Parish Survey, Sacred Ground, Loving Spoonful Volunteers Needed, and more in the E-Newsletter for October 13, 2019 – Available in full online here.

From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP

Dear *|FNAME|*,

It's one thing to dream… it's another thing to take the steps necessary to make that dream a reality. 

Since the beginning of the year, the Vestry has been leading St. John's on a "Spiritual Quest," a journey our community is taking as we try to articulate anew three important pieces of who we are as a congregation:

  • Our Mission – Who are we as St. John's? What is our congregation's distinctive identity? This includes the creation of a short motto to capture our identity for those outside our community. 
  • Our Vision – Where do we see God calling us? How do we envision our future if we are true to our identity as a congregation? 
  • Our Plan – What concrete steps do we need to take as a congregation to get where God is calling us? What ministries do we need to emphasize even more? What new things or different things might we try as a congregation? Which existing ministries do we need to pull back from to make room for new growth? 

Thus far we've come up with a draft Mission Statement and Motto which are pretty solid and have, thus far, received barely any suggestions for further edits:

As followers of Jesus, we believe all people—without exception—are God’s beloved and are called together by the Holy Spirit. Inspired by time-honored worship, the people of St. John’s Episcopal Church strive to boldly love every person and all creation.

This is summarized by our motto: Following Jesus. Inspired by Worship. Boldly loving ALL.
Based upon that sense of who we are as a congregation, we have also created a vision of where we think God is calling us in the future. That proposed vision has also been edited given feedback and, at this point, seems to be pretty broadly supported by most:
The teachings of Jesus call us at St. John’s Episcopal Church to cultivate a community where each one of us can know who we are as beloved children of God. The more we open ourselves to God’s love, we realize the grace-filled truth that every person we meet is likewise beloved. We envision a church where all people—no matter who they are, who they love, who they vote for, or what language they speak—can find grace and mercy in their relationships with God and one another.  

We find our time-honored approach to worship inspiring, and yet we also believe God calls us to find ways to make it more welcoming to those who are searching for a connection to God. We want to be a congregation where children will find their spiritual home—and their passion for God—here among us. And we want to equip Christians of all ages to learn what it means to follow Jesus in our current world. As we strive to boldly love every person and all creation, we believe God is inviting us together across our differences to change this world—both globally and right here at home. 
Now, we have gotten to the interesting and more difficult question. In the most recent parish survey, online here, we are no longer looking for more word-smithing—after all, changing around words very rarely changes and organization or culture. Rather, we are looking for your ideas for what steps we need to take to make that vision a reality at St. John's. 

For example, "The teachings of Jesus call us at St. John’s Episcopal Church to cultivate a community where each one of us can know who we are as beloved children of God.” Your answer should be what things do you think we should do at St. John’s to help people do this. Do more faith formation on Jesus’ teachings? Start a Sunday school? Start a small group ministry? etc. (To get an idea of what brainstorming steps we are looking for, you can look at the "Five-Year Plan" version of our last parish vision document online here.)

The survey was going to close today, but we want to be sure everyone has a chance to give us ideas for what ministries they think are most important to us and what ones they think we might consider starting or changing—as those ideas relate to each part of our new draft Parish Vision. 

So, we are keeping the draft survey open until Sunday night. Please take a moment this weekend and fill it out. Or, if you filled it out but didn't fully understand what was being asked for in the last section of the survey, "Our Plan of Action," feel free to fill it out anew with your own ideas for action steps. 

Once we have all survey responses, we will publish everyone's answers and give you all a chance to vote on the ideas that resonate most with you! We'll then have a final Parish Gathering to decide on how to finalize that plan given the survey responses before sending the whole packet to the 2020 Annual Meeting in January. 

This is your chance to make your voice heard as we all seek to listen to where the Spirit is calling us as a congregation. Please fill out the survey today!

Through Grace,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, October 13, 2019 online here

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