What I learned on my summer vacation: A reflection of church, soul and the next 5 years: Part 3
BECOMING A “SOULFUL” CHURCH
There was a time when it was organizations with the longest view that thrived, devising five, ten, and even twenty-year plans for themselves. Working toward those plans helped to clarify the direction of the organization and the roles of all the staff relative to the goal.
How times have changed! The organizations that succeed nowadays are those with the shortest view, not the longest. They are structured for speed: fast on their feet, imaginatively entrepreneurial, responsive to the latest cultural shifts and market changes.
To ask what the next five years might look like for us here at St. Stephen’s is risky business because, really, none of us know. But we might identity a direction, such that we are working towards a vision of the future, even if that vision must constantly be tested and altered along the way.
The question we are asking ourselves about the next five years is: What would it mean for us to become a more “soulful” church? In last Sunday’s sermon Brian our Rector identified “soul” as a word that has potential for describing the kind of church we are. It means that we are more interested in the quality of life here and now than in some future glory. We celebrate a God who is with us in our everyday lives, loving us deeply. It means we enjoy this world and work to make it a better place.
What do you think it would mean for us to be a more “soulful” church?
Midtown Mosaic l art and crafts show and sale attracts art lovers and the local community. Come out and see our church transformed into a fine art gallery. Friday, October 3rd from 6 to 9 p.m. Includes live music, wine & cheese reception, silent auction, viewing and sale of the artists’ work. Saturday, October 4th from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. event Includes fine art painting, handcrafted pottery, prints, cards, quilting and jewelry. In addition Activities for children-face painting, story time and an art workshop- will be available. A light lunch will be available for purchase. Admission is free and families are welcome. We are looking for volunteers to assist in planning this great event. Contact Ginny Binder at (403)217-7898 or call the Church office at (403) 244-4879.
Parish Council met this past week to continue a conversation we might call “values clarification”: what are the core values that help determine our priorities at St. Stephen’s? Before we make decisions, what is our discernment of where God is leading us and who God is calling us to be in the first place?
It is fascinating—and reassuring—how quickly we can identify qualities we value about our church experience: inclusivity, authenticity, happy chaos (at times), tradition, and a gospel that invites intelligent critique. Outreach is important to us, but we may have some work to do in
finding new ways of connecting with the wider community, especially through the arts—a value we have named but perhaps have not yet completely embraced.
If these values could be gathered under one heading, that heading might be “Soul”: we value a church that has soul. This is what the rector is exploring in this week’s sermon, the second instalment of a three-part sermon he is preaching on “What I Learned on my Summer Vacation: Reflections on Church, Soul and the Next Five Years”.
Soul has less to do with the ideals of our faith tradition—what we’re supposed to do, and who we’re supposed to be—and more to do with what we’re actually doing and who we actually are. The difference, theologically, is between a God who is distant and judgmental, and a God who is in our midst, loving us into being. There will be more to come.
What I learned on my summer vacation: A reflection of church, soul and the next 5 years: Part 2
What I learned on my summer vacation: A reflection of church, soul and the next 5 years
We’re back! The Rector has returned from his sabbatical, summer travellers from their travels, and families from their vacations. In the coming weeks Parish Council will take up its vision quest, the choir will re-gather for another season, and all our volunteers and working groups will pick up where they left off in the spring.
This is a time to reconsider our investment in St. Stephen’s—in its worship and its programs, in its many ministries and in its ongoing financial support. The building and property have done their work while many of us have been away, as concerts and weddings have taken place here and as our community garden and lending library have taken off, earning a featured spot on CBC Television News. But now it is time for each one of us to consider what our own participation will look like in the coming year.
At our “Start-up” service on September 7, which we celebrate as St. Stephen’s Day, information booths representing many of our parish activities will help us re-engage in church life. The Rector will begin a three-week preaching series titled, “What I learned on My Summer Vacation,” sharing with us his reflections on Church, Soul and the Next Five Years. This will provide further inspiration for our future direction.
But then it’s up to you. Where is God calling you this year? Is this a time to re-charge your spiritual batteries, or a time to flex your spiritual muscles? Come along and we’ll find out!