"To prayerfully consider"

The following excerpt is taken from The Collect’d Writings of St. Hereticus by Robert McAfee Brown (1964). It is a tongue-in-cheek book about parish life, world religions, Bible translations, theology, etc. supposedly written by the obscure St. Hereticus. Father inherited it from a Catholic monk at the school he attended and at which he taught. It is out of print, but inexpensively obtained used. Naturally this best fits the Episcopal Church, but it is easily applicable to almost any church. Let me emphasize that I am NOT poking fun at any church in particular. I just happen to find it very funny. After prayerful consideration I spent 20 minutes typing it out for your reading enjoyment.

* * *

Once a year all over the country the assembly halls groan from the accumulated weight of denominational gatherings. The various groups get together to review the year’s work, congratulate themselves on their achievements, and disperse to harvest new achievements to report the following year. The one real fly in this ecclesiastical ointment is that the delegates have to give an accounting when they get home. The following all-purpose report form is offered to make their task easier:

A Report on the (Annual, Semiannual, Quarterly) Denominational (Meeting, Assembly, Conference)

Instructions: Underline (at will, with caprice, after prayerful consideration) the words in parentheses that are most descriptive of the meetings you attended and read to your (Men’s Club, Women’s Club, Thursday Circle).

Seldom (in the history of our denomination, if ever, in the past) has one been as conscious of (the power of the Holy Spirit, the strength of our denomination, the foresight of our denominational executives) as at our recent (assembly, meeting, conference). From the first session to the last, as we came together (to discuss, to chart, to prayerfully consider*) our task for the future, it was clear that we were being guided by (a Power outside ourselves, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the wise planning of our denominational executives) and being (led, empowered, helped) to see how we should (plot our course, do God’s will, revise the budget) to meet the great demands that (the present emergency, the challenge of mass communications, God) places upon us.

Nowhere was (the power of the Holy Spirit, the strength of our denomination, the foresight of our denominational executives) more clearly evidenced than in the selection of our new (moderator, chairman, secretary). (Mr., Dr., Rev.) Blank is an outstanding (layman, clergyman, denominational executive) who has served our church (faithfully, diligently, with distinction) for a period of (twenty-five, thirty-five, forty-five) years. There is no one whose election could more clearly have demonstrated the denomination’s concern for (evangelical zeal, consecrated loyalty, ecclesiastical statesmanship), and at the same time given such (rich, abundant, significant) promise of (efficient, dynamic, practical) leadership. Catering neither to the extreme (right, left) nor to the extreme (left, right), (Mr., Dr., Rev.) Blank stands as a (rallying, focal, mid-) point around which men of whatever persuasion can gather with enthusiasm. His opening remarks to the (meeting, assembly, conference) will long live in (the hearts of those who heard them, the testimony of the church across the ages, the annual report of our denomination). He was particularly compelling in his prophetic assertion that ours is the (“bridge”, “bridge”, “bridge”) church, with which others must join to achieve a united Christendom, thereby demonstrating the depth and range of his ecumenical approach.

Impressive, too, was the Report of the (Social Action, Interchurch Relations, Pensions) Committee. The chairman of the committee made a number of (thought-provoking, convention-defying, forward-looking) suggestions, and in each case the (assembly, meeting, conference) voted overwhelmingly to (give the matter further study for a period of two years, return the report of the committee for clarification, recommend implementation at the local level as soon as the details had been worked out in the national office).

The most significant aspect of the meetings was the way in which the delegates realized the importance of (implementing, gearing in, carrying out) our decisions at the grass roots of our denominational life. ** This means that the responsibility is placed (squarely, directly, unavoidably) upon the local church.

I therefore recommend, Mr. Chairman, that we (appoint a committee, appoint a subcommittee, ask the pastor) to prayerfully consider the material from the (assembly, meeting, conference) and at some time in the future, when (they have, he has) had a chance to study it, give us an evaluation of it, and point out ways in which we could prayerfully consider implementing*** these proposals. Let us not be found napping in these (crucial hours, dark days, momentous times)!

* The infinitive must be split. It always is.

** It occurs to me in this connection that we need a new denominational verb, the verb “to grassroot.” This would avoid all sorts of clumsy constructions such as “to-make-relevant-to-all-areas-of-our-constituency” or “to-implement-at-every-level-down-to-the-local-church-and-up-again.” How much simpler to say, “Let’s grassroot this!” or even, “This ought to be grassrooted.”

*** Here, obviously, is the place to say, “grassrooting.”

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