Visioning Council Report
The Visioning Group called together by Tanya in the summer of 2010 began its work with personal stories of the impact of the parish on our own lives and the lives of others. Many of the stories centered around one or more of three themes – a welcoming and safe place for wounded persons of all sorts and conditions, the historic and pivotal role of the parish in response to societal issues, and magnificent and meaningful worship. Those themes were encapsulated in the adoption of a vision statement:
We believe ... that something special happens to us when we worship God ... in building upon our extraordinary history as a beacon for social concerns ... in welcoming people without exception.
A concrete result of that belief in worship and welcome was the suggestion to move the Baptismal Font, the symbol of welcome into the household of faith, to its new position at the head of center aisle as one enters the main doors.
On January 12, 2011, Tanya called the group back together to deal with the question of “what next?” Again we told stories about times since this visioning process began when worship has resonated with us, about when we have been beacons of concern or witnessed such beacons, and about welcoming. The group also attempted to define “social concern” – with “concern” suggesting what God lays on our hearts as a call to response and with “social” suggesting systemic societal issues. The group’s conversation soon identified a systemic, societal issue weighing heavily on our hearts – namely, the fear-based anger and selfish rage of our culture illustrated in everything from road rage to political attack to media frenzy. What could All Saints do about that? We quickly identified both things that we are doing constructively and suggestions for ways we could move forward in doing more. Current activity and future directions could be seen under the following headings:
- Telling stories – continuing to share vignettes from our own lives illustrating the power of unity over division, hope over despair, reaching out over selfishness, etc.
- Setting up a “school for the times” – offering help and training in and opportunities to practice meditation, prayer, theological reflection and a wide variety of other spiritual resources; and identifying and offering training in techniques for how to talk to others about difficult and divisive things.
- Facilitating for a wider public conversations about difficult and divisive things
- using formats and techniques which offer safety from attack.
- Partnering across ethnic, cultural, economic, racial, and religious divides to accomplish the above objectives.
- Establishing a structure in the parish which would focus on and facilitate these objectives.