A friend and colleague of mine, Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, once defined the church that doesn’t matter this way:
In the church that doesn’t matter, there are no quarrels, no arguments, and no one ever says anything they regret at the meeting to discuss the sanctuary’s new paint color. There is nothing to inspire such passionate intensity because none of the decisions of the church touch anyone’s heart, and no one lives or dies by its choices, or even feels for a moment like they might. Everything is easy as pie.
In the church that doesn’t matter, no one has to ask for money, or even talk about it much; there is always enough to go around…because no matter how much there is, there is always less to do with it than that. The vision always shrinks to under-match the means…
I can assure you, with all my heart and faith, that Kelly was NOT talking about KUUC. Here, our dedicated leaders and our devoted volunteers disagree all the time about what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and even whether to do it. And we disagree with passion. Good for us. And good for us that most of the time we come to pretty peaceful resolutions and are able to move on together in joy, working for the church, working in the church, working on the building, in the choir, on a committee, marching for our children, dancing around a Maypole and so much more that we do together.
That said, however, there is another truth here; when a disagreement goes unattended, unrespected, unaddressed, it can and too often over the years does escalate into what I might call unmanageable conflict. Here at KUUC you don’t yet have a covenant of right relations to guide you when the going gets tough. And so, when the going gets really tough, what began as a disagreement goes underground. What began as a disagreement gets so uncomfortable for some that they leave the congregation and faith they love, and that’s a very painful decision to have to make.
So in this, my last column, for this blessed time I have had with you, I pray for you that you will appoint a task force to create a covenant of right relations that you can learn to live by, so that the next time a disagreement occurs over an issue about which you are passionate, you will know how to work it through together, how to speak honestly and respectfully. You will know how to listen openly and respectfully. And you will be able to create a process for resolution that affirms the inherent worth and dignity of every single one of you, and also celebrates the diversity within this beloved community. For this is a church that does matter. It matters very much.
Thank you for the great honor and blessing of these few months with you.
In faith and gratitude, Rev. Olivia