Archives for January 2014
As was mentioned in earlier updates, the Personnel Committee has been gathering information about the Church Administrator duties and needs during this interim period. In that time, we have been approached by some church members who have suggested that the position be restructured in order to allow members to apply for the position, which is currently not the case. Additionally, some people have requested that the position be reclassified to be a non-elected position (not requiring a vote of approval by the entire church). The Personnel Committee believes that these questions should be put to the congregation for discussion. Now that we are through the holidays and the initial church-wide stewardship efforts, we would like to create opportunities to engage people in that discussion.
Our first offering is to be held as a Wednesday Night program on February 5. We will offer a second opportunity for discussion at the February 9 Congregational Meeting. We also invite you to provide written comments to Personnel Committee members if you are unable to participate in either of those two meetings. Based on those discussions, we will determine whether a motion needs to be made to make one or both of those changes to the position, in which case a motion will be brought forth at a specially-called Congregational Meeting in the future.
To aid the discussion, we’ve added some supplemental information below. This information gives some history about the position and why it was structured the way it was at that time. We are also putting forth some thoughts to consider about the potential issues related to the different choices. We encourage you to read through this information carefully as you prepare for the congregational meeting.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry (from Collected Poems, North Point Press: 1985.)
As someone who spends a lot of time with children and thinking about how to prepare children for the future, I often wonder what kind of world they will live in when they are my age. While I tend to be a hopeful person, I do sometimes get overwhelmed by the quiet whispers of despair in my heart that tell me that “all is not hopeful.” In the midst of one such moment, I run across this poem that reminds me that all is not mine to know or control. I try to let go of my worries and fears and look for the hope. I settle into that thought and hear my heart whisper, “Grace.”
Text: Isaiah 42:1-9
It is January 12, 2014. My name is Nancy Petty. I am 50 years old. I am a mother. And I am a lesbian. I am the pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. My passion is waking up every morning and going to work. I love being with people as they search for meaning in life. Even if I were not a pastor, I imagine that church would still be at the center of my life. I consider myself to be a learner and a seeker. As an adult, I have traveled to Haiti, Cuba, Russia, the Republic of Georgia, Nicaragua, and England. It is important to me that church be a place where all people are welcomed—where everyone has a place at the table. Most central to my theology is the message that God’s radical and inclusive love is for all; and that every single individual and every living thing is a reflection of God. I am motivated by a desire to build community in which there is diversity and where all people are treated equally, with respect and dignity.
Now, let me tell you a bit of the backstory to this narrow view of who I am, some of which you already know. My growing up years were not easy, especially my adolescent years. There was deep struggle, pain and confusion as I wrestled with questions of identity, especially when it came to my sexual orientation. While I did grow up in a culture and community and family where church was at the center of our lives, I did not grow up in a church where the message was it’s okay to be who you are, especially if that means you are gay. I can safely and honestly say that I never heard a preacher proclaim from the pulpit that God’s love is radically inclusive of all people and that God loves us just as we are. Neither my religious education nor my schooling taught me it was okay to question the answers I was given to matters of faith and life; or for that matter to question the questions. There was no encouragement to be a searcher and seeker. Learning was more about answering the predetermined questions with the prescribed right answers. There was no “living the questions” curriculum. For the first eighteen years of my life the only places I traveled to were parts of North and South Carolina and Georgia. Maybe Tennessee and that was a disappointment because I never reached Dollywood. Most central to my theology was the concept of original sin and my need to be saved from my wretchedness. The way to do that was to accept Jesus as my personal savior. I was motivated, most of the time, by guilt and shame. Building community was a matter of trying to fit in and be like everyone else.