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Parish Conversations 2017

EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF THE RESURRECTION
PARISH CONVERSATIONS July 9 and 31, 2017

The following document, a summation of the two Parish Conversations that were conducted by the COR Stewardship Committee this past summer and based on a series of questions concerning the church experience, is divided into four categories: Welcoming and Supporting; Community and Inclusion; Opportunities for Fun and Spiritual Growth; Serving our Children and Elders.   These Conversations will continue to serve as a forum of discussion for issues that arise, a kind of mutual ministry for our congregation.

I. Welcoming and Supporting:
An immediate, warm welcome is essential for attracting and keeping new parishioners. Quite a few parishioners mentioned they felt welcomed here right away so the importance of this cannot be overstated. Also important is to make room for guests and newcomers by not blocking the front door before church begins. Helping new people find classrooms for their children and seats for themselves is also friendly and useful.

A love of liturgy and the experience of common worship is important to us. We value confession and a liturgy that allows us to participate actively in our expressions of faith. Several members mentioned a desire to explore aspects of Celtic Christianity. Others mentioned that a welcoming committee would be desirable: a group of people devoted to welcoming newcomers and following up on them.

Close proximity to South Eugene neighborhoods is helpful to some of our parishioners as well as the presence of the labyrinth, which is a place of retreat and contemplation for both the parish and the neighborhood.

Summary:
The importance of being immediately welcomed cannot be overstated. Keeping the church
entrance clear for newcomers and helping them to their seats provides an opportunity for
greeting and welcoming. We love our liturgy and would not be here if we did not, it helps us feel the transcendence of the experience of worship.

II. Community and Inclusion:
Parish activities help us feel included and engaged. There were several mentions of “needing to feel needed.” Music is an aspect of worship important to us for several reasons. Some enjoy listening, others love to sing in the choir, others enjoy singing as part of the congregation and still others appreciate the variety and quality of music offered in the parish.

Several participants mention the importance of incorporating silence into worship and desired more of it.

Congregants expressed a desire to know what is happening in the Tiny House ministry. Several believe the residents of the Tiny Houses should be expected to help maintain the appearance of the church grounds.

Other suggestions included publishing a quarterly newsletter more extensive than the Tune Up and sharing financial information regarding our budget and expenditures. Still others stated they appreciate the smaller size of the parish and the feeling of antiquity and continuity with our Anglican tradition. There was also a stated desire to continue the parish conversations.

Summary:
Listening to and participating in music are very important to us as well as communication
concerning what is happening in all aspects of the life of our parish. Continuation of our parish conversations is also desired.

III. Opportunities for Fun and Spiritual Growth:
The wide variety of educational opportunities is a big draw at COR. Adult education classes
including Lenten studies, Catechism, and Wednesday evening adult education provide
opportunities to ask questions and discuss feeling without fear of judgment or criticism.
Suggestions for new classes include a “doubter’s group” for those who struggle with the creed and studies targeted at the needs and interests of younger adults.

We appreciate that our sermons take us beyond the church walls as we want to be a locus of
thought rather than a “tribal group.” Some of our families were attracted to us by the presence of our labyrinth and others by the Tiny Houses present in the parking lot. Other parishioners would like more clarification of the role of the vestry in the life of the parish as well as neighborhood dinners help throughout the community.

Summary:
Having the opportunity to participate in a variety of classes offering challenges and chances for spiritual growth is important to us.

IV. Serving our Children and Elders:

Resurrection is blessed with a large number of children and we are challenged to meet their
needs as well as those of our seniors. We have taken steps recently to improve our outdoor play area and remove unsightly old classrooms. We have re-allocated our indoor space to provide three different classrooms for children based on their ages. We have recruited and trained teachers for our three different age groups and are looking for real, hands-on projects for older children who are approaching Middle School. It has also been suggested that we might reserve a youth position on the vestry.

Many parishioners state they appreciate the inter-generational nature of COR and, to that end, we need to ensure that our church is accessible for our older members and that those who are no longer able to drive be provided with rides to church and other activities. We already provide printed copies of Brent’s sermons to anyone having difficulty hearing.

Summary:
We love our children at Resurrection and we also treasure our elders, some of whom are
founding members of the congregation, and do our best to provide meaningfully for them all.

 

PARISH CONVERSATIONS by Debbie Rands Cullen 11.5.2017

We met to talk,
to listen to each other,
on two summer Sundays
in a cool welcoming place,
a shaded, sun-dappled garden.
Questions, responses,
how do we make our church
more welcoming?
Well, let’s not clog the front door with
a cluster of clergy that frighten
visitors straight back into the parking lot.
Good idea,
or we could move into the side pews
so the newcomers can slide into the back
and feel less conspicuous.
What about the Sunday school,
the children, our hope and our joy?
Let’s make more classrooms,
hire another teacher so that
Holy Play can continue.
We talked, we listened.
We liked the printed sermons,
Maybe printed announcement every
Sunday,
so every ear can hear.
We lamented our lack of space,
where should we store the crèche?
where the sheet music?
We pondered our lack of continuity,
where are all the church records?
in what drawer do lost projects lurk?
We decried the lack of time,
scarce hours for meetings,
for schedules when families can attend,
when the retired and those
still enmeshed in work can all gather.
We agreed that here we can worship
knowing that our doubts,
our questions, and our uncertainties are
respected,
our searching, our journey shared.
Some spoke of joy and communion in our
solemn silences,
others complained of the very same thing,
too mournful, too high Mass, too Catholic.
We rejoiced in our music, but
some wanted more Folk Mass, less Taize.
We like it; we don’t.
We are welcoming;
not welcoming enough.
We commune with each other,
close connections, too close.
We are active in our parish,
in our community, a gift to others,
our tiny houses welcome the homeless,
home starter kits bless new apartments,
we open our doors to all on the coldest
winter nights,
breakfast is prepared on Saturday, served
on Sunday,
all good and right things to do,
sometimes burdensome, carried by few.
We said we need this sacred space for
healing, for holy contemplation,
time to disappear in the polished pew,
escape from the madness outside.
The requests for coffee hour duty,
for money, for more and more
is at times too much, too unsettling.
We see the need, we pray, we hesitate,
we struggle as we try to follow Christ.
But, our babies do babble happily on,
the brass candlesticks glow in gentle light,
the organ, a hymn,
a voice deep and strong,
one of us prays for a child,
one leaves for a trip,
another celebrates another year,
sometimes a baptism
sometimes the tragedy of Good Friday,
the sweet miracle of Christmas Mass
Quempas carol and tiny voices,
Easter Sunday, a carrousel of color, flower
and dress,
this woodland home, deer and squirrels,
turkeys tottering by, the ancient oaks
regaling
the labyrinth with dusty leaves,
this precious palace of peace,
this link to infinity,
a hug, a touch on the shoulder,
a laugh at shared foibles,
delight in children,
in stained glass
purple gold red blue
in brilliant linen,
satin and velvet vestments,
a class on the cosmic Christ,
a prayer for an addiction,
for a death, a flood, a war,
a question, a sorrow,
an existential doubt,
the bounty of another autumn,
our altar, our eucharistic meal.
Here we can speak gently,
listen closely and act with resolve.
Here teachers and widowers,
retirees and students,
grandmothers and social workers,
mischievous little red-headed boys,
searchers, doubters, mystics and saints
all are part of the same
glorious, homemade quilt,
rich and riotous in color,
a strange and marvelous fabric
that has stitched itself into being
Resurrection