...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another Membership Vow? Five and Counting...

In a perfect example of the top down style that is the United Methodist Church, our primary governing body, General Conference, "voted in" a new membership vow this year. "Witness" is now added to our other vows to grow in our presence, praying, giving, and serving as disciples of Jesus.

I have no doubt that witness is a great choice (I don't know what the other ones were). However, I am not confident that adding another vow will transform us into something we are not. Surely a plethora of materials will help us interpret this new vow to congregations and to individuals.

But adding witness is not going to help us if we have failed to teach the full breadth of what the other vows mean. Prayers, presence, gifts, and service, all witness to who we are and to whom we belong to as Christ's people. So my suggestion is not to look at it as a fifth vow, even though that is what may be intended. Instead, look at faithful witness as the natural outcome of growth in each of the other four areas of growth as a disciple: presence, prayers, gifts, and service.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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