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A Letter of Interest - Midweek Musing 3/7/2024

The following is my adaptation of a church urban legend I have heard several times before but never with a source I can give any credit or citation.

It seems a church was struggling to find a new pastor after the founding pastor, who had been there almost 40 years, retired and moved away. The process among the selection committee had at times become contentious. The committee could not agree on a candidate.

The person was too old or didn’t have enough experience. Or they had gone to a school too liberal or had preached a sermon someone thought was too fundamental. One candidate was a divorcee with stepchildren, while another applicant was a lifelong bachelorette. One had led a church that dressed casually and didn’t even own robes for the choir. That particular church had a praise band with an electric guitar and drums. Another applicant believed in high church worship including Latin readings, the use of incense and the weekly processional of the worship elements down the aisle at the start of every service.

They had come close to hiring an individual a time or two but as they headed into year three of the search, church membership and giving was declining while tensions and divisions were rising.

Finally, one old wise member of the church approached the committee with a candidate that they told the committee chair that they thought would be perfect.

As the committee sat down one weekday evening to meet with the individual who had asked them to hear about the possible person who might be their pastor, they began by apologizing that they were sorry that they did not have a copy of the letter of interest for everyone but they offered to read it aloud.

The individual began:

“Dear Church Pastor Selection Committee:

I understand that your pulpit is vacant, and I am writing to apply for the position as your pastor.  Although I was not raised as a Christian, and in fact actively opposed Christianity for many years, I am now devoted to my faith after a dramatic conversion experience.

To be frank I have never received any training, and in fact don’t have any degrees on my wall or transcripts for you to request.

My preaching generally receives positive results, though it has led to disagreements which have nearly led to schisms, And before you hear the story from someone else, yes it is true that a young person once fell asleep during a sermon and then fell out the window to his death. 

My personality can be a bit of a rollercoaster. At times I am little bit timid and then sometimes I am overbearing, making bold pronouncements. However, I am known to be a prolific writer and have followed up most of my beliefs in written communication.

Although I have some health issues, they are not life threatening and I am praying to God for help, though I am fairly confident it will not occur. However, please know this has not stopped me from accomplishing a great deal.

Most of the churches I have served have been very small by contemporary standards, but all have grown. Perhaps they could have grown more under my leadership, but I have never stayed in any one place for longer than three years.  My quick departures have occurred in part because I haven’t really gotten along well with other religious leaders in those communities.  In fact, some have threatened me, and even attacked me physically, and well a few times I have been forced to flee after my work has caused riots and other disturbances. Once it was in the middle of the night, but I can share that story with you if I get an interview.

Although I am well regarded as an organizer, I am not a good record-keeper. I have no idea how many people I have baptized or even how many sermons I have preached. 

Most of the churches I have been involved with have thought well enough of me that they have supported me during my several imprisonments. I do think it is a sign of my character that once when I could have escaped jail, I stayed and did not flee to freedom.

Now to be fully transparent, I must also admit, that I am responsible for the violent death of at least one person, which I now deeply regret. On a positive note I have been involved in several faith healings.

You may find this helpful in your deliberations but when the church has been unable to pay my salary, I have been able to support myself, and my long travels, through a variety of jobs outside the church.

I thank you for considering my application and hope to meet you. I promise that if you can use me, I will seek to do my best for you.”

At this point one rather opinionated member of the pastor search committee interrupted asking, “What kind of a joke is this?” He loudly declared that “bringing an uneducated non-credentialed troublemaking possibly bipolar preacher who couldn’t keep a job and was an accomplice to murder was an insult and serious waste of time”. He went on to say that there was no way a former jailbird would fill their beautiful holy pulpit. The man didn’t even have a clue how many baptisms he had performed. And that while it was nice he was a good writer perhaps had he worked harder at ministry he would not have had to take on another job.

The visitor said I am sorry you feel this way. I will let the Apostle Paul know that we are not interested.

Judge not lest ye be judged.

May all those with ears hear.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Alleluia Amen.

Blessings to you all.


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