Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall Framework

I haven't written about church in a while, but we have exciting things going on!  The big one is that after 3.5 years of operating with only a "core leadership team," we are moving towards forming a vestry and becoming an official parish, not just a mission.

Ho-hum, right? It's not an outreach to the community, it's not an exciting event...but it feels like, after concentrating for three years on pouring the basement of our church--a strong, watertight, spacious one--we are finally starting to build above ground, framing out the structure that will support growth as  it comes.

Up to this time, our leadership team has had to be staff, vestry, and prayer engine, focusing on everything from prayer for the church and the needs of its congregation, to what Sunday School curriculum to use, to how much money we have to spend on it, to prayerful discernments regarding ordinations and whether to financially support worthy causes and needs within our own congregation.  It's been amazing what our little team of 3-5 couples has accomplished, and how God has answered the prayer request I've had posted in my sidebar--for God to send others to enlarge and strengthen it with needed gifts and abilities. We have such gifted leaders on our team, with such a wide variety of strong gifts. They have served in so many ways, obvious and hidden, and been not only ministry partners, but friends to Papa Rooster and me.  Without this team, I can't imagine where we'd be!

So our core team has served its function well, but not without some frustrations.  It's been hard to have so many areas of focus and feel like we weren't able to focus on them all at once.  It might be unclear who really owned an area or a decision, and then things would stall in a particular area instead of moving forward.  Sometimes, it seemed like we had too much input on what could have been a simple decision.  Or it might feel like we lacked organization or a long-range vision because we necessarily had to focus on the most immediate practicalities--or we spent time in prayer instead of organizing the immediate.  Not serious problems, but frustrating to us all, at different times.

So when our bishop said it was time for us to form a vestry, we agreed.  It seems right and good to separate the financial and discernment issues from the every-Sunday running of the church.  We still won't have paid staff, but we will have a point-person for Sunday School, for music ministry, for altar guild, etc. who will have authority to recruit help and make decisions and recommendations to the vestry and/or rector.

However, establishing a vestry means that our "members" will vote on who the vestry members will be--which implies the existence of a membership process!  So this fall, we are offering our first-ever membership class to our teens and adults, which will describe some of the distinctives from our Anglican heritage and traditions and will outline expectations for our members in a membership covenant. 

We plan to receive our new members on All Saints' Sunday (and have some confirmations as well), and then in Epiphany--our church's birthday season--we will elect our first slate of vestry members, and our bishop will return to officially install Father Rooster as rector of the new parish, Light of Christ.

In the membership class yesterday, a teenage girl shared that when she first visited Light of Christ, she had low expectations.  It wasn't her old church, and it wouldn't have been her first choice of a church to visit.  But on their first Sunday, she said, it seemed like there was "light everywhere" and the people seemed so light-filled and "fresh" to her.  It was so encouraging to hear!  May these new structures, as we prayerfully construct them, be the framework for the Light of Christ to shine even farther.


Heather said...

Sounds like an exciting time at your church!

Anonymous said...

Praise God! I think a strong vestry, a strong church foundation is VERY exciting and such a blessing to God and the church!