As you should all be aware, Fr. Eric will be taking a sabbatical this summer. He will be out of the office from the beginning of August through the end of October. The purpose of his sabbatical is his own rest and renewal in preparation for his next phase of ministry with us. This sabbatical was specifically included in his employment agreement with us (yes, we have an employment agreement with our Rector!). While he has been busy preparing his own agenda and schedule of activities for his personal renewal, Vestry and Fr. Eric have been planning our own form of renewal for the parish.
Vestry agreed to pursue RenewalWorks for our own growth and development. RenewalWorks is a program sponsored by Forward Movement, a ministry of The Episcopal Church which has been inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists around the globe since 1935 through offerings (like this one) that encourage spiritual growth in individuals and congregations. A brief description of the RenewalWorks program is reprinted below. Look for more on YOUR ROLE in the process in the coming weeks and months! If your curiosity has the better of you, you may go to their website and read up on it yourself!
I look forward to the possibilities this will open for us in taking God’s love into the world.
Rich Gómez, Senior Warden
What is RenewalWorks and why is it important?
A lawyer approached Jesus, putting him to the test with this question: “Which is the greatest commandment?” Jesus’ response was simple, if not easy. He said it was about love of God (with all your heart and soul and mind) and love of neighbor as self.
That singular emphasis on love of God and neighbor provides the foundation for RenewalWorks, a ministry in the Episcopal Church that focuses on spiritual growth by deepening love of God and neighbor in the lives of congregations, in the lives of ministries that animate those congregations, and in the lives of the individuals who bring life to those ministries.
When the details of life press in, parishes, like individuals, can inadvertently move away from this singular, simple focus on discipleship to the more mundane but necessary actions of running a church: property and building upkeep, annual stewardship campaigns and recruiting volunteers.
RenewalWorks is a catalyst for refocusing parishes (and the individuals in them) on spiritual vitality. It has been tailored to the Episcopal tradition, adapting 10 years of research that has uncovered key characteristics of flourishing congregations. It will inspire your congregation and leadership to rediscover who Jesus is, and what it means to follow him. Through a guided methodology of self-reflection, sharing and workshop discussion, RenewalWorks challenges parishes to refocus on spiritual growth and to identify ways that God is calling them to grow.
Specific outcomes of the RenewalWorks process are unique to each parish, reflecting that community’s specific challenges and opportunities. They lead to the creation of specific congregation-wide growth initiatives which clarify and elevate expectations for clergy, lay leaders and individuals.