Many Voices, One Mission: The Why of Unity
by Kent Siladi
With this first edition of Many Voices, One Mission, the staff of the three “Together as One” Conferences (Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island) are launching an experiment in sharing with you some perspectives of our collective ministries in the Conference setting of the United Church of Christ.
The Together as One “Mission, Purpose and Vision Statement” provides a powerful declaration of what brings us together as a people:
God’s Vision: United in Christ's love, a just world for all.
The Church’s Mission: United in Spirit and inspired by God's grace, we welcome all, love all, and
seek justice for all.
Our Purpose: To love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength
and our neighbor as ourselves.
Our United Covenant: Living the Love and Justice of Jesus.
At a recent gathering with some staff colleagues, we each had an opportunity to respond to the “why” of our work and collective ministries. It was a deep and substantive conversation that illuminated our passions and commitments. When it came to my turn about my “why” of my ministry I centered my comments on working to fulfill the mission to which we are called. It is my belief that as disciples of Jesus we are invited to discern, discover, and align ourselves with God’s activity in the world. We need together to ask, “Where is God present in the world?” “What does God need us to do to point to the realm of God in our midst?” “How can God use our gifts and talents and our corporate will to transform our communities, our states, our nation, and this very world in which we live?”
This discernment, of course, is not an individual journey. We need one another to share our glimpses of God, to build the beloved community, and to work together to make this world more just, more loving, and more compassionate.
We are in the midst of a time where the church is changing, and not one of us can say with absolute certainty where the church is headed. Let me suggest that the only way forward for the church today is by having a mission that turns outward to the world. Our congregations and our wider church need to look outward and shout to the world that Jesus Christ is Sovereign without being judgmental or formulating value judgments regarding the worth of others. One of the greatest challenges of our time is to reclaim this essential part of our faith without losing the passion for social justice or falling victim to the bigotry that often accompanies such a faith. The times in which we live call for prayer and action, for witness, and for building partnerships with those who seek the common good.
Our forebears in the faith were so convicted by a sense of unity that they set aside some significant differences to form our communion. That animating spirit of oneness is still alive among us. Our unity is not predicated on some “lock step” agreement on every single thing rather our unity is woven into the fabric of our commitment to Jesus Christ. As disciples, we are many voices who in our time are hoping to speak the truth about God’s love and God’s justice. As disciples, we follow the One who has shown us how to live. These times call for clarity of our mission as Christ’s church. Together we are invited into this mission. What fun! What a challenge! What a life-giving opportunity we have to be part of the great cloud of witnesses in our time. I look forward to my colleague’s contributions to this new blog initiative. Let us know what you think!
Rev. Kent J. Siladi is the Conference Minister of the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Many Voices, One Mission
is a regular series highlighting the ministries of the
CT, MA, and RI Conference of the United Church of Christ.
We invite users of this website to post comments in response to posts published here. In order to maintain a respectful community, we insist that comments be polite, respectful and tolerant of opposing viewpoints. We reserve the right to remove comments that are hostile, hateful or abusive to others, or that constitute personal attacks. In the interest of transparency, we highly recommend that users comment using their full names. For those who feel a need for more anonymity, however, we will allow posts using first names and last initial.