My Story, Part 4 – The Questions Keep Coming

This is my story – beginning from my earliest memories as best I can recall.  All names and places have been changed except mine.

For a few years, I had the privilege of serving in my church in several ways. I took classes, my husband and I took care of a significant portion of the landscape (which had been sorely neglected) – creating sacred spaces for people to find quiet time with the Lord, and I assisted with preparing food for Sunday morning fellowship. I also had the opportunity to teach classes over our final year there.

But, somehow, this whole business of never being told what really was going on – why I was dealt such harsh ostracism –  continued to haunt me.  I was living in constant fear that at any moment I would get a phone call, an email, or be pulled aside and told once again that I didn’t measure up – that I wasn’t good enough for God or for the church.  And little things keep cropping up. Like when a consistory member told me that the pastor thinks I’m poison.

Every time I would see an email in my inbox saying that a staff member or someone in leadership wanted to speak with me, I would find myself in a tailspin.  Terror would grip me and I would find it difficult to maintain my composure.  But maintain my composure I did – sort of a “never let them see you sweat” mindset.  I tried a couple of times to speak with the senior pastor, Elliot, to ask again what I had done, but would find myself tongue-tied or simply to frightened to address the question face-to-face.  I lived in fear of the moment when the proverbial “other shoe” would drop and I would be told again that I was not good enough to even clean toilets or rock babies.

About three years ago I was talking with a friend who is on the staff at the church and she was expressing some hurt that she had experienced through the church. She related a story to me about Darin who had drawn her into a room and told her that she was a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad person. This woman didn’t think I would believe her as she related her story, but as I listened, I realized this was a mirror of my encounter with him and so I was able to say, “Yes, I believe you because it happened to me.”

Our stories were so similar right down to being told that we were to tell no one of the conversation – not even her husband. But, she then told me that when Elliot had found out about it, “it was dealt with.” She asked if I had told Elliot what Darin had said to me, so I told her that I had emailed asking for meetings but Elliot had not responded. I went on to say that once I realized that Elliot had no intention of meeting with me, I had emailed him the details, but that he had never responded to any of my attempts to communicate.  At first, she said, “That just doesn’t make sense.  Elliot often has to step in when there are issues between staff and congregants.  Why wouldn’t he address this with you?”  I then went on to tell her about the other experiences that I had with staff telling me I couldn’t participate, attend, etc., and she was visibly horrified.  Then suddenly her face became very serious and she asked me, “Are you sure he got your emails?”

Apparently, as a member of the staff, she was aware that there was some filtering going on with Elliot’s emails and thought that it was very likely that the secretary was filtering my emails and then passing them on to the people who were then ostracizing me – telling me I was unwanted, could not serve, needed to measure up, etc. She suggested that I speak with Elliot and make sure he had been getting all of my communications. She could understand how never having my hurts truly addressed has kept me in bondage to the hurt that was inflicted upon me.  What she couldn’t understand was that Elliot had never stepped in or made any attempt at all to help me.

My husband and I made an appointment with Elliot and I was so optimistic that we would finally have complete closure with regard to the past ten to twelve years of judgment and pain. The day came for the meeting and the call came right along with it -Elliot was postponing the meeting due to illness. I was disappointed but not surprised.

I spoke with the Elliot’s wife, Lorraine, the day after the appointment was to take place and she apologized for him, telling me how very ill he was and that he would reschedule as soon as he was able. I also saw him in the hallway having a lengthy conversation with a man.  It seemed odd to me that he could be having that conversation but had to postpone his meeting with me.  I was walking through the church and was on a phone call when I first saw him.  I came past several minutes later after my phone call had ended and he was still talking with the same gentleman.  He must have known he was “busted” so as I walked past he asked with a hoarseness in his voice, “Should I call you or do you want to call me (about rescheduling)?”

“You call me,” I responded, knowing how difficult it is to reach him. Since both he and his wife had mentioned rescheduling, I had a great deal of hope that this would actually happen.  I probably should have known better.  When I didn’t hear from him after a couple of weeks, I approached him after a service to remind him to give me a call. He was busy talking to someone else, so I turned to his wife, Lorraine, and said, “I just wanted to remind Elliot that whenever he wants to reschedule that meeting we were supposed to have, that would be great – no rush.”

Lorraine’s response shocked me. With large gestures and raised pitch and volume she demanded, “Why?! Why do you want to talk to him??!! He can’t be friends with everybody!! He can’t know everybody!! He is NOT God!! Everybody thinks he’s God and that he can fix their problems! He’s NOT God and it hurts me and it hurts him when people want to meet with him and talk to him about their problems!! I know you were hurt by the church and I’m SORRY!! But why can’t you just GIVE IT TO GOD??!! If you would just GIVE IT TO GOD you could be FREE!!! Don’t you want to be FREE???”

She was so out of control that I finally said, “Lorraine, stop! Just stop!” Which she did for about seven seconds and in that time I was able to ask, “So, you don’t believe in Matthew 18?”

“NO!!” Lorraine declared. “I don’t go pursuing people when they have hurt me! And a lot of people have hurt me in this church! But I just GIVE IT TO GOD!!! Because then I’m FREE!!!”

She went on like that for a while and when she stopped to take a breath, I, through my tears, simply said, “Okay,” and walked away once again feeling that I was a miserable failure to Elliot, the church, and most notably,  to God.  Curiously, as I walked away, Lorraine actually offered to pray for me. I turned her down.

During this entire tirade, Elliot stood about twenty feet away.  There was no way that he could not have heard her or been aware of the rampage that she was on.  I kept waiting for him to step over and interject, but he simply ignored us.  There were probably more than fifty people in the sanctuary at the time, as well as those out in the narthex.  As I left the sanctuary, a woman quietly asked me if I was okay, so even people out there heard.  I was so humiliated and embarrassed – especially since Elliot allowed her to continue for a good five minutes.

I have to say, Lorraine was right about one thing – Elliot is not God.   I also knew that there was a good chance that she was expressing not just her own frustration, but her husband’s, as well – especially since he didn’t involve himself while standing only a few feet away. So, I decided that I would not pursue a meeting with him. I let him know about what she had said to me (pretending that he may not have heard or known) and yes, through an email.  What other choice did I have?  I let him know that I would no longer plague him. Of course, he did not respond.

I believe I mentioned in Part 3 of my story that in all of the years that I was communicating these horrific events and questions to Elliot, he had refrained from responding, but when he would see me at church, he would greet me with a smile, a wave, a handshake – as though nothing adverse was going on. It was so confusing to me. Here I was, obviously in great pain, ostracized, my plight ignored, yet, always a smile and a greeting – albeit in fast forward and in very public arenas so that there was no opportunity to discuss anything so personal as what I had been emailing him about. This, I believe is known as cognitive dissonance – what I was hearing and seeing and the way that I was being treated were in direct conflict with each other.  I was hearing from the pulpit and seeing in waves from across the room that everything was peachy, but my deep questions and concerns were being ignored and avoided.

Then one day, my husband and I were on our way out of a  store as a friend was coming in. We greeted one another warmly and then she informed us that she was no longer attending the church. Like many people, she began to list the things that had led to that decision – most of which we dismissed out of hand. We all could list lots of things we don’t like in church, at work, in our families, in our friends, so we simply listened politely.

But, when she brought up the emails – that she knew that her emails had been read and passed on to inappropriate parties – well, that really bothered us.  She was a teacher in the school district and the superintendent’s wife was Elliot’s secretary.  The superintendent was coming to her at school to talk to her about some personal information she had emailed to Elliot.  It was obvious that his wife had shared this confidential information and it was having an impact on her position at work.

My husband and I thought about the many times that I had emailed Elliot and had never gotten a response and we began to wonder if my friend who works for the church was right – perhaps he had never received them or only received some of them or even heavily edited versions.

So, believing Matthew 18, we decided to try once again so we sent an email to Elliot. We simply told him about the two conversations we had that brought up concerns about emails being filtered and mishandled. We also let him know that due to his wife’s comments, we did not expect or desire any communication from him but simply thought he should be aware. I also asked that he please let me know that he had received the email (after all, the concern was that perhaps he doesn’t get all of his emails due to filtering by a secretary – I believe this request was warranted given those were the concerns that had been raised).

While I know that the tone of an email can be misconstrued, Elliot’s response seemed quite terse. He did actually replied – which was surprising – and stated that we were not to email him again. He also wanted to set up a meeting with a whole panel of witnesses to talk about our “grievances.”  We didn’t really see them as grievances – just concerns – but, it seemed he had taken it much more seriously.  And from the tone of his response, he was not happy that we had brought it up.

Reading Elliot’s reply immediately put me in a state of fear.  I couldn’t imagine sitting in another meeting and being bombarded with accusations of being the problem because I had pointed out the problem.  But, my husband, ever looking for the silver lining, thought we should submit to this request.

Per Elliot’s request, we were to only communicate via his two new secretaries, so we emailed Maellee to offer dates to meet.  A few weeks of emails back and forth and no meeting time being agreeable simply added to my personal angst about having a meeting at all.  I was suffering a great deal of stress and fear.  The “other shoe” was looming above me and I was suffering from extreme anxiety and foreboding as the days stretched on.   Finally, because it was all so troubling to me personally, I told my husband that I wanted to seek outside counsel from someone who was not expressly a “Christian” counselor.  I had heard about the Christian counselors in our area – even knew a couple of them who attended our church, and I didn’t want to talk about the leadership to people who were already part of the inner circle of the church, nor people who would tell me that as a Christian, I needed to submit and turn the other cheek and all of the Christian stuff that had already made me a doormat.

I knew that if I went to that meeting in my state at the time, I would have a melt down and that would not garner any respect at all from the leadership of the church who would be in attendance.  I wanted to get a grip on my emotional state before subjecting myself to a meeting in which I would most surely be told I was a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad person.

My husband emailed Elliot and told him that I was going to be going to counseling.  He offered that we would meet at a convenient time, if necessary, or, if it was agreeable to Elliot, we could meet after I had attended counseling.  We never got a response.  It was as though the matter was simply dropped.

When I met with the counselor, she began by telling me that there was nothing that I could say that someone else has not been through before me – that I was not alone in whatever I was dealing with.  Then, I told her the story about what was then my current church.  It took about an hour for me to share the basics of what had happened to me.  When I finished, she looked at me and, “That’s bizarre.”  She had never heard of anything like that happening in a church before.

It was at our second meeting that my counselor said something so profound to me:

“Why are you letting them rob you of your power?”

And I suddenly realized that I have been letting these church leaders rob me.  Because I had sat back and accepted the judgment and condemnation, the criticism and ostracism; because I had not made face-to-face contact and demanded answers; because I had tried to measure up – to be the good little Christian woman they wanted me to be, I had allowed them to have my power.  To make me believe that because they didn’t find me acceptable, I wasn’t – not to them, not to the church, not to God.

This got my hackles up.  For the first time, I had “permission” to find their treatment of me to be an affront. For the first time, I was given permission to be angry given what had been done to me.

I had told the counselor that the reason I was there was because I was supposed to attend a meeting with Elliot and other leaders and I knew that I would be a basket case if I didn’t get a grip on my emotions.  In that second meeting, she also said, “Why would you meet with someone who doesn’t respect you? Who doesn’t respond to your emails? Your concerns? Who won’t answer your questions? Why do you continue to strive for a relationship with this person? Do you really want a relationship with someone who has so little respect for you?”

At first I wanted to argue with her.  “What do you mean Elliot doesn’t respect me?  Of course he respects me!  He is my pastor!  Of course he cares about me and wants only the best for me!”

But then she said, “Ellen, he has allowed his staff to talk to you this way.  He has allowed his staff to treat you this way.  He has allowed his wife to talk to you and treat you this way.  That is not respect!  Why do you want a relationship with someone who doesn’t respect you?”

And suddenly, I realized that she was absolutely right.  In that moment, I knew that Elliot did not respect me.  If he had respected me, he would have insisted on meeting before I had a chance to ask.  If he had respected me, he would not have watched me sit in church week after week, month after month, year after year, weeping without once inquiring as to why I was so broken.  Elliot didn’t need to ask – he already knew and his lack of respect for me wouldn’t allow him to reach out and minister to me.  And because he didn’t respect me, no one else who had meted out judgment respected me, either.  And probably none of the people who had ever served in board positions had any respect for me, as well.

My counselor went on to help me to understand that I had choices. I had the power to walk away. To say, “No.” To determine if this relationship is worth the battle.  And it totally changed my perspective. Could I respect someone who didn’t respect me? And I answered, “Yes. Because of Jesus.” Could I be pleasant to someone who doesn’t respect me?” “Yes. Because of Jesus.”  Could I love someone who doesn’t respect me?” “Yes. Because of Jesus.”

My counselor was shocked to hear that I had only shared my story with a very few close friends.  She convinced me that it was imperative to my healing that I share my story – because in doing so I would be amazed at the amount of support, encouragement, and love I would receive from people who truly care about me.  And while she worked hard to convince me to share, it was actually because of a class at the church that I was finally convinced that it would be okay.  I had taken the class a couple of years earlier.  And in that class we were encouraged to write down our stories and share them with a small group of people who were also in the class.  The text told us that we were to write out a narrative of our lives.  As the text states, “we have been reflecting upon the various elements of God’s processing/shaping of our lives, over time, and our response to this shaping in order to get a clearer perspective and foster a deeper faith . . . Converting our discoveries into a written narrative will compel us to sharpen our focus and yearning toward that which is central . . . and move us away from what we deem to be peripheral to our lives and God’s gracious work. This is difficult and fearful and rewarding work. So God’s grace and courage be yours.”

I had shared my story with a group of five women who were also in the class.  They had been stunned, but they all had their own horror stories of their lives, so mine just got lost in the mix.  I told the counselor that I had already written my story  as an assignment for the class at my church  and that I only needed to add the ending since it had been a couple of years.  We also discussed that because it is quite long, and I was still reduced to tears every time I even thought about it, perhaps a good option would be to put it on my blog – password protected, of course – so that only those whom I deemed appropriate would be able to read it.  Unfortunately, not everyone that I trusted proved to be trustworthy and so . . .

 CHAPTER 11

 Though we never had a meeting with Elliot or the leadership, I was again asked to teach a class and was also helping with a conference that our church was hosting in the spring.  When it came time for the conference, I had an opportunity to sit down with the speaker for a few minutes and, being a man of great discernment, he asked me some leading questions and I found myself telling him a bit of my story.

His face turned somber as I said the words, “No one who told me that I would not be allowed to serve, to attend, to participate, ever had a conversation with me.” His face showed relief when I said: “Every person who said those things to me is gone.” Then he smiled and said: “They should be. They are guilty of the ‘sin of reproach’ and they should not be allowed to continue in ministry.”

Reproach. I did some searching online and here’s what I found at reproachofmen.org:

“But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men and despised of the people.” – Psalm 22:6 The term “reproach of men” appears only twice in the Scripture. The above verse from Psalm 22 speaks of the fact that from the time the Lord Jesus Christ was arrested until His death on the cross, virtually every one in Jerusalem turned against Him. Those who were not against Him, were apathetic to His suffering, not caring that an innocent man would die.”  In some ways, this brought me comfort, but in others it did not.

As time passed, I became more confident in sharing my story verbally with a few select people and with a few, I gave them the password to read it on my blog.  Then last fall, I enrolled in a class that Ethan, Elliot’s brother was teaching.  A woman in the class whom I had been acquainted with for many years – who also taught classes and assisted with things like conferences – shared some hurts that she had endured throughout her life – hurts from the judgment of being an unwed mother, having a son who was living a questionable life-style, etc. – and how “Christian” people had judged and ostracized her for many years.  I commented to her that I , too, had a story of pain and judgment at the hands of Christians and if she would like to read it, I would send her the link to the blog and the password.  I was very clear that I only shared the password with a very few people and that I change it regularly so that I can control who sees and reads it. She was anxious to read it and afterwards, she said that it was “very enlightening” but she didn’t say anything more.

Also as part of the class, there was a book on forgiveness that spoke deeply to me.  At the same time, it was announced that Jonathan was going to be leaving to go to a large mid-western city to plant a church.  Since Jonathan had been named in the conversation I had with Darin as being part of the decision-making about my ostracism, I decided that I would extend forgiveness to him.  So, (yes) I sent him an email.

I explained to Jonathan that I had harbored a hard heart toward him because of the conversation that Darin had with me years before on the sidewalk and that I just wanted to tell him that I had forgiven him.  Jonathan replied to me that he had no recollection of the situation that I was referring to.  He also indicated that he might be mistaken – giving the impression that perhaps he had simply forgotten after all of the years that had passed.  His email thanked me for my courage in sharing with him and how he looked forward to our relationship in the future before he and his family were to move.  I was encouraged by his words and so, in order to prompt his memory, I sent him the link to my story and asked that he demonstrate his integrity by not sharing the password or the story itself with anyone as I had been very careful in protecting it.

It was only a short time later that I was at a meeting for the teachers of the church and Ethan stood up and declared that if anyone has an issue with leadership, they should carry out Matthew 18 rather than putting their grievances on the internet for all the world to see.  Catching himself, he quickly declared that he was going to have to talk to someone that week about some things they had put on a blog, but it was a man and it was not someone in the room that night.

I drove home with my heart racing and my entire body trembling.  Ethan had said that he was talking about a man and that the person was not in the room so maybe I didn’t need to worry.  But I was panicking.  What if it was me and my blog he was really talking about?  What if he was lying? 

When I got home, I immediately told my husband what Ethan had announced.  We were hopeful that he was being honest in saying that the person who had given cause for concern was a man who was not at the meeting that night, but only a couple of days later I received an email from Ethan saying that he needed to meet with me about my blog.  Since it was just a few days before Christmas break, he wondered if we could meet while I was on break.

At that point, my husband finally became entirely fed up with the whole situation and responded to Ethan’s email by saying that he wanted to meet with him first, and that he would be present for any meetings that were held with me. Ethan replied by stating that this was a good idea – that he had intended for my husband to be at the meeting anyway. This had to be a lie because Ethan didn’t mention my husband in his initial request for a meeting and he requested that the meeting be during the day while I was on break and he knew that my husband would be working.  Ethan told my husband that he would be happy to meet with him but that my husband needed to familiarize himself with my blog and my emails to Elliot over the past several years.  This, of course, was an affront to my husband because it gave the impression that my husband was not aware of the wickedness of his wife in her blog and emails.  My husband had always been aware of my emails – often proofreading them before they were sent – and he also knew about my blog, my story, and every  person whom I had shared it with.

What that email really told us was that ultimately, I suffered from all of that judgment and ostracism because I had not just ‘let the matter drop’ from the very beginning.  From those first emails in which I told Elliot that Denise and the Personnel Committee had mishandled the situation with Phillip and me, Elliot had made the decision that I needed to be pushed out.  I think it was a surprise to Elliot that I didn’t leave.  Perhaps he thought that, as a musician, if I couldn’t participate at this church, I would leave and participate in the music elsewhere.  When that didn’t work, he had his “leper” (see the post “Of Shepherds and Lepers”) tell me I couldn’t attend a class, followed by no leadership, followed by no treats, followed by no helping in the nursery, followed by “You can’t do anything here except attend services.”  He must have been stunned when none of those things caused me to leave.  He must have been stunned that I could extend that kind of grace and fortitude.  Ethan let the cat out of the bag by telling my husband to read those emails.  Since that was all they had to hold up as an accusation – that and my blog, in which I “told” my story – the story I was to never tell anyone – not even my husband, we finally knew how petty and contrived those years of spiritual abuse had been.

My husband fired back a reply to Ethan saying that the meeting with me needed to consist of an apology to me for all the years of spiritual abuse that I had suffered at the hands of the leadership.  He said if it did not include an apology, we would leave the church.

Ethan promptly responded to that email by telling my husband that there would be no meetings and that we were to not return to the church.

Later that night, in a Facebook message, the lay-leader of the congregation, Percy, told me that he was very sorry but that he could not get involved because it would get “complicated” with Ethan if he tried to interfere.  He and Ethan had been friends since boyhood.  We can only surmise that Percy felt that if he were to intervene, he would become a victim, as well.

I also got a text message from the woman in my class whom I had shared my story with just a couple of months before.  She said, “I want you to know I will always like you and I don’t know what I would do if I were in your situation.”  She and I had planned to have breakfast together on the Saturday between Christmas and New Year’s so I texted back and asked, “Are we still planning on meeting for breakfast?”  She never replied.

The next week at I had lunch with a (former) friend, Katrina, who also teaches and writes some of the churches class materials. When I arrived at the cafe, she was already there and Ethan’s daughter was sitting with some friends a few booths away.  Ad I sat down with Katrina she said, “Did you see Ethan’s daughter over there?”  “Yes,” I replied.  “I wonder if I should stop at the church on my way home and explain to him why I was meeting with you?” Katrina wondered.

I was aghast.  Why would Katrina have to explain to Ethan the reason she was having lunch with me?    During our conversation at lunch that day (over a week after the meeting with the teaching staff where Ethan announced someone had put grievances on a blog) Katrina told me that Ethan had drawn her into his office the week before that teacher’s meeting – a week before he had emailed me – and he had told her about my blog.  He had discussed my blog with Katrina a week before he contacted me to set up a meeting!!  I was seeing just how unscrupulous the leadership of the church really was!   It was obvious that Ethan and probably other church leaders, were telling people to shun me.

As I shared my experience with her, I asked Katrina several times if she would agree that I deserved an apology.  And while her body language said “yes,” her spoken words were, “But Ellen, you made it public.”  To which I would reply, “No, I didn’t make it public.  I was very careful about who I shared my story with.  But, Katrina had bought into that old “Can’t Talk” rule.  And she was obviously of the mindset that you support the leadership no matter what.  I believe Katrina was in the same predicament as Percy.  If she were to make any attempt to support me, she would risk her own position and status in the church.

I also had a friend named Delaney who heard that we had been told to leave the church.  She emailed and asked me what happened.  I replied asking her to call me.  When I didn’t get a call or an email back, I emailed again.  t never heard from her.  Her son was on staff as a full-time worship leader in the church so I am sure she did not want to jeopardize his position by continuing to be my friend.

Through those first couple of months, I still thought there might be hope, and so I shut the blog down and waited for someone in leadership from the church to contact us.  No one ever has.

I have had one friend, Alice, who remains in contact with me.  You can read about her on my blog.

It has been through being tossed out of the church that I have found my voice.  I no longer fear the leadership of our former church – or of any church, for that matter.  I have become a champion for those who have suffered at the hands of church leadership and will continue to declare with a loud voice that “God will never leave you or forsake you!  If the church does, they are not representing Him.  He is not like them and they are not like Him.”  I so hope that God will use my experience to help others to find friendship, help, hope, and healing.

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Comments
  1. Chloe says:

    These are hateful people. You are best shed of them and their egotistical behaviors.

  2. Erin says:

    Ellen, thank you so much for sharing your story. I haven’t even had half of what you’ve been through, but I have had some very hurtful things happen to me at church and now unfortunately church truly is a stumbling block for me. I attend a ministry called Celebrate Recovery, and I share about church being my trigger in the same ways that alcoholics share about alcohol triggering them. I pray for the day when Jesus comes back and His bride is truly perfect. Thank you for being an encouragement. 🙂

    • Ellen says:

      Hi Erin,
      I am curious – is the Celebrate Recovery group meeting place at a church? Our church hosted it several years ago and the groups I am aware of in our area are all church-affiliated. I would hesitate to attend because of that reason.

      Is attending helpful to you?

      Thanks for reading and for sharing!
      Ellen

  3. Sandra says:

    Did you ever find out why you were being ostracized all those years? You may have mentioned it in your story or elsewhere on this blog. If so, I missed it. I have myself been in a very hurtful church situation for years and my heart breaks for you.

    • Ellen says:

      I apologize for my tardy response. I have never been given a direct reason for what happened but much can be surmised from reading the details of my story. I hope you have had a chance to read enough of my story and blog to see that the dysfunction of the church and leadership (as well as members and attenders) runs very deep.

      • It shouldn’t be that terribly hard to figure out, why they ostracized and abused you all those years. People who are evil tend to hate those who are not, people who hate Jesus tend to hate those who love Him. When a man loves himself first and enters a profession (that probably shouldn’t even be a profession, at least as we know it) that is supposed to involve being the last and the least, the servant of all, and makes it all about himself, the first and most and master of all, when a man is like that, there’s no room left for love of Jesus or others. He treated you with the same spitting contempt with which he likely treats Jesus.

  4. Jim Jewell says:

    Ellen, I’m encouraged that you’ve persevered despite all that’s happened in your life. Forgiveness is a wonderful tool that disarms even our toughest critics.

    My only memories of you were in the devotionals at LSH and you were dynamite! So much so that one of the songs we used to sing during devotionals came to mind in reading your blog. I think you’ll remember this one…”Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God and who loves is born of God and knows God, He does not love, does not know God for God is love. Beloved, let us love one another first John four seven and eight.” It’s been over 30 years since you taught me that song and I find comfort from it many a day. May God bless you and keep you. Jim

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