Pastors take disruption of services in stride

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you're not welcome at church, where are you welcome? Once just a rhetorical question, it has taken on new import in the wake of the recent events in Bertha, Minn., where the Roman Catholic Church got a restraining order to keep a teenager with autism from disrupting its masses.

In fact, disruptions are not at all unusual during services, especially at downtown Minneapolis churches, where clergy deal with everything from people trying to give their own sermons to a man who recently marched down the main aisle of Central Lutheran Church carrying a suspicious-looking aluminum briefcase.

But the clergy, who feel that it's part of their mission to embrace the local communities, take it all in stride.

"We're an open campus that serves a community with a lot of street people," said the Rev. D. Foy Christopherson of Central Lutheran Church, 333 S. 12th St. "And we welcome them with open arms."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry

Posted May 31, 2008 at 8:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Ken Peck wrote:

I gather that the issue was not, as this report seems to imply, that the 6’+, 200 lb, 13-year-old boy was “disruptive.” The concern of the parish council and priest was that of the <b>safetly of others in the parish. And while the mother justifies the boy’s behavior, she largely affirms that he was physically attacking and otherwise endangering others at the church.

May 31, 9:38 pm | [comment link]
2. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

We struggled with this problem in Pittsburgh - in relation to the homeless - and came up with the following solution. It’s worked fairly well to date, but how many of us are blessed with a mission like Shepherd’s Heart on our doorstep?

A Pastoral Relationship: Trinity Cathedral and Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship

May 31, 10:07 pm | [comment link]
3. Brian of Maryland wrote:

It’s always a fine line between hospitality and risk management.  Ahhh ... the joys of leading a church in the post-modern era ...


May 31, 10:11 pm | [comment link]
4. Katie My Rib wrote:

I was once physically attacked by a mentally disturbed street person during a worship service.  He suddenly and without warning became violent and stepped across the aisle and slugged me in the eye, and then jumped the pastor.  Now, by no means would I want people with mental illness to be kept out of church, nor those who are mentally challenged, nor those who are homeless, nor any number of other situations.  But actions have consequences, and if/when people are threatened or have reason to feel threatened physically while in church, then the congregation leaders have the responsibility to take steps to protect those attending the services.  No one likes those type of situations, but sometimes there are no other ways to handle things safely.

May 31, 11:17 pm | [comment link]
5. RMBruton wrote:

I thought that s what ushers were for.

June 1, 10:14 am | [comment link]
6. libraryjim wrote:

Ushers aren’t bouncers.  Most of the time they are older men of the congregation whose main duty is to point out empty seats, pass the plate for the offering, and indicate when the next pew can go up for communion.

Jim Elliott <><

June 1, 4:27 pm | [comment link]
7. nwlayman wrote:

Once upon a time there was an ordained order of Doorkeepers.  THis happened alot less with them there, or they wouldn’t have been thought of.  But then, the Christians saw what a disaster it was when they had the congregation exchange the Peace…And they dropped it!
The modern Christians should obviously revive the one and drop the other.  But most of the obvious things aren’t done by modern Christians.

June 1, 6:46 pm | [comment link]
8. stjohnsrector wrote:

Several of our ushers are current and retired Police Officers, so they do overlap in a protective roll.

Two weeks ago I had a person sit in the front row at the 8am Service and fold a bag of laundry throughout the service.  This morning someone at the 8am service kept walking back and forth across the front of the pews to light candles and return to their seat.  Thankfully, my sermon put her to sleep - she laid down in the front pew and snored through the rest of the service.  At the 8am service one person out of 40 in a chapel that seats 125 can be a real distraction.  The distractions blend in better at the larger 10am service - which is also where our ushers are a bit more pro-active in keeping those who are/might be disruptive from having free reign.
Our policy is that all people are to be welcomed as guests - as if they were Jesus himself…unless the prove otherwise by their behaviour.
Some of our current parishioners started out as “questionable” behaviour people, but who settled in and have become a part of the worshipping community.

June 1, 10:34 pm | [comment link]
9. RevK wrote:

Throughout the Middle East, Christian churches have armed guards - often inside the church as well as outside.  When the vicar says, “Let us pray,” you only close one eye.

June 1, 11:49 pm | [comment link]
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