Good morning, y’all. Are we relieved to know that the Munich shooter had no Isis ties? Probably not. My world view is that crazy is crazy, and if crazy birds flock together, it doesn’t justify crazy. People who identify with extreme fundamentalist movements have got a screw loose to begin with, in my opinion. The fact that they can find others that have the same defective part, doesn’t legitimize the imperfection. Lumping people into a group for the purposes of ginning up the fear level doesn’t work for me either. It only helps the arms manufacturers, no one else.
Speaking of fundamentalist movements brings us back to our retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. As Elder Cheatum drove to the church for Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting, he was struck once again by the idyllic setting. The drive to the church was one of the most scenic in the area. The church was nestled on the side of a hill overlooking a valley with a stream running through the middle. The original founders of the little church had found the perfect spot to bring people together in fellowship.
“That is my dilemma, my quandary”, the Elder thought to himself as he pulled into the parking lot. Now that The Full Gospel Original Church of God was busting at the seams from the influx of new members, a decision had to be made as to whether to do nothing and stay small, build new facilities on the present location, or relocate to a new facility. Each option had the potential for the church to lose its current impetus.
The Elder had asked Reverend Handbasket to ask the congregation to stay behind a little longer tonight for a discussion of great importance. At the end of the services, the Elder walked from his customary seat in the last row, past a full auditorium. As the Elder walked to the pulpit, he decided he would be as direct as he could with the audience seated before him. He had known most of the people all of his life. They were his friends and their feelings mattered to him.
“As you all have noticed, we have experienced a bit of a growth spurt.” Elder Cheatum smiled as he looked out over the faithful. “Our little church is kind of like the teenager who has outgrown his new blue jeans before you can even get them home from the store.”
The Elder waited for the short laugh from the congregation to subside before he continued, “We’ve slapped mobile homes down both sides of the church, and as you can see, they’re full.” “We’ve added these big screen TVs and all of the speakers to provide a better experience, but, everything we’ve done appears to be stop gap measures,” he said as he waved his arms to indicate the improvements.
“The question before us is threefold, I think.” “Do we limit our growth and say ‘no’ to new members?” “Do we try to build on our existing site to provide a home for our expanding congregation?” “Or, do we seek another site?”, the Elder asked.
A buzz was circulating in the congregation, and Elder Cheatum raised his voice to regain control.
“I know that since the TV broadcasts started, more and more folks have been coming to our church; and they’re coming back, again and again.” “People have started queueing up for the 11AM service at about 10:15.” “I see them when I come to Sunday School.”
The Elder paused and grinned at the audience before he continued.
“I know that this influx of newcomers is causing a great deal of anxiety for most of our older members.” “The people that were married at The Full Gospel Original Church of God, had their babies baptized here, and yes, had demons cast out here, feel like they shouldn’t have to jockey for seats.” “I get that, I understand that, that’s why I’ve asked Reverend Helena to let me speak here tonight.”
The Elder took a big breath and continued, “I would like to propose a temporary solution, another stopgap if you will, until we answer the larger question of future growth.” “I would like to propose that we offer additional services on Sunday.” “There could be a 7AM service, the usual 11AM service, and a 3PM service.”
Emboldened by the lack of dissent, the Elder continued on, “Now, in my mind, this solution has a lot of upside.” “Some folks might be happy to attend the 7AM service, and well, to be honest, get the formal proceedings over with.” “Then they’d have the rest of the day to do quiet reflection on their own, or watch the Bulldog wrap-up, as the case may be.”
The Elder waited for the laughter to die down before continuing, “The 3PM service might fit young people’s lifestyle a little better, and we do seem to be getting more of these folks since the telecasts.” “It might be a better fit for people traveling from outside of Union county.”
The Elder could see that some of the older members were buying into his implication that the new members would be attending the services at the new start times, and leaving the traditional 11Am time slot to them. Satisfied that he was still on firm ground, the Elder continued.
“Now, to be fair, I do have to bring up the downside of the proposed schedule change.” “We will be basically doubling the Reverend Helena Handbasket’s workload, and I’m reasonably sure that Reverend Helena is not going to be happy performing in this capacity for an extended period of time.” “To that end, we will still have to work out our facility issue as soon as possible.” “Besides, no one has asked our ophidian friends how they feel about doing three Testaments of Faith a day.”
The Elder waited for the laugh before continuing, “I’m sure they’ll be fine as long as they are in Reverend Handbasket’s hands.”
Elder Cheatum gave a sweeping gaze to every corner of the auditorium before speaking again, “Well, that’s the long and the short of it.” “The church board members wanted to let you know that we’re aware of everyone’s concerns, and that we’re working on solutions.” “There will be comment cards in the back of your pews on Sunday to scribble down your thoughts.” “Just turn them in with your tithe.”
As the Elder turned the podium back to the Reverend he realized he was sweating like the proverbial lady of ill-repute in a house of worship. He hoped the other board members didn’t realize that he had pushed his Dale Canegie, “Speak More Effectively” course to the max. He walked quickly back to the office and the comfortable security of his old friends.