Yesterday I attended a gathering at S. David of Wales Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon. Their new rector, The Rev. Sara Fischer, is doing fascinating ministry, connecting the church with the neighborhood, and especially artists and musicians in the area.
As a Baptist I’m rather saint-impaired, so I was interested to hear a bit of St. David’s story for my Episcopal colleagues. David founded a monastery in Wales. As the story goes, if someone wanted to be admitted as a monk, he had to wait at the door of the monastery for ten days. David also seemed to be convinced that all monks needed to eat was bread and water. The monks pulled the ploughs themselves, without oxen. Yet the monastery was flooded with applicants.
Sixth century Wales is not twenty-first century U.S. culture. We can be so happy to see people in church we are afraid to challenge them in case they decide to go away. And yet I do think offering a challenge is still an important part of ministry. Growth comes through challenge.