I hope you receive this letter in the Spirit that it was sent. While I am aware that you might or might not be aware of this situation I was brought up that the Pastor of the church is the under-shepherd and the needs and doing of his flock are at the end of the day his responsibility. In having that understanding I feel it imperative to address you in this letter. In addition I have been trying to be more open in my own life. I feel that pride will sometimes keep you quiet and that often times we are quiet through the test when we should be talking either to uplift another or just to let them know they are not alone. Perhaps even to avail ourselves to the Lord’s blessings.
On Friday you posted the following on your Facebook page “DEEP FRIDAY: God will always send somebody in your life to challenge your contentment. Somebody that will look you in your eye and tell you…”you can do better than you doing”. So stay humble my friend so when it comes it won’t hurt so bad.” I pray this helps and doesn’t hurt.
I am a single mother of four. One in college (Out of state), one in elementary school and two in head start. I am the co-creator of Online Fellowship a non-profit website that spreads the word of the Lord free of charge. From preachers, to poetry, bible studies and even my own writings its on there, including Royal (because we support and spread the word of those we believe are focused on God’s commandments). I grew up in Detroit in a family full of Pastors including my grandfather. I am a member of Royal as of January 2014 but attended since I have been in this area roughly 4 years. I believe in living in a kind manner. I love people and typically believe in the good of all people. This often times leads me to being disappointed and sometimes hurt but rarely discouraged or disheartened. However never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would be so disheartened by Royal.
I believed when I joined Royal that I was casting my lot with a Church that believed in the same principles that I value in the Bible for example: Proverbs 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”– when you already have it with you.
What is she talking about?
When I joined Royal I never thought that I would have to ask for anything. I am accustomed to being able to provide for myself and my family. There was even a time when I worked three jobs while in college to make ends meet. I have worked since I was 15 years old and I am much older than that now. I joined because I believe in the fellowship of one or more being gathered in His name. I believe in connecting with others that have the same belief in helping, in serving, in sacrificing.
I thought I joined a church that was growing in an area of North Charleston where there is so much help needed that they would never close their doors because there had to be much work to be done. That’s where I needed to be. See I was working in that area helping the children of Charleston County who had suspected developmental delays and I was a Parent Educator both helping parents become their child’s first teacher and advocates in determining if there was a delay that needed to be addressed. I reached out to you then and stated that I would be willing to come to the church and screen the children free of charge so that they could get referrals if needed and never heard anything back. That was my work and this was my church so I wanted to get in there and be of service. However all of that changed in May when I unexpectedly lost my job. See this has been a really tough year for me. I unexpectedly lost my father in February and at the same time I lost about half of my pay for a month. Then just as I was bouncing back from travel expenses etc. I lost my job. Because of the way our payroll was processed that Friday was my last pay. I am not receiving unemployment and all I needed was a little financial assistance.
Being a private person I asked all of the other resources I could think of before trying Royal. I have never been great at begging and thought well at least try with the folks you won’t have to look in the face every Sunday first. Not like anyone there knows who I am, right? At any rate all other options fail. I call the church and as I speak with the church secretary I am first told that you do not do rental assistance. Wait, you sit in one of the poorest areas of North Charleston and are building a million dollar facility? How can you not do rental assistance? But ok. Ma’am not even for the members? Oh you are a member in that case you need to speak to your deacon and he will tell you the process. My deacon? Who might that be? (For privacy sake lets just say Deacon umm BLUE). Ok might I have his number?
I call Deacon “BLUE” who asks me a few questions, do you attend the church, what happened, etc etc. I explain yes I am a member. I lost my job and haven’t found anything else yet. That I am from the North so I do not have family here to assist and that I am just in financial peril and looking for August rent. That my daughter needed extra money because she transferred to an out of state college for her major and that she did not get on-campus housing so what I had I needed to use for her to get a home at school. Was I supposed to leave her homeless? He inquired well what will you do next month? Next month? At this rate I pray not packing. I do not know? I am looking for work, maybe my unemployment will be approved anything. I don’t owe next month yet but I am behind this month. OK he says I will get back to you after I meet with “THE COMMITTEE”
Three more conversations and a Sunday later I am called back. I’m sorry he says, but the committee met and reviewed your case and they are not willing to help you. They said that they looked at your financial record and it looks like you only gave 1.00 since you joined and you are not on any committees or anything so they decided not to help you. Excuse me Deacon can you repeat that last part again? This time slower he repeats, you are not on any committee and you are not contributing to the finances of the church so there is no help for you. (Camille, Deep breath please don’t start the sentence off with that word.) I needed it to be repeated as a pinch to wake me out of my disbelief not because I couldn’t comprehend. I sat stupefied for a moment in utter shock and heartbreak as to what I just heard. He then went on to say that they have a employment thing on Saturdays to come there. Ok that sounds good but the emergent need is now. What about that, I have a bunch of suggestions and until one of them pans out. My main focus is keeping a roof its hard to focus on much else. I am looking Daily!
My response to him was as follows and I need to share this with you all. I am disheartened by your decision. I have given to the church on many occasions (sometimes scrapping the bottom of my purse for the last bit of money I had) but I never put it in an envelope because I was giving it to God not to man so I didn’t care about a tax receipt. I thought I was joining with a part of the body of Christ not a credit union where I needed to give in order to receive. I am so disappointed, as a matter of fact Pastor to use your own words “you can be doing better than you are doing”.
I am hoping that you can help me understand because if you read my writings on here you will learn that I don’t believe in the business of the church not being dynamic. I tell people when they say church is a social club that it is not. That it is where you go when you are trying to be be better and that part of being better is sacrificial service to others. But what are you doing when you can tell a mother with small children who is trying no because she didn’t give? Do you have any idea what it took for me to pay for daycare alone when I was working? No you don’t because that wasn’t part of my interview for credit approval. But I gave what I could. Do you have any idea how much stress and pressure I have been under? No it wasn’t part of the credit approval process. But I gave what I could. The deacon didn’t even ask to pray with me. I guess a dollar doesn’t buy you prayer. I have heard you ask the congregation for money for this new building so many times. Do you realize how much money the church would have on any given Sunday if you asked the church to give 50 cents for a special offering for those in need? .50 cents not even a dollar?
See I come from a family of preachers and I watched my grandmother cook almost everyday and serve plates out the back door to people in the neighborhood and we would sometimes eat green beans with tomatoes on top because she had given them all the chicken. I watched my grandfather give the church 10.00 when all he had was five. I watched the deacons go into their pockets and give people who wondered in on off the streets money for food and a ride to the store. I also saw them rarely go without for long. So I believe in giving my food away when I see a homeless person or giving them my last bit of money because it is who God calls us to be. I believe in servicing those who are ignored or treated poorly. I believe in caring for the least of these. So understand I am having a hard time understanding why I should stay associated with a church that says no because I didn’t give money. Now if it was because I wasn’t on the choir or usher board etc. I was still working for the church through my work with Online Fellowship. Humbly and quietly. Also while I love to sing and sing loud in the congregation I do not have child care because I have no family here. I also used to leave my house at 6:20 am dropping children off at school and not return until 7:00 pm and still need to cook dinner and check homework. I wish I could have been on the choir but I didn’t know that it was a requirement to be considered worthy of assistance in time of need.
A few months ago I received an email from another member. She was reaching out to our site to say that she was leaving Royal because of the way she was treated by the deacons when she needed help (Let me know if you want to see the email, I will forward it to you only). She stated she reached out for help and in turn the deacons threatened to call agencies against her. Because I was a member and because I know that one bad run in with a church can unfortunately turn people away from Christ. I reached out to her. At the time my job gave me access to a lot of local charities and support agencies. I offered her clothing for her and her daughter, food and help with transportation and utilities. I explained to her that I was not trying to influence her decision to stay at Royal but I wanted her to know that GOD is love and ever helping, He doesn’t abandon us based on what we can give Him and that there are children of His who believe in that. I told her I wanted her to know that as my sister in Christ that I loved her even though I had no idea who she was but I was there to help. I told her I hoped there had been some misunderstanding between her and Royal and to never give up on Christ. However I sadly now know the reality of the committee.
I know many members will give and never have to come to you for help. I know that you are building that big fancy new building and that you have big plans for it. I also know that none of that will impress God. That the same standards that we judge by are the standards by which we will be judged. Imagine that getting to heaven and asking to come in and God saying, “No, the committee said you didn’t give enough”.
I’m writing through my emotions and trying to speak from a place of love and reproach. I hope I wrote this well and wasn’t too long winded. I hope you understand that I am hurt but do not wish to hurt or embarrass you or the church. I hope to challenge your contentment with the way the least of these are handled. As well as to display my own weakness and need for Gods hand in my life. God bless you all and keep you.
The Sheep and the Goats
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I would add my member id but like i said I don’t know where those envelopes are.