Thursday, January 22, 2009

The More things Change...

The more they stay the same. Have you ever noticed that when a local church makes "changes" it tries to keep as much of what was the old in what is the new?

Case in point, the church where I'm currently serving.

The Trustees of the church decided to replace the original carpet in the sanctuary (in use since 1984) along with the pews. The carpet was starting to look a bit thread bare, and the pews were not in good shape either.

First problem- the older members of the church (that senior crowd I've talked about before) were up in arms as they felt the Trustees didn't have the authority to make this decision. There are still charter members (though not many) from when this congregation was founded in 1952, and there's still people ticked off from the construction of the current sanctuary which meant that "their church" (the original sanctuary) was not only no longer going to be used, but was actually torn down for the building of the new social hall and office wing in 2002. Add to that the crowd that had contributed for the original carpet and pews in the "new" sanctuary and, well, you can imagine the mess right now.

Second problem- the trustees have acquired carpet that they're trying to match to the same color as what was on the floor. Rather than going with a new color or pattern they want to put down what was there before. But we found out today that the company trying to do this is having trouble matching the color, etc. So we're now looking at a hold up on the carpet being installed. And the pews are coming Monday whether we're ready to put them in or not, which brings us to...

The third problem- the pews themselves. When the Trustees were looking at pew designs they had several examples brought into the building for consideration. Each was a very nice design, with varied colored wood (light to dark) on the ends. The pews that are being replaced were all painted white on the ends, giving a monochromatic color to the worship space (white and off white walls and wood work). Many of us were looking forward to a little color to break up the monotony. We found out this morning that the "new" pews will also be white in color, with the same squared off end pieces, just like the old ones. The examples that had been sent didn't look like that, but had rounded end pieces with "arm rests." Once more, trying to replace them with what they had before.

Change in the church? There is no such thing based on what I see happening here. Something as simple as carpet and pew replacement is but one example of what's wrong with the mindset of the people in charge. They don't want to change anything, with the result that the numbers of people in worship continue to drop, that there are fewer and fewer visitors because they're not being invited, and the Sunday School classes look more like private clubs than a place to learn about the loving grace of Jesus.

If we don't get our act together and learn that change isn't a bad word then we won't be here in the next 25 years.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year... and some changes are coming!

First- Happy New Year folks! I hope that 2009 brings you all great joy and blessings in the name of our Lord, Jesus the Christ. May any hurts and disappointments you suffered in 2008 be quickly mended and forgotten. May the beginning of another 12 months called 2009 also find you in good health, financially stable, and in a position to help others find the blessings of Jesus.

Second- There's some changes coming down the road after last year's General Conference. One among them is that the Baptismal Covenant # 3 is no longer to be used. They found it to be no longer "disciplinary." Why? Not sure, but it's out.

Another is that the requirements for the membership vows has added some words. We all remember standing in front of a congregation at some point in our lives (for those who are members of the UMC) and repeating the words " our prayers, our presence, our gifts, and our service." Well, that's been lengthened to include "our witness." I'd have to look it up to get the exact wording, but that's another change that takes effect this year.

There may be some others as well, but these two are the ones that most of us will notice immediately. Especially in the local church. It'll be interesting to see how we try to "enforce" the witness requirement. We don't seem to do a very good job with the other 4 areas to which we've pledged ourselves, and there seems to be no way to hold people accountable to their vows. Perhaps at the next General Conference in 2012 they can figure out a way to have this happen.

Unless they get bogged down in the whole homosexual thing again. But that's a posting for another time.