Living Our 20/20 Vision in the Beloved Community

As part of the process for defining a 20/20 vision for St. Timothy’s we are weaving into our work the essence of the resolution of the May 2008 Special Convention embracing the recommendations of a visioning task force to define a “Beloved Community” for our diocesan future.  It is not difficult to embrace these Beloved community values because they are ones that are widely shared.  Our challenge is giving life to them in actions beyond our parish campus in the wider community and in each of our personal interactions in the world

What is the Beloved Community?

It is a way to re-imagine church, as Canon Barlowe put it well, to reflect the values and spirit we seek to achieve in our faith community relationships with each other and in advancing the mission work of the church.  The Diocese envisions that congregations working together with the diocese and the larger community can turn these goals into actions that transform the lives of all they touch (area ministry).

The resolution adopted the following goals:

“Embodied Justice, intentionally working against discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age; standing in solidarity with the poor and marginalized; and caring for God’s creation with reverence;

Church Vitality, encouraging evangelism, growth, and new expressions of church; adopting missional practices of worship and outreach; collaboration between congregations; and expressing creativity and joy in the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ;

Rooted Spirituality, through vital education and renewal ministries, communities of Christian discipleship, and formation in the Episcopal tradition with informed respect for other traditions;

Organizational Development, emphasizing transparency, power sharing and accountability for all diocesan leaders and structures; leadership that encompasses all orders, sorts and conditions; improving communications throughout the diocese; and revitalizing deaneries;

Inclusive Community, incorporating all people without regard to race, class, gender, sexual orientation or disability, including meaningful participation of all ages–children, youth and elders; and being attentive to the prophetic voices among us.”

The Special Convention directed the Diocesan Council to give priority to these recommendations and commitments in its formulation of program and budget for ministry in the Diocese of California.

What is St. Timothy’s Doing to implement these Beloved Community goals?

The truth is St. Timothy’s has been living these beloved community goals since well before they were adopted as Diocesan policy in 2008 and they are embedded in the fabric of our lives, our parish community values and our continuing faith journey.

  • The very story of how God created St. Timothy’s parish is witness to the Beloved community goals of church vitality and rooted spirituality beginning with Bishop Shires’ letter to Rev Hodgkin, Rector of St. Paul’s Walnut Creek to plant a mission church in the San Ramon Valley.  It began with home church and the discipleship of an obedient priest and a handful of seminarians who one month later began a mission congregation. Fifty years later, the Vestry adopted a goal of planting a mission church to continue that unbroken chain of faith as part of the 50th anniversary of St. Timothy’s parish.
  • In took root and was embedded in the parish profile and call of a new rector in 1988.   The Parish set a plain spoken goal that St. Timothy’s welcomes all who love God and seek Christ regard of their ethnicity, faith traditions, sexual orientation or other factors which impede our inclusive call to worship and our commitment to embodied justice for all.  The most common words from the mouth of newcomers are that they feel ‘at home’ and welcome the moment they crossed our threshold—and so we pray it shall continue.
  • At St. Timothy’s we live the beloved community goal of organization development with transparency, power-sharing and accountability.  From the methodical practice of rotation of celebrant roles among the ordained staff, the wide participation of congregants in the work of the church both on the campus and in the community and the fidelity Steven and Kathy have shown as shepherds of our parish flock and faith journey is testimony to our embrace of the Beloved community.  We have a long history of raising up from the congregation nearly a dozen Deacons and Priests to serve God and do the mission work of the church.  And now in our 20/20 vision and in the call process for a new rector we re-commit ourselves and our parish to these Beloved Community values.

At the Vestry meeting September 18, 2010, the Vestry endorsed recommendations for the high level 20/20 Vision goals and charged the planning committee to keep working to turn them into action reaching out broadly to expand the circle of participation to shaping and defining the actions to give life and meaning to these goals.

The 20/20 Vision Goals are:

1. Welcoming All to Worship

    • Welcome home: Preserve our welcoming tradition of worship open to all;
    • Offer a variety of worship experiences from traditional to ‘edgy’;
    • Target young, seekers & singles and welcome the unchurched and underserved;
    • Offer alternative music and worship styles to keep worship exciting.

2. Invest Our Kids in Our Unbroken Chain of Faith

    • Kid’s Core: Life lessons for preschool thru elementary
    • Tweens: Grow with peers in structured programs with supervision
    • Teens: Mentors & service programs to reinforce faith values.

3. Live into Our Church Mission to Grow and Spread the Good News

    • Support transforming lives within our parish community;
    • Make a difference in lives outside our community through outreach
    • Double the parish pledge base by 2020
    • Plant a mission congregation or adopt a faith mission by outreach
    • Plan, fund, and build facilities and staff essential to our mission and goals.

4. Step-Up to Serve

At St. Timothy’s every person counts so the Vestry set both a short-term and long term goal to get each person involved so Volunteers can help transform lives by prayer, parish ministry service and outreach.

Our next steps are to put more ‘meat on these bones’ as the goals turn into strategies for short term actions, collaboration with other congregations and parishes and the Diocese, and outreach to the community beyond.

Our Vestry summed up our commitment to the Beloved Community best:

At St. Timothy’s, anyone and everyone seeking to experience God’s love, mercy and power to heal is welcome, and all who love God and seek Christ are invited to share at the Lord’s Table where we celebrate our unity and find sustenance, consolation, and hope.

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