This was written by my 17 year old daughter Casile (pronounced "ka-seal"). She wrote this as an assignment in high school. She had to write about a key aspect of her identity. Keep in mind she is my daughter. She love me.
Church. Dictionary definition: the body of people who attend or belong to a particular local church. In my opinion, dictionaries are deceiving. They give you the bear minimum of information. Yes, they give the actual definition of something, but they don't explain it well enough for you to actually understand. For example, dictionary definition for pain: a somatic sensation of actor discomfort. How does the dictionary define things that in some cases can't even be defined? Like Church for example. yes, it is a group of people who believe in something. There's a pastor, there's music, blah blah blah. But how can they give you a sentence for a word like love, death, pain, or church, and expect that to be enough? In my opinion, these things have to be experienced to be understood. Those who go looking for understanding in a book of definitions are scared of actually knowing.
Even though I didn't fully understand my dad's job as a pastor 15 years ago, I remember feeling like it was extremely important. Like he was different than every other pastor, like he was a hero. I now understand why I felt that way.
My family came to Quispamsis, New Brunswick, when I was around 2 years old. My brothers and I were put into school and apparently made the transition "remarkably well", my parents say. We made friends, had play dates and went through the normal childhood stages. Along with my friends and play-dates came a "new home"‚Ä¶ Rothesay Vineyard Church. There, my parents pastored, made friends who became my brothers' friends, and then we all became like one big happy family.
Now though, at almost 18 years of age, I know that a lot went on behind the scenes and realize how truly complicated it could be to pastor, lead or direct a church.
Back then I spent my Sundays going to church in the morning, listening to the music, sometimes falling asleep in someone's arms (usually whoever would take me was good enough in my eyes), dancing around, and then going upstairs for kids church.
But, like life tends to do, time passed and things changed. Events happened with maybe no explanation, but usually with a deep understanding of knowing that they all happen for a reason. If I were to explain and express my feelings on all these events, this chapter would be a book in itself.
As I began to grow older, I began to become curious about all this "God stuff" and how it worked. I didn't understand why some Sundays families or couples would be there with smiles on their faces and hands in the air, and then the Sundays to follow I would never see them walk through the doors again. I didn't understand why this upset my parents so much. I didn't understand why people old hear a voice from the sky and I couldn't. I just simply, plainly didn't understand. But, I would never admit it.
I went through a stage with my parents during the pastoring of the church, and maybe I'm still in this stage (who knows?) that their faith became my own. I wouldn't have recognized this at the time but it was like I believed that since I was a pastor's kid, I an "in" with God‚Ä¶ that the big guy looked at me in association to my parents, and that as long as I was at church on Sundays (which I was) I was good to go in his books with a ticket to heaven, sins forgiven‚Ä¶ snap!‚Ä¶ just like that. I don't exactly remember when I realized this was silly though. But I do know I did.
Rothesay Vineyard was always a unique church‚Ä¶ for lack of a better word. You didn't who up with a mask on and pretend like you were perfectly happy because you believed or that you had no problems in your life or had no questions. Rothesay Vineyard was a place where questions were asked, discussion was held, and faith was challenged, which, in my opinion, every church should be like. I admire my dad every day for his rawness of not standing up behind the podium "preaching". Yes, he had a sermon prepared but he never preached at people. Not once. He explored the Bible, told life stories, asked questions, challenged people, and was just‚Ä¶ well‚Ä¶ real! Which is, if I had looked for a church on my own, what I would've looked for.
Now I've come to realize that there are people in the world who want straight answers. They come to church looking for an instruction manual on what they can and can't do to get into heaven. They come to church looking for answers on how to live the Christian life. But how can they expect my father to have all these answers for them? Every Christian in the world has questions, doubts and periods of disbelief. Even pastors! Whether they admit it or not is a different story.
Many people would leave the church for these reasons. Which I guess in some ways is a part of life. Not everyone can live by the same feeling towards something and expect the same things. My dad has a blog called nakedpastor.com which, yes, gets a lot of talk about its name. However, if you had any poetic thinking in you, you'd realize it's saying that he is trying to be open, real and raw, not literally naked. I regularly go to his blog, which has many readers from different faiths, struggling faiths or no faith at all, and read what he posts. Every post is amazing. I could just be saying this because he's my dad. But you need to witness it to feel it. Whenever I'm feeling angry at my dad, or that he is off and something is wrong and he won't talk, I go to nakedpastor.com, read his latest post, and automatically understand where his head is at. I guess I'm like him in that sense. I'm better writing out what I'm feeling rather than trying to put it into spoken words.
Now that I'm older my parents and I would talk about church more and more. Who was leaving. The gap left. I've come to understand the hardship my dad has been going through for 15 years. It's like losing members of a family in a sense. He puts himself out there, tries to make everyone feel welcome and real, makes very close friends, and then the next thing you know they're saying he isn't religious enough or a good enough leader and bam!‚Ä¶ they're gone!
I can't help but get angry towards these people. Yes, they have their own reasons for leaving, but they don't have their reasons for calling judgement on my father or my family.
The time came recently where my dad had to make a choice: stay pastoring at Rothesay Vineyard or resign. Though it was a situation so many people didn't see coming, I felt there was a stronger sense of people wanting this situation to arise that pushed my dad to the reality of either staying at the church until he was the only one left or giving his position to someone else who would pleases a larger portion of the congregation.
I will always respect my dad for the position he put himself in, and I will always look to him as a pastor. Just because he isn't up on a stage, behind a podium, with a bible in front of him, he is the guy I think has the most questions, the most realness, and the most openness about Christianity I know.
I haven't been back to the church since my dad left. My brothers have once or twice. I don't look at it as I only went because he was my dad and he was the pastor. I look at it this way. He was the pastor. He was the reason I was drawn to church. And now he is no longer the one who will be guiding me in the confines of that building.
Now my family and I sometimes wake up on Sunday mornings with no church to attend (which hasn't happened in over 30 years for my mom and dad!) We sit around talking, eating, drinking coffee and sharing what is on our minds and hearts. In a sense I feel thankful. Not for the pain that it took to get here or the hardship that was experienced, but for the outcome of the situation and the smile on my dad's face. He is truly one of a kind!