I was going through an old file folder a few days ago and came across this letter I wrote to our old congregation regarding renovations that had been proposed. At the time, I was very upset with the way the proposals were steam-rollered through (I think the sentiment comes across nicely in my letter LOL). Has anything like this ever happened elsewhere?? As always, your comments are appreciated.
Love, Scully (sh!t disturber class from WAY back)
December 20, 1985
The Body of Elders
H******* P*** Congregation
xxxx C****** Street
H******, Nova Scotia
Considering the action taken at the resolution presented to the congregation last evening, perhaps it would be beneficial to consider some aspects that will be a result of the so-called "final" decision to obligate the congregation to $28,000 to $30,000 of renovations to the Kingdom Hall.
First of all, the resolution was presented with the preamble "The body of elders has agreed..." If the body of elders HAD agreed, why did three members of this body raise their hands in objection to this resolution? Does the majority rule among the body of elders when it comes to deciding on which resolution to present to the congregation, or does the decision have to be unanimous before it can be presented? If the decision should be a unanimous one, then the statement "The body of elders has agreed..." is misleading, and could have influenced the decision of some who feel it is unruly to oppose a decision agreed upon by the body of elders.
Secondly, the "Organized" book, page 61, states: "The Kingdom Hall, as a place of worship, should not be a pretentious (showy, presumptuous, arrogant) building designed to impress others." After investigating further into the proposed renovations, the outcome would be the exact opposite. While we are required to 'honour Jehovah with our valuable things', is it really necessary to 'overlay a Kingdom Hall with gold' when only 'copper' is within the congregation's means? The Hall's decor could be very tastefully done if kept within the present colour scheme and the expense would be reduced to a fraction.
Thirdly, the last resolution which was passed [a year and a half earlier] by the congregation for the expenditure of $8,000 to renovate the exterior of the Hall is not yet complete. There is still bare sheetrock over the walls of the entrance and stairways to the main auditorium. Extra money - about 10% - was required to get to this stage, and the work is not yet complete. If the Building Committee also under-estimated the cost by a mere 10% on [new] renovations of this magnitude, the price could effectively be increased by $3,000. This is taking into consideration the Committee's track record of running out of funds before the work is completed. In the meantime, would it not be the wise and mature thing to finish first what work has been started before taking on a new project? ("Youth" book, chapter 12).
In a congregation of supposedly 100 publishers, as was announced from the platform, only about 75 are eligible to vote as baptized publishers of contributing ability. Of this group are about 16 who are either elderly, physically disadvantaged or widowed, some of whom have dependent children. Their income is fixed as some of them depend entirely on social programs as a source of income. There are 12 pioneers, two of whom support a spouse and have other dependents. Their life is dedicated to the full-time service, not to earning a lot of money. There are 14 who have unbelieving mates, some of these also have dependent children. Many support the ministry as they are able, but simply cannot contribute large sums of money because of their personal circumstances. These 40 or so persons cannot be expected to carry such a large financial burden. Even so, $30,000 divided 75 ways is $400 per person, not $300 as announced from the platform, or $440 if the extra 10% is factored in. For a family of two publishers, the expense, if spread over the course of a year, is the equivalent of $150/month, or the approximate value of a two-week supply of groceries. Many families simply cannot afford such an expense as they have other financial obligations which must be met. Are the 26 persons who passed this resolution prepared to contribute the "share" of those who are unable and made their position known by raising their hands in opposition to the resolution? Although the Apostle Paul was not involved in renovating places of worship, he established a principle at 2 Thessalonians 3:8. Admittedly, he was writing with reference to his own secular work with respect to his ministry. Nevertheless he did set an example in "not imposing an expensive burden on anyone." Are the 26 persons who passed the resolution prepared to finance the ENTIRE project on their own, should the remaining ones be unable to meet this demand? It works out to roughly $1270 per person, in case they are interested. Jehovah loves cheerful givers, not those who give because they are MADE to feel OBLIGED to do so. Our offerings, however small, are appreciated and accepted by Him when they come from the heart. If the Building Committee does not appreciate our small contributions, having made this attitude known by saying 'the cost will be $X per publisher', some may decide to put their "measly" contributions elsewhere - perhaps directly to the Society's own expansion project, or worse yet, they may no longer contribute at all.
Since some persons obviously stand to benefit from these renovations, such as those who inhabit the pioneer quarters that are to be enlarged, are these ones prepared to assist in defraying expenses by having their rent increased, perhaps substantially so? And are brothers and sisters who voted in favour of the resolution who do not intend to be with the congregation 'for the duration' going to contribute their "share" before they leave? If they do not, how could they conscientiously support the resolution with their vote, when they have no intention to do so in deed? (Compare Matthew 23:1-5).
The total number of those who participated in this resolution was 49. As mentioned before, approximately 75 were eligible to vote. Some were absent due to unavoidable circumstances. Others abstained, having afterward said they would have felt too conspicuous. For an expense of this magnitude, would it not have been wise to cast a secret ballot vote so that all could participate without fear of being conspicuous or should they be absent unavoidably, could cast their ballot beforehand. While the Society recommends that this take place with a show of hands, some who do not participate because they feel uncomfortable with this arrangement may otherwise have done so with a secret ballot vote. Others may have abstained for perfectly valid reasons - such as those who are relocating to another area and thus feel it is inappropriate to participate, and their conscientious decision is understood.
With the results of this vote being 'won' on a plurality of three votes, perhaps the Building Committee should try to look at the matter from Jehovah's standpoint rather than their own. The H******* P*** Congregation IS obviously divided over this issue, and pressing the congregation members who are not in favour of the resolution to comply WILL create hard feelings. With so many opposed to the resolution, perhaps the Committee should re-evaluate its plans, asking for QUALIFIED help from brothers and sisters who have experience in these fields, rather than head-strongly pushing ahead with their own ideas and agendas and thrusting the excessive expense on the congregation, in effect saying to those who oppose "Too bad, we will do it our way - we won fair and square - and there's nothing you can do about it." Actually, dear elders, something CAN be done about it: brothers and sisters can and may very well withhold contributions. And the Building Committee can do NOTHING about THAT!!
Until this matter is peacefully resolved, we cannot expect Jehovah's blessing on the congregation. Yes, He may withdraw his holy spirit. Meeting attendance may drop along with participation in the field ministry, while irregularity and inactivity may increase. Keep this in mind for the next visit of the Circuit Overseer, if he should ask for an explanation. Are the brothers on the Building Committee willing to accept, before Jehovah God, responsibility for the ailing spirituality of an entire congregation, just because they haughtily must have things done their way?
[edited for two transcription errors]
Edited by - Scully on 29 August 2002 22:9:23