Monday, December 7, 2009

Churches: Cooperation or Competition?

Last night I participated in a concert featuring singers from several Episcopal churches in my diocese. It was a very rewarding experience, both in terms of the music we performed, and the people I was able to reconnect with. Several friends from my old church were there, as participants and audience members. I met the priest who took Fr. X's place, Fr. J. I felt a genuine warmth from Fr. and Mrs. J as we met.

Some folks would take that as a reason to go back to my old church. After all, Fr. X and the problems I and others had with him are no longer a pressing issue. But I don't see it that way. My present church was and is more than merely a port in a storm. It was the place that provided comfort and solace, as well as the time and space I needed to look at my situation more objectively. It was there that I was able to serve again, and where J and S were able to worship without dealing with any fallout connected with my problems with Fr. X.

I'm not interested in being a ping-pong ball when it comes to churches. I want a place where my family and I can settle down and be settled. Living the Gospel can be unsettling enough at times. I'd rather that we remain in the community we're in now, and not have to deal with starting over in another place. Besides, S is already in love with the "pay-boun" (playground) at our present church.

Which brings me to the title of this entry -- cooperation or competition? Wouldn't it be great if we explored more opportunities -- such as the concert I described -- for churches to cooperate with one another. Perhaps the parochial boundaries could be less rigid and more permeable. Instead of convincing members of one parish to transfer to another, like some sort of Episcopal shell game, we could work together to nurture each others' faith and reach those who do not know Christ. It's not that those things are not happening now, but we could and should do more. We need to share those gifts that God has given each of our communities.

Amen. Be Blessed.


Gage said...

Amen sister. We're all in this together. It's not about which "church" you go to but being in a Christlike relationship w people. Like you said, serving. That's what it's all about.

Kabrena said...

Proverbial nail on the head, my friend...well done! I think you are exactly right that there are far more opportunities to build each other up in the big C Church when we pay less attention to the little c church boundaries. Thanks for sharing this!