Open Round Table #3

We had another Open Round Table meeting for our church community again last night. Although we have a kind of body of executive elders to make crucial financial decisions, etc., about the church, we want the oversight of the church to be open and collegial. We don't have a membership role at Rothesay Vineyard. So anyone who is at all interested in the welfare of the church and wishes to have a voice in its health is welcome to come. Generally speaking there are approximately 20 or so people who come. I would like to see more come. But it is totally volunteer based. No pressure on anyone to attend or skip. Anyone can play. And this isn't just talk. We are serious about it. I opened the meeting by reading Psalm 133 where it talks about unity and harmony. How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity! After some beautifully picturesque descriptions of what this unity looks like, it closes by saying that where this unity is kept, "there the Lord ordains his blessing". I feel it is our task to maintain harmony. God, in turn, will bless that. Unity and harmony is blessed. We have these meetings so that we can maintain harmony among ourselves. This is an exercise in unity. They can hear my heart, and I can hear theirs. Together we can hear the heart of God for the church and the heart of the church for God. As usual I went into the meeting nervous because I don't carry an agenda with me. I try to empty my mind of all motive and desire so that we can have a true and open dialog. Together we will care for this community and through our conversation discover how to do this well. As usual there are awkward moments of silence at the beginning. But once a conversation starts, that hour and a half is a wonderfully chaotic exchange of energy and ideas. We don't reach any conclusions necessarily. We just get a feel for each other and the community. These are a few of the things that emerged in our conversation:
  1. We are different and unique and hard to describe. But we like it and wouldn't trade it for anything else. What we don't need is a mission statement or a vision. What we might need is a language to describe ourselves. What we might need is what the Bible calls giving a reason for the hope that is within us. We believe that as we shine our own light with truth and integrity, that this will be the way we love those around us.
  2. We are sitting on a huge asset of over 15 acres of prime commercial or industrial land. We also own a very functional building. However, we have developed in such a way that it doesn't really match our personality as a community right now. We are not sure what to do about it yet, but there was a lot of energy and discussion about what the possibilities are. I admired the sense of adventure the people shared, as well as their courageous willingness to take risks to become more integrated in all that we are and do.
For the past couple of weeks I have been hearing lots of criticism and negative rumors about me and our church. I allowed them to get me down. I would enter very dark moments when I questioned my own call, the church, and even my own sanity. But when those who care about the community gathered together last night, all those phantom rumors evaporated in our mutual love for God, each other and the church. I left encouraged and fortified to fulfill my call as a pastor, as I am sure everyone else there did.

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