December 13, 2004

Sunday go to meetin'

We had our second congregational meeting in two weeks last night. This one was a bit more contentious than the previous. I think the last one was a little easier because the decisions reacher were easier. Our pastor tendered his resignation a few weeks ago, which was a bit of a shock to the members, though not entirely unexpected. He had taken a sabbatical about 18 months ago, so it was obvious that all was not well. The reasons for it were varied, but the church voted to accept the pastor's resignation last week. This week the church was to vote (or choose to postpone voting) on the dissolution of the church. The elders put this one to us at the same time the church voted on the pastor's resignation. It's hard to say what they were thinking, since most people at the church are not interested in finding a new one, though the elders, who have put in a lot of time and effort, apparently are. It's a bit disheartening to hear that sort of thing, but I imagine it's how they really feel. The problem I had is that they can be tired and can resign if they wish, but there's no need to drag a whole church down with them. Just walk away, that would be my advice. Find another church where you can blend in for a while. Don't stand up in front of the church and tell them that you don't think they can go on without you. The arrogance inherent in their statements bothered me as well as a lot of other people. I understand that being an elder of a small church is a difficult job, and I would understand if they decided not to do it anymore, but adding, "oh, by the way, we don't think you should be a church anymore," seems unnecessary. It even seems more strange to know that some Presbyters have made it known that they oppose the dissolution of the church, yet the session continues to push for it. Anyhow, much debate ensued, and the moderator did a fair job running things. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't quite get the whole Robert's Rules of Order thing, so they tend to just stand there and speak emotionally, rather than speaking for or against the motion at hand. Occasionally, you'll get the open-ended rhetorical question that really doesn't move things forward, but we survived it all. In the end, the congregation voted down the motion to dissolve the church, thus sending a message to the Eastern Carolina Presbytery, who actually has the authority to dissolve a church under its governance. The Mission to North America committee meets on January 6th, and the Presbytery meets on the 22nd, and after that we'll probably have a better idea of what's going on after that meeting. It is an interesting situation, as regardless of what happens, it looks like the church may regress to where it once was with a smaller group that may not necessarily meet like a traditional church. It's really hard to say, and I think it depends on how many people stick it out. If there are enough people to keep the church afloat financially, then we may just have a chance. I do wonder about this, though, because there were 43 members at the meeting yesterday, and I imagine 8 of them were the session and their wives, and at least 10 or so were college students or just out of college and not gainfully employed (like the guy with the engineering degree who is having trouble finding a job, so he's thinking about grad English). This makes the finances a little tough, if 2/3 of the families/individuals won't be able to support the church in that manner. I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm just saying that it will take a lot of prayer and probably some things that aren't obvious now, but will appear when the time comes.

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