May 6, 2021 It's Time to SMILE! - A Letter from the Rector

Shortly after Mtr Anne’s retirement, Christ Church began a discernment process not only for a new rector but also for a defined direction forward. Through listening sessions and surveys, the parish discerned a set of priorities, which were the basis for the rector position description that Christ Church posted nationally.
The goal of this discernment process is for churches to hire a new rector whose skillset, experience, and interest align with the direction God and the congregation would like to see the church grow. The professional facilitators hired for this work captured five distinct priorities:
·       Support Christ Church Day School and develop a stronger relationship
·       Attract families with children and youth to Christ Church
·       Reach new people and incorporate them into the life of the church
·       Create more opportunities to form meaningful relationships at church
·       Engage in ministries that heal those broken by life’s circumstances
With these first big moves in place and a defined direction forward, it is now time to begin another round of discernment and action as we together move Christ Church into its next season of ministry. Last year’s Vestry began this work by standing up a small committee of three: Pat Escher, Connie Lawthers, and myself. Our charge was to determine how best to implement the parish’s stated priorities and to continue to ask God what Christ Church is called to do, now and in the future.

Through months of prayer and conversation, our triad has a plan! Our current Vestry has blessed this work, and together we are committed to making it happen. We have named the project SMILE because what else could we possibly do as we listen for God’s guidance, discern God’s will, and ready the path for God’s ways?! But also, SMILE is a very clever acronym for:   

   Ministry Discernment and
In short, the SMILE project is a comprehensive and collaborative ministry review, renewal, and discernment process that Christ Church will roll out over the next 18 months. As with any good Anglican endeavor, SMILE will be a series of “both/and” objectives working synergistically:
  • To discern and to act.
  • To query ideas from parishioners and from our neighbors and wider community.
  • To meet our strategic priorities and to dream about our future ministry. 

While more complete details of the plan can be viewed here, the overview is that the SMILE Committee will work through an inclusive discernment process to:

  • Create new opportunities for Christ Church to live our identified ministry priorities; and
  • Discover God’s call to Christ Church for our future ministry—and to get to it!
This is an exciting time here at Christ Church! God has invited us into the work of dreaming big and seeing the world’s needs and our gifts from God’s point of view. Please pray and listen and start discerning God’s dream for Christ Church. I cannot wait to see what our work uncovers and where God will lead us in this process!
At church on Sunday, I will speak more about this work and the process of SMILE-ing. And if you are interested in getting involved more directly than our parish-wide participation, please reach out to SMILE Committee Chair Connie Lawthers. The SMILE Committee is in the process of coming together and will need lots of support, and we would love to find just the right fit for you!
I pray your imagination has been sparked, and I can’t wait to get talking to you about your ideas!
Love and blessings,