The committee met twice in October, to continue our process of looking ahead and charting the course for our parish. God has a mission for us. The Parish of St. Augustine’s is how He enacts it. We recognize that our mission as a committee and as a parish will be the primary source from which all other actions and activities will derive.
One definition of “mission” is an organized effort for the propagation of the Christian Faith.
When we met with the Rt. Rev. J. Russell Kendrick on August 25, he told us. “Listen for God’s voice. He is in the midst of us. The hardest part of planning is to dream bigger than you think you can, and don’t rush it. The Holy Spirit needs time.” With that firmly in mind we began with basic concepts.
The mission statement for this group is this: This committee is formed to work for God, and to dream about long term visions of our buildings, grounds, infrastructure, programming and missions. We want to help the parish finish this sentence in all those areas: “We dream of a St. Augustine’s that ______.”
In this we recognize that all those areas are means of carrying out the mission. We also recognize that God will not be outdone in his generosity: We can dream as big as the Holy Spirit wants us to; we can accomplish whatever the Holy Spirit calls us to do. With that guide, we will decide what to do, where we want to do it, with whom we might partner to carry it out, and how each area comes from the sense of mission, with prayer, discussion and inspiration. So how will we do this?
Asking the right questions
First and foremost we have to ask ourselves who we are, what is God’s call to us, and why we are here. As we discern that, we will begin to understand when and where can we further the Kingdom of God, and how.
December 6 we will begin the dreaming with a Eucharist/Meeting/Meal in Henderson Hall starting at 9:30 AM. This will be a preliminary step, but it is very important. Please plan to be there, even if you don’t normally attend First Sunday!
The committee also considered a rough draft list of questions to ask the parishioners about the present and the future. The questions we considered ranged from the ridiculous to sublime, and still need study, revision and work. We want the questions to evoke dreaming, scheming and excitement. We want to stimulate the passion of our congregation for the work God has for us to do. We want to open our hearts and ears to what the Holy Spirit calls us to do.
The current process plan is this: Instead of one long survey, we will present the questions one at a time, at successive Sundays.
The questions of the month and week will be in the newsletter, in the bulletin, in emails, on posters around the parish, and any other medium we can think of. A prayer will be included, and we will ask you to pray, think and discuss those questions.
Then, during the regular Sunday services, the parishioners will fill out index cards and drop in the basket some of their thoughts on the current question. Do we need a bit in here about emailing responses as well if further thinking time is necessary?
Taking one question a week, dividing them into the above categories, it is possible this will take from December , after our December 6 brunch/service/meeting to next August or September, allowing for some leeway for Sundays such as Easter. From there, we will gather and collate the answers and then have a series of dinners to use those responses as we continue the dreaming and scheming and making specific goals, plans and strategies.
The committee want to emphasize that dreaming big not only is allowed, it is required. We can fundraise, we can look for grants, we can count on God to carry out his dream for us. Money should not constrain our dreams, because it cannot constrain God’s dream for us.
Allow this process to take time!
Also in the October meetings. Tony Thompson presented ideas for tying current buildings together, refurbishing the north wall of the church, and so on. This does not preclude dreaming about a new building, or buildings, or remodeling, or anything else. It’s just dreaming about the way to make the most out of what we have now. We will consult with the diocesan architect on our ideas, and come up with some renderings to be displayed for your input later on.
We know this is all just a beginning and it might seem as if we are moving slowly but we are still in a process of discernment. Please let us hear from you. The committee members are: Tony Thompson, Othella Wright, Janet Wright, Anna Lucas, Eugene Bentz, Steve Hering, and Libbi Crowe.