Monday, 23 November 2009

recent struggles

I was sent this video by a friend of mine who is sharing my struggle of how to stay in a religious institution which seems to be bearing a resemblance to the principalities and powers that we are called to stand against. What do you do with this in relation to committed discipleship. Especially when that discipleship is to a Jesus that did not work within the institutions and religious bodies.

This is a long talk at 1 and 1/2 hours. If you skip to 1 and 1/4 hours you get a snippet which deals directly with this question. Joan basically says critics are those stood outside the institution and are never listened to by those within. Prophets are those within who are always broken and killed by the institutions. It's not a good set of options but I enjoyed her point. Take a look. the whole video is worth a watch if you have the time. Highlights for me were her deep understanding of institutionalised sin as set against personal sin, her run down of how we get to change and how institutions react and when she says right at the end that we cannot be motivated by results I could have wept. Thanks Richard for this....

Saturday, 21 November 2009

A few things I learnt on honeymoon

1)I talk way less than my husband and I never knew this before!
2)No-one makes me laugh as much or as hard as Mark.
3)I can read maps better than Mark yet I know no-one will believe me!!
4)I'd love to pick up German studies again.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Could we please be civil

So, I'm at council right. The place where we discuss debate and make policy. As meetings go council isn't bad, I quite like it.

On this sessions agenda was a paper from the ministry department regarding civil partnerships. It is in fact the only reason I came since I'm getting married this Saturday and frankly should be doing wedding type stuff whilst battling the fear.

Still, I'm here now so here's the debate. Four years ago civil partnerships came into being. This year council has asked that we state in some guidelines that ministers should not take part in these ceremonies. They will however, allow us to attend if we want. They don't want us to take part for the following reason,

"it would divert from the historic teaching of the church on marriage, where any sexual relationship outside of marriage falls short of God's express will for humankind. Such a stance would be held by a large majority of Churches in membership with the Baptist Union of Great Britain."

There are many reasons why this paper has unsettled me. I think I'm going to list some of them

* We have had a four year gap between civil partnerships coming into being and these guidelines. Why have the union chosen to do this now? There has been no period of consultation with the the body of churches so it seems to be making unfounded claims about what the churches think.
*The guidelines rest on lots of statements which it say are a given. I think I would like to discuss who is saying what God's express will for humankind is. I think that it is questionable.
*since only 8 churches have taken up the material to look at the issues homosexuality brings to our communities shouldn't we be doing more on that level before bringing in quite stringent guidelines?
*The church has a very culturally based understanding of marriage. We have a diverse history where within church communities, hand fasting has been common, multiple wives were OK. We have an old Testament full of Godly Men and concubines. Our history of marriage is really quite diverse.
* The union is happy for me to be rejected by churches on the basis of my gender. If that happens, the church will be met with, discussions will be had but at the end of it the church meeting, the gathered people of God will seek Christ and decide.If I go to a church as homosexual and my church community embrace me and my sexuality the union will still say I am not able to go into ministry or have a civil partnership. Then the church will not have the authority through seeking the mind of Christ. You see you need to be careful with rules when persecuting minorities.
*There is also my own personal view too that a good union between two people of the same sex is something that God would not tolerate but would instead revel in the shear delight of.

The discussion we had was really very very good. Lots of people spoke and listened really well. Moderation was expressed respect was given. I had high hopes after the discussion that this paper could be taken away and further work done. Instead a resolution was brought, quite a clever one really. The resolution was worded such that it advocated support for the ministry team at Didcot and a desire to listen and show respect, all things I would like to do. In the middle though was an advocating of the paper that was originally proposed, no amendments, no movement.

There's no way round it, I think the union may not be a place i can be held in.

Monday, 9 November 2009

I did it my wage

I am now of the opinion that I shouldn't be paid for what I do, at least not in the way I currently am. I think it's unhelpful. I think the notion of stipend has been largely lost so I am a minister and an employee not someone released within my community but a salaried professional. This means that I don't belong to my community in the way that others around me do. I am temporary and other than. I am trained (in what, eludes me often) and to be looked up to and to be blamed all in ways that are distant for the community at large.

Ben posted a quote on my facebook page from Bonhoeffer which reads:

The church is the church only when it exists for others. To make a start, it should give away all its property to those in need. The clergy must live solely on the free will offerings of their congregations, or possibly engage in some secular calling. The church must share in the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating, but helping and serving.

It must tell people of every calling what it means to live in Christ, to exist for others. In particular, our own church will have to take the field against the vices of hubris, power-worship, envy and humbug, as the root of all evil. It will have to speak of moderation, purity, trust, loyalty, constancy, patience, discipline, humility, contentment, and modesty.... Read more

It must not underestimate the importance of human example (which has its origin in the humanity of Jesus and it so important in Paul's teaching), it is not abstract argument, but example that gives its words emphasis and power.

Some work it seems to me needs to be done on the relationship of minister to community. Why am I shipped in from outside? Why is my pay formalised, what is it really that the church needs in terms of released time? Does it need management and admin skills, does it need theological knowledge or someone to enable worship? Can this role be flexible rather than a fixed post cemented through an academic post. How can the community take more responsibility and ownership of it and through it?

I think I need to quit and then carry on working for the church. I wonder if they'll have me?

Lots to think about

It must be something about attending council that makes me want to blog. Well that and I've been thinking for a while about starting another blog. I think it is born out of a frustration of where I can find space to chat about some of the things that interest me while being very aware that if I took this down the pub I would bore the pants off friends. At least here you can click off and I am blissfully unaware!!

So here goes with wonderings, ponderings and a few controversial comments.