This month, in reflecting on STT (stuff-that’s-true) and STM, I’d like to consider my own balcony-perspectives as transition consultant to the Board of Trustees: What am I observing about our preferred ways of being together at People’s Church? What are the most compelling adaptive challenges that invite experimental learning, and which may never be finally fixed / resolved?
One such challenge is the balancing of Tradition and Innovation (or Mutation). How shall we honor the roots that hold us close, AND the wings that may set us free?
As I plan upcoming Sunday services, I have worked with staff and lay leaders to identify Traditions that matter on Sunday mornings. Two such traditions, in particular, will be my focus during the months ahead.
One of these long-standing traditions will be resumed at the service on Sunday November 2nd: The personal sharing of Joys and Concerns on First Sundays will be for ALL generations. This tradition represents an essential expression of our highest values: That the milestones of our lives, from our deepest joys and proudest achievements to our deepest sorrows and losses, are the pacemakers and touchstones of our shared journeys together. Beginning on Sunday November 2, and continuing on all First Sundays, I will invite those of ALL generations to participate in Joys and Concerns. I encourage families / households to come forward as a group. On First Sundays we will have Joys and Concerns near the beginning of the service, so that children and youth will be able to depart for their classes by 11:00 (or soon thereafter).
The second tradition is also pertinent to honoring our 160+ children and youth, and the 40+ teaching staff who serve them in their classes. It is important for our teachers and children to have ample time for their classes and other activities. Yesterday I announced, early in the service, that I would end the sermon by 11:50, so that the service could end promptly by 12 noon. This seemed to work well, so I would like to continue this, for all the services which I am leading. We need to protect a full hour, from 11 am till 12 noon, for classroom activities for children and youth.
I will of course be working with the Religious Education Committee, Sunday Services Committee, Music staff, and Board of Trustees to seek their guidance and support in this initiative. The overall goal is to clarify expectations, and thereby relieve some anxiety, on Sunday mornings. While I respect spontaneity—and indeed may depart significantly from my prepared notes—our guests as well as long-timers will appreciate that we’re not “winging it” on Sunday mornings. Thanks so much for your support and understanding, as we continue the balancing act: between Roots and Wings.
Best wishes. See you in church.
Rev. Dave Johnson, Interim Minister, People’s Church of Kalamazoo, 2014-2015