Thursday, October 09, 2003

Robert E. Lee died after attending a vestry meeting...

And I think I know why... Eagads... Lee served on the vestry of Grace Episcopal Church; following a vestry meeting in late September 1870 he suffered a stroke and died several days later... I think I can relate.

As frequent readers may remember, I'm a fan of transparency in government. I should note that I'm really a fan of transparency in organizations. Decisions should be made in the clear, allowing anyone who has a stake in the decision to know how that decision was made, how it was created. How did we arrive at that particular decision.

Well, this evening, I'm back from the monthly vestry meeting at my church. Let's just say there are people in the parish who don't see transparency as a goal.

Last night I received a call from a member of the parish... 'bout 9:45... only my friends call me that late...

I answer the phone, "Corporal Jewel, motor pool."

Silence.

And then, "Is Peter Stinson there?"

No first-name friend of mine... Anyway, it's a parishioner calling to tell me that he wanted me to know a group in the parish is going to put forward a petition on Sunday asking that a "commission" be appointed to spend six months looking at the church's endowment.

First off, he must not know how much I just love committees. Want to kill a good idea, create a committee... But I digress...

So, I say I have concerns about the endowment, how it hasn't earned anything in the last 6 months or so and how we are acting like a parish that is twice our size. We have five full-time employees, including the rector. Without the endowment, we can't really effort that, or so I suspect. But, we like having these employees, as it makes our parish programs effective. But I have concerns, and some of those concerns include that we, as a parish, don't give enough money. But, if we want the stuff -- including the employees -- we have to dip into the endowment. The vestry is going to have to make some tough decisions. See you Sunday.

I don't even give him a chance to tell me why he's really calling. He wasn't calling to let me know; he wanted my support.

Guess he forgot that I'm only on the vestry by accident & I don't play games & I'm not a fan of hidden agendas & I'm damn transparent & I will not even spy and cover up for the Company (and the Company keeps a roof over my head; what's this guy done for me?). My support is to the Rector and the parish at large.

So, this afternoon, I call to talk to the Rector. He's not in. I arrive for the vestry meeting early, just so I can talk to the Rector & let him know about this conversation.

He already has a bootleg copy of the petition.

At the end of the vestry meeting, the Rector hands out the petition... and then asks if anyone knew about it. I wait a beat. Just as I'm about to respond, someone else says they heard about it. I say I got a phone call. Two other folks indicate they've heard about it.

I'm thinking I got a phone call. I'm thinking they didn't get a phone call. You can draw your own conclusions.

Anyway, the Rector asks for transparency; not miffed about the notion, but miffed that there's a group of parishioners who were going to blindside him on Sunday, miffed there were vestry members who didn't have the fortitude to tell him. A couple of people take offense at this; I guess they think subversive activity is okay.

Me, I think subversive activity is okay... when it's done out in the open. ;-)

And we wonder why Lee died following a vestry meeting?

I'm not wondering.

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