As the 2020-21 program year came to an end, I looked back on my unofficial role in our parish as the Bible study, arts, and liturgy person. I got in touch with Sarah Bentley Allred of Building Faith, the Virginia Theological Seminary’s online journal for Christian formation, shared with her some of my thoughts about how we feed the flock of Christ, and asked her if she thought there was a potential article somewhere in there. She patiently walked with me through several drafts, and the article came out the last week in August: “Pandemic Times in a Small Church: Using Our Gifts to Celebrate Our Gifts.”
One of the “core values” of Building Faith, as Sarah explained to me, is “making sure each individual article we post offers something practical and replicable.” This (and the guidelines for article length) meant that the personal feelings about vocation and individual gifts that had stirred me to want to write the article did not get into the final version. Perhaps sharing them here might resonate for other people who are called to this kind of ministry.
Our parish is small, diverse, highly engaged in outreach, and its typical member is passionate about caring for people both within the parish community and beyond. Since 2018 the church has had a part-time priest-in-charge who is a very good fit for this spiritual style, has helped us become more visible and connected in the local community, and has topped it up by adding original music skills, mostly in a folk-rock vein. He has also helped us open conversations on social and racial justice. Our signature ministry is a weekly community supper, Dinner for a Dollar.
There’s a certain embarrassment in putting so much energy into a Christmas pageant or an Easter vigil when there are hungry people to feed. But I keep coming back to the truth that like it or not, my gifts are for things like Christmas pageants.Continue reading “Diversities of Gifts”