Pastor Clint's final column.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:2-6 (CEB)
As many of you may know, this is the last newspaper article I will be writing to you as my time of being a pastor in this community is coming to an end. It has been a great four years, as I am thankful for the wonderful memories I have had with both my church and this community. I have gotten to know some really great people here and my kids have made great friends and have been blessed by our wonderful public school. You all also didn’t throw me to the wayside after my DUI arrest, and the amount of love and support I have received since my cancer diagnosis has been tremendous. I truly love you all and am thankful for each one of you.
But, as a pastor, I am called to challenge the folks who listen to my messages and I won’t change that here. One of the things that has really bothered me since I came here is the division and animosity that our local churches have shown to each other and to those who aren’t seen inside church walls. We talk about how in the past, the railroad tracks divided the Catholics and the Protestants and the ways that the local churches and schools have clashed over things. I have heard numerous stories from people here in town, who do not go to church anymore, due to the harsh and judgmental things they have been told by church members after they had a child out of wedlock, had a divorce, etc. I’m sorry, but this is not okay. Church doctrine is important, as it shapes our faith and gives us guidelines to live by. But when we put doctrine over people, that is when bad things happen.
But I have seen good things happen here. I have made friends with people who go to different churches, many who have blessed me and my family in various ways. I have become friends with some pretty good pastors here, including Pastor Nate Luong and Pastor Chris Cordes. Let me share with you a picture of what real Christian community looks like from something that really happened in our town. Recently, my tumors have begun to grow again and with that, fluid likes to build up around my right lung, making it hard to breathe. Dr. Adam Armbruster, a Catholic, has bent over backwards in various ways to take care of me, including working outside of his shifts to get me the help I need. One of those times was when I had to go to our hospital to have a draining done and was put in a procedure room. There were doctors and nurses from at least three of our local churches there, who all wanted to help out. My wife, Samantha, who has been a rock through this whole ordeal, broke down due to this being the third time in a week I needed a draining and from everything else going on. One of the nurses, who attends a different church, sees this and drapes her arms over her and consoles her. I was struggling too, and another one of the nurses, who actually used to attend my church but went to another, grabbed my hand and held it throughout the whole process.
Brothers and sisters, this is what Jesus desires from us: People from different churches putting petty differences aside to love one another and helping those in need. I received a clearer vision of Christ’s love that day that any amount of Bible reading, prayer, etc.
You are great people and I believe in you. A lot of damage has been done in the past, but Christ offers us a wonderful future. Please continue to move forward in God’s love and be a beacon of light to those around you. I look forward to seeing how God transforms this town through you.