I have been thinking a lot about leadership—my own, those who labor with me in the Southeast Conference, our beloved United Church of Christ, those charged with our political systems, and those whose ideologies allow harm to come to others. I surely do not have any answers to the larger cultural, religious, and societal questions. But I can reflect on the experience of communities who have lived through their times of upheaval and uncertainty.
Part of my reflection as I journeyed through Lent, and now as we are in Eastertide, is how the small community of followers of Jesus sustained and built a ministry that was radical in its day. How does a group of people committed to significant cultural, religious, and social values define the scope and success of their endeavors? I think that is the question that faced the followers of The Way, as the disciples were often called. And I am reminded of the phrase, “make a way where there is no way.” This is the title of the story of God’s people and indeed of all creation.
As I enter the last year of my ministry among the people of Southeast Conference, I am working with the Board of Directors to see the way forward when leadership transition happens, yet again. The Board has appointed a small transition task force with two people from the Board and two people from the search committee that brought me into your midst. They will bring a recommendation to the May meeting of the Board on how to proceed with leadership identification so the Board can present a proposal to the delegates at the Southeast Conference Annual Meeting June 10-11 at Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia.
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of this Conference, we do need to keep in mind that we need to be as adaptable as the followers of Jesus as we preach the Gospel and heal individuals and communities through our acts of love, compassion, and extravagant welcome. As you read the histories of the Conference each month, look for the place of struggle and hard decisions as well as the joy and the commitment to will of God for good in this part of the world. Even as we struggle with the realities of loss, we are reminded that the faithful continued to gather together until the Holy Spirit came with flame and the power of God’s breath blowing among them, even as that life giving breath was present at the creation of the cosmos. The promise of new life, the power of the moving Spirit, and the assurance of God’s love, and Jesus Christ’s example give us hope and courage to face tomorrow and the next day and the next day. Blessed be as you confront all the intricacies of your own journeys.