Monday, June 06, 2005

Church Meetings: Great, Free Theatre!!

We had our congregational Annual Meeting last night. As usual I found it lovely and endearing and irritating and silly and noble and momentous. This excerpt is from my final newsletter column before our summer hiatus, penned this morning:

"I remember a colleague who unexpectedly left the parish after over twenty years in the ministry. When I asked about his decision, he replied, 'I couldn’t go to one more bloody meeting and pretend I cared about any of it.'

Ouch. My crispy colleague showed good discernment. When a minister comes to dread and resent meetings then yes, that’s the perfect time to bid the church adieu!

Ah, meetings. Dear meetings. I have actually come to (mostly) love them. Such a reviled and misunderstood aspect of church life, and such an important one. Sure, church meetings can seem uninspired, plodding, and unintentionally comic. Agenda items appear again and again, discerning groups struggle to come to agreement on the simplest of issues through hours of debate, while huge, important decisions are made in shockingly casual “so moved” and “seconded” fashion, and the cast of characters never changes: The Cranky Nay-sayers, The Starry-Eyed Idealists, The Careful Keepers of the By-Laws and Robert’s Rules, and the Blissfully Uninformed. I’m sure you can think of a few more. We have all played every part.

Why would you want to miss this!!?

Church meetings are, in my opinion, free theatre, and some of the best there is. Euripides never wrote such tragedy as the church meetings gone terribly wrong. Pinter never crafted such pregnant silences as can be found at church meetings when someone says something uncomfortable or drops in an unexpectedly creative and brilliant idea. Arthur Miller at his finest never penned such wonderfully intense and detailed dialogue, and Shakespeare’s characters just can’t compare with our own, living heroes and heroines, jesters and irascibles. They are magnificent, every one, and their like shall never come again… until, one hopes, the next generation."


P.S. I'm driving to CT on Friday to meet the dog.


Blogger fausto said...

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Blogger fausto said...

Just wondering, is that a picture of one of the historic meetings of your own parish, gleaned from your newly-issued parish archive on DVD, or is it just a general illustration of puritans (and their denominational descendants) being characteristically more adept at arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin than at doing so harmoniously themselves?

Blogger PeaceBang said...

Oh, it's just generic. But it COULD be of our original congregation, of course. Or yours.


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