As my day begins here at Rosemont United Church in Regina, I light a candle. There's nothing new about that - it's a daily "spirit thing" for me. In the diverse wonder of the tasks which can be part of a day in ministry, the light of the candle in my study is a gentle insistent call to remember that what we're about together in the church is spirit-work. The dancing flame asks simply "Who are we?" The burning question becomes a visual point of reference.
I believe that reference points are important. In the complex wonder of life they help to inform and focus our choices and our actions. No wonder creeds and mission statements are such natural expressions for communities of faith! They provide a reference point. They answer (at least for a time) the burning question "Who are we?" They communicate identity.
Since I was called in May to share in ministry with the folk at Rosemont, I have lived daily into deeper appreciation for the importance of knowing and communicating identity. Increasingly, I am convinced that the grace with which this congregation handles diversity and dilemma is born of the good intentional work they have done to answer the "Who are we?" question.
The work in transformation that Rosemont United Church did with the Congregational Life Centre was followed by an effective time of Intentional Interim Ministry. From my vantage point, those two opportunities worked hand in glove. Each supported and enhanced the work of the other.
I have no doubt that the people who engaged in those two significant pieces could name many specific benefits of their work. The benefit that has been most evident to me is the congregation's strong sense of identity.
That first became apparent in the material (including the Joint Needs Assessment) distributed by the Joint Search Committee. One couldn't read that package of information without being convinced that those preparing it were communicating "who we are" as a significant and intentional part of the search.
That strong sense of congregational identity shone through at my interview. It has lighted our first six months together. The light of congregational identity has revealed confidence, maturity, honesty, and integrity. These people are real. They are open to evaluation of what's working well and what isn't working so well. They are able to analyze because they have self-knowledge and the confidence that goes with it.
Thanks to their work and the work of the Congregational Life Centre, I have been invited into a gracious space where there is room to question, room to know and be known, room to make mistakes, to grow, to laugh, to be beloved children of God.
Marj Kent is the minister at Rosemont United Church in Regina. Fifteen years ago, her minister at Heritage United Church in Regina Ken Powers recommended her as a member of the guiding team for the five year research in new church development operating out of St. Stephen's College in Edmonton. Ken Powers is now chair of the St. Stephens-St. Andrews College Boards. Marj has gone on to graduate from St. Andrew's and is in the middle of a rewarding ministry career.
Congregational Life Newsletter November 2004. Vol. 11 No. 2.
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