What Happened This Weekend

         Well, my daughter got her first hair cut, the Patriots won the Superbowl, oh yeah, and TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE READ MY STORY OF LEAVING THE CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE.

         Let me just say that having your story read by thousands of people you don’t know is nerve racking. At a certain point, you have no control of what people will do with you. Most people sent words of care and comfort. Some have shared their stories of staying or leaving. Some have questioned my story. A few have questioned my motives. As the number of views and comments grew, I prepared myself for some negative comments. But, you know, it’s still nerve racking.

I want to quickly say a few things and then share something that happened because of that post.

         First, thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been given grace and love that I cannot put into words. I’ve read every word I can find, and I am amazed by the heart of the people of God.

         Second, I’ve heard your stories, and thousands are reading, as well. One of the beauties of the Gospel is God’s willingness to go into the painful places in order to make new life. In sharing these stories, It is my constant prayer that God will work in and through them to bring new life where there is pain. 

         Finally, there’s a lot of questions about that interview. That interview was a pivotal moment in my journey, but it was not the sole reason for my departure. I believe a tense relationship between local churches and educational institutions is a deeper issue––one that won’t be solved quickly. However, since that interview is something more tangible that can be addressed, I have been contacted by leaders who can learn more about that interview. We are working together to offer more thoughts about the interview, and how we can work toward reconciliation. Be looking for something in the coming weeks.

And now, something that surprised me.

         I posted that story Thursday afternoon, and it spread quickly that evening and through the night. First thing in the morning, I received a message from a leader in the church asking me to give him a phone call. I don’t know why, but I was scared. Look, I’m serious, I don’t want to do any harm! I especially felt the guilt of waiting 5 or 6 years before telling this leader about that interview. I was ready to apologize and work together in any way if I’ve caused his ministry harm.

         So I called him, and I launched into my words about how sorry I am that I didn’t bring it up years ago. I didn’t mean for this to get so big. I hope that I’m not causing any damage. And then this leader stopped me and said, “Ric, I’ve asked you to call me so that I can ask for your forgiveness.” I welled up. My heart was full of love. Of course. Of course. I forgive you. I forgive you. You are forgiven. That was it. He didn’t want any more from me. We hung up the phones, and with my heart lifted, I went out with my family and got my daughter a hot cocoa.

         Church of the Nazarene, I love you. Thank you for your love. Let’s continue to work to equip women and men to be faithful and effective ministers of Jesus Christ, and to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

blessings and

peace to your souls †

Ric Shewell