As some of you may know, TCPC has just completed a six month study funded by a grant, to help us decide the future of our organization. As part of the condition of the grant, we were to ask ourselves if there is still a purpose for TCPC to exist. When we started TCPC, there was no other Christian organization that we could find that used the term progressive in its name or as a way to describe the organization. The only scholars that we could find using the term were using it in a historical context, and these findings were rare. There are now dozens of organizations around the world that use the term progressive Christianity either in their names, their mission statement, or self-description.
A major component of the study involved interviews of theologians, seminary presidents, ministers, authors, and lay persons. From these people, we heard a resounding “YES, there is a need and important purpose for the continued work of TCPC! When asked to identify the priority tasks we should pursue, the focus was around one major theme:
Congregations need resources for liturgy and Sunday-school curriculum that have a progressive Christian focus.
Our courageous progressive churches are hungry for resources that will help them transform their congregations into vital, spirited, and faith-filled communities. We have already begun the liturgical project, which will provide new ways to do worship and liturgy that fits the Christology of progressive Christianity. We started this project several months ago, and it continues to make headway. But we are learning an important lesson from this experience. We began without the entire funding needed to underwrite the project. We have learned that it is hard to stimulate giving for a project in process.
The priority the interviewees rated as our highest is the development of a progressive Christian Children’s Sunday school curriculum. Due to this feedback, the TCPC Board and its Advisors have decided to take a leap of faith and put our energy into this project, as well. We have already identified a couple of talented and experienced curriculum writers who are eager to let their creative juices flow.
We are now working on creating a workable and realistic budget. (You may find all this information, in more detail, on the TCPC website.) My experience through this process, while seemingly daunting at times, has been a powerful faith journey. Without the dedication, selfless giving, and guidance of my board and advisors, I feel that we may have been writing the final chapter of TCPC’s story. And, as we explore ways to build the funds to fully realize this project, everyone involved, the writers included, feel so strongly about seeing this happen, that they are making adjustments in their own lives to make it happen.
One day when I was sharing my frustrations and concerns with Susan Dermond, one of our curriculum writers, she wrote something on a piece of paper and told me that she repeated it every morning when she first wakes up. It was clear to me that she thought it might be a good idea if I followed her example. I read the words she had written and thought to myself, of course, this is the way I should start my day.
We go forth in perfect faith in the power of the Omnipresent Good to bring us what we need when we need it.
I was driving home when it hit me; “Hey I am the one who is supposed to be teaching people about having faith.” Of course, that is not the way it works and we all know that. INow I have the simple sentence pinned up in front of me at my desk, and before I start my work morning, I read it out loud and each time I feel very glad that I have done that.
This undertaking has been a journey of faith for me. So many positive things have already happened because of it, that it has occurred to me that the curriculum project may be one of the most important things TCPC has ever taken on. It may be one of the most important things I will have done in my life. What an incredible opportunity it will be to find a way to teach children how to lead more joyful and compassionate lives. What an amazing prospect to teach children about Jesus as the loving enlightened teacher, about the path that he has given us that might help them experience “heaven on earth.” And what awesome thing it is to ponder the possibility that we will no longer have to “unteach” our children what we once taught them before.
This project could be the beginning of a whole different way of teaching our children in our Christian churches that they are precious, loved and perfect, just the way that they are. And that we will find ways to to help them become all that they can be in this life, as they discover that they are part of an interconnected Stream of Consciousness that wills their positive good. This is the kind of thinking and being that can change the world. And we can help that happen with one child at a time.
No wonder I think this is one of the most important things I will ever do in my life. I hope you agree and help us make this happen.