January 17, 2020
Canon Anna Carmichael
Happy New Year San Joaquin!
This week I sent out to clergy and new Wardens (that I’m aware of) a list of things that they needed to be prepared to report immediately following their Annual Meeting:
—the names/emails/phone numbers of new Vestry/BC members, including the new Wardens and Treasurer,
—the names/emails/phone numbers of anyone new working with children and youth, as well as that information for anyone doing home/hospital visitations so that we can get them updated on Safeguarding,
—getting Wardens & Treasurers registered for Building Church Leaders in February, and
—preparing for the Parochial Report to be sent out.
Happy New Year indeed!
So why do we want all this information? Do we even read it, or does it just get filed away somewhere?
We ask for this information, and we host Building Church Leaders shortly after Annual Meetings are concluded because we, as the Diocesan Staff, want to be able to best serve you and prepare you to serve as leaders in your communities.
Part of my role as your Canon is to be a resource to you as congregational leaders. As a resource, I’m available to help your Vestry/BC do some visioning and goal setting, I’m available to answer questions about paperwork and other reports that are required by the Diocese and The Episcopal Church, I’m here to listen as you sort out how to navigate difficult conversations with church members, and I’m here to offer your clergy and wardens support in their ministry. I love this part of my ministry because it allows me to walk with you and your congregation, and it allows me the opportunity to witness the amazing ministry happening in your local context.
As you are aware, we are in the midst of planning for Building Church Leaders, which will be held at ECCO on February 7-8. Some of you have already inquired if you have to attend because you attended last year. And some of you have inquired if you can only come on Saturday and not Friday. While it would be easy to say, “no need to attend if you came last year” or “sure, Saturday is all you need,” the fact is that we are working to build YOU up as a leader in a quickly changing landscape that is the Church. So yes, we need you there, and we need you there for as much of the Friday and Saturday as you can attend.
Did you know that in The Episcopal Church, Latinos and Asians are the fastest growing demographic of people attending church now? How do we face those changes in our congregations as leaders, even if we don’t have Latinos or Asians in our pews? How do we wrestle with shrinking budgets and aging congregations, while we long for days of the past when the pews were full and deficit budgets weren’t the norm? What are appropriate risks to take in a congregation that might inspire us to do things differently while respecting our traditions and history? In the Preface to the recent “Vestry Resource Guide,” we as leaders are encouraged to “open up to what the Spirit has to say through the people and community you serve…sharing your gifts with abandon…serving at a time when our faith communities need leaders willing to say yes to God…”(iv). Our communities need us to say YES to God. Let that sink in for a moment. Our communities NEED us to say yes to God.
That’s what Building Church Leaders is about…it’s about that NEED and our willingness and ability to say YES. So during that weekend, we’ll spend some time building community together, sharing stories, and encouraging one another to say Yes. We’ll spend time learning about leadership, polity, and church governance. We’ll spend time talking about budgets and creative ways of utilizing our facilities to serve the community, while also supporting our budget. We’ll spend time praying, laughing, and listening to how God is calling us to be leaders.
So I look forward to being with you in early February as we work together to say YES to God.
Blessings on this New Year of ministry!