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Member Mission Newsletter #17

From A. Wayne Schwab and the Member Mission Network June 9, 2004

For meditation as elections approach: ‚I believe that spirituality is something universally human, that all people are spiritual, that spirituality and religion are practically synonymous, that spirituality, therefore, is as much concerned with the outer life (of the body, community, institutions, liturgy, tradition, doctrine, ethics, and society) as with the inner, and that spirituality is as much concerned with the public life of citizenship and work as with private life.‚ ‚ Owen C. Thomas, Professor of Theology Emeritus, Episcopal Divinity School

Integrating Member Mission into Congregational Life

A systems story
Richard Bliese put in place the basics of a systems change for member mission ‚ that is, a clear purpose stating what is wanted and the changes to be made to achieve it ‚ where he serves a south-side Chicago church, St. Andrew‚s, Glenwood, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
‚Ģ His purpose as pastor: to set people free for ministry, so that they discover their vocations in daily life as well as in the church.
‚Ģ A theme for small groups: vocation in daily life ‚ how to be in family and world as a Christian.
‚Ģ A new pastoral activity: visiting members at work.
‚Ģ Clarity about his limited work time and call for the members to increase their share in leadership: only 15 hours per week (he‚s bi-vocational serving full time as Academic Dean at Luther Seminary in St.. Paul, MN).

Results:
‚Ģ Twenty members have been trained to do everything for 70 - 80 homebound people in the neighborhood.
‚Ģ Laity make the first visit on new comers.
‚Ģ Laity lead almost all of the regular prayer at congregational gatherings.
‚Ģ After 13 years, average Sunday congregations have grown from 35 to 100.
Contact: The Rev. Richard Bliese, Luther Seminary, 2481 Como Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108; 651-641-3471; rbliese@luthersem.edu (rbliese@luthersem.edu).

Widening one‚s church life
A member of St. David‚s Episcopal Church, San Antonio, TX heard that a woman in her office would not be able to be part of Maundy Thursday liturgies in her Roman Catholic church. With water, a towel, and a basin, she sought her out at work and said, ‚I heard you say you were upset you could not get to your Maundy Thursday service for the foot-washing and so I decided we would do that here.‚ She woman did the foot-washing there at her friend‚s desk as her friend responded gratefully. Although they were alone in an alcove, there was absolute silence through the entire office.
Contact: The Rev. Hugh Magers, St. David‚s Church, 1300 Wiltshire, San Antonio, TX 78209-6098; 210-824-2481; hugh_m@sbcglobal.net (hugh_m@sbcglobal.net).

Worship that expresses member mission
Each year, Trinity Church, Ambler, PA plans to commission its members for their missions in their daily work on the following schedule.
January ‚ Ministers of the Home and Family
May ‚ Ministers of Creativity and Construction; Ministers of the Land
October ‚ Ministers of Education; Ministers of the Human Body and Spirit
December ‚ Ministers of the Provision of Goods, Services, and Resources; Ministers of Community Service
For the specific kinds of work in each grouping, ask the contact person below.
Contact: Eddie Black, Trinity Episcopal Church, 708 S. Bethlehem Pike, Ambler, PA 19002; 215-646-0416; ced@trinityambler.org (ced@trinityambler.org).

Clarity about mission ‚ the first step in moving a congregation toward member mission
The vestry of St. Anthony on the Desert, Scottsdale, Arizona has woven call, vision, mission, and current goals together like this.
THE CALL: To know Christ and to make Christ known.
THE VISION: We are called by God to be a place of uniquely traditional worship, while maintaining a warm and friendly atmosphere where everyone is welcome. As a community, we treasure the energy of our young and the wisdom of our elders. We also seek to be Christ‚s hands in service to the wider community, and to be a sanctuary for those in need of healing and reconciliation with God and humankind.
THE MISSION: The church of St. Anthony on the Desert is the homeland for its members who are missionaries in their homes, their neighborhoods, their workplaces and in the wider world.. We are here to assist our people as they seek to make a difference Monday through Saturday by choosing to be different in Christ.
THE GOALS FOR 2004: [Included are stewardship, evangelism and hospitality, more nurturing of the faith of each member, and being a ‚hands-on-vestry.‚ ‚ The Vestry of 2004
Contact: The Rev. Jonathan Coffey Jr., Rector, 12990 East Shea Blvd., Scottsdale AZ 85259; p:480-451-0860; f: 480-451-4413; joncoffey@st-anthony.net (joncoffey@st-anthony.net).

More of worship expressing member mission
Recall this dismissal at the end of worship in MMNews #16: ‚Sisters and brothers, we are not dismissed. We are not just free to go. Christ sends us! Go in the power of the spirit to love and serve the Lord. Go to help and to heal in all you do. Thanks be to God!‚ Bill Fleener (bill.fleener@charter.net (bill.fleener@charter.net)) suggests for the following Sunday at the Offertory: ‚Now bring the results of your ministries this week.‚

God‚s call to care for the earth

[Our email does not provide for sending pictures. Our website manager will post them on the Newsletters -- #17 -- on the website. Go to www.membermissionpress.org (http://www.membermissionpress.org/).]
Barbara Kunzi and Kathy and Will Reinhardt clean up NY 22 in Essex, NY. Kristin and Mark Kimball mark a field to plant onions on their organic farm in Essex, NY. ‚Working in harmony with the land is my spirituality,‚ says Kristin. ‚Every day I get a sense of the magical and the mysterious and they are more present the simpler I farm,‚ Mark adds. All four helping in this wider world mission are Friends of St. John‚s Church, Essex, NY

More Resources

‚Ģ Basic Tools #18 ‚ Small groups that support member mission. How to form and lead the small groups for biblical reflection, sharing of our daily missions, and prayer that, with worship, are the essential support for the ongoing missions of the members. See the Making the Vision Work menu on the website.

‚Ģ Basic Tools 19 ‚ Using systems theory for member mission. To have members who can tell weekly of transforming their daily arenas with God‚s help ‚ being specific both in achievement and where, they believe, God helped, we need to redesign the system. How to do the redesign and implement it in the congregation. See the Making the Vision Work menu on the website.

‚Ģ Church Voices in the Public Square II: ‚A Place at the Table,‚ Friday and Saturday, June 18-19, 2004, at Hobart and William Smith College, Geneva, NY helps with our mission in the wider world. Keynoter: Catherine Bertini, Under-Secretary-General for Management of the United Nations and former Director of the UN World Food Programme. Sponsored by the Episcopal and Lutheran Churches of upstate New York. Register with Carmen Seufert, 716-685-6924, crseufert@prodigy.net (crseufert@prodigy.net).

‚Ģ Environmental concerns in both the local community and wider world: see ‚A Different Use for the Book of Leviticus‚ at http://www.thewitness.org/agw/andrus031804.html (http://www.thewitness.org/agw/andrus031804.html); at http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0403&article=040320 (http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&;issue=soj0403&;article=040320) see ‚The Turtles of the Field‚ by Brian McLaren; and see ‚To Serve and Preserve: The Bible calls us to dominion over creation. Or does it?‚ by Ched Myers at http://sojo.org/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0403&article=040323 (http://sojo.org/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&;issue=soj0403&;article=040323).

‚Ģ Healthy spirituality for youth: see Soul Shaper, Tony Jones, Zondervan and Way to Live, Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter; click on the Bookstore at www.upperroom.org (http://www.upperroom.org/) for these spiritual practices for youth that go beyond party-and-pizza programs.

‚Ģ ‚It‚s Time for a New Take on Mission‚ by A. Wayne Schwab challenges church leaders to embrace the daily missions of the members as the most effective means for transforming the world around us with the power of God‚s love and justice. Offering inspiring worship, increasing membership, deepening the quality of congregational life, and forming all in the Christian story find their proper role as the missions of the body to support the daily missions of the members. See http://www.thewitness.org/agw/schwab051104.html (http://www.thewitness.org/agw/schwab051104.html)

‚Ģ ‚Left behind‚ ‚ for comment on and interpretation of ‚the Rapture‚ in working for a healthy spirituality: see ‚En-raptured‚ by Jason Bypasse in the 4/20/04 Christian Century (call Cora at 312-263-7510, ext. 221 for a fax or email copy of the article or the complete issue); see The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation by Barbara R. Rossing, 2004, Westview Press for a discussion of the biblical texts (pp. 173-186) and the beginnings of this teaching in the work of John Nelson Darby in the 1830s (pp. 22 ff.); and see Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America by Amy Johnson Frykholm, 2004, Oxford University Press which explores why people are drawn to this kind of religious reading.

‚Ģ ‚The Passion: The Gospel as Political Parody‚ by Ched Myers, author and theologian, treats Mark‚s account as a parody on the political-legal system that condemned Jesus. The ‚parody‚ lies in how Mark‚s writing unmasks the hollowness of both the religious and the secular leaders. See http://www.thewitness.org/agw/myers040704.html (http://www.thewitness.org/agw/myers040704.html) for this important resource for one‚s spirituality.

‚Ģ When the Members are the Missionaries can be searched on amazon.com by clicking on the title >Search inside this book >enter a word >click on the page desired. Leaders and planners considering this approach for their church life will be able to view one page at a time until their quota is reached.

In Memoriam: Bob Hoffman of West Linn, Oregon died suddenly of an apparent heart attack on May 18, 2004. We so valued his deep commitment to encouraging the ministry of the laity in daily life.

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Tell us about your work with member mission ‚ membermission@aol.com (membermission@aol.com) or phone / fax 518-963-7541.