Friday, February 24, 2012

How not to be missional in Mission Presbytery

We are all interested in what it means to be missional. Everyone has a theory, but one thing I am certain of it doesn’t mean ignore the cultural background of the people you want to proclaim the good news to. Jesus won’t be good news if he only comes in Western garb and ideals. Many have said you can’t equate capitalism with Christianity and you can’t nor with any other political ideology. Perhaps we need to quit equating Presbyterian polity with Christianity especially when it seems we don’t understand the cultural background of so many. The members of three churches in Texas probably think Presbyterian polity belongs to the anti-Christ by now. After all they have been threatened with jail because of Presbyterian polity.

When my children were young I made many trips into Baja which is a part of Mexico. My husband and I often stayed at an orphanage which at the time was almost an international community. But it was certainly like a large family and the Hispanics who lived there and worked there made it so. One time when my husband was visiting his brother who worked there they went to a home close by where a restaurant had existed which they thought still existed. They walked in without knocking, ordered lunch and were served although the family no longer used their home as a restaurant. Such is the generosity of the Mexican people.

I write this to explain that when the members of El Principe de Paz, Mercedes TX, moved out of their Church at the request of the Stated Clerk of Mission Presbytery they took some things with them they felt were theirs. The articles made by them and even donated by their grandparents were considered by them to be theirs. That is not unreasonable. Now some presbytery staff members are threatening to arrest them and they are “terrified and living in fear.” This has nothing to do with mission and certainly not with Christianity. This is in fact bullying.

I know there are good people in Mission Presbytery, both progressives and conservatives. Where is their voice? Now is the time for Mission Presbytery to be truly missional. This is a call to love as Jesus loved us. This is a call to truly lift up the verse that is so loved by Presbyterians:

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8”)

I am also thinking of the confession of sin written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. There is that part that says this:

“The Church confesses herself guilty towards the countless victims of calumny, denunciation and defamation. She has not convicted the slanderer of his wrongdoing, and she has thereby abandoned the slandered to his fate.
The Church confesses that she has desired security, peace and quiet, possessions and honour, to which she has no right, and in this way she has not bridled the desires of men but has stimulated them still further.” [1]

May our Lord be merciful.


[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics 115.

Picture-my husband and I walking down a road in Colonia Guerrero Baja with some of our children and their friends from the orphanage.

12 comments:

Pastor Victor said...

How do you do it?

Viola Larson said...

I should probably throw that one back at you Victor: )

Jim said...

I really do believe the items belong to Victor and the church. Isn't there an old saying that "to the Victor go the spoils"? There you have it!

Viola Larson said...

Jim,
That is a wonderful, I guess, pun, but Victor is a friend of mine in Sacramento. Hector is the pastor of El Principe de Paz.: )How about a second cup of coffee.

Jim said...

Too late at night! Ha! Then let him Hector the presbytery all he wants!

Viola Larson said...

That will do--YES!

Alan said...

Back in 1969 I spent a week down in Centro De Emparo near Ensenda. It was a life changing time for me at that orphanage

Anonymous said...

The pettiness and vindictiveness displayed is heart-breaking. Power, when unleaved with compassion or decency, is very ugly.

John Erthein
DeFuniak Springs, FL

Anonymous said...

Would you please name the staff person or persons who made these threats so they can be addressed .
Royce

Jitegemea said...

It is disheartening to be sure but not surprising when Presbyteries work out of a Book of Order rather than a relationship. I am mindful of most every church I have served where members have brought in their own personal belongings at times to decorate a room, for display, for use in worship, expecting fully to be able to recover their items... This may well be the case and were the proper relationship in place this sort of thing wouldn't happen.

Viola Larson said...

Royce, I know that the Stated Clerk, Karen Stocks, began the process asking them to turn in the keys and clean out the pastors office. I know that she continued on with the problems. I do not know the rest of the names.

Viola Larson said...

Royce I would also suggest that you read http://www.naminghisgrace.blogspot.com/2012/02/why-do-they-need-building.html