Transforming Team Report by Mary Beth Williams, Vestry Member
Good morning, I would like to begin by telling that it is indeed an honor to speak to you this morning. In the tradition of my family’s worship, a woman would never have the opportunity to speak to a congregation, and I do not take this privilege lightly. Additionally, I want you to know that it is a great honor to serve on your Vestry. Perhaps that is why I am drawn most to working on the transforming group of the Vestry because I truly believe in the transformative power of worship and programs in the Episcopal Church.
My name is Mary Beth Williams, and I am in the small group within the Vestry along with Lisa Turchi, Sarah Wilson, John Richardson, Christine Luo, and we are looking at how, when, where, and how we can begin and continue to focus on our transformation of our hearts, minds and actions to become more confirmed to and expressive of the image of Christ as a Church.
Last month, Ken Dotson was the first a series of moments in which Vestry members come before you to discuss the model that is guiding our current work as Vestry in our leadership and service to you. We are following the Gather-Transform-Send Model, and Ken spoke to you on what we mean by Gathering.
I am here today to discuss with you what we are hoping to do as a Vestry to help either continue or begin to Transform ourselves, our hearts, our minds, and our church in order that we, as members of St. Andrews, may be a true transformative force within our greater community.
Transformation…is the gradual process, begun in baptism, by which the Church, experienced through the local congregation, shapes us more and more into the human beings that God calls us to be.
There are many forms of transformation by which our Christian identity and purpose are shaped. The transformation process is not just the sum of organized programs and ministries. It’s an organic web of actions and relationships.
Intentional practices of congregational life that are transformative:
- Eucharist, contemplative prayer, and other forms of worship and prayer
- Fellowship, Coffee Hour, Bible study, and our meals together
- Service in the community, mission projects, serving the community meals
- Use of art and music in and around the Parish services and buildings
- Stewardship of time and our many talents
Events designed to be transformational:
- Children, youth, adult formation classes and other programs
- Baptism, confirmation, reception into the Episcopal Church
- Teaching and practice of personal prayer
Cultural practices that are transformative:
- Conflict and how it’s handled
- Decision making processes, transparency
- How money is talked about and handled
- Congregation’s attitude/involvement with neighborhood
- Physical appearance of buildings and grounds
- Presence and accessibility of leadership
- Who’s here and who’s not here; who’s marginalized (kids? elderly?)
- What’s paid attention to (conflict?) and what’s ignored
As you experience life at St. Andrews today, I ask you to ask yourself “What elements are intentional and designed for transformation of all of the people who have gathered today in the congregation? And, what effects are you noticing?” Also, “What elements are cultural, perhaps unintentional? Are they transforming us all into greater Disciples of Christ or are we acting in such a way that we don’t find ourselves engaging and we intentionally or unintentionally acting is such a way that even our visitors don’t want to return?”
This fall, we will ask every member of our Parish to participate in a survey that will help us explore these questions further as we continue to explore how we can be a truly transformational church that is doing the amazing work of God in our own lives and the lives around us in the community. When you receive a link to this survey, I ask that you think about what you find to be transformative at St. Andrew’s and how we can be more transformative both in your life, the life of those around you, and the greater community around us.