I spent the morning reading the new Commission on the Study of Ministry Report and having heated discussions with all of the Candler students unlucky enough to be within earshot of me in the 4th floor study area. These conversations, accompanied by wild gesticulating, started with the Ministry Study report* and then jumped to sacramental authority and Call to Action and the Four Foci and how to church [what the heck is the “Church is a Verb” campaign?] and the influence of outside groups/money on our polity and institutional survival and what percentage of United Methodist Churches should just be closed (or withdrawn from the denomination) immediately.
As always, I get riled up when thinking about what the church SHOULD be and what it IS.
Fortunately, before I had a chance to mentally split the church, my friend Anna, who I have written about before, tagged me in a beautiful post entitled “I’ve Got Friends” (seriously, read it 🙂 Not only is it about me but our awesome friend GCSRW friend DJ is also given a lengthy shout-out).
And I started to think about the benefits of the Connection, the PEOPLE who make me want to stay connected:
—my mission of peace team
—conference youth directors and camp counselors
—a bishop who came to my state track meet when I was in high school
—the members of the Old Men’s Philosophy club
—the members of my Annual Conference who cried with me and pray for me
—all the tough 50-something (or older) women on GCSRW who have fought for women’s rights longer than I’ve been alive… I want to earn my white hairs like that
—seminary friends pursuing ordination all over the connection… and those who will remain laypeople, whether by call or church law
—the covenant group I got to sit in on during my brief internship this summer
—my ConEd placements and internships, diverse places where I’ve gotten to see God work
—people who argue passionately about Robert’s Rules and people who lead us through mushy-gushy discernment processes that really work
—anyone gathered around the Eucharistic table
—all those who sing, “And Are We Yet Alive?” and are truly glad to see each other’s face
I could go on and on. I could list the individuals who care about Robert’s Rules (you know who you are…) or the particular members of my Annual Conference or seminary faculty who have impressed upon me the value of the Connection. But I won’t. I’ll just echo Anna: “I’ve Got Friends“. And THOSE are the ones who make me argue for a better world.
*I do not want it to sound that I am opposed to the Ministry Study recommendations… many (but not all) of them are long-needed. In those cases, I’m just ticked off that we got ourselves in this mess in the first place. (Some of this can be traced back to J-Dubs himself, who put an unfortunate emphasis on pastoral necessity in solving short-term problems, without considering the long-term institutional impact of this practice)