"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Glimpses of Grace 2: The Day David Hocking Divorced Us

     That's what it felt like. 
     David Hocking grew up in our church and in 1968 at the age of 27 he assumed the senior pastorate. There are two kinds of ministers, I had learned at Multnomah School of the Bible, as it was then called: preachers (proclaimers) and pastors (shepherds).
     Pastor Dave wasn't much of a shepherd. My first husband went to him to share his anguish at not being able to get the educational credentials to serve God as a seminary teacher. Dave told him, "Men like you are a dime a dozen."
     But he certainly was a proclaimer. He preached powerful, expository sermons. It was his Bible teaching that drew many of us to that church. And it would be his teaching that would pull many away from our church 14 years later--although he urged people not to follow him.
     One Sunday in 1982, without warning, he stepped to the pulpit and told us he was leaving.
     I heard him say, "I've always wanted to leave this church. I wanted to start new churches but the leaders here wouldn't let me."
     I heard him say, "Another church needs me." It wasn't a new church. It was a church whose senior pastor had left. Recently someone told me their pastor had died. But what I heard was Dave Hocking was leaving our church to become the pastor of another church whose pastor had left.
     Now we would be a church who would need another pastor because our pastor had left.
     What I heard him saying that day was, "I'm divorcing you all."

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