[kwlug-disc] (In progress) kwlug candidate meeting site sourced.

Chris Frey cdfrey at foursquare.net
Sun Dec 20 22:44:56 EST 2009

On Sun, Dec 20, 2009 at 01:39:33PM -0500, unsolicited wrote:
> It's just a building. With some spare space.

This is a touchy subject, and I've held back from commenting directly,
trying to find the right words to write.  I'm still not sure I've found
the right words.  Please read this with some patience.

I think it comes down to this line above.  If it is just a building,
there's no issue.  But many people, including me, would not agree.
And their perceptions need to be taken into account, for the sakes of
both the church itself and KWLUG.

For example:

On Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 09:03:40PM -0500, R. Brent Clements wrote:
> And as a much smaller note, I am not gonna tell the church folk to
> make sure the daemon is running ;-)

Thanks Brent... that gave me a good laugh. :-)

First, thank-you to unsolicited for tracking this down, and going as
far as he has with it.  It appears to be a very nice location. 
I'd even call it luxurious.

But I'd be uncomfortable holding KWLUG meetings in a church.  And
I'm one of those Christians who is comfortable making sure the
daemons are running. :-)  It would appear that others are uncomfortable
with meeting here as well, probably for reasons different than mine.

Paul summarized the various ways of "paying our way" for each location,
so I won't duplicate that here.  Let's just say that at First United Church,
the pay for the space is in time and in mission.  This is assumed by
the very nature of church in general.

The whole point of the church is to bring people closer to God through
prayer, teaching, and ministering to the needs of people.  Do we meet
that expectation as a group?

I suspect that for the church, we are an attractive ministerial target.
We are well off, we bring a technical expertise that could be useful to
the church itself, and the only cost is the use of the building which
they need to pay for anyway.

For us, it is an attractive location: likely well heated, well lit,
very quiet, and lots(?) of parking.

Both of these are very tempting reasons to sign up.  But I wonder if
it is the right thing to do.  Does it make sense to link a Linux User
Group to church?  Does it make sense to require members of our group to
do work in the name of a church they may not believe in or agree with?
Even if it's something they do anyway?  And how many want to stand up
in church and invite everyone out for the after-meeting beer run? :-)
Even though many believe there's nothing wrong with that, I'm sure there
would be some head scratching or chuckling.

There are automatic perceptions (whether right or wrong) that people
have when it comes to church, and I've found that people who don't go to
church are often much more sensitive to these factors and expectations
than people who do.  Often to the point that they appear to fear God
more than churchgoers do.

So just because the church committee may not see anything wrong with a
LUG meeting at church, that doesn't mean that the average Joe won't be
scratching his head in confusion.  And he might be confused enough to
stay away: both from church and the LUG.

I know that if this was held in a mosque or a synagogue, I'd be worried
about offending the members, not knowing what was expected.  I would also
assume that there was some philosophical connection between the computer
group and the religious group, just from the location.  And that assumption
may affect my decision to visit, either out of confusion, or out of respect.

If we do meet at church, I can see there could be a lot of explaining
required to newcomers that the church only provides the building.  Do we
want to have to post a notice on the website?  "Don't be afraid of the
church location... we just meet here for free"?

I may be wrong, but this seems to me to be more a marriage of convenience
than a match made in Heaven.

- Chris

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