Friday, January 14, 2005

Get active

A lot of people were motivated to become active politically this year. I was one of those so moved. There's a lot of building from the grassroots going on with our newly created activists.

But one area where we need to make certain we get involved is our churches. I urge people of good faith to volunteer for church committees, particularly if you are concerned about social justices issues.

It's not always easy. I was on the family committee at my old church. We met regularly and developed quite a few good ideas to draw families together in affordable and wholesome ways. But a handful of the members decided the church would subsidize their tickets to see a Nativity play in Pennsylvania.

The church would pay for half of the tickets, the bus rental fees, and the meals. Those attending would pay about $55 per ticket.

Two of us on the committee seemed shock by the expenditure. We pointed out that even with the church paying half of the expenses, the price was beyond what a family of four could afford.

Those who could afford to go probably didn't need the church subsidizing their tickets. Those who couldn't afford to go would be helping to pay for the tickets of those who did go through their tithes. We pointed to less costly options that would allow the entire church family to afford to go on an outing together. Then we discovered the trip's advocates didn't intend for the church to subsidize just their tickets, but also the tickets of their friends and neighbors.

I pointed out that the cost of the one trip exceeded the entire annual budget of the church's soup kitchen and food bank. That drew an angry response. Then I did something that still troubles me months later: I said nothing further about it.

It did not matter. The committee chair stopped telling me when the meetings were. I took the hint and stopped asking.

In November we left the church for several reasons and have found a new church. If volunteers are sought for committee service, I intend to raise my hand.


At 12:02 AM, Blogger ncbookmom said...

Hey there Carnacki and Pastordan!

I was quite struck by your post on using the activist spirit in dealings with one's own church.

I am finding I am beginning to fight on several fronts here in NC. Our family worships at a mainline Methodist church with over 3,000 members, so needless to say, there's some diversity in our political views. We are currently seeing some battle lines drawn about gay marriage/homosexuality, (we have some gay and lesbian couples who are a part of our active church family), about the role of relgion in schools (school prayer, school textbooks, student religious groups, etc.) and about our pastor.

Our pastor has been a very interesting person to listen to over the past two years. He's a Vietnam Vet himself and continues to serve as a chaplain in the Army Reserve. His duties include ministering to the troops stationed in Fort Bragg, and yes, sometimes he is the one who goes to family member's homes to tell them their loved one has died overseas.

His own wartime experiences, these monlthy Army pastoral duties, and teh fact that his own son is currently stationed overseas in Iraq make for very interesting, perceptive, honest and insightful sermon messages.

I consider it a sign of his integrity that I do not know the man's political affliation. He never once advocated voting for any side in the elections, nor did he give "slanted" sermons that made it perfectly clear which candidate's position he was supporting. Instead, he kept his focus on the message of "Thy kingdom come" and the vision God has for our world, however short we may fall of that vision right now.

Yet this wonderful man, who has been a great example of what it means to be a disciple of Christ, is coming under attack for his apparent "acceptance" of the gay couples in our church. I'm working next week on a letter writing campaign to our Staff- parish relations committee that hopefully will shore up support against this increasingly vocal minority.

I'm also involved in a large Sunday school class (about 20 couples) who are usully very willing to talk all around the edges of politics, but never come out and support an issue directly, and many of whom have been annoying me lately with paranoid right-wing e-mails forwarded about how we're all going to hell in a handbasket over x, y, and z.

As I think I posted to you on DKos, last Sunday, we had a guest preacher at our youth group meeting who preached on the "salt of the earth" scripture. For a visual aid, he held up a bag of sugar and a container of salt and said, "look-- we're not called to be the *sugar* of the earth! It's not our job as Christians to make everything nice & sweet. We're called to be *salty*-- to mix it up, to be the seasoning."

I think it's time as progressives who are working for social justice that we go ahead and get a little "salty," starting with our faith families!

Mrs. Brown/ N.C. Bookmom

At 11:03 PM, Blogger Carnacki said...

Mrs. Brown,

I had a woman from my old church tell me gay marriage posed a greater threat than the terrorists that attacked on Sept. 11th. I do not understand these people.


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