Letter: Unheard “In-Between” of Listening Process

The Listening Process these past few months has been a blessing, a frustration, and a ________ (you fill in the blank).

We have all been invited and pushed into it from different angles and might find ourselves on different places of the continuum even within one hour of a day.

However, we’ve only heard two opposing sides. The voices have been “for” or “against” with little room to express that you might be “in-between.”

The middle ground is a hard position to claim because the point of being in the middle is that you simply cannot claim for one reason or another.

Are you trying hard to listen to both positions, yet wanting to throw your hands up from the overwhelming validity each side brings?

Or do you recognize that you have no words to articulate a nice, clean, and organized position?

Or are you standing in the middle because you became frustrated and are now apathetic to it all?

Do you actually have an opinion but don’t feel safe to express it, either for fear that it will make you a magnet for attempted persuasion, or it will force tension into your closest relationships? Makes sense.

We have heard these positions given from students, faculty and staff without an avenue to safely express it.

We are not a part of a club or sponsored group. We are not seeking to create a third “middle” group in the Listening Process debates.

We were not even friends before this initiative.

We just recognize that there is an important middle ground growing more and more frustrated, confused, and squeltered as the semester continues.

We came together as this “non- group” and realized that some of this frustration centered on a fear that our Church around the globe and our community here at EMU would split-despite our best efforts.

Then we remembered that the Church over 2,000 years ago was founded on conflict.

And surprisingly enough, that gave us hope.

There is a lot of pain. Theology is up for question. Lives are on the line, but this is not the first time.

So looking back to the New Testament’s advice on conflict, we started thinking that maybe another panel, forum, or paper presentation would not be our full solution.

We come together recognizing that more words are not helping all of us. We believe that we must actively seek the Holy Spirit — together.

This conflict is out of our hands, out of our strength. It’s more than us.

Only God can bring us through. That, we believe, is the solution. We promise not to have sermons. No speeches. We won’t force you to share your opinion because we recognize that your opinion might change within the hour or day.

We only want to engage the Listening Process by listening to the Holy Spirit and seeking Jesus in our identity and the face of the other. That is our only goal. Prayers will be individual, personal, optionally guided or silent, in prayer stations, in pairs or groups of three — with no time limits or stipulations except one; please, do not “pray your opinion” or pray that someone’s mind would be specifically changed.

We also invite you to just come for two short minutes and anonymously express your position on a tangible continuum we will provide.

We think your voice matters. Thank you.
See you (faculty/staff/students) there!

Krista Rittenhouse, Michelle Zook, Jacob Landis and Emily Hodges. 

Categories: Opinion

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