Reconciliation

I began this blog, after thinking about it for a couple of years, following my departure from the church I had attended for 22 years. I felt like my creativity had been given back to me and it was time to dig in. Well, dig in I did and here we are 5 or 6 months later at a point where many people from all over are visiting the neighborhood and leaving comments which in turn has brought about a sense of the collective that in my mind only a small church group or a personal friendship can provide.

Much of what has been written lately has been reflections on my experience as an elder in the aforementioned church and in turn trying to understand what went wrong in order to move forward in a Godly way. In addressing these things I have avoided names and have stated many times that it is not flesh and blood (the people invovled) that we wrestle against but the principalities and powers of darkness who sometimes use these same people (myself included) to do their bidding. For practical purposes, these powers manipulate “systems” which have been created by men to regulate what they feel God is doing this week or this month.

Yesterday, I found a comment posted by Ben Cotton who was intimately involved in some of what I have alluded to in entries about authority and my experiences with that system. What he wrote is very close to him and very personal and in the overall sense of blogdom for me, a little scary. Since he mentioned names I took a brief pause and even considered not posting it until I had something to say in return. I even talked with DED about it and felt a release to proceed. You can find his comment in the “Showcase” What People Are Saying, section.

In this process I had two thoughts:

The first is that we are on this journey together and obviously we are beginning to understand more of what we have been through—for better or worse. I have been priviledged to hear from a lot of people from my past recently and this has re-ignited my resolve to continue the race.

The second is that after coming to some conclusions and understandings, what is there left—or in other words, does this blog thing have some underlying purpose I have not yet seen. I would have to say that what I saw this morning as I ironed my shirt before going to work, is that as a community of believers, after understanding comes reconciliation. In some respects I feel that Ben’s comments are meant to be read and in this context taken. Is it a little scary—Yes! But as I mentioned yesterday, even getting on my bike these days is a little more dangerous than I thought.

Reconcile is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as:

1. To reestablish a close relationship between.

2. To settle or resolve.

I truly believe that the Spirit is, and has been, at work to heal the body that many of us felt was fractured and almost beyond repair. If this blog is a part of that process, that’s really as creative as it gets.

Enjoy your ride on this beautiful day.

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34 Responses to Reconciliation

  1. Jan says:

    Terry, We hope that we can all break bread together once again as well! Haven’t been to Boone in years and years, and definitely have missed the deep fellowship we experienced there. That’s the ironic thing, I think! That in the midst of a messy situation, we all experienced FAMILY there. Then the enemy robbed us of our brothers and sisters, which hurt us so so deeply, more deeply than leaving our “positions” in the church. So, I pray that the reconciliation (both definitions) happens on many fronts, so that the world will know we are Christians by our love for one another. Bendiciones,jan

  2. Ben Cotten says:

    Terry, thanks for posting that comment. I knew you would have to wrestle over whether or not to approve it. I run a blog myself, so I know the apprehension well. When I first typed the comment, I left out names. But, on re-reading it I realized that it was a bit like ignoring a pink elephant in the room. Everyone knows it’s there and ignoring it will only let it grow. So, I decided to rewrite it. I hope I was careful enough to not come across as a stone thrower, because that isn’t me at all. I believe that part of healing and reconciliation is being willing to let your wounds seep a little. Everyone was wounded in different ways by this whole situation. Maybe this blog will be enough to give Boone, NC the freedom to bleed again. Thanks for letting things be a little messy!

  3. Carey says:

    Your last words in this blog are worthy of repetition:”to heal the body that many of us felt was fractured and almost beyond repair. If this blog is a part of that process, that’s really as creative as it gets.”Yes!C

  4. Since Ben Cox’s name is already out there, perhaps I could add just a bit here. Kim and I left LWCF in early 2000. It was a bit after there was a big split in the worship leaders. We felt very devastated by it, because we were torn between both leaders. They were men that we loved, but our hurt seemed too deep. We felt we needed a change. We called Ben and asked him to come to our house for lunch so that we could discuss/announce our plans to him that we were leaving the church. While I don’t remember the exact words that were spoken, I do remember his attitude. He appeared before us as a broken man, someone who was hurt that we were leaving. He obviously cared and loved us very much. I can still feel the pain of that day, bittersweet though it was. It felt like a great release for us, but it hurt me to know that Ben was hurt by our leaving. I’ll never forget one men’s meeting in particular. A couple of years earlier, Ben spoke/confessed something to us in a men’s meeting that was very difficult for him to speak of. But as he exposed his soul to us that night, it was one of the most important examples a pastor has ever shown me – that pastors are just as human and susceptible as we are. When we put leaders on pedestals thinking they should do no wrong, it sets us all up for disappointment at the least, and betrayal at the worst (if we let it). We will all do wrong at some point, even in the face of the obvious right that we should do. It’s the sin nature that will dog us until the day we die. In showing me his failures, Ben let me know that night that godliness has so little to do with never screwing up and everything to do with our response to God when we do (and we will). I ran into Ben on the golf course unexpectedly a couple of years ago when I was in Boone for a business trip. We exchanged a passionate hug, as a father would his son (at least that’s how it felt to me). He recounted a few things that had happened to him over the last few years with the church, but he didn’t do it in a condemning way. There was still some hurt there, but there was grace more abundant. I hope and pray that Ben and Connie know that they are loved by so many of us. That we’ve hurt with them over the years. I hope that if our leaving the church felt like betrayal to him, that he would know that it wasn’t meant as such and that I hold him in high (but not unrealistic) respect. Thanks for letting me share this here on your blog, Terry.

  5. Terry Henry says:

    Rodney: Ben and Connie “were” a big part of the reason Sandi and I agreed to attend what was then Watauga Christian Center. We began our adventure there in early ’85 driving 22 miles each way on Friday evenings to be a part of their home group. We got home late but always felt like we had advanced in our walk with the Lord. It wasn’t until later we began to come to “church” on Sunday, then Wendesday evening and more.
    I have asked this very question of Ben: When did things get off track and how did we go so long before we noticed. Neither of us can pin point a moment but looking back, know that this and so much more “really” happened.
    Lots of good things and good relationships happened in our many years there. God is in process of restoring many of these “connections” so we must continue to look to the future with an awareness of the past and be open to his leading and direction/correction.

  6. Heather Cotten says:

    Wow! I can tell you that when I saw this entry I all but cried. I really have tried to stay out of this as it hits so close to home. I believe what you are getting at, Terry, in the “underlying purpose”, is that the pieces of broken relationships and hurt caused by these past years are finally beginning to be realized and mended. I think that people reconnecting and blogs like this are allowing the healing process to begin. The thing that LWCF had that was so priceless was deep relationships, the kind you find in family. It is so sad to me that the enemy used the thing that had been a strength in the church and attacked it. To me, that was what was so painful in the process…that the relationships we had built over the 20+ years of being there appeared to be in shambles and that people were left wounded in the dust! I think that the “systems” you talk about in this and previous blogs really do need to be re-examined. I believe that it has been too top-heavy for far too long. I know that Dad says the same thing and if he had to do it again, he would do some things differently. I just believe that as much as the systems need to be re-examined, the relationships that we build and maintain should rise above the systems and should be more important then any system we have. Because when the world looks at the broken relationships and hurt that has come out of this, it is hard for them to want a part of it and that is not what any of us want! Terry, thank you for being sensitive and for allowing us to “talk” this out. I really do believe that God has begun a work of healing. My dad told me the other day that May 6th was the anniv. of it being finalized he was leaving, and I think it is somewhat significant that we are coming together so close to that date to begin to talk through this stuff. Sorry to be long-winded…I said I wasn’t going to get involved 🙂

  7. Terry Henry says:

    Heather, I know it took a lot to say what you did. I feel privledged to have been a part of the celebration at Chetola because I know that, despite what happened, your dad and I kept in contact and tried to keep the lines of communication open the past several years.
    I will say this however: I saw many people leave over the years and am highly repentive of the collective attitude I fell prey to that more or less left things alone and did not stand up at some point publicly and say “I am mad as hell and am not going to take it anymore” in relation to what we did with people who for whatever reason “felt” to leave LWCF. That we allowed them to become “persona non grata” is something I am not proud of to this day.
    It’s a little early for Bastille Day but we will take what we can get and keep looking for more.
    Thanks

  8. Heather Cotten says:

    Thanks for that! I know Dad has mentioned several times that you guys have been able to talk things through, and that is very important to him. I think we all fell prey to the same thing in various stages during the process. Dad has said before that he wishes that he had stood up and said something right when he began feeling uncomfortable, I felt uncomfortable as soon as I heard of the intentions of the leadership and I should have said something (it may not have done any good, but I could have made it clear where I stood). We all fell prey to the same thing, but we all just had our different times of getting out. I don’t hold it against you. Thank you for helping to bring some more closure to this chapter in my life. God has already been so faithful to touch the places of hurt in me and in many of my family members. I know that God has a redemptive purpose in this whole thing for each person involved….I just hope we get to be around to see it!

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