This may not be the most interesting post for many of my regular readers. However, it is an important one. This year the church is on a bit of a sabbatical year as well. The congregation is reflecting on its future and direction. Individual members are considering their own hopes and dreams as a community. They are also making changes and plans. Many of these are changes we have been meaning to make for years. The committee structure, for example, needs work. So , too does our financial house, which has been being put in order by the financial team lead by our Treasurer, Bill Seymour. Other plans are being made more organically as they come up. It is an exciting time...
I, however, am not always there this year. This is a good thing.
Sometimes--particularly in a long-term pastorate--we can lose track of the fact that the role of the minister is to be a leader not the leader. This is often a fact that is obscured by our seminary training when professors deliver absolutes in the areas of pastoral care, preaching, and church administration. Now, I am not saying that it is always the pastor's fault when a imbalance occurs. Both congregations and clergy can misinterpret the pastoral role, giving it too much power (and sometimes too much to do!). It is, however, an important part of the minister's job to make sure that the lay leadership is vibrant, healthy and self-directed. I try to be a good congregationalist. During my ministry I have worked hard to maintain and facilitate a strong lay leadership.
All that is just to say that it is whith some pride that I submit my Annual Report in absentia this year. I am on sabbatical, after all, and the church chose to finally--after years of discussion--move the Annual Meeting to February in order to bring our fiscal year in line with the calendar year. It has required a huge amount of work on the part of a large number of church members to make this happen. So when I say I am proud, I mean I am proud of the church and congregation that has been my home for almost eight years. I may not be there in person, but I will be there in spirit.
Here is the report.
Minister's Annual Report
Rev. Dr. Adam Tierney-Eliot
This is, believe it or not, my eighth Annual Report to the Eliot Church. This "short year," of course, has been quite different from the previous seven in many ways. During the time since my last report we have witnessed a variety of new ministries at Eliot, such as our new relationship with the Interfaith Hospitality Network and our CSA "buying group". In addition, we have solidified a variety of traditions and new ideas from our previous year, including our "Fifth Sunday" service projects, our "First Coffee" discussions (returning in Lent), and our "Water Communion" ingathering service. We have also tried new things in worship, both with guest preachers and with our "regulars" including the Revs Donna Vuilleumier, Matt Carriker, and myself. Thank you to everyone who has stepped up this year and made such a dynamic and exciting time! Apologies to those who haven't gotten to hear me play the ukulele…yet.
Incidentally, it should be noted that I had the great joy of giving the "Charge to the Congregation" when Matt Carriker became a "Reverend" this very year. Congratulations Matt!
Now, one of the things that makes this year different has been that it is a "sabbatical year". I have been taking time away to reflect on my life and ministry, to examine what is going well and what could go better. As you know, the church has been examining its (or our) life and ministry as well. I have been a part of this discussion when I have been around and have been kept "in the loop" for the most part when I have been away. However, the work has been done by members and lay leaders. Thank you to all who have taken on new duties and roles as we continue the discernment process. Thanks in particular go to our Moderator Molly Campbell, who has the unenviable job of keeping all the rest of us on the same page. In addition, the rest of the church staff; Matt, Donna, Felicia Nadel, and Stephen James need to be thanked again for taking up extra duties to enable me to be away. Thanks to all of you for your hard work! It truly has been a congregation-wide effort.
Of course, I have kept busy while away. During sabbatical I have been focusing on four areas. They are a) "Faith, Worship and the Arts" thinking about the intuitive and emotive elements in worship and preaching, b) "The Church of the Future" thinking about how congregations need to adapt to serve people today, c) "Transcendentalist Christianity" reading the work of the transcendentalists to see what they have to say about our contemporary faith, and d) Homeschooling my 9-year-old for the year. I give more in-depth regular reports on my weblog at "adameliot.blogspot.com". There is also a link on the home page of our website and another link on your weekly e-newsletter (how could I forget to mention the new newsletter?).
That is all for now, a brief report on a brief but fertile period in the life of our church. Have a good Annual Meeting. I look forward to seeing all of you during Lent!