Achieving our mission – Making Christ Visible; Changing Lives; Making a Difference – Together

Back in February, I described the changing approach by Partnerships In Mission to becoming a part of the voice of mission and service at Advent. This process is evolving and experimental. Our goal is to transform and grow from simply writing checks to more participation and celebration of missional ministries and having a way to thoughtfully select how to use the funds graciously given to Advent. As already shared, with Nancy’s guidance, and hopefully involvement by parishioners, we intend to use these funds to support emergency community needs; serve as an occasional resource to support existing local community social services and ministries; and, as an expression of our renewed mission focus, act as “seed money” for Advent parishioners with the support of PIM to engage in missional ministry in our communities. I emphasize the need to consider an expansive meaning of community and communities to be broader than where we live. The words refer to those within our parish, within our local neighborhoods and municipalities, as well as within our Diocese of Pennsylvania, and nationally and globally.

As part of our service mission, PIM is taking on a coordinating role for parishioners looking at volunteering with organizations and community-based programs. If you see a program in the Ministry Overview Pamphlet, please contact me or another member of PIM.

We see a need to inform and celebrate existing ministry projects at Advent. We are putting together a bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall describing ministry projects at Advent. These projects are of all types, seasonal, ongoing, Advent focused, and community based. Look for it soon. We also want to be sure we all know about how Advent’s facilities are being used by others. Our goal is both to inform as well as to encourage parishioners to participate in a ministry where feasible.

To encourage creation of new ministry projects by Advent parishioners, we’ve created a simple application to submit to PIM. In the application, we ask for a description of the project and learn what is needed to get the project going. This includes how parishioners can help, what community organization is involved or is the beneficiary, what materials are needed, how this will be communicated/publicized and funding requirements, if any.

We see the potential to expand our presence in the community through focused and limited use of Advent space for community groups to meet that serve our mission of being more involved in the communities at all levels. For example, Kennett Area Community Service and Southern Chester County Opportunity Network have been invited to have meetings at Advent. You ask what or who is SCCON? It is a network of individuals and groups who share the common vision of a better quality of life for all and are committed to walk the journey with our most vulnerable neighbors as they seek resources and economic mobility.

Another one of our efforts is bringing an awareness to Advent missional programs and initiatives of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. This ranges from just sharing with Advent all of the mission programs within the Diocese, to seeking involvement with Diocese programs and helping in the support of these programs.

Together, we are making Christ visible!

- Liz Curtis Swain

Send Me?

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

As a new member to the Vestry and as the Vestry Liaison to the Pastoral Care Ministry I wanted to fully understand what Pastoral Care truly means and how it is visible at Advent.

Let’s break this down. Pastor is the Latin word for Shepherd. Pastoral Care is a term we apply to a ministry of compassion, encouragement and transformation within our Christian Life. Pastoral Ministry is the ministry of shepherding Gods people which involves tending to the needs of others, providing strength and encouragement.

Our Pastoral Care Ministry has many committees that work towards Advents Mission Making Christ Visible in the Community. These committees are Altar Flower Delivery, Card Ministry, Casserole Committee Singles Group, Grief Support, Visitation, Lay Eucharistic Ministry, Prayer Chain, Prayer Shaw and Funeral Receptions. It takes many Shepherds to serve this Ministry.

When you hear “Whom Shall I send?” Will you answer Send Me?

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. Peter 4:1

Mary Nichols

Beyond "Doing" Church

 

 

Part of the message from our work with the Kaleidoscope Institute is that it is important for churches to focus on relating, not just doing.  In a lot of our discussions, we have focused on our relationship with one another and our community.  Changing our focus from check writing to building relationships by partnering with the others in our community is one example of seeking to relate on a more personal level.  (See the February 16 “Checking In” article for more information.) 

 

So we are making progress on finding ways to improve our relationships with others, but what about our all-important relationship with God?  Are we “doing” church or are we opening ourselves to be in relationship with God?  How does what we do in our worship services help us to find and acknowledge God’s presence in our lives?   

 

As a member of the choir, former acolyte mom, and logistics freak, I often find myself focusing on the process of church more than the purpose of church.  When the choir processes, I need to read the music, sing, and not trip on my robes.  Often I don’t have enough attention left to think about the words I am singing.  And yet, the music still speaks to me about God and his greatness.  The penitential service and the reading of the Decalogue that we do in Lent reminds me that God wants me to love and obey him first, and that I fall pretty short of the mark a lot of the time.  The Great Litany is not just a penance for the first Sunday in Lent; it is a summary of all the ways we are protected by God and it emphasizes our hope in him.   

 

As we move through Lent into Holy Week and on to Easter, we need to pay attention to what matters in our worship.  We need to allow the ceremony and the music and the words to help us understand the might and mercy of God.   We need to be open to the spirit so that we may be  inspired to seek and to do God’s will.  Watching for mistakes, monitoring the process, or wondering if the service will ever end, are symptoms of doing church without relating to God.  If you find yourself more focused on the doing, make an effort to focus on the message of the prayers and lessons instead of on how they are delivered.  Try a different service to see if a different liturgy will re-focus your attention.  Don’t worry about trying to be on the right page; just listen for the word of God.   

 

Above all, relate to God by first acknowledging God’s power and how much he has done for us all.  Love God “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”    And remember to walk humbly with God as Jesus walks with us, so that you may be strengthened to do his work.   

 

Bryan Bente 

Beth's Rules

After enduring another stretch of 40-degree rainy days, last Wednesday we were blessed with a full day of sunshine in the middle of the week. It gave Carol and I enough energy to make good on our promise to get ourselves to the Lenten Potluck dinner. A Domino pizza was all the food prep we could muster and, on the way to pick it up, driving down Rt. 926 behind Longwood we heard the wonderful sound of spring peepers in the warm early evening. This was an unexpected treat, soon followed by a lovely gathering and an informal eucharist which I have always enjoyed. Pete Peterson’s heartfelt talk that evening touched on the nature of faith and it got me thinking about my friend Beth.

Beth is a client of mine who, over the years, has transitioned into a good family friend. She was widowed when we met, but since then I have had the pleasure of working on several of the homes she occupied over the years and one thing I specifically remember is that she always had a post-it note on the fridge with three rules. I saw them often enough to commit them to memory and I offer them for your consideration.

BETH’S RULES

Rule #1: SHOW UP

This one is simple, and it applies to all aspects of our daily existence. You show up for your family, whether it be picking the kids up to take them to practice or showing up at your spouse’s Christmas party even though you know that you will be spending the evening making small talk with complete strangers. You show up for work even though you know from the Email you got last night that you are wading into a potential mess. You show up at church even though you are sorely tempted to just sleep in before the work week begins again. You show up and try to follow rule #2.

Rule #2: PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT HAS HEART AND MEANING

This is pretty self-explanatory, and we have heard variations on this theme all our lives. We have been asked to walk a mile in someone’s shoes, try to see the other side, ask not what our country could do for us, and have heard Mr. Rogers tell countless children to “look for the helpers”. “Do unto others” clearly falls into this category. In the context of church, it reminds me of the practice of “centering prayer,” where each time our mind wanders during prayer (as it inevitably does despite our best intentions) we intentionally and repeatedly bring our attention back to the heart and meaning of faith. This brings us to Beth’s third rule, my personal favorite .

Rule #3: DON’T BE TOO ATTACHED TO THE RESULTS

We all have an idea of how we think things should go, how we imagine it will affect us and how we expect people to react. We do a little emotional algebra: I plan to spend this time and energy towards a goal and I expect a return on my investment. It does not always work out the way we plan, and we have been told this over and over. You pay your money and you take your chance. You learn something new every day if you are not careful. No good deed goes unpunished. Discouraging words indeed and a large dose of pessimism. But there is a flip side as well.

You cannot win if you do not play and the world is filled with more possibility than we can comprehend and, above all else, the Lord works in mysterious ways. What about God’s intended results rather than ours? So, I intend to show up again at the Lenten potluck suppers and Eucharist. I am interested to hear the current week’s speaker, and I remember Dick Kirk always said that on one of these days everyone will show up with dessert. Or pizza -- I’m OK either way.

-Kevin Delany

So, What’s Up With Partnerships in Mission Committee?

 

 

If you recall last year about this time in February, we announced grants to a number of local organizations based on Advent’s historical practice of using funds collected at our Christmas and Easter services to make grants.  Making grants was one of the ways Advents sought to achieve our mission – Making Christ Visible; Changing Lives; Making a Difference – Together.   

 

During 2017, to help Advent grow and develop as an Episcopal parish, we made a concerted effort to be more than just check writers but to listen to what was going on in our community, to refresh and broaden how we, with the help of the parish, could strengthen Advent’s existing programs and explore how to encourage development of new programs.   This was to make Advent a vital and supportive force in our Communities.  The word Communities refers to those within our parish, within our local neighborhoods and municipalities, as well as within our Diocese of Pennsylvania, nationally and internationally. 

 

In August, we decided to change the Committee’s name from Outreach to Partnerships in Mission to more clearly reflect Advent’s continuing evolution from largely an evaluating and check writing committee to a more full-church missional approach – to grow and develop as a parish.  We also engaged with the Missional Ministry Team to learn how to use the Holy Currencies model of ministry development to help Advent grow and develop.  The Holy Currencies are a cycle of blessings -Time and Place, Gracious Leadership, Wellness, Truth, Relationship and Money.   

 

To focus our discernment effort, we, with Nancy’s guidance, decided to suspend our formal grants application process for the upcoming year, 2018.  We communicated this to each of the agencies we had supported.  An example of how Advent has become more involved in our community, when we communicated our decision to the Adult Literacy Program, we learned they could use larger facilities for their classes.  They now hold classes at Advent.     

 

Taking to heart Nancy’s message at Christmas, our plan for 2018 is to continue our efforts at mission started in 2017.  We anticipate collaborating with the Missional Ministry Team to help Advent grow and develop as a parish by serving those in need in the community – making it a mission for all of us and making Advent more visible in our communities.  For your funds collected at Christmas and Easter we will use to support emergency community needs; serve as an occasional resource to support existing local community social services and ministries; and, as an expression of our renewed mission focus, act as “seed money” for Advent parishioners with the support of PIM to engage in community social issues. 

I urge you to re-read Nancy’s message, coupled with the sermon by our guest preacher from the Presiding Bishop's office in New York City, the Reverend David Copley, Director of Global Partnerships and Mission Personnel. 

 

We propose a challenge for you.  Are there projects that you would like to share with Partnerships in Mission Committee? They can be those that Advent could help with or that can be brought to others at Advent.  Let us know.  You can contact me or better yet come to a meeting.  Generally, they are the first Monday of each month at 6pm.   

 

Together, we are making Christ visible!