Presbyterians Today

AUG-SEP 2018

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36 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay ministry," he said. Still, even the strongest sense of self in a leader needs more than the ability to laugh off destructive behav- iors in a congregation. "For pastors, there needs to be some hope someplace," said the hon- orably retired Rev. Lynne Myers. It is possible, she believes, to confront toxic behavior in a congregation and lay the foundation for a healthy future. She has done so on multiple occasions. Ordained in 1985 by Blackhawk Presbytery, Myers spent the next 30 years serving in congregations and on presbytery staffs throughout the country. Her ability to assess the general health of a congregational A freshly ordained, energetic new pastor arrives to the resound- ing "Alleluia!" of a grateful con- gregation. Two years later, she leaves in fury, blaming a toxic environment, with her health in tatters. The perfect call finally appears for the seasoned pastor hoping to ease his way into retirement. Within a month, the pillar of the church leaves the denomination altogether, taking his closest friends and their large financial gifts with them. All too often, the call of God can get mired in dysfunction, disillu- sionment and disappointment with God's people. Said in jest, the Rev. Dwight McCormick of Northminster Presbyterian Church of Springfield, Ohio, noted, "Ministry would be so much easier if it weren't for all those people." For nearly 20 years, McCormick has balanced the difficulties of ministry with the delight of laughter in his avocation as a stand-up comedian. "A strong dose of humor and humility make it possible to not take ourselves too seriously and work to not internalize real or perceived hurts," he said. McCormick's dual identity as a preacher-comic helps him keep his pastoral ego in check. "I've learned through the years that when everything is about me, I get caught up in resentment, and that is a recipe for unhealthy T h e c h a l l e n g e o f T h e c h a l l e n g e o f Toxic congregations can get healthy BY GUSTI LINNEA NEWQUIST

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