Rachel posted a comment in my post on the update from the Bishop. This is my response.
First of all, I am neither the apologist for the Bishop nor the CCOM leadership. When I heard about this situation, I expressed my concerns to the Bishop. He responded to me and allowed me to share his response with you through this blog. What I am trying to do now is to be faithful in maintaining the balance between grace and accountability.
I don’t think that the Bishop is trying to move on as if none of this has happened. He has been willing to take responsibility for his portion of this train wreck, apologizing to all involved and committing himself to a process of listening and empowerment as we move into the future. He recognizes that this is a mistake, and I believe is serious about trying to regain trust and to find a point of reconciliation. He recognizes that conversation should have happened on the front end, and I think has been alerted to the fact that it hadn’t happened as he thought.
I understand the desire to disengage from conversation on change. Yes, people are in pain. I have advised the Bishop that the first step will be the need for folks to gather to express their pain and for the Director of Connectional Ministries, the Bishop, certain members of the Cabinet, and members of the Personnel Committee to listen to those who have been hurt as a means of facilitating reconciliation, and I believe that is the first step in the process to come.
At the same time, I encourage all to also be willing to listen for God in the midst of this mess, for I am convinced that God’s story is one in which God takes human frailty and remolds it into opportunities of grace. While no one wants the Bishop’s vision to be shoved down our throats, at the same time there may be seeds waiting for water and nurture in that vision that we need to think about. Yes, our current youth program has been relatively successful at a certain level, most certainly in maintaining traditional youth ministries in congregations. However, DO we need to think about reaching out in new ways, to new communities, so as to further the goals of God’s kingdom? Is there something that God might be saying to us in the midst of this broken situation that might spur us to new ways of being church together? Are we willing to listen for the hand of God in the midst of our brokenness, trusting that God can restore the pieces into some beautiful.
Yes, the scars remain, and they never fully go away. It will take time to piece the broken chalice pack together, the glue will have to cure and the pieces will have to trust that the glue will hold things together. Accountability is part of that process. So is forgiveness and grace.
p.s. Two quotes seem appropriate at the season in relation to all this. The first is that observation from Mike Card that the Christ, and thus those who follow in his footsteps, are known by their scars. The second is that word of hope from Tony Campolo that “it’s Friday . . . but Sunday’s coming!”