SEPTEMBER 23, 2016

We are grateful for these words from our Pensacola District Superintendent, Dr. Timothy Trent. May these thoughts bring healing and may the peace of Christ be with us all, indeed.

Now that I have had a little time to finally catch my breath, I felt like writing to you. For all of us, the last couple of weeks have been heartbreaking. One of our brothers in Christ, a fellow laborer in the field, has fallen. Has broken covenant and a sacred trust.

Our hearts have ached for David and Jennie, their family, their Church, their community, our District, our Conference, and all affected by what has transpired. So many people, so much hurt. We have felt a wide range of emotions and feelings and, if you are like me, still feel an overwhelming sense of sadness.

I have learned a few things through this experience. First, we don’t know how to talk about this kind of thing. In the last few years we, as a Conference, have had about five different experiences with those in covenant with us breaking covenant. We talk about it but with a whisper. We somehow think it’s wrong to talk about it. We think it is more akin to gossip. Folks, talk to one another! One of our problems as clergy, as I see it, is we “visit” with one another but we really don’t know how to talk openly and honestly with one another. I encourage you to be in a group of two or three and make a covenant with each other that you are going to speak openly and honestly with each other and have the trust and openness to speak from the gut.

Secondly, I realize we don’t know how to deal with our own feelings and emotions. With this situation I have been on an emotional roller coaster. I have felt sadness, betrayal, hurt, disillusionment, disbelief, anger and then guilt for feeling angry. A few years ago I got therapy for being a child of an alcoholic. There were a couple of things I learned. One is alcoholic families live in secrecy, or at least we think we do! The community knows, but we try to keep it a secret and we don’t talk about what is going on. I see that happening with us in dealing with our grief about David. Folks, what has happened is no secret. It has been publicized from USA Today to the Washington Post! Talk about your feelings and emotions. You’re not feeling anything everyone else isn’t feeling. I still have an issue of sharing my real feelings and emotions with those I’m closest to (child of an alcoholic!) but I’m a work in progress. I also learned that you’d better own your feelings and emotions or they will own you! Be honest with yourself about what you are feeling, name it and claim it, and know that whatever the feeling or emotion is, it is okay. You have the right to feel what you feel.

Finally, I want to say, we will continue to love David and Jennie and their family and minister to them however we can. Right now, they are broken vessels and it is incumbent upon us to try to hold the pieces together so the Potter can do His work! I was reminded Wednesday before last that that date in 1963 was when the church bombing took place at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. That day four precious, innocent children lost their lives. We grieved as a nation. What I find fascinating about that Sunday is the sermon titled for that Sunday morning: “A Love That Forgives.” How prophetic and profound! My friends, that is our role in this as we minister to David and Jennie and their family. We have to have a love that forgives.

So we support them, we support each other. We pray for them, we pray for one another. We minister to them, we minister to one another. We care for them, we care for one another. Please lean on each other in these times. We have all been affected. May we love each other with a love that forgives!

May the Peace of Christ be with you all!
Dr. Tim Trent
Pensacola District Superintendent