Senior Warden’s Report

Senior Warden’s Report

Trinity Cathedral
May 7, 2017 ANNUAL MEETING
Remarks by Senior Warden Amy Ryder Wentz

 

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

I like to think of these as my marching orders from god. When I find myself on an unfamiliar path or unsure of what to do, I go back to my marching orders.

DO JUSTLY.  LOVE MERCY.  WALK HUMBLY.

The Search Committee for Trinity’s next dean recently sent out a survey to learn how the congregation wanted to communicate with the committee. As part of that survey, we were asked to share two words that describe our feelings about Trinity. Given the anonymity of the survey, the results are an honest assessment of how we are doing as a congregation.

Nearly 200 of us responded to the survey, and the top descriptive categories of Trinity were:

Inclusive
Friendly and Welcoming
Sacred, Holy, Spiritual, Faith-Filled
Community and Service
Open and Accepting
Home

And there were so many other wonderful responses. Some of my favorites were diversity, beauty, grounding, loved, respect, lively, essential, authentic, uplifting, and awesome music. Collectively, these responses demonstrate that we as a congregation are in a good place in this time of transition.

You should also know that there were a handful of responses indicating that some of our congregants feel lost and are hurting. So if you see or hear frustration and sadness from your brothers and sisters, embrace them, listen to them, and lead them.

DO JUSTLY.  LOVE MERCY.  WALK HUMBLY.

But by and large, most of us are ready for this next phase of Trinity Cathedral and recognize that this is our time to continue and build on the work we were doing before Dean Lind retired.  And it is apparent that this is happening now.  Our ministries and community outreach are strong:

  • Our ministry of music fills this beautiful cathedral and our souls every week
  • Our children and young people continue to explore what it means to be a Christian and develop their own relationships with God
  • Our adult fellowship groups continue to meet and support one another through prayer, study, and friendship
  • We continue to feed those who are hungry, and our garden will be sprouting soon
  • We continue to support the Marion-Sterling School children and their families
  • We continue to be an influential force in Greater Cleveland Congregations, and
  • Dean Gaston has been meeting with the Executive Director of the Campus District to identify how the Cathedral can further support our geographic community, and he is preparing for one-on-one outreach with other community leaders this fall.

And this is just the executive summary of all the wonderful ways that Trinity Cathedral continues to be a thriving, vibrant community.

DO JUSTLY.  LOVE MERCY.  WALK HUMBLY.

We were all saddened to see Dean Lind retire, and heartbroken over the circumstances that triggered her retirement. But, like so many of you, I am energized by change. I see this transition as a tremendous opportunity for our Cathedral to grow – both spiritually and in size.

One opportunity for growth is to explore how we can better fulfill our role as a Cathedral by congregating and worshiping with and serving the other parishes in our Diocese. We have the opportunity to be a centerpiece of diocesan life, a destination place of worship for all diocesan communicants and a place where our missional ministries are an example to other parishes. We must also explore ways to serve the parish churches in the diocese — go to them, worship with them, develop relationships with them and finds ways to support them.

I recognize this opportunity comes with its own challenges, as it requires us to wear two hats — a parish church responsible for feeding the souls of its own congregation and a diocesan community charged with nurturing the wider church. But the spiritual rewards will be abundant in our efforts to fulfill both of these roles.

DO JUSTLY.  LOVE MERCY.  WALK HUMBLY.

The other opportunity for growth is to increase the size of our own congregation by concentrating on being an outsider-focused church. A dear friend recently shared a great article with me about the tell-tale signs of being an insider-focused congregation versus an outsider-focused congregation.

An insider-focused congregation is focused solely on its existing members and keeping things exactly the same. It allows personal preferences to drive decision making and emotions to trump mission. The congregation rejects innovation and change, and fails to make sacrifices for the sake of others, particularly those looking to join the congregation. This type of church community results in a shrinking congregation because it does not open itself to new members.

By contrast, an outsider-focused congregation focuses on its mission and on who it wants to reach, not who it wants to keep. It embraces new ideas and does not cling to the way things used to be. It sacrifices its personal preferences for the sake of others – most importantly for the unchurched who might be seeking a community of faith, even if they do not know it yet.

For as long as I have been here, Trinity has been an outsider-focused congregation. But congregations in transition – including ours – are at a great risk for becoming an insider-focused congregation. For that reason, we must resist the urge to hunker down into a maintenance-only mode. We must open ourselves to change, and rid ourselves of any expectations that everything must remain the same. And we have to be cautious against advocating for our own personal preference; instead, we must focus on what we can do for others who may be looking for a church home.

I will admit, when I think about these opportunities – as a member of Trinity and as senior warden – it is, at times, daunting. But two things get me through those overwhelming moments. First, I remind myself that I am not in this alone – we have each other; we have Paul, Kay, and Chris; we have the support of our Diocese; and, most importantly, we have God to walk this journey with.  And second, I remind myself that I really only have three marching orders:

DO JUSTLY.  LOVE MERCY.  WALK HUMBLY.