Happy summer to you! In addition to seasonal salutations, we write to share with you important doings of the Vestry. For the first time in over two years, the Vestry was able to meet face to face for its annual retreat. The retreat is a natural time for the group to get to know each other better and discuss issues of importance to our community. This year’s retreat felt particularly significant, as it represented the culmination of several important conversations we have been having within the church, and the vestry, on the vision of the future for St. John’s.
As you may recall we utilized part of the annual meeting to ask you three things:
If there were no limits, what would a vital St. John’s look like in one year?
What would we need to embrace or let go of to make that vision a reality?
Where would we see the Holy Spirit in this transformation?
The takeaways from those internal conversations were many, but as we prayerfully listened to your responses we discerned three themes:
1. You deeply value small group connection about faith and life
2. You maintain a strong interest in engaging more effectively outside our four walls;
3. You are seeking to come from a place of positivity, abundance and joy, rather than fear or judgment, as we live our faith in community with one another and in the world.
The vestry took those important insights into the retreat, and attempted to go even deeper with the conversation, seeking to identify “the why” of our individual and collective interest in St. John’s.
We prayed, dwelled in Scripture, and sought to discern the Spirit’s leading in these three themes. Like the earlier in-reach efforts, these conversations were wide-ranging and stimulating, full of imagination and thoughtful reflections. In the end we discerned several important values:
· relationship / community
· invitation that leads to welcome, safety and belonging
· spiritual nourishment
· seeking and serving the sacred in each other, the sacraments, the earth and the world
· above all, love
As we thought about what makes us different than any other nonprofit, and as we focused on what helps us experience God and enter into ‘the Holy,’ these values express how we get to the deepest part of our soul, and how we can live Jesus’ Way of Love together with hope, positivity, and a sense of abundance. Lisa has recently expressed these values, and also a few others she has observed in the St. John’s community, in a recent sermon (the additional values include healing, learning, courage, flow and wonder). We will be adapting these values in conversation with staff and St. John’s members over time.
We have also begun to imagine practical ways to apply these values. Naming them publicly as we are doing here in this newsletter, in future sermons and including them on our new webpage, as good first steps. Lisa plans to share and discuss the themes with staff, so that as they develop plans, budgets, and programming for the fall, these values can be used for inspiration and direction. They could also help us shape our adult education efforts, Justice & Service priorities, and inform our plans to make stewardship a year-round ministry.
Of course, we would love your feedback and thoughts.
What do you hear as you consider these values?
What inspires you as we continue to consider ‘the why’ of your presence at St. John’s?
Where do you experience the presence and leading of God in these values?
Your thoughts and insights will help us reflect on, experiment, practice and refine these values, as we continue to listen to the Spirit’s leading and the deepest aspirations of our hearts.
Mark Lindberg & Laura Meister