Wednesday, February 27, 2008

All Quiet On The Northwestern Front

Had a nice lunch today with a pastor who works in the city. We spent some time thinking about the future regarding churches working together here in the area. We were both energized by the possibilities.

But right now not much is happening here in Beantown. The state apparently concluded its investigation into the death of Tarika Glenn and handed it over to the prosecutor but the prosecutor handed it back, asking for additional information. So in the end, not much has changed since Jesse Jackson's visit a couple of weeks ago. The city still waits, and prays.

The reality is that until that until information is shared, and the prosecutor decides what to do in terms of the officer who fired the gun, there's not much that can be done. Pastors are still eating together at various restaurants. A community Palm Sunday service is being planned. A covenant written by a couple of pastors has been put together to lay the groundwork of how we'll work together. But while a good many of us have read and endorsed it, at this point it's not been "approved" by anyone.

Why? Well, there is no body to approve it. It doesn't exist.

When I was a child growing up in the city, a variety of ecumenical organizations were active and functioning in the Lima community. Both my father and mother-in-law were members from their respective churches on CCR - Church People for Change and Reconciliation. Lutheran Social Services had taken over the old Mizpah Community Center on 8th Street, but still stayed connected to the various women's groups from around the community who had supported the center since its inception. A ministerial association was active, often sponsoring events promoting one cause or another that one and all were invited to attend.

But over the course of the last 30 years, virtually all of these organizations have broken down. Evangelicals left the ministerial association over theological differences. Churches couldn't find CCR reps, so eventually the organization folded. Lutheran Social Services had to cut what became known as the Cheryl Allen Center loose as their fiscal situation deteriorated. As such, now there is no organization, or group, or fellowship, or association we can work through.

Now, as we deal with a divisive, and potentially explosive incident that raises up every division you can think of (racial, economic, geographic, etc...) that exists in the community, we have no way of communicating with one another. The media and local government want to keep pushing individuals to the forefront, but those people lack the gravitas of collective input and discussion. And after years of neglect and virtually no bridge building, sufficient trust doesn't exist to be able to call us together in any fashion other than as an ad hoc group who come ready to pray.... but not necessarily ready to able to respond if we hear God speak back to us.

Thus, we wait, and pray, and wonder.... will we overcome, someday, our mutual prejudices and pre-conceptions and stereotypes, to become, truly, the church?

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