It is my joy to invite Dan Schwerin, facilitator of our Task Force on the Wisconsin Option for the future, to share his thoughts and reflections in this week’s Soul Food.
Thank you for your thinking in the last Soul Food message and your commitment to a ‘do no harm’ unity that engenders radical inclusion. I wonder if I can offer a response that is not meant to be a last or better word, only a word from a fellow hand in the field.
Some of us experience unity as being partnered in an abusive relationship with the Church. This partner abuses power and seeks silent assent. This partner lacks insight into its own behavior. The vessel of covenant becomes an instrument of abuse. That said our entire human condition is in a state of mutual incomprehension that requires covenant community for discernment. More than that, the corruption we share—whether it be human nature, or self-interest, or the inherent limits of having eyes on one side of our heads--means we must welcome God's wholeness for us to taste a healing wholeness. Your article reminds me we need a God whose nature is One, especially now.
With each passing day each of us moves toward surrender into the Wholeness of a Shalom that already is, the Wholeness that is our death and resurrection. At any moment an accident or angina could reveal the whole that is always present but easily forgotten. The healing nature of Wholeness is lost among us when unity is a bully stick. Unity is part of the sacred flow of righteousness that is the good of our life together. We enjoin the good and enlarge it, and reveal the kin-dom of God when we can dismantle structures of racism and sexism and abuse that we might make the stream of wholeness larger and undivided.
Whatever measure of unity that remains after 2020, a harvest is ready now in Wisconsin. We cannot have some siblings live in fear of trials or reprisal. I feel urgency to make progress with the Wisconsin Way Forward and to choose a preferred future rather than have a lesser one dumped in our laps.
For those who may not have heard about the Bishop’s Task Force and the Wisconsin Way Forward, a new task force has been assembled with an inclusive composition in order to:
- Increase among us just resolution practices rather than resort to trials.
- Work with GCORR (the General Commission on Religion and Race) and the Connectional Table to dismantle racism/exclusion in our systems.
- Deepen conversation about human sexuality and action a do no harm culture than can reach each of our people.
- Engender a radical inclusion lived in our structures and the moral documents of our budgets.
- Free our systems of Egypt that we can be led by love and serve those God is giving us to love.
This will take time and prayer—and call forth a healing unity—which is frightening to us now.
I have heard disappointment that persons who identify as LGBTQIA will be marginalized if we work on racism, and I have heard that if we work on LGBTQIA issues, our Persons of Color will be marginalized. I believe in our efforts to get Egypt out of our bones, we are most free when we are led by love, not fear. Bishop, I pray that we discover unity alive among us by means of love that dismantles the unjust systems before us.
As you know, I have tried often to withdraw from service in our life together. I tire of the attacks of Christians. I think you, too, must tire of the attacks. That said, I am tired, too, of seeing others hurt—and the hurt we share. Too much is at stake. Your letter reminded me we cannot withdraw from the body that gives us life. The unity we enjoy in the life of God is a gift and our healing. Thank you for your leadership in making disciples loving enough to transform the world.
Yours in Christ.
Rev. Dan Schwerin
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).