"To everything there is a season...and a time for every purpose under heaven." - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
I hope you are enjoying the near-perfect weather we've been having in Chicago! Summer is my favorite season, and these remaining days are to be savored, the sun soaked up. It's healthy to slow down a bit before we get that shot-out-of-a-cannon feeling many of us experience after Labor Day. September is often an exciting time of new beginnings, requiring much energy.
Right now at Reconciler, our internal season is meshing well with the external season. Churches usually slow up in the summer.
As we've eased up a bit on meetings and projects, some of us at Reconciler have identified a need for more relational and supportive ways of being church. Some have expressed a need for more respectful ways of talking and listening to one another. Some would like to share our faith journeys rather than have a lot of meetings. Some feel called to focus less on achieving goals and more on getting to know each other better. We've done many wonderful things and achieved many goals these past several years...and now some of us feel called to do some things a little differently.
At the Reconciler retreat last December, the 14 of us present identified a need for our church to maintain a close balance between head and heart. At times our intellectual sides have dominated our church life. Some on the retreat expressed a need for more warmth and welcoming. To our credit, we recognized and acknowledged this need, and set about correcting our course. However, this kind of correction is an ongoing process. It's like driving: in order to stay straight we need to constantly correct, moving the wheel now a little bit left, now a little to the right.
In the days to come, we will be looking for opportunities to be together that focus more on relationship-building than getting things done. Don't misunderstand, we'll keep on having Pastoral Team and Council meetings, we'll worship together, we'll do outreach and pastoral care. We'll keep our goals in sight. We won't become lazy. But right now it seems we need to focus more on our relationships than our goals. One idea is to try new ways of "checking in" at meetings. Another idea is a faith-sharing group where we might meet over dinner to share our stories, questions, doubts, and certainties, get to know each other better, and support each other on our journeys. This kind of sharing can also be incorporated into our meetings and worship. It need not be gut-spilling or a kind of required intimacy. We hope it will instead be an organic process that helps us feel more comfortable and companionable with one another. Other ideas include a shared time of contemplative prayer and/or Bible Study -- again with a goal of balancing intellect and spirit, and fostering vibrant community.
I'm excited and encouraged that members of our church are expressing a hunger for more nourishing ways of being church. There is much that Reconciler is doing right, and it's good to think about how we can continue to grow in ways of health and wholeness.
Please talk with the pastors and council members if you have specific ideas. What are your needs? What can you contribute? Let us know how you experience the environment at Reconciler, how we can help you feel at home and meet your spiritual needs.
In another positive development, on August 10 the congregation voted to call Melissa Browning as our new Interim Baptist pastor. Welcome Melissa! We are excited to have you with us as part of the pastoral team.
The Rev. Laura Gottardi-Littell
for the Pastoral Team
The Church of Jesus Christ, Reconciler
It is looking like we will not be participating in the Glenwood Arts Festival this summer. Stay tuned.
On August 10, the congregation voted to call Melissa Browning as our new Interim Baptist pastor. Welcome Melissa! We are excited to have you with us as part of the pastoral team. Melissa will officially start her new position the second week of September.
Council meeting on Thursday August 21 at 7:30 at the 'Nidge. All are welcome. Come bring your ideas about what you appreciate about Reconciler, and where you would like to see our congregation grow.
Laura will be on vacation August 24 -31.