BOSTON – Rev. Peter Raftery pulled his black Crown Victoria into a parking lot at Logan Airport and waited for his next client's plane to land. This is not a test from above, he said. This is just frustration.
‘‘I see this as a very sad commentary on where the world is at this point,' the Rev. Raftery said, referring to the wealth he sees around him.
It's a contrast to the economy that shuttered the flat-broke Lighthouse Assembly of God church in Hull. After going a year without pay, the Rev. Raftery resigned in January because he needed to earn a living. Regional church officials are preparing to sell the church's building.
The Rev. Raftery has since exchanged the life of a full-time man of God for the life of a full-time limousine driver, grudgingly pushing aside a needy congregation so he can shuttle business executives to the airport in the pre-dawn hours of the morning.
He took work as a chauffeur about seven months ago after it became impossible to support his wife and daughter on virtually no income. The Lighthouse church, which has many members who struggle with poverty, single parenthood, drug addiction and alcoholism, fell behind on its bills and stopped paying him in 2003.
At first, chauffeuring worked out fine; his shift was over by 10 or 11 in the morning, leaving him the rest of the day for his ministry. Rev. Raftery spent his days praying with parishioners, collecting and delivering donated food, lending money, finding furniture for someone who just moved and otherwise tending to a community's needs.
But six months of working two full-time jobs began wearing on him, and the Lighthouse's bills remained unpaid, even after other Assembly of God churches across southern New England kicked in tens of thousands of dollars. Rev. Raftery still runs a weekly men's group, answers calls for help and quotes scripture as if he were reciting his home address, but the lack of a central organization has limited what he can do.