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Eastern Washington Legislative Conference 2018

Regional church leader’s closing prayer is a call to courage and action        

Courtney Stange-Tregear is minister of church vitality for the regional United Church of Christ.

Courtney Stange-Tregear began closing remarks at the Jan. 27 Eastern Washington Legislative Conference telling of her role to help congregations think in new ways about vitality in her work as minister of church vitality with the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ

“We tend to think that education, evangelism and formation are on one side, and advocacy, social justice and lobbying are something separate,” she said, “but there is no vitality without community connection and being relevant in the community. 

“There is no way we can evangelize if we do not know with whom we are talking,” she said.

Courtney helped participants debrief what they learned to help them look at where they were going.

She invited them to reflect on what value drives them and their communities, and how that value compels them to act.

She also encouraged participants to think about potential partners—people and organizations—to work with to accomplish their goals.

“It’s great to come together to talk about justice, and to see that others care about justice and want their convictions, love and faith to change the world,” Courtney said.

Through a prayer, she then spoke of people gathering from different places, economies, races and histories despite the “myth” that says “institutions are dead, community is lost, neighborhoods are no more and traditional families are threatened.”

“This myth also says our independence is our most valuable possession, might makes right, some worked hard and made it on our own, that bootstraps have pulled anyone up. This myth persists,” she said.

Courtney said the participants gathered, not as independent, autonomous individuals, but as people formed by faith communities, institutions, families and neighbors.

“It is not our independence but our interdependence that matters most,” she said.  “Our interdependence changes lives, challenges the status quo and brings God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.”

She pointed out that the “myth” is not a myth, but is a “strategy” to keep people separate, keep people down, keep people afraid and keep people fighting each other instead of fighting injustice.

“It is a strategy to use power over us, so we can’t recognize the power we have together. It is a strategy to make us think that if we get enough individuals on our side we will change things,” Courtney said, “but we know that community, love and connection change the world.

“So we pray we will go forth, not just with the courage of our convictions but also with the power of our communities,” she said.

“We will dismantle white supremacy, loosen the bonds of poverty, house the homeless, care for this planet, de-escalate our habitual state of violence and, with #MeToo fresh on our lips to challenge sexual assault and harassment, we will also smash the patriarchy.

“We pray we will have the courage to listen to one another, to believe the truth of what we hear, especially from the voices of those who are different from us,” she continued.

“We pray we can reject the strategy of independence and claim proudly our interdependence, because we are in this together. We’ve been called from all our different places, called together for just such a time as this,” Courtney concluded.

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