Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Going too far

Yesterday, our youth group met at 4 p.m. By 4:10 p.m. we left the church and hit I-95 at exit 6 heading north for a Destination Unknown. These are trips where the youth gather to go to some location to work on a faith-related lesson in place, but they do not know where they are going or what they are doing until they get there.

At mile marker 9, a Camden County Sheriff's Office cruiser pulled in behind us. 2.5 miles later, the car hit its blue lights and I pulled over. I was cited for failure to maintain lane. I had, in fact, maintained the lane, but I did not argue. Instead I provided my license, registration and proof of insurance. They called in my license, then I was asked to step out of the car. I stood with the two officers (a second car had arrived) by the car while they wrote a ticket. They also brought Celeste, the other chaperone in the van back to the police car.

Then they said as a matter of course, they request permission to search vehicles due to the large volume of both illegal drugs and cash that travel I-95. Celeste and I gave permission for the police to search the van. During the search, one of the officers found a small baggie allegedly containing an estimated 1.5 grams of Cocaine. Both Celeste and I were handcuffed, but after discussion, Celeste was permitted to drive the church van to the jail, while I rode in the back of the cruiser. (Imagine what any of this looked like to passers by on I-95 as they saw the driver of a church van handcuffed and placed in a police car.)

Once at the jail, in the small courtroom within the building used for proceedings like this, I joined the teens and the "arresting officer" let them know that it was all fake. The set up had been to show them how quickly things could change. He warned them of the dangers of using drugs and also of even being in the same vehicle with someone who had illegal drugs in their possession.

But as I looked around at the faces, I realized I had gone too far. The kids were literally in shock from the incident. More than a few tears had been shed and several had to ask to call parents as they had already made cell phone calls from the side of the Interstate saying "Father Frank is being arrested." I apologized to the group, sincerely feeling bad that my stunt had caused them pain. I wanted the meeting to provide an unforgettable lesson, not emotional pain.

Yet, we did continue. A member of our church who had gotten into drug use and sales while at Camden County High School talked with the group about how doing what he thought was cool had wasted the first five years of his adult life. He told them about life in the Camden County Jail, and how quickly your life can change.

We left the jail, bought some snacks at a local store and went out to the River Walk in Woodbine to talk more. I offered that I was picking up feelings that a few of them saw me as "unsafe" while others felt I had betrayed their trust. Several openly admitted that was true. It was painful to see that, for all the right reasons, I had gone too far.

The dangers to these kids I love and others they are in school with are so great. Each of us as parents and concerned adults wants to shelter the students from the pain and suffering drug and alcohol abuse can create. Yet, if in attempting to shelter them from pain, I create emotional distress and a climate of distrust, I may have cut off the limb on which I was sitting.

I'm not writing to get sympathy. I know that the youth will be OK in the long run and that some good will come of the meeting. God has a knack for working all things together for the good. I write instead to struggle out loud with the question of how far is too far when trying to save our children. What I discovered yesterday is that betraying their trust feels too far gone to me. The least they can expect is for their pastor to be safe and trustworthy. I will work to rebuild that trust, knowing that God's grace is sufficient.

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church


  • At 10/10/2005 11:19 AM, Blogger St Michael's Episcopal Church said…

    Is it sometimes worth it to go to far to make a difference? The kids will never forget yesterday. The strange feelings may last a few weeks, but the lesson will last for ever. Is this a case of the "end justifying the means?" Kids and adults watch "Cops" and other reality shows in which people they don't know are arrested and charged, but they were able for a brief moment to experience a person they love and trust arrested and charged. It was their priest, but it could be their brother or mother. I hope the trust comes back to its fullness. It was a gutsy move. But perhaps the church needs gutsy moves.

  • At 10/10/2005 1:18 PM, Blogger Celeste said…

    I agree with SMEC. I think sometimes we may have to get extreme to get a point across. I felt badly for the ones that were upset, but I know they won't forget it. I believe it was a good lesson for them and perhaps they won't have to go through it themselves.
    The only problem I am having is getting the image of Frank being handcuffed out of my head. That is a hard one and even though I knew it was all planned, it was tough and scary. I think that might be because I know how easy any of us could be caught in that situation. I pray all the kids have learned what we tried to teach them.

  • At 10/10/2005 6:09 PM, Blogger Auston said…

    I thought it was great and it sent a very good message to everyone.

  • At 10/10/2005 8:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    help of local police........ free
    1.5 grams of sugar.......... $0.25
    value of this lesson......priceless

  • At 10/10/2005 9:26 PM, Anonymous Meredith said…

    The kids will definitely never forget that lesson...for the rest of their lives! It's sad that in today's society that we have to go to that extreme to get a point across, but we really have to. Kids today dont understand that even though they arent the user, they can still be prosecuted for being an "accomplice". You are the company you keep. Maybe some older teens and some adults need to be taken on this same trip!

  • At 10/10/2005 9:42 PM, Blogger Celeste said…

    Meredith, we could use your insight with youth group. Thanks for your comment.

  • At 10/10/2005 10:12 PM, Anonymous Kay said…

    I do not agree with those who think that this was a valuable lesson for the youth. There must be a better way to get your point across without having a sheriff's deputy arrest your priest, and a much loved and trusted priest, at that. Frank, when you wrote that you realized that you had gone too far, I agree with that. We should forgive all those involved, not celebrate this practical joke as a learning lesson. So sorry that this happened, but let us breathe a sign of relief and give each other a sign of peace.

  • At 10/10/2005 10:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sometimes one has to take a really tough line with the kids because we care about them so much. Sometimes we have to endure being the "bad guy" because we set such high standards and high expectations.
    I don't think that being cool is cool in the long run when you are dealing with people's lives. I believe that we have to be fairly hard core about life lessons.
    Sometimes you have to be the mean one, but pray that it will be the best for the kids in the long run. Anyone can be your "friend", but not everyone can teach you life's lessons or responsibility to self and family.
    Therefore, I do believe that this lesson was an extremely good one for the kids. I worry about who they trust and how so many of them are"followers". I worry about this unrealistic fantasy world that we adults allow them to believe is truth. Some days, it just ain't pretty out there in the world. I worry about them being manipulated into thinking and doing things that are just not ok and being taken advantage of by so many people. I just hate it for them.
    I am glad that Frank has done this. If the kids have a sense of distrust and lack of faith, then we need to teach them about real distrust and real faith in others. They need to learn really fast that all people will let you down and hurt you beyond any comprehension and that the only one that we can truly believe in is Jesus.

  • At 10/10/2005 11:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In response to Kay, It's better that they encountered a situation like this in a "safe environment" rather than later having to experience it in REAL LIFE. Because that IS real life. Kid's today come in contact, especially with drugs EVERYDAY. I've seen drugs being sold at lunch at our local high school, which is considered a "drug-free zone". Kids do not even have to have the wrong friends to be "involved" with drugs.
    This "roleplay" could have possibly saved one of their lives. Everything happens for a reason, and I definitely do not think that this experience was a mistake.
    Until you've come in to contact with the reality of the situation, you do not know how serious it really is.

    To say "I'm sorry this happened" would be extreme. Could it have been learned in a different manner? Possibly. You just never know how God used this situation to help one of those kids. Maybe they've already been faced with it!

    Until you've been subject to situations like these, one may not understand how important it really is. I've had friends that have been arrested for just being with someone who had drugs on them in their vehicle. They were not even doing the drugs, they were just riding around with them.

    It was a hard lesson to learn. Period. Maybe what these kids experienced will make them think twice in the future as they are trying to make the right decisions. Peer pressure is all around them and this hard lesson may just make that decision an easier one. The "just say no" line--- is just not good enough anymore.

  • At 10/11/2005 7:09 AM, Blogger Celeste said…

    I understand how Kay feels. That is the way I felt before all of this took place; however, I have to wonder if my son had experienced something that extreme, would he have gone through his involvement with drug use from 18 to 22. It took 5 years for him to get out of that situation. We always talked to him about it and trusted that he would make the right decision, but we were wrong. Perhaps for some young people the lighter approach works, but from what I see with some of the kids I know they've heard it and don't buy it. Peer pressure wins most of the time, in spite of how they are raised. We as parents can only do so much and then our kids are sent out and influenced by their peers and actually spend much more time with them than us. Now I wish we had "shocked" our son into a reality check.

  • At 10/11/2005 7:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    maybe we're too soft on our kids, worrying we'll hurt their feelings and therefore allowing them to make bad choices - drugs, sex, etc.

  • At 10/11/2005 8:39 AM, Anonymous Lynn said…

    In life parents are always going to have to be the "bad guy". When kids get older they will realize (hopefully) that "maybe my parents weren't the 'bad guys'...maybe they did have my best interest at heart. The unfortunate thing is, many times that realization comes far too late when they have made a bad decision. Father Frank stepped into that parental role as a teacher...he taught them that drugs does not have a name, lifestyle, or face. Anyone can, in some way, be affected with this crippling epedimic. My children were affected by this "broken trust" but they realized the lesson behind what Father Frank's message was. If Father Frank has saved ONE child from going down that path of destruction, then he has done his job. I can guarantee that before my kids think of doing something (drugs, alcohol, etc) that image of Father Frank being thrown to the car and handcuffed will make them think twice.

  • At 10/11/2005 10:59 AM, Anonymous Jason said…

    Far too often we see the world in a box, the way WE want to see it, even if that way is not real. If many of the millions of drug offenders in this country had been exposed to what the KOP Youth Group had been exposed to, then perhaps they wouldn't be where they are today. I agree with SMEC, It was gutsy move, but I definitely think the church needed a gutsy move. Who else would go to such great lengths to help our kids make the right choices, and prevent them from ruining their lives?

  • At 10/11/2005 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow! That was a great lesson for the youth. Truly, even "good" kids are exposed to more than we can ever know -- believe me, I find their notes at school and they are full of things we'd prefer to NOT think our kids are doing. A great sign of a great teacher: the kids never forget the lesson. Way to go, Frank!

  • At 10/11/2005 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think that this lesson was right on the money. Kids will give the parents the right answer every time when asked the questions like "would you ever do drugs?" What about the reality of it all? It's like asking a child would you go with a stranger if they were looking for their dog? But, reality atleast 1/2 would. What the world needs more is someone as caring and down to earth as Frank. My thumbs up all the way.

  • At 10/11/2005 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with the person who said that better this be a lesson learned in a safe environment than one that is that person in the real situation. I have gone over this with some of my friends and family who do not live in the area but have teenagers themselves. One common thread is "how lucky we are to have someone who is willing to go to those lengths to teach a most valuable lesson to kids" We can do as many bible studies as we want and to sit in a room and talk about it, but to see it the way it could happen, are 2 completely different things. Our kids need the wisdom and the heart of someone with the willingness as Father Frank and for that I thank you....

  • At 10/11/2005 10:19 PM, Blogger Celeste said…

    I thought about what the effect would have been if Frank had gotten someone else to be the one arrested. I personally would not have had the guts to do it. God put it in Frank to do it and I think it worked and will continue to work. He has a big heart for people imprisoned and visits them as often as he can. I can think of four who I am either related to or am friends with that he has visited. I am excited to see what God will bring of all of this.

  • At 10/11/2005 10:23 PM, Anonymous Elaine said…

    I do not believe Frank went into this with "practical joke" as his intent. The intent was to make a point to these kids. How many of us step out every day expecting it to be just like the day before; but events turn out different than we ever expected. This is life. Better to experience it in a control setting than real life. Regarding the trust issue; the kids will soon realize that Frank didn't do this to be sneaky or toy with them. He did it because he loves them. Seeing this happen to their pastor lets them see reality. At any given time, something like this could happen to any of us. I was actually really impressed with the creativity of the whole scenario when Celeste told me about it on Monday. Kids are resiliant and will recover quickly from the shock of this incident- but the lesson will last longer. Also, Kudos to Celeste, who also felt real fear in this, even with the knowledge that it all was fake.

  • At 10/13/2005 8:06 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    It is unfortunate that the youths' feelings may have been hurt and they may have lost some trust. This is indeed the kind of life lesson they need to be prepared. In "real life" there is no well meaning priest nor kindly deputy telling you this is all fake. You go to jail and you carry a burden the rest of your life. If this had happened in "real life" the loss of trust and the damage would have been permanent. As it is, they can learn a very valuable lesson in a "safe" allbeit scary environment. Children need this knowledge because the world does not care for them as we do. The world does not teach "safe lessons"! Our children cannot raise themselves. Even more mature teens will make wrong decisons if those decisions are easy, safe or less painful. We must be the grownups and make sure they get the knowledge required to be good and trustworthy servants of the Lord. Even if it is HARD.

  • At 10/13/2005 4:39 PM, Anonymous JSC said…

    I'm wondering if the parents were consulted before this occurred? I'm not a parent, but have done youth ministry in the past. I couldn't imagine the horror of getting a call from my kid that the priest was getting arrested on the side of the road. The line definitely was crossed. I think the parents of the teens should've been consulted before this extreme event occurred. if they weren't.

    Was the Bishop consulted about taking such an extreme measure to get the point across?

    I probably would be very skeptical about sending my kid back to the group if I were a parent. Should we go around scaring our kids to death?

  • At 10/13/2005 7:17 PM, Blogger Celeste said…

    In response to JSC: I appreciate your honesty, but I wonder if you realize what they are exposed to at their schools. That is where most of them are introduced to drug use. Because what they experience at school is so different than their home life or what their parents tried to teach them, chances are the kids will never share with their parents everything that goes on at their school.
    The parents were not told beforehand, but were told if they wanted to know more, they could call or email to inquire of the event. I haven't heard from any parents that disagreed with the activity. I have also spoken to several teachers and several other school personnel that know the kids very well and they all support such an extreme lesson. I have talked to some students that were not involved and they think it was a "powerful lesson" as well.
    "Should we go around scaring our kids to death?" Death is what I hope was prevented.
    "Was the Bishop consulted about taking such an extreme measure to get the point across?" I asked the same question and realized that the Bishop trusts Frank with the people God has given him and that includes the youth. I know he has kept them in his prayers especially since Sunday. He cares a lot about them and they all know it, even more now. I would like to know what the youth think about the whole scene now that they've had a few days to look back on it. I know it has been hard for them, but I hope it has scared them into staying away from any illegal activity they encounter. They truly experienced the fear that would come if it had been real. Let's just keep praying that they won't forget it and God will continue to work it out for the good of all involved. If we missed God in the planning of it, He'll find us and hopefully guide us for future events.

  • At 10/14/2005 2:34 PM, Anonymous Lynn said…

    In response to JSC: yes, as a parent of a youth group participant, when I received a phone call saying that Father Frank had been arrested, my first instinct was shock and as you put it "horror". BUT my next thought and heart's feelings were that Father Frank would NEVER do anything to jeopardize the safety and well being of our children. Maybe by scaring these kids we have saved some kids from getting into situations that they are not prepared to handle. My children will most definitely be going back to the youth group activities--I know it is a place where someone has their best interest at heart.

  • At 10/14/2005 3:26 PM, Anonymous JSC said…

    I appreciate everyone's honesty in this situation and rest assured, I know what goes on in high schools etc. I'm not that far removed from my high school days and I've been in youth ministry for a good 10yrs or so. My comments weren't made as inflammatory just concern. My only point was that I think parents should've been told what was happening before hand. I understand they were given the option of calling Fr. Frank about it or whatever, but it's my position that parents should always know what is being done with their children while at youth group, that's all. Keep in mind that not all kids need to be "scared straight" if you will. It's just like in ministry not all people come to Christ through hell, fire and brimstone kind preaching. I know the premise and the intention was a good one...I just think the means at which you arrived at the point, could've been better that's all. Thanks for allowing me to be honest.


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