Analyzes a congregational conflict that was seriously mishandled by church authorities and allowed to escalate.
This is a systematic study of how a congregational conflict involving allegations of sexual harassment and power abuse against a minister was seriously mishandled by church authorities. The conflict escalated to entangle regional and national authorities and worked its way into the civil courts. Stockton focuses on the interaction of organizational dynamics and ill-defined Christian concepts (such as reconciliation and discipline), showing that in conflict situations the ideals of pastoral care are squeezed by an organizational mentality. Key themes involve the role of women in the church, the complex question of sexual harassment, and the interface between church law and civil law. The narrative, which is based on interviews and official documents, captures the human dimensions of the story while simultaneously giving unique insight into congregational disputes and organizational behavior.
Institutional Theory Why Sexual Misconduct Investigations Go Wrong Beth-El: Early Problems The Congregational Setting Arrival at Beth-El Escalation Institutional Analysis The Calvinist Concept of Discipline The Special Case of Women in the Church Beth-El and the Presbyterian Legal Process Into the Breach Back in the Pulpit The Final Wave Picking Up the Pieces Institutional Process Presbyterian Polity and Function The Question of Due Process Some Reflections and Suggestions Lessons From This Case Epilogue Appendix Glossary Bibliography Index
Endorsements This is a sobering, even riveting book for anyone who is struggling to understand the modern complexities of congregational life. The author was a key participant in events, so that while he is by no means an impartial observer, the devastating impact of painful and traumatic events on real people is compellingly revealed.—Nancy Myer Hopkins^LConsultant to Religious Traditions
At a time when people are rediscovering faith communities as sources of public good, Stockton provides an exemplary service by portraying the realities, joys and sorrows of a real community struggling to live up to its ideals.... Stockton writes with passion, reflection, and rigor about a vital topic for a society that is looking to faith and communities as a source of renewal. The book provides a compelling narrative built upon strong but unobtrusive analysis of the realities or organizational and bureaucratic life confronting the needs and desires of community and justice.—J. Patrick Dobel^LAssociate Dean^LThe Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs^LUniversity of Washington, Seattle
^IDecent and in Order^R is a scary book, because it could happen in any congregation. This carefully researched study is more than another case of an abusive pastor. This is a story about typical church leaders who are simply trying to do their duty--and they get hurt emotionally, socially, and spiritually. To protect all of us who are vulnerable and to heal local congregations and the denominations that seek to serve them, this study should be mandatory for leaders throughout our churches.—Carl S. Dudley^LCo-Director of the Center for Social and Religious Research^LProfessor of Church and Community^LHartford Seminary
^IDecent and in Order^R is a valuable contribution to the growing research literature on clergy malfeasance.... We need more such case studies.... This volume deserves wide exposure.—Anson Shupe^LProfessor^LIndiana University--Purdue University, Fort Wayne