Thoughts from the Pastor

Living in a Silo

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. – Acts 2: 5-6

Last month I travelled to Elgin, Illinois for my first meeting with the Program and Arrangements Committee that is in charge of planning Annual Conference for the Church of the Brethren. It is a position I was elected to during the 2021 Annual Conference, and I will serve in this role for three years. The task of planning conference is in many ways daunting but perhaps most difficult is trying to faithfully represent the diversity of the “Brethren” in one conference.

We are a people who think differently theologically, a people with different worship preferences, a people who read scripture differently, and yes, a people who preach and speak in different languages. It is naïve to think that any one congregation fully represents what it means to be “Brethren” today. Still, even as we as a committee wrestled with calling leadership that represented the wide spectrum of the Brethren, there is blessing in being reminded of our diversity.

We live in a world where it is easy to only listen to ideas and thoughts that match up with our own. This is true culturally and it is true for our faith. The term that gets thrown around is that we are prone to live in “information silos.” We can block, ignore, and disengage from any information, opinion, or thoughts that are different than our own and so we end up having our ideas, beliefs, and thoughts reinforced. This can create tension in our culture and has already created tension in our denomination.

All of this has been exacerbated by the pandemic that has required us to be socially apart for a time, allowing many to further fortify their silo. For me, my work with Program and Arrangements has opened my eyes to how desperately we need diversity, especially in our faith. I continue to be moved by the story of Pentecost when a diverse group of individuals had gathered in Jerusalem and suddenly each are able to hear the good news of Jesus, not in some single unified language, but each heard the good news in their own language. The good news continues to be multi-lingual and multi-cultural; it refuses to be boxed in nor can it be owned or controlled. ~Pastor Nathan