Our May Enews is packed with updates from our Kanuga clergy Gathering, info on upcoming Gatherings, and the Episcopal Church Foundation’s pre-Pride month work from a variety of voices in the church.
Playing for the Same Team
The Rev. Jane Gober attended our North Carolina Gathering at Kanuga and offered a beautiful reflection to us. So beautiful, in fact, that we knew we needed to use it for our opening essay this month. The entire piece is posted on the GOL website, but please enjoy this eloquent account of Jane’s experience, really a manifesto of who you, who we, are. And, if you’re feeling pinched, tired, or burned out we hope you will consider joining us for one of the Gatherings this year.
At breakfast the morning the conference started, those of us who had arrived the day before gathered at tables and began the joy of what I call ‘Episcopal Tag’, our version of the Kevin Bacon game, but with usually no more than two degrees of separation. When Presiding Bishop Curry came into the dining area one of my new friends said, ‘I saw his name on the schedule, but I thought he would be video-ed in. I guess not!’ I had run into him the night before and wasn’t as surprised (however I was when I ran into him). This was my first Gathering of Leaders, and it was also his. I had been trying to make the journey since the end of 2019, and we all know how that went. In North Carolina, I was looking forward to making new ‘comrades’: and this is certainly what I found. Or perhaps I should say new teammates – because we are all on the same team from the PB to the volunteer youth minister and the multi-vocational rural cleric.
We don’t always practice this mission (of union with God and all others in Christ) like we are on the same team. We may play it like a sport, but it is more like platform diving: one vs all the others including your fellow citizens; it is immensely judgy, and all about the spin, and splash, or lack thereof. What would it look and feel like if the clerical and lay leaders of this tradition lived and served as one huge and talented team? The approach of the Gathering of Leaders is peer-to-peer learning, teammates to teammates. None of us can figure out how to do this on our own, particularly in this post-Christendom and late-pandemic moment.
Peer-to-peer means telling each other about successes and failures in the love of Jesus. It isn’t a one-method suggestion, an accurate analysis of the waters we are in with no real plan to swim, nor is it a program to subscribe to in the hope that it will keep you afloat. The blessing of the Gathering of Leaders is truly living into being teammates, as players who do not know it all, who know we cannot do it all, who need each other, and the power of the sacraments to guide Jesus’ people right now. This is the treasure I left the Carolina mountains with – new friends, fresh ideas, and once more being reminded that none of us are standing alone on a high dive above an unknown pool. My first GOL offered a beautiful and deep embrace of connection and mutuality – which embodies the very name of this network: a gathering of leaders.
– The Rev. Jane Gober