Pentecost 5 Where Is God_

Weekly Word from the Fold, Jun 16, 2016

Hello Strategic Planning Process

At the annual meeting in February, church member Lorraine Summerfelt called for a Strategic Planning process to get us beyond the short term thinking that governs much of our life together at Good Shepherd. The Holy Spirit was listening to her plea and so was the Vestry. At a recent all day retreat, vestry members discerned a short list of folks who would, when blended together, work well as part of an intentional strategic planning team.

So why do we need a Strategic Planning Team? Isn’t this Vestry’s Job?

Here’s my spiritual answer (hey that’s what I get paid for) to a practical question.

  • The Holy Spirit leads us and calls us to participate individually and collectively as a church body.
  • The Vestry is part of the body that meets in-between annual meetings to do the day-to-day work of managing our resources.
  • To fully meet the opportunities that God is calling us into as a church (note the future tense, here) requires careful and intentional planning that goes beyond the day-to-day blessings of simply being church.
  • With this in mind, it’s time for Good Shepherd to find a fresh focus and prioritize how we want to respond to God’s future call to ministry and mission as a congregation and as a church in the community.

    So why now? What’s the big deal?

    Over the last decade or so, much has changed:

  • In our congregation (such as turnover of membership, changes in attendance patterns, declining membership).
  • In greater ethnic/cultural diversity in our neighborhoods.
  • The general population has less apparent interest in joining churches, less time to commit to voluntary and community groups.
  • Mission outreach both global and local, needs to be focused, responsive and “time-limited” (for busy families and individuals with, “a lot going-on.”)
  • All churches are being asked, “to do more with less” (sound familiar?). The cost of “doing church” continues to rise and our income is not keeping pace with everyday expenses.
  • It costs about $900 a day to “keep the lights on” at CGS. Capital expenses not included!
  • Accordingly, the time is right to look ahead to determine the future vision and direction of our church and figure out how best to get where God is calling us to go. Put it another way, we need to ask ourselves where, as baptized members of the body of Christ with a variety of collective and individual gifts and skills, we are heading. And to put it as clearly as possible:

    We are at A and we want to get to B. We need to figure out where B is. We need to look at what resources we need to get to B.

    To begin to this process Lorraine Summerfelt and Jon Panek have been asked to lead a team to develop a Strategic Plan over the next year. The members of the team are: Bridget Chamberas, Chuba Udokwu, Barbara Magee, Dave Hazen, Gary David, Kevin Gross and Lynn Nixon. They will work in conjunction with the Vestry and present their findings in the Fall of 2017.

    See you Sunday at 8:00 or 9:30am,

    Gareth

    Pentecost 5 Where Is God_

    Weekly Word from the Fold – Jun 9, 2016

    Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

    On Sunday we say our formal farewell to Aileen, as she prepares to depart for Christ Church, Rochdale in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts. As I am sure you know by now, she will serve as Priest-in-Charge in what will be her “first call.” I am very excited for her and for Christ Church as both prepare to begin a new phase of ministry and life in Rochdale.

    I am very glad that I have had a hand in Aileen’s formation as a priest and will miss having her as a colleague and a friend. I’ve had tremendous fun with Aileen and she has a great sense of humor which is vital in parish life. I will particularly miss her smart and insightful way of seeing things and her naturally pastoral manner. I know that I am not alone in saying that she is very caring and very thoughtful. Christ Church will benefit from all of the good stuff that Aileen brings.

    It takes a congregation to raise up a curate and I am very grateful to the everyone for assisting in Aileen’s formation over these last two years of change and transition. I encourage you to drop her a note or reach out during the next few weeks as a way of saying a proper goodbye. I know she will appreciate it. Although her final Sunday at CGS will be July 3rd, we thought it best to formally acknowledge and celebrate Aileen’s time with us on June 12th as this marks the end of the church program year.

    I hope that you can make it on Sunday and stay for the Parish BBQ following the late service,

    Gareth

    Pentecost 5 Where Is God_

    Weekly Word from the Fold – Jun 2, 2016

    Gradually (and with God’s Help) Wisdom Comes

    The graduation season is upon us. Congratulations to all our young people who are moving up and moving on and to our parents too! No doubt there is much still to do, as well as parties to organize and attend. There are so many transitions during the school years as little ones go from nursery school to kindergarten, elementary to middle school and then as teens make the leap from High School to College. I spent my formative High School years in an all boys environment, so it was tremendously exciting when I finally got to be in class with young women. I couldn’t get over how smart they were and how mature they were compared to my pimply-faced, tongue-tied self!

    My own lack of preparedness for life-changing events stands in marked contrast to what I see in the way suburban kids are raised today. I appreciate how consciously parents (Fran and I, included) prepare our kids for each new phase of their lives. I take my hat off to all parents of graduating seniors for the hard work put in to get their kids to this important stage of life.

    So here’s my take-home “plug”:

    Wouldn’t it be great if those of you who are preparing to be “empty-nesters” for the college years, could find time to pick up old hobbies and also get more involved in church life? There is a common belief that suburban churches need more young families in the mix. I maintain that we need more empty-nesters given that they are more likely to have the time and resources necessary to “give back” and sustain church life in a way that many young families simply cannot.

    In terms of the process of spiritual maturation the challenge is simple (and complex): Seeing our own God-give purpose in terms that go beyond our immediate families, and embracing concern for the flourishing and fullness of life itself. Put it another way, “Wisdom comes with age.”

    May the celebrations go well, our kids stay safe and God’s blessings abound during this graduation season.

    See you Sunday,

    Gareth

    Pentecost 5 Where Is God_

    Weekly Word from the Fold – May 26, 2016

    WEEKLY WORD FROM THE FOLD

    Memorial Day and Collective Memory

    For many of us, Memorial Day marks the start of summer, barbecues in the back yard and a change of pace as weekend trips present themselves. Memorial Day also has poignancy about it as the nation contemplates all the troops who have died while serving in the U.S. military.

    Historical Background
    Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, an occasion to remember the fallen on both sides of the American Civil War. In the early part of the 20th Century its meaning was expanded to include all Americans who lost their lives in the theater of war. It became an official federal holiday in 1971.

    Collective Memory
    As a person of faith, I appreciate rituals, both civic and religious. Therefore I am a keen supporter of maintaining cultural and collective memory through national and local commemorations of the dead that combine prayer, reverence and gratitude. Here are a few points to bear in mind as Memorial Day approaches:
    • It is an event that educates young people about our history.
    • This is a cultural event which reminds us of how being in the world may require sacrifice and embrace loss.
    • It makes our heritage visible and reminds us of the importance of not entering into foreign and domestic wars out of bombast or on false account.
    Personal Memory
    While I have not had the dreadful privilege of serving my country in combat, I do appreciate the opportunity to enter into retrospective contemplation by allowing the national and collective memory to become my own.

    At CGS this weekend we will honor our own veterans as we give thanks to God for the freedoms that are so easily take for granted as we go about our daily round.

    See you Sunday,

    Gareth

    Pentecost 5 Where Is God_

    Weekly Word from the Fold – May 19, 2016

    WEEKLY WORD FROM THE FOLD

    Hopeful Transitions

    This past weekend I did a wedding in Lexington, KY. My brother-in-law Tom, got married to his sweetheart Suzanne. Their exchange of vows was a public declaration of what had already come to pass between them over time. They had, in effect, made the transition from being two committed singletons to being a married couple surrounded by the family and friends who know and love them.

    It is the notion of marking “loving and significant transitions” that I want to briefly explore this week, particularly as it relates to our graduating Seniors. This coming Sunday our graduating class will lead worship at the late service as a way of expressing what is dear to them (our church, their family and friends). They have chosen the music (Christian camp songs), are preaching and basically leading the service.

    It promises to be a significant occasion and here’s why:
    There always has to be “permission granted” during transitions to hold on to things that are dear to one’s self, the community of friends and family that have been nurturing over time. By leading worship on Sunday, our Seniors are letting us know that their faith formation in the community has been and will continue to be significant to them.

    T.S. Eliot’s oft-quoted line from Little Gidding comes to mind, “And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” Every life transition has a beginning, an intermediate point, and an end. Graduating High School is a significant end point and so is leaving one’s home church. I am very glad that our graduates are making a “good end” of their time at CGS by saying a proper goodbye with gratitude to the community and to God. Plus, it’s an occasion to recognize the contributions made by this group of young Christian men and women.

    Here’s my closing thought:
    Cultivating a sense of gratitude and appreciation is the positive cognitive bridge into what is coming next, the “new.” Being grateful and appreciative for education, faith formation, for family and friends opens up the spiritual space one needs to embrace the future with optimism and a God-given purpose.

    See you Sunday,

    Gareth

    Pentecost 5 Where Is God_

    Weekly Word from the Fold – May 12, 2016

    WEEKLY WORD FROM THE FOLD

    Celebrate the Church’s Birthday this Sunday

    The Feast of Pentecost (Greek for “50th day”) is celebrated on the 50th day after Easter, which this year falls this coming Sunday.

    So what’s it all about?
    • On this day Mother Church recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles (eyewitnesses) to Jesus’s resurrection.
    • After receiving the power and various spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostles began spreading the news about the Resurrection, thus establishing the earliest expression of Church. Hence we can literally wish Mother Church a very Happy Birthday!
    • Although Christmas and Easter are considered the High Holy Days of the Christian Calendar, Pentecost is equally important and has a very celebratory air about it.
    Here are a few ways you and your loved ones can get into the Pentecost Spirit:
    • Celebrate Pentecost like any other birthday; Use a red tablecloth and napkins at Sunday lunch.
    • Order a red velvet cake and have it with ice cream for dessert.
    • Wear something red for church on Pentecost. I wear bright red golfing pants that literally hurt the eyes of the bedazzled beholder.
    • Best of all you, too, can match the color of the vestments worn by the Clergy to symbolize the tongues of that flamed over the heads of the Apostles on Pentecost.
    By attending on Sunday you can help to make the Feast of Pentecost a truly celebratory one, in the CGS tradition. Let’s become powerful signs of the Holy Spirit going out into the world to do the work of the Gospel.

    Are you Reddy?

    I have every confidence that you will answer God’s Call!

    Gareth