“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9.
I need to brag on my church for a minute. This weekend we get to celebrate paying off the mortgage on our parsonage!
We will not only be celebrating one less financial commitment, but also the solid and faithful stewardship of our people.
There is another quality of our people that we will celebrate, but I have to tell a little bit more about the parsonage backstory for you to understand.
Six years ago this church was about to get a new pastor after Margaret Gillikin had been here for many years.
The church was providing a housing allowance for rental expenses, but I don’t need to tell anyone how expensive it is to rent in this town.
It became clear to a few leaders in the church through the guidance of the District Superintendent that the church was going to need to build a new parsonage in order to provide for future clergy.
There was a meeting to discuss ideas but as is typical in churches, there was not total agreement about what steps to take.
Many were not sure that there was enough money to build a house.
Some were not convinced that the need was a pressing one. A vote was going to have to take place to decide.
It has been reported to me that there was a great deal of campaigning being done on both sides of the parsonage debate.
A vote was called for at the annual church conference and the room was divided with those that wanted to build seated on one side of the room and those did not want to build seated across the aisle.
Many were slyly trying to count votes in their heads based on where people were seated in the room.
It was obvious that the vote was going to be close. Turns out they were right and by a very small margin the church voted to build.
What happened next was the part that needs to be celebrated.
Instead of the winners gloating and the losers getting angry, the church unified to accomplish the task.
People on both sides of the aisle hugged each other, shook hands and affirmed their commitments to fellowship and friendship.
Those that voted not to build as well as those that voted to build made financial commitments to break ground, build and pay off the mortgage.
Six years later, this beautiful parsonage (definitely the best parsonage I have ever had or may ever have) is totally paid off!
Do I need to say more? As citizens, we have been through a long difficult season of campaigning and an extended period of voting and tabulating votes.
It has been contentious with words said and lines drawn. Now that it is over, it is time to cross the aisle and reconnect with those that we don’t agree with on everything and get to work. Not easy, I know.
For me, this process will start over the Thanksgiving table with my sister. Surely, I am not the only one whose family does not see eye to eye politically. Maybe I will let you know how that goes next week!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Rev. Melinda Roberts is the senior pastor at Salida United Methodist Church.