One of the joys of being in relationship with the wider church is being able to rely on one another when things get complicated. I just returned from the annual State Ecumenical Executives gathering. We were originally supposed to meet at a retreat center in coastal Georgia, but last week’s East Coast storms intervened. Ice and snow in the south coated the roads, closing airports, making travel treacherous and taking out power to our gathering place. We pondered what to do – should we cancel? Using the gift of technology, we texted and emailed while there were several people in the air. One colleague who was local interpreted the weather maps and found a new location that was likely to be unscathed by the storm. Others of us began taking advantage of our airlines’ weather waivers to change our travel arrangements. Those who were on the ground early became impromptu chauffeurs, looping between the airport and our new retreat center to pick up waves of weary travelers as we arrived. We had worked together to accomplish something that none of us could have done on our own.
Throughout the weekend gathering, we can’t do it alone was a recurring theme.
Several of us, as new ecumenical executives, were warmly welcomed into this network of supportive colleagues. I heard of various state Councils of Churches collaborating on regional initiatives. We shared ideas regarding new projects and ways to support our work. We prayed about and discussed critical issues facing our communities: basic human needs and economic opportunity, the care of creation, sexism and the #metoo movement, gun violence, white supremacy and racism. We learned about plans for Unite to End Racism – a major event being planned for April 4th on the National Mall, a joint effort by the National Council of Churches and several other partners with support from its member communions.
Returning to Wisconsin and the work of the Council in 2018, I am profoundly grateful for the many connections that make our broad engagement in civic life and the life of the church possible. Our focus for 2018 embraces many of the issues discussed at the ecumenical executives gathering. As I write this, we’re making plans for a delegation from Wisconsin to attend the April 4th events in Washington DC; watch your inbox at the beginning of next week for details and an invitation to a transformational experience. We are monitoring legislation that affects people’s ability to survive, thrive and give back to the community – offering testimony, and sharing ways for people of faith to respond through our advocacy network. Working with partners across the state, we continue to gather supporters for the End Child Poverty initiative.
Yes – there is a lot before us in 2018! There are several other projects in the works which we’ll be sharing in upcoming issues of e-News. None of them would be possible without the good and faithful partnership of our nineteen member denominations, associates, and other supporters. As you choose how you will be involved in the mission and ministry of the Wisconsin Council of Churches, trust that there are others carrying different pieces along the way. None of us are about this holy, world-reconciling work alone. We will be in prayer for one another. Thanks be to God!
Rev. Kerri Parker