There seems to be no end to the problems some people out there want to make for my church. Not only do we have one person who's been coming taking services and refusing to speak to the duty steward, who's responsible for the smooth running of the service, but her husband, a prominent official in the Circuit, does his best to stop paperwork going to the stewards as well, even when it's addressed to us. It always goes to their friend in the congregation. At the Circuit Meeting, material intended for my church is segregated, and rushed to this person as soon as she makes an appearance, in order to stop me getting hold of it.
Last week I had yet another letter addressed to 'the Senior Steward' (we don't appoint one, as it leads to one steward being singled out, and it's not an official office, but it's effectively me) passed on to me by someone else, with a note telling me what to do with it. This time I've made a complaint, and I'm meeting with our minister tomorrow to discuss how to handle the situation. I've been at my church since 1987, and in all that time, none of our stewards have been accorded proper recognition unless they were in a very small, exclusive clique. Our current minister is the first who's really accepted the people we choose to elect.
This goes on everywhere in the Methodist Church, perhaps not quite as blatantly as this, but it's there all the same. Back in the 1980's, there were complaints about black stewards not being recognised, but that was only one aspect of the problem. It's no wonder Methodist membership is declining! You try to run a church democratically and inclusively, and all these people can do is make endless obsessive attempts to undermine you and put themselves in control. The fact that they have no support outside their own little circle has nothing to do with it as far as they're concerned.