It happens. It can happen without warning. A favorite activity, a food, a friend, even our spirituality and connection with God — we suddenly lose interest, become lost and we are left with a residue of obligations. It doesn’t have to happen quickly either. Sometimes the ‘loss’ will slowly and insidiously creep up on you; one decision, word, or event at a time. Each chips away at your interest, resolve, or beliefs.
In the secular world this phenomena is often referred to as ‘Burn-out’, and the terms ‘Crisis of Faith’ and ‘Loss of Faith’ are familiar to us in respect to our spiritual lives. The people affected were once talked about in hushed voices, the very idea that these things can happen, ignored until after the event. Now, fortunately, we are more open to recognizing the importance of balance and being cognizant of the situations that can precipitate issues for people. We provide chaplaincy and support programs that cover a whole gamut of situations, from the needs of disaster first responders and their spiritual supporters, to parish clergy.
For church leaders it’s important to remember the volunteers. My guess is that the Pareto Principle (often referred to as Pareto’s rule), probably understates it, but in essence it suggests that 80% of the volunteering will be done by 20% of the members of the church. It’s an unfortunate truth that it probably turns out that the 20% are the same people every time. We insist on annual training quotas, and make provision for sabbaticals for our clergy, but, what provisions do we make for our volunteers?
It’s an issue I’ve struggled with. There have been times at church when I was unable to fully immerse myself and participate in worship because I was counting the attendance for the Eucharist or patrolling the corridors for potential intruders. I have had to remind myself, that it wasn’t just work, but service. And when it became work, it was time to take a break.
Nowadays, I’m often not as rooted in the worship as I feel I should be. I’m sitting in the back of the church posting something about the service on social media, reviewing pictures to make sure I have what we need, or checking ahead in the order of service, so I can work out what I ought to be doing next. The plus side though, as I’ve mentioned before, is that I get to take part in a great number of life-changing events.
Every year I try to attend the Episcopal Communicators Conference. It’s a great chance to swap stories, learn from each other, and every third year, the conference is held at a retreat center. I think this is a deliberate ploy to give us all a chance to recharge and regroup before the Communications onslaught that is General Convention. So in April, I enjoyed the peace and tranquility of sitting by a lake and spending a few hours hiking at the Kanuga Conference Center on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I was able to be ‘fully present’ at morning and evening prayer services. It was a great opportunity to recharge those spiritual batteries, and I heard a lot of things I needed to hear.
In this issue of Spirit, Carolyn Thompson writes again about her continuing ‘project’ to visit the churches of different faiths and how that has resulted in recharging and building her faith. There are lots of things that we can do. So, I’ll ask again. What is your church doing to look after today’s willing volunteers to ensure that they continue to be willing, rather than obliged? What can you do to help them by spreading the workload and broadening the pool of available resources?
Love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it. The 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is nearly upon us. It’s very easy to think that it has nothing to do with what happens at my church on Sunday. In the long run, you’d be wrong. General Convention shapes and steers our direction and outlook, and not just for the next three years. It’s never too late to take an interest and see what resolutions are being debated and voted on. You still have the opportunity to make your thoughts known to the deputies who have been elected to represent you at General Convention.
During the run up to convention we’ll be building and updating the diocesan General Convention website, and we’ll be publishing regular news updates there and on social media. We’ve published a list of the deputies along with their contact information. If there are topics of specific interest that you’d like to be kept informed of, please let me know and I’ll make it my business to ensure they get coverage in our reports. The Diocesan Secretary, Curtis Hamilton, has written an introduction to this Convention, and we’ve also provided a link to a handy General Convention 101 Brochure produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
Despite our best efforts, up until ‘The Wedding’ (and as a Brit I exercise my right to refer to it as such), the light that is Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s preaching, has remained mainly hidden under an Episcopal bushel. No longer, and Bishop Marty writes about it in much more eloquent terms than I in his Keeping Watch article.
However, I’m going to be difficult, and I am going to whine about it. Not the wedding you understand, but that the churches of West Missouri failed to prepare for dealing with a sudden surge of public interest. How so? For four years we’ve been regularly asking church leadership to ensure that their church’s information is included on the Episcopal Asset Map. I think I’d be overstating it if I said that half a dozen of the 48 churches have actually done so. In response to the media frenzy surrounding the PB’s sermon The Episcopal Church actively promoted its ‘Find a Church’ feature — which is (you’ve guessed it) The Episcopal Asset Map — Where was the information about the majority of West Missouri’s churches for anyone searching for an Episcopal Church in West Missouri? Unfortunately, sadly missing.
On the positive side, it’s not too late to do something about it and make sure your church doesn’t get passed over again. Anyone can suggest updates using the online form, you can find out how here.
You are going to be hearing a lot about Human Trafficking in the future, and that’s good. The more we can raise awareness, the more can be done to try and eradicate this deplorable crime. In this issue we’ve news about the proposed safe house from Lake of the Ozarks Stop Human Trafficking Coalition. A lot of human trafficking has its roots in the baser human condition, specifically the baser male human condition, and that’s going to be hard for some people to read and talk about — we’ll be addressing the role of pornography in human trafficking in the September Spirit. In this issue, Mike McDonnell, VP Human Trafficking Ministries with the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, writes about the relationship between Human Trafficking and Slavery, and be warned, he doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to calling out how men and their attitudes are a big part of the problem.
And Finally — The June Issue of Spirit
Well, it was supposed to be the May issue of Spirit, but life got in the way, and we encountered some, shall we say, ‘scheduling difficulties’ that can best be summed up as a ready and willing editor, and not a lot to edit. I was going to bluff it out and just publish the May issue in June, but, despite burning the midnight oil, the final version was ready just a little bit too far into June for even me to cheekily call it a May issue.
ResourcesBack to Contents
- Pareto_principle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle
- General Convention is Coming: https://spirit.diowestmo.org/2018/06/general-convention-is-coming/
- General Convention 101: www.dropbox.com/s/s399sqoqca4uiv9/general-convention-101-2018.pdf?dl=0
- Keeping Watch: spirit.diowestmo.org/2018/06/a-message-of-love
- Human Trafficking Safe House: https://spirit.diowestmo.org/2018/06/an-extended-stay-safe-house-for-human-trafficking-victims/
- Human Trafficking as It Relates to Slavery: spirit.diowestmo.org/2018/06/human-trafficking-as-it-relates-to-slavery/
- Website: www.diowestmo.org
- Diocesan General Convention Website: www.diowestmo.org/gc79
- Episcopal Asset Map: www.diowestmo.org/episcopal-asset-map-for-west-missouri.html
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/diowestmo/