The organ proposal has been withdrawn. I saw and felt the negative impact this was having on our beloved community. I decided to withdraw my support and the Organ Committee agreed. They have withdrawn their proposal.
I believe this is the best decision. Sometimes, the very best course of action is to breathe. We all need to take a step back and reassert our love for one another, and not act out of anger or fear. I want to thank the Organ Committee for all their hard work in bringing the possibility of this instrument to our attention. They worked with Rev. Ed and the Casavant Organ Company to design a beautiful instrument.
I want to thank the donors who had given and pledged the money to pay for this instrument. All of this consideration would not be possible without their heartfelt and generous gifts. I want to thank your hard-working Board of Trustees. They considered the gift carefully and voted to accept it pending congregational discussion and approval. They provided a Town Hall process by which voices could be heard. When asked by those who had a different opinion about the organ, the Board extended the time of congregational discernment by a month. They labored long and hard on your behalf.
I want to thank our Minister of Music, the Rev. Dr. Ed Thompson for his patience and forbearance in a process that became uncomfortable and difficult. I have the highest regard for Ed and his ministry among us. His skill as a composer, a musician and a leader of our music ministry is among the best in the UUA. Music is central to our identity, as central as our words and our beautiful building. Music and words deserve equal footing as we move forward.
I played a key role in the decisions that were made early in the process of bringing the organ proposal to you. I asked Ed to identify the organ that he thought was best for our music ministry. I relied on his professional opinion, and the Casavant was the instrument he proposed. We knew that the instrument had to have the smallest possible impact on our extraordinary space while also working well with our unique architecture. I know that these priorities were uppermost for Ed. I can see now that there are many among you who feel that a different approach would have been better. Some would have preferred an approach where members of the congregation explored a range of possibilities with broad participation. In retrospect, we should have had a broader discussion of the possible ways to approach this from the beginning.
After the Board decided to extend the vote to May 1st the Organ Committee was concerned that going forward would lead to more strife but ultimately decided to continue so that people would have an opportunity to express their preference through their vote. However, within days it became clear to me that we were headed in the wrong direction toward a deeply divided congregation. I made the decision to withdraw my support for the proposal and communicated that decision to the Board, the Organ Committee and a few other involved individuals. The Organ Committee agreed with my decision and withdrew their proposal for consideration by the congregation. You have heard from Rev. Ed about this.
How do we go on in love? Throughout the discernment process I believe we misjudged one another‘s intentions. This is normal in a community. It did lead to conflict and hurt. How we deal with this hurt will define us as a congregation, a true community wherein mistakes are owned and forgiveness is offered. In a world as fractured as ours is now, such a reconciliation would be a form of spiritual grounding.
I believe we will grow from this experience both collectively and personally. If we can learn how to love and forgive here, we can extend that love into our homes, our communities and the greater world we are a part of. Every week we recite our Covenant, “Love is the Spirit of this Church.” Despite our failings, love remains our spirit. It’s up to all of us to hold that spirit in our hearts, towards one another and in our beloved congregation.
Your always, Rev. John