In my opinion our Parish Council rightly decided that the discussion around St. Barnabas’ Mission Statement should continue. At first I was rather disappointed, not just that we are yet without a Mission Statement, but that it would involve more work. But as I listened to voices around the table speak with insightful wisdom I was very moved; moved because to a voice the search for the best thing to do for the life of our church was a top priority.
Lest you accuse me of overstating the obvious, isn’t council always supposed to do that? Indeed, it seemed to me that members were truly engaged in finding the best way to gather people’s views about the matter. We had come up with a good start at our Parish Council Retreat last autumn, we had “tried it in” on at our last Vestry meeting, we had solicited emails and spoken to many individuals but we all felt, that this was just not good enough. We need to consider the manner in which we self describe (the gist of a mission statement) in as broad a context in our parish as we can, especially in a face to face meeting.
I was very encouraged by that little detail.
Encouraged because in our time of social media and electronic communications of all sorts the notion of a face to face meeting or two to openly share how we think of ourselves as a church is a very cool idea. For one thing the fine subtleties of body language, inflection, and manners of speech which help fill in the unknowns of the written word – and I am thinking emails here – are sadly lost by almost all of our convenient forms of communicating. It IS rather inconvenient to have to spend valuable time listening to others express themselves at times in less than coherent arguments. But my experience has taught me that even these moments present us with a golden opportunity to witness the Spirit alive in our midst, if we are attentive.
We cannot undervalue the importance of listening to others. I am convinced that good listeners should added to the world’s endangered species. It is good to be able to express ones self but expressing ourselves is only half the project – listening being the place where ideas find solid ground, or not! And I am very proud of both the talking and the listening which went on at our last Parish Council meeting.
Another issue which arose was the matter of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the construction of our church building. There are at least a few reasonable dates from which to choose: St. Barnabas’ Holy Day, June 11th ; the date the cornerstone was laid in the fall of 1962, the date when the church was consecrated in January of 1963, or the date when the church building was actually finished (technically it never was!). Council decided to choose none of the above!
In fact, Parish Council decided that we form a 50th Anniversary Committee with the hope that a celebration marking both the beginning of the first church building and the renovations for which we are fundraising might be tied together. We saw it as an appropriate opportunity to organically join both the original initiative to build, and our present hope to build upon that first impetus. There is a good possibility that construction might begin next year and what a wonderful way to mark that by breaking ground on or near St. Barnabas’ Feast Day in June of 2013 – while I suppose we did choose one of the few mentioned above the final suggestion will come from the Anniversary Committee.
While that final decision about how best to celebrate the church’s 50th is yet to come I think the idea of linking the two events is a propitious one. It does two things which must always be linked in a Christian community; as we look to the future we are mindful from whence we have come.