Wednesday, June 30, 2010

That's Yoke, not Yolk -- but then again ...

I did not mention in my blogging last week about the most interesting conversation I've had so far in my travels. Mary Trainor is the pastor for two congregations: St. Stephen's, Whittier (where she has been for a number of years), and St. Joseph's in Buena Park. While yoking congregations is nothing new in many parts of this church, it was the first opportunity I had to sit down and talk with someone who is actually doing this work.

I met Mary at St. Stephen's last Tuesday, and she gave me a tour of the church and grounds. I was happy to see that St. Stephen's has a community garden -- this has become one of my favorite "new additions" to congregational life. This past Saturday, St. Joseph's hosted the Deanery 9 Leadership Barbecue (which was well attended and FABULOUS!). It was wonderful to be back there after 10 years (I used to be in that deanery when I served as Associate Rector at the Church of the Messiah in Santa Ana). The changes to the physical plant, especially the kitchen and parish hall, were amazing. Most of all, the hospitality was warm and inviting. The Deanery 9 gathering was truly a celebration of the parishes in Inland Orange County and the work they are doing to the glory of God.

In our conversation over lunch last Tuesday, Mary shared that the congregations are different. The challenges and opportunities each face are not the same. Her eyes sparkled as she spoke with me -- I listened to the wit and wisdom she brought to each situation and congregation. Beautiful! The challenge -- part time in two places equals more than full time work. It is always a balancing act between the two, and Mary seems to be balancing both very well.

I wondered about the definitions of yoke and yolk as I drove away from the Deanery 9 barbecue last Saturday night, after talking with members of both St. Stephen's and St. Joseph's. While yoke and yolk are pronounced the same, they are different. Yoke refers to binding things together. Among the definitions of yolk is the essential part, the inner core. We can bind (yoke) two different congregations together because at their inner core (yolk) they are doing the same work -- they are following Christ and making Christ known in the world. Hmmmm...

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