Exeter CRC Council has finally made a united response to the blog. It didn't answer any burning questions but went on a righteousness tour in an attempt to legitimize their views.
Council suggests that that the blog was an "attack" against the church. Perhaps they missed the point. The blog is an accountability mechanism for Council, not the church, not Exeter CRC, not the denomination. The Council. The Council is being asked to be, in a word, "accountable." This Council is garnering a long history of keeping issues secret. Why would it go to such great lengths to make their vote regarding women in office by "secret ballot?" Why would they be under a gag order? Could it be because they know full well that they would be the object of ridicule and persecution if they individually and publicly made their views known? Council's secret vote is the mechanism of allowing Council members to make anonymous, hurtful public statements while keeping their identity beyond scrutiny. (It is a veritable public blog in it' own right!)
Council did however convene all of the men into a room and asked them if they were responsible for writting the dissenting post to the blog. They all said no, so, it must not be true. Case closed. How quaint. Did you really expect a member to say, "yes, I posted a note to the blog that said we were under a gag order and I'm not putting my head on the chopping block?" Wouldn't this meeting BE THE CHOPPING BLOCK? Do you not think there is an element of fear of reprisal? The whole congregation is walking on eggshells and you expect someone to hold the axe while you prepare to chop? How self serving was this demonstration of mutual finger pointing?
Council states that it wishes members to speak in an open, honest and respectful manner. There was however, no open forum or open discussion before they decided on the fate of women. They then insulted many more by making a 5 year moratorium on discussing the matter.
Ask yourself, does this really sound like an open, honest and respectful manner? What it does sound like is a patriarchal, unilateral, closed and disrespectful manner. Quoting the Bible does not legitimize your sinful behavior, nor does it even qualify as a discussion as that would include the interaction of people other than yourselves. I too, would like to remind Council of their own words and be an example of what they speak of.
Anger in and of itself is not sinful. Jesus was angry with the money changers in the temple. It was justifiable so Jesus took fast and furious action. In another verse when the Pharisees refused to answer Jesus’ questions, “He . . . looked round about them with anger.” This verse goes on to give the reason for His anger: “the hardness of their hearts.” Wow. Talk about a parallel!
We often think of anger as a selfish, destructive emotion, however, the fact that Jesus become angry indicates that anger itself, as an emotion, is “amoral.” African Americans were legitimately angry about their historic treatment and it was justified. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr was angry, critical and forceful. Angry does not justify violence but it is a legitimate emotion that can drive issues. Council should be the champion of healing, reconciliation and comfort.
Yet, Council laments about a blog not having any accountability. It is Council that has no accountability. Whether that be to the 40% of the congregation that wanted to see women in office, or to the ambivalent, if not fearful 60% of the remaining congregation that is seeing the turmoil in their congregational family. Council has lorded over their weakest and has shirked their responsibility and have shown their incompetence to lead our congregation. Mere numbers does not make right anymore than does "might make right." Council may be irritated that one can make an anonymous blog that criticizes them but perhaps should channel their efforts into doing good with the God given power.
Council can continue to ignore this issue as it has or it can attempt to salvage what it can, admit it's mistakes and show a new kind of leadership that doesn't lord over it's people but takes on the form of servant, not master. It takes a big man to admit his mistakes especially in the path of self destruction we have been accustomed to. It is time for the congregation to step in and demand a non-confidence vote on the leadership of Rev. Harry Frielink and bring this congregation back to where it was, two steps back. At least from that point we can choose a new path, perhaps not the path that can be shared by one side or the other but a path that considers open talk amongst the congregation with an air of compromise.
The point of the blog was to keep this issue in the forefront and I think that it has succeeded in that respect. I would like to thank Council for legitimizing this blog and increasing it's readership.
Joan of Ark