Friday, April 26, 2013

Checking the Compass: Outcomes of our 2013 Mutual Ministry Review

Hikers and backpackers and any would-be John Muir know that not only are a map and compass essential to one's wilderness kit, but just as essential is the act of checking them from time to time. In fact, looking at a compass and map and surveying the surrounding terrain before becoming lost helps keep the traveler from losing the way.

At first glance, the prospect may seem unnecessary or tedious. After all, if the way is known, why check a map?  But by stopping, orienting, and observing the surroundings the journey is truly made more sweet.

The map and compass discipline is very analogous to the Mutual Ministry Review process now in place in the Diocese of Olympia and many of its congregations. In February St. Peter's held its own Mutual Ministry Review facilitated by a diocesan consultant, The Rev. Marda Steedman-Sandborn. (Results are provided in a a link within the Valor). The questions were simple but designed to identify areas of strength and of challenge. The process allowed for more voices to be heard and validated. Among the results were
1) the sense that the congregation has the energy to undertake transformative change and
2) that while we can identify a number of strengths, we were unable to identify our collective passion.  

What is 'passion'? 
In English we might use passion to describe
(a) deeply emotional and unrestrained love,
(b) a thing or activity, such as a hobby, about which one might obsess and find joy in having or doing,
(c) or as referring to the sufferings of Christ for the sake of humanity, as in "the Passion of Christ."
In our case, we mean the word in all three senses. For whom do we have or could we have unrestrained love? What activity or cause would we, as a parish, find joy of the Spirit in taking up with single-minded focus? For whom and what are we called to bear the Cross in passion and compassion and in imitation of Christ?

After meeting with Rev. Marda once more on March 3rd, the Vestry discerned that answering these kinds of questions centered on our passion would be the most helpful next step for us in our congregational journey.

Next Steps
On April 20th, the vestry met for an all day retreat. At the retreat it was agreed that these kinds of questions cannot be answered by the leadership for the congregation. Our passion comes from our own experience of where God's Salvation meets the World's greatest need. And yet we need a framework from which we can do congregational discernment together.

Looking at the past congregational meetings, surveys, and choices, the missional theme of engaging the disenfranchised, especially women and children, appeared again and again. Thus, the leadership decided to discern by trial. We would like to engage in missional outreach to Mary's Place, a Seattle
non-profit that "offers programs and services ... where homeless women and their children can build community, enrich their days and find resources to restore their lives."

We will be talking and doing more in regards to discovering our passion and the ministry of Mary's Place in the days to come. Your voice and sense of the Spirit is needed. I hope you will join in St. Peter's discernment of God's call on us and God's gifts to us as parish family for the sake of a World that deeply needs Christ.

In love and service,

Fr. James+


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