After all, as a Parish Priest, I was used to working, taking off only for vacation. As there are no formal visitations scheduled for we Bishops in the Diocese of Los Angeles during the summer, I decided to schedule myself -- by giving myself away.
As many of you know, I have an interest in the emergent church and alternative liturgies. As this is a part of the Doctor of Ministry thesis, I wanted to give the clergy and leadership of congregations in my geographical area of responsibility the ability to go and experience the emergent church -- and I'd take their Sunday Services. I'd bring my own chaplain (so no one had to worry about the miter and crozier), and would preach the SAME sermon in each location (imagine that!) -- on what the emergent church is and isn't, and about my research for my thesis.
I feel strongly that clergy should not "study" during their vacation time, nor should they necessarily stick around the greater LA area for their continuing education. Therefore, I set up this program to give them the ability to try something new without costing them or the congregation anything. What do I want in return? At the end of the summer, I want to have the clergy and key lay leaders who went out and explored emergent church come to my home for brunch on a Saturday and talk about their impressions, thoughts, ideas, etc.
Today was my first visitation "on me" -- St. Mary's Laguna Beach. It was wonderful to be with this community of faith this morning! I was warmly received, and was handed a cup of Peet's coffee from the Holy Groundz hospitality cart right outside the front door of the church! Cafe tables were set up outside to invite people walking down the street over to try the coffee!
The congregation gave me the prayer shawl I'm wearing in the photo above -- Marian blue! Last Sunday members of the congregation each took turns tying on the fringe and praying -- it made me start to cry, I was so touched!
So, today at St. Mary's was my first -- the other congregations who took me up on my offer are:
7/11-- St. Michael's, El Segundo
7/25 -- St. John's, Costa Mesa
August 15 -- St. John's, Corona
August 22 -- Trinity, Orange
August 29 -- Christ Church, Redondo Beach
September 5 -- St. Andrew's, Irvine.
(I'm at St. John's ProCathedral on 7/18, and am out of town 8/1 and 8/8.)
It is my intention to do something similar every summer, and will change the focus of the study or opportunity for the clergy and their congregations.
My mind wondered as I wandered to Laguna Beach this morning -- what will I learn from this experience at the end of the summer? How will the Spirit move in me and through me in each of these congregations? How will the Spirit move through the clergy and leaders who took me up on my offer? Hmmm...
Happy Fourth of July all!
PS The picture above on the right was taken from St. Mary's website to show you a bit of the cart!