As you may know I traveled to Minneapolis last month to attend and participate in a Developmental Minister Seminar. I welcomed the opportunity to connect with my colleagues from across the country who join me in serving congregations in transitional ministries. In fact, the Rev. Dr. Doak Mansfield from Tampa has agreed to preach here in the coming months. I, of course, will travel to Tampa to do the same. Much was learned and shared, of which I will share with the Congregation soon.
There was one story shared by a colleague, who has been serving a particular congregation for nearly a year, that I wanted to share with you. A member of the congregation called her and asked to schedule a meeting because she had an urgent question to ask her. She asked the congregant if she would share a little information and the congregant said that she would just have to wait until the meeting. Naturally she was curious and waited for three days to pass so she would eventually be presented with this curious question. Finally she met with the congregant and the congregant asked "Do you like us?"
Do you like us? What an interesting question. I'm not surprised by this question but think it's a question not many would ask me. Do you like us? I wonder, have you had this question on your mind or have you tossed it around with friends? I've decided to answer the question. I have been among you for 45 days now, officially for 30, and have much to consider that would help me answer this question. My answer, I do! Very much!
It wasn't a difficult question for me. I had decided before my arrival to like you.
I already knew a lot about the Congregation, had talked to many about the Congregation, and read your materials. I stepped forward to be considered by the Selection Committee because I liked you. The "spots on your apple" do not frighten me. Only fools believe they are without spots and present themselves as the perfect apple -- or Congregation, as it were. Relationships are not perfect, particularly those between congregation and minister. So it's a good thing I'm not looking for perfection. I've found a generous, welcoming, and impressive Congregation that is willing to invite a Developmental Minister to help them guide a period of understanding, reflection, experimentation, healing, and growth. I am elated by your support and willingness to let me work my way into the family, our Congregation.
This family has great potential. I'm honored to be here to dream with you, to laugh, to cry, to understand our "spots" and grow from that understanding. My hope is that we continue to trust one another and continue to communicate openly as we drive the elephants out. Yes, indeed, I adore you.
Peace and Blessings, CJ