Dreaming Together at the Beginning of a Journey
More than one hundred parishioners from all services - ranging in age from 14 to 90 gathered in the cathedral on Saturday, 21 October to Dream Together at the Start of a Journey. The conference started with Canons Broderick and Katie introducing themselves and sharing a bit about who they are and what they believe they bring to the Saint John’s community. Dean Richard and parishioner, Rae Denman, followed with an overview of the morning and the four questions to be answered in small groups; the groups changed in both size and make-up after the first two questions. While there were wide-ranging answers, there was profound consistency in the most frequently raised dreams and concerns of the participants. Representative comments of those consistencies are shared herein – a more comprehensive listing of individual responses is hanging in the hallway just outside the Welcome Center. In her conference introduction, Canon Katie shared an image of parish as “host” and clergy as “guest” that resonated with those gathered. She encouraged a sense of ownership, identity, and vision-casting by laity of their own community – one that preceded current clergy and will endure beyond any one tenure. “A healthy church knows, from the ground up, who it is and what it wants to accomplish within its walls and outside of them.”
Is there one thing the priests could do so beautifully and consistently that most other things would fall into place? 1 Know and care for your people â€“ be fully present to us. Listen. 2 Work together well; give each other â€“ and model for us â€“ love, grace, and accountability. 3 Equip and empower the laity to walk with each other and the wider community.
Is there one quality or practice that you personally want to do more beautifully and consistently? 1 Enrich relationships within the congregation. Listen. 2 Grow in spiritual and prayer life. 3 Welcome ALL into worship and community.
Dean Richard talked about the vestry’s desire to align mission and resources. Saint John’s is projecting a 15% increase in pledges (a higher increase than has happened in a long time), but the “Path to Financial Sustainability” from the interim period wisely requires the parish to use less and less of the endowment for operations. Thus, we will need to make several hundred thousand dollars in cuts at the beginning of 2018 in order to be good stewards.
As a community, what memory, program, or tradition do we need to let go of? 1 Deepen sense of community by consolidating Sunday morning services. 2 Re-imagine the music program to better reflect who we are today. 3 Look ahead to the future rather than dwell on the past. 4 Simplify and streamline our processes and â€œproductionsâ€?; make sure our practices and resources clearly align with our intention.
Canon Broderick shared his hope that, â€œas a priest and pastor, I understand myself as a companion on your journeys, a witness to the way love might and will unfold in innumerable ways as your own sense of belovedness by God continues to take hold over the tumults, struggles, and triumphs of your lives.â€?
As a community, where do we need to put more energy, prayer, and money? 1 Refocus energy and resources around what brings us together to serve in the parish and in the community. 2 Strengthen community by listening to one another, being together, and working together. 3 Expand formation offerings â€“ engage our youth and young adults. 4 Learn what specific gifts our laity possess and use of those gifts. 5 Create space for the sacred in our lives.
As the Saint John’s community was invited to Dream Together in small groups, the themes of simplification, community-building, listening, and building genuine relationships came up again and again across all four of the questions. The synchronicity of the main themes can be seen in the overwhelming request to have two rather than three services on Sunday mornings: clergy would be more present to build relationships with parishioners by having the time to greet them at the door and talk with them in coffee hour. Music would have to be rethought in light of eliminating a service. Coffee hours could be more robust and engage more people by providing time for relaxed conversation and community building. Formation at the Dean’s Forum would have a more consistent start and end time without being tightly wedged between two of three services; additionally, the Forum would now be a viable option for parishioners who previously attended the earliest service. The conference was humming with the expressed desire for a deep sense of knowing and being known in community – there was an eagerness and willingness by the participants to work alongside the clergy to achieve goals, make changes, and shoulder the accountability for the implementation of Dreaming Together.
What can you expect next? • 10 December: Dean’s Forum with Dean Richard and Senior Warden Tom Keyse
• 18 December: Vestry receives detailed 2018 budget • 21 January: Annual Meeting Who can answer your general questions* about their experience of the conference? • Matt Allard: firstname.lastname@example.org • Jennifer Allen: email@example.com • Rae Denman: firstname.lastname@example.org • Carolyn McCormick: email@example.com • Priscilla Shand: firstname.lastname@example.org *Specific questions regarding the budget and changes can be addressed at the Dean’s Forum on 10 December.