A landscape photo by my daughter made me remember a quote from “Shades of Blue.” This typical television drama of police corruption and violence is a surprisingly unlikely place to find a profound remark about light. The 25-year veteran squad leader Wozniak, himself the main target in an FBI anti-corruption investigation, says twice in one episode: “When things break, light gets in.”
An all-Conference Vision Team – just one of several in place over many years– has been looking for paths into the light. The Conference and its covenanted Associations may not be broken, but we experience pain and disability. To be sure, there are excellent and faithful programs and services throughout the Conference, but the “structure” within which they are provided struggles for relevance and efficiency these days.
The effort to break down the way Ohio Conference is put together and put it back together in new ways has been going on for decades. So far, the breaking down has not let in enough light.
In my earlier days of participation in the Ohio Conference I remember the Rev. Dr. William Laurie comparing the Conference to the bumble bee. He may have quoted Mary Kay Ash who said “Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know that so it goes on flying anyway.” He implied that by covenantal and sound organizational wisdom, the Conference should not be able to function. But it does.
Somewhat. Today’s church, its needs and resources, and its sense of mission and purpose is not what it was forty years ago when Mr. Laurie delighted in the strength of the Ohio Conference. It hasn’t been the same for a very long time.
Bumble bees are endangered now, we are told. So is the Church, at least in the forms we’ve traditionally known it. VisionTeams over many years have struggled to let light into what was perceived to be broken, or at least severely strained. The efforts so far have not produced substantive change, and the strengths of the Conference and its Associations continue to decline.
At the end of the most recent session of the current Vision Team, however, it was observed that the team members are closer to a consensus than in a very long time. In spite of a certain weariness brought on by seemingly endless debate without consensus, there was a bit of eagerness to continue until a concept for change is ready to share with the congregations of the Conference.
So maybe it is true: when things break or come close to it, light can get in. Watch for more information through the summer, and certainly in time for Inspired Listening: Annual Gathering, September 15 & 16 at Westerville Community UCC.