Strength to Strength Parish Planning
Held May 3-4, 2014
When a small boy brought fish and bread
…It is enough for all
Jesus on the beach cooking breakfast for friends
…It is ready to be received
Money in the fish’s mouth
…It is just the right amount
God’s generosity and power
…It is more than we can imagine
If the birds and the lilies are so cared for
…So we have all that we need
It is enough
Main Goal Reflections:
“To be a sustainable congregation that, contributes, and benefits from, strengthening our neighborhood over the next few years.”
- ?What from S2S allows us to further benefit our community?
- ?What brings benefit to St. A’s?
>We free ourselves to stop doing the unhelpful things that tire us out.
- ?From the foundation of our strengths, what might we let go?
>Begin, in common, to act according to our God-given passions and gifts.
- ?How can these strengths and ideas be brought and further celebrated in the wider community?
>With a deepened sense of God’s work in us.
- ?How did you see God at work over the S2S weekend?
>With the joy of being together.
- We did! We laughed, enjoyed fruitful conversation, and acted in faith together.
>Knowing that we are learning, in a new way, to live our mission: To live Christ in community through service.
- ?Where did we see moments when our mission statement was reaffirmed?
(underlined elements denote specific content developed on the weekend)
We have had two days now of discussion, prayer and dreaming.
We began our first day considering how trusting we are in the provision of God and rehearsed a number of scriptures that speak to God’s generosity, and the abundant ways in which God is among us.
We heard from three longer term parishioners who helped us understand the strengths of this community from the beginning. We were drawn in to consider how committed and creative members of St. Augustine’s have been over the years, working with a spirit of cooperation and joy. They have been adaptable and willing to trust each other along the way, especially when new ventures were undertaken.
We were presented also with a recap of our Mission Action Plan from two years ago and the fruit of that work which has born into real action and tangible results. “He who aims at nothing is bound to hit right on target.”
Remembering how the church and society (global and local) have changed, we consider that St. A’s is not the church of the past, but a present Christian Community. We spent the afternoon considering – a) what strengths and assets we have right now, and b) Which ones rise to the top.
The results of this day-long process suggest that we have more than we thought! The tone of the room was fluid and energetic. The lists of strengths line the walls downstairs. The people who attended leave with a deeper knowledge and experience of what we have as a parish and community, and how we may savor and enjoy these things.
- We celebrate a number of qualities of our Christian community.
o We celebrate the music and musician we have, we celebrate our youthful minister who serves us in this season, we celebrate our discussion groups which stir and prod us, we celebrate the simple suppers we are now holding. Throughout these things seems to be a level of humor and joy that should not be left behind.
o We celebrate our Anglican heritage which connects us to a local and global faith network. We celebrate also the Anglican pattern of worship and the freedom of religion to worship as we see right.
- We celebrate qualities of individual people and groups within our community.
o We are intergenerational. One of our greatest strengths at St. A’s and beyond is our seniors. Elders among us who bring a wealth of experience, overt practice of love, faithfulness, and a servant heart. They are grandparents, mentors, teachers, and a source of strength especially to younger generations.
o We are an enthusiastic, generous, passionate and faithful congregation and we see in our neighborhood others who are compassionate, community-minded, and connected.
- We celebrate the physical plant in which we gather
o We have a kitchen and hall facility.
o We have land available for development in service of our community.
o We bring sacred space into our neighborhood.
We concluded this day imagining and writing letters to ourselves from 20 years in the future. What would parishioners in 2034 write to thank us for doing now in 2014?
On our second day, a mission day led by Rev. Nick Trussell, we sought from this weekend these things:
- Information, a sense of direction, a sense of what we need, time for discernment to hear the voice of the Spirit (not just our own views), learning of why the church has lost relevance to many, and learning what gifts mission will bring to our congregation.
We were asked – “What does God do all day, really?”
- We responded that God is active, engaged with us, and bringing about new things (resurrection) even if God is difficult to explain and God’s work is often missed.
And Jesus, “what did he do all day, really?”
- Jesus fed, healed, talked with people, spoke differently about authority, and gave people a different sense of who they are.
- He promoted God’s kingdom
- He worked with his hands
- He fed people
- Graham Cray: “Jesus builds up the Christian community and changes the world.”
And you, what do you do all day really? What do we do as individuals and as a church? Are we sharing in the doings of God in Jesus? We named a number of moments when we felt we were doing just that. Moments of receiving generosity from others, moments of seeing our actions bear fruit in surprising ways, and seeing our effect on others. We told seven or eight stories to this effect.
We then had chance to return to the work of the day before, and particularly a sheet that had become covered in ideas of how we might engage our community. After much discussion, we found ourselves centered on how we care and support the very young and the very old. We were drawn to ideas and focuses like:
- An “adopt-a-grandparent” program connecting students and young families with surrogate grandparents (e.g. for Sunday dinner once a month). A former student spoke of what a gift this was to her, and a grandmother who had previously taken a student in spoke of what a positive experience it was.
o Initial Action: talk to the community life coordinator at Kings
- Run a parenting program that includes dinner, childcare, and a chance for parents to talk about parenting. There are DVD resources for such teaching (Alpha).
o Initial Action: plan a date
- Care for the aged in our community. Many in our community are struggling with health issues. How do we respond to this as a Christian community?
o Initial Action: Determine how to learn the needs of our seniors.
- Consider how we engage young families, especially those seeking baptism. Who does this, what programs are appropriate?
o Initial action: For the next baptisms, invite them to the following simple supper (or perhaps host an event to welcome them to the parish.)
- Action: Review our list of ideas for any “low hanging fruit.”
We closed the day together crafting and praying this tremendous prayer which is to help us carry the work of this weekend out in our remembrances and hearts.
Spirit of abundance,
direct our energy as we share the joy of your community.
Help us to be more than a centre for ceremony, but a center for spiritual sustenance from birth through death as we feed your people, care for the infirm, teach the baptized and instruct parents in loving care.
Give us the will, energy, wisdom and all blessings we need as we do this work. In Jesus’ name.