It is clearly a leftover from my childhood, but whenever I hear ‘Retreat’ I think of King Arthur and his knights in Monty Python when they are ‘Running Away’ from the Castle. Its certainly an odd phrase, right? especially because in our context we use ‘A Retreat’ to plan how we will advance, not to turn around and go back.
This week Memorial’s staff gathered for our beginning of the year program retreat - to reflect on where we are as a staff, to get to know each other better, and to begin to plan out for the next year.
After introductions we began by crafting a ‘Momentary Mission Statement’ — Not a permanent mission statement, or even a temporary one, but just a statement that would guide our conversation that day.
And we did this by first listing of words that came to mind when we think of Memorial, and then words that came to mind when we think of God. And wherever there was crossover we circled and bolded those words and that became our focus.
Those words were things like Love, Community, Acceptance, Timelessness, Challenge, Unique and of course, Fun. That to me sounds a lot like God and I hope it sounds a lot like Memorial Episcopal Church to you.
This exercise was both fun AND empowering - and is a small example of what we will be doing October 18-20th for our Parish Retreat. So I hope you will sign up TODAY if you haven’t already for what will be a really great weekend.
There were two big take-aways from this week’s staff retreat; the first is that we should take the success of last week’s 1619 event as an example and try to do fewer events but with more focus, planning, communication and execution. We don’t need to do everything, but the things we do do, we should do well.
The second is that our staff and volunteers could use a little more grace. We are a busy place with a lot of things going on and a lot fo competing demands for attention. And our staff are busy people who we ask a lot of. But we shouldn’t demand it. And we shouldn’t take our frustrations out on staff when things don’t go well.
I am really proud of our current staff team. They are big believers in the Mission and Ministry of Memorial, and they have genuine affection for this place and for all of you, as I do. So lets ensure we reciprocate that affection by offering gratitude, thanksgiving, and acknowledging the things that our staff and volunteers do well all the time.
This week in the Gospel we have the parable of the dishonest manager. And among other things it is a reminder that they way things work ‘out there’ in the world, are not always things that we should replicate ‘in here’ in the Church. It is my hope that whoever you are at Memorial - volunteer or staff, new hire or rector, first time attender or Church Warden, that you see yourself first and foremost as a Child of God, and that you encounter everyone else the same way as well.
I am very excited for this year. Unlike the knights from ‘Monty Python’ I am not running away, but looking forward to moving ahead with our staff, volunteers and all of you as we build a better church, better community and better example of Jesus’ grace in our corner of Baltimore.