Jan. 21-22, 2006, weekend
Jan. 24, 2006.

Jan. 23, 2006

BUT FIRST, THIS:

The Jewish Chronicle of Kansas City has done a nice piece about the class a rabbi and I will be co-teaching in August at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico.

* * *

Faith communities do not run on autopilot. It takes a serious commitment of time from members to make them work.

SessionI know because over the years I have devoted such time to various positions of leadership in my church. And as I write this, my wife is off attending her very first meeting of the Session (or board of elders) of our church. She's been elected, ordained and installed for a three-year term.

Every faith community does it a little differently, though it's hard to think of one that doesn't rely on lay leadership in some way. In our church, we have a 15-member Session and a larger Board of Deacons, which oversees the mission and outreach work of our church, connecting us to many agencies we support in various ways, including money.

I've served two three-year terms on our Session, one three-year term on Deacons and have recently completed more than 16 years as the coordinator of our church's AIDS Ministry.

Sometimes the folks who simply show up for worship services or who send their kids to Sunday school or other events don't fully grasp the requirement for dedicated lay leaders to help make decisions and carry them out. I've often thought it would be educational if none of the lay leaders -- that is all the unpaid volunteers and church officers -- simply didn't do anything for a week. Others would quickly see the life of the community slow to a crawl.

So today, here's a tip of the hat to all of you who pitch in to make your congregation work right, even when sometimes it doesn't seem to despite your best efforts.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

Comments

Andy B.

I'd love to hear your thoughts sometime about a prevalent attitude I have sensed in church leadership. I call it the "been there, done that" attitude. It manifests when someone has served for multiple years in multiple positions in her local church, and therefore decides she needs not serve anymore. Typically, this is accompanied by a remark about letting the younger folks have their turn. Any thoughts?
In For Life,
Andy B.

Ruth Stokes

No easy ansers. While I was able, I sang in the choir. I served on the diaconate (not ordained) just 2 terms and decided it was not where I could best witness. My only other contribution to our congregation was "just being there" - a warm body giving moral support. And I keep my pledge up to date. As I think about the wonderful people in our congregation that is what most of us do - "just being there". It is the same idea as the peace walks we go on. There are leaders who make these walks possible but all most of us can do is to add one more warm body to the count and give moral support.

While I am grateful to those vital people who keep my congregation runing, I do not serve the church structure now. I see the church out there in the trenches where you usually don't have a nice warm glow and feel at peace. It is more like warfare sometimes.

We remind each other how critical it is to keep in mind the PEOPLE involved in a debate count more whan the issue. Im our congregation we agree to disagree on theology, fiances, politics, etc. We have had some vigerous discussions about issues (like whether to let a homosexual congregation meet in our chapel Sunday nights).

My favorite minister George Tolman focused not on how the vote went, but how we treated each other when we disageed and he reminded us of our obligation to part in peace. Since we share communion every time we meet, being at peace with each other is critical.

Ruth S  of Tucson

Ps - on the subject of "minding the store" vs fighting in the trenches, I remind all of you good card-carrying Prespbterians that one of your national moderators is a convicted felon for getting deep in the trenches.

We need all kinds.

Si quires pas, lucha por la justicia!

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