Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
You can follow Chip on twitter (@chiphardwick) or find him on Facebook (Chip Hardwick).
Yesterday I was in Atlanta for a meeting of the Special Committee on Funding Theological Institutions, a team which has worked since the last General Assembly (at its request) on the question of the best way for the denomination to raise money for the Presbyterian Church (USA) seminaries. There are seminary presidents, development professionals, members of the Committee on Theological Education, lawyers, a recent college graduate, pastors, and staff of the Presbyterian Mission Agency on the committee. We met at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA (just outside Atlanta--and pictured below).
This is the first time I have participated in a Special Committee and it was difficult to know what to expect. Compiling a group of individuals with a variety of different perspectives can be dicey—our different backgrounds and points of view can easily lead to division and frustration.
What I have found in this group, however, is the Spirit at work in the midst of our diverse backgrounds and commitments. It has been amazing to see how our different gifts have been bound together. The lawyer writes up a draft of what our conclusions might be by talking with folks between meetings. The development professional keeps us grounded with the most important tasks for the fundraising staff that we imagine. The pastor reminds us again and again about the importance of vision—that without it, the larger church will not give to theological education. The seminary presidents offer suggestions about how to navigate potential church politics. The chair of the committee keeps incorporating the views of everyone in the room.
It may not be as poetic as Paul's writings in 1 Corinthians 12: "the pastor cannot say to the lawyer, 'I have no need of you'" is not nearly as lyrical as "the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,'" but the conviction is the same. We are at our best when our gifts come together in unexpected ways for surprising blessings.
A Special Committee as Body of Christ—who knew? The committee experience lived up to its name: special. I am grieving a bit that our work is almost done…but mostly I am grateful for the chance to see Spirit at work in us and through us and despite us over the last year.