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Is God's House Dangerous?

Often, during the hellish pace of the day, we need a haven to decompress.  My spot is St. Peter's Church on Madison.  Regardless of what I am going through, a few moments alone, praying or just reflecting on the real priorities of life, will allow me to finish day focused and refreshed.

Can God's house ever be dangerous? Yes, as a client of mine found out.

A talented member of her church's choir, Janet was going to sing during a Christmas concert at a neighboring church. They already had two rehearsals and this particular night in December was to be a dress rehearsal.  Lights were going to be dimmed; musicians ready and other visiting choirs present.  Everyone had assigned seating according to voice.  For Janet, she was along the outside aisle at the front.

Earlier that day, the pastor of the church was doing a walk through in preparation of the night's rehearsal.  She saw that the choir director had his stool, 3'x2'x2', in the main aisle.  The pastor knew that the stool, even though large, would be a hazard because the lights would be dimmed and the stool was painted the same color as the carpeting.  Therefore, it was dangerous to anyone using the main aisle.

The pastor did not want anyone to fall over the stool and break their neck.  So she told the janitor to have the stool remove.  He did not do what he was instructed to do.

At the start of the combined choir rehearsal, the director pointed out the stool and warned everyone not to use the main aisle to depart because it was there.  However, he did not repeat his warning after the rehearsal.

Janet was late getting to the rehearsal. Since she knew her assigned seat from two prior rehearsals, she entered the church from the side aisle and made her way to her seat in the front.  After the rehearsal, she was going to check on the delivery of their concert gowns. She walked along a row to the main aisle, turned to go up the aisle and tripped over the stool.  She did not break her neck as prophesied by the pastor but she herniated a couple of discs in her neck.  This injury was pinching the nerves.  Janet needed immediate surgery to stabilize her neck and remove the pressure from the nerves.

Although the surgery brought relief from the pinched nerves, she still has debilitating pain from the injury.  Due to prior unrelated disability, she is not able to take pain relief medication.  When the pain is bad, her only relief is to go to bed.  Being only 61 years old, Janet has 20 plus years of pain because a janitor did not do what he was told; a choir director did not re-issue his warning when it was needed- at the end of the concert not at the beginning; and the pastor failed to properly supervise her staff.

So even God's house can be physically dangerous for us if people do not do their jobs.

Church personnel cannot rely on God intervening with a miracle to save someone from their negligence.

We all need a haven from life's hellish pace.   But people responsible for the haven must do their job. Otherwise, their negligence may just create another hell.

  • Partner

    Francis Patrick Murphy - Patrick Murphy - a Chicago personal injury lawyer, has been with the law firm of Corboy & Demetrio since 1983 and became a partner in 1991. He regularly handles complex personal injury and wrongful death ...

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