Thursday, July 2, 2009

Remember The $600,000 Pastor?

We read of the travails of the new head pastor of New York's Riverside Church a few months ago. It appears that the story has reached what some of us thought would be its inevitable conclusion.

The broader issues involved are rather well explored by the New York Times in this article:

Pastor at Riverside Church Ends Stormy Tenure With Unexpected Resignation

My favorite quotation:
They said he called on worshipers to come forward and bear witness to their faith, favored the gospel choir over the church’s traditional choir, and preached at times what they considered a Riverside heresy: that Jesus and only Jesus was the way to salvation.

Good Lord, what a radical!

I have great sympathy for this pastor as I remember once being called to a parish as an interim specifically for my "high church" liturgical style and slightly more evangelical preaching presentation. Once I was there, the wardens and many, but not most, in the parish became concerned because of my liturgical style and preaching presentation. Huh?

What did the folks at Riverside think they were getting when they hired a young Baptist preacher to be their pastor? The Age of Coffin is over. Like society and even life itself, Christianity moves on. Mainstream Protestantism cannot be preserved in amber. You may try, of course, and congregations that do are dying all the time. Or, one may turn to the eternal source of inspiration, have the confidence of faith, and stride boldly towards that to which we are called.