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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Your advice to the Arizona woman whose family was banned from the church was right. You told her to complain to someone higher in the church. However, I hope she had better luck than I had.

I am a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The new pastor of my church did not know me, but she refused to speak to me; in effect, she ostracized my children and their terminally ill father from their congregation.

Apparently, my "sin" was providing shelter to another pastor who had two children, no job, no place to live and very little money. When I complained to the bishop, I was told that since I had given the appearance of having "traduced" (defamed or slandered) my marriage vows, my family could be treated whichever way the pastor wanted.

The head of the church refused to comment on the matter, saying this was a local issue, and he chose not to get involved. The local synod council did not respond at all.

Abby, please tell your readers that all clergy are human beings. By definition, 50 percent are below average, and sometimes you hit the bottom 10 percent. If the clergy do not practice what they preach, run -- do not walk -- to the nearest exit, and let them know why you are running away. -- NEW JERSEY

DEAR NEW JERSEY: What an eye-opener my mail has been this week! Most of us were raised to believe that all members of the clergy are somehow closer to God, and therefore superior beings. But, alas, they too are only human.

DEAR ABBY: I am a woman who has enjoyed your column in the Tampa Tribune for many years. I am in my mid-30s, stand 5 feet 11 inches, weigh 155 and appear to be as strong as an ox, so because of my size, I am asked to do some jobs you wouldn't ask a professional mover to do without a helper.

I clean houses for a living, and my clients ask, "Would you please move that hutch (fully loaded), or the refrigerator, or the king-size bed, or a huge dresser, and clean behind it today?" This has gone on for 10 years, and until just recently, I never had the right answer to give to these clods until one day it hit me!

Now when I am asked to move the piano or the refrigerator, I ask sweetly, "Do you have enough insurance to cover any injury I may get from moving this?" They get the picture real fast.

When I worked in an office in my early 20s, I was asked to move desks, filing cabinets and haul in boxes that had been delivered. No more! Sign me ... AIN'T NO OX

DEAR AIN'T: Thanks for a great letter as well as a valuable suggestion for big women who, because of their size, are asked to do more than their job descriptions call for.

CONFIDENTIAL TO YOU: Make this holiday a happy one. If you're drinking, don't drive. And if you're driving, don't drink.

P.S. Happy birthday, Sissie!

People are eating them up! For Abby's favorite recipes, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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