Explorers in Uncharted Territory

Explorers in Uncharted Territory

It goes by many names: Uncharted Territory, Wilderness Wanderings, Liminal Space. None of them evoke feelings of fun and frolic. We don’t like uncertainty.  We long for predictability and the illusion of control that it offers.

We have inaugurated our new Conference and we have plunged right into that space.  We unveiled an aspirational staff model at our fall Annual Meeting several months back. Since then we have reviewed and revised that model with the insight and experience of our current staff.  We’ve looked across our 3 historic Conferences (and beyond) to determine appropriate and equitable compensation guidance for our Conference’s staffing.  In the past few weeks, we have begun to receive the information we need to analyze the 2019 final incomes and expenses from each of our historic Conferences. That brings us to the point where we can begin costing out our revised aspirational staff model. At the same time, we have been collecting and reviewing job descriptions so that we can develop clarity on the scope of work needed in various staff positions. In the next few weeks, your Board of Directors will look at those costs, our projected budget and our scopes of work and will reshape the model to embody our Vision.  All of that keeps us right in the middle of uncharted territory, wilderness wanderings and liminal space. 

That seems very appropriate as we approach the season of Lent; that time to remember Jesus' time in the wilderness. It is the time to hear the story again and immerse ourselves in it.  And while we might wish that it could last only 40 days (rather than 40 years or even 40 months), Lent teaches us not how to endure the wilderness, but rather how to find faithful life there. This is one of the most essential lessons of spiritual practice and formation. How do we learn to live with God in the wilderness?

And in our world this is also the place in which God’s Church finds itself. Wandering in a new spiritual landscape that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable is the reality of our communities of faith. Here God’s church is being Called to that same most essential lesson of spiritual practice and formation. How do we learn to live with God in the Wilderness?   

The answer to that question is absolutely life giving.   

That has been true, as well, for your SNEUCC staff. They have been thrust into the wilderness (dare I say: ‘driven there by the Holy Spirit’). Its not a place of choice. It is a place fraught with the pitfalls of anxiety, frustration, sadness and fear. It is also the place of liminal lessons. They are called upon to do all the ministry that they have been doing. They are called upon to imagine and wait for clarity which is often only gradually revealed. (Daily Manna is often neither easy nor appealing). They know the hopes and dreams God has given our Conference and they are immersed in all the current realities. They are uncertain about their own future even as they are ministering to the many challenges and anxieties within our clergy and churches. At the same time, they are learning whole new skill sets for Living the Love and Justice of Jesus in transitional times. They are embodying what we are asking all of our churches to do. They are embodying what, I believe, God is asking every one of us to do, always. So, Pray for them. No, really, I mean it, Pause right now and pray for them.  ………….

And pray for our Conference.

And pray for our communities of faith. 
We’re all going to be in Uncharted Territory, Wilderness Wanderings and Liminal Space for a while. With God. 

Photo by Lyle Wilkinson on Unsplash


Don H. Remick

Don Remick is Bridge Conference Minister.

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