January and February are report-writing season at CCS, as the various committees get ready for the Annual Meeting. As the Ted was preparing the staff report he went back to look at the monthly reports we send to Central Council. In the last year we’ve taken to, besides reporting on day-to-day tasks around the office, reflecting on “big picture” questions for the Centre. In looking back at those reflections, he thought they might be interesting to folks beyond the Central Council. So here are some reflections from the last year. This first one is from May, 2011:
Historically, constant change is the normal pattern at CCS. Perhaps, for the staff, this has been no more true than recently: three principals in as many years, four administrators in the same period, several shifts in Development and Community Relations, departure of a program staff, various revised job descriptions, a new governance structure. For your staff team, this represents a somewhat stressful reality that mixes the persistent spinning of the recent past, the demanding rush of the present and the unrevealed mystery of the projected future.
People react to transition in a variety of ways. All change involves adjustment. Each alteration involves losses, big and small. The book of Ruth illustrates some of the diversity of the reactions to transition. At the start of the story, Naomi, Ruth and Orpah are left widowed. Naomi reacts in bitterness and cannot wait to depart her adopted Moab, the location of her pain, and go home. Her daughter-in-law, Orpah chooses to stay put in Moab and avail herself of the comforts of her familiar homeland. Ruth refuses to leave her mother-in-law, insisting to Naomi, “My people will be your people, your God my God.” Part of our commitment to one another, as staff, is to recognize that each of us responds to change in slightly different ways. We want to honour one another’s reactions and support one another through and amidst our differences.
We are facing the fact of yet more changes. For some of us, the uncertainty ahead prompts a certain level of fear and apprehension. God’s abiding presence offers assurance in the face of the unknown. We intend, as staff, to stand firm in the knowledge and faith that we are not alone. “Do not fear, for I am with you…” (Isaiah 43: 5). “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and love…” (2 Timothy 1: 7). We want to remember to be grounded and centered in prayerfulness, that we might discern and behave in line with the way and life that is most important and most faithful.
“For everything there is a season…” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1) reminds us of the constancy of change, of the cyclical nature of life. Our task, as people of faith, is to discern the wise path. Is this a time to live in the moment appreciating the present and putting things into perspective? Or is this a time to engage with “blue sky” visioning and “hands on” planning? Is this a time to let go or invest heavily? Often, in our personal and institutional lives, moments of stability and retreat are warranted. These times of plateau and pause allow rest and lend perspective. Also, however, God clearly calls us into the whirlwind of change. Disciples are asked to leave their nets; Elijah is coaxed out of a cave; Mary sings a new song; Jonah is directed to Ninevah. Excuses are not accepted: Jeremiah is not too young; Sarah is not too old; Moses is not too tongue-tied; Isaiah’s lips are clean enough. We, as staff, commit ourselves to remembering that we do not, and the church and world do not, stay the same. We need to be part of moving into the future with courage and vision.
Clearly, we want both to honour our extremely significant history, and to look ahead. We hope our past will continue to inform our future. God calls us to be in community and into covenant with one another. In these present and future changes, we will aim to be welcoming to those who are newer and to be respectful in all our relationships. We aspire to be people with open spirits and minds in order that we might see each interaction and relationship as a chance to learn and grow. May it be so.