Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Um ...

I had the following comment left on the blog today under the posting about listening to the crickets ...

Man you know how to hold a grudge against an entire town. Not everyone in Minnedosa wanted you to leave. Don't put Minnedosa over as a hell-hole because some of the people that live there screwed you over.

I have to confess, I'm not sure how or where the author of the comment drew the conclusion from THAT particular posting that I bear a grudge against an entire town ... listening to the crickets that night and musing on them had NOTHING to do with Minnedosa, except that I simply don't remember hearing them when I lived there ... and it was a sound that I hadn't missed until I heard it AGAIN ...

But having said THAT ... I still weep and grieve over what Minnedosa is and has done to me ... I LOVED that town ... from the first time I saw it back in the fall of 1994 when M, a very young Noahkila and I were driving east down the Yellowhead and looked up the valley from the highway out by the Grain elevator and we BOTH said - "wow, that town looks pretty, we'll have to come back to visit some time ..." all the way through to the first day I was toured around the town by one of the members of the search committee ... I fell in love with Minnedosa ...

I've wanted to be part of improving and making that town more than it is, and what it COULD be ... I tried in spite of EVERYTHING to share my enthusiasm for the community that it is and that it could be ... BUT ...

Those who didn't want me to leave were overwhelmed by those who did ... and I do NOT believe that the numerical power and strength was on the side of those who wanted to see the back side of me ... I think fear and complacency set in, and too many good people chose to do NOTHING for fear of offending their neighbours ... and so I became the sacrificial lamb ... or the scape goat ... or whatever term you chose to use ...

Do I bear a grudge ?? ... yeah, I guess I do ... but after death threats, the abandonment of people I called friends, the slashing of my van tire, shots at my house AND my van, the savage brutality of anonymous calls to Childrens' Aid accusing me of BEATING my children, the destruction of my reputation, the accusations of a dozen or more outrageous and TOTALLY UN-TRUE rumours, and the inability and UNWILLINGNESS of ANYONE to take these things seriously and STAND UP WITH ME TO SAY - ENOUGH!!!!! ... I think I have reason to bear a grudge ...

Minnedosa stripped me of much ... and couldn't offer even the slightest "Thank You" for anything that I did that was positive ... the simple fact that following the fire of February 12th 2006, the Board of Minnedosa United Church fell all over itself to thank the people involved in ALL manner of help and assistance following the fire ... but at NO POINT was there a public "thanks" offered to me ... I heard it repeatedly from the Congregation members and from people in town who said it over and over - but I NEVER heard it, nor felt it offered officially by the Board or its members ... THEN when I called them on it, they said - "you're paid staff, we shouldn't have to thank you"

The funny thing is ... following a leave in the summer of 2006, I sat in the back of the Sanctuary on my first Sunday back and listened as the fill in (who was paid) was offered lavish thanks for "All that HE did for us over the summer." And at a concert in Minnedosa the Board Chair had previously thanked the Organist and the Secretary for "all they've done" ... and all the while, the two words I wish I could have heard remained absent ...

So do I hold a grudge ??? I guess I do ... and for good reason ...

There are many good people in Minnedosa, and many I miss dearly ... but unfortunately my memoreis and my experience of the community are shaped, not by them, but by the ones who were hypocritical, toxic, brutish, nasty and just plain savage ...

I wanted to be part of Minnedosa becoming a fabulous community ... and instead my family and I were rejected from the day we arrived ... the fact that Noahkila was in Brandon for exactly 3 hours before he was invited to his first Birthday party, after 8 years of kids gladly coming to his parties, but never reciprocating spoke volumes ... Minnedosa is NOT the Valley Paradise it thinks itself to be, and my conversations on Sunday with two other who have experienced its brutality, simply deepened my sadness that too many good people are letting the nasty people triumph ...

I'm sorry for my grudge ... and I'm sorry I feel the way I do ... but after 8 years of trying to give my best to Minnedosa, only to be rejected the way I was ... it will take time to heal ... There are many good people in Minnedosa, and that is perhaps the saddest part of this whole mess ... it could have been very different had the good people stood tall and strong and not ran away in fear ...

As a wise man said - "the only thing needed for the triumph of evil, is for people of good faith to do nothing ..." Today, looking back, Minnedosa is proof of that ... and that fact alone makes me weep ...

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

and of course you were not to blame for anything that happened to you --right

Bill said...

a wise one told me once:
Only the undeserving seek out the praise they think they deserve.

shawn said...

You know ... I was tempted NOT to post this anonymous comment - BUT - I have decided to because it is written in COMPLETE AND UTTER IGNORANCE of what has transpired over the last 18 months and has overlooked the REALITY of what occurred in Minnedosa.

In January of 2007, we asked for help from Presbytery, and Presbytery arranged for a 333/363 review, which involved an examination of the Church and the Ministry Personnel (me) and the failure of the Pastoral Relationship they were engaged in.

Step one was to arrange a highly regarded individual to come in and DO that review - step two was to have people from the Church AND the community come and speak with him ... the first failure of this process happened here ... a well orchestrated and well-scripted process kicked in that had a couple of people ensuring that the "RIGHT" voices got to the table to tell them what I had done
"wrong" ... those voices, many of whom were contacted and urged to share their minor complaints (most of which were several years old), dominated the discussion.

The next step in the process was the preparation of the review ... I still have copies of the preliminary documentation ... it was HEAVILY biased against me, and I expressed that at the time ... I was being held to the fire for things (rightly) while the Board and the OTHER STAFF where being overlooked completely for their behaviour ... When the final report came down it began with the contention that there were many pre-existing and systemic problems in the Pastoral Charge - it RIGHTLY held me to task for things I had done - BUT - it completely overlooked things OTHERS had done - particularly the actions of Board Members, other staff and key people in the Church, including previous ministry personnel who repeatedly undermined my ministry - THEN, the document ended with the effective positing of EVERY PROBLEM in Minnedosa on my shoulders !!!

In July of 2007 when I read the document my first reaction was a very blunt - WHAT THE FUCK ??!!

I expressed to it repeatedly that the 333 was flawed and unbalanced ... while I didn't like the 363, I accepted it and submitted myself to the discipline of presbytery which required many things:

- suspension from ministry, which meant NOT being part of a long awaited wedding of a very close family friend ...
- attendance at a psycho-vocational assessment where I underwent four intensive days of testing, interviews and counselling resulting in a 25+ page document laying bare by person, my soul and my psyche
- I met with a Psychologist for four months regularly under order of Presbytery
- I attended workshops on order of Presbytery to address a variety of issues and submitted to the interogation and further discipline of Presbytery on the basis of written submission made to them on a regular basis
- I met with a focus group for several months to integrate the learnings and experiences from ALL of the above
- and I was required to meet regularly with various bodies of Presbytery to address the issues that arose out of the 363, and to heal, grow and mature from them ...

ALL the while, the Board and those who had engaged in toxic and brutish behaviour in Minnedosa were immune from the kind of process I was engaging in ... the perception remains that I, Shawn was solely to blame for the issues and problems in Minnedosa - not only is that a simplistic rendering of the whole mess, it is simply NOT TRUE.

There was an epic failure on all levels of Church leadership to lead ... the behaviour I engaged in was wrong and I have undergone discipline and remedial actions as a result - THAT CAN NOT BE SAID ABOUT A SINGLE MEMBER OF THE MINNEDOSA PASTORAL CHARGE OR ITS BOARD.

shawn said...

DAMNED ... hit the wrong button ...

to conclude ... The issue is not that I was or was not innocent. I've never made that claim.

The issue is one of fairly distributing the responsibility (NOT BLAME - RESPONSIBILITY) in Minnedosa.

I've MORE than borne my share of responsibility - in fact, looking back, I have borne way more than my share of responsibility for the things I actually did and the things I am falsely ACCUSED of havign done ...

My issue remains - the other parties in the whole affair got off scott-free, and we never called to account for THEIR actions - and in a Church setting, a place where justice is supposedly central - that is simply and utterly WRONG.

I've never said, nor will I say I am innocent ... I continue to pray that justice will prevail and EVERYONE (quite likely the anonymous poster themselves) will be called to account for thier part in this ...

The seven inches of documentation that sits by my feet in a briefcase is proof of my responsibility in this ... I've yet to see the Board members who engaged in reprehensible and dispicable behaviour be called to anything even remotely similar ... and UNTIL THAT IS ADDRESSED, MINNEDOSA REMAINS A PLACE WHERE JUSTICE IS UTTERLY AND COMPLETELY ABSENT ...

shawn said...

Thanks Bill ...
You ARE absolutely right ...

The praise and thanks I got from the people in and around Minnedosa for simply being me and being there as their minister, means more to me than any hypocritical utterance I would hear from the Board.

The many people who have, with tears in their eyes said "thanks" and expressed remorse at how I have been treated (it happened yesterday in MY front yard here in Brandon), mean more to me than they know ...

Empty praise is meaningless ... and I never entered ministry to be thanked ... I entered ministry to DO MINISTRY and to take my lumps ... this has never been about hearing the words "thanks" or being praised - it's been about fairness in how you treat one another ... AND more importantly, it is about calling people to responsibility for THIER bad behaviour, NOT just scapegoating one individual and pretending everything is ALL better when he is driven out ...

The Church can and MUST do better than it has by me ... our faith and our humanity demands it ...

heartnurse said...

wow! You do live in the wild west. Shots at your house?
Look at it this way, you had some help in understanding and learned a lesson. The others will go on with what they were doing with the next clergy and the rest will remin indifferent. OR continue to push yor buttons.

shauna said...

Shawn, I can't imagine. But you've gained valuable insight and understanding while others choose to remain ignorant. My thoughts and prayers are with you.