Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Change of Pace

Editor's Note: When the following was submitted to The Episcopal Majority, we were hesitant to post it. After all, we have spent 10 months mostly writing and posting about matters of Great Seriousness in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. But we were reminded of that adage: "What binds us together is greater than those things in which we differ." And surely what binds many of us together is our service on vestries, in which we aspire to deal with Matters of Great Import, but often find ourselves side-tracked by immediate concerns. And so we agreed to publish this, in hopes that all Episcopalians can find an occasion to chuckle together.

The Church Struggling with a Core Issue
by Anonymous

Over the years, Anonymous has been a prolific author not only in the field of theology, but of letters, public morality, and politics. So far as The Episcopal Majority has been able to determine, Anonymous has not held any position of significance in the Episcopal Church. Be that as it may, we believe this report speaks for itself as well as to our worst experiences in the church – wherever we find ourselves in the wide spectrum of church life.

This piece stands as a monument to God's patience with us and God's ability to guide the church from generation to generation, exhibiting the saving presence of Jesus Christ even as we seek to focus on the burned-out light bulb.

The Minutes of Last Month’s Vestry Meeting

Christopher Bailey reports the Minutes of the April Vestry Meeting at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Blandville.

Mrs. Woodstock called the meeting to order at 7:12 P.M., Pastor Hamilton having been delayed by an unusually long line at Starbucks. The meeting began with the reading of the minutes from the March meeting. Mrs. Woodstock asked for a motion to accept the minutes.

Mrs. Blickensderfer pointed out that “blithering” is spelled with only one r.

Mrs. Woodstock asked for a motion to accept the minutes as amended. The motion was made by Mrs. Voss and seconded by Mr. Fox, and carried by a vote of 11 to 1.

Under Old Business, Pastor Hamilton mentioned that the light bulb in his pulpit reading lamp is still burned out. Mrs. Woodstock asked him whether that was the reason he had embarrassed the whole congregation during the Psalm last Sunday. The Rector answered that it was.

Mrs. Blickensderfer said she thought the light-bulb problem had been remanded to the Building Committee.

Mr. Sholes said that no record of any such remandment appeared in the minutes of the March meeting.

Mrs. Blickensderfer said she didn’t think “remandment” was a word.

Mr. Fox thought that the pulpit was under the jurisdiction of the Worship and Music Committee.

Mrs. Yost thought that the lighting was the responsibility of the Evangelism Committee.

Mr. Fox wanted to know what sort of dunderhead thought lighting had anything to do with evangelism.

Mrs. Woodstock pointed out that it made no difference, since the Building Committee, the Worship and Music Committee, and the Evangelism Committee were all Mrs. Voss.

Mrs. Voss answered that she didn’t know anything about electricity, and if people wanted her to take care of something they should tell her about it instead of expecting her to read their minds.

Mr. Dhiatensor said something in the language he speaks, which we think might be Portuguese.

Pastor Hamilton said that the replacement of a light bulb was really a very simple matter, and that he would have taken care of it himself except that the last time he bought something for the church he was informed that he could not be reimbursed unless the expense had the prior approval of the Vestry.

Mrs. Woodstock asked him whether he really believed that the Vestry would have given its prior approval for an espresso machine.

The Rector thought Vestry would have, since the machine was essential to his continued effectiveness as a minister of the Word.

Mrs. Woodstock asked him whether he believed in the Tooth Fairy as well.

Mr. Sholes said that the matter under discussion was the light bulb, and not the espresso machine, which had already been discussed at length at the January meeting.

Mrs. Voss was of the opinion that someone should just go out and get a light bulb and be done with it.

Mrs. Woodstock asked her whether she was volunteering.

Mrs. Voss repeated that she didn’t know anything about electricity.

Mrs. Blickensderfer asked whether the church didn’t have any spare light bulbs sitting around in the closet.

The Rector reminded the Vestry that the lamp in the pulpit uses a halogen bulb, and thus ordinary spare light bulbs are of no use.

Mrs. Woodstock thought that the next time the church bought a lamp, someone ought to make sure it took regular light bulbs like normal people use.

The Rector said that there were many advantages to halogen bulbs.

Mr. Dhiatensor became very agitated and spoke rapidly about something, then stomped out of the room.

Mrs. Voss wondered whether “halogen” meant something obscene in Spanish.

Mrs. Yost said that she had always thought he was speaking Romanian.

Mrs. Blickensderfer said that at any rate someone ought to apologize to him, because Mr. Dhiatensor seemed like such a nice man.

Mr. Fox moved that the Vestry convey its apologies to Mr. Dhiatensor for inadvertently offending him. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Blickensderfer, and carried by a vote
of 11 to 1.

Mr. Sholes asked who was going to write the letter.

Mrs. Woodstock thought that would be the responsibility of the Worship and Music Committee.

Mrs. Voss said that she didn’t know Spanish, and anyway she couldn’t type.

Mrs. Woodstock said, fine, she would write the letter herself.

Mrs. Yost moved that the Vestry authorize Mrs. Woodstock to write a letter of apology to Mr. Dhiatensor on behalf of the Vestry. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Voss and carried by a vote of 11 to 1.

Mrs. Woodstock asked Mrs. Underwood if she would mind explaining, purely for the Vestry’s information, why she had to vote "no" on every motion.

Mrs. Underwood said that it was quite clear that no one else on the Vestry cared about the health of the congregation, which was threatened daily by an onslaught of communicable diseases.

Mrs. Woodstock said that the vote on a new hand dryer for the women’s restroom had been taken in February, and most of the Vestry had decided that paper towels were good enough for them.

Mrs. Underwood said that was fine, but they shouldn’t expect her to cooperate with a Vestry that didn’t care if the entire congregation died of bird flu.

The Rector asked whether any decision had been reached in the matter of the light bulb.

Mr. Fox said he didn’t think so.

Mr. Sholes said that the problem was figuring out what sort of bulb the lamp used.

Mrs. Voss suggested that someone could just take the old bulb to a store and find one like it, although she added that she herself didn’t know anything about electricity.

Mrs. Woodstock asked for a motion to authorize someone to go to the hardware store with the old bulb and come back with a new one.

Mr. Sholes said the problem with that was that no one knew how much a new bulb would cost, and until the Vestry knew the cost it would be impossible to authorize the expense.

Mrs. Woodstock asked him what he would suggest.

Mr. Sholes suggested that an ad hoc committee could take the bulb to the hardware store, obtain the information about how much it would cost to replace, and report the cost to the next meeting of the Vestry. Otherwise he didn’t see how it would be possible to authorize the expense.

Mrs. Woodstock asked him whether he would be willing to be part of the ad hoc committee. Mr. Sholes said that he would, and suggested that Mr. Fox would be a good second member.

Mr. Fox explained that, for reasons he would rather not discuss, he was no longer welcome at Blandville Hardware.

Mrs. Yost volunteered to go with Mr. Sholes to the hardware store, if he promised not to exceed the speed limit on State Street.

Mrs. Woodstock asked for a motion to form an ad hoc exploratory committee consisting of Mr. Sholes and Mrs. Yost for the purpose of taking the burnt-out light bulb to Blandville Hardware and finding out how much it would cost to replace, the cost to be reported to the Vestry at the May meeting, at which time the full Vestry would be in a position to be able to authorize the expense of a new light bulb.

The motion was made by Mrs. Voss and seconded by Mr. Fox, and carried by a vote of 11 to 1.

Respectfully submitted,

Ralph Finstermaker
Clerk of the Vestry


Blogger Marshall said...

But, then, we all know the old joke:

"How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?"

"Change? Change that light bulb? My grandmother gave that light bulb!"

6/12/2007 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Cropher said...

And the other one -- "Four. One to change the light bulb, and three to comment on how much better the old one was."

6/13/2007 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Clingenpeel said...

And another one -- Five -- one to take it to the vestry, one to make sure it gets done, and three to form a society to remember how good the old one was.

6/13/2007 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Mary Clara said...

The pain, the pain! I've served on that vestry, for sure.

Four. One to hold the ladder, one to screw in the bulb, one to mix the martinis, and one to complain about how much better the old bulb was.

6/13/2007 2:33 PM  
Blogger John said...

How Many Christians Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

Charismatic: Only 1 - Hands are already in the air.
Pentecostal: 10 - One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians: None - Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

Roman Catholic: None - Candles only.

Baptists: At least 15 - One to change the lightbulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad and fried chicken.

Disciples of Christ: As many as you want, any bulb you want, and even if you are an organized denomination of lightbulbs you are still loved.

Episcopalians: 4 - One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks, one to set the menu, and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

Mormons: 5 - One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.

Unitarians: We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a lightbulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, you are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your lightbulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of lightbulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, 3-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

Methodists: Undetermined - Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a lightbulb, turnip bulb, or tulip bulb. Bring a bulb of your choice to the Sunday lighting service and a covered dish to pass.

Nazarene: 6 - One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.

Church of Christ - Any number, but you must be a member to change the lightbulb. No music during the changing.

Lutherans: None - Lutherans don't believe in change.

Amish: What's a light bulb?

6/15/2007 10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BaHai: none - the light emanates from within.

6/16/2007 3:23 PM  
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8/06/2012 8:45 AM  

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