Addendum to Executive Summary for Living Waters Hope
Revs. Linda and Dan Anderson-Little
June 3, 2015
Bishop Roger Gustafson asked us to reflect on “how we experience hope in the closing of Living Waters”.
It’s a wonderful question. We both have remained hopeful about the future of the church, the need for continued mission and experimentation in our changing culture, as well as personal hope in the presence of God in our own lives. Below we highlight some concrete sources of hope:
Impact: We know that we have made an impact in some people’s lives; we have given skeptical and hurting people a new conversation, a new opportunity. We trust through the miracle of the Spirit, this will continue to ripple out.
Small Group: The impact we’ve made is most notable in the Small Group that met consistently from the very beginning of Living Waters. The depth of conversation and shared intimacy has far surpassed any experience either of us has had in our traditional church experience. We are heartened that at least 6 members of this group will continue to meet 3x/month with us as part of our personal outreach and spiritual practice which continues to be a source of great hope.
Support: We have been humbled by and so grateful for the support we have received from every corner of the church – both as we imagined Living Waters, carried it out and closed it. We have had wonderful conversations and engagement with the staff of our local and national judicatories, colleagues, our Steering Team and Intercessory Prayer Team, as well as those in “official” committees tasked with decisions to support us and offer oversight. Even as we struggled with Linda’s health challenges and the decision to close, we have been buoyed by the prayers and love of so many, which continues to give us hope.
Discernment: We both feel God’s continued presence and grace in our lives. We’re discerning what we gained from this experience and are still in process of listening to what God might be up to next for us. Dan is pursuing some possible Interim Pastor positions to provide income during this process. Linda is exploring what kinds of ministry and commitments will be compatible with health and well-being. We have also realized that we can “discern rightly and still decide incorrectly”. We rightly discerned the need for mission with the “Nones”, trying bold experiments in ministry, and that we both have gifts for mission development. However, Linda engaging in this kind of ministry, and perhaps trying to build ‘fast and big’ were not correct decisions. The gift of distinguishing between discernment and decision, gives us hope that God’s faithfulness is ever true, even in the midst of our limitations.
Funds: We’re grateful for the shared discernment of our judicatories, coach, Steering Team and Prayer Team that it was time to conclude the ministry before all the resources dwindled. We find hope that there is still $47,000 still available for new mission in the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy and the Central States Synod.
Faith: Because this has been such a positive experience in so many ways, we are sad, disappointed and very sorry Living Waters did not work, but we have not been brutalized or torn up by it. We rest with conviction on the very core of our faith, which is that God raises new life from death and God always has the final answer. We trust in our resurrection hope that death is not final and that the Holy Spirit will always work new ways to bring grace and love to all of creation.
Photo Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_piep600'>piep600 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>