Agendas and energies
When I tell friends outside the church (I do have a few) that I have been moderator this year, they are either (understandably) confused or (unnecessarily) impressed. The title, and role, sounds more impressive than it is. Compared to many churches, the moderator of Cleveland Park UCC is remarkably powerless—and that’s probably as it should be. We are a congregational church, which means that the congregation is in charge—not the pastor, not the moderator, not the cabinet. Our polity responds to the agendas and energies of the members.
And I have learned that this congregation has a lot of agendas and energies. Our members care about children, homelessness, gardens, addiction, the arts, our history, mental illness, music, justice, hunger, peace, our building, education, coffee hours, Palestine, theology, poetry, and the environment—and probably many more I’m not aware of. All of this, of course, is inspired by God’s good news and centered on our common mission of nurturing love of God and love of neighbor in the world.
The challenge, of course, is pursuing all of these commitments within this common mission. Draw the lines too tightly, and members’ passions wither away. Draw them too loosely, and we fly off in a hundred different directions. We want to be one congregation, but made up of individuals–a tricky balance. (It’s even harder for a country, of course, but that’s another story for another day.)
The moderator’s job in this congregation is not to set the agenda, but to ask the right questions. The moderator does not come in with a platform but with a perspective—charged to pay attention to the big picture, to ask what needs to happen next, to watch for what might get lost in the shuffle. It’s not an onerous task, but this constant attention does take energy. So I am honored to have served as moderator, but am happy to let others pick up the role for a while. I have my own agendas and energies to pursue. Before that, however, I’ll see you at the annual meeting on the 28th.
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Poetry Hour, 1/21—Join us from 4-5 pm in the church parlor and bring one or two poems on a Beginning theme (with 8 copies to share). Friends are welcome! Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org.
FaithLife Group, 1/21—This group meets from 5:30-7 pm in the parlor. We’re currently discussing the relevance of the Protestant Reformation to our lives and faith today. Questions? email@example.com.
Dinner and a Movie: The Confirmation, 1/26—A divorced father and his 8-year-old son are about to spend a somewhat predictable weekend together, but when a valuable toolbox gets stolen, the search for the thieves will turn into true family bonding. Ann Hornaday writes: this 2016 film “might be my favorite kind of Christmas movie—the kind that prizes ignorance more highly than religious certainty.” Movie at 7 pm, simple supper at 6:30 pm. Sign up in the parlor or email firstname.lastname@example.org by 1/24.
100th Anniversary Through the Decades: 20s and 30s, 1/28—Join us for a 10:30 am worship service commemorating our congregation’s experience in the 20s and 30s. Come in period costume or bring personal artifacts from those decades. Then browse the “museum table” of church artifacts from this time period during coffee hour.
Annual Congregational Meeting, 1/28—We’ll meet after worship for our annual meeting to approve the 2018 budget, vote for our new lay leadership team, and preview 2018 plans and programs. Every voice has a vote, and we need yours!
100th Anniversary “Decades Dinner” 2/3—Join us for an evening of food, fellowship and fun! Bring a potluck dish to represent the decade of your choice and, if you’d like, a musical selection from that decade as well. Sign up in the parlor so we know who’s coming and what food you’re bringing. Email Dorothy at email@example.com if you want to share some music.