Yesterday we had our annual congregational meeting. In true Presbyterian form, it took about four hours to talk over three specific points. We voted in three new elders and a new deacon. I literally began to tear up when Pastor Emmrich was talking about our new deaconal candidate. Eric, is a good guy, and sometimes I don’t even think he knows what a wonderful asset he is to the church and to his friends.
Also discussed was the continuation of the internship of our first intern. I was surprised so many people were in favor of letting him go. I thought he was doing a fantastic job considering his youth and personality. What really got to me was how people wanted him to find another job AND continue to work for the church pro bono. Some were saying he should be happy to engage in volunteer work (preaching and leading the youth group). I felt I could hardly control myself. Surely, they realized that an unemployed man, barely being supported by his wife having to work full time with a young baby, will hardly want to volunteer to preach AND lead the youth group. It seemed outrageous to me. I voted to keep him on staff, but in the end we all (those who wanted to keep him) had to settle for letting him go with the chance of a stipend for his work. I feel that’s only fair. I would rather my siblings be in a youth group led by a consistent teacher who has been able to put time and study into what he is doing.
A motion was at one point on the floor to redirect the funds for keeping the intern on into the deaconal fund. This would almost double the amount of money in the account. It was voted down because we were paving our parking lot and we would only have 36,000 left in our savings if we did. Apparently we’d rather have 46,000 sitting in savings rather than help the needy in our congregation. Yes, that is all sarcasm. I have no idea what we need 46,000 just sitting in an account. We are a church, not a business. To be fair to my fellow members, we have never had a need that wasn’t met. There was apparently at the end of the year a need that exceeded what was in the fund and we did end up dipping into savings. So, it isn’t like we at any point had to turn anyone away in order to let money sit in our savings, but I thought voting down that motion was a little stingy on our parts.
Some of the things we do in our congregational meetings seem so funny. We have to do things in an amazingly structured manner. We have motions and then someone has to second them, and then we discuss. Sometimes there is an amendment of the first motion and someone seconds it, then more discussion. Then we vote on the amendment, and either keep the amendment or go back to the first motion. It sometimes gets very confusing, like the discussion of the stipend. I think a lot of people thought we were just giving our intern the money to use not to pay his bills, but to buy supplies for the youth group. I am glad we do this though. I mean, I’d hate for us to be too lax with the minutes and have something come up and be funded by the church that we, the congregation never intended.
I do have a bit of a gripe with some of my fellow church members however. I do not understand why we have 90 communicant members and 40 of us showed up. I understand that it’s long. I understand that it’s boring. I understand that sometimes it is unpleasant. But we are supposed to be united and that means having an interest in the future of the church. We need to be there to hold one another accountable, and to show our leadership that we want to see the church surviving and the truth prevailing. More than half of our members didn’t seem to care, and even some of the members left about half way through…at least one left right after the installation of the new elders and deacon. I think I will never understand this attitude. The church is not there just to serve us. The church exists because of the Holy Spirit in us keeping us together, but we can’t just give up caring and sit back and “let the Spirit take it.” God uses human instruments, and we all have to do our part. And it’s really just once a year. If we have not grown up enough to sit through a long Presbyterian style meeting once a year, perhaps we have not grown up enough to be members.
Honestly though, I am very blessed by Westminster and the folks there. Obviously there are improvements we could use just like every other church. I think the Lord is active in so many hearts and minds and in the work we do. I try and pray daily for the leadership and future of Westminster, and I hope we continue to grow and to stand firm in the faith. (1 Corinthians 16:13)