Town Meeting

Written By: Miranda - Feb• 25•11

Town Meeting is Saturday and I’m totally unprepared. I’ve recently moved and my town report is late. We have Town Meeting once a year in Thetford, to discuss and vote on the town budget and vote on any articles before the town. Vermont and New Hampshire both hold Town Meetings, I don’t know of any other states that do. It’s really one of the few examples of truly participatory democracy I can think of. Thetford’s modernized to the extent that we have it on a Saturday.

There’s usually some sort of ceremony beforehand, it varies but one of the best was in 2007 when a local pastor named Tom Kinder gave an invocation (fancy name for prayer) and it went like this:

Spirit of lovingly baked pie for Town Meeting lunch, we invoke your generosity to be in all our hearts.

O Spirit of volunteers standing out in the woods in a cold rain to make Thetford’s famous cross country meets possible, we invoke your dedication, patience and endurance.

O Spirit of a stranger from Rice’s Mills helping a stranger from Post Mills out of a snow bank and the two strangers becoming neighbors without it mattering where they stand on taxes or school issues, we invoke you to be in every neighbor here today.

O Spirit of the justice that love demands and peace depends on, that moves us both to make sacrifices for our children and to make sacrifices for people with low incomes, we invoke you.

O Spirit that moves us across all our divisions to come together as one community to support a family in a time of tragedy, we invoke you.

O Spirit of stopping on Academy Road to watch a moonrise over Smart’s Mountain, or stopping on Sawnee Bean to watch a moose, or stopping to help get in hay in Thetford Center before the rain, or stopping by a well-tended woods on a snowy evening to watch it fill up with snow, we invoke you to remind us of our common sources of love and peace in the wild and working land here.

O Spirit of humor that breaks tedium or tension, O Spirit of insight that transforms opposition into compassion, O Spirit of the understanding that we have far more in common than we can ever have in conflict, we invoke you.

O Spirit of those who have gone before us, of those now dead whom we remember offering their humor or wisdom or passion at Town Meeting, of those multitudes of Thetford citizens whose names we have forgotten who met and made this town good and kept it going for us to inherit, we invoke you now.

Please help us do our part today, giving thanks for all who have gone and all who have cared enough to come. Let us show our gratitude by treating our neighbors with all the civility, respect and kindness that your spirit of love and peace inspires, so that Thetford may continue to be your home and a good home to us all.

Tom KInder –  First Congregational Church

I am not a religious person (no! no!) but that’s the kind of prayer I can get behind. It’s a beautiful church too, one of the oldest in Vermont, and I always go there late at night on July 3rd when people gather to read the Declaration of Independence and ring the church bell once for every year the country’s been founded starting at midnight. We wake the whole town up! But everybody expects it.

This year will be especially meaningful for many of us I think. Being reminded that so many are dying for the chance at something that we get to do and that we (me) have sometimes skipped altogether and just voted on the school budget later in the week is a sobering thought.

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