Steve’s Slant

Right now we’re on not one but two journeys together.

The first is our Lenten journey, or, in keeping with our theme for the season, the ridiculous journey of following a nobody from nowhere.  We will continue to follow along with Jesus on his own journey toward the destiny that awaits him, as told to us in the big stories in the Gospel of John.

Many of you have offered gracious feedback on our efforts to add visual, musical and experiential richness to our Lenten observance, particularly the addition of the prayer stations to our service.  This was a new and different thing, so we appreciate your feedback very much.  Speaking on behalf of the Liturgical Arts Team, we are pleased to know that the stations seem to be making your Lenten observance more meaningful.

Two more quick points along these lines.  One, if you’d like to add your own creative gifts to the work of the Liturgical Arts team, we’d love to have you join us!  This invitation is open and all are welcome, so just let me know if you’d like to be included.  Second, if you have not found our Lenten services to be meaningful — and perhaps the prayer stations in particular — we’d like to know that, too.  We are aware that the first two Sundays of the season went a little longer than normal (closer to 75 minutes than 60), so we’re taking that into account as we plan our remaining services through Palm Sunday.

All of that said, alongside our Lenten journey, we’re also traveling on a separate but parallel track, one that we’ve been on for a while now, one that we trust and believe will continue to take us to a bright hopeful future.  I’ve documented in this space, and in separate email messages, that I believe we’ve already made significant progress toward achieving the main goals of our Ministry Plan.  But we recently took another major step in this direction when our Session and the conveners of our ministry teams gathered for a leadership retreat at William Black Lodge in Montreat.  The main goal for our time together was to clarify the kind of “container” we need to carry our “cargo”, as our facilitator, Marylyn Huff, likes to say.  To put that another way, we wanted to get clearer about the kind of leadership and oversight structure we need in order to fully implement our Ministry Plan and realize its four main goals.

What follows below is the structure we agreed to.  You’ll see that each of our goals is supported by one or more ministry teams — nine teams, in total.  What this means is that each of our ministry teams can either be led or supported by one of our nine elders.  Here’s what that looks like, with the Session liaison for each team in parenthesis:

Goal One: Improve Congregational Care and Hospitality
 Congregational Life (Nancy Garrison)
Goal Two: Deepen Our Engagement with and Service to the Wider Community
 Church-College Relations (Diana Sanderson)
 Community Outreach (Kathy Rouse)
 Facilities Use (Bob Gambrell)
Goal Three: Enhance Faith Development and Worship Experience
 Adult Education (Kay Stockdale)
 Children and Youth Education (Sandy Brauer)
 Worship and Music (Carolyn — CC — Cole)
Goal Four: Strengthen the Church for a Sustainable Future
 Administration (Ken Murchison)
 Communications (Jack Ballard)

Lent is often thought to be a rather somber season.  That’s entirely fitting for a season in which we reflect on those things in our lives that we may wish to change, or discard, or leave behind in order to realize God’s intention for us of living healthy and abundant lives.  But this Lenten Season I mainly feel joy and gratitude to be on these journeys with you–toward Easter, and toward our future.