"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, August 25, 2004 People are coming back!
This is my favorite time of the year. All of the returning students are starting to come back into town and tomorrow we start meeting all the freshmen. Jen, Cecily, Rory, Banji and Ryan came over and helped clean Rockwell House today (with Lindsay, of course), and it's looking really great if you don't count the gaping hole in the wall revealing the leaky pipe that caused the wall to disintegrate! Cecily got a new doormat and Jen planted flowers, so it's all looking extra-welcoming.
I've had some great e-conversations with some incoming freshmen, so it will be great to finally meet them tomorrow. It's wonderful how much the community took ownership of just about everything during my sabbatical --- they really stepped up, and it means we can hit the ground running this year.
*Talked with Kevin Jones today. Kevin has been working on something called the Anglican Malaria Project (a joint project of Episcopalians and Anglicans from Southern Africa to provide low-cost, highly effective malaria intervention in Southern Africa). He's also been active in Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation and, with http://www.thegaia.org/aboutus/advisory.htmof http://www.thegaia.org/is working on a mapping project for 0.7%. The goal is to have an easily accessible & navigable online map that would allow people to:
*see which dioceses and congregations are giving 0.7% -- with links to contact people
*see where the money is being given and, where possible, have one-click links to their websites
*search on any topic (e.g. Malaria or AIDS or potable water) and get a list (with links) of who is giving to whom in that area
When completed, it will give us a complete picture of Episcopal financial involvement in international development. Right now, he, his assistant who is working on the project and I are teleconferencing weekly as we all do data-gathering and as they experiment with beta versions of the map. I'll keep you posted on this.
Also, if your diocese hasn't passed a resolution committing itself to giving 0.7% of its budget to international development ... or if your congregation hasn't ... or if you personally haven't committed to it, drop me a note and I'll send you all the information you need about how to give, some examples of where to give, a boilerplate resolution for your diocesan convention and lots of other stuff. Of course, you can get most of that from the EGR website.
*Been talking with two really great priests, Matt Cobb (chaplain at K-State) and Greg Rickel (rector of St. James' Episcopal Church in Austin, TX), who have done a lot of good thinking on the theology of financial policy. No great revelations, but they have been helpful in clarifying my thinking. Two things Greg said in his email to me stood out (I figure he won't mind me sharing):
All I can say is that the Church, locally and otherwise, tends to see and use money in a hoarding way, out of scarcity and not abundance. The Gospel demands that we risk it and give a lot of it away. I am amazed at how churches and the Church still plan for the "rainy day." My thought, and what I have asked people here is, "is the rainy day only here on our block, or everywhere?" and second to that, "How hard does it have to rain?" I mean, can't we see around us that which we need to do.
I have always said, we stamp our prayer books and bibles with "property of..." when we ought to be giving them away. We install toilet paper holders that stop you from taking enough to make a difference!, we put coffee kitties out at coffee pots to basically say we can't afford a cup of coffee for you, it is, as we used to call it in my house growing up, "Poor talk" and the church is so good at it.
The more time I spend with this, the more I'm convinced is the way to tackle this is to walk with people as we examine the foundations of why we do what we do ... and discover what the engine driving it really is. Then we can ask the fundamental question of "is this really what should be driving us?" In the case of financial policy, I find the engine usually is secular policy practices ... which aren't bad in and of themselves but which the church should not substitute for sound theology.
Wouldn't it be great if we took our next diocesan council meeting and, instead of debating the figures, didn't talk about money at all and really talked, sorted and prayed through what the foundations of our financial policy are and what they should be. I think I'll suggest that. It might be too late ... and also people might just think it's a dumb idea ... but it's worth a shot.
EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.
Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.
"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."