Vestry retreat: We journey ahead in hope

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes.

By Clare Andreasson and James Deaton

The vestry retreat this year was a time of reflection and visioning.  We valued the opportunity to get to know one another better, and we worked very hard.

On Saturday, The Rev Mark Rutenbar and The Rev Kathryn Costas led us through a series of activities where we reflected on who we are as individuals and as a working group, what we need in order to work well together, what we perceive to be effective leadership, how we handle conflict, how our faith influences our decision-making, and what our vision is for a healthy parish.   We confirmed that we are a diverse group who seeks to value our differences and the unique gifts that each one of us brings to this work.  It is very important to us that we take the time we need for prayerful discernment in decision-making.  At the same time, we have some clear goals and we want to work towards them diligently and intentionally.

On Sunday we spent time pondering the needs of our parish, and our hopes and dreams for 2018.  Clear themes emerged, including the importance of strengthening communication and connections, the importance of creativity in our visioning and the ways we meet our needs, journeying together in hope, making good strategic decisions, honoring those who have served faithfully, finding ways to simply have fun together, and setting in place a strong foundation for renewing our rector search.  We identified the areas of our life as a parish that are important and need our attention.  These include: worship, children and youth formation, adult formation, pastoral care, fellowship, outreach, marketing, finance, and stewardship.  We wondered how to build stronger ties between the vestry and these ministry groups, so that we can be more deeply aware and more mutually supportive of one another.  One or two vestry members will be appointed to serve as liaisons to each of these areas of our parish life.  We also dreamed about ways to encourage new initiatives.  We talked about creating short-term “task forces” in some cases, rather than committees, to allow for greater flexibility for those participating as volunteers, as well as greater fluidity in responding to needs.  We identified the importance of finding a balance between creativity and structure, and reaffirmed the importance of both, especially during this interim season.

With all this reflection as a framework, we saw the need to clarify the roles of Junior Warden and Clerk.  Going forward, the Junior Warden will serve as the “liaison to the liaisons,” working creatively to structure and strengthen communication and connections between the vestry and all ministry groups tending to the life of the parish.  The Clerk, in addition to taking minutes at the meetings, will begin to develop a role as “administrator” for the vestry, working to innovate and improve the administrative processes within the vestry itself.   Elizabeth Black will serve as Junior Warden, and James Deaton will serve as Clerk.

The role of Senior Warden continues to carry leadership responsibilities which include prayer, discernment, communication, negotiation, a strong sense of fiduciary responsibility, and serving as a sounding board for both the rector and the parish.  The Keep continues to be the shepherd of the vestry, listening to the group and to the movement of the Holy Spirit among us, maintaining objectivity, helping us to remain on task, and bringing us back to center when needed.   Clare Andreasson will continue to serve as Senior Warden, and Eddie Grim will continue to serve as Keep.

Throughout the weekend we also took time to ponder three different passages of Scripture.  All of our work on Sunday was set in the context of the liturgy.  In the morning, our framework was the liturgy of the word; in the afternoon, it was the liturgy of the table.  We concluded our time together with a celebration of the Eucharist.

We return from our retreat and begin this year of service in joyful anticipation.  We affirm that God is indeed with us and at work among us.  We journey ahead in hope.

Comments are closed.