Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Moving Beyond Polite Acquaintance

I had the privilege of attending a great discussion hosted by the New Mexico Conference of Churches about cooperation among churches, denominations and social service/advocacy groups in New Mexico. NMCC director Rev. Donna McNiel wrote about the gathering in her Ecumania blog. 

Here are a couple of excerpts (actually the first and last paragraph) in Donna's piece entitled  What’s your dream for the Church?
Last Friday, NMCC’s Board of Directors invited community members to join them for lunch at their quarterly meeting. The topic was ecumenical support of congregational life. Clergy and lay leaders from Presbyterian, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and United Methodist congregations joined us as well as staff and volunteers from Catholic Charities, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Interfaith Power and Light, Bread for the World, Called Back to the Well, Water in the Desert, Church Women United, and the Ecumenical Institute for Ministry. It was a fun and lively congregation about how we can work together to become the Church of the 21st century.

We wondered what our churches and communities could be like if we dared to go beyond polite acquaintance. We can’t work together very well if we don’t know each other and we can’t embody Jesus’ dream for the whole Church if we don’t care for one another. So, we proposed a one day event that would invite people in neighboring congregations to come together in prayer and fellowship as they walked from congregation to congregation. A kind of Progressive Prayer Walk (like a Progressive Dinner!) Watch for more details. In the meantime look for ways to get to know and work with others, whether in a neighboring congregation, a mosque or synagogue nearby, or the other parents at soccer.

As Donna mentioned in her blog post, there was diverse representation.  And many of the NMCC board members were present. Beyond the mechanics of how to work together, we also talked about the values that are important to our congregations, denominations and organizations, including the concept of stewardship and caring for the Earth and our neighbors.
Photo courtesy of Kay Huggins
Some faces were new to me and others were very familiar  (including a couple of Bread members).  Among those sitting at the table with me were Rev. Kay Huggins Sister Joan Brown, Rev. Phil Wanberg, Mary Carter, Rev. Pat Holman, Daniel Erdman, Claudia Trueblood, Rene Ronquillo, Will Drobnick, Betty Drobnick, Rosie Shawver and others.

We eagerly anticipate taking part in follow-up conversations on how to make this dream become  a reality.

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