This past week was a long, but amazingly fruitful, weekend. My only regret is that we could not have planned events better...
I spent Friday night at a gathering for the interns and our site committees. We had a great hostess (who chaired one committee and put the other 2 together), shared in a meal together, and engaged in conversation that varied from what it means to be a teaching church, to discussing both what we have done well and could do better next year for Holy Covenant's interns. While we struggled to stay on topic for much of the night, overall I say it was a fruitful conversation.
Saturday we had a (protestant-style) retreat - which means we called it a retreat but worked all day. We are working on a new vision and mission statement for Holy Covenant, so gathered as a parish (28 folks came!) to discuss what that should look like and how to convey that (both in picture and words) to both church people and non-church people. With an inclusive mission that includes evangelizing and outreach, it is important we can reach both crowds of people. This was a VERY long day, but again, also VERY fruitful. It was good to leave at the end of the day feeling as if much had been accomplished. I look forward to seeing the "final project" at a charge conference in early June.
Sunday, worship was great. What will perhaps be one of my most memorable moments at Holy Covenant, we got to share in the most holy moment and ceremony of an adult baptism. This is something that does not often happen in a United Methodist Church, for more often than not, we baptize infants. I think I had forgotten how powerful a profession of faith can be, and was blessed by sharing in this beautiful, meaningful, heart-felt moment. Tears were shed (both by the baptized and the congregation who was moved by it), joy and the presence of the Holy Spirit were undeniable, and a beautiful, incredible testimony was offered. It was a holy and life-giving service, and a great reminder of the depth of meaning of the promises we have made through our own baptisms.
With the Spirit so bold and present among us, it seemed only appropriate to continue the conversation and fellowship into the afternoon. A lovely lunch of 8 of us gathered for a meal and great conversation. I love opportunities like this to get to know new folks and see a different side of the "old" ones. I am going to miss our tradition of having lunch together every Sunday when I leave next month...
After sticking around the church in an attempt to get some work done, we (the Mission and Outreach Committee) had our second "information night" on immigration. An important issue that affects ALL of us, I really appreciate that the congregation has both expressed interest in this issue AND shown up for a couple extra hours on a Sunday night to learn, hear stories, and engage in conversation. Somewhere between 25-30 folks showed up, with which I am very pleased. It is good to see steps taken toward the action it is so easy to talk about. It is great to be a part of a congregation that really cares. It was a blessing to hear the story of one man from Mexico who is directly impacted by the terrible wages, changing laws, and heavy discrimination we too often forget.
This was a very long, busy weekend. But I am blessed by it. If it is any tell to the number of blessings we shall come to in the two weeks to follow at General Conference, I cannot wait.
(Photos courtesy of Amy and Ronna!)