Tuesday, July 19, 2005

From the Mixed up Files . . .

This Sunday my congregation meets to vote on whether to petition Presbytery for closure. No one is happy, but there seems to be a sense of moving toward decision and resolution. BUT today I talked to a Presbytery staff member, (not the one usually in charge of churches in my region of presbytery, but everyone else is on vacation), and he asked didn't I think that was a little premature. Were we sure we'd thought through all the options? Had we considered fighting the Trustee's decision not to grant us permission to sell the church manse.

So now I'm confused. Should I be encouraging my folks to fight harder? Are we giving up too quickly? I thought I was pretty clear on this, but now I'm feeling guilty.

AND I've been encouraged to look into an interim possibility opening in our Presbytery--we'd have to move but it's at the beach! I think I could live with that for a year or so! But is this really a call or is this just me wanting to escape this Chinese water torture, "to close or not to close" marathon?

Yikes. We J's are not good at limbo and living with multiple options. Maybe I should brew up some Felix Felicis!!

9 comments:

Quotidian Grace said...

What a tough situation. I'm so sorry. I commend your congregation for being honest enough to consider the closure option. I don't know all the facts of your situation, but from my experience on some presbytery committees, I know that sometimes a church does have to close and the members move on elsewhere.

Maybe the encouragement to the interim position is a call--maybe not. Prayer and time will decide that for you. Keep us posted.

Songbird said...

Do you live in the manse, or is it a rental income source for the church? We just went through that thought process and ultimately the congregation decided to keep the parsonage. It's sooo close to the church, it just seemed like it would be problematic to have a neighbor we couldn't predict. But after a year of trouble with collecting the rent, getting out of the landlord business was so appealing! At the Annual Meeting in January, the church voted to keep the parsonage and put in some effort to fix it up a bit. Shortly thereafter we found two new tenants; they are a contractor and his partner and are fixing it up themselves, won't charge us even for the materials. What a blessing.
Still, I understand your feeling of the Chinese Water Torture. I'm there myself,not because I think the church will close, but because I'm not sure they are willing to work hard enough and give enough to maintain a fulltime pastorate at a just salary. And given that it's going to cost about $500 every time we fill the heating oil tank (a serious matter in Maine!), I can't afford not to ask for it or look for it elsewhere. Ugh.
How did I manage to make this all about me? Sorry.
You are in my prayers as you continue to discern the right path for your ministry.

LutheranChik said...

Having just come home from spending a wonderful vacation day on/around Lake Michigan...go for the beach! [rueful grin]

Seriously...this must be a very sad time for you. But -- cliche alert -- when one door closes, God opens another. I'll keep you in my prayers as you continue in your discernment. (As I go through my own discernment process regarding how I want to pursue lay ministry.)

Purechristianithink said...

Songbird--In the Presbyterian system a congregation cannot autonomously sell property: they need permission from Presbytery. It was the trustees of Presbytery that denied permission to sell the manse.

the reverend mommy said...

Oooo... the beach.

Easily distracted, am I.

Prayers for this -- so that you can discern what needs be done and that you have the peace and strength to do it.

Songbird said...

I wonder what the Presbytery thinks the value of the manse will be if the church closes? Would it revert to the presbytery and be sold anyway, with the funds going somewhere other than your local church? These are such hard questions.

Purechristianithink said...

Not sure what Presbytery would do with the manse--it might be sold and the money used for transformation efforts in another congregation that still has the critical mass and energy to pursue redevelopment with greater chance of success. That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing . . .

Ann said...

Hi there,
I found your blog from Songbird, and am grateful for the opportunity to read about your feelings regarding your church. The other day a pastor I know was talking about being called to "hospice ministry" with regard to pastoring a church through to its closing. It's an agonizing process, and I hope that you have many friends around you as you travel through this journey with your congregation.

Kathryn said...

Oh...huge sympathies. As a Deanery, we've been told by the diocese that we need to lose several church buildings (there are 24 Anglican churches in town, never mind other denominations...) and a few paid clergy posts over the next few years and though training posts like mine aren't included, its really hard watching my colleagues work out which congregations are viable and which should be allowed to disperse...Since every parish pays a contribution to the diocese, it's not directly related to whether an individual church can pay its way; in poorer areas, church funds may well not be a realistic index of health. Maybe for once I'm about to appreciate being part of that complicated institution the C of E ;-)