As you know in ECMN we have three strategic initiatives:
– Every faith community is fully living into the ministry of all the baptized, manifested in relationship with all 4 orders of ministry
– Every faith community has discerned their particular gifts and passions and have engaged with their neighbors to determine needs and potential partnerships
– Every faith community has sustainable resources
The first time I met with the good people of St. John’s, St. Cloud, I asked them the question that I have asked every faith community, “If you closed the doors tomorrow, would anybody in the community know the difference?” At that time these good folks, like many faith communities, were struggling with what they perceived to be a lack of resources. A large mortgage, increasing personnel costs, shrinking numbers and pledge income were all concerns. More than all that, what I saw and sensed was a lack of identity and connection to context. Or as the senior warden recently said, “All we worried about was the checkbook and the building.”
St. John’s, again like many of our faith communities, has worked hard over the last few years to become clear about their unique gifts so that they can share those with the community around them. Specifically, they have connected with those who are experiencing homelessness and have begun to establish real relationships with these folks. The result is a faith community that is in relationship with all four orders of ministry, that has discerned their gifts and has begun to establish partnerships with others, and that is finding the sustainable resources to make it all work. The other result is…well, I would invite you to read the first paragraph again.