So, in the weeks and months ahead we will be working on alignment here at Milner. You all have done much of the hard, up front work of our interim period (believe it or not we are halfway through our year together!) and now we have to use that work to guide our decisions going forward.
Some decisions have already been made with your input and work, so much so that the Session has moved more swiftly than it might have done without your support! The Session has blessed the congregation's desire to be a welcoming place for other faith communities and non-profits with concrete examples of support and inclusion. As we move forward into this mission we will need to make sure our other decisions are in "alignment".
Are our financial decisions with regard to staffing in support of our mission goals? Is our use of space in the church constructive with our goals for mission or are they at cross purposes? Are we encouraging use by outside groups of spaces and areas like the athletic field that remain underused and underutilized? These are alignment questions. We have to ask them so that when we make decisions we make them with our goals and mission in mind, not simply out of reflex based upon what we've done before or what we think we should have.
I'll be preparing more conversation times going forward with a possible congregational gathering in November for the purpose of alignment conversations. Some of these will be about property, some about staffing, and some will be about Milner's use of space in the building itself. I hope you'll be as excited by these conversations as I am. They will sharpen our focus and free up resources, financial and otherwise, in the pursuit of our mission goals.
Your Session voted last week to approve The Raleigh Center coming into the upstairs area of Milner. The approval did have one precondition which regards the security plan for The Raleigh Center. Once they have shared that plan with the Session and Session further approves, the contract will be signed and we will welcome another group into this creative space at 1950 New Bern Avenue!
It has been a very good summer for Milner. We welcomed Joy of Discovery and The Raleigh Center, both of which will be great partners for Milner and Santuario. Both of these groups will contribute financially to Milner's efforts to upkeep and maintain the building and campus. Both groups will seek opportunities to share in mission and ministry. And, both groups will from time to time be with us in worship. God is blessing our prayer-filled work to reconnect Milner with the surrounding community!
Thanks to each and all of you for working so hard this summer to complete our interim tasks and to help us arrive together at the place we now find ourselves. Since confirming our mission/vision we are now ready to lay on objectives and goals along with a timeline for meeting them.
We Welcome All.
In Faith, In Love, In Service.
This is who we are and desire to be: a community based in hospitality and support for those around us. As we move forward into this vision, be thinking about ways we already serve this goal and how we might do it better. Let's stretch a little bit farther for the work God is leading us to and let us be confident that God will grant us what we need to fulfill it!
What does it mean that Presbyterians are "connectional" and not "congregational"?
For many of us Presbyterians, we take it on faith that all the different parts of our denominational system work together for the good of the whole. And, that as each part does its respective work the other parts enjoy the opportunity to celebrate successes and offer support in times of challenge. To be a connected church means that we are never truly alone, that we always have within reach the strength and support of other denominational bodies, and that we have a responsibility to care for and pray for the church around us.
This week I will be in Richmond, VA for Monday and Tuesday to participate in the Fall meeting of the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic. The Presbyterian Church (USA) is governed by 4 governing bodies: the Session (local church), the Presbytery (an often geographical grouping of churches), the Synod (a grouping of presbyteries), and the General Assembly (our national body). These four groups are focused on the support of our primary centers for mission and ministry which is the local congregation. It is the local church which supports and directs the work of the other bodies. Without the local church, the other tiers would not exist!
I will be away to serve and bring home to Milner good news and further challenges in ministry we all face across the mid-Atlantic. I look forward to returning and will gladly share some thoughts and insights from other congregations and leaders I've gleaned while away. Thanks for your blessings in supporting my work in our connectional church. May the fruits of all our efforts bless us in ministry together.
There has been a lot to pray for in the last few weeks and months. We continue as a church to pray for healing across our communities and in our hearts. The racism and violence that has become all too common is no less offensive. We can only speak a word of hope if we are willing to address our own participation and do the hard work of learning, or re-learning, what it means to be in community with all God's children.
There have been recent prayers for those caught in the grip of natural disaster. Here in NC folk are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew. We all know how long the process of recovery really takes. Many of you have already given to the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA). For that, the Church is grateful.
We have been praying for our brothers and sisters in this congregation and in our sister congregations as so many people, far and wide, struggle with challenges too great for them to handle alone. We pray for the sick, the broken, the injured, the jobless, the hopeless, and more. The needs are great so our prayers must be more numerous.
But, what is prayer? Is it a word, is it an act, is it a posture,...What is prayer for us and to us? I believe that prayer is our time to work out our relationship with God's purpose for us. It is not a time to inform God but for God to inform us. So, we listen, we speak, we lift our hands and hearts. Prayer is the complementary existence of word and action in accord with God's Spirit. Through prayer, we are shaped by God's care.
Let us pray....