Deanna Harrison has been my friend for over 20 years. She has written many a Bible study for me, and we even once wrote a book together. But Deanna has just released a new book that tells a story and deals with an issue that plagues a lot of churches and hurts a lot of people.
But I want you to hear it from her.
Imagine that you arrive at church one Sunday to discover that your minister is no longer there. The church leaders have the scoop but they’re not talking. They simply say that Minister X is no longer serving at your church. “Trust us,” they say, and you are left with an uneasy feeling that something’s not right.
What I’ve just described is the silent epidemic of forced termination among clergy. It’s been swept under the rug for decades. When a minister’s actions are immoral, illegal or unethical, a church has no option but to take action and termination may have to be part of that action. But the majority of times, forced termination is the result of disgruntled church members, personality conflicts, or a power play.
If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a minister disappears, I can tell you. After serving a church for many years, my husband and I were suddenly terminated. I was still married to the same godly man of integrity, but he was no longer a pastor. I was no longer a pastor’s wife. Our lives were shattered and I wondered if we would survive.
Moving On: Surviving the Grief of Forced Termination is the account of my journey through grief. I encourage you to read it, if for no other reason than to understand the ramifications of forcing a minister to resign. My prayer is that through telling my story, others who have experienced forced termination will find hope and healing. Here is an excerpt:
As I drove behind the truck that held all of our worldly possessions, I knew without any doubt we were walking by faith. We had no home, no jobs, and nothing on the horizon. All we could do was put one foot in front of the other, believing God would see us through.
A full moon shone brightly by the time we pulled up in front of my father-in-law’s home. Exhaustion consumed me but adrenaline surged through my body as a host of emotions began surfacing. An incongruous mixture of gratitude, anger, fear and relief spilled out of my pores as I began unloading the car. I could faintly hear the sound of my husband’s voice in the distance, pleading with me to slow down. But I knew if I slowed down I might stop, and if I stopped I would surely fall apart. So I forged ahead, determined to carry in every box, every suitcase and every armload of clothes until finally my car sat empty.
Then I stopped.
And then I fell apart.
Through my tears I found myself standing in my father-in-law’s guest room. I couldn’t believe that in a blur of time I had gone from living in a beautiful multi-level home that was mine to living in one room that belonged to someone else.
Take time to read Moving On. Share it with someone who has endured a forced termination. And share with those who are part of a church reeling from the effects of a forced termination. Read more from Deanna Harrison at deannaharrison.com.