Small church ….big thinking
In last month’s “coach’s corner” I discussed the results of the latest exploration group meeting which yielded the outlines of a new Parkview PC mission statement. This mission statement would underline partnership with local community organizations and congregations in achieving social justice and outreach and the development of creative worship which would highlight these partnerships. In last month’s “coach’s corner” you also learned about an important focus of the Session, namely realizing the congregation’s mission in a way that includes not only all people of all racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds and sexual orientation, but that also makes a concerted effort to include all age groups. I expressed to the Session that the “one main thing I cannot change about myself is my age.” It is just a reality that the pastor of a certain age will appeal more to some groups than to others.
So we have come up with a novel idea for the next five years or so: interns or residents who have graduated from seminary or who will do so in the near future. The idea is that for most of the year the church would have 2 interns or residents. They would learn what it is like to serve in a multicultural congregation, an experience they will have a hard time finding elsewhere. There are a number of factors that would make such a program in multicultural ministry workable at Parkview at this time: 1. we have a supportive, open, intelligent and tolerant congregation (if I did not have great faith in you as a “teaching/mentoring congregation I would not be proposing this), 2. We have the empty Kansha house on the corner which could offer more than adequate housing for two or more people, 3. I happen to have the twelve years of seminary teaching experience that would go a long way in my supervision of the interns/residents, 4. the way the sermon is structured currently(in 3-4 parts would allow the interns/residents to rotate into the service without disrupting what people are coming to hear), 5. All of the above would create an attractive setting for those seeking a unique learning experience and who are willing to help us meet our new mission goals. How exciting it would be for Parkview to help prepare a new generation for multicultural ministry and service! This small congregation has always been willing to be a laboratory for new ideas, such as providing legal aid for immigrants and Jan Kenpo Gakko, to name a few. This would continue and perhaps expand that tradition.
Of course there will be a number of obstacles we would have to overcome: 1.the Kansha house will need some upgrading (heating/air/water heater, security doors etc.) and we may have to establish a special small fund for the cost associated with that (but it will be a good idea to have the Kansha in rentable condition anyway, in case the congregation ever needs the income). 2. Funding for modest stipends will need to come from the seminaries with substantial endowments and funded internships (like Princeton) or from grants we would apply for. The target time for the beginning of the program tentatively is summer of 2016.
We request your feedback regarding this plan. Please be assured that we are trying to ask all the questions that will need to be answered to make this program a success. We also welcome any questions we may have overlooked. We hope you will support us in giving this program a chance. May God bless our ministry. Aart