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Reflections: GBCS Young Adult Clergy Gathering

I'm currently in Washington DC attending GBCS's Young Adult Clergy Gathering. (Check out our blog, here.) The weekend is a gathering of under-40 clergy, with a purpose of introducing the work of the Board, talking about justice issues, and resourcing/idea sharing to take back to our own communities. Being a board member, I'm obviously already very familiar with the work of GBCS, but I wanted to come just to actually see other young clergy people! There are 90ish of us here from all over the connection, and it is great to NOT be the youngest clergy person in the room for once. (To be fair, one of the newest pastors in my annual conference is nine days younger than me - I'm now only the second youngest clergy person in the AC.)

A couple of thoughts from today that stuck with me:
Clayton Childers shared thoughts about how we define justice, and suggested something like, "Justice is when all people have the ability to flourish." He emphasized that this doesn't guarantee that all will flourish, but that the opportunity/ability exists for all people to thrive in a just world.

Clayton also talked about the mission of the church. In the Book of Discipline, the stated mission of the church is "to make disciples of Jesus Christ." Clayton talked about the mission as "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world," adding the phrase that has been emphasized by the General Board of Discipleship and the Council of Bishops. He talked about the language change between the Gospels and Acts from 'disciples' to 'apostles' - from being students to being sent out. He talked about churches that spend a lot of time on nurturing, but less time on going back out again, reaching outside of our walls, outside of our comfort zones."

How do you define justice?
What do you say is the mission of the church? How do we live out our mission?


John said…
So, it's like a singles' meetup?
John said…
How do I define justice? That's a tough one, but I'll take a stab at it. Justice is when the boundaries of the individual are strictly respected.

That's just off the top of my head.
Anonymous said…
Gee, the way you describe Clayton Childer's remarks it sound like it could have been a meeting of the Confessing Movement. Yes, it's true we conservatives believe in justice, too.

I think what I hear him saying through you is something we all can agree on. We not to simply open the doors and say come on in, but like the servants in Jesus' parable of the wedding feast, we're to get out into the highways & byways looking for those who are marginalized and those who are missing the celebration of the King.
Anonymous said…
At 21, I am fairly sure I'm the youngest clergyperson in the East Ohio Conference. I know what you mean.
Beth Quick said…
John - singles meetup? Please. Male pastors are married by age 22, I swear.
John B - exactly. Nice to occasionally find common ground!
LGS - 21? How'd you manage that? I thought I'd gotten in pretty early when I was starting at 24...
John said…
Here's a news article on the meeting.
Beth Quick said…
Thanks for the heads up on the article, John. (I'm of course waaayy in the back ;))
Anonymous said…
I'm a licensed local serving during undergrad. That's how.
revjack said…
Below is a parable to help paint a picture of what a justice minister might do.

Once upon a time there was a small village on the edge of a river. The people there were good and the life in the village was good. One day a villager noticed a baby floating down the river. The villager quickly jumped into the river and swam out to save the baby from drowning.

The next day this same villager was walking along the river bank and noticed two babies in the river. He called for help, and both babies were rescued from the swift waters. And the following day four babies were seen caught in the turbulent current. And then eight, then more and still more. The villagers organized themselves quickly, setting up watch towers and training teams of swimmers who could resist the swift waters and rescue babies. Rescue squads were soon working twenty-four hours a day. And each day the number of helpless babies floating down the river increased.

The villagers organized themselves efficiently. The rescue squads were now snatching many children each day. Groups were trained to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Others prepared formula and provided clothing for the chilled babies. Many were involved in making clothing and knitting blankets. Still others provided foster homes and placement. While not all the babies, now very numerous, could be saved, the villagers felt they were doing well to save as many as they could each day. Indeed, the village priest blessed them in their good work. And life in the village continued on that basis.

One day, however, someone raised the question, “But where are all these babies coming from? Who is throwing them into the river? Why? Let’s organize a team to go up-stream and see who’s doing it?” The logic of the elders countered: “And if we go upstream, who will operate the rescue operations? We need every concerned person here.”
“But don’t you see,” cried the one lone voice, “if we find out who is throwing them in, we can stop the problem and no babies will drown. By going upstream we can eliminate the cause of the problem.” “It is too risky.” And so the numbers of babies in the river increased daily. Those saved increased, but those who drowned increased even more. (There are many versions of this modern day parable but this one is called The Parable of Good Works, Gilbert, Richard. The Prophetic Imperative: Social Gospel in Theory and Practice. Skinner House Books, 2000).

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