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UCCtruths

Every denomination needs one of these...

Pedophile might be ejected

Friday, March 09, 2007

This wasn't part of the script for the UCC television ad. From the North County Times:
CARLSBAD ---- Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad has long been known for being open and accepting, but that philosophy has been put to the test recently as members struggle to decide whether a convicted child molester should be allowed to attend services.

"One of our parents said, 'As hard a conversation it will be to tell my child that there's someone in my church who can harm him, it'll be equally hard to tell him why the church is sending that person away,'" said the Rev. Madison Shockley, the church pastor. "This is a highly charged, emotional and psychological issue."

Mark Pliska, a registered sex offender from Escondido, told the congregation about his two convictions on Jan. 28, his fourth visit to the church.

Shockley said he asked Pliska not to return until the congregation could consider what, if any, actions it should take. The church has run its preschool next door, Pilgrim Children's Center, for 30 years.

About 150 adults and 30 to 40 children attend services at Pilgrim Church each Sunday, Shockley said
It wouldn't be an understatement to say that this is probably the biggest theological test for any church in our denomination.
Shockley said it is important to note that Pliska never tried to hide his 1983 and 1998 convictions, but revealed them to the congregation because he wanted to be accepted for who he is and to put his past behind him.

"He's been a person who, in my conversations with him, is determined to make a better life for himself," he said. "We have to consider not only what it means to receive him, but what it means to send him away."

Barring him from services would send a message to other registered offenders that it is better to stay underground, which Shockley said would create a greater threat than having them come forward.

"My point is, it's not a simple thing to just say, 'Go away,'" he said. "This is a very challenging struggle ---- the most challenging of my ministry."

Shockley said the petition will not be a factor in the church's decision on how to handle the situation, which he sees as a theological struggle for a church that believes in "the extravagant welcome of Jesus."

"Jesus welcomes everybody, so the reason we have a struggle is that we're trying to honor that principle," he said.
This is significant on so many levels. What would you do?

Share your views on the UCCtruths Message board.
posted by UCCtruths, Friday, March 09, 2007

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