I do not know James Matichuk. But in a world made so small by Facebook, strangers often stumble upon each other even across great distance and with no direct contact.

James began a blog perhaps three years ago introducing himself saying,

I am James. I have an M.Div from Regent College and a job and am embarking on my first pastorate. In a few weeks time , I will move my family from rainy Washington to sunny Florida to pastor a church in Safety Harbor Florida.  As I go from sea to shining sea, I  go with anticipation as to what God will do in and through me. Thanks for stopping by and drop me a line.


A move from “rainy Washington to sunny Florida” is a major commitment and a bold undertaking. The air of anticipation and expectation James described as he launched into his first pastorate is refreshing and hopeful.

So, the note on Facebook of his new blog post yesterday came as a painful reminder that things do not always turn out just as we might have hoped.

On his blog James announced that, after eleven months pastoring the small church in Florida,

Two weeks ago the elder board asked for my resignation…. Their was no ill-will on their side, but they felt for the good of the church, it was time for me to go. Ouch. 


Ouch” indeed. This story walks through painful terrain.

James acknowledges,

I have cried these past weeks, as members of church have called, sent emails and texts, and cards wishing me well and expressing their sadness.

When relationships break down everyone hurts.

It is of course impossible to know from this distance anything about the decision by an “elder board” to ask for a pastor’s resignation. James cites his own inexperience as a contributing factor. He speaks of broken relationships, theological differences, and frustrated expectations on both sides.

It is familiar territory in the death of any relationship.

It is neither interesting nor possible to figure out who was right and who was wrong. There is no value in assigning blame. Trying to determine who is the victim or who is the guilty party is not fertile land to plough. It is futile to seek to alleviate our pain by trying to make sense of the winding ways of human community.

The only hopeful way forward is for everyone on all sides to practice the kind of honesty, vulnerability, and self-awareness that James demonstrates in his courageous blog post.

When a relationship breaks down we all need to listen to the lessons in our failure. This is an opportunity to open more deeply to the wisdom and truth of the moment. No matter which side we find ourselves on, we will only move forward when we each acknowledge our share in the demise of our relationship.

The breakdown of any relationship is a mirror held up to everyone involved. In our fractured reflection we have the opportunity to see ourselves more fully. The only guarantee is that, when we look into this mirror honestly, we will come through the pain of loss with greater authenticity, wisdom and depth.

The evidence of James Matichuk’s words suggests that his desire is to learn and grow rather than blame and condemn. With this determination, he is more likely to move through this experience to a deeper more life-giving place. Thus the “new chapter” he is approaching will be enriched and strengthened by the painful territory he now navigates.

I pray James may know deep peace and an awareness of God’s blessing and strength in this time of transition.