Dear Kin, Sisters and Brothers,
I write to you as our time together draws to an end. It has been an honour to have been invited into your places of worship and work, ministry and caring, over these last five years. In the midst of the denominational change that confronts our The United Church of Canada, I have been grateful to recognise faith’s choices to share the Good News in a world that seems to be shadow-filled.
When I first wrote to you, as Winnipeg Presbytery, I shared some of my own story. Stories – when shared with care and listened to with intention – are powerful ways to begin to find shared meaning and embrace leadership that is mutually life-giving. I sincerely hope this has been your experience.
As I begin to transition to my new role in Saskatoon as the next principal of St. Andrew’s College, I thought I would share some thoughts as we begin to navigate the end of our shared ministry. I hope, as Colossians teaches us, these reflections offer space for both of us to continue to learn from one another. In any relationship in which we endeavour to becomes disciples, it is in our sharing that we become better equipped to be Bearers of Light.
In my role of leadership in your midst, I have been invited into places and spaces where dreaming and visioning have been unfolding. In the midst of change, I have sat with you as you have sought energy that inspires innovation. In these places, I have recognised that the energy we share – whether passion-filled or not – creates its own landscape. That which we choose, therefore, becomes very important.
This role of choice is further highlighted because we find ourselves part of a larger church structure that is in flux. This is, obviously, both anxious making and possibly exciting. In your ministries, when we have discerned how the Spirit might be blowing, we have recognised, however, that the denominational change context has not often been experienced as driven by dreams or mission, but by deficit and loss. It would be easy, therefore, to get stuck there – to become reflections of change that does not inspire. My experience of you, however, has been quite the contrary.
In the laughter, and, yes, sometimes tears, you have illustrated the resilience that arises when local communities of faith take seriously God’s abundance. This task of sharing the Good News is too important to abandon to ideas grounded in dollars and cents. This is not to deny the power to harness abundance, of which financial wealth is one component. But to focus on that superficial to often limits the imagination.
If there is any one gift we possess as stewards of Creator’s creation, it has to be imagination. Whether as children, flying upon dragons’ wings, or justice-oriented communities that creatively find ways to advocate for those with whom they walk in solidarity, imagination threads the longed-for Kingdom with the moments in which we live now. And my Kin, you have, in the moments of your very best, shone brightly by not being limited by perceived distractions of “not yet,” “not enough,” and/or “not now.”
Let me leave you with encouragement as this epistle comes to an end: be bold, risk audaciously, and love ridiculously! There are shadows and they are gathering, Sisters, in ways that are palpable. In the midst of voices that pit us against them, Brothers be those who nurture and care for those who weep and rage, those who raise arms and those battered. Kin, in the moments of doubt and discord, stand emboldened as Christ’s hands and feet.
If ever there is a constant in the human journey, it is change. And, should we take seriously the implications of Jesus’s ministry, in which we endeavour to live and share, it is that love pervades change like the threads that bind a tapestry, the birds’ song on a spring day, and the water that binds us as bodies made of stardust. It has been an honour to have your trust these last several years. I pray you, as faith communities and individuals, whether lay or ordered, care for yourselves and one another. In this self-care, may you be emboldened to go beyond your walls and bear light, so that others may so too shine.