You are receiving a response from me instead of my husband because his response to your letter was that it was abdicating of duty, lacking integrity, and not worth our time. I disagree with him about not being worth our time but agree with his assessment of your neglect of duty to your congregation and lack of integrity in trying to shift the blame. More than anything, I would like for you to understand how you are failing your congregation. It’s not because you are a large church. There are many larger churches that are doing a much better job. I’ve attended a couple and had friends at others. I have friends who are ministers across the Christian spectrum, and when I’ve spoken to them about this situation all have been shocked. When I called a close friend tonight, an assistant minister at large Charlotte Baptist church, to get council on this issue he was appalled by the entire paragraph after your bullet points. Like me, he was flummoxed by the meaning of your second sentence.
After my consultations, discussions with <husband> I feel you must read and consider as the minister of your congregation. As you know, the verb form of minister means to attend to the needs of others. It is the most basic calling of a minister. In your letter to <husband>, you wrote that you were sorry if we “feel that you failed in ministering to our family.” Wait… remove your pride from this, as a minister you had five members of your congregation that were directly impacted (family) and a spouse (me) and future child that needed to ministering. YOU FAILED TO MINISTER TO OUR FAMILY, there is no interpretation of that or blame shifting. You were their minister and you did not minister to them. You sent no one else to minister to them. Even if you did not know about the situation before <baby>’s birth, the fact that she and I both almost died, she was at the hospital for nine weeks. <husband>’s small groups teacher and others in the church knew this information. You, your teachers, your staff, and elders of the church failed in ministering because relevant information about the needs of the congregation were not passed along in a way that they could be addressed.
Ultimately, what is done or not done falls squarely on your shoulders. If your teachers, assistants, assistant ministers are not giving you information about families in need, then it is your responsibility to find that out and fix the problem. You should not require a family in the midst of a crisis to contact you for comfort or solace. If their need is know by a single person of authority in the church, then it should be passed up the chain. My husband and stepchildren would have found great comfort in having someone from their church come to them. As they watched as my priest from <local church> and my priest from my home church (2 hours away) came to be by my side, they began to question the church experience that they had at <minister’s church>. They did not feel like they are an important part of the church.
Please don’t think that I don’t understand because I am an Episcopalian, or I have always attended small churches. <Our local church> has several hundred members. However, the churches that I attended in both Atlanta and Austin, TX had 5,000 and 2,000 members respectively. I did not know all of the priests at either church, but I knew a few well at both. I knew them because they put themselves out to know their congregates, the called, emailed, and even visited my home. When I did not attend for several weeks, someone would call and check on me.
Sir, I hope that you can understand that while your church may be a perfect fit for many people it is not for our family. I hope that you will take my critique into consideration. It is not in my nature to write this type of email, but I think that your church can do better. I think that your congregation deserves more. Personally, I hate that this happened in a way that we are unable to return.