Welcome back! And for those who haven’t been away this summer, thanks for sticking with us… I hope that at some time in the past weeks you have had the chance to relax, refresh, and reflect, and that we come to a new academic year, and bring the Church year to a close, with a renewed sense of vision and hope in our community.
Despite my lighthearted comments in the announcements at a 10am service lately about not being keen on either the words "strategy" and "planning", I am excited that we are continuing with our strategic planning process, and deeply grateful for the work going into it. We have been in a long process of considering our identity as a progressive, inclusive, affirming, reconciling, prophetic, justice committed, worshipping, spiritual community – rooted in the Chrisitian Faith and our Anglican Tradition. Building upon the excellent foundation of our Quo Vadis report of three years ago, and the ongoing implementation of the vision within that document, we are moving now to the point where we put in place some clear goals and ways in which we work towards them. It is not a journey, or a dance, with an ending – as our community changes, grows, evolves, and as we are transformed into a spiritual community seeking to be engaged and alive in this time and in this place, we continue to ask questions of our direction, to put in place those systems and plans which enable us to maintain all with which we have been entrusted, and to meet the needs of ourselves and the wider community now, as we also make provision for the future.
This is not just a case of making a wish list of what we want, but seeking to reflect who we have been, who we are, and who we are becoming as people of God. We are looking to create a sustainable, forward looking plan which can take us into the next five years and beyond. I encourage you all to participate as you are able – particularly in filling out the survey which is now available either from the office, on the tables by the entrance to church, and online at stjohnthedivine.bc.ca. There will be other opportunities to contribute as the process continues, and our aim is to have a strategic plan in place by Vestry 2019 for the Parish’s approval and to affirm our commitment to it.
Our own community is not the only part of the Church undergoing transformation – our Diocese, the Diocese of Islands and Inlets (aka Diocese of British Columbia) is embarking on a project called "Transforming Futures" which will be a strategic and financial plan to ensure a future for the Anglican Church here. This is part of our ongoing Visioning and Vision implementation process and is an exciting and challenging move for the Diocese of which we are a part. I ask your prayers, please for the upcoming Diocesan Synod on the last weekend of September at which we will celebrate our journey so far, in partnership with the Indigenous peoples of these lands, and commit ourselves to working towards a future which, though daunting, should be filled with hope and life.
I am also taking part in the Provincial Synod for BC & Yukon in Sorrento, at which we will celebrate the ministry and installation of our new metropolitan, Archbishop Melissa Skelton, and the ministry of the new director of the Sorrento Centre itself in the opening and closing Eucharists. Please pray for Archbishop Skelton and the work of our ecclesiasiastical province, along with the work of the Sorrento Centre.
This fall, as well as the usual events and strategic planning, we are taking some time to consider some core ideas within the life of our Spiritual community. We have spent time in the past year considering our finances, and making changes to our Administration to make our work as efficient as possible. These are, whether we think of them as such or not, spiritual concerns – as our life as community is lived out through our giving and generosity, our approach to money, and the way in which we organize and commit our lives. These are all as spiritual as Bible study and spiritual reading, prayer, and worship!
Those disciplines continue! And alongside them we will also be looking at and exploring our own spirituality through engaging with the theme of Healing – which is at the heart of our faith. Healing of heart, mind, and body. The healing of creation, the healing of the rifts between people, and between nations. All of this is wrapped up with concerns about reconciliation, wholeness, forgiveness, love, relationship, peace, which are embraced within the Biblical notion of “Shalom”. To explore this in depth there will be opportunities in November to engage with our own active and vibrant healing ministry, to hear and discuss ideas of healing in sessions put on during the week, to consider healing in relationship the readings and festivals during November and also to experience healing prayer at various times, including as part of a Healing Eucharist. Look out for further details appearing in October.
We’ll also be offering opportunities to explore spirituality through different approaches including a Franciscan spirituality workshop on Saturday, Sept. 22nd and an icon writing workshop from Nov. 14th to 17th. Times for the icon workshop would be: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 7:00-9:30pm and Saturday from 9:30am to 4pm.
This, of course, goes alongside our many opportunities for worship, prayer, reflection, study, conversation, social action, social justice, art, music, and the practical care of our buildings and organization that continue to happen day after day in our community. This community only continues to function and grow because of the many volunteers and people who give so much time, energy, and love to our work. Thank you to all of you, and thank you to the staff who work so hard as we serve this community and the wider world together.
With thanks for our partnership in the Gospel,