The View From — Park Avenue?!?
This week Memorial’s staff took a day to vision and plan for the future. This was particularly important because we have four new staff members coming on board, so not only did we need to plan for the future, we also had to get to know each other well enough to get along in the present.
So we de-camped to ‘The Center’ — a Presbyterian mission outpost in downtown Baltimore for the day to dream, vision and plan the next eight months. We also shared a bit of our own histories and Memorial’s history so that we can — together — craft a better vision for the future.
We began the day reading the story of Peter and Cornelius and reflecting on how hard it can be to change “culture” (for Peter it took a vision from God) but that we must be careful to separate our cultural norms from our religious norms, lest we end up worshipping our culture instead of the Lord Most High. Sadly, we are seeing clear examples of culture worship from conservative evangelical leaders every day in the news, and it is incumbent on us not to make the same mistakes.
Looking forward into the new program year, we will be introducing a few new things, including a weekly Bible study during the day (12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays), a regular Wednesday evening program the first three Wednesdays of the month, and an expanded Epiphany Movie Series focused on telling the story of the fight for civil rights and the continued issues of white supremacy here in the U.S. and across Baltimore.
We are also working on a new, more permanent home for Children’s Chapel (in the lower parish hall) and more robust formation programs for children of all ages and adults.
Please plan to join us on Homecoming Sunday, September 9, and September 16 for a special Liturgy and Living Conversation to roll out this years programmatic calendar and to see how you can be involved in coming closer to Christ this year, and in telling Memorial’s story in order to bring others closer as well.
You will also have a chance to meet our new Memorial staff. Beginning this fall we will have a new deacon, a new intern from Virginia Seminary (a student seeking ordination in the Diocese of Maryland), a new music minister, and a new director of children’s programs and community engagement.
Deacon: The Rev. Natalie Conway is coming to us this fall to serve as deacon. Natalie is a dedicated servant of the diocese and the Church, having served on diocesan staff and now as the head of the standing committee, in addition to her diaconal ministries. At Memorial she will take a leadership role in worship, formation and in some new efforts around confronting the opioid epidemic. Natalie will preach once a month beginning the first Sunday in September.
Intern: Jill Williams is a longtime member of Guardian Angel and is in her second year at Virginia Seminary. She will be focused on “learning the ropes” of ministry, but at Memorial she will, in addition to worship efforts, play a significant role in our formation programs. She is already working on an art/theology collaboration project for Lent around the Stations of the Cross. She will preach regularly and help lead worship.
Director, Children’s Programs and Community Engagement: Hannah Hutchens has just finished her time as an ESC intern and is excited about staying in Baltimore and helping to grow a program here at Memorial. She spent the last year working at Project Place, but she is a longtime youth volunteer and was staff at Camp Trinity, an Episcopal summer camp in North Carolina. She is passionate about Baltimore and about helping our kids get to know Jesus.
Music Minister: We are in the final stages of negotiation with out new music minister. I am VERY excited about the candidate and can’t wait to share the good news with all of you. It is my expectation we will be able to make a formal announcement early next week and that the candidate will be with the choir by mid-September. Stay tuned!
It is important also to note that while it is not THE answer, as we learned on our vestry retreat
— representation matters. And going from worship leaders who are all white men to a much more diverse representation of the full body of Christ on the altar and in our staffing is really an important step forward.