I am thinking of the Charge given at the synod service, the fact that there is much in it to unpack as we break silence [with more than words spoken], to re-imagine a fractured nation.
Leadership The Jesus Way:
I would like to further explore the Charge’s Christian application, given that it was issued from an Old Testament text. There is to my mind, no better way of doing this, than by looking at Jesus’ life, the fact that in embracing what we today refer to as collaborative leadership, he intentionally pulled within the circle of his missionary team, a wide cross-section of individuals with different gifts, different thoughts, even where these were not always congruent with his. He perceived beyond the differences, the ability of those called, aided by the Holy Spirit, to make the kingdom of God known and experienced.
Fractured Nation…Fractured Church:
Inherent in the Charge to the nation, therefore, is a Charge to a fractured Church. There is need now more than ever to re-imagine who we are and what we can become, if we must engage the Great Commission [Matthew 28:18-20], in new and renewing ways. Embedded therein is a call for us as a diocese to become a people unafraid of change, a people who will dare to engage the dismantling of age-old ways of being and practices, with the dislocations that will doubtlessly arise [cf. Mark 10:30], a people confident of the fact that the route to the promise land is usually via the wilderness, and the lessons to be learned there.
The Challenge of Re-Imagining:
Reimagining the Judaism in which he was brought up, Jesus gave his life to ensure its reform and renewal; he exhibited uncommon courage, in the face of detractors and was steadfast in pursuing his vocation. In this the 198th. year of the diocese’s existence, I believe one of the ways we need to re-imagine who we are and the reality of our fractured nature, is in our [non]inclusion of women, that overwhelming percentage of the Church’s membership, who continue to give of their time, talent and treasure, to ensure that the ‘joyful and energetic discipleship’, articulated in the diocesan vision, is not an illusive dream.
Women continue to be in the minority and in some instances, are missing from a number of diocesan boards and governing bodies. There also remains that issue of the age of many of our workers and volunteers, the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any intentional efforts being made, to find and engage that group of adults between the ages of 35 and 50 years, who are visibly missing from our congregations and whose experience, expertise and resources are needed, if the diocese is to realistically impact and become attractive, to new and emerging generations. When we talk of singing a new church into being [if we understand St. Augustine well] we must accept that we are accepting an ongoing challenge in prayer and related action, to dare to do things differently.
The synod, though virtual, continued in the same vein as when conducted in person, arguably with no thought given to the saturation point of our cognitive capacities and so a tremendous lot was crammed into each day. The very technology we are using, offers us opportunity, over time, to engage different modalities, in ensuring that some of the presentations we pack into the synod are engaged at different times throughout the year, and towards targeted audiences.
The Church cannot honestly speak to a nation about reimagining its fractured nature if we are not prepared first of all to reimagine ours.
Rev. Canon Georgia C. Jervis