by: Conference Minister Diane Weible
I am writing this from the Western Regional Youth Event—greetings on behalf of the 42 youth and adults joining with other youth and adults from the eight Conferences of the Western Region for an amazing week in Hawaii. Shortly before I left I was watching the news and media attention around San Francisco Pride and I wanted so badly to be there. And before that I was in conversation with a number of our leaders in the Conference around the issues of immigration and the treatment of adults and children seeking asylum in this country and I swelled with pride as I thought of all the ideas about how we could act and make a difference. And before that I gathered with many of you at Annual Gathering at Sonoma State University as we spent the weekend focused on Three Great Loves: Love of Children; Love of Creation and Love of Neighbor. The conversations and the workshops and the business plenary gave me incredible joy, hope and motivation to go out and live my faith in new ways.
And all of this is to say, I love being a part of the United Church of Christ. I love our focus on youth. I love our focus on humanity and rights for all humans. I love our focus on what it is that Christ is calling us to be and to do in this world and how we are all asking the question—how and what and when do we act? How and where do we go to walk with others? When do we stand up and when do we step forward and when do we stand behind? Where is the Holy Spirit moving and how do we find the courage to answer the call?
I hear so many of us asking these questions, now more than ever.
Last night I was standing with our youth and adult leaders in the patio area of Campus Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa as they were planning worship, which they will lead for all 450 of us after dinner tonight. Our leader asked one small group, “What do you love most about your church’s worship?” Answers popcorned out and from that a worship was created.
I firmly believe that leadership is not about all the right answers. Sometimes it’s about not having any answers. Leadership compels us to come together and talk with one another. It invites another in to share our story and sit at our table. And, when the person we have invited in begins to re-arrange the furniture (as our keynote speakers reminded us at Annual Gathering), I hope we can look at the newness of what we see and wonder how the change not only makes the room look better but makes us feel better about our surroundings.
Summer has just begun and I know my summer experiences have already been full and fulfilling and, most of all, have reminded me of all I have to learn, of all the opportunities there are for me to see God in my neighbor and even in the person I do not yet know and, yes, even in someone I may prefer to not share space with.
May your summer offer you similar opportunities to experience joy and wonder and to be curious about all that you encounter, especially that which seems so different and so unique.
PS—I am adding this at the close of the NCNC youth worship this evening. They were AWESOME!! I cried. It reminded me just how much God’s love and presence with us can bring strength and joy in new and wonderful ways. I am so blessed to be in ministry with so many amazing people in the Northern California Nevada Conference!