GET IN TOUCH
between Atlantic and Beach
Beach Haven, New Jersey 08008
Perhaps you're a visitor on Long Beach Island. Maybe you haven't been in Church for a while and would like to start back. Whatever is going on in your life, you are welcome at Holy Innocents. Your past affiliations don't mean nearly as much to us as your present affiliation with us.
There are two parts to Fr. Frank’s sabbatical- 1) the things he’ll be doing during his time away, and 2) the things we will do while he’s away. The Lilly Foundation Clergy Renewal Grant insists that the parish take part in the priest’s sabbatical by undertaking its own program of refreshment and renewal. Our parish’s portion of the grant program takes its title from what Fr. Frank will be doing at The WoodenBoat School in Maine- ARE WE SHIPSHAPE?
The Episcopal Church, like all other churches, is learning what it means to live in a new age. Some folks spend a lot of time lamenting that the Church in which we grew up is not the Church where we worship now, and even that will change before we’re gone. The lament gives voice to our sad feelings about change, and our not knowing what’s coming next; it manifests as:
“I don’t care how the Church changes, just don’t do it until after I’m dead.”
Holy Innocents’, like thousands of other parishes, is growing older in parishioner age, and smaller in active communicant strength. This means among other things that the age of the full-time, professional clergyperson is drawing to a close. This parish is blessed and fortunate to be a healthy example of that older paradigm that has worked so well- a single seminary-formed full-time priest overseeing the ministry of a parish with a core of 75-100 active members.
That model worked well in The Episcopal Church for the last century, and it has certainly worked well at Holy Innocents’ for the last 60 years. However, a new day is not coming, it’s already here, and just because we can continue strong in that dated model doesn’t mean we should.
We have choices before us, and it’s better to make choices than to have circumstances make them for us. That’s where the parish’s portion of the sabbatical comes to bear.ARE WE SHIPSHAPE? will ask questions- questions about training up new leadership, discerning who is gifted to join the ministry you’re doing, and mentoring that new partner and colleague….questions about what we’re gifted to do rather than what’s the work in front of us- questions we avoid answering because things are going well and we have effective ordained leadership. Those questions won’t go away just because we like where and how we are now, and for right now are able to live using that very comfortable model.
Our parish renewal program will ask the questions again, and begin by taking an inventory- a spiritual gifts inventory. Many parishes and people ask “What’s the work in front of me that needs doing?” That’s a fine question, but it assumes that whatever the work is, we’re gifted and competent to do it. The prior question is “What am I/are we gifted to do?” Dr. Carroll Sheppard, the co-author of Congregational Connections: Uniting Six Generations in the Church, will begin our parish renewal program by taking us through some exercises that are fun, and will be very revealing.
Paul knows that how we’re gifted influences what we do in Jesus’ Name. When he exhorts the Church toward ministry in the World, he reminds Corinth that “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.”And Paul similarly encourages Rome when he says: “We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.”
Carroll Sheppard is expert at helping people identify their spiritual gifts, and making sense of how the gifts change what is discerned as ministry, and in turn, how that ministry gets done. Come and be a part of this parish renewal program as it begins on 17 May. You won’t regret it.
 I Corinthians 12:8-10 NRSV
 Romans 12:6-8 NRSV