The First Steps of Intentional Discernment
The second cohort in our Requiem or Renaissance program has begun a journey of intentional discernment.
On Saturday, June 11, 2022, five congregations from across the Diocese gathered at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis to begin Requiem or Renaissance. This 18-month discernment and skills-building program is designed to help faith communities reconnect with their love of the gospel and step into what God is calling them to do and be in the next chapter of their common life.
Requiem or Renaissance is specifically for our 18 congregations who are receiving financial aid from the Diocese. Five of those congregations began the program on June 11; another group began their discernment in April. This process is led by the Rev. Canon Whitney Rice and is intended to help congregations determine God's call to them: to a Requiem, a holy ending of this congregation's ministry in this location at this time, or a Renaissance, a church re-plant with a new vision. As they are discerning, they will build skills to live out the call they articulate.
The day began with deep and reflective worship led by program chaplain Pastor Sally Weaver and Father Thomas Skillings*. Then participants watched videos where members of St. Matthew’s in Warson Woods told the story of their Requiem and members of All Saints & Ascension in Northwoods told the story of their Renaissance. Following the videos, Canon Doris Westfall, representing St. Matthew’s, and the Rev. Renee Fenner and Ms. Valerie Patton, representing All Saints & Ascension, formed a panel for Q&A about their journeys.
Common themes quickly emerged. Both congregations had experienced declining membership, clergy transitions, their buildings becoming more of a drain than an asset, and financial pressure. They both used these stressors as springboards to explore where God was calling them next, and articulated that although one came to a holy ending and the other to a holy beginning with their merger, all experienced elements of both Requiem and Renaissance.
Following lunch, Mo. Annette Joseph led the participants through an exploration of the Congregational Lifecycle and Mr. Mark Waight offered reflections on trust-building as teams. The day concluded with worship echoing the morning prayer time, structured around four key questions for meditation: What do you love? What have you lost? Where does it hurt? What do you dream?
Following this promising start, hopes are high for the Spirit doing remarkable new work among us in this program going forward. Please keep this effort and all participating congregations in your prayers.
Download the Opening Liturgy, a beautiful prayer service focusing on four questions:
- What do you love?
- What have you lost?
- Where does it hurt?
- What do you dream?
Requiem or Renaissance: Cohort 2 - June 11, 2022