In late February the rector, vestry and officers went on a retreat that had a twofold purpose: 1) to begin forming our leadership community with our new members and 2) to dig deeply into discerning what God is calling us all to do at Memorial in the coming year.
We had two consultants working with us on Saturday: Shivaun Wilkinson, Children, Youth and Family Episcopal Chaplain for Northern Montgomery County and Marlo S. Thomas, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Roland Park Country School. On Sunday we took a bus trip through West Baltimore. All three of these experiences gave us an important view of and appreciation for the world that exists beyond the 1400 block of Bolton Hill.
We worked on teasing out answers to two important questions, the wording for which was beautifully stated by our rector in his View from Bolton St. column las week: WHY does Memorial have a hard time maintaining a strong children’s program? WHY does Memorial continue to be a predominantly white church in a predominantly black city?
The unifying theme for all our work over the retreat weekend landed on the twin concepts of culture and openness to others.
And here is an uncomfortable truth I had to come to terms with during that weekend: to maintain ourselves at our current level and to also – and most importantly! – sustain ourselves far into the future, we must embrace a kind of change in our culture, especially around the many spoken and unspoken ways we welcome others, that may be hard for many of us. For instance, I admit that an attraction of the Episcopal faith back in the late 70’s when I joined Memorial was the predictable ritual and tradition that grounded the worship. But my goodness. That was 40 years ago! What attracted that 20-something me in 1977 is very different from what might attract a young adult today. The onus is on us to welcome new members in the way they want and need to be welcomed, not in the way that is most comfortable for us.
Following our 2018 retreat, the rector, vestry and officers are united in their commitment to Memorial being a place that can maintain important traditions while at the same time enthusiastically embracing the innovation needed for us to stay relevant in our community inside and outside Bolton Hill. We look forward to the coming year working with all of you to achieve this objective! We pledge also to do our best to keep you informed via the Wednesday emails about all that is happening. Be sure to click on the links we provide you!
Beth Drummond Casey, Senior Warden