• The depth of love and affection that so many have for our Lord and his church is so very evident, as is the breadth and depth of our parish family. “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:3-8; I Corinthians 12:12-26)
• It is also becoming evident that the word “vision” has a lot to do with bringing clarity. We are gaining greater clarity about several things, seen through the eyes of Adventers:
o The centrality of the gospel.
o The importance of maintaining our focus on the gospel as we go forward.
o The legacy of a solid church foundation at the Advent.
o The importance of caring for our current congregation’s needs while opening-up to sharing the gospel with our community.
• We realize we did a poor job communicating the changes that were made in our Holy Communion liturgy, a little over a year ago (our using the liturgy from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer). We are sorry for the hurt or confusion this caused. We realize how important it is to improve our communication, which is a reason Communications is one of the six Priorities.
• We realize that many people have a sense that these changes were a harbinger of more changes to come in our morning worship – specifically that either the 9:00 or 11:00 service is going be a “contemporary” service. As clearly as possible, we would like to say that there is no strategy to convert one of the morning services in the Nave to a “contemporary” service. We hear and recognize the affection and value that so many have for our worship in the choral tradition.
• It is also important to note that there are others who have expressed that they feel disconnected from our more formal worship style at times and would like a Sunday morning worship option that maintains our traditional liturgical depth and gospel-focus, yet in a style other than the choir and organ. While younger members have expressed this desire, it is not limited to an age demographic.
• We would not be good leaders if we did not hear all of these voices. Ideally, we will find a way to address these worship preferences, even if it is not yet clear how we are going to do that within the limits of our current space and time. An idea being discussed, to add to our foundation, is an additional morning worship option while continuing our choral services. But that is now only an idea, and the path for that is not clear.
• Lastly, and most importantly, we are hearing clearly the love for the “same old story” of the gospel, the good news that Christ died for our sins. The life and freedom that Christ rightfully enjoys as God the Son, he freely gives to us, while we are yet sinners. Each of us needs this word as the word which continues to give us new life every moment of each day.
In summary, this Visioning Process has again made it clear that we have so much for which to be thankful. All six Priority areas are alive with ideas with great possibility for the Advent to be a witness for Christ to Birmingham and the world. As the Priority teams finish their work, they will pass their ideas along to the Planning Team, before it moves to the Vestry for its endorsement. There will be other opportunities for conversation and listening before the concrete steps are developed to implement whatever ideas emerge.
We hope this update has been helpful. Of course we and the clergy, staff, Vestry and members of the Planning Team welcome any questions you may have.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, evermore. Amen.
Troy Haas, Jane Menendez, and Andrew Pearson