Friday, September 13, 2013

The Truth

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.   Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have to say what’s on my heart,  and I’m going to say it straight— the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I was never any good at bootlicking; my Maker would make short work of me if I started in now!   Job 32:14-16  (The Message)

The clever use of IRS requirements, which makes everyone quake in their boots, to imply that this group of "old women" just do not understand that some of these things have to happen, accomplishes the goal of taking control of UTO because the law say that DFMS has to bring the UTO under compliance.  This sounds so very logical; of course we all have to comply with the IRS!

This is reminiscent to me of how biblical quotes are often used--to prove women should not be ordained; to prove being gay is a "cardinal sin;" to prove marriage can only exist between one man and one woman.   We can now use the IRS regulations to prove that all money belongs to the part of the Episcopal Church living in the edifice of 815--which the United Thank Offering primarily built.

Ponder this quote from the press release describing the dedication of that great edifice called "815," on Monday, April 29, 1963.

NEW YORK, --- The new, national Episcopal Church Center, 815 Second Avenue, was dedicated Monday, April 29.
Presiding Bishop Lichtenberger laid the cornerstone. Also taking part in the dedication ceremonies was the Church's highest ranking layman, Clifford P. Morehouse, president of the House of Deputies.
The ceremony took place under the arcade that runs the full length of the Second Avenue facade. In the cornerstone the Presiding Bishop placed six foundation symbols: a cross, the Holy Scriptures, the Book of Common Prayer, the Constitution and Canons and the Journal of the 1961 General Convention, the United Thank Offering Box which belonged to the founder of the special women's offering, and the lists of memorials, thank-offerings, and other gifts in addition to lists of contributors to the building.

The sadness is that it is true that the thinking and dreaming of the women who began the United Thank Offering has been a main source of innovation in the church.  The possibility of international women missionaries; the idea of health and retirement benefits for those who have served faithfully without the option of building personal resources-the forerunner of the Church Pension Fund--a gift to the church from the women who serve; the establishment of The Church Building Fund to allow the building of small churches through out the world--all made possible by a grass-roots effort of women understanding that every penny counts. Under the oversight of the Chief Operating Officer, this process will cease to exit as it has been known.  The Institutional Church is not the hot-bed of imagination or innovation--and that is one of the reasons the church does not acquire membership among those of the digital age.  The Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, recently said, "Innovation never comes from established institutions."  One of the things that makes the United Thank Offering work is that it never becomes institutionalized because the board responsible is ever changing, sending out trained church leaders and bringing in new brains and new ideas.

Mark Harris said to me that one of the problems is that the women of the church have not created a power base; servant leadership is not about power--it is about service. Therefore, even the faithful women on the current board who have not resigned have stayed because, although they have experienced the same treatment and acknowledge that, they still can't believe that the clergy and bishops whom they serve really mean what they have said--they have said it, and done it, but don't mean it.

I will be sad if DFMS wins the battle of saying that the four who left just did not understand the need to be in compliance with the IRS; that is a story crafted to make us look incompetent at best.  And sadly, one day, the options of input from a group of people, for it is not only women, who seek to encourage innovation by the process of the granting program, will no longer be part of the Church.

There is this constant option of UTO becoming a 501c3, but UTO is a very different organization than ERD.  It is not a fundraising ministry, it is a life discipline--it provides for a lifetime awareness of thankful living and it belongs central to the church, if the church is living its mission, for it is a movement and not a fundraising body.  The people in the pews feel a relationship to the people who receive grants--to me UTO is the viable, extraordinary example of the Body of Christ at work--reaching out with love to provide for miracles.  I hate that this may come to an end on my watch.  Nowhere in the revised bylaws presented to us was this theology of a life discipline of thanksgiving central to the original bylaws ever mentioned. So while I might now advocate for a 501c3 to protect the life of UTO, I have always agreed that walking within, beside, above, and below the church was where we belong.

We UTO Four knew this protest would be hard; we had so many great plans for UTO --for the 125th anniversary; for an exciting new grant focus that addressed the violence in a hurting world; simple things like virtual blue boxes.  We each loved the work we had been given to do on this board—and each of us had a different task that was part of the whole. It is a real loss, and we will grieve for a while, and we are still grieving the loss of Sarita. She would say to us: "God has a plan."  I want Sarita to ask God to send us an angel to help us understand. I keep waiting to get a sense of what the plan is; and patience has never been my virtue.

Robin ( and barbi and georgie and renee in spirit!) 

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