A young couple is checking out the sanctuary. Turns out they’re two Princeton seminary students. One on his way to do youth work in Alaska. The other on her way to work in an American church in Paris. He’ especially interested in urban ministry. I set the context:
* secular neighborhood, less than half affiliated
* an explosion of Jewish, especially orthodox affiliation
* doubling of Roman Catholics, mainly immigrants, mainly Mexican
* rapid decrease in mainline protestants
* 7 Presbyterian churches with less than 700 members in the neighborhood
* thousands of spiritual but not religious
* a church needing millions in repairs
I can see he sees this is a daunting challenge. I almost ask, what would you do? But don’t. That’s the challenge facing all these students as they graduate…a church that desperately needs pastors…half the Presbyterian churches in New York City don’t have pastors..,and no money to pay them…
Pat O comes in and helps me prepare for the Center subcommittee that is working on the proposed memo of understanding between the church and the center. Our effort to get the building off the back of the church. He’s also helping me sort through where we are, the list of to dos. We agree we’ll have to meet tomorrow with Danielle.
Ted, Mim, John H and Marsha are the work group. Intense, sharp and pointed conversation. Clarity emerging. Marsha agrees to write the next draft.
As we finish, my friend Russ J is waiting for me. He’s one of the key people in our Palestine work group. And a longtime friend of Phil F from the Revolutionary Communists. Russ is here to answer some of my questions. We’ll head to the B. Talk about the heady days of the ‘70’s in the Bay Area. How Phil F finally gave up on the church as having any revolutionary potential.(Phil F is 80! Amazing....) Russ moved away from party work because of a growing commitment to nonviolent social change. I talk about my days in Central America in the ‘80’s. Movements can be as demanding of orthodoxy as religious denominations. On the other hand, heterodoxy can become unwieldy. The party was way behind the curve on lgbtq issues. And the issues of nationalism vs. internationalism equally befuddling. In the midst of these conversations, I’m always reminded why I’m most comfortable where I am, at the left end of the reformed tradition. Trying to discern wherever the spirit is leading, where the beloved community is already being created, being in solidarity with allies regardless of where they come from.