Yesterday was our parish’s annual meeting. I was elected to a second year serving as Parish Council President. I sincerely hope it is my last. That being said, the first year was a good learning experience and one of highlighting the needed area to repent of in my life – lack of patience being at the top of the list. It was a year of whining, crying, and bitching to my spiritual father about the so called “leadership,” “immaturity,” people’s inability to “get it” etc. Like every good spiritual father he just held up a mirror in front of my face. Harrumph.
For the sake of anonymity, I won’t reveal the parish name or location. What I will do is recount my experiences, frustrations and joys in the hope that as I reflect on each meeting, I will see areas of progress.
In the scheme of things, the parish is young – only 50 years old. In that time only one priest served full time for about 7 years. The most recently past ( part time) priest served Sunday Liturgy only for 10 years. His theological education was minimal, if at all. Our current priest, a retiree, serves us part time. We are blessed to have weekly Vespers, Divine Liturgy and most Feast Days served. Our head count on paper is 18 adults median age 55-65 (I’d guess) who give annually to the tune of approximately $27,500. Last year we averaged 25 on a Sunday and 4 at Vespers.
As I’ve listened to stories from various people about the previous priest and his matushka, I realize they have suffered some abuse. There are a lot of negative words and attitudes, especially about community outreach and being part of the neighborhood.
Due to their previous experiences, they try to skirt around the priest by coming to me to complain about things around the church. Naturally, yours truly pats their shoulder as I turn them towards the priest saying, “You need to talk to Father. Let’s go together.”
In the hope of redirecting away from the negative into the Light, one of the first things I implemented last year at our monthly council meetings, in addition to having an agenda at every single meeting, was a “celebration moment”. We took two or so minutes to share celebrations that occurred in our life during the previous month; a new baby, a birthday, anything. Initially it was scoffed at, but now I think it is a little better received. I will continue it this year with an added element of celebrating stewardship moments.
Turning a large ship that is frozen in place is difficult. First, the ice needs to be melted by warming the air around it. Patience. Sigh.
More on the meeting tomorrow (or the day after).