"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Wednesday, May 19, 2004 Exciting ... my blog now has photo technology -- which will come in very handy when I am in Ghana to really share the experience.
I'm home now after spending most of 3 days with my clergy colleague group. It's nine of us, all between 33 and 40, all clergy, all male, some gay, some straight, some partnered, some single, and all in different types of ministry. We have some parish rectors, an ex-monk, a doctor-priest, someone who works for Church Pension Group, an interim pastor and, of course, a campus minister. Most of us have known each other for years and we've committed to meeting probably twice a year but at least once a year for ... well ... the rest of our lives.
It's an amazing group ... a real gift of a community where we can, even for a short time, be completely uncensored. Confidentiality is absolute and we also don't doubt our love for one another. I think many, if not most of the problems that clergy run into are because of isolation -- both within their own community and in the wider church. Just knowing I have the prayers and support of this group of colleagues -- and that they will hold me accountable as well as having my back -- gives me more strength than I can express.
The other added bonus is that, with the notable exception of me, who cannot make pasta without committing culinary malpractice, every other person in this group is a really good cook and a couple are wine experts -- so we feast like you would not believe.
So I come back from this gathering to graduation ... and such a big graduation because we are saying goodbye to the largest graduating class ECM has ever had. And it makes me realize how important our alumni network is.
Being Christ's body is something that transcends time and space. We don't stop being connected with each other when we no longer live in the same city or go to the same schools. The bonds God forges among us are much too strong for that.
Graduation is wonderful because everyone is graduating to something. What they are leaving behind is so they can go out and grow more and do more. And there must be leaving behind. But my hope is that, maybe even just in small ways, we can stay together in prayer and in community. That we can help each other, have each others' backs still, and maybe even hold each other accountable when we need it.
We've had an alumni network for awhile. It's pretty much consisted of a yahoogruop that gets used occasionally. And maybe that's all it will continue to be. But I've asked Nicole Walters to be our alumni point person to explore with alumni what this piece of Christ's body could become and what they would like it to become.
Pray for our graduates and their families. It's a great time, but a tough time, too. I give thanks for every minute I've spent with them (yes, EVERY minute!). And maybe, God willing, we can look forward to many more.
| Mike at 5/19/2004 10:57:00 PM
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."