Year In, Year Out: Elevate!
The following letter from Wallace+ appears in the December 2010/January 2011 Epistle newsletter:
As I write these words, plans for Elevation 2.0 are falling into place. I’d like to highlight a few elements of Elevation 2.0, but, before I do that, I’d like to take a moment to think back over Elevation 1.0 and the year 2010.
This time last year, we were wrapping up our Such Great Heights visioning movement, where we prayed and thought and reflected on the following two questions, “Who does God call us to be?” and “What does God call us to do?” Moving out from that time of discernment, we swung into a first round of action plans this last winter, namely Elevation 1.0. When I think over the last year, among the things that come to mind are the following:
Our Minster of Music: If I may be so bold, in David Sinden, I have the sense that we have someone who will, in time, be seen as one of the most talented and creative musical and liturgical leaders in the Episcopal Church. The energy and creativity that he has already brought have been remarkable. And I have heard from more people than I could possibly count how great the choir sounds, and, for that matter, how great our organ sounds. And then, to boot, we were thrilled to announce, just recently, that Karen Harris is indeed staying with us as our Assistant Organist and Choirmaster.
Liturgical Refreshment: For our 9:00 service, then our summer service, and, most recently, our 11:15 service, we completed three separate series of open conversations, where we invited parishioners to reflect on and explore how we might “refresh” our worship services, that is, how best to help our services be as strong and as vital as they can possibly be. (Please see also “Liturgical Refreshment & The 11:15 a.m. Service: A Living Tradition of Worship & Music,” p. 3.)
Downtown Mission Team: With a vision of reaching out to and connecting with our new downtown neighbors (the increasing number of people living downtown), we established a new mission team. The two “downtown adventures” so far have been a poetry reading, and a night of music, both taking place at The Urban Farmhouse, a coffee house in Shockoe Slip.
Small Groups: In preparation for rolling out more small group offerings, we ran two very successful pilot small groups, under the leadership of Bryan Appel & Leslie Choplin.
Parish Read: We offered our first “Parish Read,” with Phyllis Tickle’s The Great Emergence, where we invited the parish to read and discuss a book together.
New Nametags: With the generous help of Dick Carlton and others, we prepared a whole new set of nametags for the entire parish!
With those as some highlights for Elevation 1.0, I’ll turn to some highlights for Elevation 2.0, phase two of implementing our vision from Such Great Heights.
Caring Companions: In January, under the leadership of Kate Jenkins, our Associate Rector, Caring Companions will get underway, a much-anticipated course designed for anyone interested in exploring a call to pastoral ministry. (Please see Kate’s article on p. 6.)
Covenant Groups: Also in the New Year we will roll out the first Covenant Groups, a selection of small group offerings, running for a fixed number of weeks, and focused on a particular subject. These groups will present a premium opportunity to build relationships within the St. Paul’s community and to explore various spiritual themes and practices at greater depth. (Please see inset on the cover for a brief word on the first Covenant Groups.)
Parish Read: Building on the positive experience of our first Parish Read, this winter all are invited to read Diana Butler Bass’ A People’s History of Christianity. (For more information, please see the article on p. 5.)
Downtown Mission Team: The further development of our Downtown Mission Team will continue, and further “adventures” are to come.
Shaping Public Discourse: Having established a Shaping Public Discourse Committee, which reports to the Faith in Action Board, the committee will continue to explore how we, as a parish, engage the pressing moral and social questions facing Richmond and the world (e.g., the reality of poverty in Richmond, or the state of public education in Richmond). In particular, the committee will study how to integrate Shaping Public Discourse into the fabric of the parish’s life, through opportunities for study, conversation, and advocacy.
Generosity: At St. Paul’s Church, we have longed to move from a more narrow focus of “stewardship” as being about the annual pledge drive each fall, to something more expansive and year-round. “Generosity” is the word we have begun using to represent this change in perspective. In the coming year, we will establish a Generosity team dedicated to helping us claim generosity as a core value that has implications for the whole of our lives.
The Sesquicentennial of the Civil War & Emancipation: In the spirit of last month’s lead Epistle article, I will gather an advisory and planning team to assist in developing plans and programs for the Sesquicentennial period, as we consider how the Gospel speaks to this moment in our history. The theme for the Lenten Preaching Series 2011 has been developed with the Sesquicentennial in mind.
As always, we have much to celebrate at St. Paul’s, as the Spirit continues to move in our midst and to lead us onward and upward in mission. I know God has great things in store for us. In the meantime, thank you for your part in the life and ministry of St. Paul’s Church.
Your brother in Christ,
Pictured: The Children’s Choir has a video chat with composer Steven Rickards who lives in Indianapolis. In the session, arranged by Minister of Music David Sinden, Rickards gave the choir some background information on his anthem “Come, thou long-expected Jesus,” which was sung during our Advent Lessons & Carols service on December 5. He also answered their questions on what it’s like to be a composer. Photo by Jennine Sherrill