Last evening, 19 voting members (about 8%) of my church gathered in my living room and decided to take an action that could change the church's future course. We didn't arrive at this decision unanimously, but after 2-1/2 hours of discussion we formed a plan that everyone present could live with and support.
We focused our gathering by considering how what our church would be like in a year if we did or did not make a change — a change that everyone in the room has been pondering internally and, in some cases, talking about in smaller groups for months. Those present variously expressed anger, happiness, sadness, confidence, worry, and many other emotions as the evening progressed and we discussed elements of the church's past and its turbulent present. In the end, no one was thrilled by what we decided, but we're all hopeful that the difficult thing we'll do this week will lead us to a better future.
We're taking an action that I've been hoping for; an action I've been talking to people about; an action that I support so completely that I volunteered my home for the gathering and encouraged people to come and talk so that their diffuse energies could join and generate sufficient momentum to push for change. I got what I wanted. And I was awake more than an hour in the middle of the night, thinking about what we're going to do and the tough months ahead.
If I were a Christian, I suppose I'd be praying, and hoping that this effort is truly God's plan for our congregation. But my atheist/humanist philosophy places the responsibility squarely on me and on the others who were here last evening. 19 people of all ages and backgrounds, new members and old, most of whom have filled leadership roles in the church, gathered and made a plan that we feel will best serve the church we love. I hope we'll succeed; and, if we succeed, I hope the future will be the better place that I envision.