The Congregational Enrichment Venture (CEV) of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast is off to a good start! On the evening of November 17, 2017 and on the day of November 18, 2017, we held our first CEV seminar at St. Simon’s on the Sound, Fort Walton Beach. Fifty-six people from twelve parishes within our diocese attended this initial meeting. As a member of the CEV committee, I am excited about this initiative. Many who attended the meeting have expressed positive comments about the content and are continuing to make comments about our time together.
The Friday evening meeting began by Bishop Russell making a presentation to the group about the current state of the diocese. He also shared a video which helped us see how small issues become large issues due to the lack of communication and the unwillingness to see others’ points of view. Bishop Russell also encouraged us to embrace what may seem in our eyes, too often, small and insignificant with respect to numbers. In other words, we need to embrace the work we are given to do in our churches - namely, our mission in serving Jesus Christ.
The Saturday session was led by the Rev. Dr. Jacques Hadler, Jr., from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA. He spoke in-depth about the forces which operate within our churches - rational forces and organic forces. Rational forces are those which provide expected results with specific and predictable inputs. Organic forces are those of emotional natures wherein people and parishes are “tied” to particular objects, the past, and/or traditions. One of the activities in which each participant participated was constructing timelines for the individual churches. Such an exercise was done as a fun way of recognizing churches’ histories, collectively, and including multiple perspectives through demographics, culture, and organization. The timeline helped the churches see what has changed, endured, and what is in the process of changing. These timelines were taken to the respective churches for reflection and additional participation.
The Rev. Dr. Hadler also explained in detail the Bowen Theory with the effects of symptoms, reciprocity, emotional fields, families, and family origins. Through our exploration of these and using these as lenses, we looked at our churches and how change affects them and has the potential to affect them. We were also reminded of God’s unchangeable and unshakeable love for us and yet, how God embraces change and works in our lives, our churches, and in all creation. Change is inevitable and not necessarily a bad thing in our lives and within churches. Mitigating anxiety is a key factor and the CEV seminars are poised to lead us through the steps whereby we remain focused on Jesus Christ and the mission of the church with non-anxious presences.
Our next meeting is Saturday, January 20, 2018, at St. Andrew’s, Panama City, FL. There we will explore, “Who will miss us if our doors close, and will it matter if our doors close?”
In Christ, R. Barry Crow+ Rector, St. Andrew’s By-the-Sea, Destin