“Any other business?”
“Yes John, we're having loads of complaints murmured around about a Judd Moran, a youth saved this summer in the park tent campaign.”
Some members of the quarterly church meeting shuffled on their chairs, a few nodded and Jenny Barraclough tut-tutted.
“What’s he been up to Jenny?”
“Florrie said she saw him take a fistful of cash from the collection plate and pocket it, and when she challenged him he said she needed new specs.”
“And he smokes like a trooper, keeps going out for a drag during the Sunday services,” said Jacob, the church caretaker.
“Is that it all, is that the loads?” asked John.
“No John, Maud said that when she was on kitchen duty he came in for a drink, cleared his throat and spat into the sink before sticking his mouth under the tap.”
“I suppose that’s not too bad Mike, seeing we all clear our throats and mouths twice a day when we clean our teeth.”
“Danny, how are things going with him in your youth meetings?”
Danny puckered his lips. “I know him from my college days. Things were always going missing from the locker room, some had their suspicions about him, but there was never any proof. He had, in the end, to leave for lipping the Principal. He's caused a few ripples in my group. Made Minnie cry – called her Moaning Minnie for complaining he'd cheated on a quiz by looking at answers on his mobile.”
“Well folks, we have a responsibility for him as a member of our family here. We must also remember the Word in James about showing all of our neighbours equal respect and fairness. Nevertheless, he needs guiding into the right ways. Danny, do you mind texting him and arranging to meet him for a chat and just see how it goes? Let us know next quarter meeting.”
“Will do, John!”
When he read Danny's text Judd thought, The prats are after me again.
Judd came from a broken home and his drunken father had dragged him up. His mother had left after having an affair with a work colleague, and then set up home with him. He had learned how to fend for himself after the imprisonment of his father for a serious assault. He had kept it quiet—none of his peers at college knew about it.
Danny had been waiting well over an hour when he heard the outside door slam shut. Judd walked in, sat down, looked Danny straight in the eye and said, “I've had a hell of a day, I hope you're going to cheer me up. What's it all about anyway?”
“Some of the church people have been complaining about your behaviour.”
“Bet that's Florence Nightingale--she's always on my back watching like a hawk. I admit I do stuff just to annoy her.”
“Yes, Florrie ...err Mrs. Winstanley has made a complaint or two to Pastor John. But I'm more interested in how you're coming on in your Christian life. How are things going?”
“I'm struggling a bit, especially with that church. In fact I've been thinking about leaving. I suppose it's the Big Guns who've sent you here to shoot me down, hey?”
“Well, yes, the leaders' meeting group did ask me to find out where you were at.”
“When you report back tell them if they want me to leave, that's all right with me.”
On leaving Danny shook his hand, “I don't think they want you to leave, but I'll tell them what you said.”
“Before I officially open the meeting I'd like to put you in the picture with Judd Moran. He's informed Danny that he's about to leave us, especially if that's what we want. Well do you want to kick him out of the fold? I'd like a show of hands from those who want rid of him,” said Pastor John.
He went on, “Well, no hands Danny. So give Judd the news ASAP.”
“How about now,” and he left the room with mobile in hand.
“Judd, they all want you to stay.”
“Earlier, Jean asked me to ask if you'd like to come for supper after the Sunday service.”
“Can't mate, Dad asked me if I'd like to go to the Dogs with him.”
That sounds ominous! “OK, see you around.”
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