Friday, August 18, 2006

Clergy and Crime

I've mentioned several times in this blog that I'm a murder mystery reader. It's my drug of choice--I choose it over romance, chick lit, sci fi or "serious" fiction as my primary escape/stress reliever. I've even gone so far as to read stuff written about the genre as a cultural phenomenon. One thing I have read is that, in particular, the "amateur sleuth" is a completely imaginary construct. In real life there is no such thing. There are only one or two recorded incidents of a "layperson" solving a series of crimes over a period of time. The life of the average middle class person, (the class most amateur sleuths in fiction belong to), the writer claimed, does not include dead bodies popping up on a regular basis.

But you know--based on my own experience and the experiences of some colleagues and others in this blog ring, I'd have to say that the idea of the amateur clergy sleuth, ( a well-known sub-genre within the mystery fiction realm), is not that far fetched. Many of us have been praying this week for Cheesehead, whose congregation just lost a beloved member to a horrific murder. In my own years in ministry I've seen:

an elder murdered by her husband of 30 years
the son of a member killed in a mob hit because the trash collection business he ran refused to pay its "tithe" to the local mafia bosses who dominated that industry
an older couple who committed suicide together, only one of them didn't die and emerged from a coma to face a wrongful death investigation
a member who ran our soundboard on Sundays arrested for the attempted murder of a former colleague
a youth group member accidently ( or so he said) shooting another youth group member with an air rifle
a youth group member whose mother disappeared and was never heard from again
a stalker who left threatening notes for one of the pastors on staff over a period of weeks before she was identified and restrained
a girl who came to our children's ministry who was living in a car with her drug dealer mother and her boyfriend
an assistant custodian we hired from a transitional program for homeless women who went back on meth, lost her apartment and was sleeping in the church for a few weeks until we figured it out
a series of minor thefts from our church which finally stopped when we changed the locks on the door it appeared the culprit was entering. (You know, the old, "We have no idea where all our church keys are or who might have access to one" dilemma.)
The grandson of a retired pastor shot to death in his apartment in a botched robbery attempt
The tragic death two weeks ago of an older lady from our church struck by a car driven by another elderly gentleman who may face vehicular manslaughter charges.

You might conclude that I've served mostly in tough, inner city churches but you would be wrong. I've served in suburban or relatively affluent urban neighborhoods.

What do you think? Do clergy see more crime up close than folks in other professions? Or does everyone who works with the public in some way have a list like mine, (and yours too maybe?)


cheesehead said...

Yowza! or Holy Carp! as Songbird would say.

I hope that poor elderly man does not face charges. I think he's probably been punished enough, no?

Teri said...


...and now I really want to go out into my first call in an affluent suburban area!

Songbird said...

I really haven't seen much drama or crime at Small Church. But on the whole I think you're right.

revabi said...

I hadn't really thought about it. But think about it, we minister to a whole variety of people, and are in touch with all kinds of people from all walks of life. Maybe I need to put my own list together. I don't like that kind of list though, but it is reality. Instead of CSI its called... or the Cin CSI means Clergy?

the reverend mommy said...

It just touches us all -- life's a lot messier than people like to think.

SpookyRach said...

That is quite a list. If you decide to go into the clergy sleuth business, you're going to need a sidekick. I will submit my resume.

Purechristianithink said...

rach--application accepted! When do we start???