The "buzz" after Sunday's vote on the motion to sell and relocate was "do you know who the one 'no' vote was?" In the very positive affirmation of a 122-1 vote, that "one" really stands-out.
Me, I'm thankful for the "one." It means the process worked and the way we choose to do church was affirmed. All along the way on this issue we have encouraged our members to pray, participate in discussions, and seek God's direction. Don't get me wrong, I am very excited by the outcome, and feel that the will of the congregation was clearly expressed. But, I am glad that one person felt the freedom to express themselves in a different way.
Congregational church polity (governance) is based on the idea of the priesthood of all believers: we all have equal access to God and all are equally accountable to God. The outgrowth of this bedrock baptist understanding of the Christian life is that everyone has a voice- and a vote- in the life of our church. We choose not to follow a model where entities outside our church have authority over the affairs of our congregation; nor do we have have small group of leaders who make decisions on behalf of the congregation; nor does the pastor have executive authority.
Congregational decision-making can be messy and time-consuming but ultimately it makes each member responsible for participation in the process and to prayerfully seek to gain an understanding of God's leadership. This week I am thanking God for the hard work of our Real Estate Committee (Scott Conti, Jerry Jansen, and Jim Smith); for the partcipation, discussion, and good questions of our membership through the process; and for the "one," who reminds us all that we have a voice and a vote.