A year or two ago our church hosted a program on Alzheimer’s disease. The program leader shared a bit of wisdom on how to deal with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s. She shared that your loved one yearns for order and safety. When their order is disrupted, they do not feel safe and become agitated. She directed Alzheimer’s caregivers to do what they can to bring or keep order in their lives so that they feel safe.
As I reflected upon this idea of order and safety, it dawned on me that order and safety are what we all are yearning for, Alzheimer’s or no Alzheimer’s. So not surprisingly, when it comes to religion, we are also seeking order and safety. If this is true, then we are also looking for it in the United Church of Christ and the Ohio Conference as well.
What I have learned about the way of Jesus is that his way is NOT about order and safety — unless order means justice for the poor and safety means caring for the stranger and the outcast. Jesus was all about upsetting the order when that order was no longer addressing the greater need for safety for all. As a result, as a follower of the way Jesus I have had to get used to periods of disorder so that the greater vision of safety (or what I might call the beloved community) can become a reality.
Because we have made those changes, the new order that is emerging has now given us a long-term viable, if not vital future. What was a deficit in 2012 of $368,363, is now projected to be a surplus in 2016 of $55,188.
For these past several years, the Ohio Conference has been going through a period of change. Many people may have felt unsafe for the order around them changed rapidly. In 2012, it became very clear that the old order was not sustainable. In 2012 alone, we lost $368,363. Our model of ministry at that time was driving us toward bankruptcy in 2014. Therefore in 2013, we began to make sweeping changes to our model for ministry so that we could position ourselves financially for sustainable ministry. Many of these changes were painful to say the least, and clearly caused anxiety for many people. Because we have made those changes, the new order that is emerging has now given us a long-term viable, if not vital future. What was a deficit in 2012 of $368,363, is now projected to be a surplus in 2016 of $55,188.
Having lived through an anxious and disorder period of time, we have positioned ourselves to create, vital ministries for the long-term where even just six months ago that seemed an impossibility. Breathing a little easier, maybe we can imagine how Jesus’ beloved community might manifest through the churches of the Ohio Conference United Church of Christ.
Samuel Buehrer, Sylvania United Church of Christ
Treasurer, Ohio Conference UCC