December 29, 2015

A Few Not-so-obviously Great Things That I Wouldn't Want You to Miss

3rd in a series of 4 posts - see below for the previous articles.

Like many people at this time of year, I find myself reflecting on the great and not-so-great things that have happened over the past year. Among the things that fall into the obviously 'great' category: that day in August when I officiated at a good friend's wedding. In the not-so-great category: that time my backpack, suitcase, and laptop were stolen in a smash and grab while I was visiting my family in Texas.

Of course, there's another, subtler category and that's what this series of blog posts is all about -- namely, the great things that somehow got overlooked. It is oftentimes only in looking back that we can fully recognize their obvious greatness, and it is only now, many months later, that we can champion and share those things with others. There are a number of things that the Episcopal Church Foundation produced over the course of this past year that fall into this third, subtler category, and I'm happy to share my short list as a sort of Christmas "gift".

Blessings and Struggles of Scrappy Church Ministry
The first Episcopal congregation I joined can only be described as what ECF Fellow, the Rev. Nancy Frausto, calls "scrappy" - that is, a vibrant, diverse, but economically challenged place whose heart and impact outweigh the financial sustainability of the place. That is why I put this wonderful webinar, "Blessings and Struggles of Scrappy Church Ministry", on my short list of things that were great but somehow got overlooked by many. For me, Nancy's storytelling was a reminder of why I joined the Episcopal Church, and it was an affirmation of the profound value these scrappy communities can have on the life of the wider Church.

Global Warming and Global Ministry
This is yet another ECF Fellows' webinar, that of P. Joshua Griffen (Griff). As I write, it's sixty degrees in New York in December, global leaders are meeting in Paris to try to set international standards around CO2 emissions, and we're coming to terms with the fact that October 2015 was the warmest month on record by a huge margin. This is a major, pressing issue, and while the overall topic of 'global warming' can be somewhat overwhelming, In "Global Warming and Global Ministry", I found Griff's thoughtfully challenging, at times humorous presentation, to be an excellent primer on how the local congregation, diocese, and wider Church can respond to this crisis. He also pushes us all to go beyond individualistic approaches such as switching to cloth bags, to think about the systemic change that is sorely needed.

Lift Every Voice
One of the issues that many congregations are wrestling with has to do with economic diversity and who holds voice and power in the local community of faith. In "Lift Every Voice", Anna Olson offers thoughtful, practical insights on how to create a vestry meeting that allows us to broaden the range of voices at the table. I really think she puts it best: "Our Episcopal structures -- and the materials that the Church provides to support those structures -- tend to make a lot of assumptions about shared culture and experience. If your congregation is made up of anyone who is not already spending a lot of time in a boardroom during the week, you will need to find ways to supplement those structures and materials. You will find that it is worth it, as important perspectives emerge and people feel free to bring their gifts to the table." I encourage everyone to check it out.

Blessings this Advent and Christmas. 

Other posts in this series:

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