By Maggie Breen
This assembly has seen the introduction of a new statement concerning mission and evangelism. There seems to be something of a struggle within the Christian world, at least as it is presented here in Busan, between interpretations of mission and evangelism. There is a powerful interpretation that seems more focused on the idea of taking God to those who do not yet know Christ, while the other talks more overtly about uncovering where God is already at work and joining in.
The conversations are more complex than I have presented here and it is exciting, although sometimes difficult, to be part of the struggle to uncover the meaning in what others say, the values they hold and the spaces where there are intersections. Seems to me that as difficult as this can be it is
the only way to community and shared witness.
By Maggie Breen
I have been in Korea for 10 days now, gathered with students and young pastors from 60 different countries. We have spent much of the first half of this gathering listening to the stories of this country. We are in a beautiful and complex land, one that has over the last
century been colonized by outside forces and whose people have been under the power of external and internal oppressors. Yet those we have met remain a beautiful and generous people - eager to share their stories and find peace.
by Scott Anderson
And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” –Luke 18:7-8
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. –Mahatma Gandhi
I want to thank all of you who responded in some way to the space for reflection and response in worship on October 20th. For those of you who were not there, we were reflecting on the invitation of the parable of the persistent widow at the beginning of Luke 18.
We encountered the gospel’s invitation to a kind of hope that keeps us engaged in the life of the world, even when our contribution seems to make little difference. We encountered in the text a God of justice, peace, and love, who, like the persistent widow, keeps knocking at the doors of our hearts, so that we might be the change we wish to see in the world.
By Maggie Breen
It was opening day today of the 10th assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, Korea. Delegates from 345 member churches together with ecumenical partners gather at this, the highest decision-making body of the World Council. Around 5,000 filled the worship space today and worshiped together the One who unites us. We heard the confession of each continent. From North America:
By Maggie Breen
It's a Greek word (pronounced oy-koo-men-ay) and it's part of the vocabulary around here. This theological institute I get to be a part of is made up of 220 students and faculty from every continent and a myriad of denominations who have come together in the name of oikoumene. Oikoumene means the whole household of God and it brings with it a claim that we are one -- that we belong to each other because of who we are as God's own. On our first day of worship together our preacher told us that while oikoumene is a reality -- we belong to each other just because of who God is -- and while it is a given, a gift, it is also, however, a call. He reminded us that so much of what we do does not embody this unity that is a gift of God and that we are called to find ways to live as a people of diverse and rich gifts and also united. What caught me especially was his claim that oikoumene is impossible without friendship and personal relationship.
by Maggie Breen
Early on Thursday, October 24, I will fly to the Republic of Korea to participate in the Global Ecumenical Theological
Institute (GETI). The institute takes place in Seoul and Busan from October 25 to November 9, 2013, alongside the World Council of Churches' 10th Assembly. It brings together 150 younger (under 45!) advanced theology students from all regions of the world and all Christian denominational traditions to be with dedicated faculty and leaders in the ecumenical movement. The group will study and help each other think more deeply about the theme "the future of ecumenism and the transformation of World Christianity in the 21st century.”
What a joy and gift it will be to be able to engage the ideas and understanding of colleagues from around the world. The small group to which I have been assigned has participants from Botswana, Korea, Myanmar, Cambodia, Finland, Romania, Grenada and the US. We will engage in bible study and prayer together, and we will hear lectures
from and be in conversation with professors who have dedicated their careers to the study of ecumenism, its call and implications.
As someone immersed in grassroots ecumenism, working with churches on a local level as we move towards deeper understanding and as we seek to be a community that loves and cares for the world in the name of this one who unites us, I will be listening carefully
and asking questions of the business of the assembly. I will be paying close attention to how the conversations at this macro level speak to and can be informed by the local experience. In this hinge period, with our culture shifting in significant ways, and with our communities hungering for places of belonging and peace, how can the ecumenical church point to God’s faithful action amongst us? And how can we lead in the ways of justice and peace?
I am so very thankful for this opportunity, for the support of my church, and of my school, Seattle University. I will be blogging here as I go – hopefully providing a glimpse of some of the things I am seeing and hearing, what we are uncovering together and what it looks like when God’s people come together on such a grand scale to dialogue and worship. I would ask your prayer for God’s leading and for a spirit of openness, vulnerability and
courage that I might bring my whole heart to this gathering.
June 27, 2013
What a gift you have given in this upcoming sabbatical! First of all, let me say thank you. Thanks to all of you for the endless ways that you have supported this opportunity for study, rest, and renewal for me, and for clarity of mission and strength for the future for the St. Andrew community. As you know, I’ll be away on sabbatical Monday, July 8th through Sunday, October 6th. I’ll use this time in a few interrelated ways. Near the beginning, we are taking the opportunity to travel in Europe. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our family as Claire makes her transition to college, and Peter to high school (Barb and I also celebrate our 25th anniversary in September!). The travel will support my research by getting me to the birthplace of Reformed theology in Scotland and Switzerland. The remainder of my sabbatical will be spent reading and writing in fulfillment of the Doctor of Ministry degree through San Francisco Theological Seminary, which I began in 2009.
I can imagine many of you have questions. When Session first discussed the possibility of a sabbatical in 2010, we produced a policy that includes a wonderful rationale that gets to its purpose. (You can find the full document on “Sabbatical Policy” – along with all our other policies and procedures – on the St. Andrew website in the “File Cabinet”. You can also find a link to the document here (– call Rosemary at the church office if you don’t have the password yet.). It reads in part like this:
Sabbatical Leave for pastors is a planned time of intensive enhancement for ministry and mission. Sabbatical Leave follows precedents in the academic community and among a growing number of private sector groups. This “extended time” is qualitatively different from “vacation’ or “days off.” It is an opportunity for the individual to strategically disengage from regular and normal tasks so that ministry and mission may be viewed from a new perspective because of a planned time of focus.
Sabbatical Leave is an extension of the Biblical concept of a Sabbath day and a Sabbath year for renewal. It is both an act of faith that God will sustain us through a period of reflection and changed activity and an occasion for recovery and renewal of vital energies.
I love what I get to do with you, but there is no doubt that the work, by its nature, tends to be all-consuming. One of the great gifts of a sabbatical is the ability to rest for a time from the constant reflection and discernment involved in the ongoing, daily work of ministry. While Maggie and Julie Kae remain with you in a pastoral capacity for the three months I’m gone, I will be able to give myself more fully to the work of the dissertation/project. I do not expect to have it completed by the time I return in October, but I hope to have made some significant progress.
In order to successfully give myself to this work, it is necessary for me to “disengage from regular and normal tasks.” That means that although you may see Barb and the kids—as much as it is a loss for me!—you will not see me at church during this time period. That’s where Julie Kae and Maggie come in. They will work with Session and the Deacons. They will guide the work from day-to-day, along with Rosemary and the rest of the staff and leadership.
Now, you may see me around town. If you do, let me ask you a big favor. Please say “hi.” Please feel free to tell me how you are and what’s new. But as much as you may want to talk with me about particularities of the church’s mission and ministry, do your best to resist. The problem is I care a great deal about these things, and once I get thinking about them, it takes away energy from my more specific sabbatical work. Helping me to “disengage” from these day-to-day issues serves the larger goal of the sabbatical. Maggie & Julie Kae will be responsible for keeping me apprised of anything I may need to know.
We are fortunate in having in Julie Kae and Maggie, profoundly gifted ministers who will continue to be your pastoral presence in my absence. As I think you know, Maggie, Julie Kae and I work as a pastoral team in all we do. Even though I am absent, you have two-thirds of that team that remains, fully capable to continue to serve and guide St. Andrew’s worship and work and to be present with you individually. You have heard about the additional fundraising for my sabbatical. That money will be divided equally between Maggie and Julie Kae to pay them each for roughly 12 additional hours per week while I’m gone. In my absence, they will oversee the most essential aspects of my work with you: worship, preaching, pastoral care, spiritual life, leadership, administration, and the Session and Deacons. Let me encourage you to contact them with any pastoral concerns you have, just as you would me. They are both equally available to you.
Finally I want to give thanks to your leadership, and particularly that of the Session. Much of the credit for our process goes to your Session who has crafted a sabbatical design and a manageable and creative funding structure to allow it to happen for a church such as ours with limited resources. And our ability to see it through has much to do with all of you and your roles individually and together in creating a community of generosity, self-giving, truth and love.
See you soon!
Grace & Peace,
Julie kae sigars
If memory serves, it was the summer of 1995…I went to the Presbyterian Association of Musicians Summer conference in Albuquerque. I was kind of fearful, but I had spent a year as a choir director. And I knew I was missing something. Maybe these people could help me.
One of my classes was The Theology of Worship. It stopped me in my tracks. "You mean,” I said, “All the things we do in worship actually MEAN SOMETHING? We do them for a REASON?”
This moment for mission is billed as stewardship and it is.
This is what I want you to know: That I have no doubts that St. Andrew is alive and vibrant. This is how I know St. Andrew is Alive and Vibrant...
You've no doubt heard by now that the Session has authorized the celebration of weekly communion during the "extraordinary" times of our church year, the seasons of feasts and festivals—Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter and the transitional Sundays around those seasons. In our understanding of the church year, extraordinary is contrasted with so-called "ordinary" time, those Sundays when the paraments are green, those Sundays in our yearly cycle that celebrate God's presence in the slow and steady-growth ordinariness of our life. Together the seasons alert us to the astonishing variety of ways we encounter the transforming presence of God in our lives.
Chuck Sigars is currently an elder at St. Andrew and a newspaper columnist and author.