Monday, February 20, 2012

Controversy Comes to Belvidere Church

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    As we move to the completion of our renovation/expansion and prepare for the dedication on June 3, we're inching closer and closer and closer to the worst controversy in our church's recent history.

    It's the most explosive issue to hit us in nearly two decades.

    Every other problem that we've faced will seem like pachyderms taking on a donkey (synonym) for the White House.

    Having survived a pastoral transition of over seven years, idolaters, auto-suggesters, narcissists, irregulars, irascibles, and irreconcilables who love Jesus by hating everybody else, this one has the potential to tear families apart, cause members to take our dirty laundry into the streets while exposing it in local rags, devastate the budget, and make worship wars look like cold peace.

    Distrust, suspicion, and cynicism recently exorcised may return with even more demonically vile force.

    We may not survive.

    We may be added to the 10+ churches closing their doors every day in America.


    Help us, Jesus!

    We're about to change the locks.

    Just one question will ignite the...

    Who gets keys?


    I've been around long enough to remember the good old days when everybody had a key.

    There was a time when I didn't need to carry one.

    All I had to do was stand on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Main Street in Belvidere (our location) and just ask anyone passing by if I could use theirs.

    Those days are coming to an end; and maybe...

    We may not have to wait for Israel to bomb Iran for Armageddon.

    Requests are coming in via voicemail and e-mail and post-its and finger-pointing-face-to-face...

    And if I texted, twittered, tweeted, or Facebooked, I'd really be...

    So I've started to fast.

    I've gone on retreats.

    Because the Kingdom must surely depend on who gets keys, I've begged Him for revelation.

    Help us, Jesus!

    Who gets keys?


    Keys symbolize volition, ownership, control, prestige, power, and prerogative.

    If I have a key and she/he doesn't, that means I'm...

    Why should she/he have a key and not me?

    It's more polemical than poetic.

    It has the potential to rip us apart.

    Because so much is riding on it, I've promised to up His take on the royalties if you know what I mean.

    I'm bargaining.

    Help us, Jesus!

    Who gets keys?


    O.K., enough fun at our expense.

    Hyperbole can be so exaggerating.

    But, yeah, I'm concerned.

    While it hasn't gone viral, uh, yet, truthfully, I'm being asked.

    Who gets keys?


    Just like some country clubs, it seems easier to get into the eternal family of faith than...

    It only takes believing in Jesus to get into heaven with some very special existential benefits.

    To get a key will require getting approved by, uh, uh, uh,...


    Don't know.

    I guess it will be the church board(s).


    How are they gonna figure out who doesn't get 'em on the board(s)?



    This ain't about need.

    Remember, it's about volition, ownership, control, prestige, power, and prerogative.


    Or maybe it's about being a family of faith.

    Do I deny a family member a key to the house?

    If I can't trust members of my family to...?

    Sure, there's gotta be some common sense.

    Forget that; but...

    Some rooms gotta be off limits to everybody except for the ones who need access.

    Not everybody needs access to...

    You know what I mean.

    But how about fellowship areas, chapel, sanctuary, and, uh, toilets?

    If we trust each other, which is supposed to be a hallmark of the Body of Christ, it makes sense to give keys to "open" areas to everybody in the family!


    Staying with the subject in a bigger picture kinda way, I was stunned by a journalist's take on I Just Wanna Ride (FTW) and its author.

    A big newspaper in the East was/is very interested in the book's theme(s); unlike local versions not to mention my denomination or even presbytery's newsletter(s).

    Of course, the franchise once told Lloyd Ogilvie to take his TV show and...

    If that doesn't work, go to google, search for Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), click on features for 2/19/12, and find the article by Mary Therese Biebel.

    Yeah, there's some shameless self-promotion there; especially for the distrusting, suspicious, and cynical.

    Be that as it is, the journalist really captured the author's heart and soul as much as capturing the author's desire to reflect the heart and soul of...



Blessings and Love!


D.B. Echo said...

Bob, it looks like that "/etc/" in the link is breaking it. Removing it gets you to the post.

And why you gotta curse so @#$% much?

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...

Thanks, brother!

BTW, @#$% isn't a profanity; which I tried to explain long ago.

It's just a way for me to break up my stream of consciousness.

Blessings and Love!

Bill said...

I bet the S-T-U-P-I-D key problem could be fixed easily by asking your insurance company if your rates would be affected by limiting the number of keys in circulation? More keys = higher premiums? Also, have each person pay a key deposit to ensure return (say -- $25 per person) and have them sign a paper that says they will comply with the yearly key census (where someone at the church checks to make sure each person with a signed out key can produce the original key issued to them --- have them numbered for this purpose and stamped "Do Not Duplicate" -- most key cutters will honor this, if it is not the law to require it be honored in Illinois). Anyone losing a key will become PERSONALLY responsible for the cost of rekeying the entire church. (I used to be a locksmith before I was a pastor.)

Also... the session should (MUST???) make the decision -- not the PASTOR -- NEVER the Pastor -- concerning who gets the keys. And they should stick to whatever policy they come up with. If some members are so petty as to quit over not getting a key... wish them Godspeed, and consider that the Holy Spirit is leading them to a new place of more faithful service (and making your church spiritually healthier). If the session sticks to its guns, it will blow over after a while.

ANYONE who asks YOU for a key or about getting a key you must tell these words only: "I am sure that the Session will give your request complete and thoughtful consideration, but as you know, I have no authority to issue keys nor to promise anyone that they will get one." This lets the Session do a BIG part of its job -- to stand between you and a**hole posers who will make any issue a personal problem between you and them. Instead, you are the nice pastor who has not refused them anything and are pointing them to the proper place to make their request/issue known.

Perhaps all the above is a pipedream... but I have found that there 3rd paragraph has saved my skin on many occasions. No one can say "The Pastor did/didn't do X when I asked him."

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...

This is too reasonable, brother, but we're gonna post it anyway!

Bruce said...

Dear Rev. Bob Kopp

We have a very simple solution to Church organization: everyone who wants one has a key; every one who wants to be an elder is an elder! (Of course, this means no rotation of elders, but keep your mouths shut), 11 elders out of 25 members (we have the usual hangers-on). There are really only two others eligible to be elders and each year we put them on the nominating committee (they are the only active ones really eligible to be congregational members of the nominating committee.

We have no bills, no debts, no mortgage, three months cash in the bank and a CD worth three months! We pay all the "protection money," per capita, "suggested" mission pledge, and all special offerings and each year the Committee on Ministry recommends to Presbytery my being Moderator of the Session and Stated Supply for another year!!
After 22 years I have outlived any troublemakers!!

You are welcome to try our system at First Presbyterian Church, Belvidere; it works like a charm and except for the lack of rotation of elders, it is perfectly legal under the old or the new Form of Government!

J said...

Anyone who cant be trusted with access to ALL the doors shouldnt be trusted with the keys to the Outside door. Thats my instincts talking.

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...

Mine as well, ma ami!

DG said...

Who gets keys?

OMG -- the most divisive issue facing any congregation!

HINT: Let your Operations Director handle it. Stay as far away from the new authorization list as possible.
HINT #2: Make the keys coded so they cannot be reproduced without office authorization.
HINT #3: Go to Hawaii until the dust settles.

Reformed Catholic said...

At my wife's little church in Cannoli PA, Presbytery of RedRocks, It does seem that everyone has a key, even the flower delivery person (not a member) has a key.

Too many people have keys, and that worries us as the manse is directly attached to the church. Our first reaction was to have the old skeleton key lock on the door to the church fixed so it actually locked, then we restricted that key.

At another church we were members at prior to her call, everyone had keys to the fellowship hall, which was good as we extended the use of same to the local AA groups.

When we built the new sanctuary, we made sure that those doors were on a separate key. Good way to keep people out of the new worship space and admin area.

However, the secretary we had at the time, never really understood that she DIDN'T run the church, had the locks changed so that they were all on the same key.

Session did not approve, she was reprimanded, she left, locks were changed back.

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...


I ain't goin' there, brother!

Janet said...

Pastor Kopp,

The disclosures on the "keys" are hilarious to read...but the underlying message is so important for us to get hold of...these were really excellent disclosures. And then they started putting my mind in gear...see, there could be this whole series of sermons about keys and the kingdom and how we see it vs. how God sees it and.....and then.....and then again..... Aah! I got so distracted! Have to refocus and get my mind back on what I was doing before I read your disclosures...I am in the middle of a teaching about The Fig Tree, the Mountain, and Faith Revisited....He keeps taking me back to the fig tree again and again with different much in just one story. The Bible truly is the Living Word.

In Christ

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...

Thank you, sister!

By George or someone else, you've got it!

Blessings and Love!

Melaney said...

Hi Bob. When you first started writing about controversy coming to First as the building project was near completion, I was fully expecting to read about CARPET COLORS! What a shock to find the issue was keys. But, that makes sense, now that I think about it. First in Rochelle had an issue with keys when they finished their project, but it never got as hot as the carpet color conflict. :) I am glad to see your sense of humor is intact over this stuff.
By the way, who gets "keys to the kingdom"...?
Blessings to you and your family!

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...

Melany was a bright light during a very dark period on the corner of Lincoln and Main. She started things in the right direction with this comment: 'I have not come to take sides. I have come to help us move to His!'