Submitted by Dean Ryan Newman
Last weekend, the Chapter and clergy of St. James Cathedral gathered at ECCO for a retreat. It is the first time since my arrival a year ago that our governance group gathered together in a retreat format. Unlike our monthly meetings where the agenda is consumed by the day-to-day minutiae of congregational life, the retreat setting allowed our leadership team the necessary space and setting to discern and wrestle with the vision of the Cathedral-a cathedral that serves not only the congregation of St. James; but also, the greater Fresno area and the Diocese of San Joaquin.
Our time together began with an exercise exploring both our personal values and the values of the Cathedral. The group was given a document listing 58 different core values. Through a series of personal and group exercises, the team collectively narrowed the list of 58 values down to only three values that best articulate the vision of St. James Cathedral; love, inclusiveness, and generosity.
Why is it important for our churches and leaders to discern and articulate their own core values?
Our values drive our relationships, shape our worldview, and empower our work together. Our values are the essential ingredients that provide a foundation for our beliefs and convictions. As leaders and as congregations, our values ground us and help us build a singular language and lens that charts out a roadmap for the future vision of the Church. Our values are our brand-if they know our brand, they will know our values, which will draw people to our faith communities. When we are grounded within our values and live them out not only on Sunday but between Sundays, we are engaged, the Church is engaged, and real transformation can and will occur.
Ultimately, we are called to be transparent leaders who can faithfully articulate our own values and the values of the institutions in which we serve. Without being “value-aware” the potential to stumble and fail is much greater. However, when we allow our shared values to shape the vision and ministries of the Church, we are a stronger Church, better neighbors, and a healthier community that authentically reflects God’s will and love to the world.