If you have read the newspaper recently you might get the impression that clergy and churches in Craig do not cooperate or get involved in our community. Nothing could be further from the truth. We hope this editorial can clear up some of the confusion and clarify the role and responsibility of the clergy, church and individuals in our community.
First of all, we are thankful that our community has identified and is responding to the drug problem. The COMA task force and support of our mayor and community leaders are wonderful. Members of various churches are serving on the task force and subcommittees of COMA. Meth is a serious problem; so is domestic violence, divorce, depression, suicide, alcoholism, and a host of other problems we all face daily.
Mayor Dave DeRose called the pastors together in October for a lunch meeting at the Serendipity Coffee Shop. There were about 10 to 12 people at the meeting.
The goal of that meeting was to keep the churches informed and involved as we address the drug problem. Some of the people present at the meeting agreed to meet twice a month for prayer.
This seems to be where things got confusing. In a recent news article, Neil Folks claims to have called a meeting of the "ministerial alliance," an organization of local pastors. Neil Folks is not a pastor, so it is unclear how he could have called such a meeting. And certainly, if you are going to call such a meeting, it is best to notify the pastors.
We could find no evidence that there was a meeting, and none of the pastors we talked with were invited to a meeting.
Is there a ministerial alliance? Not by name, but there is by function. There is a monthly meeting of the clergy at a chaplains' meeting. Currently there is not a group called the Ministerial Alliance, but the clergy and churches are working together. Three years ago, there were separate chaplains meetings and ministerial meetings. Because there was so much duplication, we decided to primarily meet monthly as a Chaplains Corps. When a need requires more attention and planning, the clergy have scheduled additional meetings.
Did you know that the clergy work together to provide a chaplain 24 hours a day, seven days a week? We have Rex Splitt, Walt Vanatta and Buddy Grinstead to thank for supporting and establishing the Chaplains Corps. We want to thank Jerry Delong and Jerry Hoberg for their roles in supporting and working with the Chaplains Corps.
Since 1998, pastors have volunteered their time to be available for people in times of personal or spiritual crisis. Currently there are seven pastors serving as chaplains on a rotating "on-call" schedule.
Did you know that there are nine partner churches working together to meet the benevolent needs of our community through Love INC? For two years now churches have been cooperating like never before to address the financial and benevolent needs in our community.
Churches cooperate to provide baccalaureate services for graduation. Churches cooperate and organize the National Day of Prayer rally at the courthouse. Students and their adult leaders from Lutheran Church of Grace, St. Mark's Episcopal, First Christian Church and The Congregational Church cooperated in a food drive at Thanksgiving, caroling at Sand Ridge and Sunset Meadows. In addition, these groups meet on a weekly basis for fellowship, teaching and worship. Last summer, a youth rally and outreach concert were held that included many youth groups. So, as you can see, churches, youth groups and pastors do cooperate.
So this leads us to a very important question. What is the role of clergy? There is no way any pastor can be all things to all people. It is important for a pastor to be involved in the community and aware of what it is like to live real life in the community. If you look to the Bible, it seems clear that the role of the pastor is to lead and feed the sheep (John 21:15-17). As pastors equip and feed their congregations, the people become the ministers. If we rely on the pastors to do all of the work, there will be a lot of unfinished work. That is the beauty of the body. Every disciple of Jesus is called to be a minister.
What is the responsibility of the church?
The church is called to make a difference in the community. We are called to be his hands and his feet. We are called to bring the compassion of Jesus to our community. The local church is the body of Christ.
When we first read the article in the paper, we were disappointed and even discouraged by the words that were spoken and the impression that was given to our community.
But now, as we think about it, we can see that this is a great opportunity to clarify the role of the church and its relationship to our community.
"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
The church is alive and well. God is working in our community, and we are willing and happy to do our part to make Craig a better place.
We know and believe that this can happen as we build relationships with one another.
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15)
We will continue in prayer for our community that we all live in, and we will do our part to bring hope and encouragement to the members of our churches and community the best that we can.
In the future, we would prefer that if the paper would like information about the churches and the pastors, that it goes directly to the pastors with its questions.
We are only a phone call away. If you are a pastor and would like to get involved, contact one of us and we would be glad to let you know how you can get involved.