This January, I’m looking forward to a series of conversations on church security we’ll be having during Adult Forum on Sunday mornings. You may think I’m crazy, but I actually can’t wait to talk as a church family about what we need to feel safe in this church. I’m even looking forward to those moments when our differences of opinion and differences in experience lead all of us to feel uncomfortable.
Two years ago Bob Provine and I invited the vestry and the membership of Nativity into a conversation about same-sex marriage and its place within the liturgical life of this parish. My experience of that time confirmed an intuition I already held: that when a church family explores difference, rather than avoiding it, it has the opportunity to come out the other side with relationships that are stronger and deeper.
As we explore the issue of church security, my goal as a facilitator will be, first of all, to help us acknowledge our differences as a parish. What makes one person feel safe makes another feel insecure. One person’s need for security may come into conflict with another person’s need for hospitality. Hearing those differences loud and clear offers the opportunity to know one another more deeply and to find creative solutions we never would have imagined on our own.
After we’ve heard the different needs of our church family, our second task will be to brainstorm ways that we might meet these different needs with one course of action. A good plan won’t just address the concerns of one group of people, but will try to creatively thread the needle. After we’ve brainstormed together, a committee of church leaders, including myself, the Wardens, Charlie Swayze, and Danny Faught will huddle and fine tune a workable way forward that we can present to the congregation for feedback at a later date.
This process is based on a mediation model I studied for my annual continuing education back in October. That model is built on a couple of important insights. The first insight is that diversity is a fundamental part of creation; there’s no getting around it, even if it sometimes makes life more difficult. The second insight is that when everyone is in agreement, folks typically aren’t communicating, and relationships aren’t growing.
With that in mind, I hope you’ll take time to be with us Sundays at 9:30am in January. Our task is to answer some pragmatic questions about a contemporary topic. But our goal is really to grow in love with one another.