All Saints Episcopal Parish Discernment Overview Summary notes from our three discernment sessions
Summarized by Douglas Gregg
We began by asking the questions, “Why do we exist? What is the ‘heartbeat’ of the parish? How do we want to be known?”
And there was general agreement that we want to reconnect more powerfully to the All Saints Day School and that we want to deepen our cross cultural connections, perhaps being a model for Las Vegas and the national Episcopal Church in cross cultural friendships and communication and mutual appreciation—a kind of “holy trinity” of three, yet one in Jesus.
Then we continued by defining our “core values,” our “calling card” for the community; what it is about us that is unique and attractive to newcomers. These were: (1) welcoming/hospitality, (2) wonderful worship with diverse musical gifts and styles, and (3) diversity of cultures seeking to be one in faith and practice. These values are our “mission non-negotiables,” the shared convictions that guide the actions and reveal the strengths of our church. They express our most deeply held ideals; they define our ministry ethos; they are filters for making decisions and springboards for daily action; they are the constant reminder of what is most important to us as a church.
It was noted that we are able to work together as a team, creating solutions to existing problems, bringing energy and enthusiasm which is catching…. And we added to our prayers these words: “God give us eyes to see your hand at work in the world around us and strengthen us to follow you into that work.”
Some of the benefits of clearly defined and aligned values in a congregation were noted as:
- defining good decision-making that releases leaders on the front line of ministry
- brings unity, commitment, and passion to the people
- attracts more leaders and members who share your values
- frees the church to do more of what it does well [and to stop doing some things that compromise the values]
- increases commitment because people know clearly what we stand for
- allows the parish to navigate change more easily because people are emotionally connected to the values that never change.
So, what will it take to get where God is calling us? What structures, programs, staff, space and time do we need to accomplish our mission? A first good start is a new full-time Rector who shares these values and has a passion for cross cultural ministry. Then we need to be meeting as one church, as often as once a month, to deepen relationships and learn from one another. We can begin to experiment with cross cultural worship that incorporates the gifts of music and language that each of our congregations bring.