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How often have you found yourself wishing for the end of a journey or answering the young, eager voice in the back seat? “Are we there yet?” Perhaps the adult says, “Sit back and enjoy the things you see along the way,” knowing that at the beginning of the ride, it is hard to say how traffic or an unplanned adventure down a side road will affect your journey. This is a little bit like where the church is right now as we begin a time of transition.

With the guidance of an organization effectiveness consultant, we are learning that “transition” itself is a journey, that time between what was, and a new way of being: new systems, new roles, new relationships. And we are learning that without the work of transition, there may well be change, but much will remain as it was and we run the risk of repeating our experience.

Consider that there are three phases of transition. The first is a time of letting go, when we decide what we will leave behind and what we will keep. The second is an uncomfortable neutral time in which old behaviors and attitudes subside, making room for what is to come. It is in this time where the former gives way to possibilities, new processes and even a new sense of self. The third phase follows with the emergence of a renewed sense of purpose, new understandings and a new identity.

The good news is that our journey of transition began with the Diaconate on June 10, as part of our annual leadership retreat, engaging 35 lay leaders and staff members. Our consultant, Anna Tansi, of Counterbalance Consulting, led the group through sharing of concerns about where we find ourselves now as well as our hopes for AHCC in the future. We learned some deeper listening skills, enabling each of us to better understand other points of view, and we committed the Diaconate to a process of engagement with the congregation. We met again on June 13, to prepare to launch conversations with the congregation, our Sacred Circles.

Anna Tansi will help us guide the first round of conversations with the congregation in July and August. We will hold 3 different gatherings and the congregation is invited to attend one of these on July 23, August 6 or August 20. They will each be an hour-long guided discussion following that Sunday’s service. We ask that people sign-up for these Sacred Circles so that we can hold them in air-conditioned Twichell without overcrowding. Look for sign-up sheets after Sunday services for the next few weeks at the table with the balloons. If you have expressed an interest in helping the church to move forward, this is a good place to begin.

Our consultant, Anna Tansi, brings corporate, non-profit, and faith-based organization experience as well as a deep spiritual grounding to her work. If you talk with any of our deacons, you will hear that Anna helped us see hope in the face of deep disappointment. And we have found our renewed listening skills to be quite rewarding.

While we may be eager for action and uncomfortable with the dormancy of winter, we know winter is the time in which energy is being gathered and stored, readying for the re-birth of spring.

Brothers and sisters, a voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)

Erica, Holly, John and Bart