By Alexander Carpenter
Impressive! I'd like to thank everyone who wrote in for the Spectrum Blog 1000th Comment Celebration Contest. Unlike much of the rhetoric of inclusion - hitting a thousand really could not have happened without you. Well, at least those who have commented. The comments continue to compound, with over an hundred since we hit 1000 less than a week ago.
Each submission was very good - thus, while I picked the three below to receive a free one-year subscription to the journal, we may publish some of the others so that you can see how thoughtful and visionary the Spectrum community continues to be. . .
Each essay was in response to this question: What would I change about the church?
I remember my early Sabbaths as a new believer, the anticipation of them, the wonder of them, the expectation, surrounded by newfound family, beautiful melodies filling the air. My friends seemed to know all the songs and verses by heart. The messages drew me still higher. The whole experience seemed to approximate heaven. Our corporate expectations were high.
Church-wide things are more subdued now; our expectations are not so lofty. What have we lost? Was our expectation just an illusion? In my new experience with Jesus was my thankfulness just spilling over and coloring all of my church experience? I think not.
We knew we were special (not superior). We knew we were blessed in an extraordinary measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over. We recognized Godâs mercy as a catalyst, substitution a means and not only an end. Our vision needs to clear; our blessings still remain but are largely unrecognized and I fear unappreciated. Extol them from the heart and the anticipation, wonder, and expectation will return.
Kenneth M. Ray Jr.Kalispell, MT__________________
I would change the way the church handles negative information about itself. Many like myself have deep and painful issues surrounding the church. Protection of the organization takes precedence over the safety and spiritual well-being of those in the pews.
As a victim of childhood sexual abuse in the church, I have experienced this first hand. When one follows the guidelines the church has provided for such grievances, the abuse continues mentally and spiritually and increases the victimâs shame and isolation. Most of us must leave the church to find an environment that is free of these institutional toxins to healing.
The church could provide much healing and help to those who have experienced abuse by providing an outside, objective organization to deal with the allegations. They could do much more to prevent the abuses that continue to happen by being honest about the need, by refusing to transfer those who are known to abuse to new positions, and by demanding that thorough background checks are done on ALL those in leadership.
They could take their spiritual responsibilities to heal the heart and mind as seriously as they do their commitment to physical healing.
JeriAnne BerryKnoxville, TN__________________
I would defuse the culture of its spirit of fear.
Somehow "the fear of the Lord," which can be a good thing, has moved far beyond the beginning of wisdom to embrace an unhealthy fear of church authority, a fear of embarrassment by misbehaving Adventists in the public media, fear for careers if one's true beliefs on various subjects were widely known, fear of what other members would think about this or that minor infraction.
Then there are the "biggies"--fear of the "time of trial," the apocalypse, the judgment. Way, way too much fear. Time for all them to go under the bed, back in the closet, maybe into the lake of fire.
Jiggs GallagherCathedral City, CA
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4367