Its snowing outside and I have too much time on my hands. Everyone else is probably sledding with kids? My only one is grown and gone. Actually, I think she texted that she was also busy reading, now a NC Principal Fellow (my pride is showing)!
Haven’t had this much time in a long time, now reading the local newspaper more focused than my usual quick glance before leaving for meetings, as on any typical morning.
While continuing to read the paper, I felt compelled once more to write this p.m.; actually I had already sent one editorial this morning, reinforcing the conservative views of a local representative too often toasted by the liberal press.
As I started reading again I felt moved to write again…Lord help me! I did decide to limit my exposure to those who might at least be interested in church transformation, rather than those who might not know my love for church and community and thus misinterpret my positive intent.
There it was right in front of me again, the fact that we as a community of mostly professing Christians, cannot seem to collaborate on anything! In fact, it would appear that we are either not talking or not thinking?
The first editorial was around a story of the 50th anniversary of the infamous Woolworth set-ins of the 60’s, followed by celebration of the success of a local campaign for the Arts Council. For those outside our city, a historically significant facility, The Sawtooth Center is now being reconstructed to house a wonderful new theatre for the arts.
The last article in this collective editorial was expressing the challenges facing our city given the flood of foreclosures, the growing homeless population and the flip side, the number of homes now available for acquisition and placement of those homeless if funding were available. Great idea as well!
What do all these things have in common and why am I disturbed?
First, the problem of segregation began, at least in our city, when the churches gave way to the pressure of culture and economy. The founders of our city were Moravians, “followers of the Lamb that was slain”; some had formerly even sold themselves to slave ships to minister to those then being captured and traded as commodities. Later that very sect of Christians would give up those values in return for participation in the rewards of the growing tobacco industry, its elders employed to bank those rewards. Yes, you probably know it as very successful Wachovia Bank; some would say, the birthright of our city, now sold?
The city these Moravians had founded and their own church would soon be divided by racism. At least the moral high ground was there to build a separate church for some of the very people who had by then become their peer artisans in this small place called Salem (Shalom), now Winston-Salem, the City of the Arts.
Back to the editorial and the article on the Arts Council, now short only 2.1 million in a 25 million dollar campaign I believe, wow! The monies will complete the reconstruction of the basement and total facade of the old Sawtooth Center, a wonderful addition to our community.
Here’s my first rub, its in the back yard of the newly constructed First Presbyterian sanctuary. I recall my first tour of the newly completed sanctuary with the now former pastor, proudly recommending that I notice the design, architecturally accommodating of the arts. In fact, I believe the church campaign was driven by an expressed desire to house the arts as a means of partnering with our city?
Surely some conversation went own between the two city champions? Why could not some of those monies either been invested in the Arts Council initiative, or the church have partnered more intentionally with the council’s needs, rather than building two multimillion dollar duplicative facilities directly next to each other? In fact, while the church was being built, its overflow was directed toward a more contemporary, artsy service in the Sawtooth Center.
Are we really interested in celebrating communion as a church…that is the union of our community…a united way (pun intended)? At least among Christians?
Regarding foreclosure and the homeless, there should be plenty of funds to change the plight of the hundreds now suffering this brutal economy, if we would just allocate funds more appropriately? Rather than investment in churches on every corner or building facilities who’s programs might otherwise be accomodated within those same church facilties, why not simply collaborate?
I am not oblivious to theological and denominational differences nor to interfaith challenges. By the way, incorporated in the last article on the homeless was an update on the concerted effort in our city by a group of well-meaning citizens, many Christians called C.H.A.N.G.E ., maybe there is hope?
Yet, we move forward, each church a silo, mostly void of any real felt need to collaborate, or at least it would seem that way?
Can we talk or at least stop and think??