26 September 2019
Many of you will have read the joint letter from the Governing Board and Council of Elders, which came out recently. It was entitled
A Letter of Healing, Gratitude and Hope
” and spoke of our need to ask for forgiveness for past wrongs, as well as expressing hope for the future.
MCC has a powerful future. I talk with several people around the world each week, asking them how MCC seems from where they are. I talked with a local church pastor the other day and asked him, “Why is MCC still needed in your country?” He said: “There are several open and affirming churches in this city, but they do not give people space to explore their own spiritual journey, their own attitude to religion. These churches accept their sexuality but tell them what they must believe. In MCC, we give people the opportunity to think about what they believe, to explore the connections between their faith and their everyday life.”
The pastor, who is trans, made another point. “In MCC, we have the boldness to bring our perspectives to church tradition, to the Bible, to history. We have not been part of societal privilege. We can bring another view.”
MCC is in an interesting place just now. We see hope for our future, we know that God has work for us to do, and yet we are dealing with pain from the past, or even the present. In his presentation at General Conference, Brian McLaren talked about the danger that new fiery religious movements can fall into. At first, they go through the stages of forming, storming, norming and performing. If they are not careful, they can then go through the stages of “lukewarming, conforming and deforming.” He spoke about how, as some point, we all get hurt by the church denomination we belong to. Perhaps that is part of the “deforming” that occurs.
Some individuals responded to the joint letter from the Governing Board and Council of Elders and said it offered opportunity for healing. Perhaps this also means that they were ready to forgive past hurts. Others read the letter and still need a place where they can tell their story, can feel as though they are heard, and can trust that things will be different going forward. Taking time to understand our own hurts and the pain of others, to ask for and to offer forgiveness, to choose restoration and to be willing to let go of old stories that no longer serve – these are all part of reclaiming our founding values and moving forward into our future.
If we are not willing, as a Fellowship, to do our “internal work,” even whilst we serve others, it will be so much harder to give our best to those who need us. We are not called to conform, we are called to transform. We do that one life at a time, all over the world.