by Rev. Dr. Timothy Leitzke, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, Valparaiso, Indiana
In May our cohort delved into demographics and immigration. The former topic is dear to me as my city struggles to acknowledge its demographic realities; the latter is dear to me as my congregation hosts ESL classes, and the students are, one way or another, immigrants.
Even weeks after our session wrapped I don’t know that I’ve processed what I learned from researchers, immigration attorneys, or pastors who work in the border region. Prior to the session, I would’ve said that regarding immigration, I know enough to know I don’t know very much. After the session, I was prepared to share thumbnail sketches of what I learned.
Then, I realized I was still thinking in terms of technical problems.
I was treating my notes as technical information to be applied to a clear, technical problem. But in the Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program, we’re supposed to be learning adaptive leadership, how to identify adaptive challenges. No, spectacular as my notes are, they do not contain the answer. They don’t even ask the question.
Have we asked the real questions surrounding immigration? Are we allowing the roles in which we’ve served to be disoriented so that we think differently? Are we too quick to want to “restore order” in this crisis, rather than see what the conflict is? Who benefits from the status quo? How do I benefit from the status quo? And, if we were to approach this as an adaptive challenge, what role would my community need my congregation to play?
I share these questions as I feel I have only just begun to ask them. I would not have asked them if not for this program. I’m grateful the WPLP is getting me to ask them.