Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Jeremiah Burden, Part Eight

   The next weekend was our friend Nick's wedding.  Daniel and I were Nick's videographers for the big day  It had already been one exhausting week.  Daniel had been receiving a lot of pressure to finish the next sermon opener, so he had been focusing all of his time on that in order to get it done.

Watching the wedding guests:  Daniel pulls a crazy face.
Then, he'd gotten a message from Pastor Chase at the end of the work-week.  It was a demanding email regarding the receipts that Daniel was late getting to Accounting.
     He had slipped behind, because of the way leadership always made a priority of the latest emergency.  There had been no time for the day-to-day details.  He emailed Chase back immediately.
  "I apologize.  I have been focusing on the sermon opener because I understood that to be the priority.  I will now move all my focus to the receipts to make sure they are done."

Chase emailed him back, his malice seeming to steam through the computer screen: "It's not EITHER/OR--it's BOTH!!!!" 

Then, Chase forwarded Daniel's email to Gavin, CCing all with a message attached with something to the effect of :  "SEE, Gavin???  Look at this response!"

  At the same time, Daniel was receiving requests from Pastor Cody to turn all website design and maintenance control over to Ned.  Daniel politely refused.

  "In light of the fact that I have not been fired and all web stuff is still in my jurisdiction and is still listed under my contract, why would I do that?  It's my job.  As far as I know, I haven't been fired, unless you know something otherwise," Daniel emailed. 

  Cody fired back:  "I haven't seen your contract.  Why don't you send me a copy so I have a better idea of what your job actually entails."

  Daniel's response:  "No offense, but as one employee to another, that's a pretty inappropriate request.  No, I will not send you a copy of my contract."

  Cody tried a little religious posturing, "You know, I've always seen my work as a ministry rather than a job."

  Daniel responded:  "I have never been invited to minister here."

  Cody said, "Do you really need an invitation to minister?  I minister every day.  Life is ministry."

  Daniel gave up.

  He did his best to shrug it all off and concentrate on filming the wedding.  All the pastors were in attendance, so there were cold shoulders here and there, but we hung out with the other wedding vendors and celebrated our friends' wedding despite them.  Most folks were cordial to our faces.  However, I did receive the suggestion there to "Share more photos of the children on Facebook."

  My Facebook statuses had become more reflective recently of the turmoil we were enduring.  Although, mostly I kept to quotes from movies or famous people, I pulled a lot from Braveheart and once wrote down one from Star Wars:  "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."  I thought I was really holding myself back.  I knew I had at least one "Friend" on Facebook was reporting my statuses to the pastors, but if they only knew what I wanted to write and didn't!  They were vastly under-appreciating my self-control.

      So I saw this comment at the wedding as a thinly veiled suggestion to "Go back to just being a sweet little mom.  Stop being so serious.  Just keep quiet on all this stuff with the church."  I have to admit, these sorts of suggestions tend to just fire me up more. 

  When Daniel went back to work the following week, another meeting was set immediately with Pastors Gavin and Chase.  Daniel had been working non-stop throughout the day on the receipts, but he hadn't nearly finished.  He left his work on his desk and walked down to Gavin's office.

  He was fired on the spot.  There was no two week's notice.  No concern or consideration about the fact that we had moved to the Midwest at the organization's request and were in the process of buying a house in this area.  There was no compassion at all.  The reason listed for this firing was "insubordination."  No examples were listed.  Of course, there was no record of warnings given, as none had ever been given.  There was no more mention of taking a few weeks to think everything over in order to make sure that we all "had God's heart on the matter".  No more mention of "coming up with a plan".  The pretense was over.  Daniel was told that this was a mutual decision and to "have his desk cleared out by the end of the day."  We had been five months in the Midwest and were now out of a job.

Base Jump by gregmks:
  It was an incredibly awkward and absurd situation.  There were several interns that Daniel had working in his office at the time, as he was still training them, while working himself.  He had to go back to his office and let these youths know, "Hey, guys.  I've just been fired, so I'll be clearing stuff out and heading home."

  By the end of the day, Daniel's email access had been completely cut off.  Ned had been busy.   It actually made sense now why Ned had started some of the IT fixes that were so desperately needed.  Daniel had thought maybe one of his complaints about the IT issues had been heard.  But now it was clear:  Ned's reign of sabotage was coming to an end and he would shortly be taking over all aspects of media and technology.  Hence, the IT concerns would shortly be something that concerned him.  Thus they had finally made it to his priority list.

  On the same day, a prettily worded email was sent out to the local staff at Crossway.  It was from Pastor Gavin.  It covered the "totally mutual decision of Daniel Morrison to no longer be employed at Crossway".

tap dancer by
  Why, of course it was mutual decision.   Of course, we wanted to be stuck in rural Illinois, with a mortgage payment on our newly bought home and no way of paying it off.  Of course, we wanted to be fired from a church and ostracized within the very community that was firing us.  Why, what a delightful decision all around!  We were tap-dancing and playing jazzy numbers at the very thought of the months ahead.  Oh, Pastor Gavin.  What a kidder.

  That evening, I wrote down the most directly accusatory status I had yet.  On Facebook, I posted a status to the effect of:  "That moment when the church fires you and then sends out an email to everyone saying what a great thing this is for everyone involved and makes it all sound pretty and okay."

  The response was immediate from our friends in Colorado and California: shock waves came rolling in, anger expressed at the treachery, sadness for our plight, and prayers for us in this terrible season.  Our friends Abe and Stephanie were horrified, grieving for us and trying desperately to help us in some way.  Our friends at Eastside Church were there, too, sickened but not entirely surprised about what had happened.  They had watched it happen before. 

  For now that we had been fired, we began to learn that we were not alone.  Crossway Community Church has a distinct pattern.  A former Youth Pastor, abused and trampled on until he could abide it no more and found a way out.  A former Worship Pastor who'd left, in pain from the cruelty he had experienced.  Often in the creative or newer fields of the church, name after name began coming to the forefront of others who had suffered much the way we had. 

  We had been told that every receipt Daniel had failed to get turned in, would count as our own personal income at the end of the year.  But being cut off from his email, made reconciling the receipts practically impossible.  The last check, which was our legally due vacation pay was withheld.  Which meant there was no way for us to pay our mortgage payment due the following week.  Actually, were it not for the incredible generosity of a dear friend who covered the payment in full for us we wouldn't have made that payment.  It had been a very long winter and we were still learning the ropes about living with winter gas payments.  Bills were paid but we weren't in a great spot financially.  The one hope we had regarding future grocery bills and our house payment was to file for unemployment.  It took three trips to the town of Rockford to discover that in Illinois, non-profits are not required to pay in to unemployment.  Crossway certainly hadn't.  We were sunk.

Link to The Jeremiah Burden, Part Nine:

 To be continued...unless mentioned, all names have been changed except my husband's and my own.  I write for healing and for others wounded on similar journeys.

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