Dear members and friends of Christ Congregational Church,

As we approach Sunday’s meeting and vote on whether to proceed with the proposed Retreat House renovation, I have two thought’s I want to share.

  1.       The Purpose of Congregational Meetings

At CCC, we make decisions in a democratic manner. This means members get voice and vote. For most decisions, a majority decides the outcome of a motion. We’ve all experienced democratic ballots where constituencies or their representatives attend a meeting with firm and articulate opinions. As we see in our polarized national politics, the process can create winners and losers.

Congregational church meetings are different. Yes, a majority vote decides the outcomes. Yes, people have strong opinions and may voice those. However, our job is to listen deeply and lovingly to all voices so that we may better listen to the voice of God. Our role as voters is not to gather a majority, but to clearly discover how best to follow the leading of the Spirit. If you are planning on not attending the meeting Sunday because you don’t feel comfortable sharing your opinion, then our deliberations will be missing your voice. Your unique perspective may be just what we need to see, hear, and feel on Sunday. You may be the voice of God we need!

As we deliberate the future of the Retreat House, I offer two suggestions:

  •         To listen deeply and intentionally to each other, and to be open to the Spirit, we need to shed egos and personal agendas and focus on whether we are ready to follow where God leads.
  •         Each of us must test the path or paths presented. We do this by asking questions. As we listen and deliberate, which ideas seem inspired? Is our path filled with what is good for all? Are we experiencing peace and movement toward God and one another, or is there a sense of discomfort and movement away from God and one another?

We are the people of God, called to seek and follow God’s aims. God is here to draw us deeper in wisdom and love if we can become aware enough to listen.

  1.       “What’s Your Opinion on this, Pastor Matt?”

I get this question a lot. Friends, folks at CCC have been talking about the future of the Retreat House long before I came on the scene. This discussion has taken a lot of my time, attention, and focus over my six years with you all. Some people are frustrated that I have not provided a compelling and supportive vision for the Retreat House, as previous ministers have done. Others want me to come out with a strong statement in opposition to the renovations. Since I have not offered a public opinion, I know some people think I’m “playing both sides.”

As the Senior Minister and lead pastor at CCC, I have long felt that I cannot take a position on the Retreat House and be experienced as a caring presence to all of you. The future of the Retreat House is not my decision to make – it is yours, as a body. You, the members and friends of CCC, decide how we can best use our limited staff and financial resources. You, the members and friends of CCC, will enjoy or be burdened by the long-term costs of our decisions. If I were to use the power of the pulpit to guide people into my way of thinking, or use my leadership to skew the conversation … well, that feels manipulative and untrustworthy to me, and that’s not the kind of minister I want to be.

I have learned to trust that when we are listening deeply and lovingly, the people of CCC make good decisions. As a member of CCC, I will be at the meeting. I will be praying, listening, and voting as a member, just as I hope you will. And when we make a decision, I will be here with you as a companion as we put faithful and just compassion into action.

Yours on the journey,

Pastor Matt

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