I am running for office in my residential town of Arlington, Massachusetts. “Wendy Vander Hart – a ♥ for Arlington” is my campaign slogan. (That's a heart emoji, in case it doesn't show in your browser.)
The position is humble Town Meeting Member. Fortunately, this does not require raising money for a campaign! I understand it as part of my personal declaration to embody our new Conference shared mission/purpose “Living the love and justice of Jesus.”
My home in Arlington has more than doubled in value in the eighteen years I have lived there. The tree canopy is shrinking in our town. Developers are squeezing in more units including less affordable ones. Traffic adds to our collective carbon footprint. The brand new neighborhood school was quickly over-subscribed because of poor planning and a significant addition was required three years into its existence.
Should I be called to serve I am sure I can add to this list of concerns. There are big impact issues at hand in our local communities.
My colleague Rev. Peter Wells used to say we need to “act glo-cally” – combining words to encourage us to think globally while acting locally. In some respects, I have no idea what I am getting myself in to. Acting on the impulses to move from the sidelines into the fray, to come to know my neighbors in a deeper way, to work for justice at every turn, to participate in our participatory government has led me to take this step.
At another level I am personally following through on what I preach, teach and provoke in our local congregations: ask what are your strengths, who is your neighbor and how is God bringing those strengths and relationships together?
Our most vital churches have a pulse on their neighborhood and are actively serving God’s people whether they darken the door of the building or not. They have a heart for their community and are living the love and justice of Jesus locally. Thank you Church, for teaching me to have a heart for Arlington.
Rev. Wendy Vander Hart is an Associate Conference Minister for the MA Conference, UCC.