by The Rev. Greg Buffone
“If we are oriented toward the goal of comprehending, with our whole life – thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and actions – the fullness of God’s work in Christ by the power of the Spirit, we are set on fire to dream extraordinary dreams for the world.”
— Gregory Jones, Christian Social Innovation 2016
As Greg Jones says so eloquently above, once you have grasped the wonder of God’s vision and desire to manifest the Kingdom, and humanity’s place in it, our perception of reality is forever changed. We can no longer look upon the world as it is without being struck by the jarring disparity between the Divine vision and the experience of our neighbors near and far.
Moved by our call to mission and the social disparities so evident in America and around the world, St. John’s has entertained a vision of substantive, long-term community engagement since 2015. With the arrival of our new rector, the Rev. Dr. Leigh Spruill, there is a renewed interest and passion on the part of St. John the Divine to live into the vision of a Community Engagement Project (CEP) in Houston.
Toward that end, the rector and the co-chairs of the GO Leadership Team have commissioned a Community Engagement Project (CEP) Task Force composed of St. John’s parishioners to research and report on potential opportunities for Christian social innovation in the Houston community. The CEP Task Force will be focusing their attention on three areas – housing, education, and employment – that are known to enhance the potential for socioeconomic mobility and stability. The task force is currently in the early stages of organizing and defining how it will execute its charge.
You can think of this undertaking as a journey. As with any journey, it helps to have a clear understanding of your destination, and almost every destination has different paths one may choose to reach it. In any journey, especially in the discernment phase, all the details and needful preparation for embarkation and travel are not entirely defined, and until they are we feel unsettled, a bit disoriented, if you will. Fortunately, we are blessed to have extremely talented and very experienced men and women who have committed to help our parish discern the leading of the Spirit regarding how St. John the Divine can engage the community in a manner that will bring glory to God.
We expect the GO Leadership Team and the rector will receive preliminary recommendations from the CEP Task Force before the end of 2021. Additional information will be forthcoming as discovery and planning progress.
A final thought. I am reminded of two quotes. The first is attributed to St. Francis, and is often misquoted:
“It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”
The other from a poem by Philip Booth, titled Heading Out:
“How you get there is where you will arrive.”
Both quotes call out the importance of how we seek to be true to our calling as disciples of Christ, the way in which we journey together, the way in which we relate to and present ourselves to the community we seek to serve, and the faithfulness of service to Christ and our neighbor. How we go and how we are is as important as where we go and what we seek to accomplish.
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