Sabbatical report, January 2019

Prepared for our Parish Annual Meeting, Sunday, January 20, 2019. 

2018 was quite a year, friends. I just want to say a few words about our OTHER big accomplishment of the year, besides a successful capital campaign:  having your rector go on sabbatical, and handling that really well. Other clergy ask me, “How was re-entry?” And I say, “It was amazing! They really did a great job!” And it’s true. There were no hot potatoes that someone was desperate to hand off to me. I was able to take my time getting up to speed and reconnecting. I’m so grateful. 

Special thanks go out to Deanna and Claudia, for working closely with Father Jonathan to keep our liturgical life running smoothly; Sharon, Krissy, and SO many others for planning and leading the many intergenerational renewal programs during my absence; Shirley, Michelle, Val, and Gloria, our wardens & treasurers, for keeping steady hands on the helm, & Sarah Stender, for getting our annual pledge drive off the ground. And to Tom, John, and Laura, for support with pastoral care. I’m always terrified of listing names, for fear I’ll forget someone who did important work. In my defense, in this case, I’m talking about stuff that happened when I was not actually here! But I know so many of you did so much while I was away, to participate in the renewal events and to help keep normal church stuff rolling along. Thank you. 

If you haven’t heard much about what I did or what the parish did, or want a refresher, I commend to you both my report on my sabbatical focused on intergenerational worship, and the report Sharon Henes wrote about the parish’s activities, which are on our website under the “Fellowship & Learning” tab. If reading on the website is a hardship, we can absolutely print them out for you. 

So what next? How will these ideas and directions continue in our parish life? Well, in worship, we’re trying a lot of little things and a few medium-sized things (like the new tables at the front of the church for older kids) to help shift the question, as Caroline Fairless puts it, from “Can the kids sit through this?” to, “How could we do this so it’s engaging and meaningful?” A next step will be gathering some folks to talk about roles in our liturgy. What do people do now as part of our liturgy (like acolytes, ushers, MCs), and are there ways to increase opportunities for participation? The gift-noticing we’re doing this Epiphany may help feed that conversation. 

We are also practicing noticing and reflecting on what happens in worship, via email, after every Sunday morning. Those “What did you notice?” emails go out to people who prepared and led worship, but if you notice something and want to share it, you can always email me. 

Outside of worship, we plan to continue regular intergenerational gatherings, including looking for ways things we already do could be more intentionally intergenerational. And of course, there are much larger questions about what it means to be an intergenerational church. Right now I and others are pretty busy with the final development of renovation plans, but when that eases off a little, it may be time for us to call a working group to assess, reflect, and imagine together. If that’s something you’d like to be part of, talk to me; to senior warden Krissy Mayer; or to Christian Formation coordinator Sharon Henes!

Thank you, each and all!