Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Contrary to Popular Reports, I Am Still Alive!

I have been incredibly remiss in keeping this up to date. I have no excuse, none whatsoever.

The trip to Capitol City of Capitol Cities was a blessing. I reconnected with so many people, spent time with TO and others whom I love, worshipped in the church that supported me through my transfer, and realized how much I love that city. Quite a week!

And back into the maelstrom!

As part of the revitalization/renewal project, now that we are staying open, I’m throwing the lectionary out the window and focusing on the foundations of Christianity—Christianity 101 if you will. Because the congregation is generally fairly small—c.15-20 in worship—we will do as much discussion, if not more, than I will preach. We’ll be doing the house church thing twice a month now. We’ll be discussing things like salvation, and faith and the nature of God, and the Bible, and worship… And I want the congregation to discuss and come up with what they believe, not what I’ve told them, or what they think they should believe or what they were taught in Sunday school, or heard a TV preacher say…We're having a variety of guest preachers come in to preach, from different traditions and backgrounds and theologies, so the congregation can get another viewpoint besides mine. I want them to come to their own theology, so they can truly believe it.

So that’s step one. I’m having a phone conference with someone I reconnected with at conference who is energetic, has great ideas, and is a fount of knowledge about revitalization/church growth. She reached out to me to offer her support and guidance if and as I want it—and of course I grabbed onto it like a lifeline! I’m hoping to refine my plans as part of our conversation, get some resources, and see if she thinks I’m heading in the right direction.

Step two is our new ministry opportunity. Our congregation has received an informal invitation to be part of a cooperative parish (sometimes called a larger parish) with several United Churches here in River City. We are very excited about this concept! Together, these gathered congregations can offer worship, outreach, study, missions…the list goes on…that we could not on our own. The hope is that each congregational building will serve as a “centre”—worship centre, outreach centre, etc. With a multiple-pastor staff, each pastor can focus on their area of passion/expertise, have a portfolio, and let others work with the areas in which they have passion. Each congregation will remain autonomous, with their own governing body, but there would be a coordinating committee of some kind to keep track of what is being done where and so on.

What do we bring to the table? We have a broad theological base in the MCC; we bring in many different traditions and incorporate them in our worship and in our structure. We can offer a very different viewpoint. Also, we have been very active in the community—LGBT and straight—and can offer numerous community contacts and connections.

I should also say that for the last few years, we have been doing more and more with this group of UCCs—joint Lenten services, for example, a joint Bible study. I have preached at Host Church on a regular basis, and am at the moment serving as pastoral contact in case of emergencies while Host Church Pastor is on holiday. So our congregations are somewhat used to the idea of working together, of seeing me as a pastor, as possibly THEIR pastor…an important step. I’m not a stranger to any of them.

There are many meetings and details to be worked out in the coming months, and it may not, after all, come to pass—but if it does, it offers us tremendous opportunities.

We are very excited about it. The congregation is intrigued, the board is thrilled, I am hopeful…

I survived Pride! It was very hot this year—so ugly that most of the vendors packed up and left on Sunday by about 4 pm, instead of staying until it closed at 9 or 10. But we had a great service, many enquiries at our table, many connections made, and remade. In a way, it was my re-emergence after treatment—starting to get back into my activities and projects in the community. As I said to Strong Heart recently, I feel like I’m waking up again. One decision I have made already for next year, however—I will be on wheels of some kind! A convertible, a motorcycle, heck, roller skates! I just don’t think my knees can take another parade on top of standing at the booth for two days. (We won’t talk about dancing Saturday night away…)

Life is feeling very good right now. I see possibilities for the church, I am feeling physically better, opportunities are opening on all sides.

At Conference, one of the preachers talked about daring to ask God for what we wanted, not just what we needed; a loving God wants to supply our every want. So I did—asked God for the desire of my heart, the deepest need of my soul, for me, personally—not for the church or the congregation, or the denomination, or for those I love—but a purely me-centered desire. God does hear and answer prayers, my sisters and brothers… At the moment, this is unbloggable. Sometime, I promise to blog about the incredible experience of grace I have had.

One more note: Boss Pastor is recovering from some outpatient surgery—prayers requested for his healing.


Diane Knaus said...

I am really glad to see the recent changes. I had always hoped you could merge with the host church.

Rainbow Pastor said...

Clarification--as I tried to make clear in the post, we are NOT merging--we will be in partnership, but each church remains independent.

Clarence Darrow--Beyond Scopes and Leopold & Loeb

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