NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
Just a little something to share with you all. Here in Norman, we have had a “retired ministers’” fellowship group for about nine years meeting monthly. There may be others, but this is one I invited together from ministers I had been friends with over the years.
It occurred to me last fall that it might be fun and mutually enlightening to invite some active ministers to meet with us in one of our meetings. All agreed with enthusiasm, and so I began to invite them from the Norman Ministerial Fellowship and from the phone book. It was fun chatting with them on the phone, and many to most I did not know. All were interested in this new idea.
In the ministerial world, it can be difficult to have time to meet and visit with other churches’ or denomination’s ministers, especially when you know you may view or even believe differently. Our Norman Ministerial Fellowship also offers monthly opportunities for getting to know one another and work for the community together for those who seek it out.
But in our today’s world of “differences” and little and big “separatenesses,” a real effort has to be made to get outside one’s comfortable niche to visit the neighbor next door or to reach out with a greeting to the many we pass by each day in buildings and out of doors.
It’s even harder if you are aware that others in their lives and in their churches might not agree with you or hold similar beliefs, hopes or wanderings. It’s all too easy to take comfort in what we are used to or our way of doing it or thinking it or of feeling about it ... whatever “it” is.
So it was really a movement into the unknown to make these cold calls to invite whom you do not know and who does not know you to attend an hour-and-a-half meeting with other ministers whom they may not know or know very well, but even more than that to take the risk as an actively working minister to meet with old guys who have been retired for five to 10 years from their own active ministry.
Would they be polite? Would they push their “old” ideas? Would they provide an atmosphere for sharing your own experiences of ministry, ideas of faith or even worries and concerns over current issues? Hmm.
But about 25 of us got together through the courtesy of First Baptist Church in Hallock Hall of their legendary preacher of decades long ago. Eight of us retired pastors attended and about 17 active ministers of many different Christian denominations or communities. We met for a half-hour in little groups facilitated by a retiree and in a big group facilitated by yours truly for an hour.
We each spoke up and shared reflections about what are the challenges to ministry today as compared with that of yesteryears of us retirees. We all learned a lot from one another, asked questions and expressed clarifications of sameness and differences.
We did this so much and so well that one of us said afterward that someone ought to write an editorial on how fun it was to share together old and young in the midst of our uniquenesses, differences and samenesses. This is my attempt to do just that.
Many of us hung around for another half hour or more just enjoying learning from one another about what’s going on in the active ministries now as compared to what it was all about another lifetime ago.
And guess what? They want to meet with us again. And so we will come Oct. 1 and we hope many more will be able to come and join with us around the campfire.
Joe Ted Miller