“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?”
Hey, we could all use a little Mister Rogers these days singing about neighborhoods and neighbors.
I just got my information for our annual diocesan convention in October and the theme is “Who Is My Neighbor,” which is taken from Luke 10:29 when a lawyer asked Jesus that question. Jesus responded to that question with the parable of the Good Samaritan. And a big part of the convention will be discussion on the Minster Project that is being put forward by our bishop, Cathleen Bascom. In short, the Minster Project is for churches that are within fairly close distance from each other, in other words: in the neighborhood, to share resources. As described in the information it is “two to five parishes that join together in fellowship, mutual ministry, and greater sharing of resources.” And as Bishop Cathleen made clear in her meeting with the Vestry, this is not yoking of parishes.
As I remember when this was tried with St. Andrew’s back in the 90’s, it didn’t work out real well. This is different and I’m excited about the possibilities. Carol Daney also mentioned the Minster Project in her Senior Warden blog.
I might be totally wrong on this, but this is how I believe it will work. Say, for example, St. Andrew’s, St. John’s, and St. Bartholomew’s get together. The churches will form what will be called the Minster Neighborhood Team, made up of clergy and lay people from each of the three churches. The Minster Neighborhood Team would meet monthly to develop ways to strengthen each parish and to look at ways through sharing of ministry and resources to make each parish stronger and to further the work of Christ in our communities. The Minster Neighborhood Team would assess the needs in each of the three churches as well as the talents and gifts of each church that could be used to the benefit of the three churches. The resources that could be shared might be Christian education, music, adult formation, audio-visual resources, or outreach.
The Minster Neighborhood Team members, both clergy and lay, would also be focused on working on the seven points of the Way of Love: those being Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, and Rest. The Minster Neighborhood Team will recruit additional lay people who have an interest in the Way of Love and will work to get their individual parishes to live out the points of the Way of Love.
Speaking of the Way of Love, we will begin adult classes on the Way of Love at 9:00 am on Sundays on Sept. 8 which is also the beginning of our fantastic Sunday School. Spread the word and tell your friends and neighbors!
I think the Minster Project will be a good thing for all of our churches and it will help our churches to be more visible in our communities. This will help us to take church and Jesus to our neighborhood and communities. Remember, church does not mean building or bricks and mortar, it means people. Jesus and his disciples did not stay in one place, they were on the move. As his followers, we also need to be on the move and not staying in one place. And it will be fun as we get to know others in our sister parishes and begin working together.
I won’t close with the Mister Rogers theme, but I will close with some lines from one of our hymns. It came to mind as I thought about the Minster Project and the exciting future it means for St. Andrew’s.
“I come with Christians far and near to find as all are fed,
The new community of love in Christ’s communion bread.
As Christ breaks bread and bids us share, each proud division ends.
That love that made us makes us one, and strangers now are friends.”