our current salary. It was clear that something…a lot of somethings…would have to change. On the day that we learned you were not living, I told your mom “This baby was causing a lot of challenges, but I was willing to meet them all”. Two weeks later, I learned that I was sad that I won’t have another to love. It’s tough, because you came and went so quickly, we weren’t even used to the idea of you. But you were real nevertheless. Your coming was scary and wonderful. Your going is sad. We’ve returned to “business as usual”. But I am not letting go of your memory.

I thought of you as I sat in the “Transitions” seminar, my third in four years. And your impact could not be any more prevalent. I see the futility of a lot of my life in the church. I love parishioners. I even love Sundays. I loathe the institution, even though I owe a lot to it. I have this photo of your sister in the nursery at Sunnyside. The room is big and poorly lit. The toys are all decades old. Anna is beautifully aloof and playing nicely, alone. One day she will ask “Daddy, why do you spend your time in these old, empty buildings?” I don’t know how to answer that question. While that’s been a lingering dilemma, with your arrival Camille, the embarrassment and futility of my current life could not be ignored.

Missing_brickI was hoping to have a moment on a Sunday to announce our good news: that a third life has barged into our plans and messed things up in a fabulous and scary way. Your mom even picked out a minivan for us to have to have. I don’t know how we’d pay for it. But I was willing to work overtime to make your life better. When you left us, your Mom and I had a moment of realization that, before you, we were quite happy as a family of four. But these weeks later, a dullness lingers in my heart. I am still looking for more work, but admittedly I’ve been less ambitious about it. When you were with us, it was a necessity and one I was determined to realize. Now I’m looking for work to get out of a no-future-in-sight career.

So instead of announcing a new life, I have this strange secret that I have yet to share. I guess I’m cracking the shell on my silly little blog. Select people know, since we had to tell select people about the pregnancy. So there is this little club out there that knows something deep and personal. Recently, someone I barely know let me know that she knew. And she let me know by not using words, only gestures and strange facial contortions meant to convey sorrow. I don’t actually mind that people know. I mind that I haven’t been able to tell them yet.

Last week felt like a big week professionally. But now, I have to admit that nothing really has changed, which revives my distrust of church. First of all, I learned of a possible appointment. It should make me feel great. But I know that I’m the last in line and I am being offered “what’s available”. And there is still a whole bundle of uncertainty about it. I also learned that I am out of the running for another position. I didn’t even get an interview. I now understand that I really wanted you Camille so that I would be wanted. I feel so unwanted most of the time. I know you’re not supposed to put much emotional stock in your kids, but I’ll admit I look to my kids for affirmation and connection. I have always called Ollie “Buddy” because I do genuinely want us to be friends. I guess with all the stuff going on professionally and all the stuff I feel I have lost in coming here, it would be worth it if I gained a great little friend out of it.

I’m not sure what to do with the memory of you. My memory of your existence is in its most elementary form. I never saw you or heard your voice or rocked you in the big brown chair. You never became a fetus, much less a child. But I know that it mattered that you were. Your being brought so much into focus. I am sad but grateful but sad. I wish you were here. Right now, even though I am sad, I am not disappointed. I know that many fertilized eggs never see the light of day. And our experience is like many others’ experiences. But within my particular collection of experiences, your arrival and departure has meant the world.

I write this on the 1-month-iversary of your leaving us. It’s a tough, ugly world at times. But I fully expected you to provide beauty and sweetness to the world. You have to my world, if only in my hope for who you would have become. Your mom and I still love our family. Your brother is talking so brilliantly. Your sister will start kindergarten soon. They are both charming and smart and true joy. I know that my love and appreciation for them is illuminated by my love and appreciation of you. And I know that my love and appreciation of you is illuminated by the joy and inspiration I have for them. So you are a part of me, a part of us, forever. I wish you were here.


Image: “Missing brick” by Mateus S. Figueiredo – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Missing_brick.JPG#/media/File:Missing_brick.JPG

Age Three Books

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One if the best things about A. turning three soon is there are new books for us to discover. I’m glad she is an avid reader and how, unlike her dad, that she never stops reading.

So I picked up a longer book for her, though it still has plenty of pictures. Anyone who ever thinks art is dead need only head over to the nearest children’s book shelf to learn otherwise.

All The World is a lovely book illustrating opposites and descriptive language. It chronicles all the things in a kids world in a positive fashion. It affirms children’s natural optimism while challenging them to continue expanding their horizons. It is a worthy addition to any library.

Book Review: “Everywhere Babies”

As a pastor, I read for a living.  It may come as a surprise that I’m not a naturally avid reader.  I’ve always been slow and easily bored as a reader.  But as a dad, I like reading to my daughter.  Her books are poetic and inspiring.  They are simple but profound.  One of my new favorites is Everywhere Babies, by Susan Meyers.  There are many good children’s books about the universal nature of children, how across all cultures, children learn and are loved.  This, alone, should be enough to end all war.

Each page pair is dedicated to something babies do “every day, everywhere…”  Each baby does it his/her own way, which is really neat.  I really like being a dad.  But while Meyer certainly celebrates babies, she doesn’t romanticize too much: “they cry and they squeal”.  The words are very lyrical and dance as easily as any Dr. Seuss.  The pictures tell the rest of the story.

I love the illustrations, by Marla Frazee.  Children’s literature is a treasure trove of fantastic art.  Frazee’s illustrations remind me of Norman Rockwell, with amazingly perceptive detail.  The babies are chubby and floppy; their limbs are the right proportion.  They are messy with cool clothes and lots of equipment.  The grandparents look old but firm and the parents look tired.  There’s even a subtle nod to families without children.  My favorite drawing accompanies the page “Every day, everywhere children are walking…”  The page mimics the Evolution of Man with a baby taking her first stumbling steps, with a victorious cheer at the last ‘stage’.

So, read all the theology, church development, worship ideas, biblical studies material you can get your holy little paws on.  And read children’s books.