The decision to relocate me a good distance away from my children had solely come from one person, the denomination’s national leader. My immediate leaders had all recommended that I stay in the diocese. I had also provided a statement not only outlining my reasons for wishing to remain but also vowing that I would not cause any embarrassing or confrontational moments at any church event when both Sandra and I could be present. Without showing any Christian compassion, concern or pastoral care, I was to be cast out of the district just like the scapegoat thrown out into the wilderness. The only way I could overturn the National Church leader’s decision was to appeal to his line managers and so, with the full support of my bishop, I spent all of the Easter holidays working on my petition. My bishop had offered to advise my on the correct protocol to use. Just before I was about to submit my request, my bishop contacted me to recommend that I delay my submission for a couple of days because he had heard some rumours relating to my impending appointment.
Without my knowledge, some former parishioners of mine had formally raised a petition asking for me to stay in the diocese. I was extremely stirred by their action. The result was that the National leader who was not known for changing his mind, revoked his earlier decision and gave me a church within the same diocese. At first I was particularly overjoyed at being allowed to continue my vocation and stay within the diocese and more importantly, close by to my children. However, as the euphoria wore off, I felt insulted for the church that I was appointed to had never had their own church minister and was usually one that was used to train inexperienced church ministers or those considering the ministry. It was not used to having a minister of my experience. It was as if the leader of the denomination was sending out a message saying you would have been better off leaving the diocese!
Does God moves in a mysterious way as often quoted? Some might say so with what happened next. I prefer to say that fate suddenly intervened. Sadly within the diocese, another church minister’s marriage broke down. One might you think that marriages within the church never lasted. This was extremely rare . In nearly eighteen years, I had never known personally of any marital separations among my peers although occasionally I might hear of ministers facing matrimony difficulties. Within a matter of months my diocese suddenly had two break-ups within it.
More importantly for me, it meant that there was another church within the diocese needing a minister and that church took priority over the one I had been assigned to.
As I took up the church leadership, I finally felt that I could finally be the minister I was meant to be when I first embarked on my vocation all those years ago. The years with Sandra had destroyed my confidence, but I didn’t need to worry about her reactions now. My new parishioners were very encouraging and supportive. They seemed to appreciate my honesty and my work ethic. I never tried selling a ‘pie in the sky when you die’ spiritually but spoke from my own personal experience with sincerity. At long last I felt fulfilled in my calling and I didn’t need to hide behind a mask.