J. Grant Swank, Jr.

One retired pastor looked at the other and said: “What did you think of the District Assembly report from the Maine District Superintendent?”

The answer: “It’s depressing!”

So I leafed through the stats reports handed out to those attending the assembly’s first session. Not encouraging. One by one, congregations are falling short. This is so when it comes to numbers related to Sunday school, worship and financial giving.

Why the District Superintendent decided to start out the assembly with that kind of bad news is beyond me. But I have heard that this particular man is into cut-and-run. He’s not known as the Mother Teresa of ecclesiastical leadership. Not by a long shot. Cecil Jones is his name, in case you are interested.

I drive by the Portland Church of the Nazarene, at least what used to be that congregation’s housing. And now the sign is gone. The structure has a forlorn look. It’s closed up as a worship center. Maybe that’s the reason for the downcast appearance. Jones saw to it that the facility no longer is a preaching point for the holiness denomination.

I think back to August 1998 when Clarence Hildreth and Roland Dunlop, both serving as Maine District Superintendents, Hildreth first and then Dunlop following, saw to it that I was ousted unfairly from the Windham pastorate.

The Bible states that no one can afford to “touch mine (God’s) anointed.” The anointed are those God calls to do His pastoral work. God protects His own pastors. If someone endangers those pastors, that one will come under divine judgment.

Hildreth and Dunlop both massacred me, a God-anointed pastor. Now since then their Maine District has imploded, to this very minute. And if present signs are any indication, the fallout will continue for years to come.

This depression is felt throughout the Maine District. It is no secret. But what many may not know is that Hildreth’s and Dunlop’s mistreatment of various pastors has brought above the present demise. I was not the only one leveled by these two politicians; others suffered like massacre.

I have, over half a century of ministering, come to realize that when a local minister becomes so-called elevated to be a district superintendent within the denomination, his personality often changes. If aforetime he was truly a genuine pastor of the gospel, he changes into the typical churchly politician. He is more concerned about networking, playing the game, kissing up to the higher-ups than he is of getting out biblical truth.

I went to college with Hildreth. I knew him and his wife when they dated on campus at Eastern Nazarene College, Quincy MA. When I came on his district, I thought I had a companion in the work. As time moved along, I realized that his being district superintendent changed his persona from caring clergy to manipulative bureaucrat. Over time, I realize his kind is legion throughout the Church of the Nazarene.

As for Dunlop, I never knew him as a caring person. I always knew him as one of the upfront politicos of the denomination, out to serve self rather than the Savior.

Now with Jones in the driver’s seat for the Maine District, the latter is collapsing over its own weight of misusing the local pastors, myself being one of them. It is sad and yet nevertheless reality.







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