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Editorial: Aunt Ida preaches to preachers

By Jim White, Editor, Religious Herald

Dear Jimmy,

As you know, it’s been a while since you got a letter from your dear old auntie, so I thought I’d bring you up to date. I can’t do much else anyway because our lights are out. I think the rain froze on tree limbs that must a fell onto the power lines. Except for As the World Turns I hardly miss not havin’ TV. Orley missed the tryouts for American Idol, though, and he’s been a bear to live with. I offered to sing for him, and I could tell he was a fixin’ to say somethin’ real smart like, kinda like that Simon guy, but I said, “Orley, if you value your vittles, you’ll think twice before insultin’ my singin’. After all, I’m a member of the Bluebell Baptist choir.” For some reason that didn’t seem to tender his attitude much.

Well, anyhow, I’m not writin’ to burden you with our woes. We got plenty of food canned in Mason jars and plenty of firewood, so we’re gonna be just fine. But I’m not so sure about dear Brother Tim Winder. You remember Brother Tim, don’t you, Jimmy? He was at our little church two preachers before Brother Bobby who we have now.

I don’t know the whole story, but your uncle and I drove over to the next county to meet Brother Tim and his wife Ruthie ‘cause we heard about what happened. Seems that about a year ago three deacons met Brother Tim at the church and told him that most of the people wanted him to leave but that they were sayin’ it in love, don’t you know. They also said (in love, of course) that it wouldn’t be good for him to tear the church apart by sayin’ anything about their little talk and that if he would just resign they would see to it that he got a full month of salary.

Well, Ruthie is still cryin’ when she talks about it a year after the deed. They said they didn’t know anybody was unhappy with them until the deacons came and by then the bottom was out of the bucket. Not knowin’ what to do, they signed the paper the deacons brought with them sayin’ they wouldn’t say anything about it.

As bad as that was, Tim said the thing that hurt him the most wasn’t the attitude of the deacons. Orley’s heard tell of one of them fellers down at the feed store and the word is he’s mean as a snake. The others I don’t know about.

Anyhow, Brother Tim said what hurt him most was that all of his preacher friends seemed like they forgot about him. Only the director of missions called him.

Orley, bein’ more direct than sensitive sometimes said, “Well, why didn’t you call them?” Brother Tim didn’t seem offended and he got real thoughtful like. “Well, to tell the truth, the hurt was so bad it just about paralyzed me. Then, too, I think most preachers are used to helping instead of being helped. I just couldn’t seem to make a call asking someone for help.” He said after a while he started feelin’ rejected by the church and by his friends. He said for a long time he didn’t even get a call from somebody at the Baptist state office. He allowed that they might not a known about it right off, but still he was kinda hurt.

Ruthie has always been kinda outspoken, but she put it in such a way that Orley and me, well we caught right on. She said at first she couldn’t believe it. It was like somebody close had died. All she could do was cry. Then she got mad enough to burn the church down. Not really, of course, but that’s how she put it. Then she just sorta got stuck between bein’ sad and mad for a long time.

Brother Tim asked me if I would ask you to share his story in the Religious Herald so if this ever happens to some other preacher, the other preachers won’t treat him like he just slipped head first in the cow pies. On the farm, when one farmer gets into a fix the others come and bail him out, best they can. It seems like when preachers get down they ought to be able to rely on their own kind. Somewhere I heard a preacher say that the Christian army is the only one in the world that shoots its own wounded, but I never believed it. I might have to rethink that one though, if you preachers don’t take better care of each other.

It’s interestin’, but since Orley and I had our discussion with Brother Tim and Ruthie I have learned about a group called Ministerin’ to Ministers that helps preachers and other paid church people to get past their tendency to want to burn the church down. As soon as I get finished writin’ you, I’m goin’ to write Brother Tim and tell him all about it. I called up the feller’ from MTM, a Charles Chandler—he sounds right polite on the phone—I called him right up and told him all about Brother Tim and he said he’d call him.

And, I heard about a man who works for Virginia Baptists—Mr. Tadpole or something like that. No, Tadlock. That’s it. Talkin’ with him is supposed to help a heap, too.

I know we got the best folks anywhere right here among us if we just let ‘em know there’s a need.

Heavenly days, what a racket! Orley is singin’ to himself out on the porch. I wonder what ol’ Simon would say about him?

Well, gotta go. You haven’t been to see us in so long you probably need directions, but, I still love you. Write, call or come when you can. We’ll be here. Probably in the dark.

Love, Aunt Ida


This article appeared in the Religious Herald on January 25, 2007. Permission was granted by the Religious Herald for reproduction of this article on Ministering to Ministers Web Site.