The following is a reflection of restructuring the church from outside the camp which was written by the Rev. John Ohmer for Center Aisle, a General Convention newsletter created by the Diocese of Virginia. The original article is online here: What If the Real Purpose of General Convention Lies Outside Its Structure?
The unanimous passage of the resolution to create a Task Force to restructure the Church may be the clearest sign yet that the real work of God takes place outside the official structures we’ve inherited. Indeed, the Holy Spirit seems to be most active and alive in what I’d call “Eldad Events” and “Medad Moments.”
Remember the story in the Book of Numbers about Eldad and Medad? God gives official prophetic powers to 70 people whom God has asked Moses to assemble at the Tent of Meeting. Two men, however — Eldad and Medad – have remained behind in the camp, and are not present when God commissions the 70.They prophesy anyway.
When someone complains about it, Moses says, “Don’t stop them – I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets!” In other words, what God is doing outside the official structures is often every bit as important, or even more important, as what God is doing inside, or through the structures.
When three bloggers who’ve never worked together organize an “Acts 8” movement of Generation Next clergy, that’s an Eldad Event. When hotel housekeepers leave notes thanking us for our $5 tips, that’s a Medad Moment.
When I get to have dinner and drinks with Ed Keithly, assistant to the canon to the ordinary of the Diocese of Virginia; LeighAnna Feeser, about to become a teacher in Charlottesville; Penelope Davenport, a youth minister in Richmond; and Eric Gregory, a seminarian at Yale Divinity School – four bright, articulate and passionate 20-something Episcopalians here to help with Center Aisle – my faith is renewed in the future of the Church. That’s an Eldad event.
When Emily Mellot of Chicago makes a “covenant of spiritual friendship” with someone she doesn’t see very often, and when, in her work with the Chicago Consultation, she also connects a guest from Tanzania with a deputy from another diocese who is working to start a school in Tanzania, those are Eldad Events.
And when Bishop Ted Gulick of Virginia was having breakfast at his hotel Tuesday morning and his waiter paused to say, “I’m loving all these wonderful Episcopalians here this week; they’re so friendly and engaging; I’ve been looking for a church, but I haven’t found one; I’m definitely going to look for an Episcopal Church this Sunday,” that’s not just a Medad Moment.
In God’s economy, that one young man finding a church home might be the whole purpose we have been here these past eight days.
–By the Rev. John Ohmer