One of the most stress inducing factors in times of change is lack of adequate communication. Lack of information, unanswered questions, the appearance of an “in the know” crowd who holds the “secrets” will all serve to increase anxiety, even among those who are gung-ho for change. For those who are uneasy, lack of transparency can rapidly become terrifying. Change processes themselves or our understanding of those processes can evolve so rapidly that we feel off kilter and like we’ve been shoved in the deep end of the pool. It would be foolish to not carefully promote transparency.
I have heard through the grapevine that there are some folks who are unsure about just want is going on at New Covenant as it relates to Reconciling Ministries…what it means, what is the process, where are we in the process, etc. So please let me be very clear. We have not become a reconciling church. That will require a full church vote. You will receive at least four notices beginning at least a month in advance of the vote notifying you of when it will take place so that you can make arrangements to be present. What has happened is the Administrative Council voted to begin the process of exploration into what it means and what is involved in becoming a reconciling church. If we vote to become reconciling, it does not mean that we are doing same sex weddings nor does it mean that your next pastor (whenever that might happen) will be gay. It would mean that following a discernment process at least 75% of our church understands and proclaims ourselves to be welcoming and inclusive of all persons in the life of the church.
While many of your questions will be answered in the training and conversations that will be open to the whole church, I am sure that there are other questions about both reconciling ministry and what will happen to us if or when there is a church split. I want everyone’s questions to be answered. So here is the process that I would like for us to follow going forward.
First, I can’t stress enough how important it will be for all of us to take part in the church wide conversations and training that will be scheduled. This is a healthy way for us to communicate and resolute our issues and misunderstandings. ‘Parking lot talk’ has never been a sign of a health church. During seasons of change, it is healthy congregations that blossom and grow in their witness and ministry for Christ. Sort of how a wedding or funeral brings out the best and the worst in people. My prayer is that in this season of change, the best will be brought out of New Covenant.
Second, ideally if you are feeling anxious, I hope you will come and talk to me. I hope you will encourage each other to talk to me. Help keep me in your loop of conversation so that I can address issues and concerns as they arise. If something is bothering you and you don’t talk to me about it, I may never know…and the answer may be a very easy and simple one that could relieve anxiety. Don’t expect that your friend will share your concerns with me. Especially don’t expect me to follow up with you because your friend very well may not have shared your name even if they told me of your concerns. I can’t address what I don’t know about. I need you to help me to know what you need. I want to share ALL information with you and I may not always realize what you don’t know.
Third, I also realize that we have been together for less than a year. Everyone does not feel like they’ve known me forever. Everyone may not feel assured that I will care for you know matter what your thoughts, opinions, or beliefs…especially if you disagree with me. It takes time to build such high levels of trust in a relationship and some of us are just more trusting than others…some of us have been more badly burned than others as well. I still want your questions to be answered. So we are setting up a box for your questions: Ask the Pastor! Paper will be available or write at home and use your own paper. Include your name and a phone number or make it anonymous. If you do choose to include your name, I will be able to clarify your question if I am unsure of what you are asking. I will also be able to follow up to be sure that you feel that you have received an answer to your question. Regardless, ask your questions.
I will do a weekly blog striving to answer questions from the box. I may not be able to address every question every week. However, I will get to every question. Using the blog format also opens the door for us to engage in conversation if you desire. I will then send out the link through email, our Facebook page and friends group, and it will be available on the website under the ‘connect’ tab.
Brothers, sisters, and siblings, families who do not communicate harbor resentment and discontent. Those are the families that show a dark side at weddings and funerals. We can be a witness to our community and broader church of what it means to be a healthy, well-adjusted, inclusive, and loving community of faith. Our best can shine as a light for others. I’m trusting you to love me through this season of change just as I hope you will trust me to love you. Together, there is nothing that we cannot do!