Monday, July 30, 2012

August 2012 - New Vision

Dear Friends

A new Vision

Please join us on Saturday 18 August 2012 from 08:30 to 13:00 in the Parish Hall to reflect on Corpus Christi’s direction for the next three to five years. This workshop will begin a process that will then go to Parish Council, back to the Parish as a whole for comment, and finally be formally accepted at Annual Vestry in January 2013. It is vitally important that you give your input “from the pew” at the beginning of the process as it will guide our Parish life over the next few years. Please make every effort to join us!

In 2006 we developed a “Statement of Purpose” that acted as a powerful tool for a number of years at Parish Council level. Over the last two years we have been increasingly aware at this level that our Statement no longer drives us, and needs review. The Diocese has asked us to reflect on the Diocesan Theme, and review our Parish vision as part of this process.

Our present statement reads as follows: Corpus Christi is a Christ-centred, traditional Anglican community guided by the Holy Spirit. We offer inclusive, flexible, relevant and dignified worship opportunities. Our mission is building the Kingdom of God in the wider community through outreach and service. We focus on our lives being a place where others meet Christ, offering opportunities through our Christian community for spiritual and relational growth, care, fellowship and ministry development. We value friendship, youth participation, and broad-based parishioner involvement. At its heart are the words “We focus on our lives being a place where others meet Christ.”

In seeking to create a “New Vision”, we are not saying that our previously stated core purpose and values are no longer important. Rather, we are reflecting on the need to take into account the transformation (irreversible change) that this sense of purpose and value has brought about as we have sought to live out the mission and vision we identified in 2006. We are asking the question, “What is the next step in our transformative journey with Christ as we seek to be effective for the Kingdom in the context of Garsfontein and the wider communities we serve?” As Christians our purpose (mission) is discovered in Scripture; our vision is discovered in our context. As Anglicans our context is not just the suburb and its surrounds in which we worship and live, but also our Archdeaconry (Pretoria East) and Diocese (Pretoria), as well as the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. Our context is complex.

Our Diocesan Theme (agreed to at Diocesan Synod in 2011) is Renewed and empowered to be “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1). On 18 August 2012 we will take some time to reflect on what this actually means for us, and what it says about who God is calling us to BE, where God is calling us to GO, and what GOD is calling us to DO. We will ask the question, “What will our Parish community look like if we are renewed and empowered?”  and we will seek to revise our Statement of Purpose accordingly. This Theme seeks to move us from programmes to processes, from decisions to disciples and from services to service. It asks us to reflect not simply on how many people come to our Church services, but how many people our Church serves; not simply how many people attend our ministry, but how many people have we equipped for ministry; not simply how many people minister inside the Church, but how many minister outside the Church; not simply helping people become more whole in themselves, but helping people bring more wholeness to their world; not only how many people we bring into the community of faith, but also how many people we help experience healthy community; not simply counting the resources that God gives us to steward, but counting how many good stewards we are developing for the sake of the world; not simply how effective we are with our mission, but how faithful we are to God; not simply how much we immerse ourselves in Scripture, but how faithfully we live in the story of God.

Our Parish is a bit like a car: imagine a driver, front-seat passenger and back-seat passengers. What would you like to be driving our Parish car? Management? Programmes? Relationships? Vision? Which of these is taking up most of our time and energy in the Parish? What are we most concerned about? – that is the one that is driving our Parish!!  If we have out-grown our vision, it is possibly sitting in the back-seat, most likely with relationships, and management has managed to get behind the steering wheel with some support from programmes. This means the car (Parish) is in good shape, is well maintained, polished and resourced, but rather aimless, its journey a bit like that old fashioned “Sunday afternoon Drive” with no particular destination in mind, the journey being a pleasant end in itself. Now imagine the car (Parish) with vision behind the steering wheel and with relationships in the front passenger seat, with management and programmes giving support from the back. A more focused journey? A sense of direction? A sense of purpose?

What is the difference between vision and mission? Our mission (purpose) is what we do best every day, and our vision is what the future looks like because we do our mission so exceedingly well. Vision is really important as it energises us to be about our mission. The following questions help us evaluate our vision: does it create excitement about the future? Does it build a powerful image of what our Parish can look like over the next three to five years? Does it build on our history, our strengths and on our unique characteristics? Does it inspire people to act? Is it resulting in focused forward movement in the Parish? Does our vision statement represent a dream that is beyond what we think is possible without God, or is it too small? When is/was its “sell by date”? In thinking about our vision for the next three to five years, we also need to reflect on what are the things we have in place that we want to keep? And what are some of the new things we need to do or achieve? What are some of the things we are currently doing that we need to stop doing? And is there anything we wish to avoid happening? We also need to identify some specific targets (no less than one and no more than three) in relation to our vision in order to energise our mission.

The above is what we are hoping to begin achieving on Saturday 18 August 2012. If it has awakened a spark of interest in you, I really do hope you will be able to find the time to join us for the morning. In preparation, please take time to reflect on the many questions raised above.


Thursday, July 05, 2012

July 2012 - Transformation

Dear Friends


Hello, I’m a recovering racist … and a recovering sexist. My name is Mark.

I recently attended an international conference is Johannesburg hosted by the Jesuit Institute entitled Spiritual Direction in the African Context. The above comment stems from a paper presented by Prof Susan Rakoczy, IHM, Women and Spiritual Direction: The Many Dimensions of Co-Discernment in which she challenged us to recognise the formative nature of society upon us; that while we may not – or no longer – consciously hold to racial or sexist dogma, if we have grown up in a society that has formed us in these ideologies (she grew up in the USA) we, like alcoholics, are never truly free of these social diseases. Her paper focused more particularly on the struggle women directors and women seekers of spiritual direction experience, influenced by the patriarchy of church and society; and how this is often a barrier to women in growing into a true sense of self in a world where male experience and needs often define our spirituality, theology and praxis within the church and the social environment.

Racism in the South African context has devolved in our post-1994 democracy into classism and xenophobia. Whenever, we find ourselves talking about, “Those people …” or saying to someone in some way different from ourselves, “Your people …”, we are guilty of spreading these social germs. We often react with surprise when we are challenged for making what is perceived to be a racist, classist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic remark, and are sure we are not. However, if we have been exposed to these social diseases – and if we are honest, they are prevalent globally in most cultures and societies in some form – it is likely that we are in a continuous process of recovery (unless we consciously choose to promote these evil attitudes), hopefully moving to greater wholeness as individuals and societies, but recovering nonetheless. This process of recovery impacts on our spirituality, our awareness of self, of God, of community, and is often at the root of social and community breakdown. It stunts our spiritual and emotional growth as persons. An awareness and willingness to acknowledge that we are recovering – as opposed to recovered – is a first step towards relational and social health.

Corpus Christi, with our wonderfully cosmopolitan and intra-cultural diversity, offers an ideal Alcoholics Anonymous-type space to begin to deal with these negative issues and attitudes that affect our society. The question, ultimately, in our parish context is whether we are able to trust one-another sufficiently to create such a space where our antibodies to these social diseases can be strengthened? One of the Wesley brothers described the church as a microcosm of the greater world, a thought that I find helpful when we have to deal with social and relational pain within the church and Christian community. If we create this space for each other there will be times when we are hurt by fellow Christians

Is God’s power strong enough to sustain us through these actual or potential hurts that we may truly be a transformed community transforming our world? I believe it is possible.

So what are you recovering from?

Cathedral Update

The Commission under Canon 21.3 has begun its work, and the Cathedral has requested that the process of mediation only begin after the Commission’s investigation is complete. While these processes continue Chapter members will take Sunday services at the Cathedral on a rotational basis, and the process of appointing a Dean will begin and other governance issues will be addressed.

Anonymous emails emanating in some form from the Cathedral community, along with various newspaper articles, continue to undermine and attack the Bishop’s character and leadership. Please realise that these articles do not reflect the whole truth and are often based on false allegations and not on proven fact.

Please continue to pray for the Cathedral Parish, the Diocesan Leadership and our Bishop, and those who represent the Province on behalf of the Archbishop, that real reconciliation and healing may be experienced by all concerned.