Rev. Peter Boullata
Peter's Recent Columns
|Love. Seek. Serve.|
|Saturday, February 18 2012 20:18|
Members and friends of First Parish have inherited this congregation; it was passed on to us from its founders and subsequent generations. It’s our turn now, as stewards of this valuable gift we’ve been given, to uphold what’s best and interpret who we are and can be for today’s seekers, as well as tomorrow’s.
How to do that—to preserve the best of who we are and what we’re doing, while reaching out to those seekers who would benefit from our fellowship—has been preoccupying your Parish Board in recent months. An interesting gap appeared on the way to creating a long term plan for the congregation, and that was a sense that what was missing in our current life together was a strong sense of mission—what is our assignment as a faith community in the early part of the twenty?first century?
The Board is not so much interested in crafting a mission statement, but rather developing a sense of purpose that can focus their work, and hopefully the work of the entire congregation. What do we consider important? How do we choose between possible programs?
What developed is a distillation of the First Parish unison affirmation into what it compels us to do: love, seek, serve. “Love is the doctrine of this church, the quest for truth is its sacrament, and service is its prayer.” The organizing principle for the Board’s work is to be known for this in the world.
This is not a hard?and?fast mission statement, but an evolution of our beloved basis of union—our covenant—into action items. Our unison affirmation remains in place, but what would it mean for us to be known for it in the world? I like the emphasis here on being known in the world at large, first off, and secondly for being known for our love, care, compassion; our quest for truth, curiosity, inquiry; and our ways of serving the cause of human need both within and outside the walls of our church.
Many people hear about mission and vision statements or strategic plans and just roll their eyes. But I think we’re onto something here. The Board will continue to discern what this might mean for its work, and at some point in the future, after having this as a guiding principle for a while, ask committees and programs to consider doing so, too.
The Board will continue its work on long range planning, and will be coming to the membership of First Parish with goals and aspirations this spring. But the piece that was missing, the sense of overarching purpose, is worth consideration by all who are reading this. Love. Seek. Serve. These are verbs rich with possibility!
What would your life look like if these were guiding principles for you? What might change in your life for your friends, family, coworkers, strangers and others to know you as somebody who is loving, compassionate, curious, open?minded, lending a helping hand? What would stay the same?