when reality peers over the wallPosted: July 18, 2011
I've enjoyed my time so far at St. John the Divine. Part of that enjoyment comes from simply attending Sunday service without being privy to the inner workings of the church. I had chosen to assume that the church was on solid financial footing because they had a preschool to help support the infrastructure. Now, given the years I spent on the church council at Good Shepherd, I knew perfectly well that that was not a rational assumption.
So I was not surprised when the vestry member representing stewardship announced a few weeks ago that the church needed people to step up to help meet the summer shortfall. Then, in last week's church newsletter, Fr. Phil wrote, "Thank you to those who have been responding to our summer financial slump. We still have a substantial way to go to meet our summer obligation."
Then, just to ensure that I be reassured that St. John the Divine was a real church with real people and real issues faced by every church, he wrote about how he felt a sense of "false guilt" about the money spent on his tenth anniversary celebration this past spring, about "a sense of extravagance in a year when things would be tight plus with the insistence that I take time off, it would require supply clergy expense as well."
So there is an opportunity to read between the lines! The use of the noun rather than the verb form of "insist," allowing him to avoid stating who was doing the insisting. I can only assume that would be the vestry. That's interesting to me, because in the eight years I was on the church council at Good Shepherd (five of them as president, so I bear more than my share of responsibility), the council never insisted that Pastor Koch do anything. I think Good Shepherd might be a healthier church today if it (if we!) had. And I think that that is probably a testament to the health of St. John's, or at least an indicator that the vestry is taking an active role in the management of the church, which, except in extreme and occasional dysfunctional cases, is almost always a good thing.
So reality at St. John the Divine has peered its head over the wall at me. I knew that day would come eventually. And that's OK. I'm still happy to be there.