Rusty and the deacon executive were busy planning a retreat to be held early in April as an opportunity for the deacons to gather with members of ministry-related committees. The goal of this retreat was to look at the first three Guiding Statements and share ideas about how we could work together to further the congregational goals related to connecting with God, connecting to the community and doing justice. And then COVID restrictions were put in place! Nevertheless, we felt strongly that this was an important conversation to be having and, with some modification, the retreat took place.
On three consecutive Tuesday nights in June, deacons and members of the Board of Christian Education, the Auxiliary, and the Outreach and Music committees gathered to focus on ministry issues. Each night there were 10 participants including Rusty, Rhonda and myself.
We examined questions like:
- How do we connect people in community and do the work of social justice at the same time?
- How is our social justice work part of our worshipping that connects us to God?
- How do the current COVID restrictions affect how we carry out our ministry and missions?
It is heartening to participate in conversations that show how deeply connected we feel to FBCH and how keenly we want to be with one another. Over the course of the three retreats there were consistent themes in our discussions including:
- FBCH should spend significant time and energy studying social justice and what it means to be an inclusive congregation following in the Way of Jesus, specifically in relation to race
- FBCH should not be too hasty in returning to “normal” but should use this time to experiment with and build our online capacity throughout the week as well as on Sunday mornings
- FBCH should find ways to create Sunday worship experiences that are intergenerational and welcoming of a broader variety of voices
- FBCH should foster community-building online (and to the extent possible in person) by providing multiple opportunities for small groups to gather to study, discuss and actively engage in meeting needs within the congregation and in our larger community
Building on these themes, Rusty, Rhonda, Lynette and Jean, with help from the Board of CE and deacons, are laying the groundwork for worship and faith formation experiences for all ages in our congregation. (More about this in a future blog.) I truly believe that these rather strange times in which we are living can be an exciting, dynamic time for our church. It is my hope that all of us will find at least one opportunity in which to engage either as a participant or a leader. Oh yes, as a leader or facilitator. With all of the wonderful suggestions for small groups that were brought forth it is clear that Rusty and Rhonda cannot do it all. We must all participate in the work of building our faith community.
And it is such joyful work!