by Revs. Erica Thompson, Erica Avena, and John Collins
Although the program year didn’t begin officially until July 1, 2017, our Clergy Annual Report actually begins two weeks prior, on Monday, June 19, as the day before, Rev. Matt Laney brought his ministry to AHCC to a close and our season of transition officially began. Both (John and Erica) our calendars for that day were filled with meetings and conversation. We knew our initial challenge was to be pastors to a shaken congregation. So beginning that day we spent countless hours meeting with groups and individuals to process the turbulence of the recent past, to listen compassionately to the sometimes raw emotions of the present, and most importantly, to collaborate with our marvelous lay leaders to chart a healthy course for the future. The creative energy that emerged from that time , along with the deep affection for this wonderful church we experienced over and over was astonishing.
Thus, our report for the year is one of gratitude and celebration: gratitude for every member whose love for this church translated into involved action and celebration as we watched God’s loving Spirit transform us from a posture of fear to one of renewed faith. And looking back, we can easily discern the ways God was working through our community, bringing new staff leaders into our midst, and inspiring our deacons and lay people to stretch themselves into creative facilitators for the transition.
We need to say a special thank you to Holly DeYoung and Bart Halloran, our Moderator and Vice-Moderator, whose wisdom, patience and talents were crucial to changing the atmosphere and direction of our church. By September, in discernment with them, Erica stepped up to the responsibility of Acting Senior Minister, and John accepted added responsibility in the Interim Associate position. From the very beginning, Erica was clear about our congregation having a season of honest and respectful conversation facilitated by a professional consultant. We engaged Anna Tansi, President of Counterbalance Consulting, to structure and lead us through these conversations. The result was an extraordinary period of Sacred Circles and Café Conversations culminating in Vision Weekend. The healing nature of this process, which has been evident in so many areas of our church life, led to the formation of our Senior Minister Search Committee in April. And … just before Vision Weekend we two (Erica and John) became we three (Erica T., Erica A., and John).
Throughout this year of transition, excellent worship has been the highest priority. On the framework of the best sacred music program around, we worked with our amazing program staff to create deeply meaningful and inspirational worship services for the church year. And we three want to tell you, from the trenches of daily church life, that AHCC has the most talented and dedicated staff, both Administrative and Program staff, we’ve ever known. We are deeply grateful and honored to work with them.
Celebration and Gratitude! Throughout this time we have been so supported in our efforts to be faithful to our call to compassionate pastoral care, to creative administration and to powerful, life-enhancing worship and ministries. We are profoundly grateful to everyone who continues to strengthen our work together.
And a year later, through much loving effort, the anxiety of that Monday morning in June has given way to a celebration of God’s grace in this community, this family of God’s people. The work continues, the conversation continues, and the excitement of a bright future of mission and ministry together continues, as God guides us forward.
Erica T., Erica A., and John