Since returning from vacation, it has been back to the old drawing board. On Sunday, August 14, as usual, I celebrated two masses in the morning. It was wonderful to see and be with our parish family again. In spite of the fun we had on our vacation, it was a joy to see them because we missed them. But the week was going to be a very busy one with the Leadership Workshop coming up on the weekend (August 19 & 20). For the past two to three months, six members of our church family – Linda, Ian, Gail, Tony, Scott, Maureen, and I were formed as a Task Force to plan a workshop for the Leaders of ministries, organizations, and committees, members of the Vestry and Office Staff. The program was designed to build healthy relationships among leaders, create a cohesive church environment among the leaders and members, foster discussion, challenge the leaders to brainstorm and to share ideas and suggestions, and to provide spiritual opportunities. The workshop also had a whimsical or humorous side to it.
The theme of the workshop was “…from Cows to Condos.” Why the name you may ask? Up until five years ago, most of the church was surrounded by cow pasture and with that comes not only cows but you know what else… Today, the same area next to our church is becoming a totally different place. Currently single family homes, and condos are being built where the cows once grazed.The only similarity between the cows and the condos is that they both begin with the letter “c.”
Our hope was that the time spent among the members of the leadership team of Holy Sacrament and me would allow us to listen, share, dream, and foster renewed energy to help in the building up of the church in which God has placed us as His stewards. The workshop was an opportunity for the leadership team and me to come together and be empowered so that we can engage in the mutual ministry of Holy Sacrament in the service of Jesus Christ as we chart a way forward for our church and its ministry that would realize its vision and goals.
1. The vision and mission statements of Holy Sacrament were created as a guide as to how we should minister in the South Florida area. The vision statement which the members of this Church conceived reads: “Holy Sacrament Episcopal Church will faithfully serve each other, respect and delight in our diverse gifts and faithfully carry the light and love of Jesus Christ to all people at home and abroad wherever our Lord shall lead.” Furthermore, we believe that our mission is about “Transforming lives through Christ using our diverse gifts.”
2. My vision for Holy Sacrament for the first three to four years of my incumbency would embrace the five (5) purposes of any church – “Worship, Ministry, Evangelism, Fellowship and Discipleship,” and that these principles would be realized at Holy Sacrament through:
– Inviting and enthusiastic worship, which is continued and strengthened and where God’s presence and love is felt and experienced through Word, Sacrament, Music and Christian Fellowship;
– Providing and encouraging members to develop and redevelop their gifts and to use them more efficiently in the mission and ministry of the church;
– Sharing the Gospel in word and in the way we live through evangelizing those in our community and beyond;
– Experiencing fellowship by loving one another more deeply, and where love, hope, guidance, encouragement and forgiveness are found;
– Educating members through biblical teaching programs to improve their lives spiritually and assisting them in becoming faithful followers or disciples of Christ.
3. Developing a long term strategic plan that is centered on these five aspects, and where together as leaders, we identify initiatives for the five
areas, outline tasks which are essential to accomplishing these proposals, recruit, train, and supervise ministry teams appropriately for each initiative, establish suitable benchmarks in which each initiative could be achieved by 2015, record the results and decide whether the tasks or initiatives have been achieved. This would include evaluating the performance of the leadership team responsible for a particular task and to find out the level of its effectiveness.
4. The realization of the goals of Holy Sacrament which include: Encouraging a welcoming environment, Developing effective means for Pastoral Care, Administering sense of purpose and vision for the Parish, and Embracing diversity and encouraging spiritual growth.
5. The need to be an outward looking church rather than an inward looking church, addressing the needs of the people that are living in this community as well as those who are to come, hence the reason for the theme – “…From Cows to Condos…” We need to ask ourselves such questions like, “Who are the people who will be moving into these condos?” What are they like? What are their needs and how can we meet their needs? As a result, we need to have an action and implementation plan so that we are able, not only to introduce ourselves to them but to be truly a faith community that serves and reaches out to them in an invitational way by showing them the salvific love of Jesus Christ.
The Workshop featured four worship services, each of them depicting a different theme: “Friendship and Relationship,” “Light,” “Leadership and Decision-making,” “Thanksgiving.” The last worship service on the Friday night was a beautiful candlelight service, while on Saturday, August 20, the workshop ended with a Closing Eucharist in the Parish Hall.
The Appreciative Inquiry Process was used when discussing and presenting the 5 critical questions at the workshop. Each table group was comprised of a Discussion Coordinator, Timekeeper, Recorder, and Reporter. The groups were given 15 minutes each to respond to the following 5 questions and then to make presentations on their discussion and answers:
1. “What about Holy Sacrament makes you glad that you worship here?”
2. “Thinking about the past, what events have had a major impact on Holy Sacrament?”
3. “What are Holy Sacrament’s strengths?”
4. “What are the greatest needs at Holy Sacrament?”
5. “Imagine in your wildest dreams – what would you like to see Holy Sacrament to look like three years from now?”
These five (5) questions as well as the five (5) purposes of the church formed the basis for the final set of questions: “What do you think are the most pressing needs right now at Holy Sacrament in the area of Worship / Ministry / Evangelism / Fellowship / Discipleship? And Why? Based on Holy Sacrament’s gifts/strengths, how do you see us realizing those needs?” The leaders and vestry members were divided into the 5 purpose groups that best represented their ministries. Each group were to identify not more than 3 “pressing needs,” and were given one hour to discuss this question. The groups then made their presentations, each of about 7 minutes in duration. The responses from these groups will become the focal points from which we will implement various aspects of ministry in our church and community.
The workshop also had some humorous aspects. One humorous part of the workshop was the naming of the table groups. Each table had either a cow or a condo as a centerpiece and the table name was to depict that object. The names chosen were: “The Jersey Penthouse,” “The Happy Cowgregation,” “The Herdsmen,” “Moo-Haven,” “Condos Cow Mandos,” “The Barn,” “La Casa de la Vaca,” “The Tiki Garden,” and “The Rabble House.” Another amusing aspect of the workshop was the question session: “Would you rather be a front porch or back porch?” The choice of porch by each participant revealed personality of the individual. Some of the responses were rather hilarious – ranging from “liking to know what is going on in the world” to “relaxing quietly by oneself.” A third hilarious aspect was the “Cow Personality Test.” In this exercise, the participants were invited to draw “a cow” after which the person leading the test read the types of personalities based on the cow that was drawn. The large cadre of personalities can range from being a good listener to being direct, enjoy playing devil’s advocate and neither fear nor avoid discussions. From being secure, stubborn and stick to your ideals to being analytical, cautious, and distrustful.