I've not been blogging lately. Mostly because I have been busy, and if I have spare time, I am more likely to run downstairs to work on pots, or walk dogs, or just meditate.
Or, maybe I have nothing to say. Oh, but I said that before, didn't I!
The next two weeks, my congregation will be discussing the outcomes of a dialogue process in regards to the financial future of the church. The dialogues were really quite successful--a lot of people attended the small groups, were able to articulate what they love about our church, and had an opportunity to ask lots of questions. There are still more questions that are unanswered--sort of "need more information before an informed comment can be made."
However, the next steps will be extremely difficult, because the next steps require some sort of action--an action to do nothing, and continue how we are for another year while more study is engaged; an action to cut staff and programs....or some permutation of these or yet to be revealed solutions.
We have a large endowment. We aren't going to run out of money tomorrow. But the congregation wants to be mindful, and responsible--as well as wants to be vital and vibrant. I respect all of that.
I know there is a possibility that my position might be cut--not totally, I don't think--probably reduce my position. If they want to cut it totally, they won't throw me to the curb. They are good people.
It's important for them to figure out how the church can live within its means. It's important, too, for them to ask, "What is it that God is calling us to do, to be?"
I won't be here on Sunday for the forum where people are invited to discuss possible outcomes. I won't be here Tuesday, when the coordinating council will draft recommendations/motions for the congregation to vote on the following Sunday. I'm going to Chicago with my beloved for a work thing--not me, I am going to play!
My colleague will be preaching, and it is likely he won't participate in the forum, as we know they will be talking about staffing, and people may feel uncomfortable speaking freely. He may or may not participate in the co-council meeting. (We are SO congregational!).
But we have been praying together, a lot, praying for the process, for God's wisdom and guidance to permeate discussions and decisions. We have been praying for our beloved church, who is bravely and thoughtfully stepping into this challenge early enough to really be care-ful about thinking sustainably about its now, and its future.
It's a lot. But I am so proud of the process...and I pray that in these next steps that people will continue in respectful dialogue with each other and about the church. There are opportunities for divisiveness. My prayer is that there isn't. There are opportunities to slice and dice at the parts of the church's work that is the most vibrant. My prayer is that doesn't happen.
I don't have a strong opinion on what they should do. I know, though, that God does. My prayer is that we all listen to our still speaking God.