We are the Church. In our understanding of Church, all the baptized are one big community of smaller communities; we are all equal; we all participate in different ministries (lay, clergy, bishop); we communicate with one another; and we share a vision and a self-critique. The five words we have been using to summarize these characteristics of Church are community, equality, participation, dialogue, and prophecy. Our understanding of Church arises out of Vatican II and seems to us most in line with the Gospel message. This model has been promulgated by the Asian bishops and it also fits well with the positive values of our U.S. culture.
There are other models of Church that can be drawn from Vatican II documents, more top down models, and this is what is causing tension in the contemporary Church. We believe that the fate of grown-ups is to live with ambiguity and tension, so we are not daunted by differences in points of view. Our intent is to try to create community based on the model we think best, to remain open to dialogue with people who espouse other models, and to keep focused on the Church’s mission.
Our understanding of the Church’s mission is that each individual baptized person, in community with brothers and sisters in Christ, is to proclaim and manifest, speak and live, the message of Jesus to the world. The message is that God loves humanity and wills union with us here and now. The Spirit of God works through us to create a universal community of love and cooperation. This is the mission and the vision. Very hard work, but filled with joy.
Besides vision, the other part of prophecy is self-critique. When we look at our faith community, we ask if we are actually practicing what we preach. How are we doing at fulfilling this mission? We see many ways we can improve, and that, in a nutshell, is what our reform agenda is all about.