Dear Beloveds of God,
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes about conflict in the Corinthian church. He does not say much about the nature of the conflict, but he does name that he is aware of it and offers his direction, as the founder of that church, on resolving the conflict. Paul’s approach to church conflict, at least this particular conflict, is to say something along the lines of: “Stop being in conflict, God created you to be in unity.” His statement is true and direct, but probably not all that helpful in the end. Truly, one can trace the history of correspondence between Paul and this church and see that this was not the end of it; the conflict continued at least until the next letter we have from Paul to the Corinthians, the New Testament book 2nd Corinthians. In that letter he makes appeals such as, “We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also.” But the truth is that humans in conflict are rarely able to let it go and are rarely able to open their hearts and come together in unity without some help.
I say all of this to provide perspective for the current situation at Mt. Carmel. Whether you are ‘involved’ or not, whether you are fully aware of it or not, few of you will be surprised to hear that we are, like the Corinthians before us, a church in conflict. As much as we may want to deny it, bury our heads till it passes, or simply work around it, there is division and conflict among us. In the interests of the continued health and wholeness of the congregation it needs to be addressed.
To that end, the congregation council of Mt Carmel, your elected leadership, has undertaken the difficult task of securing a professional organization in order that they might consult for, and mediate in, this congregation so that we might achieve the same unity that Paul promotes. At the moment the council is in the process of discernment about which one of a couple different organizations will be the best fit for this congregation. They are working diligently and faithfully to find a good fit that will direct this community toward health and wholeness.
Our hope is that this organization will be able to: help us to awareness of whatever underlying anxiety might be contributing to current disagreement, uncover and resolve any systemic issues in this community, and give us skills and resources for the future so that the health and wholeness might be a true and lasting unity and not just temporary peace, calm, or reprieve.
In the coming days and weeks you will be receiving more information about this process and about the steps that will require your participation. When you receive that information we ask that you prayerfully consider it and commit to participating no matter how involved, or not, you feel that you are in any conflict. In the meantime, please hold in prayer those that are dedicating themselves to this difficult process of discernment; they are most assuredly praying for all of you.