Spring is judicatory meeting season. You’ll find Wisconsin Council of Churches staff preparing displays and criss-crossing the state to visit Annual Conferences, Synod assemblies, and Presbyteries. With a number of these gatherings scheduled at the same time, we can’t make it to all, but we do try to present the face of the Council in several places around the state – showing up as real human beings to back up the written words, websites and witness we undertake throughout the year.
A recent weekend was a bit more intensely ecumenical than most, as I made my way to a United Church of Christ camp – which maintains relationships with two Presbyteries – for the Winnebago Presbytery meeting. While I was by the shores of Green Lake, Dr. Peter Bakken was representing us at the South Central Synod ELCA Assembly. The next day, I preached at Memorial UCC in Fitchburg, and we lifted ELCA Lutherans in prayer as they continued the process of electing their next bishop. In the afternoon, I gathered with the United Methodists in West Bend as they celebrated the ministry of the Rev. Deborah Thompson, who is retiring as district superintendent. During dinner, I chatted with the Regional Executive Minister for the American Baptists. I learned by phone that the South Central Synod had elected the second African-American woman bishop in the United States and text messaged the Rev. Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld to offer congratulations on behalf of the WCC. At the end of the evening, I went to the parking lot with the chair of our Peace and Justice Commission to exchange #BlessedRamadan signs so they could be delivered to the offices of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee the next day.
Every one of these gatherings, and each conversation therein, was an investment in relationship. The ministry of the Wisconsin Council of Churches is dependent upon relationships: interpersonal, ecumenical, interfaith. On a daily basis, for the sake of unity, renewal, healing and reconciliation, we are privileged to enter into holy conversations with our neighbors. These conversations are sources of creativity and life. They generate new ideas for programs, resources and collaborations that bring energy to the church and community. They are at the core of who we are and what we are called to be.
To everything there is a season: and one of those is the season of meetings! While we on occasion lament the burden on our calendars, these meetings give us an anchor, a time for connection we will not bargain away. All apologies to Robert and his rules, it is (mostly) not the business agenda we are showing up for; it is our neighbor. The relationships we build when we gather are the true work of this movement. Thanks be to God.
Peace & blessings,
Read more reflections from Rev. Kerri Parker here