Several summer-reading books have captured my imagination. One, especially, is written by a former Episcopal priest and bishop, Richard Holloway, which he calls Looking in the Distance. His title comes from the poet Vasilii Rozanov:
All religions will pass, but this will remain:
Simply sitting in a chair and looking in the distance.
As I read the book I was sitting in a chair, looking into the distance, contemplating life—my own, of course—and looking into the distance, behind and ahead.
A new church year is upon us: decisions will be made. Shared. That’s what our commitment to the democratic process is about.
Our Board of Trustees, under the able leadership of Allan Wieman, spends a good deal of time sitting in chairs and looking in the distance, in order to make decisions that are compatible with our approach to a free and open religious faith.
It’s not necessary that we’re all in agreement about any particular decision. What’s important, though is that we maintain mutual respect and that we are each able to hold on to our own integrity. Sometimes it’s a fine balance, like the tension on a violin string, without which the tune couldn’t be performed; the artist learns to adjust the tension to make the music.
The Board has to make adjustments — to balance finances with staff support, programs with competing priorities that allow growth and vitality. Finding the right balance is often a challenge, and your Board stepped up to that challenge when they decided to eliminate the old office-staff positions to make way for a new, efficient and economical full-time administrator.
I expressed my honest disappointment in that decision. Change is difficult; it inevitably involves loss of some kind, no matter what the hoped-for gain might be.
The Board struggled with this decision, especially because it meant the elimination of Jan Braunle’s position. But their decision was made in good faith: it was honest and open; they believed it was the responsible, timely thing to do. I want to express my appreciation and to affirm the Board’s process – we agree to disagree without questioning one another’s integrity.
Some important decisions must be made by a vote of the entire congregation. One of those far-reaching decisions must be made at our annual meeting on September 23. The question put to the active, voting members who attend that important meeting has to do with the proposal to purchase property on Sheila Lane, next to the church.
I hope you’ve found some time to ‘sit in a chair and look into the distance,’ and I hope you will plan to be an active participant in decisions about our shared future.