I’ve been a member of the Appanoose County Ministerial Association since I came to Centerville almost five years ago. During that time, we’ve done good ministry together. We’ve supported The Lord’s Cupboard (food bank), Reaching All People Together (which oversees the Angel’s Hands thrift shop and provides transportation to doctors’ appointments) and the Pregnancy Center. We’ve started the Summer Lunch Program. We’ve led services at the nursing homes and provided chaplains for the hospital. We’ve worshiped together at Thanksgiving and during Holy Week. We’ve sung together at the Christmas Musicale. And the offerings we’ve received have gone to support those organizations and help people in need in the community.
Like all organizations with people who have strongly held beliefs, we’ve had some disagreements. We’ve disagreed about what it means to be an ecumenical organization when members have diverse beliefs, and we’ve disagreed about how to best help people in need. We’ve worked for more tha a year to see if we could work out those differences because it’s painful to think we can’t work together. But I’m starting to think that just like Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:39), it might be time to “part company.”
So I’ve been dreaming about what a new group might look like. I envision a group that is inter-faith, where anyone who considers him or herself a person of faith would be welcome. I envision a group that dreams together about what God wants to do in this community, and then works side by side to make it happen. I envision a group that enters into relationships with people in need, equal relationships based on love and friendship since we are all beloved children of God. I envision a group that would work with the schools and law enforcement and city officials and the Chamber and the Betterment or Bust Group to find out what we could do to help make this community a better place. I envision a women’s shelter, a tutoring program for kids and adults, classes to teach skills like cooking or gardening or finances, a program to help those who are getting a degree.
Do you have any of those same dreams? If you’d like to talk to me about it, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or let’s get together for coffee. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in this community through people of faith.