Had an interesting conversation the other day. This came from a layperson at the church involved. It seems that a long-time pastor acquaintance confessed to having an addiction to her congregation. She did so publicly in her sermon. She explained that she was in counseling and had overcome the addiction with the help of God. It appeared to have gone well. There were sympathetic nods, but no one said anything more--at least not to her. But when appointment time came around, the church demanded that she move. Frankly, they didn't care where she went. They said that would sooner close the doors of their church than have her as a pastor. And when word spread, the church she was projected to go also declined her, using the same reasoning.
This incident raises all kinds of issues and questions. Was it unwise for the pastor to confess anything and publicly at that? Was the church's response justified? Given the rates of relapse, were the people in any danger from the pastor's addiction? How should the DS have responded? (I forgot to say that the DS acted surprised about the whole matter.)
We all know that clergy are human and, therefore, suffer from the same foibles and temptations as those in the congregation. I am sure there are people with addictions in every congregation, many to whom the pastor ministers. Might overcoming an addiction make the pastor a better counselor, a better pastor? Sadly, this pastor will not get the chance.
What is also sad is that, with this particular addiction, the congregation has a right to be concerned. But the question remains, who ministers to the pastor? If we are on this Christian journey together, what is the most loving thing to do?