Last weekend, the Vestry and members of the program staff spent parts of two days on retreat, to consider the questions asked by a parishioner at our 2017 Annual Meeting: “Where will Redeemer be in 10 years, and do we have what we need to get there?” Led by the Rev. Frank Wade, former rector of St. Albans Church in Washington, DC, interim Dean of Washington National Cathedral, and interim Dean of Students at Virginia Theological Seminary, we had an exhilarating, free-ranging discussion punctuated by lots of laughter.
We organized our discussion into three topics: Growing in Spiritual Depth, Shifting from Outreach to Community Engagement, and Growing in Numbers/Constituencies, and then considered the impact of each of these areas of development.
Some notes from our time together: The impact of growing spiritually includes deeper empathy, to see that the other is like me, the ability to listen and to be fully present, to hold joy and pain at once, to grow in trust, and increase the coherence between vision and action. The impact of moving further into community engagement collapses the distinction between those serving and those being served, it sees the giving relationship as a two-way street between partners, and by fostering connections, it ameliorates the poverty of isolation. At its best, we become One Baltimore across racial and class divides. Our conversation about growth in numbers measures impact through more young families, 20-somethings, racial and economic diversity, redefines “church,” and embraces all of the people who benefit from Redeemer’s programming, from 12-step groups to compelling speaker series, from youth initiatives to serving seniors in retirement communities, from healing body, mind, and spirit to healing the environment.
We will use the insight articulated at the retreat to guide both our programming for 2017-18 and how we organize our mission. The large number of people who engaged with what we offered last year, from musical events to book signings to community partnerships and worship, suggests that we are on the right track.
A Quaker School on Long Island uses this motto as their rallying cry: The world needs what our kids have to offer, and I would argue that the same is true for the vision of the Teacher from Nazareth. Love is more powerful than hate, Life is longer than our mortal span of years, and one human family unites us across every arbitrary line of race and creed. All we have is a gift from God, and its meaning comes from using it to help and heal the world. We are each other’s business.
Here’s to a good program year that your presence and enthusiasm helped realize, and here’s to who and where we’ll be in 2027!