and M Y S T E R Y
see more at judymitchellrich.com
and M Y S T E R Y
see more at judymitchellrich.com
Discussion questions for Like a Fig Tree
available at /like-a-fig-tree.html
Click on the above link to see a spotlight review
Judy Mitchell Rich continues her series on the experiences of Pastor Suzanne in a church in Kansas--this time a larger, more established, but troubled congregation. This is the kind of stuff that cannot be taught inca seminary church administration class. It should be required reading for every seminarian, and for ministers as well, especially those preparing for an interim ministry, i look forward eagerly to the author's next book in the series. John Salmon 10/10/2014
Betrayed, the Clergy Killer’s DNA;When the Church Forsakes its Own Clergy.
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.
February 1, 2013
Dear Friend in Christ,
My name is Mitch Todd. I'm a United Methodist pastor in Lawrence, Kansas.
As we begin a new semester in our churches, I know this is the time of year when many of us are looking for new small groups and book studies, so I wanted to suggest a possibility for you to consider.
My mother, Judy Mitchell Rich (a Presbyterian pastor) has written and published a book called Like Sheep, and I wanted to let you know about it.
Like Sheep is the story of a young female pastor called to serve a rural Kansas church in 1985. What she discovers is a mystery -- someone is harassing the members of the church, bringing it to the brink of closing.
The book is a "who-dunnit" set in the context of the Church. I'm obviously biased, but I wanted you to know about the book, because I think it's great. The book covers such questions as “What makes a group of people a church?” “How can people name evil and respond to it without starting a witch hunt?” and “What ways might unresolved grief affect a person?”
This book is entertaining and fast-paced, and would make for great conversations as a book study.
I have written an 11-part discussion guide that will lead groups through the book at whatever pace you choose.
order book at:
If you're looking for something engaging and a little different, this may be right up your alley.
Rev. Mitch Todd
Phoeniciean tear bottles from texan.dk website
Tear Bottles hold the tears of grief
A Reminder God keeps count of every tear,
holding them and us in loving care.
Thou hast kept count of my tossings;
Put thou my tears in your bottle.
Tear Bottles are also known as tear jars, tear vases or lachrymatories.
They were common in Bible lands and also in Egypt, Persia, Rome, and Phoenicia.
One of the oldest references is in Psalm 56:8 Thou hast kept count of my tossings; Put thou my tears in your bottle.
They were used in times of mourning in various ways through the centuries.
Often they were given as a sign of sympathy, a sign that tears of grief were shared. The mourner might keep it as a memento, fill it with tears (at which time some said that one's mourning period was over). Some were put in tombs with the departed. Others said that in a land where water was scarce, that the tears were a sacrifice in honor and respect . In ancient Persia a warrior might return home and check the tear jars to see who had wept most.
In the Civil War times, a tear jar might be given to a returning soldier as a sign of joy, relief and how much he had been missed.
One custom was to have unpainted bottles or to give them. The grieving one then decorated the jar with intricate designs.
The little terra cotta bottles could be as small as one's little finger, but in Victorian times the bottles or jarsmight be as high as 4 inches. These were popular among the wealthy and made of silver or pewter and often worn around the neck.
Today these little bottles are given as a sympathy gift to one who is feeling great sorrow. They are also given as a sign of tears of joy at a time of marriage or birth of a child. One writer reports that one can be given by a mother to her teenage daughter when their tears of strife have turned to joy.
In Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives is a beautiful little Franciscan church called Dominus Flevit, (the cry of the Lord or the Lord wept) . It marks the time when Jesus approached Jerusalem and wept over it. Luke 19:41. The church was designed by anton Barluzzin, Italian architect. It was built in 1954 and is in the shape of a tear drop. Tear jars decorate the corners of the structure.
What I wish I'd said to John McCutcheon:
I've followed you for many years, and you have enhanced my life.
I am a fan but that's not the best description.
I'm not really a follower or just a fan; I'm not a disciple.
But I walk the road beside you with a similar vision for this world
and a similar compassion for unsung heroes and marginalized people.
Thank you for your courage and inspiration.
DISCUSSION GUIDE NOW AVAILABLE
The Rev. Mitch Todd of First United Methodist Church, Lawrence, Kansas
has prepared a Like Sheep discussion guide for church groups. It is easily adaptable for book groups of all kinds. See LIKE SHEEP EXTRAS.