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!