September 2018

Reflecting Poolwith Reverend Greg Coles, M.Div

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to take canoes from the Mississippi River and to discover a waterway to serve trade from the east to west coast of the United States. Assuming the west coast would be similar to the east, with round topped mountains like the Appalachians, it was expected that once they portaged the mountains, there would be a new river to take them surely to the Pacific.  

As they neared the mountains, their challenge appeared to be much more ominous. No American had ever seen such high peaked mountains as the Rockies before, and when they reached the summit, instead of a river they expected to canoe, all they could see was more mountains for as far as the eye could see.  

In that moment everything that Lewis and Clark had presumed about their planned journey changed. They would be going off the map into unchartered territories, with no experts or “best practices” to guide them. Their purpose and tools would need to be reframed.  Their true adventure – the real discovery – was just beginning. 

In his book, “Canoeing the Mountains” author and minister Tod Bolsinger offers that the Christian Church is at such a time in its journey as were Lewis and Clark. Bolsinger offers that a key to Lewis and Clark’s success as explorers was their ability to provide adaptive leadership in the face of change.  It was not trying harder at old ways, but discovering new tools and skills within themselves that were congruent with the changing needs of those they serve. 
As I reflect on adaptive changes that are happening here at Unity of Bay City, I recognize that we are being called into somewhat unchartered territory also, where adaptive leadership will be essential.  

The Board of Trustees, of which I am a member, has unanimously voted to change the last year of my current contract from full-time to part-time employment effective Oct 1. This change has resulted in the formation of a volunteer Leadership Council to oversee the administrative functions of the ministry, while I continue to oversee spiritual, pastoral,   and inspirational functions including Sunday Services. While these functions of the ministry continue, they will be done differently.  Please see the Board’s Announcement on page 4 for more details.

If you think back on some of the past major challenges you have experienced in your life,    I believe you might see how they did not break you, but strengthened and grew you.  As Joseph spoke in the Bible story of his own overcoming hardship, “God meant it for good.” 

We are in for some changes here at Unity of Bay City. We don’t know what all of those changes will look like, or how uncomfortable they may seem. We do know that we are on  a journey of exploration, to discover new ways to serve and lead in our community and to be a beacon of light for the world.  I’m excited about the next leg of our journey together, and look forward to all of the new discoveries we will uncover along the way. 

A wise teacher once told me, “God doesn’t call the equipped. God equips the called.”  Cheers to our journey together and our calling to serve the world through spiritual awakening, social action and adaptive leadership.