The 82nd meeting of the “Church Must Change Committee” convened before an overflow capacity crowd. The Lake Morey Inn was filled with laughter and animated conversation as 200+ Episcopal and UCC congregants gathered to consider how to recalculate being Church in the 21st century. “You cannot “plan” enthusiasm of the presenters” said the Rev. David Ganter of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Essex Junction,”but we felt the energy and enthusiasm of every presenter’s message.” Indeed, it was a day of energy, enthusiasm, and hope. A video of the presenters can be found here.
A short film clip from the movie Apollo 13 illustrated the challenge facing the Church. The Apollo 13 support crew had to figure out to put a square part inside a round receptacle using only what was on board the spacecraft. The analogy was received with great humor and sparked conversation rich with ideas and reflection on the following questions:
- Do we have to start from sratch?
- What do we do well?
- What tools do we have that we are not using as well as we could?
- What new skills and tools exist in our congregations that we could begin to use?
- What tools might it be time to retire?
The afternoon session “TED talks” proved to even more inspirational. Four different congregations gave ten minute presentations providing concrete examples of process and action. A theme in all of the talks was moving outside our walls and forming new partnerships. St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, St. Johnsbury related how a disastrous flood in the downstairs became an opportunity for change that allows the Church to become an actives arts venue. The Waitsfield UCC recounted how the devastation of Irene became an opportunity to build new relationships build a community meal program. Christ Church, Montpelier and The Church of the Good Shepherd, Barre are very different Episcopal Churches in two very different towns. Yet, they have combined resources, joined Vermont Interfaith Action and are hard at work on systemic changes. Finally, The Morrisville UCC shared their story of “Teen Rocks” a center for serving at risk youth that is housed in the basement of the church.
What is next? No one really knows right now but the message was clear! Let’s get together more often, share information, inspire each other, and do what Christian communities must do – spread the Good News!