by Fr. Paul Fuller, Pastor, St. George Orthodox Church, Terre Haute, Indiana
During our most recent learning session we focused on Indiana’s Changing Economy, being able to listen to a variety of presentations and participate in discussions regarding the economic landscape of our State and various cities and towns. In the hopes of greater engagement from religious community leaders and our elected officials and civic leaders, we are asked to reflect upon what how to enter into that lively, oftentimes conflicting, and ever-changing “arena.”
This past session afforded us the opportunity to discuss with two local leaders of Crawfordsville – Todd Barton, mayor, and Dale Petrie, community developer. This conversation was impressive, engaging, and left me with more questions than answers (not necessarily a bad thing – I wasn’t truly asking such questions before, so that’s a start!). Civic leaders have the daunting task of trying to figure out what is best for the community – oftentimes making tough decisions with the best information available, and hoping (maybe praying?) for the best outcome!
The basic meaning of economy is “handling” or “management” or more literally “housekeeping” of a thing. The civic or community management which asks questions and makes decisions for its members should take great care to offer plans for the future. As leaders of parish communities, likewise, we are looking to be inclusive, provide for those in need, present opportunities for growth and achievement – all focused on a relationship with Jesus Christ! There are numerous parallels in civic planning and parish planning, and it behooves our parish leaders to engage more directly with our civic leaders. I greatly appreciated the conversation with Crawfordsville’s civic leaders and the opportunity to reflect upon how to engage more fully in my own city!