Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How are you called to serve in 2011?

Dear friends,

Thank you for the indulgence of a late newsletter, allowing me to make a trip to Michigan to move my son into his apartment for school (yes, again) and to see my grandson. Steve and I made it back in time for our Epiphany Party, which it turns out, was the perfect way to come home!

I’m very excited about the year ahead - the year of our ReBirth - and the opportunities presented to us as church. As you know, the life of our church is a team effort. This is part of our identity as Episcopalians. Clergy and vestry work together with ministry leadership and membership to build a culture of spirituality, hospitality, and service in the name of Christ.

We begin the planning for our life together in 2011 at our ANNUAL MEETING, which is scheduled for Sunday, January 23 in the Main Parish Hall. We will gather at 11:30 a.m. for a pot-luck family dinner Redeemer-style! The Annual Meeting itself will begin at noon and end at 2:00 p.m. Nursery will be provided. I ask all leadership of missions and ministries to send me a short report on the activities of your mission/ministry over the past year so that this information can be included in the official Annual Report.

At our Annual Meeting, we will be electing three new members to the vestry leadership. According to our church canons, vestry members must be confirmed (or received) communicants in good standing who are over the age of 16. Is this where you are called to serve? If so, or if you would like to recommend someone to serve, please contact a member of the Nominations Committee: Karen Lattimore, Brett Niblack, or Maggie Watson and they’ll guide you through the process.

In last month’s newsletter article, I announced that 2011 would be “The Year of our Youth.” This comes from the priorities the people of Redeemer established during our corporate discernment last year (those purple sheets), having met our first priority: the establishment of a feeding ministry. The Year of our Youth is a team effort, requiring members of all age groups at Redeemer to work together to accomplish our goals. In preparation for this, and in order to come into compliance with national and diocesan church policies, we have spent a great deal of time and effort (thanks again Jane Shooter!) doing training on Safe-Church policies and practices so that Redeemer can be safe place to gather for worship and to grow spiritually.

It is my hope and prayer that the Year of our Youth will include the development of at least one mission trip, one spiritual pilgrimage, and participation in some of the diocesan youth events that build friendship and spiritual strength while providing real opportunities for service. Is this where you are called to serve?

The Year of our Youth will also include creating a physical environment at Redeemer that is safe, fun, and formative for our young members. Our inside and outside spaces are ready for this to happen: the Children’s Chapel (some tiny vestments would be nice), a playground (simple, with symbols of our faith in and around it), a worship area for the children in the nave (needs a rug and a couple of bean bag chairs)... Is this where you are called to serve?

A clear priority for 2011 is Christian Formation (TEC has recommended we use this term instead of Christian Education or Sunday School) which is ready for a rebirth. Deacon Pam and I have held this up for an interim period, but the time has come for a new vision for the formation of our children and adults. Is this where you are called to serve?

Finally, there is the reality that our budget is, at this point, significantly less than it has been in the past. Churches around the country are experiencing an average of 30% decrease in pledge income this year, and Redeemer is no exception. At our diocesan convention in November, the Bishop, seeing the signs of this coming, said: “We’ll have to do more with less.” He was right. Thankfully, mission and ministry are not solely dependent on money. To help the new Treasurer make the most of what we have this year, we’ll need to reform our Finance Committee. Is this where you are called to serve?

The blessing is that this change in our financial status urges us to go a different way – not a bad thing during a time of ReBirthing. We’re going to have to get creative to do the work God is calling us to do - offering our own gifts of time, passion, and skill. We’ll have to seek resources beyond ourselves to support our work in mission and ministry, but as we’ve already seen, collaboration is a good thing - witness the development of our relationship with Westside Praise and Worship over this last year. There are grants to be written and partnerships out there waiting to be made. Is this where you are called to serve?

I truly believe that we have all we need at Redeemer to be the church God is calling us to be. Earthly circumstances are real, but temporary. The promises of God are real and eternal.

Happy Year of our Re-Birth, Redeemer! See y’all at the Annual Meeting!

1 comment:

Sharon Pearson said...

Thanks for sharing your vision! Your blog posting showed up on my daily 'google alert' since it was regarding Christian formation. Kudos to you and Redeemer for making youth & formation a priority.

I am Church Publishing's Christian Formation specialist, and wanted to let you know I administer an on-line community (aka blog) for Christian formation. You can check it out at - Building Faith. Perhaps it can support all of you in ministry!

Sharon Pearson