The open house and installation services were interesting to attend. I was concerned about going, even just to the open house. Thankfully, due to some earlier events that day that I was also concerned about, I didn’t have time to focus on and get worked up about the open house. I needed to return to Junction City a couple more times anyway, and the two weekends worked well to finish things up there with closing accounts and picking up things that I had left.
It was good to come to the open house. I was greeted warmly by someone in the parking lot, and was thankful to see that person one more time. I’m not sure I will ever be back in Junction City, so seeing these people this last time has been good. I could finally say goodbye. I wasn’t able to say goodbye when I left, because of the urgency with which I left and to protect others from Edwin’s wrath and others’ gossip when they discovered I was suddenly out of their control. It was also good because I saw and was reminded of why I left. Not much has changed in 2 1/2 years, but before these weekends I hadn’t realized how much I’d forgotten. Names, faces, good times and bad have all come to mind as a result. I’m thankful for the memories.
Why did I come back? To see the friends I couldn’t talk to for 2 1/2 years, because they considered me ‘backslid’ for leaving rather than deciding between getting kicked out or doing as I was being pressured to do and sinning in order to stay. Why did I come? Curiosity-I wanted to know if things would be different now. Why? Because Edwin wouldn’t have allowed it, I suspect, and I enjoyed crossing his invisible line, the one that shut me out for 2 1/2 years. Indeed, he announced that anyone who left would have to come through him before being permitted back. I refused to ask. But now he’s gone, along with his invisible line. It was nice to step over it.
The open house was nice. The installation services… I was afraid to go. The loud, emotional atmosphere of the church, the concern that things would be the same… or that they would be drastically different, and not knowing my responses if either were the case, did concern me. Still I went to the installation services. I drove around quite awhile first, paced outside, and debated, until finally entering the buildings late. But I went. I doubt I could have returned to a service at Faith Tabernacle before attending both the open house and the service in Wichita. It concerned me that people might be hopeful and then disappointed that I would not be returning. Thankfully most people seemed to take that in stride though. Nothing unusual happened to me in Wichita. No one forced me to move up, run the aisles with them, or worship in certain ways as I was concerned they might, and that was good.
Even at Faith Tabernacle, though my heart was racing so much that I could hear it at first, I didn’t feel unwelcome or pressured to do anything that would have gone against my conscience during service. Aside from being punched in the arm in greeting by one woman, most others who greeted me at all greeted me warmly. Though I disagreed with several things in the service-the amount of preacher praise rather than praise to God, and the insistence that God would immediately, quickly ‘heal’ Faith Tabernacle of what had happened in seeming unconcern for those who, irregardless of tears and shouts, will need time to heal and to process what happened to them, at least there was slight acknowledgement that people had been wronged and had been hurt.
Still, the only way Faith Tabernacle can truly heal is if they repent-not just by going to the altar one night and crying and praying, but by admitting their sins and changing their ways. And THAT will take time. Also, I remembered that eleven years ago they shouted at Edwin Young’s installation. They bragged about getting such a great ‘man of God’. I remembered those things and cringed slightly. Not much has changed in some ways.
Why didn’t I go and pray that night? God has already brought great healing to my life, and I’m thankful for it. That healing didn’t come at an Apostolic altar, but through time alone with him and through positive interactions with his people. Those who have left and those who were not instantaneously healed in an hour long prayer service that night need to know that there is hope, and that if they are still reeling from what happened God still loves them. And there are others of us who care too.