Session 1 - "Who are we?"

St. Peter’s gathered on May 4 to discuss the first question: “Who are we?”

We had about 15 participants in the first visioning session on Saturday, May 4th and we had both small and larger group discussions on three broad topics. 

Organizational Life Cycle & Where is St. Peter's now?
We discussed the topic of organizational life cycles and where St. Peter's has been in the past on the continuum from birth to death. The general consensus from our three small groups was we are currently in a stable place but held in tension between "healthy stable" and "stagnant stable". That is good news and underscores the reason for us doing this kind of visioning work in this phase of our communal life together.

Where have we been? An historical timeline
Part of knowing who we are is knowing where we've been. We have started a "living history" timeline of St. Peter's beginning in 1964 with the arrival of the Rev. Ray Atlee to cover the "lived memory" of our parish at this point in time. This timeline includes having our members add a sticker for when they came into the life of St. Peter's and writing down our memories of parish events as well as wider contextual events in the nation, state and community which impacted us. The timeline includes many Spirit filled and life giving moments, but it also includes some darker and more painful things which have caused deep hurt to our members. The point of this process is to tell our whole story - the things we celebrate and the things of which we need repentance and healing.

There was a very holy moment in this conversation when the topic of how disagreements have not been handled well in the past. Participants shared how conflict became protracted and personal with relationships broken over mere differences of opinion. The whole group was able to talk about how conflict has not been managed well and we will be offering this up to God for healing and reconciliation. Even though this was hard to address, not only was there some healing in just naming it, there may be a hidden call from the Holy Spirit to do intentional work around mediation and peacemaking so that we can make this a part of St. Peter's ministry.

What ministerial gifts and qualities do we seek in ordained leaders?
Mother Anjel departed for the last half hour of the session and Judi Mahaffey introduced this question for the small groups to consider. Through this process we are developing a list of competencies that we seek in ordained leadership to work with St. Peter's. This is not only going to inform the vestry as they consider calling a settled rector but it will also help inform a future request to the diocese for a deacon as we discovered St. Peter's has a long history of deacon ministers in the parish.

Closing

Our sessions close with this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look
favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred 
mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry
out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world 
see and know that things which were cast down are being
raised up, and things which had grown old are being made
new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.