In my house we have a practice that you may use as well. When things begin to get a little chaotic, and that happens quite often with and 7 & 2 year old in the house… especially the 2 year old, when boundaries need to be redefined; when family members need to be reminded of their roles and responsibilities and certain ground rules reestablished or established for the first time; when hopes and dreams need to be named and problems dealt with properly, we call a family meeting. Anyone in our family has the right to call a meeting. Mainly, it is a time and a place for everyone to be heard. It is a time listen carefully, speak deeply, and to pray corporately. It is a time to remember we love each other and are love. It is a time to promise to be more intentional about our life together. It is not about pointing fingers at others so much as it is about taking ownership for our own role in a communal difficulties and family successes.
On Valentine’s Day this year the the PC(USA) held a family meeting of sorts. Significant national partners in pastoral leadership formation gathered in Louisville to remember that each is loved by God and called to love one another. PC(USA) Seminaries represented by academic deans, the General Assembly Council, the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly , the Committee on Theological Education and requiste staff deepened and widened understanding of one another. Called together by the GAC, the partners displayed that we love each other so much that we promise to be intentional about the impact we have on one another and especially our emerging and current church leaders.
The most recent Auburn Theological Seminary study earlier: "How Are We Doing?: The Effectiveness of Theological Schools As Measured by the Vocations and Views of Graduates." It is a December 2007 publication from Auburn’s widely respected Center for the Study of Theological Education. The study is available in a booklet for a nominal fee or free online at www.auburnsem.org . The concluding paragraph to the study served as an encouragement and guide for the "family meeting":
The most surprising finding of this study is how positive graduates are in their retrospective assessment of their theological education. How is it, then, that so many religious officials believe that seminaries are not doing a good job? We suspect that there are too few occasions on which denominational and seminary leaders’ paths intersect. Seminaries and religious bodies become separate worlds and grow different cultures that harbor stereotypes of each other. On the seminary side, all complaints from religious officials are attributed to anti-intellectual bias on the part of practitioners; for their part, denominational leaders caricature seminaries as ivory towers remote from religious bodies and from the world. In fact, seminary and denominational leaders have common interests and goals. They should pursue the facts about theological education—in seminary and beyond—together, and acknowledge the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the kinds of formation that ministers receive in school and beyond. Then they should work together to support and strengthen both theological schools and in-service programs. Such an alliance between schools of ministerial education and the religious communities their graduates serve is critical if religious bodies, their congregations, and professional leaders are to flourish in the future. (Auburn, HAWD, 30)
May we celebrate that we are in this together: seminaries, national church entities, presbyteries, church leaders, and congregations! Thanks be God that we gather together from time to time, on seminary campuses, at conferences, in coffeeshops, and even in GAC Plenary halls to listen carefuly to one another, speak deeply, and pray fervently as we seek to be more intentional about our life together. May God continue to move in amazing ways!
On the Lenten Journey,