Photo Credits: Sermon Video Library
In Michigan last month, a 14-month-old child named Temperance died after she drowned in the bathtub, despite the fact that her mother, Grace Ferguson, tried to resuscitate her. On Sunday, September 15, Pastor Jeremy Lobdell acknowledged the tragedy surrounding Temperance’s death in the Midland Evangelical Free Church (MEFC) service. The problem is that the girl’s mother is an atheist and she didn’t want her daughter’s death to be the theme in the sermon. After the pastor announced the baby’s death, Grace wrote that a 180-person pray chain was sent out to the MEFC; the church which my parents and former mother-in-law attend. I woke up to about 50 text messages and 28 phone calls.
Here’s why I made this post; I’m an atheist. I’m open about my beliefs. I don’t believe in god, like I don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. I was raised Christian, and as an adult with a careful analysis of both my faith and biblical texts, I realized that there wasn’t a god. This is my belief. I understand that this is not a shared belief. I simply ask that people — especially now — respect my mourning and that I don’t believe in god. Your prayers may help you, but they don’t bring me comfort.
After the pastor Jeremy Lobdell didn’t properly apologize, Grace decided she would at least make her opposition to his actions known by protesting outside his church. Pastor Jeremy had sent a letter to Grace telling her he would call the cops if her group protested on church property. There were only a few people at the protest, and the church posted a statement on Facebook to downplay its role in this.
“Although Temperance’s mother does not attend our church, we love her and grieve with her during this difficult time and have helped her on many occasions in the past.
On Sunday, September 15, Pastor Jeremy Lobdell acknowledged the tragedy surrounding Temperance’s death in our church service. This information had already been made public by the family. Many of Temperance’s immediate and extended family members, including her father, were seated in the front rows of our worship service. We had also received multiple requests from family members for prayer, and as a result our prayer chain had been mobilized.”
After no apology from church members, Grace plans to hold another protest this coming Sunday.
“I was never asked if it was okay to announce her death.
Just because the extended family was present, does not mean they gave their consent and secondly, doesn’t mean you had permission from both parents directly.
I still have not received a sincere apology from Jeremy regarding the insensitive sermon he delivered to his congregation with personal details about my daughter’s death, the phone call I made where he told me to repent and the letter he sent threatening to report me to authorities for expressing my dissatisfaction.”