by Bart Halloran, Moderator
I recently visited an old friend in Canada who asked the routine question “What’s new?” When I told him I was the moderator at AHCC he simply asked, “Why?” When I tried to laugh it off, he repeated, “No really, why?”
That’s a good question. Why am I doing this? Last week we had a four hour Executive Committee meeting, in two weeks we will have a lengthy budget meeting, followed quickly by an all committees meeting then a Diaconate meeting. I have a career, a wife, three daughters and five grandchildren. I will be 68 in August. My decision to step up is not logical.
Like everyone else, I have had my struggles and disappointments, but truly I have been blessed with good health, opportunities, and the love of my parents, wife, and daughters. I believe that all of us want the same things: love, respect, laughter, joy, health and the blessing of the same gifts for our loved ones.
I can’t tell you how many times I have changed my firmly held beliefs over the years, ascribing my previous position to ignorance, fear, or prejudice. The recent retreat for deacons which focused on implicit racism, sexism and the other “-isms,” opened my eyes again to how much I have to learn, and this is again a condition common to all.
We have challenges to confront in our city, our state, and our country. At a time when the Christian message of personal accountability, love, and respect are most needed, church attendance is declining. Many of our children have walked away from church, disillusioned by the hypocrisy of some who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus while espousing hatred.
While these challenges are daunting, I believe they are far less than the challenges faced by those generations which worshiped in this place before us. They overcame economic disasters and war. While honoring this past, we can’t ignore the fact that the past was imperfect, that many of the prejudices and unequal treatment of races, genders, and sexual orientations was wrong and immoral. While progress has been made, we are still far from the promised land.
We have so much: a beautiful church, the legacy and generosity of those who came before us, truly spiritual and caring ministers, a dedicated staff, and the love of God. Together we can head down a road of hope, faith, and growth, rejecting the fear, hatred, and prejudices of our time, opening our doors to all – truly a church united.
The reason I am volunteering my time is that I hope to grow, and I hope to create a condition in which all of us can grow in our understanding, love, and our common humanity. Not every venture will bear fruit, but I believe our faith calls on us to act, listen and do what we can together to alleviate suffering, and make this world a better place.