I’m feeling very churched up at the moment… I spent last week at the UCA national Assembly meeting, and this week i’ve been writing liturgy for the first time in years. It’s good to be back in this space. I’m not converted, but I do feel healthy.
And grateful. The Uniting Church is a good place to be, and a good place to work. For all that it screws up, there is so much that I resonate with [perhaps because of all it screws up!]. For all I want to extricate myself from it, the church tangles me up with way too many reasons why I can’t.
I think, on reflecting about last week’s meeting, what I loved most about all the decisions that were made, was the spirit in which they were made. I loved watching the interplay between aboriginal and non-aboriginal parts of the church, discovering that in the last few years of my absence from any decision making bodies, the aboriginal parts of the church have changed the way that we all meet together. It’s a living example of how we become better – more human, wiser – when inclusion and reconciliation become lived processes. We unanimously voted at the meeting to hold a public protest against the Government’s Stronger Futures legislation outside SA parliament house. Some who weren’t at the meeting said that it was too late [the legislation was, after all, voted into existence a few weeks ago at the last sitting of parliament], but the church had protested where it could at that time too. This was a public protest that said to the indigenous people who are part of our community ‘we’re not going to give up fighting this’. I love that I stood on the steps of parliament house next to people who I would probably disagree with on every other political issue.
I loved seeing, last week, that there are really smart, articulate, confident young people to whom I need to give way. I love that I get a glimpse into the stories of communities and lives that are so different to mine, but that make mine make sense. I love that I had to think about the consequences of every decision I help make – whether it’s the pain of talking about same-gender marriage, or the pain of not talking about it; that I’m forced to face the stories behind the opinions that I believe are wrong. While it might not change my mind about them, it means I can’t generalise about the motives and faith of those who think differently. That can’t ever be wrong. It’s a really good way of being human together.
I think over the last few years I’ve tried my hardest to get the church to say to me, ‘you’ve gone too far’, but it won’t. I kind of like that. And it’s probably why i need to belong to the church. For me it’s got nothing to do with beliefs. It’s that the church reminds me that I don’t have the whole story or the whole truth. In fact, i only have a tiny, tiny part of it. And quite probably, the bits that i think are incontroverible truths are not so. Ah humility. It’s way too good for me.
I decided last year, at a time when things were crap, that i wanted to make decisions about my life and work that would be held accountable against the following principles: justice, dignity, kindness and imagination. i like that i work for an organisation – and for a bigger story – that values those too. And I hope we continue to hold each other to them, even when we both fail.