During our Annual Meeting this year there was a lot of talk about change within the Iowa Conference. Change in compensation guidelines, change in the way we look at Conference structures, the inevitable change of our Conference Minister…so much change. Which reminded me of the saying, ‘change is hard’. And sometimes it is. Changing the way we worship, changing the time we go to bed or get up in the morning, changing the foods we eat, changing the work we do, the friends and family that we hang out with, the language we use…sometimes change is hard.
But there’s another saying, ‘we live in a changing world’. A world that brings changes that can be easy—maybe because we have had to adapt to so many changes. Changing the phones we use, changing the way we interact with people, changing the way we write and edit things, changing the way we travel, the way we share information, the way we get news, the way we give news…sometimes change can be almost effortless when it’s a change that we want.
Within all the change of the world around us the church is often seen as the unmovable, unchangeable, stable entity where people can hold onto their nostalgia and tradition and their way of doing certain things—because change in and for the church would surely fall under the first saying. In fact there are plenty of jokes and quippy remarks that remind us how change in the church is HARD, even impossible!
But I think that a better way to think of a changing church would be to say that change in the church, like change in any part of our life brings on its own unique complications and demands…not necessarily hard, just change. The church that we worship in, the church that we work for and that we form our faith in is an entity itself that lives in the world that we live in and it IS a changing world.
Even God-the most unmovable, long lasting and never changing entity in the universe has been changed and I would say is still changing. The story of the Exodus people grumbling in the desert and Moses advocating that God change God’s mind about the wrath that was sure to fall on the impatient Israelites. The tale of Jonah and the people of Nineveh changing their ways so that God would change God’s mind on the destruction of the city are both great reminders of a God that can and does change, in case you were wanting some examples.
So as we as a Denomination, as a Conference, as Associations, as churches, as individuals continue to live and breath in a ‘changing world’, it’s important to remember that change doesn’t have to be hard. Change is just change. It comes with its own unique complications and demands but nothing ever stays the same-not us, not the churches we love, not the Associations that we cling to, not the Conferences that we identify with, not even the God that we put our faith in. We live in a changing a world. One that God has asked us to embrace and care for and change with.
—Pastor Samantha Houser, Waukon Zion UCC and Program/Support Adjunct for Youth Ministry in the Iowa Conference