A 90 minute movie on DVD, available at US Films. Rev. Dr. G. Lloyd Rediger, D. Rel., Presbyterian Minister, pastoral counselor, author of Clergy Killers. Dr. James Forbes, Sr. Minister Emeritus, Riverside Church,New York, is on the board which created this.
The pastor of a congregation is vulnerable to gossip, rumors, lies, and power seeking individuals. If a member wants to get rid of a pastor, for whatever reason, it is difficult to stop him or her. When conflict grows out of control in a congregation, often behind the scenes, the solution is typically for the pastor to leave and another to come in, hoping and praying that the problem was in the pastor or the result of “a poor fit.” It is easier to throw the pastor under the bus than it is to change a congregation (or make them angry, or lose their contributions to the larger church.)
The pastor who leaves may be emotionally, physically, spiritually and vocationally scarred. There is usually minimal advocacy and help available in the system of the church.
What is the answer to this injustice? Hire a lawyer? Join a union? Governing bodies becoming more aware and gaining skills to deal with clergy killer congregations?
The film details examples of clergy killer individuals and congregations. It also explores questions of motivation, sin, evil and paths to justice. The film is long, 90 minutes, and is mostly “talking heads.” Statistics noted are informative and surprising.
Pastors under fire will gain comfort, support and knowledge from this movie. They are not alone.
A congregation in the midst of this kind of struggle may benefit from seeing the problem from a Family Systems viewpoint, and the film may tune their eyes to be able to see insidious evil.
A denomination’s committee charged with conflict management and care of clergy will encounter a call to action.
I’m glad to see this subject become a topic of the day. My first novel Like Sheep tells the story of Pastor Suzanne entering a congregation plagued by a member who threatens to destroy it.
My second book—out soon—is Like a Fox. Pastor Suzanne is cautioned against going to Covenant Church because they are a “clergy killers.” Three former pastors have left the ministry. She enters with caution, seeking to find the source of their problems, restore them and survive.