30 May, 2011


In the church community called MBCC, (Mission Bay Community Church) Pastor Bruce tearfully recited his final benediction yesterday evening. Bittersweet in that he and the Reyes-Chow-Pugh family move forward to a new endeavor while MBCC does the same. Having to sever ties within a church setting for myself is nothing new. However no matter how many times, it is still a very challenging task to perform.

As mentioned on previous posts, I spiritually "grew up" within the structure called The Salvation Army. This was a denomination that was structured in a military model. Those in a pastoral position were "ranked" according to their time and contribution of service. Like a military organization, "moves" were a very common occurrence. That is the re-assignment of corps officers (pastors) to a new "post." (Corps or church location)

At one point in order to ease my commute from Oakland to San Francisco, I visited the Berkeley Corps and befriended the corps officers at that time. When I learned a few years afterwards about their "move" and their scheduled final service, I made sure to attend to say my "goodbyes" and "thanks." It was unfortunate to witness as I saw the congregational growth this couple had contributed to over the two years that they served in Berkeley. I also recalled how the officer was unable to give his final benediction.

It was that moment where I felt that I had enough of The Salvation Army ways and policies. I was baffled that the first time I attended their service in Berkeley, there were no more than 8 people in attendance. By the time I visited them for their last service, at least 20-30 people were present. I couldn't understand why a decision was made by the higher up to have this couple bond with members of that community, build up the congregation, then have them torn away.

It was nothing new when it came to life in The Salvation Army. When serving in China with Service Corps, we'd often visit the government sanctioned churches in China. I was very moved and impressed with the conviction those members expressed. In fact the visit to the Dragonhill Chapel was bittersweet. As quickly and as close as we bonded with the members there, we had to quickly detach and say our goodbyes in a tearful manner. Then again when the government sends the Bureau of Religious Affairs liaison to monitor our interactions, one must connect and disconnect quickly.

Perhaps the most challenging connection/disconnection episode within a church setting occurred back in the Summer of 2005 when my mother passed away. Key leadership and core members from the startup church I was a part of moved to their new ministry in Austin within a month of my mother's passing. What made it challenging was beginning a grieving process without the support of a church family. Couple that with a clinically diagnosed attachment disorder as a result of my adoption background and you had one potential mess. (Not to mention a lot of "near misses")

So does this common occurrence of connecting/disconnecting theme that's prevalent in my life mean anything? Within the personal development realm (and even the spiritual and Christian paradigm) it is said that even the obstacles and adversities offer an opportunity for growth and flourish.

So does detachment and disconnection offer a "gift?"

It can.

Consider the gift of attachment. Consider the gift of RE-attachment. Or the gift of NEW connections, or of RE-connection. It's possible. It's there. It's available for the taking.

I've always hated "goodbyes," in fact I believe I took them more personally than the average person. What I didn't realize was that my holding onto the "hurt" and the "trauma" of the "GOODBYES" kept me from the "HELLOS."

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