Church attendance in the US has been in decline for decades. A recent article by Isabel Fattal notes that this “great dechurching” seems to be driven to a small extent by a long history of corruption and abuse within religious organizations, but even more by current American culture and priorities. According to Jake Meador, editor-in-chief of the quarterly magazine “Mere Orthodoxy,” “contemporary America simply isn’t set up to promote mutuality, care or common life.”
Here at the Fellowship, in May we approved a new Covenant of Right Relations which aims at precisely those values – the nurturing of mutuality, care and common life – including specific needed skills and practices, such as engaging respectfully, listening deeply and clarifying misunderstandings. Now we need to make that covenant real and alive, between us, by practicing these skills with each other as often as we can.
Beginning in September, our theme for the year will be “Building a New Way.” So much within the Fellowship which was lost during the pandemic still needs to be rebuilt, and we can’t re-build structures that are now outdated. We have to pay close attention to the negative effects of current American culture and priorities, plus the long-standing obstacles of patriarchy, racism, sexism and so much more, and do better. Here, between us in this congregation, we aim for better ways of being together, so that all may feel safe and respected as we each pursue the journey of a religious life.
Have you had a chance to meet someone new here this summer? Have you practiced listening deeply to someone else’s story, or clarifying a misunderstanding? August is a great time to do so, as is every other month! I don’t remember who said, “Be the change you wish to see,” but it’s still worth trying. May we reach out to each other with compassion and love.