Posts Tagged ‘Central United Church Sarnia’

Our congregation will soon be in the midst of a discussion about the future of the building which houses the church. After extensive investigation, it is apparent that the building is not in danger of imminent collapse. However, like many urban congregations, a relatively small number of people bear the financial responsibility for a large building. It was built in a time when people were not conscious about the need for accessibility for people with handicaps. Now, however, many people in the congregation find all the stairs increasingly difficult to navigate. The sanctuary is beautiful but its heating and electrical systems need updating. Among the people., there are significantly different opinions about what is the best way forward.
I am reminded of a section in Roxburgh and Romanuk’s book, The Missional Leader, which speaks of such a time in congregational life. They advise that the temptation will be to shut down the tension by choosing one side or the other. The creative way forward will consist of both sides listening to each other and listening to God through prayer and engagement with the scriptures to discern what new life God has in mind for the congregation.
I am also reminded of the wise words spoken by a woman in another congregation that was facing a potentially divisive issue:
“We are going to be talking about things that are very important to us. In the midst of the discussion, some of us will say things that we ought not to say. Some of us will hurt others with our words. Some of us will be hurt by what others say. Let us do our utmost to treat each other with great dignity and respect. And, when we finish the discussion, let us remember that we leave here as brothers and sisters in Christ, members of one Body.”
So often congregations try to avoid conflict. That, of course, is deadly for the well-being of the congregation and for the gospel. The attempt to keep things secret and hidden takes up a great deal of energy. It requires people to deny the truth. “Where there is no truth, there is no trust. Where there is no trust, the gospel cannot be heard.”
So, I am grateful for those voices in the church that help us find a way through the difficult times when we disagree with each other.


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