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Clergy Spirituality
Under Fire

Under Fire

Consultation Ministries - Home

It is estimated that over 19,000 forced terminations of ministers occur per year in the U.S.
I offer this page as a hope and encouragement.

"The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26, NASB)

Links to Sections in this Page

The links below refer to many helpful websites, articles, retreats, and resources.

Recommended Reading
Links to Websites and Articles

A Prayer for Ministers Under Fire

Psalm 35*
(a paraphrase)

Pray on my behalf, O Beloved, for those who fight against me;
Forgive on my behalf those who abuse me!
Pour forth your strength into my heart that I might stand strong!
Encircle with healing love those who persecute me through fear!
And say to my soul, "I am with you always!"

Melt the hearts of stone in those who seek to kill my body, my spirit.
Turn them around and let them delight in your way.
Let their ignorance become as chaff before the wind,
send angels to lead them home to You.
Let their path become filled with light
that they may see the way of truth!

For without cause they have tried to ensnare me;
without cause they threaten my life.
Surprise them, O Love, with joy!
For ignorance cannot live where your love abides;
Let them rise up with a new conscience
and regret their past acts against others.

Then, O Love, my soul shall rejoice, exulting in your goodness.
My whole being shall say,
"Who, O Beloved, is like you,
you who give strength to the weak, praying on their behalf,
when fear threatens to overwhelm them,
holding them back from retaliation through your saving love?"

False witnesses rise up, asking me questions I cannot answer.
They return my kindness with cruelty; my soul weeps.
Yet I, when they were afflicted
I prayed and fasted and sent them help.
I prayed in my simple way
As though grieving for my family or for a friend;
I acted as one who grieves for a dying mother,
bowed down and in mourning.

Yet when I stumbled and needed assistance,
they gathered about me with glee,
they turned against me;
Even strangers whom I did not know,
mocked me day and night;
They seemed to gather strength in denouncing me,
and became all the more violent.

How long, O Beloved, must I endure this?
Rescue me from the oppressors, my life from the lions!
I long to give thanks in the great assembly,
to praise You wherever people gather.

Fill those who rejoice over my plight with compassion,
Let peace come to those who hate me without cause.
For many desire conflict and war,
and turn against those who are quiet in the land,
they are driven by greed.
By speaking against me saying,
"Aha, you are to blame."
they think to hide their own deceit.

You have seen it all, O Love, be silent no longer!
Beloved, stay close beside me!
Hear me and rise up on my behalf,
let justice and peace reign!
Yes, O compassionate one,
Let truth and love overcome ignorance,
according to your goodness,
that all might rejoice and give thanks!

Foolish are they to think that persecution
will bring them joy;
nor will destruction bring them peace.

Let those who rejoice in another's misfortune,
in their shame become contrite;
Let them be humbled and turn their hearts to you, O Beloved,
all those who know not love!
may all who offer their lives to peace
shout for joy and be glad, and always pray,
"Great are you, O Love,
Who dwell in all open hearts!"
Then shall I sing of your saving justice
and praise You all day long!

*Nan C. Merrill, Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness, pp. 62-65,
The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., New York, NY, 1996.

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Recommended Reading...

Flora Slosson Wuellner, Feed My Shepherds: Spiritual Healing and Renewal for Those in Christian Leadership, Upper Room Books, Nashville, 1998. ISBN:0-8358-0845-9

Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, Matthew Linn, Don't Forgive Too Soon: Extending the Two Hands that Heal, Paulist Press, New York, 1997. ISBN-13: 978-0-8091-3704-6

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Ministering to Ministers Foundation
(This website has a quarterly publication with
10 years of very helpful articles online. Sample Titles are listed below under Articles.)

Pastor's Wives Network

Pastor in Residence

Ministry Health

Clergy Abuse

Clergy Recovery

Faith Mountain

Land O' Lakes Retreat - Wounded Warrior
(This website has a wealth of information and other links.)

Pastoral Advocacy Center

Pastoral Advocacy Network

Pastors in Pain
(This website has sections for Pastors' kids and for spouses.)


(Resources for pastors including placement and hundreds of other links in a well organized form.)

Encouragement Dynamics: Home
A ministry of encouragement, restoration, motivation, and education focused on the needs of pastors for the 21st century.

Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation
The Shalem Institute provides in-depth support for contemplative living and leadership�a way of being in the world that is prayerfully attentive and responsive to God's presence and guidance. They offer a variety of short and extended programs.


Is There A Rulebook On Forced Terminations?

By Charles H. Chandler, Executive Director, Ministering To Ministers Foundation, Inc.

After facilitating a session of participants' stories at a Healthy Transitions Wellness Retreat, I was asked, "Is there a rulebook on forced termination?" He had observed the similar "dynamics" or "rules" in the stories. At every retreat the participants are amazed at the similarities in the forced termination experience.

Several years ago, the psychiatrist assisting with a retreat was appalled as he heard the stories. He worked extensively with corporations in "downsizing" and noted that none of them treated employees like the churches treated the retreat participants. He observed three "dynamic" patterns in all of their stories.  ... Read more in Forced Terminations (a pdf file).

Job Loss and Kids

By Cris Cannon, originally published in The Biblical Recorder, Friday, January 11, 2002

How does a parent explain the loss of a job to a young child? How does a parent help his or her older children understand that they will be secure despite the fact that Mom or Dad is not working? How does a parent help his or her teenager deal with the stigma of "what will my friends think because you have lost your job?" Despite the economic and emotional factors of losing a job, parents must also consider the reality of dealing with the concerns of their children during a time in which they are threatened about the meaning of their own lives. What are some steps that parents may take to help their children during uncertain times? ... Read more in Job Loss and Kids (a pdf file).

Used by permission of Cris Cannon and the Biblical Recorder.

Below are sample articles, all from Ministering to Ministers Foundation Journal, "Servant."

(Click on the link below and from there you can navigate to all the volumes and articles of the journal "Servant" on their website.)

Vol 11, Issue 1, Summer, 2006, - Articles in this volume:
Forced Termination and Recovery
The Perils of Isolation
Forced Termination in 1725

Termination Hurts More than the Minister - Vol.10, Issue 2, Winter 2006

Rejection Hurts, but Joy Comes in the Morning - Vol. 10, Issue 2, Fall, 2005

The High Cost of Refusing to Forgive - Vol. 10, issue 1, Spring, 2005

Is There Hope for Us When We Fail? - Vol. 10, Issue 1, Spring, 2005

Becoming a Forgiven Person - Vol. 10 issue 1, Spring, 2005

Anger in the Church - Vol. 9, Issue 3, summer, 2004

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Consultation Ministries - "But His word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones...."

Sunsets and sunrises are two of the most beautiful times of the day. It is intriguing that they envelope the darkness of night. Times of transition after a forced termination feel like spiritual darkness. So much of our ordinary ways of relating to and serving God have been severely disrupted.

The "dark night of the soul" is a term that goes back to  John of the Cross (1600's) from his poem, "The Dark Night." It refers to those times when we do not have the consolations of our ordinary emotional or spiritual sense of the presence of God, withdrawn by grace for the purpose of transcending such dependencies so we can love God purely for God's sake.

The dark night of the soul may or may not occur during difficult times. Yet, even so, we find a deep yearning within for that Presence. We may find ourselves in the truth of 2 Timothy 2:13, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself."

We may also identify with Jeremiah's experience, "But if I say, 'I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,' Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it." (Jeremiah 20:9)

My favorite part of John of the Cross' poem is stanza 3,

"I went out into that glad night
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart."

The Psalmist encourages us with these words, "...weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning." (30:5b NASB)

Larry Glover-Wetherington

When our soul is plowed up is an opportune time to seek deeper intimacy with God and understanding of spiritual dynamics. I am a deeply grateful graduate of two of the extension programs of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation: the Spiritual Guidance Program and the Clergy Spiritual Life and Leadership program. For more information please go to Shalem Extension Programs.

"Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift."

Mary Oliver, Thirst

Personal Boundaries of Safeguards - Vol. 9, Issue 2, Spring 2004

Are Ministers Becoming an Endangered Species? - Vol. 9 Issue 2, Spring, 2004

Cynicism: A Spillover from Forced Termination - Vol. 9, Issue 1, Winter, 2004

Have You Checked Your Church's DNA? -  Vol. 9, Issue 1, Winter, 2004

Depression and Ministry: When a Good Soul Feels Bad - Vol. 8, Issue 4, Fall, 2003

Its Time to Spend More Time Praying than Talking about Prayer - Vol. 8, Issue 4, Fall, 2003

Don't Waste Your Pain - Vol. 8, Issue 3, Summer, 2003

Everyone Loses When Church Members Pit Staff Members against the Pastor - Vol. 8, Issue 3, Summer, 2003

The Trauma of Forced Termination - an Interview with Henry Langford - Vol. 8, Issue 2, Spring, 2003

Where Do Hurting Ministers Go for Help? - Vol. 8, Issue 2, Spring, 2003

What Do Ministers Facing Forced Termination Want and Need? - Vol. 8, Issue 2, Spring, 2003

Take Care of Yourself First! - Vol. 8 Issue 1, January, 2003

The Minister's Sexual Temptations - Vol. 7, Issue 4, October, 2002

Thinking in Systems: A Factor in Good Emotional Health - Vol. 7, Issue 4, October, 2002

Suffer the Children - Vol. 7 Issue 3, July 2002
2902 Bainbridge Dr Apt B, Durham, NC 27713, 919-564-6061
Copyright� 2001, Consultation Ministries, Inc., All rights reserved.
Photography by Larry Glover-Wetherington, Copyright� 2001.


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