There was a time when a conversation starter might be, “If you could have a super power which would you want: To be invisible or to fly?” Your answer would say something about you. It might signal the difference between wanting to soar above the world and move from place to place or wanting to hide from the world or to know the secret thoughts of others? But what does it signal to others if the super power you ask for is a discerning heart? What if that super power was simply to be wise? In this story, what is it that Solomon asks for – wisdom? What if you could seek wisdom? Where would you go to find it?
One of the responsibilities and privileges of being a part of a denomination that is heir to the congregational charism is that the wisdom gained by theological thinking is owned by all of us, both ordained and lay person, graduate school education or not. We are all called into wisdom’s courts and expected to think about our faith and to do that joining our rationality and the convictions born in the heart. We must learn to think and feel with intention about what we believe. Learning to do that impacts how we will train ministers in the coming decades to address our congregational way and faith, and how we will help form the faith of all our people. The UCC is asking us all about what wisdom is at hand to think about these things?
This was why our offices in Cleveland organized a two-day symposium in April of 2018. Called “From the Ground Up: Reimaging Theological Formation” the intention of this meeting was an invitation to all members of this beloved denomination to think together about faith formation in our churches and our seminaries. Rev. Alice Hunt, former president of Chicago Theological Seminary, and vice-chair of the UCC Board of Directors, made the call at General Synod in 2017 for us the think about the faith formation of all our people, from cradle to grave, and to imagine how that formation might be consistent with what it means to be a part of this United Church of Christ. She said, “We won’t be relevant, as people of faith, individually, in our communities of faith, and as the United Church of Christ, unless we build our life, work, and actions on solid theological formation.”
What does your church do to offer theological reflection and faith formation for the people in your congregation? What do you believe about life’s big questions and what is the place of the church and who is Jesus Christ for this broken and beautiful world? Your denominational partners care about these things and about how we share our collective wisdom. And, above all, how that will impact the way we train our ministers in the future.