Same Song, Second Verse

Posted: October 1, 2014 in Uncategorized, When Church Hurts
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The call came last night.

In my story, I call her Beth. She wanted to tell me about Jada.

Jada was the choir director at my last church before they hired Phillip. Jada had felt forced out because the church was moving to a more contemporary format. Jada had once stood in the parking lot in tears because the senior pastor, who, when she was on staff, had told her she was one of his best friends, had become distant and even belligerent when she expressed concerns about Phillip.

While I was working as a choir director/worship leader for another church in town (I will call the church “Alpha Church”), Jada had often come to play the organ. The church was always very excited to have her. She is “royalty” in this small, midwestern town because as a teenager, she had been crowned queen of their spring festival. Anyone who is queen remains royalty for the rest of their lives. Jada is a woman of grace and dignity.

So, last night when Beth called, I couldn’t believe what she told me about what is happening to Jada.

Jada left our former church after the pastor began treating her with disdain. And since she was so warmly received at the church where I was working, when I left, they offered her my position as choir director and hired someone else to lead contemporary worship. She was employed there for several years, and I believe she and her husband became members (though I’m not entirely sure).

Jada retired sometime in the past couple of years, but still played the organ and accompanied regularly. So, here’s where the call from Beth begins.

Beth had run into Darius, another organist at Alpha Church. Darius told Beth that he was on the organ schedule for the church nearly every Sunday now. When he was not scheduled, an organist from the Baptist church was scheduled. He had a conversations with Jada and mentioned that he had not seen her name on the schedule.

Jada replied that she didn’t know there was a schedule, so she went to the current music director to ask about being put on the schedule. He told her that she was not going to be allowed to play organ or participate in serving at Alpha Church because she “has a bad attitude and needs to repent” She tried to find out what exactly she had done to warrant the bad attitude label and the consequent judgment and ostracism but was told that they cannot tell her!

Beth had called to tell me about Jada’s situation because it so mirrors mine.  It’s not the same church, but they are in the same denomination and under the same regional council of churches.

I just hope that Jada has the fortitude of knowing that she is not the problem.  She has given her lifeblood to this church for several years and it is startling that they would treat royalty this way.  I have always known that, as an “outsider” who wasn’t born and raised in the community, I was a “lesser than,” but Jada is “royalty,” so to treat her in this manner is especially brutal.

I cannot help but wonder about the influence of the leadership of our former church on this situation.  After all, Jada left there branded – most likely with a “bad attitude.”  And since the church has a new, militant pastor who is in the process of being ousted, there is a good possibility that he has been advised to cut out anyone who might have the gall to speak out.

Beth saw Jada at her mother’s funeral recently.  Jada had tears in her eyes when she said, “Will I ever get to play the organ again at Alpha Church?”

I know how she feels and I hope she can come to the point of not wanting to.


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