The summer of 2012 was a time of walks and talks and dreams.
Late spring, 2012, we hired Rev. Shannon Kiser to coach a vision team through the mission redefinition process. At the same time, our pastor, Rev. Sharon Core, went on sabbatical.
We learned from the past to open the doors wide. Anyone who wanted to join could be a part of the mission redefinition process. Every participant had to agree to one rule: a serious commitment to follow a set of common practices.
Together we agreed to:
- Daily prayer
- Regular Bible study
- Community conversations
- Participate in Vision Team meetings every other week
- Provide weekly reflections to one another
- Take turns serving as an announcer at Sunday morning worship
Seven people made the commitment. Our goal was simple: listen. Listen for where God spoke to us, through us, and around us; listen to the voices of our community; listen to the voices of the people of South Arlington.
Listening to God through scripture and prayer is different from studying or reading. It grounds our faith so that we might be led by scripture rather than just interpret it. As Susan Etherton wrote, “We listened to God in daily scripture reading and prayer, in conversations with the congregation, with one another, in the silence, and in the conversations with our neighbors. We allowed ourselves to be led in faith in very small steps.”
When I dare to be powerful — to use my strength in the service of my vision — then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.
The strength of these faithful practices gave us freedom. That summer we started fresh. We put everything on the table. It didn’t matter what came before, it mattered what God was doing at that moment. Our practices together opened us to listening for the questions rather than just seeking a solution.
What was our community experiencing? What were their hopes and frustrations? How was God moving me in this conversation? Where was my attention drawn? What does that mean for APC, for the South Arlington community? How can we be a blessing in this space? How can APC be a blessing to this community?
Perhaps the most important question we asked was “where did our hearts break” as we met our community.