Nearly twenty years ago the members of a church were told that the roof was unsafe and liable to collapse.
What to do? The members had to decide.
A meeting was called. It was an open meeting for anyone who wished to attend and not just limited to members. At least five distinct solutions to the problem were suggested. These ranged from putting the roof back as it had been originally to closing the church and joining with a congregation of another denomination with which they had good relations.
Another meeting was convened for a week’s time and a representative of each scheme agreed to present their idea to this meeting for consideration.
They had to move swiftly, but it was also important to take these different groups along together. The Secretary ensured that everyone was informed at every stage and notes of meetings were posted regularly in the room where the congregation was now gathering.
At the next meeting each representative was allowed to speak for 10 minutes without interruption to put a case. Five minutes were allowed for questions. There was then a brief time for clarification where this was needed. The meeting then spent a short time in prayer. Everyone was conscious of the need to move to a workable conclusion. Each scheme was voted on in turn by a secret ballot. The votes were counted and recorded. After the vote the option with the least votes was excluded and everyone voted again. The process continued until two options were left and a final vote was taken. The decision had been made that the roof would be replaced, but in a re-designed form to prevent a further collapse.
The transition was not easy. It required listening, understanding, compromise, even empathy. Building works of this scale involve raising money, employment of professionals and a lot of hard work. The church was ultimately re-opened and, although some people felt that the wrong decision had been made they were still there to express their feelings!
And then we have Brexit!
Religious groups at their best might have something to teach us, perhaps?