As I reflect on past experiences over the years I have served the church, many moments stand out but one shared experience still remains vivid and keeps nagging at my memory. It was that time when the PUP task group made a preliminary report at a COGA meeting in Louisville.
As my mind replays that event and the experiences reported on by that dedicated, yet highly diverse group of people, I find myself bouncing those words off the travail of the denomination at this time and the seemingly irreversible downward spiral we are caught in, and find myself struggling with the questions… what has happened to us, why can’t we work together as that group labored to do?
One thing that stood out for me at that time was the uniform plea from the group urging the church to stay together, exercising shared leadership and mutual respect, all encompassed by the desire to truly become the body of Christ as we are called to in Corinthians.
I clearly recall Mark Achtemeier’s words when he said “the church has never been one of like minded people but Christ calls us together and that guided us in our deliberations “ Overall the thing that really impressed me was how they obviously struggled to stay together and how they ultimately came together for the common task they were endeavoring to accomplish yet producing logical revisions which such a diverse group could unanimously support
To me that was an example of how all schismatic elements within our present structure could and should be dealing with the major questions which currently face the denomination not simply fleeing for fear of confrontation, clutching to non compromising “ my position is right “ stances, rather, as the body of Christ mutually trusting and willing to practice an open dialog, struggling to arrive at realistic, reasonable, workable compromise preserving the integrity of a possibly restructured, yet whole, entity as the result of their efforts.
So many preach it but as I survey the current scene I truly question how many really practice or believe it, certainly our primary task as Christians is to discern the will of Christ in and for our lives and for humankind, not for our own self-serving, “take my dolls and go home “ ends.
James Babcock in an elder living in Bozeman, Montana.