Monday, October 02, 2006

Lies, D***ed lies, and Statistics

I was sorely tempted to go to the EOP/PCUSA-Kirk worship service at Southminster last night. I’m no longer a member of the presbytery, and I’m not a member of any congregation, so I guess I would have fit into the “friend of the Kirk” category, at least as I see it. The husband of one of our staff members, who has family ties to Southminster church, did go.

He said that the service was led by the Southminster pastor, with three other presbytery folk up front. He estimated that the remaining 16 people who attended were evenly split between Southminster members and Kirk people. What this means is that 8 or so people attended from the Kirk. We knew that we had 36 “nay” votes at our congregational meeting. I am also aware that four Kirk families have moved to First Presbyterian Church in Tulsa.

What is astounding to me is the presbytery’s insistence that there exists a great number of Kirk people who have been excluded from fellowship because of our recent disaffiliation from the PCUSA. I am sad about every person who no longer feels a part of the Kirk, but those numbers are incredibly small. Rarely does a church have such agreement on a controversial issue.

The presbytery (or at least some in the presbytery) evidently passed on to the Southminster congregation that more than half of our congregation was opposed to the disaffiliation. The rationale given was that, since we only had a little over 1,000 people at our congregational meeting, the almost 1,800 who weren’t there represented a sizeable contingent of those who opposed our action. Such an analysis comes under the category of lies, d***ed lies, and statistics.

Controversial issues bring lots of people out, especially those who are in opposition and this was no exception for the Kirk. While 1,000 people doesn’t sound so big in proportion to our entire congregation, it is actually a huge turnout. Most churches, ours included, have trouble attracting a quorum of members (10%) to attend typical meetings.

I looked up the statistics for Southminster Presbyterian Church on the PCUSA website. What I found was this:
Membership
Your congregation had 506 members compared to the average PC(USA) congregation's 212 members. Your church gained 6 members and lost 47 members.

Christian Education Enrollment
Your congregation's Christian Education Enrollment was 138. The average for all PC(USA) congregations was 124.

Total Contributions
Overall contributions to your congregation, which were $356,574, were larger than the 2005 average of $225,440 for all PC(USA) congregations.

My guess is that they would be ecstatic to have 200 people come out for any congregational meeting and consider such a turnout to be a huge affirmation for whatever issue involved. I’d also assume that they’ve not seen those kinds of numbers in worship lately, much less congregational meetings.

The Kirk’s numbers for the same year are as follows:
Membership
Your congregation had 2,665 members compared to the average PC(USA) congregation's 212 members. Your church gained 108 members and lost 54 members.

Christian Education Enrollment
Your congregation's Christian Education Enrollment was 1,605. The average for all PC(USA) congregations was 124.

Total Contributions
Overall contributions to your congregation, which were $3,152,380, were larger than the 2005 average of $225,440 for all PC(USA) congregations.
We are sad to see any of the 36 people leave. But we are still growing. We currently have a new member class with more than 40 people attending. We've got inquiries for another class to start. Our attendance at worship and Sunday school is growing. Giving is steady, at an increase over last year. Our annual retreat had twice the attendees we had last year. Mission trips are ongoing, with one group in Mongolia even as I write. We are healthy, we are growing, and we are united.

We are not united in opposition to the PCUSA--that issue is limited to pastors and elders except when the membership gets letters from representatives of the old denomination. A common attitude here is "that is past, let's get on with our future."

While we have legal issues with the EOP and PCUSA, the "past" still has bearing on us officers at the Kirk. This blog will continue to inform the Kirk membership of what is going on in that venue. It will also speak out on PCUSA issues on behalf of those who feel that they cannot speak out, for fear of retribution.

Keep praying--keep the faith,
Tom

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sicker, sicker, sicker.
What gives you the right to take pop shots at another church. You are no longer an ordained minister, in any denomination - so why don't you shut up?

TomGray said...

Dear anonymous,
I'm not making potshots, but a comparison. The presbytery is making statements about the Kirk congregation that don't hold up to scrutiny. It isn't sick(er) to clarify things.
Tom

Anonymous said...

no one passed on that there were large numbers. southminster was well aware that there were few numbers coming to the church sun evening- the estimated guess was 15-20 at the most.

southminster members came to help the sanctuary feel less empty.

the southminster pastor preached this week & others will fill in the next few weeks.

southminster is not courting new members with this service. the plan is that if there are enough kirk people, they will start a new church. i don't want anyone thinking that spc is hoping to grow because of this service.

southminster is only doing this servce for a month (october) & the bulletins have kirk of the hills on them, not southminster.

TomGray said...

Dear anonymous #2,
Thanks for your reply. I never thought that spc was trying to get new members from this. I know that your church is simply hosting this.

Someone has told people in your congregation that there was a large Kirk contingent dissatisfied with our decision, as I reported.

Tom

TomGray said...

PS to anonymous #2,
I don't think that the presbytery's idea is for those folk to form a new church. Mr. Dodd's letter indicated that they would be worshiping at spc until they could regain worship space on 61st Street (the Kirk property).
Tom

Anonymous said...

well, it'll take more than 8, 10, or even 20 members!! :~)

quite frankly, i don't see how presbytery could afford the property.they barely have money enough to run themselves!!

anonymous #2

Anonymous said...

Dearest Sick and Sicker:

Read the rest of this blog.

ALlow for rational thought to combat the blathering and insults.

Pray.

Use your name.

Andrew Strong

Anonymous said...

Dear Brother,

We continue to pray for you. My wife and I heard of your good works while in Russia (Zelenograd) a few years ago.
My current church left the PCUSA years ago and is now in the EPC. The joy of the Gospel abounds where Christ is proclaimed.
Doug Nyhus(Bethesda, MD)

The Silver Fox said...

What are "pop shots?" Are they anything like "pop-tarts?" ;o)

In the words of George Duffield, Jr.,

"Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
The strife will not be long.
This day the noise of battle;
The next, the victor's song.
To him that overcometh,
A crown of life shall be;
He with the King of Glory
Shall reign eternally."

I guess this glorious hymn of the faith is no longer in the "Presbyterian Hymnal." No doubt it's too "militaristic" and definitely "politically incorrect." Sort of like that old children's Sunday School hymn, "Onward, Christian Soldiers!"

The Lord still honors those who honor Him.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Gray,
I understand why your church left. I understand why you feel the need to continue pressing your important issues via your blog. What I do not understand is why you continue to try to rip the Presbyterian world apart with your divisive approach. If it were me in your shoes, I would take a more educational approach. I do not know you personally and therefore cannot gauge your intentions. As an outsider, it appears as though you are flaunting about in this blog and the media which really does not seem to help anybody but you. If you were to take an education, peaceful, and more pastoral approach, I believe your cause would be aided and the friction between you and the Presbytery and denomination would be calmed. This would make everybody in the Presbyterian community happier. Right now, you seem like an opportunist, not a concerned Christian taking a stand. I write you this with genuine love and concern. I hope that you will at least consider my suggestion.
With Sincerity and Concern, JTS

Cameron Mott said...

Tom,

Can you see how the EOP might have a question about the comprehensiveness of a vote by less than 38% of your stated membership?

TomGray said...

Dear Cameron,
It is very unusual to have anywhere near 38% of a membership in a large church turn out on any issue. I've remarked on this in my blog on statistics.

There has been followup by the presbytery to discern (I think) the breakdown of for and against in the Kirk. The first congregational mailing they sent out got under 100 people to a special meeting. Most of those were members favoring our dissafiliation.

The next congregational mailing they did was to invite those who wished to remain in the PCUSA to a worship service on Sunday afternoon. Somewhere between 8 and 12 Kirk members showed up.

The Kirk is remarkably united in this decision.

Tom

Cameron Mott said...

Tom,

I have seen how you feel and I saw your comments in the blog but every story has 2 sides, and my question is can you see how the EOP would have questions, let alone the duty, to determine who of the majority of your stated membership may wish to remain affliated with PCUSA? If the 2,600+ stated membership is not active/accurate/practical/representative for any reason, shouldn't they determine that too?

Was a process used by the Kirk to poll your stated 1,600+ membership that could not, would not or did not attend the congregational meeting?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Cameron,

I wish you and some others would actually use some logic. 36 folks out of 1000 desire to stay with PCUSA, certainly their right. While there may be another 1500 give or take on the rolls, many may live out of town/country, or simply have moved away and have yet to be officially culled from the rolls like many churches. Do you acutally think out of all those others who are on the rolls that did not attend, there are AT BEST maybe, maybe another 50 or so that wish to stay.

If others wanted to stay and are really concerned about it, why not come out and make your voice heard. The 94% is certainly a mandate in my book.

P.W.

Anonymous said...

Cameron,

Also, I think the same can be said for any city, state, national election. Does everyone who is eligible to vote, come out and vote? No. People work, are out of town, etc. So by your arguement, the govt should chase down everyone of the voters to determine whether they intended to vote. Needless to say not possible. If the matter is important enough, they will show up and voice their opinion.

P.W.

Cameron Mott said...

PW,

I have no way to know if your presumptions are right or not; logic tells me 900+ is not a majority of 2,600+.

Actually in this case a majority doesn't matter as the EOP has a constitutional duty to determine who is loyal to PCUSA in Kirk's membership regardless of how small a minority they may constitute. If they do indeed constitute a minority.

Anonymous said...

Cameron,
Yes, there are 2600 NAMES on our rolls. This is because anyone who has joined the church since it began has a member number assigned and is put on the rolls. This includes some 40 or more young people 8th grade and up every year. Many of these are young people, as well as fmailies in our increasingly mobile society, who move away and never request to be removed from the rolls. We have a process for removing non-active members, however, we prefer to err on the side of caution when it comes to removing people. Therefore the 2600 is a nubulous figure at best. (Since we have paid our per capita on every one of these people for years, EOP has not complained.)

If you wonder why we can't keep better records - try to force people to sign in at worship or Sunday school. Many prefer anonymity - one reason they choose a large church. Many just assume they've been coming for years so everyone knows they are there. With 5 services that average from 100 to 500 people, no one
can keep track by just obsevation. (That is one reason why we have small groups!)

Our attendance, which is done by head count every Sunday, is a much better indication of the size of our church. We currently average between 1400 and 1500 people attending each week. Extrapolating from the people who do sign in, there are probably 100-150 visitors each week and more who are "regular attenders" (those who have never joined, but attend, give and participate in the church life.) That makes the 1000 people who attended the meeting 2/3s of the active congregation and probably closer to 90% of MEMBERS who attend. I hope this clarifies the situation for those of who thinking that turn-out for the vote was only 2/5ths of the congregation.

Esther Underwood

Cameron Mott said...

Esther,

Thank you, I do understand that and how it happens, it happens at my church relative to our smaller size.

Still, am I incorrect in that the Kirk reported to the EOP that it has a membership of 2600+ and the EOP now has a constitutional duty to determine who of the 2600+ stated membership, not just the 1000 attendees at a congregational meeting, wish to remain affiliated with the PCUSA?

Cameron Mott

Anonymous said...

Cameron,

Since you seem sooooooooo hung up on 2600 people, even though Ester explained the nature of our attendance and membership lets work with that.

I again say if people were worried about staying in PCUSA more would have attended the meeting to vote. However, taking the roughly 4% that voted against our move and applying that to 2600, that gives you 104 individuals that might, might want to stay.

Even if there is 104 folks, which I dont believe there is, what would the EOP do with them. They certainly cannot support the upkeep of the Kirk. Does the EOP want them to start a new church somewhere?? Or is it the EOP/PCUSA want the Kirk property with little regarding to these folks so the PCUSA can fill its coffers with the sale from the property?

Now, I assue there might be a few more that did not vote, but I ask what is the point of YOUR insistence that the EOP dig around (which they are actively doing btw). Why does someone, whom I assume does not attend the Kirk, or I assume even live in Oklahoma have an such an interest in this matter?

Further if the EOP and you are sooooo concerned about these 104 prospect souls, where was the EOP years ago when the Kirk expressed our displeasure with the way the PCUSA was moving, were was the "pastoral care" the EOP is soooo concerned about providing back then???

P.W.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cameron Mott,

Kirk of the Hills has approximately 2600 members, none of whom belong to PCUSA. By act of Session, and the congregation, we have separated from PCUSA and are no longer subject to its constitution. It's done; a fait accompli.

EOP may be required by it's constitution to determine the "true church." But how do they define that? They define it as those who wish to remain with the PCUSA. However, to remain with PCUSA they must leave the Kirk (because the Kirk is no longer PCUSA). And, if they leave the Kirk they can no longer be the true Kirk, can they?

If the action of the session and the congregation was invalid, then we are all the "true church" and EOP has nothing to do. If it is valid, my logic above holds, and EOP's constitution has no bearing on the issue.

Finally, no organization I know--and I am a member of quite a few and familiar with many more--requires a vote from 100% of its members for any action. Once a quorum is reached, all the constitutions and by-laws I have read count percentages "of the voting members." The Kirk had, at worst, 38.5% of it's members present and voting. This is a percentage many organization would be extatic over. Even the ones that allow absentee ballots, which we didn't.

It is EOP's search for the "true church" that is divisive. Let them either graciously let the property go with the congregation that built it, or wait until the courts decide the property issue.

Bill Underwood

Cameron Mott said...

I think I got everything but my question answered however God bless you all and your ministry.

C-dell said...

I have a post titled very similar you should check it out.

John said...

The talk about "only" 30 percent of membership voting is a smokescreen, a device to hide the malicious actions of a group of professional Presbyterians who want to hang on to the fiction of being a church. Notice that the PC USA does not require any such vote on any other issue, and most particularly not when the liberal side wins. This whole discussion of percentages is nonsense, a power play of corrupt, greedy apostates. Let's tell the truth about the PCUSA presbyteries and their brown shirted administrative commissions who would steal property from the men and women of the church who paid for it. The fact that they wrap themselves in some false concern for a "loyal minority" is a just a fig leaf for thuggery.