Living today with an eye to tomorrow…

It’s sufficiently early in the New Year that perhaps some of your New Year’s resolutions are still intact.

I’m not much for this kind of thing but if I were I’d have resolved to be a bit less grumpy…and by the end of New Year’s Day the resolution would have been lying in tatters on the floor.  I’d probably do better to foreswear that plethora of football games offered up this time of year – hardly any of my preferred teams ever win.  I’d also do well to give up driving – almost all the other drivers on the road seem to have the perfect knack for driving me crazy.

But there’s something wonderfully alluring about the new calendar that replaces the one I toss aside every
December 31.  In place of disappointments and losses and outright failures, the New Year offers hope and possibility.  Somewhere deep in my soul there resides aromantic who finds the promise of the new to be remarkably alluring…and also a bit frightening.  It takes no great insight to understand that my penchant to grumpiness is somehow related to my (naïve?) expectation that I and everyone around me can (and will!) finally ascend to new heights of faithfulness and accomplishment.

Nonetheless, hope is essential to an embrace of the future – and I’m deeply committed to the imperative of living today with an eye to tomorrow.

With that said, here are two quite different possibilities – potential manifestations of hope and life – for you, and me, and others in the Iowa Conference.

Starting January 1, the conference is partially underwriting a creative (and maybe somewhat risky?) new church start project in the Coralville/North Liberty area in the Eastern Iowa Association.  In the way that networking often leads to the unanticipated, a United Methodist pastor named Chuck Kelsey came to the attention of conference staff some time ago through his own work with the Center for Progressive Renewal.  Conversation after conversation eventually led to a proposal for a non-traditional church start.  If you’ve been in the Iowa Conference for a time, you know that starting new churches isn’t in our DNA.  Yes, there have been a couple new church buy lexapro online au starts here in the last couple decades (but only a couple) and neither was initiated intentionally as a from scratch project.  But this one is and it is being deliberately structured as a laboratory project to help our entire system better understand how attitudes and practices of the new can become re-embedded in our common life.  Over a hundred years ago, of
course, new churches were the norm in our predecessor traditions.  Those new churches brought life and
creativity and innovation to the whole.  But over time all institutions fall into ruts and it is helpful when the new can be re-introduced in order to invigorate the whole.  I hope you’ll want to know more about this project.  Please ask!

Secondly, our neighbors in the Wisconsin Conference are planning a “Turn-Around Church Workshop” in Madison, on February 15-16.  Information on this event is publicized in the E-News (12/7/2012 and future ones yet to be published) and is posted on our website calendar.  This will be a quality event with practical resources for teams of congregational leaders who wish to take specific and concrete steps to bring new life, purpose and vitality into their own churches.  I plan to attend.  I hope you will, too.

Those who know me best (my wife, my staff…a few others) know I have a sort of love-hate relationship with my job.  It’s a remarkable and humbling privilege to be your conference minister.  I take this responsibility seriously.  But these are not easy times in most wider church and mainline church contexts – and the Iowa Conference is no exception.  Having said that, any reader of the Bible knows that the people of God have known challenging times more often than easy ones.  I doubt that I – and we – should expect to be an exception to that pattern.  I’m praying that 2013 will be a year of experimentation and reinvention – a year of HOPE – in the Iowa Conference.  Join me, please, in imagining and working for that which advances the Christly realm of peace, justice and hope.

Blessings to you!  May you find great hope in this New Year!!

Rich Pleva
Iowa Conference Minister

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