October 7, 2020

In a first-year Pastoral Care class in seminary, Professor Bill Pregnall offered us new students a metaphor for how people “do Church”. He said, “Imagine the parish is like folks being at the seashore.  Some people are content to sit among the dunes watching the waves and the people who’re closer to the water. Others move down onto the sand and spread out their beach chairs and blankets and bask in the sun.  Others go down to the water’s edge and get their feet wet as they walk along, looking for shells.  Still others wade out and feel the action of the waves.  Then there are those who run across the sand, dive into the waves and swim out past the breakers.  All of them are part of the shore “congregation”.  Each has a role to play in the life of the Church. There is no ‘right’ place to be.”

When we new students asked questions, Dr. Pregnall said, “We need to make sure that each person’s participation is honored.  If people are interested in moving closer to the action, we need to offer them incentives to do so.  If folks who’re out swimming deep get tired or into trouble, we need to bring them back to safety.  Over the course of their lives, people might choose different zones of participation.  Remember, all are near the water, all have been baptized and are part of the ministering body. Discerning with them what their ministries might be is how we nurture folks into mature faith. But there is no ‘right place’ to be.  Jesus called men and women of diverse backgrounds and experiences to be part of the fellowship. All are learning together to serve Christ in all persons, loving neighbor as self.”  G. Yandell