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Hallo again to all.

In the last month we have packed a flat, moved halfway across a large country, temporarily moved in with relatives closer to our new jobs, started those new jobs, visited old friends and family, started to make new friends, and only today signed an agreement for new housing—a very happy thing as most of our day to day living 'things' remain in storage. In the midst of this we have visited a different parish every Sunday since arriving in this new place, trying to find one that is a good fit while not being too far from home.

We are looking for a place in which we can find the sort of liturgical and musical worship that feeds and strengthens us, without leaving us cringing every time the preacher takes the pulpit. A place which has community, without insularity, opportunity for activity without fatigue, looking forward without neglecting its history, growth without anonymity, inclusion without forsaking the gospel or neglecting the worship of God as central to the church.

Over the years we have told you of our many struggles to find a parish. From the priest who led the congregation, circled around the altar, in singing Kum Ba Yah, to parting from one's parish because of incompatible social views, concert-style services, and toxic clergy. We've shared also our many joys—parish retreats, singing in the choir, soft spaces, Chapel on the Green, parish picnics, the sounds of children, and long standing memberships in congregations through many staff changes. 

The last eight days have been what one might call a 'bad week.' We find ourselves, rather than feeling heartache, numbed by the ready sadness in the world that seems only to grow by the day, and with it division between peoples. Mores regarding topics of race, religion, politics and ethnicity and their division from polite conversation have given way to an unfamiliar public discourse on the same. Likewise, we have seen a calling out of those who refrain from sharing a 'correct' opinion. Division seems to breed further division, insularity, and—at times—paranoia.

We had, until ten minutes ago, been writing this letter from a quiet café in a university town. Two large parties entered, both with several generations of family members. One of these parties was Muslim. We began to pack to move to a quieter location. We briefly paused in concern, however, that the Muslim family might think it was their religion or ethnicity that caused us to finish our beverage and vacate the premises. This paranoia is unhelpful and unfair to everyone, yet very real.

We realize that our silence would be read as consent but, other than to note our dismay, question what more we can do or add to the discourse. The church has throughout history been, at differing times, both silent and loudly involved in such discourses. It has ignored genocide until it was no longer ignorable but also been the first to lead the cry against slaughters and human trafficking. Each parish has taken a different role in issues of liturgy, society, and justice throughout history.  It may seem that it is our distinct differences that decide on which side of history we will stand. Rather, it is in our differences that we are able to find understanding and, through that understanding, unity.

See you next week.

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10 July 2016

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