While I found Culver and Dorhauer’s book Steeplejacking to be very disturbing, it also has an element of hope – both in the story of a church that was saved from steeplejacking, and in the idea that, but getting the word out, it was possible to avert some of these tragedies. The IRD, it would appear, sees matters the same way, and has done its best to discredit the book.
In a recent post at Talk2Action Dorhauer details how a church group managed to avoid steeplejacking by a pastor trained in a Presbyterian Church in America* seminary. In an email to Culver, one of the people involved in resisting the attempt wrote:
They were using your book as their “bible” for helping them through this take over. They discovered last night how dishonest their pastor, their (Covenant Sem) minister has been and is. He even appeared at our clergy group this past Wednesday and was met with good strong confrontation by several of our clergy. (I was at lectionary and didn’t make that mtg.) YOUR BOOK HAS BEEN A GREAT HELP TO THEM TO SEE WHAT HAS & IS GOING ON
The rest of the story (as told in Dorhauer’s article) is equally disturbing – of a UCC pastor being physically ejected from the church for trying to answer attacks on an UCC seminary, of attacks being spread through church mailings, all sorts of awful happenings. It has got to be terribly traumatic to a congregation to have to go through something like this. But it’s great that Culver and Dorhauer have given congregations a tool to see “what hit them”, and a chance to resist.
*The Presbyterian Church in America is a right-wing church which split from the mainline Presbyterian Church in 1973 over theological and social issues; according to the Wikipedia article:
According to the PCA’s official website, it “separated from the PCUS in opposition to the long-developing theological liberalism which denied the deity of Jesus Christ and inerrancy and authority of Scripture.” Additionally, the PCA espoused a complementarian interpretation of Scripture regarding the matter of women in church offices, excluding them from the offices of elder and deacon, whereas the PCUS had begun accepting the ordination of women over a decade earlier. According to PCUS author Rick Nutt, a less explicitly stated motive that was likely also influential in some quarters was the dissatisfaction with the PCUS’s general opposition to the Vietnam War and support of the civil rights movement and the Equal Rights Amendment.