We’ve spent several months sitting with and processing a proposal we received over the summer, asking us to consider selling a portion of the land BSLC is on, to be used for an affordable housing complex which it is anticipated will be owned and managed by Vancouver Housing Authority.
We sent in questions generated at a first informational gathering, heads of Prestige Development and Vancouver Housing Authority provided a presentation of what they envisioned, and opportunities for small group processing of the idea were offered and held. In the fall, a survey about what else would be helpful was shared and results compiled. From the survey and what was shared through circle conversations, the prevailing opinion about the best to vote was January so that we can move on to what is next, whatever the result might be. Offering one more time for large group discussion was recommended. A first attempt to do so before the annual meeting in November did not raise indication of interest, whether PJ or a synod representative facilitated the conversation, although some people did show up for the meeting after word went out that it was canceled due to lack of interest in that tight timeframe.
At this time, January 29 is slated for the vote to move forward. We are working on what needs to be done in order to make it possible legally, to allow participation and vote through zoom and in person attendance (more info on that will be sent in a special e-blast). The vote will be to move forward in the process to step three, or to say “thank you, but no” to the proposed sale. If the vote is no, then further work to figure out a way forward in mission, ministry, and ability to fund those, will come next.
If the vote is to move forward, there is a level of assumption that “all things being equal”, we are willing to sell land to allow an affordable housing complex to be built. While there will continue to be more opportunities for input about what needs to be included in the sale documents and whether the price offered s what we can feel comfortable accepting, and making investment in appropriate legal counsel or a real estate advisor, and other financial aspects that come with selling property so we need commitment to embark on this process as investment in what is to come. While some people have indicated their mind is made up and they are ready to move forward, others have expressed interest in having further time to discuss the matter as a community – to have the opportunity to listen to one another about the pros and cons of both selling the land and of retaining the land (either way there are pluses and minuses we must consider not only to make the most informed choice, but help us think about “what’s next”).
Of those who desire further conversation, there are those who asked for someone from the synod office to come and help us process forward. January 8, around 11:30 AM, in order to allow time to transition from worship and Sunday school, there will be a forum in the fellowship hall. Joey Agar, synod staff and Southwestern Washington Synod Director for Evangelical Mission, will facilitate the conversation.
This is beneficial in various ways, including being an “outsider” to our congregational system so without the blinders and biases those of us in the congregation naturally have. His work also includes helping congregations work through discernment, with a six month process starting in January. It seems likely to be too late to consider or ask to join the upcoming cohort, but knowing he has grounding in this work may help some. Additional conversation? If there is interest in/willingness to participate in one more time of conversation before moving into a vote, please let Pastor Jean know so that it can be scheduled.
For an evening forum please weigh in whether Tues. the 10th or Thurs. the 12th at 6:30 works, or whether one on Saturday the 14th or 21st, at 10 or 1 is what you will participate in. Preparing for Reasoned Conversation To prepare for any of the upcoming conversations, you are encouraged to make a pro and con chart for each of the current two options (sell or retain). Please push yourself to consider and record the pros and cons of both options beyond what are most easy for you to name. We need to now what we are saying yes and no to, because each requires sacrifice and effort and start thinking about what commitments each requires (“How am I willing to step up to support what next needs to happen?” “What does this congregation need to consider/do next/...?), in order to live into whatever comes after.
What comes next?
Either way the vote goes, we’ll need to enter into similar processes of discernment around “what’s next” for BSLC, including identifying what we are called into doing and being for our next season together. Financial conversations will come with either decision: in response to a no vote – how will we fund and otherwise support our perceived mission and ministry, or in response to a yes vote, how will we plan forward while countering any tendency within ourselves, as a number of you have expressed concern about, to not support and shape the way we move forward in mission and ministry as a congregation. Fears about “frittering away the proceeds” are felt by a number of you. Whether we do or not is a choice we can make – it’s not a decision to be made for us. That doesn’t mean the choice will be comfortable nor straightforward, so please be diligent in prayer for our congregation and wise decision making.
Two prevalent concerns were expressed in the listening circles for the after time, whichever way the results of the vote are. One is whether we remember that being a community of faith is what is important and figuring out how to live into the decision made together. The other was that we not lose whatever momentum the consideration of this proposal stirred in us. The hope that people care enough to participate in and support the congregation through and beyond this decision was strong.