Zaca Fire Reality
The fellowship hall of El Montecito Presbyterian Church was packed with upwards of 400 anxious property owners last night. One expert after another gave us the hard and brutal facts of the progress of the Zaca fire, now having consumed 70,000 acres and burning 4-5 miles away from us. The fire chief, the head of the US Forestry Service, the Sheriff's office, the utilities people.
They told us about all the conditions that are brewing: long drought, low humidiity, excessive brush, inaccessible terrain, adverse winds. The room was still and hushed as the Forestry Service officer used his laser pointer to describe the progress of the fire and their efforts to stop and redirect its path with over 2,200 people on the ground and 4 tankers in the air. It was a sobering meeting where the members of this community, fairly affluent and protective of their property and control, felt very vulnerable and helpless.
The church staff here is participating in a new program called "Getting to Great" with Alan Forsman and Doug Stevens. As part of our preparation for the upcoming retreat, we are required to read Jim Collins' book "Good to Great." This morning I read the 4th chapter entitled "Confront the Brutal Facts (yet never lose faith)". I could not help but compare what we are doing as a community with what the corporate leaders did with their companies. Facts are not the enemy to run from, brutal as they may be. Solid data drives great decision-making. Last night I saw the commitment of community leaders (especially the Fire Chief) to provide the community with the brutal facts so lives could be protected.
Where does the church confront the brutal facts? Where do we hear the experts tell us about the fires and droughts? Do our gatherings: staff meetings, counsel meetings, worship, conference and denominational meetings tingle with the power of unavoidable truth? Do we have a sense of impending crisis or weather as usual?