Anon and on

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Photo by NS Newsflash

I’ve just started being the minister of Slaley Methodist Church. As my largest church has grown, some of my smaller chapels have been reassigned, but I have gained Slaley.

This Sunday I had a voucher for a free newspaper, so before my service, I popped into the tiny village shop in Slaley 

The church is 100 yards further on, and I went in to meet the folk, to be followed five minutes later by one of the congregation who said “They told me in the Village Shop that the new minister had just been in”.

There were three people in the shop when I bought my newspaper, I didn’t recognise any of them, I didn’t mention my name, nor was I wearing a dog collar, or indeed anything that would identify me as a minister. They still knew who I was.

I guess you can’t be anonymous in Slaley(!)

Recently, there has been a tremendous amount of publicity about vile Internet trolls using Twitter to threaten public figures with rape.

These horrible attacks show a desire to avoid all accountability, and have used anonymity to bully. Why do people do this? Because they can.

The technology may be new, but the issue isn’t.

Of all people, Jesus said “Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now. Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, Who holds your entire life—body and soul—in His hands.”

When Jesus talked about how the church should be run, He said “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.”

It seems to me as though there should be no place for unaccountable anonymity in the church – we’re to do things out in the open and face to face. That’s the better way, and the Biblical way.

What do you think?