The staff of UCCI, both Pilgrim Center and Moonbeach, have spent a considerable amount of time exploring what it means to be performing ministry. One of the strong themes that has come out of this discussion is the concept of family. In our discussions it has frequently been stated that if we are performing good ministry as staff it often is because of, or results in, us treating each other and our guests as family.
As I ponder that concept I find myself struggling in an attempt to fine tune and articulate what it means to be part of the UCCI family. We certainly don’t mean a biological connection, although in truth many folks in the UCCI family are biological family members. I am also painfully aware that not every individual has an ideological ‘Leave it to Beaver’ image of what a family might look like. There are many wonderfully healthy and rich families that do not fit that 1950’s cookie cutter example. There are tragically also more examples of unhealthy and abusive family relationships than any of us truly wish to acknowledge. With that in mind, I am hesitant to simply declare all is well and good if you are part of the UCCI family.
I believe the concept of family needs to be more specifically and fully defined. When we talk about the UCCI family we are referring to a group of individuals who make every attempt to interact with one another in the spirit of love. This means we treat each other with respect. We operate with an understanding of truthfulness. We strive to understand each other’s perspectives and positions in life. When we encounter disagreements in life we want all of the affected parties to reach a greater understanding of the other person’s position before an agreement is obtained. When life gets messy we want to help one another clean up the mess and put the pieces back together again. We are certainly not a ‘Leave it to Beaver’ family, and for that I am grateful.
I think at times maybe we are more like a group of disciples who gathered together in an attempt to follow the teachings of a man named Jesus. These disciples came from many walks of life and did not always agree on things. At times a few of them made some grave errors and some of them were more block headed than others. In the end, they came together in an attempt to carry on and strengthen the ideas that were most important to them.
That is the type of family I see within UCCI, if you a looking for that type of family, then welcome aboard!
~ Rev. Nathan Athorp