Jeremiah Wright was Barack Obama’s pastor. Hillary Clinton — and others — have said that Obama should have left his church after Wright made his controversial statements.
But a pastor is not the church. He may run the services and have the most visible role and (in the worldly sense) be the most powerful man in the congregation, but he is not the community.
The community is…
The old ladies who have the prayer group who are always requesting God’s help for everybody, whether they ask for it or not. The youth minister who makes sure that a bunch of unruly adolescents have a group to run with that won’t lead them into trouble. The men who helped landscape the yard for the woman whose husband was dying of cancer. The mothers who organize the church nursery. The Sunday school teachers. The women who make sure that there are refreshments after the service.
It is the man struggling with addiction; the woman with mental illness. It is the family dealing with death and disability. It is those who found community after a long time wandering in the wilderness; it is those who are descended from generations of clergy and church leaders.
The church is people. At its best, the church is connection. It is the chance to experience God in other people.
How could he walk away from that?