My first experience of a Gathering of Leaders was an opportunity to go more deeply into the theme of Unity and Division through theological reflection, bible study, practical application, small group work, worship and networking. It was a rich exchange of perspectives, stories, experience and prayer. The setting at Lake Logan in Western North Carolina, at the height of the changing colors, seemed a perfect place and time to let the Spirit lead us into a thoughtful and nuanced conversation of how we live together in an age when many forces are driving us apart. This was both a gift and a challenge.
One of the implicit gifts of the conference was that, as leaders, we are called to engage in the tension between unity and division. This is not something we can avoid, and in fact, it is a conversation we are called to embrace as an expression of what building beloved community looks like. No one said it was going to be easy. The question is: how is God already moving, through us and others, in this conversation? When does this draw us together? How do we respond when it seems to be pulling us apart?
These are the leadership challenges of our day, and of our church. And we have others who have walked this road before, and who are walking along side us now, who can serve as examples/models of leadership that lives creatively in this tension. I came away inspired by the witness of Pauli Murray, who was the focus of one of the presentations, and also inspired by the group gathered, their stories, their journeys. Christian companionship was a constant source of joy and renewal at this Gathering of Leaders.
The Rt. Rev. Samuel Rodman
Bishop, Diocese of North Carolina