Part of the 2014 Annual Meeting for the Church of St. Benedict in Bolingbrook, Illinois
Heidi's and my church (the Episcopal Church of St. Benedict in Bolingbrook, Illinois) apparently has a love-hate relationship with their annual meetings. I can't say I blame them.
Every year, usually around the end of January or beginning of February, the church stays after worship for a 45-minute meeting. The "love-hate" aspect comes in because sometimes these meeting are boring. Long finance discussions, lots of banter between the congregation and the speaker(s) ... of which not many people can hear -- it's no wonder attendance drops on those Sundays. But there's a loving aspect to it too; the congregation often loves the potluck meals afterwards. They also are willing to get creative with Heidi as she leads them into brainstorming sessions on where they've seen God working in the past year.
Typically, I don't get to go to those meetings. It's a situation I'm usually fine with. Usually I am lucky enough to be the adult sponsor for the youth. Sometimes we go out bowling; sometimes we take care of the littler kids; sometimes, like this year, we have Sunday School like normal.
I did get to contribute to the meeting in a way that made me there in spirit - if not in real presence. When Heidi asked meto create a slideshow from some of my photography from the past year, I made an executive decision:
No, I won't create it Powerpoint; no, every slide won't be 0.8 seconds longer than it should be (at 4 seconds); and no, we're not going to have this going in the background as ambient visuals throughout the whole meeting. My photos tell stories and this slideshow was going to tell A STORY!
The video at the top of this post is what came out of that decision.
The story: our congregation received an amazing gift from the Diocese this year. The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, of which our congregation is a part, paid off the remainder of the mortgage for our building. It's exciting news for us as a church. Our annual meetings switched from focusing on creative ways to meet the funding gap between pledges and the mortgage payments ... and instead moved to how we can do more local ministries in our community. We're already in year two of our partnership with Morningstar Mission in Joliet. We're going back to the basics and reinvesting in our Christian education programs to help make more disciples. Theologically, I've noticed that we've switched from a theology of scarcity ("will we have enough?") to a theology of abundance ("God is already doing so much ...")
It's a good story, and it's not even to the middle chapter yet.
Hopefully Heidi and I get several more years of these types of slideshows to make.