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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Make History or Be History

The expression, "You don't know what you have until it is gone" is a truism so many of us have experienced. In hind sight we are sorrowful for the losses of people, places and things we never knew at the time were as precious as the memories we now have . We might think, if I could do it all over again I would do it differently, knowing what we know now. Perhaps, we might get down on ourselves for the choices we made, tracing that moment of decision of letting go. I have personally been there.....many times. Usually there is no going back.

Let me share a brief story. In 1918, a dynamic RLDS Bishop by the name of RC Evans started a new breakaway church in Toronto that increased to a few thousand members in several congregations across Ontario and Michigan. One primary "cathedral" centre was in the current location of the Sick Kid's Hospital, Although the total number of congregations was smaller, the actual attendance base was larger than our current combined CEM weekly numbers. In the 1960's, the last congregation closed and the building was sold to our Willowdale congregation. The last Bishop of the church died around 1985 and there is one remaining original attendee who is currently an active member of our church. Would these folks have thought such an ending could befall their original vibrant faith community?....... and that now their church exists solely as a page on Wikipedia.

A week ago I was talking with our retired Ontario Bishop from 18 yrs ago. Today, we only have 65% of the number of congregations remaining since the time of his leadership. In the Toronto area as an example, our attendance has declined by 75%. The losses today are in fact accelerating as the lack of social stratas, the glue that "binds" us together in meaningful fellowship have declined or barely exist. Our weakest link is social dynamics across most age groups, most pronounced in the under 40's. Are we repeating the declining realities of our sister Restoration denomination. Will it be told to our great grandchildren that we never knew what we had in the Community of Christ? Will a perceptive future historian/prophet hold forth our enduring principles and peace proclamations and pen the words that Community of Christ was a faith movement that now speaks to the generations of that day with our inclusive  theology as a "light from the dust" as it were? Will a new future generation of prophetic people be inspired by today's Words of Counsel?

Passing into the historical abyss is not a new trend. How many times does history use the phrase, "the rise and fall" of a people, a nation, a culture, a faith or philosophy. Today, I am appealing to you, our 40+ age group. How much does your heritage, your spiritual roots mean to you that make you the person you are today. How meaningful is your faith identity. Is our message redundant in the vastness of Christendom? I think not! Should we allow our faith movement to pass with peace into the palliative end of life stages of finality?

We have to decide if our Community of Christ journey is a light on the pathway the world needs? This is not a decision made by President Steve Veazey or the Council of Twelve, the Bishopric or CEM leadership or a Pastor. They hold forth the vision. This is a decision that comes face to face with you !!!  and me !!!  Do your children and grandchildren need our inclusive, worth affirming blessing of joy, hope, love and peace? Is there a prophetic people really there within our midst .....or is it just a hopeful musing?  Is our prophetic calling one of listening to, responding to and actioning the inspired words we already have, to in fact live them out....or are we waiting for someone else, some other people to bring forth with God that which we already know. If so, how sad that we cannot take ownership over our own day and time.

As I meet with, talk with and minister with many of you, I am hopeful, I am inspired by the possibility that we can reverse the trend of closing congregations and declining numbers.
Perhaps it is possible to only exist in small groups, but evidence does not support this as with the denominational example cited above. There needs to be a combination of a community of responding people and local gathering places of sacred meaning. I challenge you to look within yourself. How precious is what we have in this church? Are you taking it for granted? Are you willing to let it fade into history? If not, then Ask the question, "What is the next step for me to answer the call I feel passionately within, to live prophetically? The first step is always heartfelt prayer, the 2nd is initiating meaningful dialogue with others about "what matters most". The third is actually doing what you envision together. Do not feel you are alone. You and I are not prophets, we are a prophetic people. We need one another. The church, the Body of Christ, is a symbiotic model of the whole relating together, becoming greater than the sum of our individual parts. Community of Christ empowers us if we choose to open up our lives to Christ and let the Spirit and each other in.

So, let us be mindful of the things we take for granted and the visible signs that remind us and call to us, that are the writing on the wall, so to speak. The trends of decline of which I speak are evident to us all. History starkly reveals the outcome. It takes a people with courage and conviction to step out and change the course of direction and lead the way. Is that you!? Is that me? Is that us?

submitted by Kerry

1 comment:

  1. Kerry, I appreciate so much you identifying three steps anyone can take. "The first step is always heartfelt prayer, the 2nd is initiating meaningful dialogue with others about "what matters most". The third is actually doing what you envision together."

    Perhaps we might combine the 1st and 2nd together so that, right from the beginning, people are not alone but seeking spiritual guidance and having purposeful dialogue with others. This may lead directly to some of those 'additional innovative approaches" the Words of Counsel present to the 2013 World Conference speaks of.

    As mission coordinator for CEM, let me add my voice to Kerry's and offer my support to any person or group seeking a way to get started. Let me also point out that this is exactly why we have mission advocates in CEM, and they would also be delighted to hear from you. Talk to any of us. Lets discuss the Spirit's leadings together.



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