Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Annual Congregational Meeting

As I mentioned yesterday, we had our Annual Congregational Meeting last Sunday. As happens at many churches, once the benediction is given, everyone leaves excepting for the few who really care about what goes on in the church ... and the gadflies who are always complaining about something that changed.

Well luckily we didn't have any gadflies this year, not sure if its was because they didn't show up, or they joined the Church Everlasting, but it was very quiet at the meeting this year ... too quiet.

The pastor led off with prayer, then went into the agenda. The first item on the agenda, was promptly taken care of, as we didn't have to vote for a nominating committee, as we did that in May. That was one of the things I pushed, so that the committee would have more time to work for nominees. (BTW .. how's that working for you RC ??)

The next item was to request nominees for the audit committee. Evidently, the same two brothers (CPAs both) do the audits every year. The committee requires three, so we had two volunteers already, but trying to get the third one was like trying to pull a tooth from a chicken, there weren't any. Even after the pastor said that there was nothing for the third person to do but review the final report, no hands. Finally, one of the current elder's spouses put his hand up.

Then it was time to close nominations, the Pastor asked for a motion. Again, no movement from the 70 people present. I raised my hand, the second was asked, zip, nada. I leaned over to Bob, just down the pew "well ?", he raised his hand. OK .. Moved, Seconded and Passed (MSP).

Next was the request to close the meeting of the congregation and open the meeting of the church corporation. "Need a motion ...", leaned over again to Bob, "Your turn ..". He raised his hand. "Second ??", I raised mine.

And so it went for most of the meeting, the RC and Bob show, except when it came to close the meeting of the corporation, and move back into the meeting of the congregation. Then after the review of the minutes by the Clerk, came the motion to accept the reading. Again, RC & Bob.

Came to the closing prayer, and request for a motion to adjourn. No hesitation at all there, MSP .. wam ... bam ... boom.

Now besides from the lack of participation, and the fact that not enough End of Year report packets were printed up ("we always throw them away afterwards ..."), not one mention was made of the terms of the Call!! They were changed, and not a peep about them was mentioned in the meeting.

Sure the BOO G-7.0302a says "It (the congregation) shall review the adequacy of the compensation of the pastor or pastors upon report of the prior review by the session." And sure the preface to the constitution says "(1) "Shall" and "is to be/are to be" signify practice that is mandated".

Of course, following the BOO has never been a major thing here, except when it works for what they want it to do. According to the Pastor, they have never brought the Call up at these meetings as long as he has been there ... over 20 years !!

Have I said in previous posts that the Pastor has been burnt before by thse congregants, and has been worn down to the point he really is burnt out!

And so it goes ....


  1. Been there, done that. "So moved." "Seconded." The same two voices every year.

    The failure of the congregation to act on the terms of call is disturbing. Presbyterianism is, after all, well. . . presbyterian, not congregational, but the few duties of the congregation are core responsibilities. I have characterized them as elements of the core identity.

    Who are our leaders? (Call the pastor, elect the elders, establish the pay--terms of call of the pastor)

    Where can you find us? (Control the property--mortgage, sell, etc)

    What do we believe? (Permissive power under G-7.0304a(5) to change denominations when necessary to remain faithful to the the sovereignty of God and the authority of Scripture).

    When a congregation refuses to take on those few duties in one 30 minute meeting a year, they seem to be proclaiming that they are a mere audience, not members of a congregation.

    Were the pastor and session concerned that there would be objections to the terms of call?

  2. Mac,

    the Session is clueless in many ways, I've been told off for bringing up Presbytery minimums and the list of all the calls in the Presbytery. I was 'rubbing the pastor's nose' in the fact that he is probably the least paid pastor for a church this size in the presbytery. I just replied, its public knowledge, available on the Presbytery website. Besides, he already knows !!

    The pastor is at a point where he's going ROAD, if you catch my drift.


  3. Which brings another thought to mind--what has presbytery done about this sad state of affairs? I suppose if he is paid at the PC(USA) minimum, the session is technically OK, but I know that our Ministry Committee would go nuts on the floor of presbytery if a terms of call was used as a cost-cutting measure. The little scam of allowing him to conduct funerals to makew up for deficient salary is sick.

    Has the presbytery conducted the "required" triennial visit with your church? (When we left to "old country," we had not had a triennial visit in at least 12 years--the Book of Order was applied only when it suited the needs of the pby and GA, i.e., letters asking for our per capita.

    The reason pastors are in presbytery is to protect them from session abuse. Seems like pby has also dropped the ball.

  4. Unfortunately my experience with the triennial visits of presbytery is that sessions can be very reluctant to admit the congregation or the pastor has any problems.

    I think one of the reasons for this is that they are talking to 3 people they don't know and don't have a relationship with, so they are reluctant to be frank with them.

  5. Mac, I'm not sure when the last one was made, but you gave me an incentive to find out.

    QG, I think you're right considering this Session has a hard time passing info to the congregation, let alone the Presbytery.

  6. As my dear brother Rev. Dr. Dean Weaver often says, "We presbyterians are closet congregationalists!"

    For QG: Spot on!!! The night of our congregational meeting to disaffiliate, I saw the chair of the "administrative commission" appointed by the presbytery to attend the meeting enter our fellowship hall. She and the EP attended our meeting. (Other AC members had attended the meetings of the other two churches earlier in the day.)

    I greeted her, saying "I'm so pleased to see you tonight."

    Puzzled look. "Why?"

    "Because in the 12 years that SWMBO and I have been members of The Forks, tonight will mark the first time that anyone from Donegal Presbytery has ever worshipped with us."

    Another puzzled look. "So?"

    Behind her, the EP, a young fellow who seemed to get it, grimmaced and sadly shook his head.

    It is hard to form relationships with once every thirty six months visits--harder if it is once every 144 months.

    In the year before we disaffiliated, it was public knowledge that I was a member of the NWAC Strategy Team. Not one person from the presbytery--I was a commissioner that year--ever contacted me or my pastor to ask what were our concerns.

    I don't think thery cared.


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