Ethics: Church Rejects Pastor Over His Race

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What would you do Wednesday!

Today’s scenario will be considered from the perspective of a deacon (though church member would work too). In case anyone is wondering, yes, the following scenario, or similar, has happened – sadly.

The senior pastor has been serving in your church for 20 years. The time has come for him to retire. As a deacon, you helped put together a pastoral search committee. However, two weeks ago, before the committee could be formed, the executive pastor of the last seven years asked to be considered for senior pastor role.

The executive pastor’s desire was discussed at the recent deacons’ meeting. News traveled quickly about the executive pastor’s desire. The congregation, from all reports, really loves and respects the executive pastor. He occasionally preaches too and his messages are well-received.

One concern was voiced from some church members to a some deacons. Some people were not sure the executive pastor would be a good senior pastor because he is a racial minority among the congregation. A few of the deacons agreed.

Even so, the executive pastor was put before the church for consideration. The congregation had a 30 days to pray and think about their vote. During these 30 days, several more members contacted the deacons expressing concerns about the executive pastor’s race.

Finally, the 30 days was up and a vote was taken. The by-laws state that the position of senior pastor can only be filled by a candidate who receives 80% or more “yes” votes.

The executive pastor only received 75% “yes” votes. He was not approved. The only objection to the executive pastor taking over as senior pastor was his race.

What would you do?

  • Ask the congregation to re-consider in another 30 days after some open discussion.
  • Begin searching for another pastoral candidate.
  • Find a new church home.
  • Or…

Here I blog…

Mark

p.s. I intentionally left out naming specific races. Given the racial division among most American churches on Sunday morning, any races could probably be used. E.g. A predominately black church could have rejected a white executive pastor or a predominately white church could have rejected a black executive pastor.

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The above article was posted on April 16, 2014 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 rhology April 16, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Call anyone who even raised the issue of race to repent of their sin, discipline them if they won’t repent, and then try again.

2 Larry April 16, 2014 at 1:28 pm

It should never have been allowed to go to a vote with the issue of the pastor’s race undressed. As the previous commenter said, people raising such objections should have been dealt with head on and asked to repent or face church discipline. Given that the church apparently ignored this serious situation and pushed ahead with the vote, I’d be looking for another church.

3 Larry April 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Unaddressed, I mean. :-). Gotta watch that spell check list.

4 Christopher Sanchez April 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm

The issue of racism is raised but the reader is left to conclude that 25% of the votes were against the XP were due to race. There is no way to know this. From what is presented in the hypothetical, there were “some people” concerned about the XP being a racial minority and “a few of the deacons agreed.” Is 1 in 4 members who voted racist? If so, this congregation has other issues.

The people who raised the concern certainly should be dealt with. There should be no room in any of our churches where racism feels comfortable enough to rear its ugly head. Of greater concern to me is that there are deacons who would agree with such nonsense! If racism is present in the congregation and the deacons not only do nothing about it but several agree with the sentiments expressed, larger problems of the heart are present.

Is it a small number of people who happen to have a little support from a few deacons or a larger issue? Again, there is not enough here to say. There very well may be other reasons some chose not to support the XP in his desire to become the senior pastor. More than likely, the average congregant in the pew will never know. If I thought the presence of racism was pervasive I would probably have to seek another church home.

5 GK November 16, 2014 at 1:27 pm

“Some people were not sure the executive pastor would be a good senior pastor because he is a racial minority among the congregation. A few of the deacons agreed.”

People of any race can be shocking racists.
I wouldn’t immediately leave the church as 75% of them voted for the executive pastor. I would encourage the church and deacons to challenge anyone raising objections based on his race.

Can they provide anything more substantial than his race, since he is so well liked and his preaching is so well accepted?
If it is true that “The congregation, from all reports, really loves and respects the executive pastor. He occasionally preaches too and his messages are well-received,” then how exactly will his race be a problem for the church?
How are they not guilty of the sin of partiality, for which James rebuked those who received his letter (James 2:1-9)?
How are they not guilty of hating their brother, which shows that they really walk in darkness/sin (1 John 2:9-11)?

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