part One: Worship
The Rector's Immediate Response
The first portion of the great conversation just wrapped up, and the turnout and response were fantastic. I am very grateful at this moment to the parish and staff.
We had 109 in the adult session. And we had 29 upstairs with children. A special thanks goes to the children’s volunteers: Sandy, Penny, Amy, and Courtney. I also owe a great thanks to the Judy and John Hoeffler for helping with the preparation, setup, and facilitation. I am very impressed with their work every time we work together. I should add Ann Hackett, our parish administrator, and the dozens of involved volunteers.
The Vestry was phenomenal today. I asked them to serve as the real leaders and facilitators at each table with very minimal training. This kind of role is rare for Vestry members, and they shone. As I dropped into different conversations, their individual ways of leading came through. They took the process and made it their own. They are also providing feedback in their own words about the process. This means that they are continuing to lead in processing the . I am deeply moved by their enthusiasm and prayerfulness.
The children’s responses were the second great surprise of the day. Penny Campo-Pierce and Sandy Foote led the older kids in their own responses which I knew they were going to do, but thought would be maybe fifteen or twenty minutes tops. Instead they took the majority of their time responding and doing so with excitement, thought, and profound opinions. Their work will be recorded with the adult responses.
The first set of conversations were primarily to get us to engage the broad area of worship with emotion and a broad sense of meaning. The groups I dropped into were all lead differently, but each went deeper and more earnestly into what can be otherwise soupy territory. Instead people were open and engaged, honest and thorough.
The second set of questions/topics were designed to get people to engage with specifics in our life together and to listen to others who are different even if only subtly. People reported back being surprised at some people’s passion and opinion base.
All in all, I am not sure yet what the preponderance will be in terms of outcomes. I will have to see the data as it comes back from the Vestry and the Hoefflers. I cannot presume to know what will flow out yet from the groups. What I have seen today was the fulfillment of my hopes for the process. More people engaged than I could have hoped. The food and set up worked well, even with the overflow. People met and engaged with their community and many new people whom they didn’t or barely knew before hand. They were happy and enthusiastic. We will see what the feedback is in coming weeks.
Again, I am deeply thankful to the parish and volunteers. I am proud to be a part of Grace Episcopal Church. It is a way of life for sure.