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I Found "the Letter"


Guest GoneAway
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Guest ephymeris

I left my testimony of the beginning of my deconversion a few weeks ago. It's not that interesting of a story but it's mine and after all these years, reading it still makes my heart beat fast. Recently I was cleaning out some old word files and I found "The Letter." I wrote this letter to Todd, my youth minister after he stole money from me and betrayed me. This letter of anger and hurt was what got me kicked out of my own church. I'm posting it here since it seems an appropriate place to put the catalyst of my deconversion.

 

 

April 17, 2000

 

Dear Mr. Parr:

I am writing this letter to you because I feel as though you have greatly wronged me. I am referring to my donation of thirty seven hundred dollars to Ridge Avenue Baptist Church that was received by you. I am hurt because I donated a very large sum of money that could have been used to help me start out my independent life or been given to another, more worthy cause. I gave that money to the church under the stipulation that I would see benefits for everyone in the youth program, including the college classes. If you remember our conversation when I told you I was donating the money, you promised me that college students would be a crucial part in making the coffee shop work and that I would know what the money paid for. You said “I will definitely call you, I’ll get together with you and show you exactly what we spent the money on.” Unfortunately, this was a lie. You never contacted me except to ask me to drop the money off, in cash, at the office in Ridge Avenue Baptist Church so you could buy furniture. I doubt if you bought thirty seven hundred dollars worth of chairs, tables, and lamps. Even if you did, the college classes never have a chance to use these things. We aren’t even allowed to use real cups unless we come to the junior high/highschool bible study on Wednesday nights. Sadly, after you had the money, you never contacted me after that. You never gave me any assurance that the money was not misspent. In fact, you have rarely said a word to me since you received the money. I never thought a church would lie to me about the handling of such a gift.

While I am bearing my soul, I think that this letter would be incomplete without telling you how much you have hurt many within my class and how you have let us down terribly. You have sorely neglected the “nontraditional” College and Career Class. When you were up for your position of youth minister at Ridge Avenue, the church had a Question-and-Answer Forum so we could get to know you. Gene and I, along with several other members of the College and Career Class attended. I specifically asked you if you cared about college students, if you were going to work with us and involve us in college and youth activities. At that time, you told me yes and gave the church a large plan to accomplish such ambitious goals but that too was a great and bright lie. Despite several meetings and conversations with me and other members of the class in which we begged you to ask us to do volunteer work, to let us be involved in youth functions, to get together with us to expand our class and ministry, you have still ignored us. You do not care about us as the students you are SUPPOSED to be working with, or as fellow human beings. You leave me and the entire nontraditional College and Career Class out of everything you do. Also, as if ignoring us wasn’t bad enough, you don’t even offer support for what we do on our own initiative. Are you too afraid of losing your job to stand up for the right thing? We are willing to work with you, we are eager to help, we will put our backs into building a great ministry but that must not be what you want to do. There are many other churches in this area that would welcome such eager and dedicated young people with open arms. I do not understand this church’s attitude toward us. You allowed the creation of the “traditional” class to appease a very small minority of people, even though the “nontraditional” class is expected to bend and yield to every word of gossip and dissention that flows through the church because WE are a minority. Don’t you think that this separation and classification destroyed any hope of unity we had with the other college people within our church? In creating this class, these people seem to be the ONLY college students you do interact with. Isn’t it at least your job, if not your Christian duty to reach out to all students? We as college students do not even get to use the coffee shop that you promised us you would create, the same coffee shop you eagerly took my money to support. The only thing you have done for people our age with your coffee shop is a pitiful three week attempt at the Song of Solomon Study on Saturday night. That was the one night that the majority of college students (though not necessarily the traditional class) were already gathering at the church. For some reason, you shut it down even though you had a group with great potential for growth and an eagerness to learn more about God. You have made no visible effort to start anything new for people our age. I guess the coffee shop is only for the junior high and highschool students on Wednesday nights.

Repeated incidents like these have lead me and many others to believe that keeping a well-paying job is more important to the staff of Ridge Avenue than standing up for what is right. We as a class have been put on hold for too long and seen too many wrongs go uncorrected. Even Gene and I are tired of it. We are tired of petty conflict, tired of a staff who won’t support or care about us, tired of trying to convince people that we are just trying to do what is right, and tired of bearing witness to such sickening and unchristian injustices occurring to other members. We have both been quite patient, holding out for some glimmer of change and motivation from the rest of the church or at least the staff. Gene has been a member of Ridge Avenue for fifteen years and I for seven but now we are going to visit other churches. The sickness of this Body is becoming too encompassing for us to ignore. I am not simply referring to youth and college issues but to the callous disregard for the unique feelings and needs of others, the obsession with upholding the doctrine of man regardless if it is against the word and character of God, and the hypocrisy spewing forth from high and mighty members of this church. How many members have to be hurt or leave the church before you realize that maybe the problem is not us, but you?

Sincerely,

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Too bad that such betrayals aren't rare. Too bad that such a beautiful, thoughtful letter as you wrote was probably lost on the scumbag to whom it was sent.

 

I'm so glad this phase of your life, and the hurt it brought, is over.

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