“Renewing the Center”

It has been a couple of weeks now since our last official “meetup,” and I continue to process all I learned from those whom I encountered, and what I witnessed, and what I heard in those wonderful times together.  

One theme that emerged was a widespread desire for connection: both communal and spiritual.  The desire to be together was apparent in the very fact of nine consecutive and at-capacity meetups, attended by unique individuals over 2 weeks’ time.  While I know folks were there to get to know a new rector, what I saw was new and old friends, connecting and reconnecting with one another, and being excited about it!  It was beautiful to behold, and you can trust that those scenes of friendship, saturated in love and joy, were not lost on me.  

Many expressed desires for spiritual connection.  I was deeply moved in encountering the faith expressed by so many as we went around our circles, sharing about our spiritual journeys and church backgrounds and current ministry involvement.  Many shared about programs that have been meaningful in lasting ways – especially Catechumenate, Taíze, Sunday Forums, book studies, and more.  And there were varied inquiries about Sunday worship and healing prayer and contemplative offerings.  

I am encountering and seeing and hearing about a deep desire to renew the center of our life together as a parish.

From my first encounters with the people of this parish, it has been evident that robust ministry continues throughout the life of St. Michael and All Angels.  Commitments to outreach and justice and service are seemingly limitless; care for this place and people is grace-filled and unconditional; lay leadership is wholeheartedly dedicated, with hearts open and eyes wide to needs and challenges to which we must attend.

And – we know that we are not just another community service organization and we are not just another social club.  Church does those things and does them well – works for justice in the world and creates community of unconditional love – does them best when the spiritual center is vibrant and well-tended.

As we continue moving through the summer and planning for Fall program offerings, I want you to know that I see you and I hear you.  I see and hear our desires to renew the center in parish life, across generations and the variety of ways folk are uniquely wired.  We will need to work together, inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to cultivate this renewal.  If you have a desire to engage and contribute and work in areas of worship & prayer and learning & formation, I ask you to reach out and share with me your ideas and desires and commitments.  We will do this together. 

In the meantime, know that I am praying for us.  I am asking God to renew our hearts and bring new life to all that we do together as the parish of St. Michael and All Angels.

In peace,
The Rev. R. Scott Painter, Rector