One of the leaders at St. Mary’s asked me this important question: How does leadership function in a circle of equals, which we call the Body of Christ? When we become leaders, do we automatically create a hierarchy?
We live in a hierarchical society, which means we tend to rank people according to status or authority. In the Episcopal Church, in leadership we have bishops, priests, deacons, and lay leadership, and we tend to view them in a hierarchical fashion. Yet as Christians, people who follow Jesus, we feel uneasy with hierarchy. When asked who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus called a little child and said, those who make themselves as humble as this child are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 18:4) Jesus, like all the great prophets, said that the last would be first and the first would be last, that the lowly would be lifted up.
My view is that in a society which tends automatically to rank people, leadership in a spiritual community can serve to level the playing ground. Leaders can lovingly call forward those who shrink back, and just as lovingly invite those who find it easy to put themselves forward to a stance of humble listening. We want to honor all as equal members of the body. “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members share its joy.” (1 Cor 12:26)
Our goal at St. Mary’s is to encourage collaborative leadership that works for the good of the whole. I hope, following Jesus, to foster practices of radical equality and inclusion, and using conscious, Spirit-guided leadership to create many circles of equals where each member of the body flourishes according to their needs and gifts.
At St. Mary’s, we want to offer the opportunity for each person who wants one to be in a small group that meets regularly. A small group could be a place where you find and get closer to other parishioners who share some of your spiritual interests and goals. A small group can be a place where you learn more about yourself, God, and others. Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.