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On June 16, we voted to put our energy into building Partnerships- NOW WHAT?

Since the vote on June 16 there have been several conversations going on with four different groups who had expressed an interest in having initial conversations about partnering with us. Unfortunately, one of the groups has let us know that they have other priorities that they must attend to right now. They may be back in touch with us in the coming months.

As your Interim Minister, I’ve been the first contact person with these groups and now is the time that we’ll be having more formal conversations with these groups. As we move into the summer months, we will be gathering representatives from both the Transition Team and the Council to meet with the interested groups. The TT will take responsibility to report to the congregation on the progress of these conversation.

What Impacts can we expect as we explore Partnerships?

We can expect there to be some new, creative energy as we begin to have serious conversations about potential partnerships. Remember what it was like when you first met and started dating someone you were romantically interested in? It felt so good! and exciting! – We expect this to happen to us too as Living Spirit United reaches out and looks for new “Dance Partners”. Let’s enjoy this creative energy, because as our conversations continue we will need to draw on this initial energy to help us through the negotiating stage.

Some of us were lucky enough to successfully partner up with the first person we fell in love with, others of us fell in – and out of love a few times. For LSU, the initial excitement of getting to know a potential partner may lead us to a longer term relationship, or it may start out feeling and looking like a great partnership but in the “getting to know you” phase we might realize that the relationship/partnership is not going to be the best for either community and we will need to back away from the partnership.

Like any lasting relationship between people, Living Spirit United Church needs to enter into early conversations with potential partners with the best of intentions that are tempered with realistic expectations. Having clearly stated boundaries as we begin negotiations will serve us well; as will remembering our Core Purpose as a faith family. The purpose of these conversations is to ultimately partner with others in real Mission doing God’s work. We can expect real joy in this process ….and real disappointment too. Let’s bring our best selves to the negotiating table with lots of patience, hope and trust that we are not alone --and that God will provide us with the resources we will need to build good strong partnerships that will take us into God’s future.

Summer Learning from others…

As we are in the early days fresh from the important decision to put our energy and resources into finding partnerships, through the Summer Sundays Paul and I will be inviting several guests to join our informal Sunday Worship times—in the lovely out of doors we hope. The guests that we will be inviting will give the LSU community a chance to hear stories from other churches and community organizations that will help equip us for our own journey. Some will share their experience of developing similar ministry partnerships that we are aiming for; others will be telling us about the work of their organizations and inspiring us to see the many new possibilities before us.

Our first guest this Sunday, June 30 is Merle Ann May. We regretfully said good-bye in June to Brenda Watt who was our Interim Council Chairperson representing first, Calgary Presbytery and then Chinook Winds Region. Brenda has stepped down from this position and Merle Ann has graciously agreed to be the Interim Chair of Council of Living Spirit United Church for the final year of our Interim process to the end of June 2020. We thought it would be nice for the congregation to meet their new Interim Council Chair, but this Sunday we also will be hearing from Merle Ann about the St. Andrew’s United Church and Regional Ministries Story. From her photo we see that Merle Ann is an avid cyclist. What we don’t see is that she is the matriarch of a large 4 generation family, and she has bragging rights for 7 great grand-children!!  In the biographical information below we see that Merle Ann has offered significant leadership for the St. Andrew’s faith family through more than a decade of transition.

On Sunday Merle Ann will share some of the story of how a neighbouring Calgary congregation courageously and prayerfully embarked on a journey that no other United Church has made. They dreamed big and successfully turned “Bricks and Mortar into Ministry” by selling their church building and using the funds to bring several ministry projects to life. They also continue to serve the faith needs of St. Andrew’s United Church by partnering with Deer Park United Church to share worship and children and youth Sunday programming while keeping a unique store front space for the ongoing life of the St. Andrew’s family.

This Sunday come out and meet Merle Ann and hear the unfolding story of St. Andrew’s United Church and St. Andrew’s Regional Ministries.
Biographical Information about our new Interim Chair, Merle Ann May:
As we are all “called to be the church”, I have answered the call to act as the chairperson of your Board for the coming year.  I have been a member of St Andrew’s United Church for over forty years.  For the first ten years and as a single parent raising four children, I was one of those members who “shows up once in a while”.  Then came the call for volunteers for people to serve on council.  Not really knowing anything about it but wanting to assist, I signed on to chair the Children & Youth committee.  During the years St Andrew’s spent discerning their way forward, I served as a member of the Visioning Team and as Chair of Council.  Following the congregation’s decision to sell the building, I continued as Chair of Council and chaired the Implementation Team that was charged “to make it happen”. 
Following the congregation’s approval of the final sale of our building, the net proceeds from the sale of the building established the St Andrew’s Regional Ministries Fund.  This fund is held separate from the congregation’s general funds and is managed by the St. Andrew’s Regional Ministries Management Committee which I currently chair. I volunteer where needed and continue to serve on the Children & Youth Committee (my true passion), the M&P committee and as a lay representative to Chinook Winds Regional.  
I look forward to being a very small part of your journey forward as Living Spirit United Church.