On Saturday, January 7, around 60 people gathered at the 24th Avenue site to reflect on how the 5 ½ years since amalgamation have been for some of us. This session was held because we are aware that there are some from the former First United congregation who have experienced in the amalgamation a lack of recognition of their ways and traditions.
We genuinely desire the wellbeing of the whole body of Christ. We also know that this spring we want to have an open, respectful, honest, and faithful process to discern the next steps for the three properties. The January 7 event was an important step along the way to making a faithful decision.
The format on January 7 was a “fishbowl.” Participants sat in an outer circle of chairs, looking inward toward a smaller circle of seven chairs.
In the first round, 6 members from the former First United and 1 from the former Sunnyside (speaking on behalf of a number of former Sunnysiders) spoke to their experience. Some were pleased with how the amalgamation has gone so far, seeing it as a lifeline for their former congregation and a way to be stronger together. Others expressed feelings of having been left out or passed over, and had the perception that the way Peninsula United operates is different from their former church.
After a break, there was a second round in which three different people sat in the inner circle and responded to their experience of what they had witnessed in round 1.
It’s impossible to completely summarize the experience of the 60-odd people present, but there was a general sense by the end of the morning that we had a new awareness of how some of our sisters and brothers have been feeling, and a fresh understanding that amalgamation is not an event, but a process, and a process that takes a number of years and intentional effort – and that’s without throwing a pandemic into the middle of it. We pray that, with this fresh awareness, the PUC congregation will be better equipped to engage in the kind of open, respectful, honest, and faithful process that we hope will describe the property decisions to be made this year.