As our new program year begins, we wanted to take the opportunity to update everyone on how our life as a parish family continues to be shaped from the Visioning Process we completed last year.
As a reminder of what was involved in the process, we first gained clarity on our identity: the Advent is a church with a living, daring confidence in God’s grace through the gospel of Jesus Christ. From there, we developed an affirmation of our purpose which has existed since our founding in 1872: the Advent exists to proclaim the freeing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples wherever God has placed us.
To align and steward our resources – our time, money, and talent – around our purpose and identity, we prayerfully discerned six areas (or tenets) that would help us organize our ministry. Those tenets are Communication, Discipleship, Ministry Development, Outreach, Shepherding, and Worship. Many of us then worked together to develop specific ideas related to each tenet, as a way to begin to map part of our way forward.
Where are we now? We are in the midst of implementing many of those ideas. The Visioning Process has proved to be very helpful in clarifying the opportunities we should engage as we keep in sight our identity and purpose: who we have been is helping us know how and where to go forward together.
Here is an update what has happened within each of our tenets. Alongside each tenet is its guiding statement; then we note some of the ideas that were generated for each tenet, and some of what has happened related to that idea.
Communication: We will communicate in ways that effectively enhance and further the ministry and purpose of the Advent.
1. Evaluate our existing communication structure and recommend an optimal communication strategy supporting the Advent’s ministry and purpose.
We engaged Fishhook Communications as a consultant, and on their recommendation have recently hired Christa Cordova as our Director of Communications.
Discipleship: We will equip every member of the Advent for the work of discipleship by creating and nurturing a culture that responds to the grace we have received from Jesus Christ.
1. Educate this culture through a world-class Christian Education curriculum that engages, educates, and draws us nearer to Jesus and then propels us out into the world to proclaim the gospel.
Though we expect this idea to be developed more fully in the future, many of our classes and offerings for adults and youth have this idea in mind: receiving the gospel in turn frees the hearer to proclaim the gospel to others.
2. Promote this culture through targeted, intentional training and mentoring throughout our congregation.
Small groups of Adventers have begun and continue to meet for the expressed purpose of developing intentional pathways for Adventers to work with others as disciples making other disciples.
Ministry Development: We will identify, develop, and equip leaders for full-time, professional ministry at the Advent, in the Episcopal Church, and in the Anglican Communion.
1. Develop partnerships and network with other churches, seminaries, dioceses, international provinces, and parachurch ministries.
Intentional relationships and partnerships continue to be cultivated with other individuals, groups, and seminaries. A few examples from the last year include developing and deepening relationships with seminaries and theologians in the United States, England, Rwanda, Australia, and South Africa; Andrew’s attendance at the North American Dean’s Conference; participation in the recent What Is Anglicanism conference at Beeson; and fellowship meetings with other rectors in the Episcopal Church.
2. Develop an intentional apprenticeship / internship program, which could include but is not limited to pre-seminary, seminarian, curacy, and musical/liturgical professionals.
Though this idea may be developed much more fully in the future, we have begun to address the concerns of this idea by developing internship and training opportunities for young clergy (Michael Weeks), music professionals (Annie Lee), summer youth and Christian education interns (college students), Mission and Outreach interns (Samford undergraduate and graduate students), and seminarian work placements (we will serve as a placement site this year for seminarians from Beeson and Sewanee). Additionally, the teaching positions at Samford of Fred Teardo (Music and University Organist) and Zac Hicks (Worship and Arts) are addressing this concern.
3. Create a resource center or institute for professional ministers.
The Advent has begun to have regular lunches and gatherings for pastors, as we have visiting theologians or senior leaders in the church.
Outreach: We will serve the Lord Jesus Christ by engaging in His spiritual and material restoration of our city and world.
1. Foster and develop a culture where Adventers, through the work of Holy Spirit, take part in evangelism, doing justice, and loving mercy.
Relatively simple initiatives such as Church-Wide Service Days and Prayer Walks have the purpose of exposing Adventers to the needs of others so that this culture can be fostered as hearts are aligned through prayer.
2. Create and deepen engagement with the Advent’s ministry partners.
We continue to focus on developing specific, personal, meaningful relationships with a five of our ministry partners: Rwanda (specifically the Shyira Diocese), Global Teams, Restoration Academy, Bridge Ministries, and Brother Bryan Mission. Each of these partners reaches different groups and serves in different ways, and offers the Advent different opportunities for prayer and engagement.
Shepherding: We will focus on the reconciling word and work of Jesus Christ as they propel us in the way we care for and live with one another.
1. Build and train a large team of volunteers to improve the experience of visitors, newcomers and members on Sundays.
A group of Adventers have been meeting together regularly for nearly a year with the specific intention of addressing this and the related idea within the Worship tenet.
2. Apart from the Holy Spirit of God, we can do nothing. The entirety of the ministry given to the Cathedral Church of the Advent must be committed to prayer.
In addition to the several ministries related to prayer that have existed at the Advent for a number of years, Dean Pearson regularly convenes a monthly meeting for Parish Wide Prayer at Cranmer House.
Worship: We will hold the gospel at the center, rooting our worship in the English Reformation, making it always accessible and hospitable.
1. Establish a strong culture of welcoming and hospitality in our Sunday worship services with a leadership team drawn from clergy, staff, and lay leaders.
A group of Adventers have been meeting together regularly for nearly a year with the specific intention of addressing this and the related idea within the Shepherding tenet.
2. Prayerfully discuss options and develop plans for an additional (fourth) Sunday morning service in keeping with the Advent’s identity accompanied by modern instrumentation, offering another option to our present services with traditional instrumentation.
We began an additional service at 11:00am in the Refectory on August 19.