It’s All about Invitation

19 12 2011

Apostle Linda Booth, director of Communications, visited with K. Scott Murphy in October, a few weeks after the Council of Twelve Apostles selected him as its president. Viewers may see the full interview at www.CofChrist.org/broadcast/2011archive.asp. Here are excerpts:

Linda: I am sitting this afternoon with Apostle Scott Murphy, who on September 12 was unanimously elected to serve as president of the Council of Twelve, which joins and links him to a role he already had been assigned, director of Field Ministries. I know your family members are big supporters. Can you tell me about your wife, Sandra, and your family?

Scott: We’ve been married this coming June for 30 years. It’s been a wonderful journey. We’re blessed to have two children. Michael is going to be turning 21 at the end of the month, and Ryan will be turning 25. In addition we are blessed with a 3-year-old grandson, Braden.

Linda: Were you raised in the church, Scott?

Scott: I was. I’m guessing I would be fifth generation.

Linda: Scott, in your presence I’ve had this sense of a deep spiritual connection you have with the Holy Spirit. Can you think back to the first time you recognized the Spirit’s presence?

Scott: It was one of those defining moments for me. It was at a junior-high camp where I grew up in Vancouver, Washington. The Southwest Washington District and the Northern Oregon District did joint youth camps at Lewis River Campgrounds. Apostle Dale Luffman was the camp director, before he had gone under appointment with the church.

As the youth and staff were sharing, I remember this experience of feeling this overwhelming presence of love and peace. I began to recognize that was the impress of God. For me, that became the defining moment of when I began to live out my faith because of my own encounter with God versus living on the faith of my parents.

Linda: Scott, all of us have spiritual practices that help connect us with God. What practices most help you discern God’s direction and God’s presence?

Scott: Probably the most prominent for me is the aspect of being in nature. I love being in the outdoors. I frequently look for those opportunities to be out there, to be present, and just to breathe.

The other one that is just as powerful for me is music. Being a musician, I’m naturally drawn to music. Just the aspect of rhythm and the notes does something about settling my soul and my mind.

One other practice that is growing on me is silence and quietness. I would have to admit it’s not a practice I’ve done well in the past. But I have really tried to intentionally begin to build silence into my daily routine. That normally happens when I’m driving. There’s something about the sensory experience of driving that relaxes my mind. I try not to analyze things but just to let the silence and the peacefulness kind of fill me.

Linda: I’m sure you can recognize moments when God has helped prepare you to serve in leadership with the Council of Twelve.

Scott: There was a point in my life when I made a conscious choice of what I was going to do and where I was going to go, and that was to become a music teacher. I saw myself being a music teacher for the rest of my career.

But as I look back, things have happened…I can only describe as being the guidance of the Spirit. I went back to work on my first master’s degree. I made a choice to do that in counseling because of my interest in working with youth.

And then the doors opened for me to go into another graduate program to work in leadership in school administration. That led me to become a principal. Never had I envisioned myself doing that. After that experience the impress of coming to work for the church emerged. After a 2½-year struggle with that, I accepted that call and invitation to work as a stake president and eventually a mission center president.

Then invitation came to serve as the director of Human Resource Ministries and then ultimately my call to serve the Council of Twelve. Again, those were never steps I had mapped in my mind. It was God’s leadership that took me into places I never would have gone on my own.

Linda: It’s an exciting time in the church with Christ’s mission being articulated in the five mission initiatives: to Invite People to Christ; to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering; to Pursue Peace on Earth; to Develop Disciples to Serve; and to Experience Congregations in Mission. How has the articulation of those mission initiatives impacted you as an individual as well as a leader?

Scott: I could not be more pleased and excited about who we are being called to be and what we’re being called to as a church. For me it becomes this wonderful expression that I think has been a yearning in people’s lives to recapture who we are and what we’re about.

I believe there is no excuse for us (not) to say who we are and what we are about because it’s just been so clearly articulated. I’m excited.

Linda: And so, Scott, what vision do you see? What can happen if we really live Christ’s mission?

Scott: One of my greatest privileges is traveling in the field and being with the people. Every time I see the impress of the Spirit moving us deeper into mission.

I see that in places like Ellensburg, Washington, where I see this congregation filled with people who have come out of the brokenness of their lives and have found a new expression of hope in this message Community of Christ has.

I remember after a potluck I was standing in the kitchen with one of the members. And he just simply says to me, “I just love this church.” And he went on to explain how the church has opened its doors and become a place of hospitality for those working through addictions. As their Alcoholic Anonymous groups meet there, this place has found this spirit, and this man has found a new hope. I wish I could express how much joy I saw in his face.

At times, Linda, I’ve wondered if we’ve made mission more complicated than it needs to be because what it all boils down to is it’s about the invitation. I have found people waiting and yearning for an invitation to be a part of something that will bring meaning into their lives.

That is a message I clearly want to continue to lift up. The vision of the mission initiatives can never be without our willingness to invite.

Linda: Absolutely and amen! It says in Section 164:9, “by the grace of God you are poised to fulfill God’s ultimate vision for the church.” May each of us catch that vision, and may each of us fulfill the vision Christ has for us. Amen.

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