Seth Fisher, Community Development Minister
This is an exciting time for me, and for Peoples Church. I’m at O’Hare right now, waiting for my flight to California for a program called Beyond the Call: Entrepreneurial Ministry. It’s a program for ministers who are working on doing ministry in new and exciting ways, and I’ve been invited because of the work we’re doing at Peoples Church, especially with The Coffee Hour. The Coffee Hour is an opportunity for people to come together in community to become better people and create a better world together through personal growth, art, music, volunteering, discussions, political action. If you haven’t heard about The Coffee Hour yet, you can find more information at meetup.com/
The-Coffee-Hour, facebook.com/peopleschurchcoffeehour, or just come to church any Sunday at 11:00!
So I’m excited about my trip and about collaborating with other Unitarian Universalist Ministers, United Church of Christ ministers and progressive Rabbis from all over north America – and I’m not complaining about getting away from the snow and ice for a few days either. But my thoughts are definitely going to be in Chicago on Sunday as the congregation gets together for the annual meeting. Especially because this is the Sunday when the church will vote on whether or not to ordain me at the end of the month. This is a big moment for me. Many years of planning and schoolwork, internships, recommendations, interviews, background checks, psychological evaluations, a lot of borrowed money and countless gallons of coffee have gone into this, and it all comes down to this congregational vote.
This is an important moment for the church too. It’s important because this is where we see that the highest authority in the church is the people, the community, the body of Christ. None of the preparation could make me an ordained minister in our tradition. The degrees, the recognition of the denomination, the internships, etc. don’t mean anything without a congregation that recognizes my call to ministry. In fact, none of the rest of that stuff is even strictly necessary. Our congregation has the authority to ordain anyone that it feels is called to ministry. It’s called congregational polity and it’s exercised most visibly at each ordination.
It’s a great reminder that we ordain ministers to a particular job as leaders – not set apart or set above the community, because the community includes us all and the community is the highest authority.
And this isn’t just the case with ordained professional ministry. We’re all called to some ministry or another. We can’t all be ordained religious professionals (thank God for that. We’d all starve!) but all of us have some special gift to share with the world and it’s a gift that we will only fully realize when we share it with others in community. So, pending the vote of the congregation on February 1st, I invite you to attend my ordination on February 22nd at 4:00. And more importantly, I invite you to think about your own calling. What is it that your heart is calling you to share with the world? As Frederick Beuchner said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” And I would add that wherever that place is, we’ll get there together.