Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Good News of Change

I am still basking in the glow that was our annual parish meeting.  Fellowship has its benefits and being together to celebrate and look ahead added an excitement to the gathering.  Good food, good people, good news to share. Add those together and you have the good meeting that we had.

It occurs to me that our good news played a particular role in producing our good meeting.

Yes, we have good numbers: 70 pledges yielding $162,146.00, more distributions through Outreach than ever before,  9 transfers into membership, 4 confirmations, 14 reaffirmations. There's more in the printed Annual Report.

But our "good news" was more than the "numbers going up."

Perhaps most significant in our good news was the several ways in which we are managing our changes.

You know that old joke about how many Episcopalians it takes to change a light bulb?  Change the light bulb?  My grandmother gave that light bulb to the church!

We have learned to move into new models for leadership and function and that is good news.

We have changed to a new way of finding leaders for the Altar Guild.  No longer does the priest's appointment "enthrone" or "subject" one (in)to that responsibility.  In some churches Altar Guild chairs NEVER change occupants.  In others the lack of transition increases the isolation and perceived dictatorial function of the one who leads.

Our story was not that severe but the call to change was clear. And so we did.

I cannot thank Julie Jenkins (and Genia Bennett before her) enough for giving so much love and attention to the altar and with it the chancel and church in their years of service and leadership on the Altar Guild. 

At this annual meeting we announced the co-chairing of the Guild by Gertrude Rainwater and Mary McCauley.  Their terms of service designed to overlap so that next year we'll elect Gertrude's successor and Mary will continue for another year and on and on.

That good news was well received and recognized quickly by some as pointing beyond itself to the good news that the good news was made better by being the news of healthy transition.

Change the light bulb? Ha!  We can do that and more.  Not only do we have new leadership we have a new system for calling forward the next generation of leadership.

Word is that as soon as he found out about Julie's handing off, Rick Crown asked her "How did you do that?"

Maybe our good news is closer to that moment in Jesus' ministry when he was criticized for collecting grain on the sabbath to feed his disciples.  Maybe we have learned something about how embracing and managing change can better indicate the understanding that "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:" Mark 2:27.

We are learning that we are a church that is more than our numbers.  We are learning to trust each other.  We are learning that God is calling us to become something we have yet to become.  That's good news!

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