(In The Life Of The Church)
The Credibility of Belonging
In November of 2017, so about 1.5 years ago for those of you who love math and chronological clarity, I was invited by my good friend, one Rev. Dr. Robert “Bob” Creech, to share a breakfast with Mary Berry. Mary Berry is the daughter of the legendary Wendell Berry. Wendell Berry, you may or may not know, is a person so significant in my life that I did that cheesy thing of naming my child after him.
Let me tell you what happened at that meeting. I wore my overalls and cardigan. I gushed and played it cool. I was given a copy of Wendell’s book Blessed Are The Peacemakers by Mary. I beamed.
At the end of our conversation Mary Berry began talking about one of the Wendell’s philosophical-theological-sociological truths. She said, “Daddy always says there is no environmentalism there is only my environment.”
What I have learned as I have continued reading Wendell Berry with this hermeneutic, is that meaningful discourse can really only happen in the context of a community. The most important politics for Wendell Berry are not those of the United States of America, they are those of Henry County Kentucky. Henry County is a place to which he belongs, with people to whom he belongs. It is in this context of knowing and being known that he can make a meaningful contribution to the world he inhabits.
Or that is my best attempt to understand what Mary Berry meant when she said “Daddy always says there is no environmentalism there is only my environment.”
I’m not sure how you learn, but I have come to realize I do it very slowly. What I mean is this. When I hear a new idea, I have to think about for a while and try and understand what is meant by it. When I have my best guess of what is meant by it, which could be wrong BTW, I then live life with that lens. While I’m wearing the new idea i find that the truthfulness of a thing, or lack thereof, is usually made evident by its existential fit. Jesus said something similar, “look for the fruit,” [my paraphrase]. As I have considered Berry’s claim that the only real meaningful work I can do is within the community to which I belong, I have decided he is right about that.
I’ll add my own addendum. The smaller the community is the more effective one’s impact can be. That may be so obvious it’s not worth stating, but let me share what I mean.
I was listening to a podcast yesterday on my eight hour drive from the thunderous Guadalupe National Park to Waco, TX. The podcast, The Bible for Normal People, is hosted by Peter Enns & Jared Byas. They were interviewing Jen Hatmaker. Jen is a co-pastor of a church in Austin that decided to become open and affirming a few years ago. The interview was about her life in the aftermath of that decision.
Jen is a celebrity of Christian sorts. In the interview Jen talked about how she was taken to task by the world of social media. This is zero percent surprising for 100% of humans alive. After talking through her Lord-of-the-Flies-experience in social media, the hosts turned the conversation to the local response of her community. She said it was more, “painful and gracious.”
Ah-ha! Do you see what just happened? I’m right.
Of course it was more painful and gracious locally. It’s not as easy to condemn people in our lives to whom we belong and who belong to us, even if we disagree with them. The reason people were able to “destroy” or attempt to destroy Jen’s credibility and life’s work online without regard for the consequence of their criticism was because the world of cyber criticism is not real. No one really belongs to that world. It is devoid of the accountability born of compassion.
Eugene Peterson said that he would never take a church over 300 people because it wasn’t possible to pastor that many anyhow. I was thinking about how this conversation, the one Jen’s church had, went down in the United Methodist Church with its thousands of delegates from all over the world, a few weekends ago. I was thinking about our comparatively small community of a few hundred. I was thinking about full time staff of four people. And I was thinking about your marriages of two people. In all of these relationships there is disagreement. What I have noticed is that the smaller the community is, the deeper the sense of intimacy and the less threatened the relationships become.
UBC is in the middle of the navigating a difficult conversation. Insofar as it has been successful, it has been so because we belong to one another. Which leads me to my conclusion. The most important work you will ever do in your life is to love someone else. It is to entangle your emotions, desire, wants and needs with someone else’s so that there is no escape from one another without the possibility of pain. It is to fill your life up with the accountability born of compassion.
Finance Team Help
Are you good with numbers? Do you have some business experience? Would you love to serve on UBC’s finance team? We’d love for you to do that. Here is some information from the bylaws below. Interested persons should nominate themselves or eligible candidates by sending your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(A)Purpose. The Finance Team shall exist for the following purposes:
a. To serve as the primary advisory group for the Leadership Team in all budgetary and financial aspects of the church.
b. To oversee, in coordination with the ministerial staff, yearly budgetary processes, working to create a financial ministry plan in alignment with the ethos, mission and values of UBC.
c. To advise the staff and Leadership Team on any emergency financial matters that may arise with regards to the physical infrastructure of the church building, as well as those matters pertaining to compensation and benefits of personnel.
d. To assess the current financial status of the church on a monthly basis and advise the staff and Leadership Team on matters concerning changes in planned ministry expenses.
e. To advise the Human Resources/Staff Support team on all financial matters regarding new and existing personnel, including available resources concerning salaries, salary increases, insurance, taxes, etc.
(C) Qualifications. Finance Team members shall have been an active participant in the life of UBC for at least a year, have received at least a bachelors degree level of education (or roughly an equivalent amount of experience in business or finance,) and have at least a basic understanding of financial reports and budgets.
(E)Term. Finance Team members shall serve for a duration lasting up to five years. All efforts shall be made by the Finance Team to ensure that no more than two members in a given year rotate off of Finance Team due to duration requirements. While they are encouraged to remain the full five years, members may voluntarily remove themselves from their position at any time.
No Sunday School This Week
Wild Torch Help
Jesus Said Love is currently preparing for their annual fundraising gala, Wild Torch, on April 23 and needing volunteers the day-of! If you're interested in volunteering go to https://goo.gl/forms/N6j8FgqmK6qvYo8D3, fill out the form, and their team will be in contact with you!
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Parishioner of The Week
I’ll be honest, I was gone all week, so I got no one. But I’m sure somewhere, someone lived self sacrificially in the way of Jesus so the world could be a better place. So if that was you, go ahead and imagine your name here.
Special guest preacher Emmy Edwards!!!!! Let’s celebrate women!
Work is Worship
Mug Cleaners: Cooleys
If you have a concern or an idea for UBC that you’d like to share with someone that is not on staff, feel free to contact one of our leadership team members.
Chair- Adam Winn: email@example.com
Byron Griffin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kerri Fisher: Kerri_Fisher@baylor.edu
Bridget Heins: email@example.com
Jeremy Nance: Jeremy.J.Nance@L3T.com
Joanna Sowards: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathy Krey: email@example.com
Student Position, Samuel Moore: firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Position, Anna Carol Peery: email@example.com
UBC Finance Team
Do you have a question about UBC’s financial affairs? Please feel free to contact any of your finance team members.
JD Newman: JD_Newman@baylor.edu
Hannah Kuhl: HannahKuhl@hotmail.com
Justin Pond: firstname.lastname@example.org
Doug McNamee: email@example.com
Catherine Ballas: firstname.lastname@example.org
UBC HR Team
If you have concerns about staff and would like contact our human resources team, please feel free to email any of the following members.
Josh Blake: email@example.com
Ross Van Dyke: Ross_Vandyke@baylor.edu
Jared Gould: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebekah Powell: email@example.com
Kristen Richardson: firstname.lastname@example.org