Friday, February 20, 2009

In the Light

Tomorrow is a significant day in the life of the broader church as 15 Presbyteries hold votes on the General Assembly's proposed amendment to the Book of Order to change G-6.060106b to open the door to a more just and inclusive denomination. Of the Presbyteries that vote tomorrow, 10 voted "no" on a similar proposal in 2001 (the last time the Presbyteries acted on ordination). As of this afternoon, with the affirmative vote of Tres Rios Presbytery (Midland, Texas), 11 Presbyteries that voted no in 2001 have vote yes this time around. To approve the change, more than 40 Presbyteries need to change their vote from no to yes. While it is a long and steep climb, thus far Presbyteries in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, central Alabama, and west Texas have changed. The spirit is moving in the church. Please hold the Presbyteries below in the light of love, grace, welcome and reconciliation tomorrow.
East Iowa
Eastern Oregon
Greater Atlanta
John Knox
Lake Erie
New Hope
North Alabama
Ohio Valley
The James
Tropical Florida

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Open Space with the Quakers

I've been at Stony Point Center for the past several days with a group of 50 or so folks called together to talk about beginning an intentional, dispersed, Christian community focused on nonviolence and justice interrelated with the community at Stony Point.
Lots of powerful moving of the spirit in our midst and some interesting things being born, and I'm sure to be reflecting on this for weeks and months to come.
But right now I'm still pondering the process we used: a mix of open-space technology and Quaker discernment.
It was a fascinating experience -- sometimes tortuous, never linear, occasionally ponderous. It was interesting to see the process get bogged down in the same ways and places that Presbyterian parliamentary procedures tend to: community wordsmithing, for example. But closing the discussion was done with so much more gentleness that "calling for the question" -- no less finality, just more grace.
As we Presbyterians seek more spirit-led ways to make decisions, we can learn from our Quaker friends and from the people who create open space as well.