Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dreaming Dreams

You call from tomorrow, You break ancient schemes,
From the bondage of sorrow The captives dream dreams;
Our women see visions, Our men clear their eyes.
With bold new decisions Your people arise.

These are words from a lovely hymn called Spirit of Gentleness and they describe the call of God to live courageously as the Christian community.

This evening a group of ten will gather at St. Paul's for the first meeting of our Visioning and Strategic Planning group in three years. It isn't that we gave up on visioning during that hiatus. St. Paul's was very involved in the Oshawa Presbytery ReVisioning project and earlier this year we addressed the Viability and Vitality Assessment Tool which helps congregations take an honest look at their weaknesses, strengths, and overall mission.

It seems that the biggest challenge for United Church congregations, as with other mainline denominations, is entropy, the steady loss of energy without much evidence of the renewing work of the Holy Spirit. And because a congregation such as ours is multi-generational we engage in a balancing act trying to honour tradition without being stuck in past patterns which cannot address our present or our future.

I look forward to working with the group coming today. A few have actually been involved since I first arrived 9+ years ago. Others are quite new to St. Paul's and even recent returnees to church. We have included women and men, grandparents and a newlywed, parents of young children through to teens. We hope that this cross-section of people won't just be "United Church earnest" but a dynamic group for conversation and dreaming dreams as the people of Christ. There may not be a specific key to success, as the image above suggests, but there are ways in which we can be responsive to a changing culture.


Read about Blood Ivory on my Groundling blog http://groundlingearthyheavenly.blogspot.ca/


IanD said...

I'd be interested to see what they dream up.

Laura said...

What a diverse, vibrant, invested and good humoured bunch to spend an evening with. The stories of how we had each landed at St Pauls were such a tribute to the hospitality of this congregation over the last decades right up til recent months. With so much good going on, it would be easy to just keep doing what we are doing, but still critical I think that we will keep asking the questions so our energies stay well placed in God's call to be the church.

mkps said...

I agree with Laura - great mix of ages, tenure at St. Paul's and family situations. Very enjoyable meeting. I am definitely looking forward to working and meeting with this group!