This week our theme is Inhabiting Our Community which is the I in the Bishop’s MILE acronym. I have an honest confession to make though. The I in the MILE from our Bishop is not Inhabiting Our Community. It is actually Itineration and Location.
Let me explain. Our Bishop has articulated the focus for all churches in The Greater Northwest Episcopal Area as the MILE.
M -Ministry that Matters with a particular focus on health and housing.
I - Itineration and Location
L - Lay Ministry Enhancement
E - ELiminating Racism
All of those categories of ministry make sense and offer us an exciting opportunity to unite with other United Methodist Churches to make a tangible difference in our communities. Except I. Itineration and Location? What does that even mean? And what does it have to do with ministry in the local church?
It actually has everything to do with ministry in the local church but we might need to look below the surface to understand how. Itineration and Location is how our new Bishop is looking at deploying pastoral leaders across the region and how pastoral compensation can be re-examined with both pastors and local congregations in mind. Our Bishop will also encourage churches to seek collaboration with other churches, which is something we already do as a part of the South Sound United Methodist Cooperative.
Itineration and Location is really about discerning how a pastoral is called into a community of faith and the community at large. This call is not limited to clergy. All people of faith are called to a faith community and to the larger neighborhood that faith community inhabits. That is why as we learn more about the I in the Bishop’s MILE we are going to talk about walking in faith in our neighborhood by Inhabiting our Community!
What does it mean to inhabit our neighborhood and community as a faithful presence? To love the people around us just as they are while inviting them to an experience of wholeness and full-life? What does it mean to notice where God is already at work in our community and join in that work? Who are the community organizations, perhaps not even faith-based, who are doing God’s work in our community that we can come alongside?
These are the kinds of questions that can propel us out of our building and into our neighborhood to walk in faith with God, and with the people of our community. When our eyes are open and our feet are moving we begin to notice the presence of God already moving and hear the call for us to be a part of that redemptive work.
This week, as a special guest in worship, we will have Domenico Spatola-Knoll, principal of Madison Elementary to help us get to know our neighbors a little better. He will share about the great things happening at Madison, how this church makes a difference in the lives of the students already, and how we can continue to be good neighbors to Madison.
I am thrilled the Bishop is challenging us to love the location we are in and to walk in faith through the streets of our own neighborhood.