Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Unco11 fallout...or blowback...or whatever.

A key takeaway for me from the Unco11 conference was the teaching (articulated by Brian Merritt and others) that we don't need to wait for permission from the institutional church - we just need to risk, and go for it. I've been trying to do that in small ways since May 18, and thinking about larger ways.

So, for instance, prior to Unco I got the big idea to work on a partnership between our United Church of Canada Presbytery and the United Church of Christ Association on the other side of the US border, involving a joint witness for peace during the upcoming War of 1812 Bicentennial. I've now set up a discussion of training for ministry and ordination standards between our Presbytery and the UCC Association. I'm sure our two denominations do talk at the national level, but I haven't heard much, and believe that there's much learning to be done as we both deal with putting national decisions into practice and cut denominational standards to fit our own cloth.

As another example, our Montreal and Ottawa Conference has no official Twitter presence, and last year at our annual meeting the table stewards told me not to tweet. This year I didn't wait for the Conference to get around to using Twitter - I went with my tablet and live tweeted the entire meeting, and produced a volume of tweets (and retweets) that enabled me to lobby the new president-elect (who was ordained with me in 2009) to have official tweeting next year.

And our Presbytery, of which I have the honour to be chair this year, is undertaking a major revisioning and restructuring initiative which breaks the traditional 'one minister = one pastoral charge' mould. We began this with little consultation with other levels of the denomination, and I plan to continue to do so - in fact, I am setting up consultations with other Presbyteries interested in our bottom-up process.

None of this is because I'm hostile towards, or suspicious of, The United Church of Canada I love dearly. I'm just an open source church kind of person. I'm thankful that our United Church of Canada is working within a planning framework that recognizes that much of the energy and innovation in the church comes from trying new things at the local level. However, I'm under no illusions that such thinking has support at all levels of our institution. Sometimes, if not most of the time, you have to follow the words of Barry Manilow: "You get what you get when you go for it."


Leslianne said...

Thank you, Dan. What is so amazing is how UNCO inspires us to do something about what we say we believe . . . and then we're doing it! Now, that's a concept I can wrap my mind around.

Blessings to you in your continued ministry.

Meredith Gould said...

Good for you! You know this spiritual axiom, right? "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission." #PBWY