On the first Sunday in September, we shared that the Compassion donations have far exceeded the amount of money needed for the sponsorship of our 3 children around the world. Instead of sponsoring more children, we decided to look at supporting another project or two. The process we adopted was intergenerational and was in line with the UCA’s definition of mission.
We ended up selecting 2 UCA Uniting projects – one supporting young people in their education and another at Lentara’s asylum seeker project. But this wasn’t important – it was the process by which we arrived there that was important.
The whole faith community was present when we shared 3 different projects we could support – all of them had the potential to build relationships long term and help us understand the stories of the people being supported. We then went away and talked about what we’d heard with our families and social groups, prayed about the projects, and listened to where we felt the Spirit calling us. The following Sunday, we gathered back together and listened to how we had worked out which project, or projects, to support.
Everyone had a voice as the mic was passed round and people shared their thinking during the previous week. This included the young people who were actively encouraged to speak by other members. Some of the older people had spent their lives in education and knew from experience the difference this support would make to young people in working towards a life of hope. Some of the younger people were moved by the plight of asylum seekers who didn’t have enough to eat but had no way of earning because they didn’t have the correct visa.
Each person’s viewpoint was heard as they shared the story of how they had come to their decisions. Each person was respected for their discernment work. And then we voted, and each person had a vote no matter how old or young or in-between. We even had people voting via email.
It is often quite easy to tweak what we do so that it is inclusive of all people, all ages, and so that our decision making involves an important reflection process because this is when we learn and grow. The way everyone responded and encouraged each other was part of that and we hope to do it again.
Claire 16 Sep 18