I’m coming off an annual state denominational meeting using Zoom Webinar technology. It was a disappointing experience because of a lack of transparency.

There was only one potential point of decision before the body—the Process whereby a congregation who didn’t agree with the current stance on human sexuality or didn’t think it was draconian enough [“homosexuality is incompatible with Christian (doctrine)” – original formulation] could buy back the building they meet in.

As you might imagine, the denomination doesn’t want to lose any revenue stream and has decided to include pension liability and two years of expected denominational support from any congregation desiring to leave. Though some congregations already have, are now, and will be leaving in other states, I don’t know of any who will do so from Wisconsin. This will leave dissatisfied parishioners continuing to mutter on the inside of the denomination.

From contacts I have around the denomination, I know that there questions in the queue that never surfaced. Because the questions were never seen to be present, no one less engaged would have known challenges were being made to the process and the way the technology gatekeepers (all old white males) operated. The exclusion of all but one segment of the document in question meant the state denomination was entering into a legal agreement but not allowing the body to vote on it as a whole.

I did make the only motion to lessen the stringency with which disaffiliation with the denomination would operate. It passed by a comfortable margin. Before the point in question was voted on as a substituted motion, a discomfort by one entered, a pause for consultation among the leaders took place and came back with a longer break for them to converse further. At the end of the break, they announced my motion was out of order for taking local situations of congregations into account rather than a one-size fits all. More questions were raised but never seen, never acknowledged as even being present.

Once past this one small challenge, the meeting progressed swiftly to its conclusion, and we closed business for another year.

I raise this one snapshot of a flawed process to indicate that a cultural zeitgeist occurs at every level. Voting in a small denominational meeting is not all that different from the lack of reliable information that takes place at a national presidential level. Institutions always try to get away with what they want to by a lack of transparency and false justifications. In this regard, Church and State are never far apart. The upshot is the importance of — Keep your integrity: Engage and Vote Anyway! — in every setting you find yourself.

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