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PNC leader offers closing words for FAN event

PNC Minister of Church Vitality Courtney Stange-Tregear begin her closing remarks at the Jan. 27 Eastern Washington Legislative Conference in Spokane by describing what her role, a new role in the church, is.

Courtney Stange-Tregear speaks at ecumenical advocacy event  in Spokane.

Because it is a new job, she is able to frame it from her vision in concert with the PNC Board.

“I am expanding what we think of as vitality,” she said.  “If we think of education, evangelism and formation is being over here and advocacy, social justice and lobbying being over there—two separate things, I have come to say there is no vitality without community connection, no vitality without being relevant in the community.  There is no way we can evangelize if we do not know with whom we are talking,” she said.

Courtney was invited to help frame the gathering, to help participants debrief about what they had experienced and learned, and to help them look at where they are going with it.

She then invited people to share what value forms and drives them and their communities, and how does that value compel them to act.

Several participants said they were committed to work with refugees, write legislators, bring forth the Holy Spirit and work to preserve the earth.

Then she invited participants to think about potential partners—people and organizations—to work with to accomplish their goals.

“It’s great to come together to talk about justice and see that there are others who care about justice and who want their convictions, love and faith to change the world,” she said.

“To do that, we need to make connections in the room to do the work we feel compelled to do,” she said.

Courtney then offered the following closing prayer:

O Loving One, you have gathered us here from all of our different places, from different geographies, different economies, different races, different histories. Here we are together.

We are together, despite the myth that persists. You know the one. The myth that says institutions are dead, community has been lost, neighborhoods are no more, and “traditional” families have been threatened—and we all know what is really meant by “traditional.”

This myth that says our independence is our most valuable possession.

The myth says that might makes right, that some of us worked hard and made it on our own, that bootstraps have ever pulled anyone up. This myth persists.

We have gathered here despite this myth. We have gathered here not as independent autonomous, individuals. We have gathered here, having been formed by communities, institutions and neighbors. We’ve come from churches, synagogues and mosques. We’ve come from schools, neighborhoods and families. We’ve even come from yoga studios and athletic clubs. We’ve come from many places, and no matter where we have come from, no matter who we are, or where we are on life’s journey, we are welcome here.

Loving one, you have gathered us here together, because it is not our independence but our inter-dependence that matters most.

It is our inter-dependence that changes lives, our inter-dependence that challenges the status quo

Our interdependence brings Your will on earth as it is in heaven.

So you have gathered us, gathered us in, the lost and forsaken; gathered us in the proud and the strong. It is not an accident or coincidence that this myth persists. For this myth is not truly a myth. It is a strategy.

It is a strategy to keep us separate, keep us down, keep us afraid. It is a strategy to keep us fighting each other instead of fighting injustice.

It is a strategy use power over us, till we can’t recognize the power we have together. It is a strategy to make us think that if we get enough individuals on our side we will change things.

You know better.

We know that community, love and connection changesthe world. We know that the whole is indeed greater than the sum of the parts

So we pray, together. We pray that we will go forth from here not just with the courage of our convictions but the power of our communities.

We will dismantle white supremacy, loose the bonds of poverty, house the homeless, care for this planet, de-escalate our habitual state of violence, and loving powerful One, with #metoo fresh on our lips, let’s also smash the patriarchy.

We pray that we will have the courage to listen to one another, the courage to believe the truth of what we hear, especially from voices of those who are different from us,

We pray that we can reject the strategy of independence and instead claim proudly our inter dependence.

Because loving one, you know, we are in this together. We’ve been called from all our different places, called together for just such a time as this. Amen.

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Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ News © February-March 2018


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