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Theology of change

Life is filled with change. It seems that the only constant in life is change. Beginning with the Book of Genesis right on through to the Book of Revelation, God calls us to accept change. He continually calls us to a “change of heart,” to conversion, to acceptance of his ways, ways that are not our ways.

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of church history recognizes the life-changing Holy Spirit present in Christ’s mystical body. Likewise, all who study world history, regardless whether or not they are people of faith, recognize the ever-changing experience of the church, both internally and externally. Indeed, if throughout the centuries the church had not changed, it would not be what it is today.

The Spirit is now calling us, the faith-full people of the Diocese of Lansing, to recognize our need to change our ways, our structures and our deployment of God’s gifts, and then to have the courage and faith to actually change things.

This tests our faith. This tests our willingness not only to change, but also to rely on the presence of God’s Spirit among us, along with recognizing the paths down which he is calling us and leading us.

To that end, we have been prayerfully and, yes, laboriously discerning what it is our individual parishes are all about, what their pluses and minuses may be and what it is they face, both internally and externally, in their individual futures.

Our unique parish families have their histories, their memories, their cherished moments, their trials and, now, their changed surroundings. The neighbors around our parish families have moved. Our neighborhoods have changed. The members of our parish families have changed. Our futures are now different. In some instances our futures are hugely different from what our past experiences have been.

What is the Spirit calling us to do in the light of the changes we have faced, as well as the changes we know we will face in our futures?

For the last two years we, as a diocesan family of faith, have been trying to ask the right questions in order to get the right answers to these vexing questions. Our Diocesan Coordinating Commission, courageously established by Bishop Carl F. Mengeling, has been sensitively and yet forthrightly encouraging us to face the inevitable changes confronting us all.

Change is inevitable. We do not have the option not to change. The question is: How will we change? Hopefully, we will respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in faith, hope and in love.