How many Congregationalists does it take to change lightbulb? One-hundred and nine:
Seven on the Lightbulb Task Force Sub-committee, who report to the twelve on the Lightbulb Task Force, appointed by the fifteen on the Trustee Board. Their recommendation is reviewed by the Finance Executive Committee of five, who place it on the agenda of the eighteen-member Finance Committee. If they approve, they bring a motion to the twenty-seven Member church Board, who appoint another twelve-member review committee. If they recommend that the Church Board proceed, a resolution is brought to the Congregational Business Meeting. They appoint another eight-member review committee. If their report to the next Congregational Business Meeting supports the changing of a lightbulb, and the Congregation votes in favor, the responsibility to carry out the lightbulb change is passed on to the Trustee Board, who in turn appoint a seven-member committee to find the best price in new lightbulbs. Their recommendation of which hardware is the best buy must then be reviewed by the twenty-three-member Ethics Committee to make certain that this hardware store has no connection to Disneyland. They report back to the Trustee Board who then commissions the Trustee in charge of the Janitor to ask him to make the change.
Truth be told, though meetings can be tedious and exhausting, I have been surprised by the energy, commitment, and good humor in our meetings. The Constitution Committee has been meeting weekly, there is a team thinking through how to support the church though the changes coming next year, and a team developing innovative technology and communications strategies. Throughout the week, volunteers come in to help with mailings and thank you notes, and groups meet to talk about books and read the bible together and pray together and to knit warm, fuzzy, comforting prayer shawls.
All of this passion, work and commitment gives me confidence that 2015 is going to be a good year for the church. Though I am surprised to hear myself say it, I am inspired by the meetings I attend. We are moving forward constructively, not in reaction to a difficult year in 2014, but in response to the hopeful future to which we are called as the people of God.