Being Community (a blog post from Jill Mills)

I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately.

My sister lives in an RV. She and her husband sold everything that didn’t fit into their mobile home and have been traveling around North America for about 12 years now. They visit family and friends all over the country, and explore national parks and all sorts of sightseeing adventures. They love it! I’m glad they get to do this, but I know it’s not for me. I need a sense of place, a community that I am part of, that I can come home to – people that know me deeply and with whom i have a long term relationship.

Church has always been part of what provides that relationship for me. I was a member of a church for most of my life, until (oddly enough) three years ago when I became a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA). When you are ordained as a pastor, you no longer are a member of a specific congregation. You are “set apart” to live out your calling.

I left the vocation of paid ministry in January 2017, and Wade and I are enjoying retirement, getting to know each other as newlyweds, and finding new ways to serve God by serving others. And we have found Beloved Community at ECI.

But I have another community that is virtual – friends and family who I don’t physically see on a regular basis, but who are closely connected with me via social media. Facebook is an incredibly useful way to be in relationship, if one is willing to use it to show compassion and to listen to one another. I am grateful for the ways I can let others into my life and take part in theirs through this communication platform. It’s not unlike writing letters or calling on the phone, if you are intentional about it.

I recently came across this article about online community and its role in ministry:

The Online Community: Authentic, Real, Needing Ministers

Joe and I talked about it and agreed that it is an aspect of community that would be helpful to many both in and beyond the ECI community. So I am beginning an experiment in online community ministry. I hope to provide an outlet for both one-on-one and group conversation, building relationships, talking about books and sermons and youtube videos related to the work that ECI is participating in, prayer requests, and more. I am interested in knowing what would be helpful to you! Please let me know what ideas you have and what feedback you can provide about this as we go forward. We will adapt it over time as we learn what is most helpful in building community this way.

Joe spoke about community in his recent “Harry Potter” sermon. Among other things, he offered this:

“I would hope we could hear in Harry Potter the call of prophetic community and see in it a vision of what a church community can be:

  • A unified community in which we discover common ground and
    common purpose.
  • A community of truth that doesn’t hide from any reality.
  • A community of healing, where we can recover from the wounds
    life has left us with.
  • A community that welcomes all, including our many and profound differences.
    an imaginative community that does not let what is, or what has been,
    define what we believe is really possible.
  • A courageous community that does not let fear determine our actions,
    or the scope of our understanding of what we need to be about.
  • A community that embraces death and dying as something that helps us to realize and celebrate our impermanence so that we can use it to make a difference.
  • A community of love, with the kinds of friendships at its center
    that call us into who we can become.”

May it be so.

Grace and peace,

jill

 

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