One Church Many Cultures The Good News of Cultural Diversity Newsletter Spring/Summer 2021
Journeying Together – Campus Ministry
It is Freeing to Show Up for One Another, Acknowledging That Our Experiences Are Different
By: Kelly Adamson, Director of Residence Life Ministry and Campus Ministry Graduate Assistant Program, University of Dayton
Two phrases come to mind when I reflect on the Journeying Together process: listening with the ear of the heart and speaking the truth in love. This process is one of intentionally entering into conversations that are uncomfortable, but within a covenantal relationship that leans into the discomfort for the sake of Love. Each time we gather, we enter into a space in which difference is recognized and honored and in which we acknowledge that the Church is bigger than our lived experience or perspective of it. We listen to one another as we name the ways in which the Church is our beloved home even as we name the ways in which the Church is a place where harm has been done. We confess the ways in which we have fallen short – individually and collectively. We are real and radically honest.
Elsewhere in ministry, we say we dislike the language of theological spectrum (conservative/liberal and traditional/progressive), but too often we spend time trying to get a sense of where others are so we know if they are ‘safe’ with the truth of our experience of life with God and ministry and Church. Even as ministers, we can spend time trying put each other on the spectrum we claim is inadequate in an effort to gauge how honest we can be with one another and to determine where the comfortable and safe spaces are to be real.
There is something freeing about engaging in open and honest conversations through Journeying Together. I enter conversations with colleagues expecting to be a bit uncomfortable; expecting to be challenged; expecting to learn something about others, about myself, about God. I expect my assumptions about the infamous theological spectrum to be upended. And it is freeing. It is freeing to show up for one another acknowledging that our experiences are different, that are perspectives are unique, and that we share a common spiritual home that is a vibrant and living tradition. In this culturally diverse experience of Church I expect theological diversity in a way that does not judge it or shame it and try to coax it to be more like my theological perspective, but instead celebrates it.
As we continue journeying together as Church, I pray that we will grow in our ability to listen with the ear of the heart and to speak the truth in love. I also pray that the fruit of this process may be that we learn to expect, celebrate, and invite diversity in the Church in its many sacred forms.