U-C: What I See

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Endings and Beginings


It has been a busy week. I intended to share impressions as the worship, fellowship and business of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church unfolded, but most days began by 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning and ended at midnight or later. Perhaps next year I'll be able to function more as an observer and less as a participant.

I am so grateful to all of you who have encouraged and engaged with me as my moderatorial term has progressed. This has been, and probably will remain, the greatest vocational experience of my life. I've discovered that I love the whole church, and that there is far more out there to appreciate than I ever could have imagined. I am a far different person, and my faith is far deeper, because of the way God has spoken to me through my preaching and studying the lectionary, and through all of the amazing experiences of God's people around the world.

Some of you may not have heard that I have been asked to serve as the first full-time, Executive Director in the sixty-two year history of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (www.presbypeacefellowship.org). I have accepted that offer with enthusiasm, after months of wondering where God was calling me, and especially after a week of ruminating on the questions of vocation and call as I hiked the migrant journey in the desert earlier this month.

This call will allow me to honor the core convictions that God has placed on my heart over the past twenty years: that we are called to the margins, that we are called to take risks for what we believe, that we are called to build up a strong church, that we are called to pick a particular place in the world and to commit to that place and its concern's until God places a clear call on us to move on.

Kitty and Teo and I will remain on the border, and we will continue our work with migrants who are at risk in the borderlands. As we thought about the possibility of trying to move to be closer to our families, we realized that we couldn't leave the border at a time when so many lives are at stake in this part of the world.

Kitty and I hope to recommit to another three years as reservists with Christian Peacemaker Teams, and the National Committee of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has encouraged me to understand that commitment, as well as my volunteer commitments with migrants, as a part of my work with PPF. Kitty will remain in her job as the Faith Community Coordinator for the Food Security Office of the Southern AZ Food Bank, which she has loved since being invited into that position a year ago. Teo will go to school at a small school two blocks from our home that he got to choose (with some input from his parents) as he transitions to his middle school years. The three of us will remain connected to Sitting Tree, the intentional community where we live in Tucson. Kitty will remain active at Pima Friends Meeting, where she has just led the Quakers into establishing a weekly "Meeting for Worship with a concern for Peace" as an expression of concern regarding the War on Terror. And I expect that I will recommit to my home church, Southside Presbyterian, and help us to transition into whatever God has in store for us next.

I will begin my responsibilities with the Peace Fellowship on August 1rst. We hope to become a vibrant organization that will welcome a new generation of Presbyterians of all ages into direct action for the causes of God's peace and justice in the world. There are many places where the work will begin, but you can certainly expect that one of the priorities will be to begin by choosing half a dozen Presbyterian Colleges and Seminaries where we will make serious organizing efforts.

I have appreciated your encouaragement to continue writing for U-C:What-I-See. Of all the strategic decision I made as I started my moderatorial term, this one was by far the most important and has had the most far-reaching consequences. I have decided that I will continue writing under the same blog title and at the same address. By late August, you can expect to see a link to the blog from the Peace Fellowship website, along with a somewhat refreshed and more up-to-date personal website.

I have also enjoyed the conversation that many of you have had at "It's-Your-Turn" in response to my blog. (By the way, I enjoyed the recent spate of submissions regarding globalization and Latin America, and I was sorry not to have time to engage.) So, yes, let's keep that conversation going as well!

Dave Hackett has earned my undying gratitude for turning me into a blogger! Thank you.

This afternoon, I will be leaving for ten days in England with Kitty, Teo, and Kitty's family. We will be doing a "Quaker Roots" tour, which seems a particularly appropriate way for a consensus-building moderator to finish my term. Later, I will spend a week with John Fife and Gene LeFebvre doing the High Desert Spirituality Week at Ghost Ranch in July, and then two weeks of backpacking and traveling in New England for my son Teo and me. You should expect only sporadic entries on the blog over the next two months as I reconnect with my family and make the transition to the work of the Peace Fellowship. I will attend the Moderators' "Hope for the Church" gathering at Montreat and the Presbyterian Women's gathering in Louisville in a few weeks.

That's it for now. Blessings on all of you as your summer unfolds. Please keep the concerns of migrants in the desert in the summer heat, and the cause of nonviolent peacemakers around the world in a time of violence, before you as you spend time in prayer, worship and work this summer.