September 4, 2022
Present: Marjory Bankson (recorder), Peter Bankson, Ken Burton, Cynthia Dahlin, Joan Dodge (moderator), Michele Frome, Elizabeth Gelfeld, Judy Lantz, David Lloyd, Sandra Miller (meditation), John Morris, Trish Nemore, Brenda Seat, Keith Seat, Vincent Shepherd, Margreta Silverstone, Deborah Sokolove, Jacqie Wallen, Glen Yakushiji.
Guests: Sheri Bergen, Liz Gould-Leger, Erica Lloyd, Sharon Lloyd, Lucy Slater, Pat Conover
Meditation: Sandra read Psalm 139 in Nan Merrill’s version of the Psalms, then read Marge Piercy’s “To Be of Use” into our shared silence.
Housekeeping: Stewards will next meet Sunday, October 2 at 5pm on Zoom.
Moderator – Ken
Recorder — John
Meditation — Dave
Consideration of Issues raised in the Servant Leadership Working Group report:
Keith said that Glenn Clark was no longer participating as a sherpa,and that Erica would frame a broader discussion about items 8, 9 and 10 (scope of work for the SLT).
Erica began with two factors that she found important:
- That according to the SLWG survey, 30% of Seekers are not in mission groups and of those, 1/3 did not have a regular form of spiritual companionship.
[The corollary is that 70% are in mission groups and do have spiritual companionship.]
- That structures for shepherding and belonging are not clear for newcomers.
Question #1: Are those “unattached” people getting the care that they need?
- Joan — Responsibility for shepherding belongs to all Stewards.
- Brenda — When SLT was formed, it was primarily for administrative functions to keep Stewards functioning as a body of shared leadership based on their commitments to care for the health of the whole community.
- Marjory – Perhaps Stewards need more support to function as shepherds.
- John – (ref. to Brenda’s input) Is a decision made 20 years ago still relevant?
- Peter – 20 years ago, just before we moved to this building, we had an ongoing group of spiritual companions to develop our skills. That ended with the move. Perhaps it is time to re-call such a group. Or have a “threshold mission group” whose call it would be to shepherd newcomers.
- Deborah – (responding to John) We have a yearly review of “attachments” between various Stewards and those “unattached” people, offer classes and a periodic semi-secrets class. Perhaps we could publish a list of people willing to offer spiritual companionship rather than waiting for people to ask.
- Sandra – Because the members of SLT are all Stewards, that some of the work in the community is not a function of their SLT roles, but is a function of their Stewards’ roles.
- Dave – Information about the structures can be found on the website, in the Guide to Seekers Church and Who’s In Charge booklets;
- CoS tradition was Members (Stewards commitment) and worshippers;
- Seekers opened membership to anyone wanting to be intentional about their faith;
- Stewards commit to being accountable for their lives.
- Keith – OMG tried the “ask it basket,” to get questions from people – it didn’t work;
- Cynthia – Maybe Stewards could be more intentional about asking “How is your spiritual life?” and/or “What do you need to enrich your spiritual life here?”
- Pat – I’ve personally shepherded many people. It’s a call, not a job! Moving people from be “happy here” to “investing in Seekers” doesn’t always happen. We need to be able to hold their unhappiness without trying to please them.
- Margreta – The SLWG tried to look at two questions: How leadership functions at Seekers? And “Are we happy with our current structures?”
- My question is: How well are mission groups shepherding people?
- Glen – I was confused as a newcomer. I could see that it was different from other churches – people were more mature, self-directed and accountable. I had to decide if I belonged here. I was glad not to be recruited or “jumped on” to join things. It was kind of Zen to ask for what you want.
- Erica — The small size does invite personal relationships like Jesus did. I’m wondering if there are more ways to be creative (like having more sharing groups).
- Trish – There’s a lot to take in here – about how shared leadership actually works. As Glen said, this is a different model. People only take the information that they need.
Question #2: (Keith) Is there a need for the SLT to take on a larger role in shepherding new members?
- Joan – I think Cynthia captured the spiritual growth question that Stewards should be asking newer members. I think the interest in doing that is there. We had good turnout for our Saturday session on spiritual companionship.
- Erica – Let’s not assume that spiritual care happens. Cynthia was the only one who asked me.
- Sandra – We are missing the gathering times when those questions would naturally come up (eg coffee hour, women’s retreats, regular offers to pray with people in the corner of the sanctuary). She affirmed zoom breakfasts for men and women happening now.
Question #3: (Keith) Is there a good balance between what the SLT is doing and other ways of shepherding new members?
- Cynthia – We need some organizational tools. Maybe SLT could put those questions (How are you helping people?) to mission groups and Stewards for discussion.
- Erica – One of the questions that came up in the SLWG survey was about Seekers as an aging community. Maybe the question is “How are we caring for one another?”
Keith: Are we ready to make a decision about Recommendation #7 [to make mission group membership optional for becoming a Steward]?
- Dave – I cannot find my way to approve this recommendation. Mission group experience seems essential to sustaining this form of distributed leadership.
- Ken – I also cannot support this.
- Keith – Since there is no consensus on this, we will set it aside for now.
Dinner break 6:30-7:00pm
Consideration of Statement against White Supremacy for Seekers website: Lucy and Peter.
Lucy gave a brief review of how the statement had been presented at the last meeting; sent out for review and comment by the people of color in Seekers.
The following statement was unanimously APPROVED:
Seekers Church acknowledges and confronts the difficult history of white supremacy and racism that we and other Christian churches have perpetuated. We seek to dismantle white supremacy and systemic racism in ourselves, in our faith community, in our nation and in our world – by better aligning our words and actions to the hopes and teachings of Jesus. Movjng forward we will work towards:
- Centering and following the voices of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and ethnic minorities.
- Deconstructing our racist systems of punishment, oppression and control.
- Divesting resources from systems that are causing harm.
- Building systems of safety, care and racial healing for all.
- Reducing repairing harm and violence in our community and beyond.
We will do this work through activism, legislative advocacy, sacred conversation with others, financial support of organizations engaged in anti-racism work, education of ourselves and others, and other reasonable and non-violent means we identify.
2022 School for Christian Growth Schedule: Dave
Fall 1 (beginning Sept 6) for 6 weeks on zoom:
- This Here Flesh (by Cole Arthur Riley) led by Mary Mehala & Marjory Bankson
- Being a Christian Means… led by Lucy Slater and Dave Lloyd
Spiritual Reporting (2 weeks) Oct 18 & 25 led by Cynthia Dahlin
Fall 2 (Nov 1-Dec 6)
- “Dominion” book study led by John Morris and ???
- Hebrew Testament … to be determined
New Sunday School Year: Judy Lantz
Because we are on zoom, there are only 3 eager participants: Arnold Dongo, Elijah and Noah Wan. When we are in person, Zana Wheaton also participates. (At 17, Ozy is probably too old)
- Judy described the process that she is using for their 20-minute zoom meetings at noon.
- Judy has reached out to Grace Dickerson at New Community to plan some joint activities.
- Brenda offered to send Judy the weekly lectionary readings using the Priests For Equality translation that we use in worship – Judy gladly accepted that offer.
Report re Stewards meetings in person: Joan & Peter
After this question came up in August, the SLT polled Seekers. Most agreed with current protocols (vaccination, boosters & masks). Given the number who can not or will not come to in-person worship, they recommend that Stewards
- Continue to meet on zoom until Spring of 2023;
- And encourage smaller gatherings in person now. APPROVED
Two Stewards Share — Jacqie Wallen and Vince Shepherd
Soul Talk – no notes.
Submitted by Marjory Bankson (9/5/2022)