Listening to stories, learning, and holding them sacred

"The glory of God is the human person fully alive.”     --St. Iraneus, 2nd Century

“Wisdom begins in wonder.”     --Socrates 

These two quotes have appeared several times during this past six months as I have found myself in major transition from my home and career of 32 years to the position of Senior Director of Advocacy and Sexual Ethics for The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women in Chicago. My vocation has provided me the opportunity to do what I love, including listening to stories. I am a passionately curious person and enjoy wondering why things work the way they do. If my curiosity is to have meaning in my life, I must practice awareness and show up fully to give intentional, quality attention in listening. In Mark Nepo’s book, “Seven Thousand Ways to Listen” he describes the gift and art of listening as “the doorway to everything that matters.” I hold one’s stories as sacred. I learn from them. I am reminded of Jesus’ use of parables to teach. Stories invite us in and have the ability to reveal much of who we are to ourselves.

The work of GCSRW in the ministry of advocacy and sexual ethics is crucial to the life of the church. It is a huge step toward the commitment to “do no harm.” My desire is that we do this work together and hold response/healing/prevention and accountability in a healthy tension with no antagonist. I believe this work must always invite us to do what is just and right with compassion and dignity toward humanity. It is movement forward morally and spiritually. It can be done well when we listen to one another. It is a powerful opportunity to be in connection as United Methodists.

I am very excited and humbled to get to be here. I want to listen to your stories and hear from victims, bishops, cabinet members, annual conference staff, clergy, church staff, laity, and general agencies. If we know the concerns, they can be better addressed. I look forward to meeting you and working with you as our paths cross.

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