Sunday, June 1, 2014

Easter 42: Up to us


Early on a Saturday morning. (Relatively speaking) Not really wanting to be at work, but  meeting with Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry and Nurture of Congregations. They have been friends. But what can we say about these first six months? Good to find Steve S there, ready to set everything up for me. I can focus my time on preparation.

We’ve got Naomi, the chair. Wise and compassionate. Even though she’s from tall steeple  5th Avenue, ready to take risks and has a quiet commitment to justice inside her. And Jill S. Retirement age. Rooted in the reformed tradition. A long time advocate in Jewish-Christian relations. A lover of organized, classic liturgy, like the Lutherans. Hugo told me after the workshop he helped lead, she took him aside, wanted to know more about organizing for justice, And Henry F. Disbarred lawyer, open about his own time in prison. With a fiery passion that won’t quit about criminal justice and  justice in general. Brokenhearted when our best organizer and pioneer in criminal justice, Annie Rawlings, died tragically earlier this year. (Her old school organizing was worth so much more than all the hired guns Presbytery paid for on the landmarks struggle.) She helped found our national PHEWA* Criminal Justice Network.

And from the church, there’s Hugo and Arcadia and Marsha.  We’ve got to review how we lost the deal with the dance company that was supposed to secure our future for 15 years. How we’ve stopped searching for the white knight to save us in one big move. How we’ve gone back to the original idea for the center. How they will manage the church house. Our whole DIY strategy.  And how we still believe the church can grow. Thing is, after years of fighting just for the right to continue, that’s what this committee wants from us. To see us revitalized, as a sign that justice can be a base organizing principle for a church.

We are open about the cost. To us as people. Our losses. The short window facing us. Hugo’s painful awareness of what we have lost. Marsha’s question as to how SPSA can be thriving and how my friend Elise’s Advent church can be thriving. (Both had assets from the presence of another congregation in their building….and Advent of course has Elise…) We’ve won the right to live. We’ve got resources. The only question is can we turn the corner and believe in ourselves enough to do what s necessary to grow. I believe it in my heart. I know it should work. But the history of these years leave me with doubts that gnaw. The question remains open.

The meeting  ends. They are supportive of us. Believe in us. That is new.  It’s up to us. It’s a heavy responsibility.

And now to do all the things I didn't do yesterday. Service. Update. More work on the Goodman event….

And then tonight to Milica’s benefit to raise money for Balkan relief.

*Presbyterian Health Education and Welfare Association

Many thanks to all the blog readers who made this a record-setting month readerwise....

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