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About Pastor Dan

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

A couple of weeks ago, a woman and her two kids showed up in church just before worship began. She told me that she'd gotten beat up by her boyfriend, that she and the kids had stayed in a motel in York Saturday night, and now they were trying to get back to her parents' place in Toledo. Could she get some help for a tank of gas and lunch? I talked to one of her boys, who sullenly confirmed that they'd been in a hotel the night before.

I thought something was fishy, but I went to find the Consistory president anyway. I asked him if we had a fund to help with such a situation. He responded that one used to exist, but no longer. Between my doubts and not wanting to make this family wait while we passed the hat in front of her, I made a decision. I went back to the mother and told her I was very sorry, but we couldn't help. If she wanted to wait until after church, I might be able to cook something up, but at the moment (five minutes before church started), there wasn't a heckuvalot I could do. She said they couldn't afford to wait that long, and off they went.

A member of the Consistory saw them leave, and once I explained the situation, she chased out after them to see if she could help, but they were already gone. It stuck in her craw (and in mine), and at the Consistory meeting last Thursday, she brought the matter up. We agreed that aid to those in need was a basic function of the church; she was even able to quote "as you do it to the least of these..." So we decided to put some money back into the Samaritan Fund, so that some would be available should another situation like this arise.

On Sunday morning, I asked the congregation to go one better, and make an extra donation to the newly reconstituted fund. Well, we collected over $200, which is not bad from a group of 58 people. But some members were upset that the situation had come up in the first place, and told me that I'd made the wrong decision. I ended up having to defend myself from unspoken charges of hardheartedness.

But yesterday afternoon, I got a call from the President of the Consistory. He'd heard through the grapevine that this same woman in weeks past had visited on two separate Sundays two Methodist congregations, one in Spring Grove and one in New Oxford. The only problem? They shared the same pastor, who of course recognized her from her first visit. That doesn't prove much, but it tells me that perhaps my pastor-sense was on the money here.

Or maybe not. More later.
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