This was, as expected, a pretty difficult session. A few of the things that jumped out at me:
- People really don't understand what it means that the Presbytery owns the building.
- people assume that the presbytery will tell us how to spend our remaining money (or just take it away)
- personally, I've never had the experience of having been in one church for my entire life. It must indeed be hard to think about that kind of loss.
- denial is pretty rampant when discussing closing a church. is it denial or faith? I believe there is some genuine belief that a miracle can and will happen that will bail us out.
- Being "Presbyterian" is not as important as being at this church. Denominational connection just isn't that important to people.
- No one was willing at the time to admit that closing might be our best option (though several people thanked me afterwards)
- no one can articulate why the church should stay open. the only things that come close are discussions about the church's potential (future) and its history (past), not what it actually provides right now (present).
- There's a Looney Tunes cartoon where Yosemite Sam makes a comment about buying the old ladies home and kicking the old ladies out. I felt lIke Yosemite Sam for much of the meeting.
- the animosity isn't just between the church and the presbytery. it is between us and the other two presbyterian congregations in the area, both of which have members who have transferred from our congregation. apparently in the past, the other congregations haven't been so gracious in expressing how they have gained from our church's turmoil. it was also mentioned that the church's own internal lack f grace was the reason many people left.
- The idea of us investing remaining resources in some other community ministry was mocked.
- I had hoped that this discussion would be the catalyst for some creative thought. The next session on parallel ministry might be where we need it the most. We'll see if my arranging of the meetings has the desired effect.
- personal - sometimes I think I'm more suited to be a college professor than a pastor. These sessions have felt like classrooms. That might be working against me.
- there wasn't agreement on what I consider "ending poorly" as being a bad option. Some would rather keep going until the money runs out than end with a plan.
I think that's all for now. After the last session I was thankful for having spaced these discussions out. Now, I just want them to be done. They exhaust me and I, like others, am anxious to see how this all is going to play out.