Tonight was the night. Presbytery had called a meeting and contacted our entire membership to invite them to an open forum regarding the Kirk's decision and the Presbytery's position. For a time, the local denominational folk have been telling us that the Kirk is far more divided over this issue than we think. "Many, many people have come to us complaining about what you (Tom and Wayne) have been doing." The Synod people even put a number to it--300 people were in opposition.
Just a few showed up, perhaps 70, I'm told. Subtract from that the presbytery representatives and the non-attending former members and it was a few dozen. Subtract from them the majority who showed up in support of our action, and it comes down to a handful. I don't want to dismiss those people. They are people (I know they won't believe this) that I care for. When some of the attendees of the meeting called me to tell me what happened, I had this painful desire to know just who it was in opposition (it's sort of like touching a bad tooth with your tongue to see if it still hurts). I didn't want to know names to be angry or to further the debate. I need to know what has happened in my congregation.
I was told that the same spin spun tonight. "We filed the affidavits because of one church, but thought it would be good for all." "If you'd just talked with us, we could have worked it all out." I'd love to believe these things--I just can't. I can't afford to, for the sake of danger to my congregation. I can't afford to for the additional sense of devastation that would come if the denomination, one more time, showed its perfidy, as with the PCUSA "legal game-plan."
I feel no sense of satisfaction over this meeting. What has happened is sad, considering that we did hang on so long with the denomination, hoping for renewal. There is no pleasure in dissatisfied members, even if it's just a handful (I'm not naive, I know that there are more out there, I just know it's still a small, small proportion). There's no pleasure in any sense of division between any of us who feel, or felt, a kindred spirit.
We still have so much before us. There is the congregational meeting on Wednesday. There is whatever response the denomination will continue to make. There is a whole world of ministry out there. I don't feel it tonight, but I know that the energy and joy of moving forward will return.
Keep praying--keep the faith.