Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Where to where

I understood something yesterday that I have been struggling with. Our group of Phase 1 students works quite well together - so we can talk quite freely about issues. Twice, in the course of our discussions (with external leaders) I have said that I am confused by the way that the Methodist Church doesn't just accept that we have two main ways of doing church and work with that. People have responded oddly, in that they seem to think that I am saying that the church should be divided into black and white. We've never been able to engage in that discussion because of time and I've wrestled with it because I wasn't talking about race or division at all. And the lack of anger in the responses puzzled me, if it was thought to be a racial issue.
I think I've got it now. The student ministers assume that I am saying that 'black ministers should learn to do black church' and the same for white. I suppose it is a logical assumption. But I think that they understand now is that the point is that we need to learn to work as ministers in (at least) two totally different contexts, and it doesn't help to pretend that they are the same and that they should be dealt with in the same way.
I'm almost afraid to post this, because maybe I will still be misunderstood. But we will struggle to move to church 'to' somewhere if we don't acknowledge where we are now. And there should not be value judgements where there is no understanding. We should be beyond race in the church. We need to deal with language and liturgical issues. Possibly theological issues. And we need to look for a way of working together that builds on our strengths.
Some of this stuff I have wrestled with in my Masters dissertation. I suspect that I will wrestle more for further studies. There is SO much potential in the Methodist Church, if we could just trust each other and open up to each other, without powerplay and insecurity and whatever else gets in the way!

2 comments:

Herman Groenewald said...

Hi Jenny, Our struggle is not against flesh and blood put against the principalaties that seek to dive us. We need to find the common ground within to save us from the dividing forces. Adriaan (FTLT Mission School) attended and did some training in Zambia to 600 church mission leaders and in discussion came up with the following:
"What struck me was that the little we know means so much to them and even more is what they do with what they know. I was talking to a few people on this and we came to this conclusion – based on the understanding that knowledge is gained through education and wisdom is gained through experience, the people in Africa are much wiser than we down in the south, we have all the educational knowledge on how things should be done, but they have the experiential wisdom of how it works."
Somehow we need to harness the divide by exposure of experiences shared and feelings of how we see the church struggle, and in the process not loose sight of "to seek and save that which is lost".

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Thanks Herman. I really need to wrestle with this. Specifically to see what God expects me to do!