NORTH POINT, NEW YORK
Wilson Hairston's skillful work with the youth of St. Paul's Congregationalist Church is known throughout the community of North Point, New York. For 7 years Hairston has labored as the church's youth pastor, sacrificially giving of his time and energies above and beyond his specified duties to mentor the kids of his youth group. But a recent controversy struck the congregation when Hairston filed a lawsuit against the parents of 15 children in the church suing for full custody of the kids.
"It's not really that complicated." Said Hariston. "I'm the one they come to when they need someone to listen to their problems. I'm the one who goes to all of their sporting and school events. I'm the one who's explained the birds and the bees to all of these kids. I take them out to eat, hang out with them, spend time with them, help them with their homework and get them out of binds. By all accounts I'm already acting as a parent to them. I just want the legal rights that come with that."
Hairston's lawsuit also comes with the full support of the children of the youth group.
"He's, like, so awesome!" Said Mary Katherine Lewis, 15. "He's like the parent every kid could ever want. He, like, really listens to what we have to say, and talks to us about difficult stuff that my parents won't. He's there for us."
Other members of the church's youth group have express similar sentiments. But parents of the kids vow to fight the lawsuit and are confident that Hairston's attempt will fail.
James Carville, father of one of the group's teenage boys was emphatic.
"Look, we hired Wilson to fill in the gaps not to take over our kids lives! I mean, we're busy people. My wife and I both work, and I've got to have some me time every now and then. His job was to be there for them, be someone they could relate to, talk to them about difficult subjects, listen to their problems, help them, teach them the Bible and guide them through difficult times, but NOT be their parent!"
While most parents are angry about the lawsuit they are confident that it will not stand up in court. Still, because of the situation, they want to see Hairston removed from the position.
"He needs to go." Said Carville. "This has angered us all. What's worse is that we're going to have to spend months trying to find another youth minister, and until that time our kids are going to be left out in the cold, with no guidance and direction. That just leaves us parents in a bind. I mean, who's going to teach our children until we find another youth minister?"