Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Day at the Diocese

I had back-to-back meetings at the Diocese today. First there was the pre-meeting meeting. Then there was a meeting. Then a post-meeting meeting. Then another meeting. Then another post-meeting meeting. Uhhg. But at least they were interesting meetings. Several of them were about the upcoming Vital Church Planting Conference. I'm one of the organizers this year. One of my responsibilities is organizing the workshops. One of these will be given by Archbishop Johnson, so I had a meeting with him and two of my colleagues to brainstorm about the workshop.

It's the first time I've been in, or even seen, his Grace's Office. I've been in Bishop Yu's office a few times, of course, but never my boss's boss. It's nice without being opulent. Certainly it's much smaller than the positively palatial episcopal offices I remember from the Diocese of Connecticut! There were the usual religious nick-knacks: icons and crosses and portraits of his predecessors. I noted that the Archbishop doesn't care for the overhead florescent lighting, using window light and lamps instead. The couch was comfortable, seemed like it would work well for napping (my main criteria for judging couches). I showed him a baby picture of Henry and showed me a picture of his newest grand daughter.

The meeting itself went quite well. We had little difficulty organizing our thoughts about what we need to cover and how we will go about doing it. Eventually "++Colin Toronto" opened up a diptych-thing hanging on the wall to reveal a white board. I smiled, thinking of the white board in my own office that currently has notes about Holy Week. At the end of the meeting I took a picture of the white board with my cell phone camera and e-mailed to one of my partners in crime, who is going to type them up. I think we all felt energized by the upcoming Conference. The coffee his Assistants brought us didn't hurt, either.

Jenny AndisonFrom there it was straight into another meeting. This time it was the "Fresh Expressions Working Group." These are the folks that oversee church plants and other new ministries emerging in the Diocese as they come to the Diocese seeking support. It's a wonderful committee to be on, because we get to talk about all the new, wonderful things happening. it's exciting and humbling to hear about the kinds of ministry happening all around us.

Also, the sandwiches were quite good today. The Admin. Assistant that ordered them is new, and so the caterer was new, too. None of us get paid to serve on this committee, so good sandwiches are probably a sound investment considering that some very talented people volunteer their time on committees and boards like this! I look at people like Duke V. and Jenny A. with a certain amount of awe. Check out The Church of the Resurrection to see what I mean--Duke did an amazing job rebooting that parish. Jenny is now the Canon Missioner for the Diocese and has recently produced this Lenten Bible Study to help parishes begin to think in terms of the Missio Dei. The Diocese has come a long way even in just the last couple of years towards realigning the entire organization towards a missional future, and I'm really excited by the possibilities that creates for a place like Messiah.

The truth is, my participation in all these Diocesan projects is not entirely altruistic. The future of the Diocese and the future of my parish are very much linked, and the opportunities for Messiah's future are to be found in the conversations around Fresh Expressions and Missional Church. I'm learning a ton about the new reality of the church in the 21st Century through my service to the diocese and I expect that my parish will benefit. Churches that are willing and able to adapt to the new ways of being church will thrive. Those that don't are going to continue the long, slow slide into obsolesce. I'm not saying that "inherited" church won't continue, it will, but it will be touched by transforming grace, too. Mission is not optional.

It was an exhilarating five and a half hours straight of meetings for me. Sitting in the car to drive home I realized that my brain felt like cottage cheese left out on the counter too long. I spent the balance of the day working from home, answering e-mails and making calls. For supper I cooked a quick stir-fry to use up some veggies. So it goes.


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