Wednesday Word: A Gathering of Leaders
Several years ago I attended a few conferences of Episcopal clergy called the Gathering of Leaders. This was designed for clergy who were under 50-years old, and it was the brainchild of the former bishop of Texas. The overall goal of these conferences was to help shape clergy leaders, make contacts, and help us help our parishes move forward.
While I am well-past being under 50, and I no longer attend these gatherings, I still find myself surrounded by a gathering of leaders here at Saint John's. You're probably tired hearing me tell this story, but one of the biggest reasons I submitted my name to be a part of the search process here was because, as I read the profile, it was clear to me that the people of Saint John's “got it.” Worship was a big part of the life of this parish, but so was the variety of outreach efforts. The people here knew that “church” meant more than Sunday mornings. I still find that to be true.
This COVID pandemic has been tiring for us all. Many of us have been stuck at home for longer than we would care to be. Reports of the infection rate declining are then followed by reports of outbreaks because people got careless, or were allowed to gather prematurely, or, or, or. And as of now, we are limited to gatherings of 10 or fewer, maintaining a 6-foot distance between people, and we have a target date of May 17 when we might be allowed to worship at church again (but, based on current trends, I'm not holding my breath about that timeline).
But even so, as this pandemic has dragged on and we have lived with stay-at-home orders, and are unsure of a realistic time of regathering, leaders of this church have begun to surface. A few people have contacted me about starting a book study, or bible study, or some other adult study. The J2A group meets regularly on Sundays for a game night and again on Thursdays for Compline (affectionately dubbed Zoompline). The Community Cafe group is having a brainstorming session next Tuesday, May 5, to discuss how they can effectively get food and toiletries to those people who have come to depend on the Cafe. And yesterday morning I had a long conversation with Peg Brown about how we might utilize various leaders to help keep us connected, involved, and engaged.
Peg will be reaching out to a few people to see about being the point person for a few small groups. I don't know who those people are, but I am confident that, with the leaders that are gathered here at Saint John's, they will be more than capable. If you get that call, don't be shocked. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to help the people of Saint John's remain connected, involved, and engaged during this time of disconnection, isolation, and loneliness.
As I think about all of this, I am reminded that we are a gathering of worshipers. We are a gathering of disciples. We are a gathering of servants. And we are a Gathering of Leaders.
May we all look for ways to help lead the people around us through this pandemic.