The Rev. Jim Moos – ‘Finding grace in unexpected places’
The Rev. James Moos took his General Synod audience Friday night to a fictional Nigerian village — an unexpected place where a church builder would find unexpected grace. The exotic setting was particularly appropriate for the current executive minister of Wider Church Ministries and co-executive for Global Ministries and a nominee for a second term.
Mr. Kiaga, his church builder, is ordered to build his church in the Evil Forest because he had gathered the village outcasts in his congregation. Another church builder, Rev. Smith, was offered prime real estate near the administration building since his members held significant social standing.
“United Church of Christ, where does our future lie? Near the administration building or in the Evil Forest?” Moos asked. “We gather at General Synod under the theme of ‘unexpected places.’ Unexpected places aren’t centers of power or privilege; they aren’t found near administration buildings. They are located on the margins of respectability, sometimes in Evil Forests. They are places of unexpected grace.”
Moos talked of the Middle East as a uniquely unexpected place. “We are now launching the Middle East Initiative. For the next 18 months, we will focus increased attention on the region as we work with our Middle Eastern partners to advocate for justice, to meet the needs of those whose lives have been broken, to learn from each other and to build community.”
But we have unexpected places in need of unexpected grace right here at home. “It was a little scary for us as a church to enter the unexpected place of a courtroom in North Carolina. We went with a landmark lawsuit to defend our First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion. We went because no state, no state has the right to reach into the liturgical life of the church and dictate who we can and cannot include in our ministry of grace,” Moos said. “We won!”
“It is not our calling to set up shop in the safe and secure shadow of the administration building; our calling is to follow the Holy Spirit, even into the Evil Forests for those places are being transformed by grace.”
The election for the executive minister for Wider Church Ministries and Global Ministries will take place during plenary on Monday morning.
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