The strangest piece of mail I’ve ever received

It may not surprise you that I receive a fair amount of “hate” mail.

The barbs are predictable and the accusations unsupported by fact but the feelings might best be described as “hot.” Sometimes the sender includes a token of their disaffection. I’ve received dead flowers, a  Millstone coffee bag and lots of my own writings scrawled through with language I am surprised to find on the lips of fellow Presbyterians.

I read and pray over each one. I collect the correspondence in what started as a prayer folder but, in the five years I have served in this position, the folder has grown into a large box.

Recently I sent a “reader survey” out to everyone who subscribes to the print edition of The Layman. The primary objective was to begin segregating our mailing list for the three editions (standard, EPC specific and ECO specific) we plan to begin publishing beginning in February 2014. We sent a business reply envelope to make it easier for folks to reply. Which brings us to the mean-spirited impulse of one particular PCUSA minister.

asphalt shingles

Knowing that if she filled the envelope with dense heavy material the Lay Committee would have to pay the U.S. Postal Service a premium amount for the envelope to be delivered, she took the time and exerted the effort to cut asphalt shingles to size and stuffed the envelope full. She also filled out and returned the reader survey indicating that, at the PLC’s expense, she would like to continue receiving The Layman. Her hatred seethes with each sentence of vitriol.

My guess is that asphalt shingles was the closest thing she could find to proverbial “burning coals.” But that seems to miss the meaning of Romans 12:20 altogether.

Thus begins another day as the President of The Presbyterian Lay Committee – fully committed to speaking the truth in love, come what does, even in the mail.

Carmen Fowler LaBerge