Greetings all! I hope folks are doing well. No Moderator Monday this week. Life just kind of took over this week, and well, you know how it is. Plus I have no delusions about the ultimate importance of my blogging. It shall return next week with a post, “How many movements can one institution handle?”
This week has been quite interesting in terms of letters/notes received. Every week I get wonderful notes from session and individuals with no agenda other than to say that they are praying for me, my family and the denomination. Thank you. I also get plenty of notes from folks just checking in, saying howdy and otherwise engaging in some of the ongoing community building that us possible via changes in electronic communication. Thank you as well. This week I even got a letter laying responsibility for the destruction of this beautiful denomination and paving the way for humans to marry their pets. Thank you as well for taking the time. Yes, this role of moderator certainly is not boring.
One note that I received this week came from a young newly-ordained pastor. With his permission I am anonymously sharing his note and asking you all to respond. I share this not just because he finds some convergence with my particular approach to church, but because I really believe this is the dilemma/tension that many in the church are experiencing today. This discerning places between the larger institution, personal relationships, professional security, personal and communal discernment, etc. I only wish I was this thoughtful when I entered my first call.
So how would you respond . . .
Just a note to say hello. I was ordained as a minister of Word and Sacrament into the PC(USA) on xxxxxxx, so your tenure as moderator is only slightly shorter than my own tenure as a minister in the denomination. Prior to that, I was a high school teacher for four years, and a seminary student for three.
I wanted to write to give my greetings, to give you my support (I’ve been excited about your candidacy for mod since you first declared), and also share my concerns.
I found [and] accepted a call at a church in xxxxxxx, XX as the Associate Pastor for Youth (always seeing youth ministry as my calling), and love it. Everyday is a reaffirmation that I am right where God wants me to be.
All that said, it is a community skews a bit more conservative than I do politically (I took my Obama sticker out of my window when I arrived, so as not to be a stumbling block to some immediately upon my arrival).
The state of the denomination is in some ways hopeful, but in many other ways very uncertain. Many in my congregation feel disenfranchised and disheartened, and the notion of leaving the denomination, while not a present reality, is talked about by some with a bit more viability than I am comfortable with.
I have made a vow to this church locally, but also to this denomination nationally, and I am concerned for how
those two commitments might conflict in the future.
I’m nervous and I’m uncertain. I am still very excited by your role as moderator, and excited to see where the denomination goes in the coming years. Having living in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Chicago, and now XX, though, I am concerned about how much GA this year actually reflected the will of the majority of the denomination.
I don’t think that the blinders approach to culture that many in the denomination (many in my own congregation) take is the way to go at all, but neither do I think that most in the denomination are ready to be thrust into the culture full force, like some emerging from Plato’s cave (or someone being unplugged from The Matrix). I feel like in some ways GA at least has come across as having done the latter, and led even more people to therefore feel justified in doing the former.
So why am I writing to you? I’m sure that these are thoughts that you have heard ad nauseum from many different people over the past few months. I guess I just wanted to personally share it with you myself. I find a kinship with you in your approach to the denomination. Being a younger minister in the church (I’m 2x), I think that the PC(USA) is not an antiquated notion, but one that can serve to have relevance in our modern society. I’m excited with where you want to take us, and where it seems that God is leading us. I fear though that the positive movements of this years GA (at which my xxxxxx, xxxx, was a YAD) have been overshadowed by some of the more bold moves of the GA this year.
At any rate, I’ve taken enough of your time, but I again want to emphasize how appreciative that I am of your ministry and leadership in the church. I’m proud to have you as the moderator, and hope that your tenure as moderator is one that unifies and strengthens the church.
Thank you for your updates and your accessibility through this digital medium. That in and of itself is awesome.
So, what do you have to say to this pastor faithfully discerning his way . . .