Dear St. Augustine’s,
I recently sat down with our Bishop Jane Alexander and our Executive Archdeacon Alan Perry to help clarify how we proceed with our visioning around the Annex building and side-lands of the church. As you know there have been several moments when st. A’s has considered a new use for those lands. Right now, we use them mostly for mowing, but what is the larger purpose of these lands in our witness as a church?
In our discussion at vestry (the church board), there have been a lot of questions about how we work with the Synod office and Diocesan committees in any kind of development. I would like to bring you some clarity from Bishop Jane as to how we proceed. It is rather simple actually and fits in very well with the work we have been engaging in this fall around our mission.
One concern that both Bishop Jane and I have is that any development or change to the land be intimately tied to a sense of our church vision and mission. Looking at this land is not to be a purely financial decision. (Incidentally, by diocesan policy, the funds would not be available for operational costs in any case, only for capital expenditures.) Whatever happens on that land needs to be clearly linked to our sense of what God is doing among and through us.
This raises the question we are wrestling with currently – do we actually have a clear vision and mission as a church? Are we all on board, or do we tend to each go our own way? If we do have a clear vision and mission (not just a statement, but the real thing!) how then does that lead us to act and exist on this land?
The clarity with which we are to proceed is this:
That we at St. Augustines work at clarifying our church vision and mission, and, along the way, if that vision and mission leads us to think we need to do something with that land, then the resources at the diocesan level will help us by talking to developers and negotiating what it takes to actually make that vision a reality. Synod office staff will also help us determine any parameters for development when the time comes. If by chance, Bishop Jane comes to us with a potential vision, it would be in our court to ‘ok’ that plan or not.
This works very well as I am sure none of us would be keen, or have the knowledge base to manage any development!
This means that we will need to reign in substantially the work we have been doing in our vestry on trying to look at land development, and we will turn that energy into clarifying our self-identity in God’s mission.
We do know from the recent engineering study that the Annex building will require some work in 2-3 years, but now that we know those time parameters, we should take these next years as a window of opportunity to focus our vision and let our vision lead us through how we deal with that issue in due time.
I hope this feels like a freeing thing to you. I came away from the meeting encouraged to continue clarifying who we are as a church and to really let that guide us in all things, we have our bishop’s full support. However, I cannot do the vision-work myself, it is the whole community who must listen and discern the voice of God. We must be fervent in prayer, and open as we observe what God is doing.
This is a good time to remind you that we are gathering from 9:30-noon this Saturday, November 18th to follow up on the three questions I have asked you to consider this last month. I am excited to hear your answers and passions. Child care will be provided.
Let’s get to work!