The Denver Members of the cohort discussed the top nine key stakeholders and relational meetings we would like to have in order to build our network. Each of us took 3 names. The three relational meetings I will set up are with two leaders in other denominations, the Lutheran community in Colorado and the Methodist leadership in the Denver metro area. I will also talk with the leadership in a local nonprofit that is a jubilee ministry within the Episcopal Church and works with individuals who are experiencing homelessness.
Since each are faith based, I will share with them elements of my own faith journey as well as my work in economic development. I will share the journey of how I ended up working on these issues for the diocese, how I feel called by my faith to work with the poor and marginalized and the importance of shifting structures.
One risk will be in sharing my own struggles in working with parishes. How this is difficult work and often frustrating. Everyone feels the burden of these current times in the world and especially the United States, and everyone is stretched when it comes to time and resources. Many church leaders are working for less because their parishes cannot afford to pay them fully. I will share my own hope and my own sense of exhaustion and struggle to maintain my own faith.
I will ask them about their hopes and the struggles they are having. I will want to learn about the specific work they are doing in their faith communities. What do they see as most promising in dealing with struggling churches and struggling communities. I hope to learn how they are approaching the pressing issues of the day. Specifically, I am also interested in the Lutheran commitment to being a sanctuary church and the Methodist split on LGBTQIA issues and how they are dealing with this.
I tend to focus on the relational and as a result the necessary transaction issues can be overlooked. This can bring confusion and frustration. An example of this today was one of our jubilee ministries felt frustrated that I “had not gotten them grants”. While this is not part of my job for them, because of our conversations and connections they felt I would be doing this for them. The important part of both is setting boundaries as well as opening up the space for new possibilities. I need to grow at setting boundaries, especially around time, while not artificially shutting out new ways of doing things and building new relationships.
I do know people who are good at this, though the ones who I most admire have moved away. What I see in them, is the ability for self reflection without self shaming. The ability to speak their truth clearly without fear, to set boundaries, but also to be open through deep listening and being fully present with those whom they encounter.