|Me in 2004, on the ancient path through the ruins in Delphi, Greece|
An oracle might be nice every now and then
The congregation’s meeting with the Corridor District Board of Church Location and Buildings was a disappointment to me, but not because of the Board’s ruling, which was favorable. There was good attendance from Aldersgate, and five members of the Board attended, including the district superintendent.
My disappointment came from the flow of conversation around the table. I had hard copies of the proposal of house church available for everyone (http://methodistfindinggod.blogspot.com/2017/07/aldersgate-house-prototype.html), although Aldersgate had seen and endorsed it several times already. The Board, composed of clergy and lay people, loved the idea of a combination house church and intentional living community, or at least they said they did. But that evening, Aldersgate members focused on the sale of the property, getting into heated arguments about zoning.
Aldersgate is zoned R-1, single-family residential. Churches and schools are allowed in R-1 zoning, but it means the least complicated sale of the property would be to another church. I already had explained this many times! What I heard that night from a few loud voices (and perhaps I am focusing the negative) was a fixation on the potential money to be made from the sale of the property rather than on forming a house church. The arguing embarrassed me. I thought: Despite all the meetings, some of these folks still do not understand what this is all about.
Only one person lifted up that the church is the people, and that we could worship in a tent for all she cared, as long as we stayed together. Several others talked about their grief at the congregation’s most recent decline and their feelings of helplessness that light rail construction probably would mean the end of the congregation. They remained fixated on light rail despite previous conversations and meetings about it.
I remember thinking uneasily: I’m hearing very little enthusiasm for a house church. However, there had been zero enthusiasm for any of the other options we had discussed over the past several months. There was, however, enthusiasm for selling the property. This made no sense to me.
The District Board gave its approval for Aldersgate to hold a church conference to vote on selling the property, with the understanding we would use the money to relocate in the Chapel Hill area to potentially become a house church. We set the date for the church conference in about a month.
That same evening, the Orange County commissioners approved moving forward with plans for the Durham-Orange Light Rail, construction due to begin in three years.