Sunday, July 24, 2005

Do not go gentle into that good night

At our congregational meeting today, the congregation voted to petition Presbytery for closure. Those if favor of this option were the clear majority, but it was not a unanimous decision. It was interesting to me that those who were the most angry and upset seemed angry not because they had a burning passion to transform our church. They were hopping mad at the trustees of Presbytery for denying us permission to sell the manse. It was more of a "turf" thing than a ministry thing.

Here's my take. As we were going through the process of deciding whether or not we should ask to sell the manse, I thought to myself: "Even if we sell the manse, there's still a 75% chance we won't be here five years from now. But if we don't sell the manse, there's a 100% chance we won't be here five years from now." In my mind, it seemed worth the gamble. But then, I've invested 6+ years of ministry here, I love my folks, I love our legacy in this neighborhood. I'm far from objective on this question. Maybe that's why our system is set up the way it is: so that there is a group of less emotionally entangled brains making that final judgement call.

If I'd sensed that there was real energy and passion for congregational change, I would have encouraged my folks to fight the trustees' decision. But I don't see fighting just because we want control and autonomy. That seems wrong for a group who supposedly model themselves on fore-mothers and fathers who, "held all things in common--no one said that what they had was their own . . ."

After we'd voted on the motion to close, someone rose to make a motion that we write a letter urging Presbytery to explore creative possibilities for new kinds of ministry in this place. This motion passed overwhelmingly. Let's hope someone out there is listening.


Quotidian Grace said...

Thanks for the update, I was wondering what the congregation would decide. I've never been part of a closure process in any way, but I am sure that it has to be emotionally fraught for everyone. Blessings to all of you.

St. Casserole said...

I'm following this with great interest because of the admin. comm. in our presbytery. Turf issues going on doesn't surprise me. People forget that Presbytery is us. We are the presbytery.
Keep telling us about this, please.
I add blessings, too.

Songbird said...

This is just the hardest work, discerning real calling versus desire to control something. You have done such a good job. Big hugs for you.

reverendmother said...

You're so right, St. Cass. We be the presbytery. And General Assembly, for that matter.

Holding you in prayer.

Kathryn said...

Hugs and prayers from here too

cheesehead said...

I've seen this process go very well, resulting in a new and wonderful ministry, and I've seen it be a nightmare for all involved. It seems as if it really does come down to the turf issue. Keep us apprised.