Today in chapel we sang the hymn “Come In, Come In and Sit Down”, a lovely hymn of reminding people that we are all part of God’s family. Welcoming all to join the family of Christ through his sacrifice.
And here I sit, not sure of where I stand in the church’s eyes. Many times I feel on the outside looking in, not knowing just how welcome I really am. How do I fit into this church? A church in which the doctrine, as stated in the Basis of Union, fits me very well, but the way in which it portrays itself today appears to be a different church.
This year, after only two days of school, I can see that this year will definitely be a turning point for me. How things look in May will most likely heavily impact where I stand in the United Church of Canada. However, I cannot play it safe anymore. I can no longer restrain who I am for the sake of keeping people from feeling uncomfortable. I need to let the Spirit flow, to let God continue molding me into the disciple that He wants me to be.
Where will that lead? Only He knows… but I need to be part of His plan, my soul aches for it.
So, feel free to follow my journey as I chronicle it here. It should be a fun ride! 🙂
Not an easy place to be. One that I think all of us – especially those of us entering ordered ministry – need to experience, however.
Doctrinally, we aren’t the church that we were in 1925. Having said that, I *know* that there are a number of folk in the UCCan who would be in complete agreement with the Basis of Union – a good number of folk who could agree with the concepts but not the language – a good number of folk who can agree with some parts, but not with others – and a number of folk who look at the BoU and go… “What?”
This reality is both a place of great growth and a place of major stumbling. *grin* I remember positing in a paper that where we are now is the inevitable reality of how our union formed. The UCCan got the Methodists, the congregationalists… and the “ready to try something exciting” portion of the Presbyterians – as well as congregations who were already trying to live this way and, later, the EUB. Our formation was built around an ethic of inclusivity (“Ut omnes unim sint”!!!) that has evolved into what it is now.
One of my closest friends in United Church ministry lives a theology that is much, much closer to that exemplified by the Basis of Union than my own. He continues to struggle with what it means for him to be a minister in the UCCan. I cherish our explorations and our arguments, because I need them and him. Without his voice – and your voice – and other voices like it – I could go winging off into the night, forgetting what the touchstone of faith as a disciple of Jesus the Christ is.
Three things (and then I’ll be quiet) –
One: Be who you are. Share what you are called by the Spirit to share. Recognize that sometimes it will be well taken… and sometimes it won’t.
Know, too, that expressing who we are, truly, makes ourselves vulnerable. Your path may change – because of your decisions, or because of the decisions of others.
Two: You wrote, “…but the way in which it portrays itself today appears to be a different church.” Would you talk more about this? Part of my question would be which part of the church are you seeing doing the portraying – GenCouncil, the College, Congregations, individuals, etc.?
Three: ok… I forgot what three was… 🙂
Blessings and Christ’s peace on your journey, Nick!
I will say three things in response to your comment:
One. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Two. Wow! Someone actually reads this blog! 🙂
and Three… in response to your questions/comments.
I, like your friend, struggle with what it means to be in the UCCan. I talk with so many passionate people, both of like mind, and of other views, that I know the our church is a place of great potential. I say potential because I am not convinced that we are doing all that we can, as a church, to be a faithful witness to the people of Canada.
I hesitate to say where this stems from, but the public eye usually only hears what comes from GenCouncil. Our students have vastly different experiences as we come from different presbyterys and conferences. Some of us will sail through the process with very little difficulty, despite how others may view this person’s readiness for full-time ministry. Others experience great difficulty, while those who know those people well cannot understand the what the hold up is. And of course there is many others that fall somewhere in between.
It is difficult for me at times to hear things being said in our church by people in positions of leadership (at all levels), as it is for others of like mind that I converse with. We feel that there are movements (mostly unintentional) that are pushing us away, and we are not sure where we fit, and if we don’t fit, where are we to go.