Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

alisa anton JhxGkGgd3Sw unsplashClergy and delegates from UCC congregations across the Central Pacific Conference met as usual on the last weekend of September. This was our first ever “hybrid” gathering, with people participating digitally and many others gathered on-site.

It was both wonderful and a little overwhelming to be gathered for so many hours in a row with so many people at once -- something which seemed so ordinary before Covid. And that was a theme of our conversation. How shall we live together in covenant relationship in a world that will continue to be informed by pandemic, a world changed by political unrest and sharp divisions.

In his Conference Minister’s Report, the Rev. Tyler Connoley pointed out that after the stresses of the past few years many of us are operating with very little emotional margin. Challenges that we might have navigated with ease in the past, suddenly seem herculean. As my friends in the Shenandoah valley might have put it, it doesn’t take much until we want to laugh, or maybe snap -- “you are getting on my last nerve.” It’s a time when we are all in need of extra grace and tenderness.

As we work to keep our community vital, it is important to remember that that need for tenderness extends not just to individuals but to whole communities. Tyler likened the conference and each congregation in it to a hanging mobile with pieces that have been lost, upsetting the stability of the whole. It will take time and creativity to bring the restored mobile into balance.

As we move forward at Kairos -- strengthening our practice of hybrid worship, enjoying a restored choir, adding a discussion and spiritual practice group, deciding what activities to renew and what to let go of -- it may be time to refresh our own vision and mission priorities. The council will take the first steps at our retreat this fall. As we move forward with joyful urgency, we will be wise to take Tyler’s wisdom to heart and move forward also with tenderness, patience, and gratitude for each other and the life we share together.

 

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash