Thursday, January 12, 2006

Trusting the Process

Ah, the Committee on Ministry. What a mixed bag. I have had both really positive experiences with the process of being "in care" as we call it in the United Church of Christ, and some really unpleasant experiences.

Do I trust the process of discerning call, testing call? Yes. I do. But I don't always like it. I have been in the process of ordination for about 6 years now. When I first began this process, I was promised that I could fast track to ordination. A year later, with a different Association Minister, I learned a little bit more about the covenantal theology and process of the UCC --and I am grateful. It meant an extra degree (MDiv) in addition to my MTS and MA. It meant an Ecclesiastical Council -- I was the first person in my Association to have one, (and to pass unanimously, I might add) and I came away understanding a little bit more about the process of discernment and experience necessary to enter into covenanted ministry.

Most recently, I made an inquiry to be granted the endorsement of ordination for my current ministry. There is no precedent I was told. (I have been listening to the Alito hearings and debating this issue of precedent with myself. . .) I argued that there has not been a precedent for an out lesbian person in our Association ever . . . The committee has agreed to continue its discernment on my request.

It is a part of my call, as I see it, to educate the Committee on Ministry as we together attempt to arrive at what it means to be in ministry, and on what the rite of ordination is. I think we disagree, so we'll keep talking.

Sure, there are the fraternity-minded who hold the attitude "it was just as (painful, difficult, hard, long. . .) for me, so it should be for you too." Yet, they are in the minority and it is usually easy to spot them. For the most part, I have found the process to be a mutual struggling toward definition of ministry, toward accountabililty and challenge. I am a part of the denomination because I believe in its theology and polity. I support the wholeness of the process even as I argue with applications or interpretations of it (I am a Reformer, after all!) .

For today, I have the tools I need to continue to live the ministry to which I have been called. I'll keep trusting the process, but I'll definitely keep praying for the Committee. . .

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