MINUTES OF THE SEEKERS STEWARDS MEETING
July 6, 2008
Present – Marjory Bankson, Peter Bankson, Ken Burton (recorder), Pat Conover, Kate Cudlipp, Cynthia Dahlin, Jane Engle, Sue Johnson (worship leader), Muriel Lipp, Dave Lloyd, Sandra Miller (angel), Trish Nemore, Brenda Seat (angel), Keith Seat (moderator), Margreta Silverstone, Deborah Sokolove.
Absent – : Lewise Busch
Visitors – Anna Gilcher, Aeren Martinez, Jeannine Caracciolo and Cari Willis
Worship – Sue led us in a meditative hand dance.
Housekeeping – The next Stewards meeting will be August 3, starting at 5:30. Trish will moderate, Jane will record, Sandra will lead worship and Cynthia and Kate will serve as dinner angels.
GayChurches.com – Stewards approved a recommendation received thorough our web site that a link to our web site appear on GayChurches.com, a GLBT web site that includes many churches in the DC area.
Eyes to See, Ears to Hear Peace Prayer Mission Group – Stewards confirmed the call of this new Seekers mission group, a copy of which is attached to these minutes. Founding members of the group are Trish, Sandra and Jeannine. The group plans to sound its call during worship in the near future, although at the moment its efforts are focused on the upcoming Seekers Peace Camp.
Caring and Accountability in Stewards Meetings – A concern has arisen among Stewards about our ability to appropriately manage situations that arise occasionally during our meetings when individual Stewards become angry and/or hurt as a consequence of the words or actions of other Stewards. Most recently, one of a small group of Stewards, known as "shepherds," has been designated for each meeting to intervene in such situations, but in two recent meetings, this mechanism has not been successful in responding to the presenting circumstances. Stewards were asked to consider how such issues could be better handled in the future. No consensus was reached in this regard. Stewards agreed to discuss the matter further at a future meeting. Among the comments and suggestions offered were the following:
· Some conflict situations are inherently unmanageable. No approach or plan can be expected to be effective in every case.
· Each Steward has a responsibility to intervene in these situations as she or he is led, that is, as the Steward becomes aware of an intervention that might be helpful.
· That which is everyone’s responsibility becomes, in effect, no one’s responsibility. There is a need for a specific intervention mechanism.
· The meeting moderator may be in the best position to take any required action. The moderators may need additional training in this regard.
· Each Steward could take responsibility for the Steward sitting next to him or her, reaching out to that person if he or she needs that help.
· Our focus should be less on process, more on outcome.
· We may be assuming that displays of emotion or strong feeling during Stewards meeting are a bad thing that should be "managed." This is not necessarily the case. Many of us are passionate about our Christian faith and about how it gets embodied in the life of Seekers Church, for which Stewards are responsible. As Stewards strive to work with issues in this context, expressions of strong feeling, even verbal conflict, are not necessarily inappropriate.
· If there is to be a group of "shepherds," there needs to be clear understandings about what their role is, and is not. Some problems in the past have arisen as a consequence of a lack of such clarity.
Stewards’ Sharing – Continuing our practice of having two Stewards share at every other meeting, Pat and Margreta provided updates and their lives and journeys.
Seekers in the World – As a follow-up to an earlier discussion about Seekers and public policy, the SLT asked Stewards to consider the following question: In what way(s) would I like to see Seekers Church manifest its relation to the world? This conversation was conducted using the "fish bowl" technique, in which four Stewards sat in the middle of the circle, facing each other and speaking, while others listened. Stewards were free to move in and out of the fish bowl as they chose. Visitors participated in this conversation, along with Stewards. Among the insights that were shared in this context were the following:
· This conversation arose out a discussion of whether or not Seekers should take a policy position against torture. That question still lies heavy on the hearts of some Stewards, who would like to have a sense that their community is standing with them. The relevant model here is that of the Dissenting Church in Nazi Germany.
· There is a need for us to stand and move together, but also be able to move separately.
· Christ is calling us not to political action as the world understands it but to a different form of activism. Gandhi’s model is the relevant one here: adopt a child, listen to slaves, understand where they are coming from. It is probably not possible for us to take both approaches.
· There is a need for a close connection between whatever public policy positions we might take and our actions. For example, if we take a stand against torture, we should also be ministering to torture survivors.
· There is a "grey area" involving definitions. For example, what, exactly, is/is not torture?
· Despite all of our country’s faults, we should be thankful that we live in a democratic system that works as well as it does, and one which, over time, has been able to improve the quality of its democratic practices in significant ways.
· We can agree on broad policy questions while differing on detailed specifics.
· If we do take public policy positions, it is important that doing so not result in pressure on individual Seekers to "get with the program."
· We need to find a way, as other churches have done, of telling our story as it relates to issues of the day.
· Our developing "community of communities’ might provide a vehicle for public policy work.
· We can take stands on broad policy issues without getting enmeshed in legislative detail.
· We need to be careful to take stands "for," not "against," to be peacemakers, not engaging in conflict, even when fully convinced of the righteousness of our cause. Taking an adversarial position, however well grounded, simply supports the conflict without contributing to its resolution.
Soul Talk – This concluded the Stewards meeting.