June 20, 2020

Come Together, then Retreat

My goodness, a lot has happened in the world since we all worshipped in person together. For many, processing it all happened in the privacy of their homes. Others had to do so from hospital beds. Others from food lines, a situation they never dreamed of experiencing. Others from the front lines of community protests over racism.

In the weeks or months ahead, faith communities will gather again. Can we really just pick up where we left off and head on our way? Will Vestry meetings resume the usual topics of budget and Commission reports?

As odd as it may sound, as we are getting back together, this is a really good time for clergy and lay leaders to retreat. It is time for prayerful consideration about important questions such as:

  • What do we know about what has happened to the people of our congregation during this time? How are people hurting? Have many suffered losses of loved ones or employment? Are we ready to serve these needs?
  • How well did our church fulfill its mission during the pandemic?
  • Were there ministries that we could not continue due to the pandemic? Do we really miss them, or do we realize now that it was time to let them go?
  • What about racism and our congregation’s understanding of it? What new ministry opportunities might we pursue to teach and to act in ways that bring about healing and justice?

These are big questions, beyond the routine. What are some big questions your faith community might explore? Whatever they are, you cannot expect deep dives to find answers during regular Vestry meetings. Make time for at least one, day-long retreat-style session for prayer, reflection, and direction-setting.

Before you meet in such a session, prayerfully consider what questions seem to be crying out for attention. Gather information about these to inform your retreat discussions. Consider inviting an outside facilitator to help you plan the day and guide you in prayerful listening to each other, and to the Holy Spirit who most certainly will attend.