Metropolitan Jonah and Mission Statements

For you Metropolitan Jonah-philes out there, see a  new interview posted on the Religion News Service.   I kind of wish everyone would let him move on and talk about something other than his surprising election or his similarities with Barack Obama.   He’s a brilliant person and has a lot more to rehash then how he wasn’t expecting the vote, how his bags were barely unpacked, yata yata.   But it sounds like he’s hitting the ground running and really is moving on.  The next few months will be very busy.

The bishops will be meeting on December 29th for a strategic planning session, part of which will include refocusing on the mission of the OCA.  I’m a little “ehh” about the Metropolitan’s idea of summarizing this meeting into a new mission statement.    I’ve never been a fan of these wordy, lofty-goaled bits of organizational fluff.  Look, I’ve managed to function pretty well as an Orthodox Christian without once ever looking for guidance to the OCA’s existing, ho hum mission statement (and actually I never knew we had one until I just looked it up for this link).  In my opinion, these things always say a lot but mean little and once drafted their only function is to decorate letterheads and business cards.  For example, do you think anyone at this company is really reading their mission statement?

The Mission of United Tobacco Company is to function as the vital link between the best tobacco growers in the world and the best manufacturers in the world. We aim to accomplish our mission by focusing on personal service to our customers; rewarding initiative and creativity; promoting the quality of our grower group; responding to social and environmental challenges; and positively impacting our community.

If you want something more “churchy”, how about this inspiring statement from a non-denominational church somewhere in Alaska (name changed to protect the innocent and rudderless):

At Golly Gee Community Church we’re not about “having it all together” or even pretending we do. We’re just a family trying to grow together toward a God who knows us and can help us put all the pieces of this sometimes bizarre world into perspective. We may not have all the answers but we know someone who does. In fact He not only knows the answers…He made up the questions.

All I can say is wow, now that’s powerful and focused.   And no, I did not cut and paste this from a Saturday Night Live skit – this is not Sarah Palin’s Church.  These folks are seriously missing something if the best they can come up with is this ‘let’s all muddle our way together’  mantra.   At least Sarah Palin’s Wasila Bible Church isn’t messing around – they know where they’re going.  I can’t agree on the path these Christians are taking but their clearly worded Core Commitments make me believe they are not too concerned.

Some of our greatest Orthodox saints drafted their own mission statements.  I’d like to see St. Ephraim the Syrian’s words on a business card

The Church is the salt that salts the whole world, preserving it from putridity.

How about the familiar words of St. Cyprian of Carthage

No one can take God as his Father unless he takes the Church as his mother.

This one is pretty popular in Orthodox circles though I don’t know who first came up with it.

The Orthodox Church is evangelical, but not Protestant. It is orthodox, but not Jewish. It is catholic, but not Roman. It isn’t non-denominational – it is pre-denominational. It has believed, taught, preserved, defended and died for the Faith of the Apostles since the Day of Pentecost 2000 years ago.

Whatever the Synod of Bishops comes up with, I believe it will be and should be centered on the Gospels.   There can be no mission statement greater than Christ’s own words.  Not a short, sweet sound bite of scripture;  not a one sentence summary of what the Church is and isn’t.  You need the whole Gospel, and really the whole of Scripture to summarize the Church and it’s mission.   So if you want to understand the longest, most detailed mission statement  ever written, you’re going to have to come and hear the words in the place where they achieve their truest context – the Divine Liturgy of the Church.

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