The church I serve is a little island of open-minded, progressive, extravagant welcome in a rather large pond of more conservative, less accepting, no-go all congregations in our area. In fact, you would likely have to travel 30 miles or more to reach the next community of faith that shares many of our perspectives. Which makes collegial pastoral relations interesting.
I was invited to a pastor's prayer and conversation meeting soon after I arrived over 2 years ago, I've never been invited back. For about 2 years now I've been trying to attend a weekly coffee conversation with several other ministers, but I've had to curtail that in recent months. I was becoming the token Democrat, the token progressive, and far too many times the butt of jokes. I was leaving those gatherings more upset and tired, than fed and renewed.
I love my congregation, I love the people I am blessed and honored to serve, but there are many days when I am lonely. Days when I wish there were other church leaders in the area who shared some of my “liberal” perspectives and beliefs. Life is hard enough as a progressive in a conservative area, without adding being a pastor.
Please don't hear this as whining or complaining (even though it is), this is more about trying to raise awareness of the need for collegial relations between ministers that carefully avoid descend into theological critiques, us/them conversations, discussions about the latest “soul-saving” action by the local mega-church wannabe. Is it not possible to simply gather together, to support one another in our ministry, to see our differences but not allow them to be issues of division? Is that too much to ask?