Monday, July 16, 2007

No Vision in the Visioning

There are days when I get so weary of the institutional church that I just want to throw up my hands in despair and today is one of those days. I got an email this morning from the “Visioning Ministries” component of Hudson River Presbytery, a component to which I've recently been assigned. The email has a very controlled, uncreative plan for designing a presbytery vision with an attachment that divides people up into focus groups in order to do visioning of what the ideal presbytery would be like five years from now. And the groups are so disappointing. Whoever made them labeled us all in one of several very static, very artificial, to me very inappropriate categories. We’re either conservative, liberal, non-parish, younger, racial/ethnic, or retired as if those terms give us something in common with others in a group. I’ve worked hard in my ministry and my life to try to move past labeling of any kind and to be in dialogue with people across most of the lines that others too often try to impose, so why would I want to participate in a presbytery process that starts its visioning by imposing labels on us? When will the institutional church remember that Jesus refused all such lines (be they today’s liberals and conservatives, parish and non-parish or the 1st century Pharisees and Sadducees, Jews and Gentiles) and do the same? Why not let me participate in a process that not only envisions the ideal presbytery as one that values all of my liberal, conservative, younger, retired, racial/ethnic and non-parish sisters and brothers but actually allows us to dream of our future together, with none of the lines imposed in the outside world dividing us in the dreaming and visioning?

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