Address given at the Annual Meeting of Saint Elisabeth’s Episcopal Church in Glencoe on January 27th, 2013.
“Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” (Luke 9:1-2)
I want to begin with thank you. In my written report is a far more extensive recognition of all that goes on here at St. Elisabeth’s, but I want to take a moment here for some big ones. Thank you to Daphne who invited me to share the year with you and to the wardens, Tom and Helen, for not convincing her that inviting me was a truly crazy idea. I thank Larry, Chris, Rob and Haley for the extraordinary work they do with and for this community. Their dedication is an inspiration and more often than not they do their jobs so well that their work is invisible to most of us. I thank you, this beloved community of faith, for your courage, your faithfulness, your patience, and your love. I am deeply touched and blessed by sharing this season together. I thank my family, Jim, Wallace and Abbott, who teach me about life and love and without whose support I could not do what I do.
And finally I thank Helen for her extraordinary service to St. Elisabeth’s in her years as warden, for her overwhelming support of me and for her witness to what it means to live fully and lovingly with abiding faithfulness. You are missed, even as you remain in our hearts. At Helen’s request, we are not celebrating her farewell this weekend, but mark your calendars for May 5 as we will celebrate Helen and send her off in style and with our love then, even as the doors are always open for her return.
Last fall I shared a story about a family who had decided not to attend church any more . On a transpacific flight Roland Martinson, dean at Luther Seminary, asked the stranger next to him if he went to church. “Funny you should ask,” the man said, “as our family just had a meeting to decide how to deal with our very busy lives.” Apparently, they agreed to make a list of all their commitments. Anything they knew was helping them to be better people would remain, everything else they would stop. Girl Scouts made the list. Church did not. “So”, the man concluded, “we have reluctantly decided not to go to church anymore.” He and Roland talked much of the trip. At the end, Roland encouraged the man to share his family’s decision, and the reasoning behind it, with the pastor of their church.
Several months later, Roland got an email from the man. “Thank you,” it read, “for encouraging me to speak with our pastor. It has changed our lives.” The pastor not only listened, he asked the man to repeat the conversation in the midst of a Sunday morning service. Then the pastor asked for people to raise their hands if they had similar feelings. Most of the hands in the church went up. Together, the church decided they wanted to change that and so they did. “Now,” the man concluded, “church is at the top of our list, and we are so thankful.”
Now anyone who voluntarily sits through the annual meeting is pretty dedicated, so I suspect that we’re clustered on one end of the curve here, but even so I wonder how many of you have had similar feelings. How many of you want something more from church, even if you’re not sure what that is or what it might look like? What would it take for church to be at the top of the list of what helps you to be the person you yearn to be and helps make the world a better place, more reflective of the kingdom of God?
The tango. Yes, you heard me correctly. Tango can help make church at the top of your list. You did come this morning expecting to learn how to dance, didn’t you? If we want church to have a greater impact on our lives and be so filled that we can make a greater impact in the world, we have to remember that we have a partner in this project. God. Jesus spoke in images so that we could see, hear, taste the kingdom of God, even as he sent us out to proclaim it. Ministry, sharing in the kingdom of God, is like dancing the tango, it is all about leading and following . So what, exactly, does that mean? Glad you asked….
The first thing to learn is the importance of awareness, cultivating a profound attention to your own self and body, in addition to developing an acute awareness of the other, your partner. Even now, as you’re sitting here, become aware of your body, your self, your neighbors. Imagine having your hand on someone’s shoulder, closing your eyes and being led around a crowded room by them. Your focus, your attention, must be on that person in an active and engaged way. You must be vigilant especially of the temptation to anticipate where the leader is headed such that you are not available to respond to where the leader is, in fact, leading. That particular aspect is especially challenging to many of us who are quick to assume we know where someone else is headed!
Second, you must trust your partner and be trustworthy yourself. As if that isn’t hard enough, you learn to establish trust quickly, since when you dance the tango you change partners all through the night. Can you imagine? For many of us building deep trust takes time and is not easy, and yet it is an essential skill that can be nurtured and cultivated.
Finally, each person has an active role and must lean slightly toward the other, establishing a real relationship with some substance, resistance even, to the other so that their slightest movement registers immediately. You can’t dance with a ‘limp noodle’ partner, you both have to be strong, centered and inclined to the other. Each role requires creativity—the leader improvises, combining the steps in various ways, and the leader always gives room, space, for the follower to express their own creativity and uniqueness within the dance. Those moments of pause, where the follower’s individuality is most evident, enhances and brings into fulfillment the whole. Practicing both roles deepens your understanding of your own role and how best to fulfill it.
What an amazing image of the kingdom of God! Ministry, our faith, our work together, our relationships, none of them are passive endeavors nor can we afford to go through our lives sleepwalking. We are invited to show up, to be acutely aware and fully present, and to trust deeply the many partners we encounter, divine and human. We must be responsive without getting out ahead, leave space for others and express our own uniqueness when space is provided. What might that mean for us as we become more aware of and responsive to what God is up to, in our lives, in this faith community, in the local community and in the larger world? How might we at St. Elisabeth’s embrace our role as followers of God? Jesus invited all of us to both receive and proclaim the Kingdom of God is at hand. What might that mean in 2013 on the north shore of Chicago? How might we risk engaging more fully in this dance?
I want to share a story, of how one congregation in Kansas City dances, how they both receive and proclaim the kingdom of God. Church of the Resurrection began in 1990 with “the dream of launching a church that would reach thinking people who were not actively involved in a church and help them to see how the Bible and the Christian faith could change their lives, and how they in turn could change the world. ” They share a vision of addressing the root causes of poverty in Kansas City so that their city looks more like the kingdom of God that Jesus so passionately preached . They came together in partnership with six elementary schools to see how they could help, being aware of and responsive to their partners in ministry. What emerged was everything from establishing playgrounds to providing 300 beds for students sleeping on the floor, tens of thousands of books and weekend backpacks packed lovingly full of food. This past Christmas, the congregation was challenged to give the same amount they spend on their own children to addressing this issue of poverty. On that holy night, they raised over $1.2 million dollars. They are engaged, dancing with God in their own unique way with profound joy and meaning contributed to their lives.
I hear here at St. Elisabeth’s a deep desire to be fully engaged in the dance with God in our own unique way. What is our vision, we wonder, for making our world look more like the kingdom of God Jesus so passionately preached? We are on the journey, and we have some clues from Church Assessment Tool insights from last year and from our experience with Family Promise and soup kitchen some of the ways we might move forward. Our mission statement work is intended to be the snow plow of that work, leading us forward and making room for more discerning, greater clarity and the ability to articulate what we’re about and why. Our mapping exercise has revealed that we already are passionate about receiving and living into the kingdom of God. We experimenting with the move from being “a bounded set (the Episcopal Church in this suburb) to a centered set (the people called and sent by their baptism from this house of worship into the world). ”
At the same time, we have some work to do, some discerning about our way. Perhaps we’ll decide to transform our building to make it truly usable for Family Promise and other ministries because investing in our campus is best way for us to move forward faithfully. Or we may decide that our way forward is to pour our energy into the root causes behind how families come to need Family Promise in the first place. Perhaps it is something else we have not quite named. We are not yet clear, but with faithful commitment to the dance, I believe that clarity will emerge and be incredibly powerful for those who share the journey as part of this community of faith and for those who are impacted by our mission and ministry in its various forms.
Remember that St Elisabeth’s Church is not mine nor Daphne’s nor any one person’s. It is you. Be the church well; commit yourself to that work. Engage in it. Make of it all that it can be. I encourage you to dare greatly: ask for more not less, engage more not less, and always trust fully in the extraordinary love of God in and through all things. The one who sends you out will equip you to do the work of proclaiming the kingdom of God here and now.
Shall we dance?
February 10 – Parish Retreat
An in-house inter-generational retreat day is on Sunday, February 10th from 8:30am through 1:00pm. The day will begin with a light breakfast and coffee, and move into activities that stimulate both community and personal reflection. Following the normal 10:00am Eucharist, we will gather for a pot-luck lunch at 11:30. This will be an excellent opportunity to get to know the St. Elisabeth’s community (and maybe even yourself!) on newer and deeper level. Please contact Chris Roe with any questions and to sign up for pot-luck lunch.
Now as we come to the setting of the sun, and our eyes behold the vesper light, we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (from “Phos hilaron”, ca. 4th century)
The Book of Genesis recounts that God himself separated the night from the day. Since the 16th century, Anglicans have gathered in services of Evening Prayer (also known as “Evensong”) to mark the setting of the sun and pray for safe keeping through the night.
On Sunday, March 17th at 5pm, Saint Elisabeth’s choir welcomed the choir of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Evanston for a joint service of Evening Prayer. The two choirs combined to sing Thomas Attwood Walmisley’s Magnificat & Nunc dimittis in D Minor.
born to Andrew Cantrell and Ellen Tilton-Cantrell on December 15, 2012 (5 lbs 8 oz)
O God, you have taught us through your blessed Son that whoever receives a little child in the name of Christ receives Christ himself: We give thanks for the blessing you have bestowed upon this family in giving them a child. Confirm their joy by a lively sense of your presence with them, and give them calm strength and patient wisdom as they seek to bring this child to love all that is true and noble, just and pure, lovable and gracious, excellent and admirable, following the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
to be held in the Guild Room after the 10am service on
We will present the 2013 budget, thank our outgoing Vestry members and elect a new class to the Vestry. Download a copy of the 2013 Annual Report. We will also solicit feedback on the latest draft of our new mission statement:
“We at St. Elisabeth’s share an adventurous spirit and a commitment to radiate God’s love within and beyond our red doors.”
Kay Rossiter After graduating from Wellesley college and earning an MA in Art History at the University of Chicago, Kay Rossiter moved with her husband Pete to Glencoe in 1978. They immediately joined St. Elisabeth’s, where Kay has sung in the choir for 34 years. She has also served as Director of the Altar Guild, Sunday School teacher and Vestry member. As Warden from 1998-2001, she helped lead St. Elisabeth’s through a major capital campaign that, among other things, funded our accessibility renovation.
Before her children, Elizabeth(30) and John(24), came along, Kay worked for the Louisiana State Museum, National Trust for Historic Preservation and Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to her church activities, she has served on the governing bodies of the Glencoe Human Relations Committee, Glencoe Garden Club, PTO, and North Shore Choral Society, and has volunteered for Ryerson Nature Center and the Chicago Botanic Garden. For the last several years, she has volunteered as a teaching assistant and tutor at Jordan Community School in Rogers Park. She is an avid birder, kayaker and cross-country skier.
Susan Tillett has been a member of St. Elisabeth’s since she moved here with her family in 1986. She was active in teaching Sunday school when her sons Sam and Tom went through the program. In addition to being on the Vestry one other time and years serving as a Lay Eucharistic Minister, she has recently been active with the St Elisabeth’s Legacy Society and is Chair of Chris Roe’s Site Committee. After 12 years as ED of the Ragdale Foundation, Susan is currently enjoying a gap year of travel and writing.
Susan Chadd Recently retired, Susan Chadd enjoys babysitting a new grandchild in the South Loop. When she’s not downtown, she volunteers at the Botanic Garden as a master gardener, answering questions at the Plant Information desk.
As a member of St. E’s since 1974, (when Susan and Chuck moved to Glencoe) she has always been involved in one way or another at church. For the past nine years she has organized the Lay Eucharistic Visitors ministry to the homebound of our congregation. Currently, she is a new member of the Buildings and Grounds committee. For the future, one of her hopes is to have a prayer circle at St. E’s.
Eric “Buzz” Thornton After my divorce, I came to St. Elizabeth’s on a bitter cold January day in 2009. I was the only one at the 8 am service and I tried to leave, but I was welcomed by Daphne before I could escape. I keep coming back to the little Church for the comfort of the building and the generous and outgoing members. I am currently serving on the Building and Grounds committee, and I am looking forward to serving on the Vestry. I currently live in Northbrook where I enjoy home remodeling, 5K fun runs and spending time with friends.
Starting in September, Glencoe Montessori will offer morning and afternoon preschool, as well as kindergarten enrichment classes. With flexible scheduling options, organic lunches and field trips aplenty, we are all looking forward to the school’s grand opening.
Highland Park Montessori recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and counts a total enrollment of over 300 students and 60 staff across three campuses. Founder and director Carol Lee has long dreamed of opening a campus in Glencoe and is excited to extend the school’s offerings to our community.
For more information, call 847-433-3383 or visit www.highlandparkmontessori.com.
Saint Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church of Glencoe invites the community to join in an evening of fellowship, remembrance and celebration of the life and ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Sunday, January 20 at 3pm. For more information, call 847-835-4421 or visit www.stpaulamec-glencoe.com.
One of the biggest behind-the-scenes pieces to my seminarian work is the site-committee. The committee, made up of John Touhy, Susan Newcomb, Melissa Perrin, Peter Rossiter, and site-coordinator Susan Tillett meets with me on a monthly basis to discuss a wide range of issues from setting goals to personal wellness and growth. While each meeting has a planned flow of conversation topics, there is always an invitation for everyone to share beyond the planned agenda. This invitation often includes the time for all members of the committee to share their own experiences in relation to my seminary work, and offer up any advice or words of encouragement that they might have as I navigate my way through this unique time.
As our small committee continues to gather and share with one another, I find it profound that a student in my position has such an enriching opportunity to stretch, share, and grow with a committee like the site-committee. As I continue to tackle the big questions and skills of professionalism, communication skills, spiritual development, and healthy self-care, I do not do so alone. Each member of the committee continues to offer their own insights on the experiences I am encountering; often sharing stories from their own experiences that helped them navigate through their own personal professional, spiritual, and personal growth. What a gift it is to be surrounded by such a group in which I can feel vulnerable and safe during this exciting time of being a seminarian!
While I remain grateful for such an opportunity as the site-committee, I often find myself wondering what kind of similar circles of trust and support I will find myself in after the experience of being a seminarian. Who will encircle me with honest and helpful advice? Who will I surround myself with to keep me accountable to the goals and aspirations I set for both my personal self and my vocational self? And how will I create or foster such a circle of peers, colleagues, and mentors?
Do you have a site-committee? Do you know who is on it? Who in your life are you able to share your goals, dreams, and hopes? Do you have a circle of peers or mentors that you are able to trust and be vulnerable with? Who are the people that circle you as you continue to grow personally and spiritually? It is my hope that everyone could find themselves in a site-committee like mine; and if not in the midst of one, then resourced enough to create one. Your site-committee may not need to be as institutionalized as mine, however from one ever-discerning individual to another, I guarantee you that you will not be disappointed.
Deep Peace, Chris Roe
“We are a people filled by delight, a sense of adventure and a deep care for eachother and all creation beyond our red doors. Healed, restored, and re-energized within, we share a commitment to radiating God’s transforming love without.”
With Epiphany celebration last Sunday, when we hear again the story of the wise ones who came to pay Jesus homage, I wonder about all of you wise ones. What are you seeking? What prompts you to come to church, rather than stay in bed or read the paper or get some exercise?
The conversation on mission during last Sunday’s adult forum was quite energized and energizing. During the session, participants shared why we came to St. Elisabeth’s and why we stayed, some coming even past other Episcopal churches to do so. Some talked about St. Elisabeth’s as a place where they are known and loved, and where they know and love. Many spoke about the deep sense of welcome, of hospitality and openness, and a relief that there isn’t a norm that defines those who decide to join this band of followers. There is a willingness to be real and making space for the others to be real as well. The commitment to being civil resonated, we know how to live respectfully even while holding different views. For one person, what stands out is the way we welcome and make room for the feminine side of God, in addition to the more dominant male imagery and characteristics. Another characteristic of St. Elisabeth’s was that everyone matters, we rely on the gifts and contributions of everyone in order for the community to thrive. Even the youngest member of the group expressed a deep sense of how meaningful it was to know you are needed and that you make a difference. As I have been all along, I was struck by the passion evident in the room, in the community.
Healing, Restoring, Re-energizing Within: The commitment to caring for ourselves and those in our midst is strong and growing stronger. There is a growing desire to deepen spiritually, to nurture our spirits more intentionally, and to explore what it means to be a follower of the Way in this time and place. What are you doing to grow, to deepen, to heal, to renew your life?
Radiating Out: The mapping work we’ve begun illustrates just how much St. Elisabeth’s is doing beyond our red doors to make the world we live in a better place, more in line with God’s vision for us all. An incomplete list, since only those in the adult forum that particular day shared what they are doing, it is already impressive. There will be opportunities to further revise and expand the ways we are the heart and hands of God.
The group last Sunday identified the words that resonated, and together with the other insights gathered, the committee will continue its work to capture the essence of St. Elisabeth’s in a mission statement.
Meanwhile, four new households have decided to join us in our journey in the past few months, contributing their wonderful and unique perspectives, expanding our adventure infinitely. We will celebrate this and many other things at our annual meeting on January 27, 2013 when we gather to affirm who we are, whose we are and what will help support and nourish us on this journey of faith in the coming year. Be present: we celebrate and need you and your wisdom!