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Good News, Bad News

April 27th, 2019 by Stephen Bauman

First the good…

*May 8th marks a milestone in the Christ Church lifecycle. That evening at our Annual Outreach Benefit we will recognize the first graduates of our program in Washington Heights for mothers with children 0-3 years-of-age, our initial intervention for breaking the cycle of generational poverty in a neighborhood. Nido de Esperanza (Nest of Hope) had its origins nearly 8 years ago when Christ Church began to vision how we could develop a meaningful commitment to “making a difference” in our city. Many hours of analysis, dialogue, partnering and meetings led us to our second campus on upper Broadway, Christ Church Washington Heights.

Then three years ago, we gathered our first cohort of mothers, children, and families into a caring community offering nurture, knowledge, hope, material support and most of all, love, grounded in faith. What a wonderful outcome has blossomed! Congratulations to everyone who helped bring this excellent project to fruition! You owe it to yourselves, to our graduates—and for the sake of a hopeful future—to join the festivities May 8. Here’s where you can learn more about this event, purchase a ticket or otherwise participate. And bring a friend! Your generosity makes this excellent work possible, a tangible expression of resurrection hope. If you live a distance away (as many readers do) you can still participate in this terrific work. Be confident that every dollar contributed goes to our collective outreach efforts.

**Below is a photo montage of a deeply evocative and meaningful Maundy Thursday service and dinner in our transformed sanctuary. If you’ve never been, please take a look and marvel at how our space provides a spectacular setting for worship, gathering, and communing in remembrance and honor of our family’s namesake. Note the splendid diversity of our community, a visual emblem of our commitment to welcoming everyone, everyone, everyone.


Now the bad…

*If you’ve been following the tortured process of denominational disintegration amongst United Methodists, at the end of this week the Judicial Council ruled on the constitutional validity of the Traditional Plan, so-called, that was accepted at February’s General Conference. In a split decision that made null and void certain specific petitions, the outcome nevertheless concretizes the rigid discrimination of our LGBTQIA siblings. Another sad day on our path to eventual divorce.

That said, this outcome was not a surprise. And the Council also found acceptable a petition that provided a path for churches to dissolve their association with the larger denomination. In combination, these decisions heighten the prospect of fracture that will likely take formal shape by the next General Conference in May 2020. A month from now I’ll be attending a meeting for national leaders who support an inclusivist agenda. So there’s movement within the ranks. In the meantime, full speed ahead on living our mission to love God above all things and our neighbors as ourselves.

As you’ve heard me say, Christ Church is well situated for a bright future regardless of larger denominational machinations. We have a clear identity, a compelling mission, a talented congregation, and a vital presence in a dynamic city. You may find this odd, but I am experiencing our current denominational distress revivifying, stirring my passion to living the gospel more authentically and binding our community more securely. Can you feel this too? It’s strangely energizing…

I will have more to say about this in days ahead after I’ve had an opportunity to process these results, reflect, dialogue, pray and receive the Spirit’s counsel. Please join me in this spiritual work. A lot will be asked of us over these next months. Let’s stand strong as in the words of the psalmist: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…God says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God…’” (Ps 46). (If interested, here’s my sermon responding to the outcome of the last General Conference.)

If you want to cast a vote on our future, come to the benefit on May 8. And bring a friend or two. Recommit to advancing the gospel of grace, inclusion, acceptance, and transformation. That’s the heart of living our mission…

Stephen Bauman

Rev. Dr. Stephen P. Bauman is the Senior Minister at Christ Church.