Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's about time . . .

Well, siblings, our father was the last elder of the 1st Seventh Day Baptist Church of Alfred, New York, but Tim Bancroft will be considered for ordination as an elder, in October. A month before that, your youngest brother is going to be ordained a deacon (on September 6th). I'll be asked to give a testimony, and there will be some other speechifying and music and so on, and you're all invited if you'd like to come.
My ordination will simply mean that all the things I have been doing on behalf of the church for years, will be affirmed, at least in some respects, by the membership of the church and the surrounding S.D.B. churches. It means I may be asked to help with serving communion, which Jeanette already does as a deaconess, but I have not done before. It also means I'll be part of the Advisory Board, which serves to advise the pastor and support her. Maybe now the board will have regular meetings, as they are supposed to do. But I won't get started on that . . .
I think you all know that, although Jeanette and I continue to work for, and be a part of, the Alfred church, we have had our misgivings about continuing to be a part of both the local congregation, and of the denomination, because of the narrowing of minds therein. We've also had our frustrations with being treated badly at times, but we continue to hope that our efforts will mean that Ian will have the company of like-minded S.D.B.s with whom he can carry on in Alfred, or at least he will be able to point to his own history there and see something positive.
Many times over the years of my life, I have been asked if I have ever considered being a pastor like our father. I've often replied that I have never given it much consideration, and I have only done so briefly, and infrequently. I never felt called to be an evangelizer, but I have often said that I like company. I never felt called to be on that sort of pedestal of piety and single-mindedness that seems to be expected of a pastor, even though I've sometimes felt that I could do it better than some who have tried to be my pastor. I'm not that sort of shepherd, but Jeanette and I have tried to draw people into the circle of our congregation and to make it a real circle of trust and love, in spite of doubts and misgivings.
Our father's evangelism was not overt, but exemplified what I've heard several people say was what they liked best about S.D.B.s, and that is that they didn't try to ram their religion down your throat. They just live(d) it.
I also hope that we can preserve and promote the kinds of loving, liberal values that our father and mother exemplified. Especially in these times, I believe that our world needs the kinds of gentleness and openness that Mom and Dad practiced. I don't want any of us, nor our children or grandchildren, to be doormats, as I'm afraid our father and mother were at times, but I am certain that the attitudes of entitlement and self-aggrandizement that we all see in the society around us, need to be challenged and balanced.
I hope that my ordination and our continued participation can help in that process.

1 comment:

shermaniac said...

Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts. As I get walked upon, I like to think that I'm an oriental carpet at the Morgan Library rather than a shag or sculptured wall-to-wall treatment, to say nothing of a doormat. I am looking forward to being around Alfred way more. I usually come to church with you guys when I'm visiting, because I do enjoy some of the folks and I like to spend time with you and your roommate and that kid. I don't imagine that I'll be a regular attender of the church but you never know. As with you, I find my own space within the space given us. Or try!!?? It's been a tad hard today and yesterday since it's been crazy and my normal venting chimney (Elizabeth) is on vacation this week. I will have some time with Bill in P-town starting Wednesday and that will also allow venting and whatnot.
With much appreciation of your note and best wishes for the ordination. I do wish I could be there for that.