July 6, 2016

July 2016 Editor’s Letter: Buildings & Grounds [& Mission]

Church. Hearing the word, my brain immediately ‘sees’ a building with a steeple. And, I recall the stories of leaking roofs, faulty boilers, and so on.

Yet, when I began looking for stories of how congregations were managing their buildings, what I discovered was story after story of churches using their buildings and grounds in service to their hopeful vision of what God is calling them to do in their communities: Leaky roofs notwithstanding.

Here are their stories:

In many ways, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Canandaigua, New York is not so different from other parishes. Their 143-year old roof leaks. Their website could use some work and they are trying to hone in on the perfect mission statement. None of this has stopped this congregation from finding ways to use their buildings “mission effectively” without stretching themselves too thin. David Hefling’s “Mission Focused Buildings” tells the story of how a 28-year-old free weekday lunch program has expanded to meet a wider range of community needs.

How might a church in a suburban neighborhood reclaim its [the church’s] historic role as a hub of community life? Sarah Bartenstein’s “Church as Village Green” shares the story of how a borrowed idea has taken root, resulting in a dynamic year-round Farmers Market from which a variety of other community programs and ministries have grown.

En “Sí, juntos podemos” Jesse Velásquez y Vidal Rivas nos animan a usar todos nuestros recursos (talento, tiempo, y tesoro) para lograr crecimiento espiritual y material, como en la Iglesia Episcopal San Mateo de Maryland donde la comunidad Latina ha logrado muchas actualizaciones en un edificio de más de 50 años. / In “Yes, Together We Can,” Jesse Velásquez and Vidal Rivas encourage us to use all our resources (talent, time, and treasure) to reach spiritual and material growth, as seen at San Mateo Episcopal Church in Maryland where the Latino Community has joined to accomplish many updates to an older building.

Some churches lean on their visioning statements to drive them toward community partnerships. In “Pasture to Partnerships” Susan Kleinwechter shares how a community partnership not only helped with maintenance of St. Martin-in-the –Fields’ 11.5-acre campus, but also showed the congregation part of a new vision.

We encourage you to think about how the ideas presented in this and every issue may provide an impetus for evaluating and reflecting on what you could learn from the experiences of others. To help in your discernment we offer a list of the resources related to the topic at the end of each article. If you have a resource you’d like to share, please email me with the link or add it to the site using the Your Turn feature.

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