by Ken Gingerich, MSMC Moderator

I wrote the following words about two months ago in anticipation of the next couple of years.

“As I begin this new role as Mountain States Conference moderator, I hope I will be a careful listener—and also able to help discern decisions as we live in that space between faithful curation of a common vision and prophetic imagination that pulls us into uncharted territory.”

The honeymoon period was short and sweet! Within a week or so conference leaders became aware of a meeting planned by persons from several congregations who have felt they were not fully included in our recent decision-making processes. There is a feeling of loss and of being disregarded.

Others feel we have had an open and fair process that finally extended full fellowship and participation to the LGBTQ community—which has long been denied access to the table.

For some, the idea that we follow an intent of the Gospel to be inclusive—is a denial of their understanding of how we are to live as disciples of Jesus. The winds of change are too dependent on cultural shifts that are happening around us. It’s important to see scriptures as an unchanging foundation that will help us remain firmly rooted.

Those on the other side of the issue feel that a literal interpretation of the scriptures often denies their greater intent. We are compelled to take the risk of siding with the oppressed, the maligned and misunderstood—the outsiders, which may come at the expense of feeling settled and secure.

Regardless of one’s perspective we can find Bible passages and historical precedent to prove many aspects of the disagreement. Does inclusion create exclusion? If one is joyful, is the other required to be sorrowful? How do we find common footing? Can we all still find a seat at the table?

We have experienced some of the same tensions at recent Leadership Board meetings. My response so far has been to ask for deep prayer, noting that the body of Christ often holds both pain and joy, much as in our own bodies. We can also feel it all—physical, mental or emotional extremes, yet we remain one body.

In this season of Lent, let’s ALL find time to examine our own motives and ego-based decisions. Let us become empty so that we can be filled with the presence of a God who sometimes pulls us into the warmth and protection of a foundational faith, and sometimes pushes us forward into the mystery of an unmapped journey.