March 2023

Dear Friends,

The Lord loveth him that followeth after righteousness [Proverbs 15:9 (KJV)].

In last month’s magazine Crawford wrote: “As with any group of individuals there are disagreements and upsets; there always will be, but none are insurmountable, remembering that in fellowship we can achieve so much more than as individuals”. I have attended five churches, with the four moves prompted by: my dad landing a job in a distant town, marriage, joining a church with a Brownie company for Jennifer, and coming to Coventry from Scotland. In nearly all of them, one could hear the mutterings – if they change the seats / pews / pulpit / minister / façade / organist / beadle / carpet / lighting, then I’m leaving. I am sure you could add your own examples.

The historical scene for my related story is: the Boys’ Brigade (BB) once held its annual national conference in Ayr, years before my
father landed employment there and moved the family to Ayr. With such a prestigious event coming to Ayr, the local Council allowed Ayr
Battalion the use of a council flat to operate from.

Six years later – and to cut the story short – I was a BB Officer in training. To everyone’s surprise, at the AGM the Battalion Treasurer stood down and my BB colleague George C, a successful nominee for Battalion Secretary, stood up and proposed me for Treasurer. This had been a job for a retired person, and I was not yet 30, but George was a great friend and he knew my accountancy and organisational abilities so I had to accept.

But George C and George S, the newly elected Battalion President, had a vision of a BB HQ where we “owned” and operated our own HQ – maybe helped by a Supplies Depot selling Brigade uniforms and a range of other gifts for profit. Those who had been around in the year of having the council flat were always moaning that they should have kept it on; we had badged them the “Old Guard” and the New Guard wanted to better that.

I was able to secure a “house” deemed appropriate then only for office / industrial use. I used the state of the building to get a District Council grant and a Regional Council grant to do it up, so we then had the coveted Supplies Depot which went from success to success.

Things ran smoothly for the Executive Committee until, without warning, George C announced that a fete was coming soon in a council park, at which organisations could get a small tent for something like £10, a medium tent for £25 or a marquee for £100. George proposed that we rent a marquee and take supplies there.

My time on the executive was incredibly argument-free; however, George’s proposal really kicked things off that night. The Executive split largely on age, with Bill S (father of George, the Battalion President) bitterly against such cost as he felt our presence there would barely make enough profit for a £10 tent. It became the “Old” versus the “New”.

The Executive was split on age lines so George S was arguing against his father Bill. While I too feared that a £100 marquee would never recover its cost in profits, I just had to vote with my friend. The arguments raged and raged but were conducted in a proper fashion. Of course, Bill S had his supporters too.

Inevitably it went to a vote but I could hardly vote against George C or my age group. The £100 marquee won. George C announced that volunteers for the day should see me after the meeting and I would draw up a rota. Who was first in the queue to volunteer? Bill! I told him that he was the last person I expected to volunteer, because of his opposition to the marquee. He answered that it was a proper debate, a proper vote and was what the Battalion had decided, so he had to accept the decision and answer the Battalion’s call.

I lodged this firmly in my memory bank as part of the “proper” way to live life as an adult. There are a number of pillars I have tried to use as a foundation for building my adult life on – this has remained one of them. We made a great profit in that marquee, but whenever I am tempted to disagree with a properly-taken church decision, my brain kicks in: “Remember Bill S”.

Graham Law

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