Convention Continued

So, if I start the Healing Ministry in January, set a one night a week study time for the work along with everyone getting to know one another again and start with time for prayers and practice, I think we’ll be ready to open it up to the public in June.  In the meantime, Connie’s group is looking at becoming an official “group” with OSL (Order of St. Luke), and therefore would be able to help us get started as well.  So, that’s a work in progress.  I’ll have to type up a proposal to the Vestry for this one.

One of the priests spoke about a workshop he’d attended on Congregational Development, and that so many people operate on a “scarcity mindset”.  A scarcity mindset ensures that all decision making is based on the concept that you’ll never have enough and that you can’t create more.  For many, this has to do with money, but for churches, it’s more about people.  My church has approximately 7 people who attend on a regular basis.  The concept of scarcity mindset is well known to us.  But, I’d like to go about changing that.

First, the concept of the lamenting Psalm comes to mind.  Even when we are lamenting whatever the problem is, by the end of the Psalm, there is an assumption that God has/will fix whatever it is, and thus, the lament ends in the joy of thanksgiving.  So we need a way to get from the scarcity mindset to the concept that God has caused us to prosper, and therefore our mindset should be one of abundance, making decisions from that mindset, rather than that of scarcity.  And while this is an easy intellectual exercise, I need to find a way for me to actually live it, so that I can model it for the congregation.

An idea currently tickling at the edges of my brain, but not actually concrete as yet, has to do with the lovely priest who came up to me and said, “we should be acquainted.”  Odd wording, I thought, so I asked why we should.  He said that he had the eastern most church in the state, while I had the western most church.  Thus, we should be acquainted and show that our churches, while small, are simply part of a larger, cohesive whole.  So I want us to do something along those lines, perhaps developing a “sister church” relationship or something like that.

The last idea I had actually came from the Bishop’s final sermon at the convention.  This is paraphrased, but you’ll get the idea:

Everyone stand up. Now imagine that every one of your faults, sins, foibles, etc. is visible. On your skin, at your feet, piled high in front of you. Now look around – everyone in this room has their own pile in front of them, and before you know it, we’ve filled this church to the ceiling. And now imagine (and here he opens his arms wide) that Christ is there in front of you, and says, give all of that to me. Let me take the burden from you. And watch how your pile diminishes and Christ is completely covered in the sins of just the people in this room. But now look at Him again – and see Him standing there in all His glory, majesty and might. We each have the opportunity, every day, to fall in love with Christ – to try to be equal to His great love for you. Love is a choice – and Christ has already made His.

He gave an interesting statistic, that people in England were complaining about the do-nothing Church of England, and nobody was interested anymore, etc. Until some reporter did a piece on volunteer hours, and just how many volunteer hours were performed by people in the Church of England. In just England alone, they performed approximately 1.9 billion hours a year in volunteer work. Someone put a price tag on that, and how much more the government would be paying for such services, and people stopped complaining. But he pointed out that volunteering is a great way to show your love for Christ, for God’s creation.

So I thought an ad campaign centered around, “Fall in love every day…” might be interesting.

Convention Results

This one is mostly going to be my thoughts regarding Convention – attending for the first time as clergy, rather than as normal, everyday, person from the congregation.  The experience is definitely different.  There is a distinct feeling of collegiality and *oh, I’m among those who know me and love me and understand me because I’m one of them!*  We have similar issues with our congregations; we worry about attendance and money and the various services that need to be done; we steal (borrow, copy) ideas for outreach; we pick each other’s brains for details; and even though we’re among the Bishops and have to do services for a large number of people, it still seems rather relaxed.  Getting vested, we’re all gathered in a separate place and it’s like being backstage before a play – people are sewing things and pinning things, fixing collars, admiring stoles, telling stories and catching up.  I was terribly amused. 🙂

The first thing we did Friday afternoon was attend a Suicide Prevention seminar.  Given that Montana has one of the highest rates of suicide in the nation, this was an eye-opening seminar.  Per capita, Montana has *the* highest rate of suicide, and the number of suicides by veterans per capita is three times the national rate.  This is a significant problem, and one to be well aware of.  Mary Alice and Jim Jones (the opening joke is that he’s not allowed near the Kool-Aid) give the seminar and provided excellent information.  They focused on two acronyms, and covered myths and facts about suicide quite well.

QPR – standing for Question, Persuade and Refer

ALGEE
A – Assess
L – Listen, non-judgmentally
G – Give reassurance and information
E – Encourage them to get appropriate help
E – Encourage them to use self-help and other strategies

So, after consulting with our visiting priest who actually lives part-time in Troy, we’ve decided to try doing a full-day Suicide Prevention Workshop, hopefully holding it at the Senior Center, encouraging in particular seniors, high school kids, veterans, healthcare workers and emergency first responders to attend.  We’d like to do this in conjunction with Mary Alice and Jim as the facilitators, Rainy (who works with a different group on the same thing), and have the VFW and Holy Trinity sponsor the event.  I’m hoping to aim for April for this one.

I also spoke at length with Deacon Connie, whom I believe I’ve mentioned before – I’d like to grow into a deacon just like her.  She’s awesome.  In any case, I picked her brain with regard to the Healing Ministry they run at St. James.  They do it under the auspices of the Order of St. Luke the Physician.  The training is extensive, taking about 6 months of once a week get-togethers, which I’m not going to object to.  It covers the healing miracles of Jesus, teaches prayers and laying on hands techniques.  I asked Connie about the various healing modalities (reiki, quantum touch, pranic, sacral-cranial, etc., etc.) which when done in the name of Christ are the same thing as prayers.   She’d not heard of anyone doing it, but said she didn’t see a problem with it.  I am reminded of a New Testament reading I heard recently:  “But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.”  (Mark 9:39).  So, I have more to say on this, but I’ve run out of time to talk.  To be continued…