Friday, October 25, 2019

"So what exactly is your new job?"

On September 1st I began a new chapter with new work and a new title: Canon for Engagement Across Difference for the Diocese of Los Angeles.

I'm still at All Saints in Pasadena as a member of their clergy staff ... dividing my time 40/60 parish and diocese ... and still living into a new paradigm of being "bilocational." But suffice to say it's exciting, energizing and just a little intimidating to be given the chance to both imagine and implement this new initiative which is the brainstorm of our Bishop Diocesan John Taylor.

And that brings me to the question which is the title of this post: So what exactly is your new job?

The announcement that went out back at the end of June does a good job of outlining the vision ... you can read that here ... but the Clif Notes version is this:
Known as “One in the Spirit: Finding Divinity Within Difference in the Diocese of Los Angeles,” the 3-year initiative will begin in September guided by a new staff officer, working group, and mission statement prioritizing four goals:
  • “To live more fully into our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being.
  • “To understand better how barriers of class, race, language, nationality, culture, politics, geography, orientation, and identification blind us to the burning image of the divine in one another.
  • “To proclaim in Christ’s name that we will not submit to our era’s epic division and polarization.
  • “To feed hearts that are hungry for connection and community in a secularizing, isolating age.”
My job is to pull together a diverse team of folks from around the diocese who will initially work on a process of collaborating and collating: doing an inventory of what programs, projects and initiatives are already in place doing this core Gospel work of reaching across difference and imagining together what we can create to both amplify the existing work and create new opportunities that don't yet exist.

A core piece of this work is our Anglican identity -- remembering that we come from spiritual ancestors who found a way to hold together the seemingly irreconcilable tensions of being both catholic and protestant in the 16th century -- and trusting that the DNA of Anglican comprehensiveness will equip us to do the work of bridging the differences that challenge us as 21st century disciples.

The plan is to have our Steering Committee in place by the end of November and then to call together a broadly based Task Force early in the new year. Stay tuned for more updates on that as we continue to build as we fly. And ... if you're a Diocese of L.A. peep ... come find me at Diocesan Convention and let's talk. I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas as we build this together.

In the meantime, I wanted to share these words from our Presiding Bishop's opening remarks to Executive Council last week ... works that are germane not only to this Engagement Across Difference initiative but to our work in the world in these days of challenge and polarization.
The United States is being torn asunder within by the inability to be in deep relationship with each other and yet hold differing positions and convictions. And the test of this democratic experiment will be the capacity of this particular nation to hold differences in the context of deep and real human relationships.

I really believe that Jesus was right. That the Way of Love, doesn't mean the way of agreement. But it means the capacity to love each other, and therefore, to seek the good together. Whether we agree or disagree. This is the democratic experiment; this is not just religious platitude. Dr. King once said, “History is replete with the bleached bones of civilization that have refused to listen to (Jesus),” who said love your enemies, bless those who curse you.

This country must not become a valley of dry bones. And frankly, the only way is the way of love. There is no other way. And maybe, this wonderful little church of ours, can offer that. This Way of Love to the body politic.

Not for political ends, not to change anybody's vote. But to change how we relate to each other as human beings.

And then we see what happens.
This is us ... the Diocese of Los Angeles. Ready to see what happens.

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