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Even a painful resignation can be a first-hand encounter with grace.

The axe fell on my birthday. The night before, three elders had, for three hours, raked me over the coals. They made no charge of malfeasance or immorality, but the power brokers in the pews had made it clear that my theology had grown to be inconsistent with a majority of the congregation's.

I got up that morning, aching from the verbal torture of the night before, and went to work. The secretary brought in a birthday plant with a helium balloon attached. On the balloon were a number of pigs laughing hysterically under the caption, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I felt I was the butt of a poor joke.

Carrying the thing back, I told the secretary, "I appreciate the plant, but could you get rid of the balloon?" With a short, sharp stroke, she pierced the heart-shaped balloon with a pair of scissors and glared at me. That afternoon, ignoring my apology for my paranoia, she walked off the job and didn't return until I had left for good.

Welcome to the world of the forced-out pastor.

The Wounded Duck

When a pastor ...

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