Dear White American Pastor…

Dear Pastor, 

I was incredibly blessed by your defense of expository preaching in your sermon last Sunday. The way you always manage to provide such vivid details from Bible verses is encouraging and inspiring, and upon reflection, I can’t think of a Sunday where you haven’t defended your methods, making it clear that as a congregation we benefit most from reading the Bible in context and methodically going over it verse by verse. Pastor, you answer questions that I’ve never even thought to ask, I suspect this is true for most of our congregation. 

I also want to express my appreciation for rarely, if ever bringing up anything that is happening in the world or our nation. All week long we are subjected to bad news via the television, radio, internet, newspapers, but on Sunday we hear nothing of it. You focus on sharing the good news exclusively, and unlike the bad news we hear during the week, we don’t have to spend too much time thinking about the things that you repeatedly share. I always feel better after having gone to church, because the positive and inspirational stories you share have far less impact on my life than the negativity I’m bombarded with all week. I mean have you seen these gas prices? 

I know last year when that Black guy Floyd was killed, you had to say something. So, there was that one sermon you preached about everyone calming down and getting along. I appreciate the way you handled that, by pointing out that there is lots of blame to go around, and that as Christians our “identity is in Christ” so we shouldn’t even see skin color, but instead focus on what we have in common. And the way you enlightened us to the dangers of this new-fangled “Critical race” mumbo jumbo, I tell you what Pastor, if we aren’t careful they will be teaching this Marxist garbage in schools next. Thank you for pointing out that “All lives matter” to God, and reminding us of this ever present evil of abortion that plagues our land. We sure need to do something about that! 

But it was probably wise of you not to be too outspoken on these divisive issues? After all, like Deacon Smith said that one time in our business meeting “We really don’t have a problem with things like that around here.” So why waste valuable pulpit time talking about it? I mean we don’t even have any Black people in our church, so it really doesn’t concern us now does it. We hear enough of it all week long, no need to hear it again on Sunday. And I for one appreciate when all that mess happened at the Capitol Building you didn’t say a word. Thank you! 

You have a way of generally saying things that gets the message across without going into too much detail, and I think in this way you are doing what Jesus instructed when he said,  “Be wise as serpents.” Your ability to slither in and out of these issues with vague generalities that everyone agrees with is brilliant. I wish my doctor could take lessons from you. You know she had the audacity to actually ask what I’m eating and then proceeds to tell me “Fried chicken isn’t helping with my cholesterol.” Who does that? Just share the general medical information and like you say “Let the Holy Spirit do the rest!” 

But I do like when you open up that Bible and start to explain the passage; in that respect, you are like a doctor with a scalpel doing surgery. I like how you distinguish between what is applicable now and what isn’t, it’s mesmerizing. Like that one time when we were in one of the Corinthians, and you talked about how women are generally equal to men except for pastoral leadership and how that they can function in every spiritual gift except that, I tell you Pastor, I don’t know when I’ve ever heard it made so clear. Of course, It was interesting how the following week in Sunday School we talked about that woman in Judges who did a lot of leading and fighting? Deborah, I think? But maybe that is one of those parts of the Bible that doesn’t apply any more, like those commands not to eat shrimp or wear polyester. Or like all those times Paul said to “Greet your brother with a holy kiss.” Boy, Pastor I’m glad you made it clear that was something Paul and those fellas did in their culture and doesn’t apply to ours. Paul sure did spend a lot of time preaching about his culture, didn’t he? How did you put it, oh yeah, “I ain’t about to kiss no burly man!” I don’t say “amen” out loud too often, but I did that day. 

That sermon was almost as good as the one you preached about idolatry, when you pointed out all the things we worship instead of Jesus. Things like sex, money, food, houses, Hollywood and such. That was the week of July 4th if my memory serves, I remember because the praise team opened up with the most beautiful rendition of American the Beautiful I believe I’ve ever heard. American flags draped every wall of the auditorium, and the first-grade children’s class led us all in the Pledge of Allegiance, it was beautiful. I got to tell you, I teared up a bit. 

I do have one complaint that I need to bring to your attention. As I was walking in Wednesday night for Bible study, I very nearly stepped in a big pile of dung to put it biblically. I don’t know if there is Great Dane loose in the neighborhood; but it was a huge pile that reeked, the custodian will probably have to dig out one of the winter snow shovels to remove it. I mean it is bad. 

As I think about it now, I do remember reading in the bulletin that the theme of this year’s Vacation Bible School is “Blessings under the Big Top.” We always spend so much of our budget on VBS, but is a circus at the church really necessary?

 Pastor, is there an elephant in our church?  

Sincerely, 

G.O. Patterson 

Andre Henry “I don’t think I’ll go to church this Sunday!”

3 thoughts on “Dear White American Pastor…

  1. Honestly…this article nails why I eventually stopped even listening to sermons online.

    After the 2021 storming of the United States capitol (this is what Wikipedia calls it because I’m not in the mood to argue about what it was or wasn’t), I had hoped that my pastor would say something–especially since there seemed to be a lot of white Christians like the
    ones who attended my church in the crowd. But he simply bowed his head and prayed for unity without even naming what had happened.

    It was then that I realized that the church I attended, despite being progressive in some ways, was still meant for a person who fits in a particular mold–and the pastor was not willing to challenge that status quo. As a queer person, I had already realized that I didn’t fit in that mold; realizing just how narrow it was across the board left a bad taste in my mouth.

    (I guess what I’m getting at is–the church won’t condemn the white nationalism it has had a hand in fostering, but I get a lecture from the college minister for trying to be comfortable in my body? That’s the mold, baby. And unfortunately, that’s the difference between who is and is not welcome in the pews.)

    Anyway, great article! The part about the flags legitimately made me laugh.

    Like

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you found the article funny in places. I’m also glad it resonated with your experience. I appreciate the feedback, and would appreciate you sharing the article to your social media networks and with friends. Sincerely, thank you for the kind words and for being who you are! You are loved and valued.

      Like

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