September 8, 2019
Last month, shortly after Clint left, we conducted a three-stop listening tour attended by more than seventy-five people. It was hard to know what to expect during a time of great transition as we seek a new rector and determine next steps in a building program that did not go exactly as anticipated.
It was important to give parishioners the opportunity to voice their thoughts and to listen to comments from our interim rector and other church leaders. We recognized too, that we needed to discern God’s will – What is He telling us at this point? – and that such discernment is both an individual and community effort.
Well, what did we learn? It became abundantly clear from our discussions that in spite of the great challenges facing us, our congregation has a deep reservoir of good will – love, peace, kindness, and more – toward each other. We are truly seeing the fruits of the Spirit.
Among questions about the building and the rector search (updates about those will be provided on a regular basis), other key themes emerged:
We need to pray for our Search Team and for our Move Team.
We need to draw younger people to our congregation to expand our demographic base.
We have powerful and flourishing ministries and we are a resilient congregation. We want a new rector to know that.
We are a praying congregation. When the Israelites were in the wilderness, Moses didn’t have that; his group was plagued with disobedience. They did follow cloud and fire provided by the Lord, and we should too. We need to continue to support each other.
An observation from Mary Ellen Bena: Dave has been Bishop since 2000 and we have been to hundreds of churches. Immanuel is one of the most committed congregations. Everyone has a ministry. All are dedicated to Jesus Christ. These will be very attractive attributes to a new rector.
We need a rector that will build stronger, Spirit-based congregation. Seek a rector who recognizes our strengths and ministries and then grow them.
Remembering what Bishop Guernsey said: “We don’t want to tell candidates what our vision is, nor do we want them to tell us what their vision is for us. Rather, we want a rector who will help us discern what God’s vision is for us.”
Loving, resilient, prayerful – that’s what we learned are key attributes of our congregation. The Lord is with us; He always has been and always will be.