Those of you who were able to attend our congregational meeting will know that I have invited us as a congregation into a process of reflection and discussion regarding the changes we are facing both within and without and how we are called to respond. I think that the reflection below, written by a fellow pastor of a Baptist congregation, not only speaks to the changing reality of the church across denominations but shares some very important wisdom that I deeply resonate with and believe we should all heed. Please take the time to read it carefully.
“As a pastor trained by the 20th century but living and serving in the 21st, I know the next steps for all churches will require us to bless and release much of how things have always been. To move forward with integrity, we must all dream, innovate and discern what the next, right steps are… Wherever this journey takes each of us, our creative work must be more about authentically embodying faith than frantically shoring up institutions.
How will we know what path is ours to take? Well. That is something I did learn in seminary. We sit in holy quiet together, embracing ancient practices of contemplation and discernment. We follow the threads across ancient texts and look for the ways God has always been finding new and wildly imaginative avenues to know and be known by a people. We foster honest, brave, healthy, truth-telling communities that step even more fully and bolding into their calling as followers on the Way of Jesus. We ask really good questions and listen to each other in hopes of getting to even better ones.” – Pastor Elizabeth Mangham Lott, St. Charles Ave. Baptist Church, New Orleans, from reflections on the closing of the seminary she attended, Baptist Theological Seminary.
Many of us are not familiar with the process of spiritual discernment. Fortunately we have some helpful resources in the church’s historical toolbox. During this Lenten season, we will be exploring specific skills that can be practiced as we seek to “listen for God’s voice”. Using the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, we will reflect on a different skill during each mid-week service. If you are able, please make it a priority in your schedule to join us.
Blessings, Pastor Annette