worst church priorities of the month award

so, yesterday i’m at a small church in palo alto, california (right by stanford), to do a middle school ministry training day for a small group of episcopal youth workers. the room we’re meeting in is a nice lounge-type room: a couple furniture groupings at either end, and we have a circle of padded folding chair in the middle. not a fancy room, but not bad.

in the corner of the room, i spot a box with a label on it that says: carpet first aid kit. i kid you not. really. i’m totally serious. it said that.

a few minutes later, when we sat down to get started, the associate rector came in to greet us. here’s a fairly close transcript of the conversation that followed:

assoc rector: i want to wecome you to our church. i’m the associate rector here, and oversee youth ministry. i’m sorry i can’t join you today, because i’ve just returned from a week in hawaii.

— commentary: hold on. she can’t join us because she’s just been lounging her lazy butt on a beach in hawaii for a week? that’s why she can’t join us? oh, excuse me — everyone else who’s here is able to be here only because they’ve worked 60 hour weeks. end commentary. —

assoc rector: you’re in the newest room in our church, completed about a year-and-a-half ago. it’s called the kennedy room, named after an important family in our church.

— commentary: uh, can you say ‘donation’? end commentary. —

assoc rector: we don’t allow any food or drinks in this room. when you have your lunch break, you’ll need to eat outside. also, i’ll need to ask that you watch your volume level, because there’s a tai chi class down the hall, and a choir making a recording in the sanctuary.

— commentary: nothing against anglicans/episcopalians. i have quite an affinity for ’em these days, and wouldn’t be shocked if jeannie and i end up in an episco church someday. but, really, can you imagine that previous sentence being uttered anywhere other than an episcopalian church? end commentary. —

marko (attempting sarcasm): can you tell us a little about the carpet first aid kit?

assoc rector (missing sarcasm): sure! [pulls out box, opens it] this won’t be an issue, since you can’t have food or drinks in here. but this has all the stuff you need to clean up a spill on the carpeting.

marko (re-attempting sarcasm): could you tell us what we should do if we have an actual human first aid need?

assoc rector (not sure how to respond — a little laugh enters her voice, but she plows forward with an answer): well, i’m not sure where a regular first aid kit is. i think there’s one over in the kitchen. you’d have to check.

marko (trying to let her off the hook): thanks!

assoc rector: have a great day!

22 thoughts on “worst church priorities of the month award”

  1. i actually did experiential worship in the kennedy room! with water and honey and sand! i didn’t see the carpet first aid kit! maybe it arrived after i did worship! : )
    loved the cross wall in that room! great idea for a church who has a world traveling congregation to bring them from all over to make a beautiful worship wall.
    do hope you had a few more folks than i did for your event…
    i also had the tai chi group in the parish hall and something else in the old chapel …
    i love to go back and create worship in the chapel some day!
    hope the sun was shining so you could eat outside!
    have a great sunday! lil

  2. Marko, dude… I can’t believe that you’re being so hard on her for not wanting to work after a tough week in Hawaii. I mean, it’s rough being there, the pool time, the surfing, the snorkeling, the mai tai’s… not to mention that she probably had jet lag. I am personally planning my own evangelistic trip to the heathen state of Hawaii…all work and no play, for the glory of God!

    (end sarcasm)

  3. At the first PCC (Parochial Church Council – Anglican thing) of my first post as a youth worker. we were in a new room where they were talking about uses of the room, Kids on a Sunday morning so long as there was nothing messy, I had to ask the question did they spend the 100,000 GBP for the room to look nice or to use it, probably not such a wise move so early in ministry looking back but I got away with it with just a few looks for suggesting something so evil!

  4. can you just hear yac jumping up and down and pulling out his hair in heaven right now?? the irony that she didn’t have a clue she was speaking to the ‘jones memorial carpet’ mocking company president is unbelievable.

  5. Classic story. Guess what? I used the I-Pod Shuffle Cross Cap in my teaching today for our youth. Talked about why we feel the need to stamp things as Christian for them to be good. I stole the point from Mike Erre (all things are spiritual), but it was fun to talk about the shuffle cap!!

  6. Not sure whether to laugh or cry? Great story …. wish I could make up stuff that’s as surreal as the stuff you actually encounter!
    “Carpet First Aid Kit!” Scaaarrrrryyyyyy

  7. Hey, people are messy. They’re unreliable and often end up consuming your time and money. And most of them never come back to the church anyway. If they get hurt, who cares?

    But carpet? That’s an investment that will last for years if you care for it right. It makes perfect sense for the carpet to have priority when it comes to first aid kits.

  8. We had a room that _was_ like that… until the vicar himself melted a hole in the carpet with a candle on a metal plate! I feel I can do pretty much everything in our church hall because of that!!

  9. “…can you imgagine that previous sentence being uttered anywhere other than an episcopalian church…”

    Episcopal youth worker here and I’m not sure what the point is marko. Is it that we don’t soundproof our rooms better, that we open our churches up to the community, that we’re considerate of others? The rug, the associate not making time to be there, total agreement. But I don’t get the shot on this one. For me it ranks right up there with:

    “Typical youth leader, loud, rude, sarcastic and egotistical”

  10. hey jay — sorry i offended. one of the things i’ve SO appreciated about my many episcopalian friends (especially those in the 20 – 40 range) is their fantastic ability to laugh at their denominational idiocyncracies. i got a kick out of the combo of asking the youth ministry training event to be quiet, because tai chi (something you wouldn’t find in most evangelical church, for sure!) was going on down the hall, and a choir was making a recording in the sanctuary (as if WE would be too loud for THEM, when they were all the way across a courtyard from us, and there were only 11 of us). it was only meant in the way that you would poke fun at a friend; not as a slam.

  11. ah, that was your first mistake! I’m 47! LOL!
    OK that makes sense, although I’ve been to several youth trainings that could put a dent in a choir!

    I’ve done the carpet converstion but I’m still waiting for someone to notice the dent on the portrait of a former rector in the parish hall. We nailed him with a frisbee!

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