Between History and Hope… we walk along… together?

4 comments Written on May 19th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
IMG_2381Rev. Mary Putera is an Ordained ECC pastor serving as the interim pastor at Sunset Covenant Church in Beaverton Oregon.  Mary also serves nationally and globally in peace building and community resiliency efforts.

In the past two years I have lost 4 clergy colleagues from the ECC Covenant Ministerium, not to death; but to death of hope.  Loss of Hope that the ONE who befriends us is actually powerful enough to form us into deeply respectful, mutually honoring, diverse and embracing, loving mission friends.  History, because it is systemically entrenched, seems to have a mighty hold on us believers.

I am heartbroken by these losses.  These are women and men of God who truly have been befriended by God and separated from our ECC church community.  These pastors are all called by God, affirmed by our community, and became dismembered from us.  Is it because history forms us more strongly than Hope?  I wonder.  For me there is not blame, just lament, lament that where we are is not where we could be.  Lament that it is possible, that where we are headed is not where God would have us be going for the sake of, with God, giving birth to the Kingdom community here on earth.

IMG_2098When the church is divided, and draws lines in the sand dividing God’s created beings, how can we be people standing with open invitation of Christ to a world so enduring suffering?  I wonder if too often, we are too sure that we know the intent, the mind, the heart of God.  Perhaps more often we should remember that God’s ways are to vast and wonderful for us to know.  Perhaps more often we can learn to stand in the tensions of being unsure, rather than pain of being dismembered. Could it be that too often, we walk thin lines of commitments to embrace, to affirm, to welcome… sort of, somewhat, sometimes and we find this acceptable.  For the four pastors in the past 2 years, and the 7 others I know from the last 5 years, and the others I don’t know, who no longer are in our ECC community, I raise the sound of lament and prayer.  For these were all called by God, affirmed by our community, and became dismembered from us because it might be that history in all its ideological strength, forms us more strongly than Hope.  May God forgive us, Christ pray for us and the Holy Spirit help us mightily to do better as we walk along.  And may we be made new, everyday, in the washing waters of the Lord.  Oh Lord how we need you.




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4 comments “Between History and Hope… we walk along… together?”

Mary – I too lament these losses to the Covenant community of pastors, ministers and leaders with you. I do not know those of whom you speak but I know many of us are walking with colleagues who have lost hope in call, lost hope in being used by God, lost hope in being gifted by God for kingdom mission. My prayer for each of them is to discover the broad landscape of God vineyard. Outside of the pain, hurt and separation they’re currently experiencing is a place of grace, healing and restoration. I pray for you and the loss of their companionship as they move into places of isolation and mourning. I have found that there are places of learning for those who are so very sure and also for those who are now unsure of God’s movement and presence among us. May God give you and all of us who are companions wisdom, grace and a spirit of healing as we walk together with our wounded colleagues into a renewed hope of being in God’s will.  Catherine

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Thanks for your heartfelt post, Mary. I’m a little puzzled as I read, however, because I don’t read a clear statement about the specific area where you feel like the church is divided: “When the church is divided, and draws lines in the sand dividing God’s created beings,how can we be people standing with open invitation of Christ to a world so enduring suffering.”.  Could you be more specific? Is it regarding women in ministry or to matters of human sexuality? 

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Dear Brian,
After serving so many years in the ECC and witnessing many stories of various kinds, I find that clergy separations are complex issues of struggle.  It isn’t just about being a woman or a pastor who is welcoming and affirming of the LBGTQ community.  It is about bringing change to long term systemic processes that are primarily based in white, male, heterosexual practices.  Separations come about because of fundamental values that motivate the way we live into Christ together. I have come to understand that these separations are not issue driven, but value based complex occurrences of brokenness. This is why too, historical patterns are so hard to change.  Networks of interlocking habits regarding communication patterns, distribution of power of voice and influence, and decision making processes develop.  It takes a long time to dismantle systemically supported power and privilege that is unjustly received. So there is a lot of grieving along the way.  Peace to you good brother.  Thank you for working to be an alli to the marginalized.

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a thoughtful lament, Mary. Blessings to you for sharing. 

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